October 25, 2011

243 13th / 1763 Vermont Part I: 1884-1943

Like the Joseph Buchanan house, 243 13th Street was built on land that was once part of the Lafferty Farm. When it was platted it 1867, it was owned by Clement Lafferty, a grandson of the farm's original French settler, Louis Vessiere dit Laferte. The house would be built on the south portion of lot 70 of outlot 1 of the former farm.

On January 11, 1872, this lot was purchased by Nicholas Till for $425.00. He probably bought the parcel on a land contract, since the city directories listed him as living on Thirteenth Street since 1868. However, the house he lived in was 245 13th Street, on the north half of the lot. 243 13th--the subject of this post--would not be built for more than a decade.

The vacant lot marked by the "X" in this 1885 atlas of Detroit is where 243 13th
Street would be built--which it in fact was by the time the atlas was published.
Note the Tappan Union School one block to the north.

Nicholas Till was born in the German state of Baden around 1826. The 1864 Detroit city directory indicates that he was a blacksmith employed by Arthur C. Porter, a hardware dealer who made tin, copper and sheet metal products in a shop on Woodward Avenue. Subsequent directory listings for Till give his occupation as "coppersmith".

In 1865, Nicholas Till married Elizabeth Dellfield, also a German immigrant. They had six children together, three of whom reached adulthood: Christopher, born January 28, 1867; Peter, born February 7, 1875; and Mathias, born August 26, 1877.

Nicholas Till passed away on September 15, 1883. It wasn't until the following year that 243 13th Street first appeared in the city directory. There is no reason that it shouldn't appear in the index of building permits, but despite my efforts, I have not found this property within it. Because we have no exact date of construction, there is no way to know whether it was Nicholas Till or his wife Elizabeth who first owned this house. In either case, it appeared to be intended as a source of rental income.


Head:Austin Loman, b. 1833 Baltimore, Maryland
Wife:Ann Eliza (Green) Loman, b. 1835 Maryland
Daughter:Abigail Loman, b. 1868
Daughter:Agnes Loman b. 1869

Austin Loman (also spelled Looman and Lowman) was the first known renter of 243 13th Street. He is listed as a fireman for the Peninsular Stove Company. Mr. and Mrs. Loman had four daughters, two of whom were yet unmarried at the time: Abigail, who was employed by confectioners Thorp, Hawley & Company; and Agnes, whose listed occupation was "packer". Agnes married James L. Kelley in 1895, but Abigail remained unmarried for the rest of her life.


Head:Samuel John Purdy, b. 1853 Michigan
Wife:Margaret (McIlwain) Purdy, b. 1853 Michigan
Daughter:Gracia Purdy, b. 1881 Detroit
Daughter:Alice Purdy, b. 1886 Detroit
Son:Alvah L. Purdy, b. August 29, 1888 Detroit

Originally from White Rock, Michigan, Samuel Purdy married Margaret McIlwain in Detroit on May 27, 1878. They had two young daughters by the time they moved into 243 13th Street, and gave birth to a son, Alvah, in 1888--possibly in the house itself. Samuel was a cabinetmaker for Leonard & Carter Furniture at the time.


For three years, the house was rented by a painter named William Wagner. However, nothing else is known about him, mostly because there were several William Wagners living in Detroit then.

1892-1896 - Elizabeth Till

After renting out 243 13th Street for eight years, owner Elizabeth Till and her three sons moved into the house and used their original home as a rental property. After five years, they decided to return to their previous living arrangement. Elizabeth lived for the rest of her life at 245 13th Street.

The block surrounding 243 13th Street in 1897 as it appears in the San-
born Maps. The house is indicated as standing 1-1/2 stories, suggesting
that it has undergone many changes in its existence, as we will see.


Head:Mary E. (Hoffman) McKay, b. 1848 Germany
Son:John McKay, b. 1864 Canada
Daughter:Theresa McKay, b. 1876 Canada
Son:Joseph Sylvester McKay, b. 1880 Canada
Son:Archibald Thomas McKay, b. 1882 Michigan

Mary McKay was born Mary E. Hoffman in Germany in 1848. She moved to Canada, where she married a Scotsman named James McKay, with whom she had ten children. It's not known when exactly when James McKay died, but Mary was a widow by the time she moved to Detroit in 1896. In 1897, she moved to 243 13th Street with the four of her children who had not yet married: Archibald (age 15), Joseph (17), Theresa (23) and John (33).

While living in this house, John McKay married a woman named Susie Wood on August 13, 1900. Three years later, on April 21, 1903, Joseph McKay married Anna M. Robertson.

The 1900 Census form for the McKay family at 243 13th Street.
Elizabeth Till and family are below at 245 13th.

In 1904, the last year the McKay family lived in this home, the name of the street changed to Vermont Avenue.

Also that same year, on January 11, Elizabeth Till passed away. The home the family lived in was inherited by her son Peter, who continued to live in it for another ten years. The rental home became the property of Peter's brother Christopher. Christopher Till, a carpenter, married Annie Schukofsky on February 9, 1899. He already had a home of his own on Humboldt Avenue, and continued to use 243 Vermont as an income property.

Just over a year later, on March 18, 1905, Christopher Till sold the home to John Bernard Trossel for $1,200. Trossel was the executor of Elizabeth Till's estate and a former next-door neighbor at 241 Vermont. His mother, Angelica Trossel, still lived there. John Trossel owned a bicycle business at 604 Michigan Avenue, which later expanded to include motorcycles and auto parts.

John Trossel is on the far right in this photograph published in a
1919 issue of
Motorcycling and Bicycling magazine. (Google Books)

2020 (formerly 604) Michigan Avenue in 1976, once the location of
John Trossel's bicycle shop. The building has since been demolished.
Courtesy of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office


Head:Hugh Phillips, b. 1857 Michigan
Wife:Elizabeth (Smith) Phillips, b. 1861 Michigan
Son:Jacob H. Phillips, b. 1884 Michigan
Son:William Phillips, b. 1897 Michigan

Hugh Phillips was born in Michigan to Irish immigrants on November 29, 1857. He married Elizabeth Smith, a native of Wyandotte, on December 3, 1883. The couple had four children, two of whom survived childhood. When Hugh and Elizabeth Phillips lived at 243 Vermont, their son Jacob was a painter and William was attending school. Hugh Phillips was a vessel captain. After his death on April 14, 1914, his obituary read, in part:
"Some 19 years ago Mr. Phillips was first officer on the steamer Frank E. Kirby, of the Ashley & Dustin Steamer line. Later, he became master of the steamer Wyandotte of the same line, and after the latter was sold, he served in a similar capacity on the Michigan Central car ferry transport, and on lake freighters."

The Wyandotte, a steam ship captained by Hugh Phillips.
Photo courtesy of the Great Lakes Maritime Database.


Head:John Damm, b. 1860 Germany
Wife:Emma Damm, b. 1870 Germany

John Damm was a painter who immigrated to the United States in 1885. He and his wife Emma were married around 1894, but they never had any children.


Head:Henry J. Dubey b. 1870 Canada
Wife:Annie (Deneau) Dubey b. 1870 Canada
Son:Loftus Herbert Dubey b. 1887 Ontario
Son:Ernest Dubey b. 1890 Ontario
Daughter:Eva May Dubey b. 1891 Ontario
Son:Stanford Antonie Dubey, b. 1894 Ontario
Son:Melville Louis Dubey b. 1902 Ontario
Daughter:Marjorie Dubey b. 1907 Ontario

The Dubey family immigrated from Canada the year before moving into 243 Vermont. Henry J. Dubey married Annie Deneau in Canada in 1887 and the couple had seven children, six of whom survived infancy. Henry's occupation was listed as "clerk", while his children Loftus, Ernest, and Eva were employed as a machine hand, a presser, and a stenographer, respectively.


Head:Thomas Roy Muma b. 1879 Ontario
Mother:Mary Jane (Bailey) Muma b. 1847 Ontario

Like the previous occupants, the Mumas were Canadian immigrants, having come to this country in 1892. Thomas was a foreman at the Riverside Storage and Cartage Company. He had married Agnes Dale Sharp in 1905, but they had separated by this time. Thomas remarried in 1913. He shared 243 Vermont with his mother, Mary Muma, who was also separated from her spouse, but never remarried.

Detail from the 1910 census showing Roy and Mary Muma at 243 Vermont.
Peter Till and his wife were still living next door at 245 Vermont.


Head:? J. Murphy

The 1911 directory lists John J. Murphy, carpenter, at this address. The 1912 directory lists William J. Murphy, carpenter. I was able to find a William J. Murphy who listed his occupation as "carpenter" on his draft registration card in 1918, but upon further investigation it appears that he lived on the east side of the city for his entire life. I have not been able to find out exactly who lived at this address in this time period.


Occupant:John Brown
Occupant:Frank Brown

The directories list a John Brown, janitor; and a Frank Brown, laborer in this home from 1913 to 1914. There were thirty-one Frank Browns and fifty-six John Browns living in Detroit in 1914. With respect to my readers, I have declined to identify these renters.

On May 27th, 1914, John B. Trossel sold 243 Vermont to William Starrs, a successful home builder who immigrated from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in the 1860s. On that same day, Peter Till sold 245 Vermont to William Starrs as well. Both homes were used as rental properties.

On September 12, 1914, a permit for an alteration to this home was issued by the city. The changes that occurred can be seen in comparing the 1897 and 1921 Sanborn images:

The height went from one and-a-half stories to two stories. A wide front porch was added. Even the footprint has been altered. The house's current owner noted during renovation that the north and south walls were framed differently. It seems that the house was widened and then the original north wall was demolished.

After owner William Starrs died on March 25, 1916, his widow, Winifred (McEnhill) Starrs, continued to rent out the homes for a number of years.


Occupant:George W. Harris
Occupant:Otto Edwards (or Edward Otto)
Occupant:Charles Harpley

All that is known about these men is what was printed in the city directories. I cannot positively associate any other genealogical records with them. George Harris is listed as a metal worker, metal finisher, and metal polisher in the years he lived in this home. Another occupant is listed as "Otto Edwards" one year and "Edward Otto" the next--both times his occupation is given as "lineman"--one who strung electrical, telegraph, or telephone wires. Charles Harpley was simply listed as a laborer.

The neighborhood as it appeared in the 1921 Sanborn maps.


Head:Mary Ann (O'Connor) Cronin b. 1871 Canada
Daughter:Catherine Elizabeth Cronin, b. 1897 Detroit
Daughter:Frances Adelaide Cronin, b. 1899 Detroit
Son:Edwin John Cronin, b. 1901 Detroit
Daughter:Mary Evelyn Cronin, b. 1903 Detroit
Daughter:Gerardine Antoinette Cronin, b. 1905 Detroit
Son:Joseph Kean Cronin, b. 1908 Detroit
Son:Richard Leo Cronin, b. February 24, 1919 Detroit
Sister-in-Law:Agnes Cronin, b. 1851 England

Mary Ann "Minnie" O'Connor was born in Ontario on June 27, 1871 and immigrated to the United States in the 1880s. On March 2, 1897, she married Kean Denis Cronin, an English immigrant, in Corktown's Most Holy Trinity Church. Kean and Mary Cronin had seven children, six of whom reached adulthood. Kean Cronin died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1911.

Mary Cronin moved into 243 Vermont in 1919 with her children and her sister-in-law Agnes Cronin. That same year she gave birth to another child--Richard Cronin--perhaps at 243 13th Street. It is not certain who this child's father was, but the same boarder--Thomas Gibson--lived with Mary Cronin for over a decade. He is listed among the inhabitants of 243 Vermont in the 1920 Census:

243 Vermont household in the 1920 Census.

On February 2, 1920, the owner of the house, Winifred Starrs, quit-claimed the property to her children as well as the widow and children of her son who had died. The following year, the address of the home changed to 1763 Vermont, which it remains today.

Mary Ann Cronin lived in this home until 1924. She passed away eight years later, on April 17, 1932.

Mary Ann Cronin, at the bottom-right, poses with her mother and sisters.
This photograph was almost certainly taken while she lived at 1763 Vermont.
Photo courtesy of Michael Brennan.


Occupant:Salvator Peiro

No information available.


Occupant:Ralph F. Campbell
Occupant:Basil Campbell

No information available.


Head:David Elzeard Daigle, b. 1887 New Hampshire
Wife:Anna (Boivin) Daigle, b. 1896 Quebec
Daughter:Marcella C. Daigle, b. 1916 New Hampshire
Son:David E. Daigle, Jr., b. 1917, New Hampshire
Son:Albert A. Daigle, b. 1923, Canada
Son:Thomas Vincent Daigle, b. 1927 Detroit

David E. Daigle married Anna Boivin On September 14, 1915 in Haileybury, Ontario. The couple settled in David's home town of Manchester, New Hampshire, where he worked as a grocery clerk. They moved to Detroit at some point prior to the birth of their son Thomas, who was baptized in St. Anne's church on July 10, 1927. In Detroit, Mr. Daigle worked as a machine operator in an adding machine factory. The 1930 census indicated that Mrs. Daigle was an organist in a Catholic Church. They only lived at 1763 Vermont for one year.

1929 (Vacant)


Head:Hilaro Guerino, b. 1907 Mexico
Boarder:Martin Albarez, b. 1912 Mexico
Boarder:Jose Albarez, b. 1895 Mexico
Boarder:Berente Jasso, b. 1908 Mexico
Boarder:Jose G. Jasso, b. 1905 Mexico
Boarder:Bonifacio Hernandez, b. 1896 Mexico
Boarder:Domingo Cerda, b. 1898 Mexico

In 1930, Hilaro Guerino lived at 1763 Vermont with six men, all auto workers and all Mexican immigrants. The census indicated that Mr. Guerino rented the home for $40 per month.

Detail from the 1930 census.

Also in this same year, the members of the Starrs family who jointly owned the house sold it to John Galea Greemen. Greemen was a real estate salesman who was born in Malta in 1894 and immigrated to the United States in 1921. He had been married but was a widower by this time.

1931 (Vacant)


Head:Iona Jane (Aley) Coons, b. 1890 West Virginia
Son:Roy Claude Coons, b. 1924 Detroit

Iona Aley married Roy A. Coons on November 28, 1923. She was his second wife--he was her fourth husband. Iona Coons gave birth to Roy C. Coons on December 28, 1924. The elder Roy was alive at the time of the 1930 census, but Iona was a widow at the time she was listed as living at 1763 Vermont. (Thanks to Steven Snider for finding Iona Coons in the 1930 census for me!)

Also in 1932, it seems that the author of this letter, discovered in the house by its current owner during a renovation, also lived here:

The letter reads:
1763 Vermont street
Detroit, Michigan
Feb 24, 1932

My dear Miss Waters,

I am ve[r]y sorry you are
so ill. I hope you will be
out soon we all whant [sic] you to
come back. I am getting along
fine on my work in school
I will be waiting for you on
Monday so I am closeing [sic] up now good bye

Very Truly
Yours Jim Pappa-
This is on the reverse of the letter:

To Miss Waters
From Jim Pap[pa]theodore
A. Sec 13
D. Houghton School
Substitute Hos.

Apparently Miss Waters was a teacher at the Houghton School, which was located on the southwest corner of Abbott and Sixth Streets in Corktown. But since the letter was found in the house, it may never have been received by Miss Waters. I have not yet found a Jim Papatheodore in the 1930 census, but research on this letter is ongoing.

The city directories from 1933 and 1934 are not available. The directory for 1935 lists the house as being vacant. By that year, owner john Greemen had defaulted on the mortgage on this property. On May 7, 1935, the home officially became the property of First National Bank of Detroit.


Head:Lulu V. Moore, b. 1888 Indiana

Lulu Moore was married to her husband Henry around 1905. They had three children, two of whom survived childhood. By 1936, Lulu was a widow and her children were living on their own.


Head:Harry Hobart Hosack, b. 1895 Indiana
Wife:Blendenia Virginia (King) Hosack, b. 1913, Michigan
Son:Harry Arthur Hosack, b. 1934 Detroit
Daughter:Christine Mae Hosack, b. 1935 Detroit
Twins:Gilbert Rae & Margaret Fern Hosack, b. 1937 Detroit
Daughter:Virginia Rose Hosack, b. 1941 Detroit

On August 11, 1936, Harry Hosack and his second wife, Virginia, entered into a land contract to purchase 1763 Vermont from the First National Bank of Detroit. They had two young children at the time and had three more while living at this address. Harry was employed as an ironworker and then an autoworker.

Harry H. Hosack circa World War I.
Photo courtesy Steven Snider

The early 1940s were a difficult time for the Hosack family. Harry and Virginia divorced. As often happened at the time, their children were sent to live in an orphanage. The Hosacks' home fell into foreclosure. Finally, on September 24, 1943, their creditor (First National Bank of Detroit) sold the property to First Liquidating Corporation.

Next month: 1763 Vermont Part II: 1943-Present