Monday, June 27, 2016

William Anthony Ternes and the Quonset Hut

Marian Ruth (Ternes) Muir was the wife of my first cousin twice removed. Her brother, William Anthony Ternes was a successful business man who founded Ternes Steel Co. in 1946, which merged with Evan Products in 1969. According to his family, he also designed the Quonset hut, of which up to 170,000 were produced during World War II.

William A. Ternes Obituary as published in the Detroit Free Press; courtesy
William A. Ternes obituary as published in the
Detroit Free Press; courtesy of

When the 1940 census was enumerated, William A. Ternes was in Yavapai County, Arizona, at Shadow Croft Court, an auto court, or motel, operated by Herman and Gertrude Dickman. His occupation was listed as salesman for a steel company. Also listed at the motel were several other salesmen.

So it is entirely possible that he worked for Strand Steel Co., as his brother said in his obituary. The company was located in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. The U.S. Navy contracted with the George A. Fuller Construction Co. in 1941 to build an all-purpose, lightweight building that could be shipped anywhere in the world and assembled without skilled labor.

Quonset hut being assembled in post-war Japan; courtesy Wikipedia

Perhaps the Fuller Construction Co. contracted with Strand Steel Co. to design the building. The original design was a 16-foot by 36-foot structure framed with steel members with an 8-foot radius. The sides were corrugated steel sheets. The two ends were covered with plywood, which had doors and windows. The interior was insulated and had pressed wood lining and a wood floor. The building could be placed on concrete, on pilings, or directly on the ground with a wood floor.

The most common design created a standard size of 20 feet by 48 feet with a 10-foot radius, allowing 720 square feet of usable floor space, with optional four-foot overhangs at each end for protection of the entrances from the weather. Several other sizes were developed. The flexible interior space was open, allowing for use as barracks, latrines, offices, medical and dental offices, isolation wards, housing, and bakeries. Eventually several different companies produced the quonset hut.

William Anthony Ternes was born on 2 July 1912 in Michigan to William Peter Ternes and Elsie Agnes Gerstner. He married Madlyn Erminie Maiullo on 1 October 1838 in Detroit. He was a successful and respected Detroit businessman. He died on 26 February 1982 at Bon Secour Hospital in Gross Pointe following a long illness. He was interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Detroit.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Shippen-Blair House

Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr., was my six times great uncle and son of Samuel Blair and Franjinke "Frances" van Hook, who were my six times great grandparents. Like his father, Samuel Blair, Jr., was an accomplished Presbyterian minister. He was a graduate of what is now Princeton University and had been a pastor at the Old South Church in Boston. During the Revolutionary War, he served as the chaplain of an artillery brigade and later as the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

He married Susan Shippen on 23 September 1767 in Germantown, which is now a historic district in northwest Philadelphia. Susan was the daughter of Dr. William Shippen and Susan Harrison. Dr. Shippen was a physician, civic and educational leader, who represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress. Upon the marriage of his daughter, Susan, Dr. Shippen gave the couple the house at 6403 Germantown Avenue together with 57 acres.

The Shippen-Blair House, 6403 Germantown Avenue, undated lantern slide
courtesy of Bryn Mawr College

The house came to be known as the Shippen-Blair House. It was three and a half stories, stone with wood trim in the Federal style. The Revolutionary War battle of Germantown left traces in the woodwork and Mrs. Washington was entertained here when George Washington was in Germantown. The original property was thought to also house another two story building, a large greenhouse, a wash house, and a barn complex including cow and horse stables, a dung shed, a threshing floor, a wagon house and a coach house.

In 1832 the house was purchased by James Ogilbe, who operated it as Congress Hall, a hotel. When Chief Black Hawk stayed at the hotel the next year. In 1851 the house was owned by actress Charlotte Cushman and in the later part of the 1800s was a popular boardinghouse known as The Laurens.

The exterior of the house has been much altered since it was originally built.

Pray Together, Stay Together 
Revolutionary War Chaplain, Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr.