Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

REV. PAUL TRUSS, Part 2

Morning Star, November 4, 2012, pg. 15

CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK. The Truss family first lived at 602 N. Superior St. according to the 1917-18 Albion City Directory. Boarding with them in the same house was their first convert, Alex Markovich. Paul’s wife, Mrs. Helen (Markowitcz/Markovich) Truss (1885-1936) was also from Matyasy, White Russia as was the rest of the Markovich family clan. Since they had the same last name we assume they were related. Perhaps that was a factor in the family moving to Albion in 1916. Mrs. Truss had come to the U.S. in September 1910 to join her husband. Paul left the Malleable for better job at the Hayes-Wheel Company on the east end of town, according to the Directory.

There was a disagreement with the church members in 1918 (the same year as the arrest incident and the building of the church), and Paul left for Bay Port, MI to minister there for about two years. During the interim, Konrad Felisky took over locally as leader of the young congregation, assisted by Ostop Veramay. Rev. Truss returned to Albion however after First Baptist called him back, and is listed in the 1920 U.S. Census living in Albion at 514 Austin Avenue. Shortly thereafter the church Mission was officially organized as the Russian Baptist Church.

The Truss family left for Lansing in 1925, where Paul became employed at the Oldsmobile plant. Paul organized and served as pastor of the Russian Baptist Church, located at 1601 Illinois Ave. The family lived nearby at 1237 E. North St. in the capital city. Paul still returned on occasion to preach in Albion, however.

Sorrow came to the family on August 29, 1932 with the death of son Paul Truss, Jr. (1918-1932), twin of daughter Mary. He was interred in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Lansing.

Tragedy struck the family on Wednesday, March 25, 1936, when Mrs. Helen (Markovich) Truss, wife of Paul and mother of nine children, was instantly killed along with four other members of their Lansing Russian Baptist Church in a train-auto accident in Haslett. The party had been returning from a Baptist conference held that day. The horrific scene and details depicted in the State Journal of Lansing the next day are too graphic to print here. Following a joint-funeral on Saturday March 28 at the South Baptist Church in Lansing which could accommodate everyone, all five persons were buried next to each other in Deepdale Cemetery in Lansing. Rev. Ostop Veramay of Albion participated in the funeral service.

The deaths wiped out one-sixth of the church congregation, and children of several families were left motherless. Daughter Phyllis recalled at the time, "The accident took the very cream of our little church. We had about 30 there last Sunday. Now five of them are gone, and only two of the older women are left."

Rev. Truss was devastated. For a couple of years he is listed just working at Oldsmobile, with another minister as pastor and the name of the church changed to the Berean Baptist Church. Rev. Truss re- married, a widow (we’re assuming), Mrs. Mary A. Kurilik around 1938, and they are listed in the 1940 Lansing directory with Paul as pastor again. The couple moved to Detroit around 1941.

Rev. Truss still came to Albion on occasion to preach during the 1940s, however. Tim Felisky remembers him visiting the church when he was a boy. Tim wrote me recently: "My main memories of Paul Truss were when he occasionally came to preach at the church. His florid, red-face as he preached hell-fire and brimstone is what sticks in my memory."

Rev. Paul Truss passed away at his home in Detroit on Wednesday, May 4, 1960 at the age of 71. Services were held at the Russian Baptist Church there, with burial in Deepdale Cemetery in Lansing. No mention was made in the Albion Evening Recorder. At the time of his death he was survived by his 2nd wife Mary, and his children: sons John (1923-1996), Peter Frederick (1913-1972) , and David (b. 1930); and daughters Mary (1918-1972) Truss, Ruth (b. 1925, Mrs. Boyd H. Buchanan, Jr.), Phyllis (b. 1911, Mrs. John Boyko), and Elsa (1921-1980, Mrs. Curtis Smith). The other two Truss children, then deceased by 1960, were their first-born daughter Anna (b. ca. 1908 Mrs. John Svalya), and of course Paul, Jr. (1918-1932).

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a final family photograph apparently taken around 1936 shortly before Mrs. Truss was killed. The occasion may have been a visit of the Truss family to Albion, as I obtained this photo from the late Anne (Veramay) Thompson. Six of the children are present in this photo. Based upon their age appearance, the identifications would be left to right: Elsa, Phyllis and (below) Ruth; then Rev. Truss with son David below; then Mrs. Helen Truss, Mary, and John. In summary, the Truss family left their positive mark on the families they ministered to on the "west end" of Albion in the early 20th century. Special thanks to Sarah Truss-Ingram for her genealogical help with this article.


Truss Family, circa 1936

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago - November 1912


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