March 12, 2011

The Buchanan House Part II: 1896-1913 -- Susan Buchanan

Susan Buchanan was fourteen when she left Ireland with her mother and seven younger siblings to live in Detroit in 1851. She never married, and by the 1890s she was living with her three remaining unmarried siblings in the home she owned at 24 Baker Street. In 1896 she had a new house built for the family at 20 Baker Street--the house that stands today at 1242 Bagley.

The Buchanan house as it appears in a Sanborn map soon after its construction.
Susan Buchanan's brother Patrick and his wife Rosa owned 32-34 Baker Street.

On July 13, 1896, carpenter Peter D. Tallant was issued building permit number 591 by the City of Detroit to construct the home at an estimated cost of $2,500. Tallant was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, in 1845 and immigrated to America around 1867. He also constructed the building that is now Nemo's Bar and Grill at 1384 Michigan Avenue in Corktown.

Susan Buchanan would live in this home for the next sixteen years. In that time, she she shared it with three siblings and several boarders.

* * * * *

Catherine Clancy


Catherine was the only Buchanan in the household who had ever been married. She wed Cornelius Clancy in Most Holy Trinity Church on February 10, 1857 at the age of 18, but her husband died just two years later. The couple had no children and Catherine never remarried. She worked as a clerk in various department stores, including Metcalf's and later Hunter, Glenn & Hunter.

Catherine Clancy died at 20 Baker Street on May 22, 1900. She had contracted pneumonia two weeks earlier, which ultimately led to heart failure. She was 61 years old.

Detail from the 1900 Census listing the Buchanan house residents.
This record was made shortly after Catherine Clancy's death.

Thomas Buchanan

DIED JUNE 3, 1901

Thomas was a marine engineer, which at the time was an increasingly hazardous occupation. In February of 1875, Thomas Buchanan and nine other delegates from around the country met in Cleveland, Ohio to form the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association, the first nationwide union for marine engineers. It is still in existence today and it's the largest and oldest maritime union in the United States.

Founders of the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association, February 1875.
Thomas Buchanan is in the back row, second from the left.
Photo Courtesy of Marco Cannistraro, Communications Director, M.E.B.A.

Thomas Buchanan died while staying in Port Huron on July 3, 1901. The following appeared in the Detroit Free Press the following day:

Funeral services were held at 20 Baker Street and then Most Holy Trinity Church on July 6.

Jane Elizabeth Buchanan


All that is known about Susan Buchanan's sister Jane is that she was a housekeeper, and that she died at 20 Baker Street on July 5, 1906 from neurosclerosis at the age of 61.

Peter Bernard Lennon

Susan Buchanan's sister Ann was the stepmother of Peter Lennon. He was born in Clayton Township, Michigan in 1878 and obtained a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1903.

University of Michigan Law Department Football Team, 1903.
Peter Lennon, team captain, is at the top-left.

After graduation he moved into the Buchanan house and opened an office at 103 Griswold in this building:

Northwest Corner Griswold & Congress, July, 1906.
Courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library

Around 1908 Mr. Lennon had returned to his native Clayton. He went on to be elected to the Michigan state house of representatives as a Republican in 1918. He served three consecutive terms until being defeated in 1924. He then ran for the state senate in 1926 and won, serving three terms there until defeat in 1932. He ran in the Republican primary for U.S. representative in Michigan's 6th district, but did not win the party's nomination. Mr. Lennon passed away on August 11, 1939, in Howell, Michigan.

Mary Eleanor Lennon

Mary E. Lennon (1876-1945)
Photo courtesy of Hugh Johnson

Mary E. Lennon was the sister of Peter Lennon. She was born in Lennon, the town named after her father, in 1876 and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1899. She moved in to the Buchanan house in 1910 and worked as a school teacher at the Cadieux School in Grosse Pointe and then the M. M. Rose School in Detroit. She only lived in the house until 1913, but remained in Detroit for the rest of her life. Miss Lennon later worked for the Detroit High School, which later became Wayne University, where she worked as a professor of English. She passed away in Detroit on December 13, 1945.

Adelaide Black

Adelaide Black was born in Corktown in 1895 and lived in the neighborhood her entire life. Her mother and younger brother died before she reached the age of ten, and her older brother died of pneumonia at the School for the Blind in Lansing, Michigan in 1908. Both the census and the city directory list her as a servant at the Buchanan house in 1910.

Detail from the 1910 Census showing residents of the Buchanan house.

Although her given age in the census was thirteen, birth records have confirmed that she was in fact fourteen at the time. Four years later she married James Aloysius Callaghan and had three children, but died in 1921 at the age of 26. Five months later her husband married her mother's sister, Anna Jane Grosshans.

Helen Murdock

The city directory lists "Mrs. Helen Murdock" at 20 Baker Street in 1912, but no information on this woman has yet been found.

* * * * *

Around 1913, Susan Buchanan left Detroit to live with her widowed sister Ann Lennon in Clayton Township. The Buchanan house would be rented to borders for the next nine years.

Next week: The Buchanan House Part III: 1914-1923 -- The Renters of 20 Baker Street

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