Haverstraw Native Celebrates 90th Birthday

Family members of John Spruill complained that last week’s article about Mr. Spruill’s 90th birthday contained numerous inaccuracies. Please read this corrected version.

Celebration held at Haverstraw Brick Museum

ROCKLAND COUNTY TIMES

Haverstraw’s Brick Museum was the location of the Spruill family gathering on March 30, when they held a 90th birthday party for family patriarch John T. Spruill.

More than 50 family members and friends of the guest of honor attended the memorable event, which lasted three hours Sunday afternoon at the downtown Main Street location in the heart of historic “Bricktown.”

Spruill was born in Haverstraw in 1924 and attended Haverstraw Elementary School before his family moved to Congers. Married to Deborah Estelle Carter of Haverstraw, the couple eventually moved to Englewood, New Jersey 60 years ago, where they lived happily ever after.

The Spruills were active in the community and John served as the first African American president of the city’s Board of Health. Following his wife’s death, John remained in his new hometown of Englewood for several more years.

John’s parents, Rev. and Mrs. James S. Spruill, were two of the seven founders of Calvary Baptist Church in Haverstraw in 1912. Rev. Spruill was employed at the deNoyelles Brickyard and is featured in “Within These Gates,” written by the late Daniel deNoyelles, a noted local historian and the last owner of his family brickyard where Rev. Spruill worked so many decades ago.

John’s oldest brother, the late Herbert Spruill, also worked in the brickyards with deNoyelles when they were both teens.

John’s family had all been members of Haverstraw’s Calvary Baptist Church on Clinton Street, and thus that became the obvious site to hold the festivities. Three weeks before the celebration, however, Haverstraw village officials suddenly closed the church when it was discovered that heavy rooftop accumulations of snow this winter serious pressure to the church’s walls.

Parishioners have been holding services wherever they can find space ever since, and have formed a committee to raise money to repair the historic (and appropriately made of Haverstraw brick) building.

Spruill’s daughter, Deborah Barnes, had been conducting research about African American History at the brick museum, and after learning of church’s closing, officials of Haverstraw’s Brick Museum quickly volunteered their space.

The Spruill family was appreciative of the gesture and made a donation to the museum because of their family history and the museum’s generosity. “It was the perfect setting, and so appropriate,” stated Spruill’s granddaughter, Nia.

Mrs. Barnes secured a proclamation from Haverstraw Village Mayor Michael Kohut in recognition of the former village resident and his association with the history of Haverstraw.

Gordon and her Brick Museum volunteers were just as delighted as the Spruill family, saying they were only too happy to provide a suitable space for such a memorable event.

In the meantime Gordon said museum officials were so pleased with the results of being the location of the birthday party that they now look forward to hosting similar outside events for Haverstraw related people and organizations.

Interested parties can contact Gordon at the museum at 845-947-3505, at its website at www.haverstrawbrickmuseum.org or by e-mail at haverstrawbrickmuseum@verizon.net.

The museum, just east of Haverstraw’s famous “bank corners” is open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. and by appointment.

Donations for repairs to the church may be sent to Calvary Baptist Church -15 Clinton Street – Haverstraw, NY 10927.