Open Door

Open Door
Indianapolis, Indiana

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Abstract & Title Part 7 - Fleece Family Part 1

Researching the Fleece family history has been both frustrating and fascinating. The frustration comes from the fact that fleece is so difficult to Google! I had no idea that there were so many different types of fleece. It seems nearly every member of the fleece family has been named for a different type of fleece or a designer who works with fleece. The fascination comes from the long and interesting history of Silas’ family. Considering that I was never a great fan of studying history when I was young, working on my own genealogy has pushed me to the dark side. Now when I start working on anyone connected to my family or the Horner House, I just get totally carried away. Not only do I want to know who, what, when, where and why but I also want to know what all is going on in the area at that time. With the Fleece family, I got so carried away, I don’t even know where to begin. There is so much interesting information that it’s hard to choose. So I’ll try to begin at the beginning of my introduction to the Fleece family and go from there.

Silas Fleece and Frances, his wife, purchased the Horner House in 1900.  In fact, they purchased the property on March 29, 1900 and it was recorded on April 4th. (Just think, this was almost exactly 113 years ago!) The house was only 25 years old. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know exactly what it looked like at that time? 

So I began looking to see what else I could find out about Silas & Frances. Silas (also known as Silas Franklin, Silas F. or Frank) married Frances (also known as Frannie or Fannie) Davis in Eel River Township, Hendricks County, in 1879. It appears they were both from the township, although I haven’t been able to find very much at all about Fannie. (Just since writing this yesterday, I’ve finally found a lead to Frannie’s family. Now I just need more time to track down some additional facts.)

In the 1880 US Census, Silas & Fannie are listed at 34 Broadway St, New Salem. Silas is working in retail groceries and Fannie is keeping house. I kept looking and found they had 3 children before they moved into the house: Aletha born September 1882; Alta born November 19, 1884 and Verner B. born October 1889. All the children were born in Hendricks County.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is no 1890 US Census due to a fire where it was stored. To help fill out the data between 1880 & 1900, I used the Indianapolis City Directories at Keep in mind that the entries were likely 3 – 6 months old, so these are not always 100% accurate. The oldest online copy I could find was 1893. The entries for 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896 & 1897 are mostly the same:  Fleece Silas F, general aft D M Osborne & Co 170 S Penn, h 88 Highland pl. The only change is the address  changes from 88 to 90 Highland pl in 1894. This might be due to the city “tweeking” the address, a correction from the first directory or they may have truly moved next door. These are kinds of details the average genealogist spends years researching.

The family was in New Salem for the 1880 census and were in Hendricks County when all the children were born. They are in Indianapolis in the 1893 City Directory. So they moved to Indy sometime between 1889 & 1893. Eventually, I may be able to get a more accurate date but this will have to do for now.

In the 1900 City Directory, Silas has changed jobs but not addresses: Fleece Silas F, mnfrs agt, 316 S Penn, h 2018 Highland pl. And in the 1900 Census, the Fleece family is living in the house. The address at that time was 504 South Emerson. Silas F is listed as a general agent, was born in May 1858, is 42 and has been married 21 years. Francis (sp) is listed as born in February 1855, 45 years old, had 4 children/3 still living, and no occupation. The children are 17, 15 and 10 and the younger two are at school. (This was the old terminology for children attending school & doesn’t mean they are away at school.)

Here is the entry for the 1902 and 1903 City Directories: Fleece Silas F, state agt Grand Detour Plow Co, h 504 S Emerson av (I). Haven’t had time to do any research on Grand Detour Plow Co. Maybe some day…

In the 1904 City Directory, Aletha makes her only entry. Silas’ entry is the same in both 1904 & 1905 and he has another new job.
Fleece Aletha O, stenog 12 Fletcher’s Bank bldg, b 504 S Emerson av.
Fleece Joseph B, solr, h 408 S. Emerson av.
Fleece Silas F, agt 8 Board of Trade bldg, h 504 S. Emerson av.
Oh, and Joseph Fleece in the 400 block of Emerson is Silas’ brother. We’ll have more on him in another blog.

There is no online directory for 1906, 1908 and 1910. And by 1907, Silas’ entry has changed again: Fleece Silas F, mnfrs agt 221 W Wash, h 504 S Emerson av. And it changes again in 1909: Fleece Silas F, mnfrs agt 42 Baldwin bldg, h 504 S Emerson av.

Both girls get married during this same time frame. Aletha marries Joseph L. Rogers on February 10, 1905 in Chicago. Alta marries Harold E Emeis on December 18, 1907. One of the questions I’ve always had was whether there were ever any weddings in the house. Since Aletha married in Chicago and Alta married in December, the only wedding possible would have been fairly small and private. Oh well, maybe there have been other opportunities in other families for a home wedding. The house just seems like a wonderful place to have a “Father of the Bride” or “Steel Magnolias” type of wedding and/or reception. OK. Moving on.

And in November of 1910, Jacob Fleece, father of Silas, passes away in North Salem, IN. I’m including his obituary from the Indianapolis Star as a teaser for future blogs on Silas’ ancestors.

This takes us through the first 10 years of the Fleece families ownership of the house. And this is where we’re going to leave the Fleece family for now. There is just so much material and I don’t want to bore you all so badly that you don’t stop back by our page. 

The next blog will take the family as far into the 20th century as we can. Additional blogs will explore Silas’ family and Fannie’s if I can find some more goodies. See you all next week!

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