Monday, 6 July 2009

Oliver Cruse from Devon to Seattle via Ohio and Ontario

Chris Cruse in America has been in touch concerning the Cruse family of Clovelly. Chris's husband is the great-grandson of Oliver Cruse (born 1833 Langtree, Devon), one of the children of William Cruse and Jane Martin, whose birth is recorded on the Clovelly tapestry.

Oliver Cruse emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio in 1851 when he was just 18 years old. Nothing is known of his time in Ohio but for some reason he only stayed for a few years before moving on to Canada. The first record we have of Oliver's life in Canada is his marriage to Jane Sowton on 6th December 1856 in St Thomas, Elgin County, Ontario. Oliver was a carpenter and joiner and a prominent member of the Independent Order of Foresters.

Oliver and Jane had nine known children:
- Fanny Cruse, born on 12th October 1857 in Elgin County, Ontario. She died on 2nd December 1863 and is buried in Orwell Cemetery, Yarmouth Township, Elgin County.
- Amelia Jane Cruse, born about 1869 probably in Elgin County. She married Joseph Ridgeway Sterling.
- Jenny Cruse, born on 8th October 1862 in Elgin County. She died on 22nd December 1863 and is buried in Orwell Cemetery alongside her sister Fanny.
- William Cruse, born on 10th April 1862 in Ontario. He married Mary Ballow in 1883.
- Frank Sowton Cruse, born on 17th October 1864 in Aylmer, Elgin County. He married Mary Bell Kelly on 1st April 1885 in St Thomas, Elgin County.
- Fanny Cruse, born on 29th January 1867 in Aylmer, Elgin County. She married Gabriel Smart on 5th January 1887 in Elgin County.
- John Cruse, born on 27th July 1870 in Elgin County. He died on 10th August 1870 in Elgin County.
- James Oliver Cruse, born on 23rd September 1875. He married Hattie Laura "Louise" Campbell on 29th December 1897 in Coupeville, Island County, Washington.
- Sidney Earl Cruse, born on 21st April 1879 in St Thomas, Elgin County. He died on 21st February 1880 in St Thomas.

In about 1889 or 1890 Oliver and Jane moved with their children to America where they settled in Seattle, Washington. By the time of the 1910 census they were living at 2213 East Madison Street, Seattle.

Oliver died on 21st March 1917. An obituary was published in the Seattle Post Intelligencer on Saturday March 24, 1917:

Oliver Cruse, Resident of Seattle Since 1890, Dies at Daughter's Home.

Oliver Cruse, a resident of Seattle since 1890, died Wednesday at the home of his daughter, Mrs. A. J. Sterling, 1226 East Madison street, and will be buried Saturday at 2:30 o'clock from the parlors of Johnson & Hamilton, at Broadway and Union. Services will be in charge of the Masonic order, Interment will follow at Washelli.

Mr. Cruse was born in Bideford, England in 1833. He came to this country when he was 16, locating in Cleveland, O[hio]. Later, he moved to St. Thomas, Ont. Where he remained until he came to Seattle.

In this city Mr. Cruse became state organizer for the Independent Order of Foresters, continuing for fifteen years. He had the distinction of organizing the first court of the order on the Pacific coast. He then took charge of his son William's office, and remained actively at work until stricken with paralysis last November.

Besides his widow, he leaves two daughters and three sons, Mrs. A.J. Sterling, Mrs. G. Smart, Frank and William, of this city, and James O. of Pasedena, Cal.; four grandchildren Mrs. Climmie E. Hill and James O. Sterling of Seattle; E.R. Sterling, Port Huron, Mich., Fred Cruse of Detroit, and eight great grandchildren.
The writer of the newspaper article seems to have had a little trouble with his mathematics as Oliver would have been 18 in 1852 not 16! Oliver's wife Jane lived for just nine months after her husband's death dying on 4th Dec 1917 in Seattle.

Chris has managed to trace some of the descendants of Oliver and Jane, but there are still a few gaps and we would be delighted to hear from anyone who is related to these families.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I have been trying to research the history of my house. It was supposedly built between 1886 and 1887 by a man named Oliver Cruse. I am wondering if this could be your ancestor. Do you know the address he lived at while in Elgin County?
Please contact me via email at

Debbie Kennett said...

Thanks for getting in touch. I've sent you a reply by e-mail.