March 19, 2011

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

Susan Buchanan rented out her house at 20 Baker Street after she moved to Clayton Township to live with her sister, where she stayed until her death on July 31, 1919. She evidently signed over the house to Peter B. Lennon (her sister's stepson) on the April 7th before her death, but the deed was not recorded by the Wayne County Register of Deeds until August 6th-one week after her death. However, Susan Buchanan's heirs (several nieces and nephews) filed a claim in probate court and won. Peter B. Lennon's deed was declared void. Miss Buchanan's heirs continued to rent the home until finally selling it in 1924.

The following list of boarders is far from complete, and it would contain many fewer names if the old city directories were not digitized and searchable on However, the result of hours of research is a long, dry list of names and descriptions. I've learned my lesson--the next time I research a home used as a boarding house, I will focus on owners and not every single renter I can find.

1914Sarah M. BurpeeBorn about 1858 in Corktown. Her family moved to Frankfort (near Traverse City) around 1891, but she returned to Corktown alone at some point before 1912. Miss Burpee had several jobs over the years, including manager, dressmaker, and newpaper agent. She died in Detroit on March 17, 1925.
1914George KarasThe directory indicates that Mr. Karas was a "houseman", or butler. Nothing else is known.
1914Bessie Marie (Richley) LeeBorn 1891 in New Castle, Pennsylvania. There is a 1913 marriage record of her having married a Chinese man named William B. Lee in Ohio, but nothing else about the man has been found. When she lived in the Buchanan house she worked as a stenographer for the Detroit Real Estate Board. She married Hayden Harve Haase in 1923.
1914William F. RevnellBorn 1886 in Illinois. He previously worked at a small resort hotel ran by his mother in Frankfort, Miss Burpee's former town. Mr. Revnell had been married, but was divorced by this time. His occupation changed often and included hotel clerk, fisherman, electrician, wig maker, and school bus driver. He married Rose M. Burkard in 1916 and eventually returned to Frankfort.
1915Charles Aldrich BlondoBorn 1884 in Armada, Michigan, moved to Corktown at some point before 1892. He was a chauffer or truck driver for most of his working life. He married Violet Melody around 1903. They had one daughter, also named Violet, who died of meningitis in 1906. They divorced, presumably before Mr. Blondo lived at the Buchanan house. In the late 1920s he married Mollie Welch, a widow with four children.
1915George PersonHe was an autoworker according to the directory. Nothing else is known.
1915Ambra (Favorite) SmalleyBorn about 1876 in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. The 1918 directory lists Mrs. Smalley as the widow of Arza. However, the couple had in fact divorced and Mr. Smalley had married a woman fourteen years younger than himself in Ohio in 1912. Interestingly, his marriage record also indicated that he was widowed. Mrs. Smalley too remarried, in 1922.
1915Doris SmalleyBorn 1896 in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. She was the daughter of Ambra Smalley. On July 3 of the following year she married a Canadian immigrant named Percy Fonger, a machinist at the Cadillac Motor Car Company. She died in 1918 from postpartum hemorrhage after giving birth to a stillborn baby.

Detail from 1915 city directory listing Mrs. Smalley and her daughter at 20 Baker Street.

1915Harry Smith"Sailmaker." No other information found.
1916-1917Daniel M. BarnettBorn about 1873 in Vermont. He worked as a saw filer in an auto factory. He presumably lived in the Buchanan house with his wife Amelia, his wife of ten years. Mrs. Barnett was born in Canada around 1882 and immigrated two years later. Mr. Barnett died in Detroit on August 11, 1929.
1917Harriet BarnettThe directory indicates that Mrs. Barnett was the widow of a man named Jacob. She was presumably related to Daniel Barnett (above) but no other records have been found.
1917Albert Butler"Electrician." No other information found.
1917George W. Butler"Electrician." No other information found.
1917Eugene Cole"Auto worker." No other information found.
1917Curtis Brooks PrescottThe directory lists "Curtis B. Prazak" at the Buchanan house, but it is almost certainly Curtis Brooks Prescott, who married Lena Prazak in Detroit on May 23 of that year. Born 1890 in Cascade Township, Michigan. His listed occupation is "motorman". Mr. Prescott enlisted with the U.S. Army at the age of 19 and served for three years, and was evidently served again during World War I. He died in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1954.
1918Simon Hause"Mach hd." No other information found.
1918William A. HoppeBorn 1887 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Employed by National Roofing and Paint Company as a sheet metal salesman.

William A. Hoppe's draft registration card. Two other boarders listed the same
address on their registration cards when they were completed the same year.

1918Frank August KrokofskiBorn 1877 in Corktown. Worked as an upholsterer for furniture maker Fred L. Parrish for most of his working life. His wife died in 1911 at the age of 24. He remarried in 1912 but was divorced by the time he lived in the Buchanan house. His three children ended up living in the German Protestant Home for Orphans and Old People at 1852 West Grand Blvd. His daughter married the son of the orphanage's superintendent in 1924. Mr. Krokofski's third marriage took place later that year, and his two sons were living with him by 1930.
1918Michael John MillerBorn 1886 in Sarnia, Ontario, immigrated 1907. Married Edith May Lively in 1910, but they divorced by 1916. His widowed mother Mary was also listed at his previous address, so it's possible she lived at the Buchanan house as well. Mr. Miller had worked as a machinist in an auto plant, but at this point he was a self-employed painter.
1918Albert R. Morrison"Watchman." No other information found.
1918Alex Morrison"Watchman." No other information found.
1918-1919Frederick Thomas MountainBorn 1887 in Durham, Ontario, immigrated 1916. Worked as a plasterer. In 1917, he resided at 229 6th Street with William Hoppe and Michael Miller (above). Mr. Mountain returned to Canada in 1928.
1918James Timothy RingBorn 1895 in Woodford, County Galway, Ireland, immigrated 1914. Employed as a chauffer for the Reider Cartage Company at 345 Parker. The 1930 Census lists a man of the same name, similar birth year, and same immigration year as Mr. Ring as an inmate at the Santa Fe Penitentiary in New Mexico. Further research would be needed to confirm if this is the same individual.
1919-1920Rosa Louise BequeretBorn 1892 in Illinois. Miss Bequeret worked as a clerk for Express Company at the time. She married Carl Tasso on December 7, 1920. In 1918, she and at least four other residents of the Buchanan house (Frank Bleich, Daniel Waterworth, and John and Minnie Sholdice, below) all lived at 52 Baker, which is now 1326 Bagley.

Rosa Bequeret Tasso (1892-1978)
Photo courtesy of Gwen Bequeret

1919-1921Frank Herman BleichBorn 1880 in Germany, immigrated 1905. Employed as a clerk for cigar and tobacco retailer William F. Hensel at 50 State Street.
1919Henry J. ManionBorn 1891 in Alpena, Michigan. He lived most of his life in Flint, and was evidently only in Detroit for a brief time. Mr. Manion married Mildred Decaire on April 26 of the following year.
1920Clifford AllbrightBorn about 1899 in Michigan. Worked for a railroad as a fireman, which was the term used for the technician who controlled the fire in the engine. He married Christine Schmidt on December 6 of the year he is listed at the Buchanan house.
1920William KolemikBorn about 1883 in Russia, immigrated 1913. Iron worker. Nothing outside of the census record has been found.
1920Paul Harold McClungBorn 1897 in Wellston, Ohio. Worked as a machinist in an auto plant. Enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in May 1918 and had attained the rank of Machinist's Mate 2nd Class. He was released in February 1919 and honorably discharged September 1921. Later returned to Wellston, Ohio.
1920Ralph Adam McClungBorn 1896 in Wellston, Ohio. Brother of Paul McClung, above. Also a Navy reservist. Enlisted June 1918, released December 1919, honorably discharged September 1921. Employed as a baker while living at the Buchanan house. He also returned to Ohio, but ultimately died in Detroit in 1973.
1920George MichelsBorn about 1873 in Germany, immigrated 1900. Painter.
1920-1922John Flanery Henry SholdiceBorn 1873 in McGillivray, Ontario; immigrated 1895. Owned a cigar business that is listed at various addresses on Washington Blvd. and Cass Ave. Mr. Sholdice passed away on Christmas Eve of 1926.
1920-1922Minnie O. (Allen) SholdiceBorn about 1880 in Canada, married John Sholdice (above) in Perth County, Ontario, about 1903.

Detail from 1920 Census showing residents of 20 Baker Street.

1920Florence G. ChurchillBorn 1901 in Michigan. Miss Churchill was a niece of John Sholdice (above). She married Leonard Bradley in 1923.
1920Charles Franklin Van GilderBorn 1885 in Pennsylvania. He worked as a stationary engineer, which means he operated steam engines and boilers in buildings as opposed to the ones on ships. He never married.
1920-1922Daniel O. WaterworthBorn 1884 in Michigan. Employed by the Toledo Plate Glass Company
1923Charles CaruanaBorn about 1895 in Malta, immigrated about 1920. Auto worker. Mr. Caruana presumably lived with his wife, Amadea (also born in Malta) and daughter, Nellie (born about 1920 in Michigan).

Next week: The Buchanan House Part IV: 1924-2007 -- The Saliba and Kibler Familes

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