Thursday, February 7, 2013

Murder in Detroit! What a Surprise...Not

What an interesting family these Ternes have become! Before I get to the subject of this post, let me set the stage.

Yesterday, I discovered William Peter and Elsie (Gerstner) Ternes' daughter, Marion Ruth, married a nephew of my great grandfather and his name was Harold Muir. Marion's great grandfather was named Christian Ternes. He was born in Prussia in 1807. Christian; his wife, Anna Maria Schiller;  son, Anthony; and possibly other children emigrated to the U.S. some time between 1843 and 1850. Christian and his family farmed for several years in Dearborn. By 1880 he and his wife were living at 362 13th Street -- just down the road from the Convent of St. Barnabus.  He listed his occupation as a milk peddler.

Amazingly, the address still exists:

362 13th Street, Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, USA

And then I found's why, despite the frustrations I have with, I still use it:

General Telegraph News

 Detroit, Mich., Dec. 5 -- An old German milk vendor named Christian Ternes was brutally murdered last night by Charles Martin, a young iron-molder. Martin was drunk, and, teasing Ternes on the street, received an impatient repsonse, whereupon he knocked Ternes down and kicked and stamped upon him until his skull was crushed. Martin was arrested, but pretends that he knows nothing about the murder.

Amazing what you can find on the Internet! And a proof point that Detroit didn't go "bad" because of the failure of the Great Society experiment; it was a bad place long before the 1960s!

Christian was buried at the St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church Cemetery in Dearborn, Michigan. If you find yourself in the area, please pay your respects for me.

Ternes Family Monument at St. Alphonsus Roman
CatholicChurch Cemetery

You can find other photographs on another good resource for genealogists.


  1. To the blog author - why are you researching the Ternes family? That is my family on my father's side. Christian is my great-great-grandfather. I happened to Google his name for a separate reason (We already knew about the murder, of course) and happened upon your blog post.

    1. I explain it in the second paragraph. Also, I lived in the Detroit area in the mid 1980s and married someone who was born and raised in Detriot. I am interested in the history of the once great city. And the a Ternes were part of that history. They are also part of my extended family history by marriage.