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Samuel Alexander Glass – Marjorie White’s Grandfather

Samuel Alexander Glass was born on August 3, 1873, in St Louis, Missouri. 5 His parents were William Henry Glass and Johanna Murphy.3 William, Samuel’s father, died when Samuel was three years old. Later, Samuel lived on Reed Street in Moberly, Missouri according to the 1880 U S Census. 1 The family’s verbal history says he was raised by his aunt, Parthenia Glass who was his father’s sister; this was confirmed by the 1880 U S Census. Samuel was raised by his aunt because of his mother’s poverty. Theodore Walenspiel, Parthenia’s husband, was a Civil War veteran. Theodore taught Samuel at an early age to make cigars in Moberly. The family moved to Salt Lake City, where Theodore established a cigar store on 200 South between Main Street and State Street. Samuel worked in this store. Eliza Williams, Samuel’s wife, spoke of the large wooden Indian that was in the front of the store. 2 Walenspiel owned a court of several homes in northwest Salt Lake City, called St. Louis Avenue and later renamed to Gerard Avenue. 2

Pastor Robert G. McNiece married Samuel and Eliza Williams on March 19, 1892, 6 at the First Presbyterians Church in Salt Lake City. Upon their marriage, they rented a home from Walenspiel on Gerard Avenue. It was here that Ruth Glass was born on March 17, 1893. Utah was still a territory, unable to gain statehood because of polygamy.

The young family traveled to Leadville, Colorado where Samuel had been promised a job, but the position became unavailable. A Samuel Glass appears in that city’s directory for the period of 1882 to 1890. The family then moved to Chicago, Illinois, where Samuel continued to make cigars. Ruth attended first grade in Chicago. In 1899, Eliza was expecting her second child and was homesick. The family returned to Salt Lake City and lived with Grandma Emma Nancy Williams. Laura (Lol) was born on August 10, 1899, at her Grandmother’s home on L Street. Ruth remembered Samuel as a kind father who read to her. 2

Fred White, Ruth Glass’s husband, often referred to Eliza and her sisters as the fighting Williams sisters. Having a fiery reputation, Eliza became furious with Samuel causing separation in 1902. The divorce occurred in August 1903, and court documents showed the cause as abandonment. 7 At this time, divorces were a rarity.

Samuel moved to San Francisca and experienced the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. In 1906, Samuel briefly returned to Salt Lake City. He wanted Eliza to start their life afresh, but Eliza felt it was too late. He said, “In the eyes of God, she would always be his wife.” The family never heard from Samuel again. 2

The fighting Williams sister enjoyed gossip and of course a good fight. One sister said that Eliza met Samuel with a gun in hand at the Western Pacific Depot in Salt Lake. They said Eliza pointed a gun at Samuel and told him to stay on the train. This makes a good story, but it is improbable. Eliza was very poor and could scarcely afford food, let alone a gun. Marjorie Thomsen, granddaughter, did not think Eliza had it in her to own or point a gun. 2

John White, a grandson, had attended a convention in Chicago. Being deaf and having difficulty in communicating, John asked a hotel clerk to phone a Samuel Glass in Chicago. The clerk said that Samuel had known Eliza but did not want to see John. 2 Unfortunately, the US census in 1910, 1920, or 1930 does not show a Samuel Glass that was born in Missouri as living in Chicago. The Samuel Glass appearing in the Chicago census was from Prussia and spoke Yiddish. Illinois had no record of Samuel’s death. Where Samuel lived and died remains a mystery. 4

Sources:
1. 1880US Census, Moberly, Missouri
2. Oral tradition from Marjorie White Thomsen
3. Ancestral File submitted by Bob Vernon, #AF97-105810, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from original source of Heald Family Book, Page 41.
4. Research of Richard Walter Thomsen from censuses
5. The National Archives, Certificate Number 5819, Johanna Rosner, Widow of veteran Enos Rosner and Widow’s Declaration for Pension for William H. Glass
6. Marriage Certificate held by Marjorie White Thomsen
7. Ogden Standard Examiner, August 2003


Written by Richard W. Thomsen

Samuel Glass in Moberly, Missouri before coming to Utah and prior to marriage in 1892
Samuel Glass in Moberly, Missouri before coming to Utah and prior to marriage in 1892
Samuel Glass and Eliza Williams
Samuel Glass and Eliza Williams in 1892
Samuel Glass’s handwriting appears on the backside of his marriage certificate.  He wrote the dates and hours of birth of his two daughters, Ruth and Laura.  It is assumed that “written by our Father” was in the handwriting of Ruth Glass.
Samuel Glass’s handwriting appears on the backside of his marriage certificate. He wrote the dates and hours of birth of his two daughters, Ruth and Laura. It is assumed that “written by our Father” was in the handwriting of Ruth Glass.