Discuss Detroit Hall of Fame Threads Ransom Gillis sidelight Previous Next
Top of pageBottom of page

Ray1936
Member
Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 956
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Sunday, December 03, 2006 - 4:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Following the story of the Ransom Gillis home got me curious as to what I would find about it and him in the 1900 census. So I booted it up on Ancestry.com (subscription service, sorry), and found the following.

In 1900, Ransom Gillis was living at 69 Alfred Street (before the re-numbering of addresses about 1918) with his wife, Ella, and 26-yr old son, Gaylord. Two servants are also in the home. Ransom states he was born in December, 1838, in New York state. Ella is ten years younger and was born in Michigan. Ransom shows himself as a Merchant in Wholesale Dry Goods; his son works for him as a clerk. Ella states she has had four children, two of whom are still living.

His neighbor at 77 Alfred is a widow, Hannah McLaughlin, who lives with a married son and his family along with one servant. His neighbor on the other side at 63 Alfred is Alanson Fox and his family, a Lumberman.

I see no familiar names on that block on Alfred Street, but all are well-to-do businessmen with servants in the homes. But how I would have loved to have visited in those magnificent homes in their prime!
Top of pageBottom of page

Leland_palmer
Member
Username: Leland_palmer

Post Number: 195
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Sunday, December 03, 2006 - 4:56 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks for sharing that Ray.
Top of pageBottom of page

Kathleen
Member
Username: Kathleen

Post Number: 1759
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, December 03, 2006 - 7:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hannah McLaughlin's grandson Russell McLauchlin was the Talk of the Town columnist for the Detroit News and, in 1946, published a book of his columns reminiscing about growing up on Alfred Street.

One chapter is devoted to his grandmother. Here's an excerpt:

"When my grandmother died, her funeral was conducted by Dr. Jennings, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, and Dr. Jennings pronounced a phrase which all of the neighbors agreed was completely fitting. He called her "the guardian angel of Alfred Street."

She looked nothing like a stained-glass angel, being short and comfortable and bearing a resemblance, which everybody noted, to Queen Victoria. Her conversation was humorous and salty and rich in anecdote; sometimes racy anecdote. She sprinkled it with the Gaelic, for she was a Canadian-born Scotswoman, a McDonald, and she used to call me "bhodaich oich," which means, I think, something like "little old man."

Her first name was Hannah and she was called Aunt Hannah by almost everybody in the Woodward Avenue section of old Detroit. She was skilled at making cookies, with 13 scallops on their circumference, and these were known as Aunt Hattie's Cookies.

...whenever any sort of crisis or disaster visited any household on Alfred Street, the first foot to step over the threshold was Aunt Hannah's. When someone returned from a journey, the first neighbor's face to appear in welcome was hers.

..it has always seemed to me that the decline of Alfred Street, as such, began when she died. It was still elm-shaded and tranquil and neighborly, no doubt. But the principal cohesive agency was gone.
..."

McLauchlin, Russell. Alfred Street. Detroit: Conjure House, 1946. 102pp. Issued in a slipcased first edition of 999 copies, each one signed and numbered by the author. Mine is #17 and it is further inscribed to someone who is obviously close to the family. This book also features illustrations by Detroit artist William Bostick who has been painting and drawing Detroit scenes for over 50 years.

Ray1936: Hope you enjoyed this add-on to your research!
Top of pageBottom of page

Kathinozarks
Member
Username: Kathinozarks

Post Number: 53
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Sunday, December 03, 2006 - 8:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Kathleen,
Thank you so much for sharing this! I now know almost exactly what that street used to be. Nice.:-)
Top of pageBottom of page

Ray1936
Member
Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 960
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Sunday, December 03, 2006 - 11:14 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Fascinating, Kathleen! Russell is in that 1900 census: Here's the details on that page:

Hannah McLaughlin, Head, b. 1830
Isabell McLaughlin, Daughter, Single, b. 1854
James A. McLaughlin, Son, Married, b. 1855
Emma McLaughlin, Daughter in Law, Married, b. 1870
Russell McLaughlin, Grandson, b. 1894
Mary Doyle, Servant, b. 1860

Hannah and her children were all born in Canada, but Russell was born in Michigan.

And Russell, who would become a journalist and family historian, was but six years old on that census.
Top of pageBottom of page

Ray1936
Member
Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 961
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Sunday, December 03, 2006 - 11:25 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Went back in time from 1900 to find her again in the 1880 census (1890 census was destroyed by fire). She was a widow back then also. Here's how that entry looks:
1880
Top of pageBottom of page

Lowell
Board Administrator
Username: Lowell

Post Number: 3369
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 12:29 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Nice finds Ray and Kathleen! Thanks.

Ransom Gillis House March 2006
Ransom Gillis
Top of pageBottom of page

Lowell
Board Administrator
Username: Lowell

Post Number: 3370
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 12:38 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Detroit Rises!
Ransom Gillis House in August 2001.
Ransom Gillis House
Top of pageBottom of page

Lowell
Board Administrator
Username: Lowell

Post Number: 3371
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 12:56 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

First Presbyterian Church in Detroit, Michigan May 2005
First Presbyterian Church in Detroit, Michigan
Top of pageBottom of page

Mplsryan
Member
Username: Mplsryan

Post Number: 142
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 1:42 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Do we have a more current photo of the house? how is work progressing?
Top of pageBottom of page

Kathleen
Member
Username: Kathleen

Post Number: 1761
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 6:48 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This photo was also taken in March 2006:
RGillisMarch2006

To my knowledge, there's no current rehabilitation work going on. The city simply wanted to stabilize the house while waiting for its turn and/or opportunity to be rehabbed and renovated.
Top of pageBottom of page

Allman7
Member
Username: Allman7

Post Number: 24
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 9:24 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I took these in October. First and third Ransom Gillis and the middle pic is of the Presbyterian Church. I have a few more of brush park and the church if anyone would like to see them.





Top of pageBottom of page

Wpitonya
Member
Username: Wpitonya

Post Number: 32
Registered: 08-2005
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 11:17 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I would love to see the pictures of current brush park!
Top of pageBottom of page

Cman710
Member
Username: Cman710

Post Number: 45
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 1:55 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Me, too.

I was there in August, and the Ransom Gillis house looked the same as above. Currently, the city owns it, right?
Top of pageBottom of page

Hornwrecker
Member
Username: Hornwrecker

Post Number: 1706
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 6:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The 1921 Sanborn shows the old address as 65 Alfred and the new one as 205. Most of the neighborhood is identified as being rooming houses.

Ransom Gillis house 1921
Top of pageBottom of page

Ptero
Member
Username: Ptero

Post Number: 63
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 6:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I took a look last week. It looks like nothing has happened since the pictures above were taken...
Top of pageBottom of page

Cman710
Member
Username: Cman710

Post Number: 50
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 9:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hornwrecker,
Where do those sketches come from? I've seen other people post similar ones, but I am not familiar with what they are.
Top of pageBottom of page

Hornwrecker
Member
Username: Hornwrecker

Post Number: 1707
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 9:31 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

They are from the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps at UMich; they are available online, but you need a password from your local library, if they subscribe to the service.
Top of pageBottom of page

Cman710
Member
Username: Cman710

Post Number: 51
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 10:40 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

OK, thanks. I am not from Michigan, so I don't know that I could get the maps. If I ever need to get one, I'll be in touch with a friendly forum-er like you or call UMich.
Top of pageBottom of page

Jdkeepsmiling
Member
Username: Jdkeepsmiling

Post Number: 134
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Tuesday, December 05, 2006 - 2:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What is going on with First Pres.???
Top of pageBottom of page

Michmeister
Member
Username: Michmeister

Post Number: 27
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Tuesday, December 05, 2006 - 5:21 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Just wondering what it would cost to build a house / mansion identical to that baby.Anybody out there with a ballpark figure?
Top of pageBottom of page

Ray1936
Member
Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 965
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Tuesday, December 05, 2006 - 6:21 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Cost would be the least of the problems; finding stonemasons that could do this kind of work would be extremely difficult.
Top of pageBottom of page

Supersport
Member
Username: Supersport

Post Number: 10979
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, December 05, 2006 - 6:36 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

Cost would be the least of the problems; finding stonemasons that could do this kind of work would be extremely difficult.




You'd be amazed by the work I have seen these local Mexican crews do. One of the most recent projects was a neighborhood garage. Quite possibly one of the most amazing urban garages I've ever seen. They even implemented a Pewabic tile border into it's exterior facade.