Charles Ross Foutz | 1885 – 1918
Title the above photo “Two Dudes in T-Shirts Lounge in Lawn Chairs”. It’s one of my favorites of my grandfather, Don Foutz, and great-grandfather, Vance Cleveland Foutz, together.
I discovered it in the trove of photographs, newspaper clippings, vital documents and odds and ends saved by my grandma Erma Foutz in the years after my grandpa’s death. The picture was among a series taken during a trip Don, Erma and Vance took east to Pennsylvania in the summer of 1960 (did my dad and his brothers go, too?) to visit Don’s sister, Doris Waddington.
It’s probably taken in the backyard of Doris and Wayne’s place in Harrisville, Pa. Father and son are shown sitting the same way, dressed the same way, in slacks, T-shirts, white socks and loafers, and looking passively at the camera through their similar pairs of glasses.
It’s a scene you could imagine walking into, grabbing a beer, sitting down, and joining in the conversation. At the time, my grandfather was 46, his father, 72. One man in the prime of life, the other in his sunset. What would they have talked about?
It seems so simple, so commonplace. Father and son. And for Don and Vance, at least, it was. During my grandfather’s whole life, his own father was never more than a few blocks away, and for much of it, not even that far. But in this instance, they are enjoying a privilege, at a certain stage of their lives, that no Foutz men of the previous generation, or the generation after would enjoy.
My grandpa Don would die of lung cancer at age 66 in November 1980, when his sons were no older than 36. This week’s series of posts has chronicled the immediate family and descendants of my great-great grandfather, Jonathan Foutz. In exploring the lives they led, where they lived them, and whom they shared their years with, I’ve made much of the early deaths of all but Vance and his sister, Lila, and the unfortunate effect that had on later generations of Foutzes staying connected.
Over a period of 20 years, from 1899 to 1918, seven out of nine family members would pass away:
in 1899 — fifth child, John Cephas Foutz, at age 21
in 1900 — father Jonathan Foutz, at age 55
before 1910 — third child, Rachel L. (Foutz) Coleman, in her 30s
in 1917 — fourth child, Ida Belle Foutz, at 44
and in 1919 — sixth child, Charles Ross Foutz, at age 32
“Brother Dover Man Dies”
Just as I imagine what it would be like, stepping into the picture above and joining a conversation of the generations, I believe that my great-grandfather, Vance, would have been unusually close to his brother Charles.
For starters, they were the very youngest of a big family, back when big families were common in Harrison County, Ohio, and their members were recruited at an early age for farm work, and once married, set about raising a sprawling family on farms of their own. Vance and Charles’s siblings were as many as twenty years older — more surrogate parents, or uncles and aunts, than brothers and sisters.
Sometime before 1900, this feeling of distance to their nearest kin would be reinforced by Jonathan and Rebecca’s move, with oldest son Sherman, to Washington D.C., where Sherman was an appointee to the Treasury Department under President Cleveland. Vance and Charles, not yet in their teens, were hustled into the same house as their young niece, Grace, and nephew, Oscar, while the rest of the Foutz clan were left to their now adult lives back home.
How did the experience of being the first Foutzes in almost 100 years to leave the farm shape my great-grandfather and great-great uncle? And how were they further shaped when Jonathan died young that September 1900?
No public documents remain to trace the family’s movements in the years immediately afterward. But Charles and Vance are next found in the twin cities of New Philadelphia and Dover, in Tuscarawas County, the next one over from their old home in Harrison County.
Sometime before 1906, Charles marries a West Virginia gal — Rosa Bell White, of Monongalia. They have four children together who are living at the time of Charles’s death: John, born in 1906; James Earl, 1908; Herbert R., 1911; and Margaret, 1916. Another son, Harold Russell, is born just 18 days after my grandpa Don Foutz in 1914, but dies at just 8 months of broncho-pneumonia.
The family lived at 127 N. Tenth Street and 427 Logan Street in New Phila during the 12 years before Charles’s death. They worshiped at the First United Methodist Church. At the time of the 1910 census, Charles was employed as a packer at an enameling company. By 1918, he was employed as a polisher at the Wise McClung Co. in New Phila, which had first rolled out its new line of electric vacuum cleaners late the year before.
That summer, in the heat of July, Charles becomes sick with lobar pneumonia. He suffers for 10 days, and endures complications from cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation) before dying at 6:30 a.m., Sunday, July 21. He is buried in East Avenue Cemetery. He leaves Rosie a widow and four children fatherless, and perhaps a brother bereft as well.
Remarriage and More Kids for Rosie
In correspondence between my great aunt Louise (Moore) Foutz and my grandparents, Louise makes reference to “red-haired nephews from Canton” coming to visit Vance Foutz and his family often. In an earlier post, I posited that these could be the sons of Rachel Foutz, whose family was scattered to Canton, Kent and even Los Angeles after her apparent death. But might these be Charles’s boys instead?
Within a year of Charles’s death, Rosie has remarried. One day after Independence Day, 1919, she and Thomas Clifford Colvin are wed in Franklin County, Ohio.
Thomas is also a widower. He and his first wife, Mary (Lute) Colvin were living not far from the Foutzes in New Philadelphia when Mary died of uterine cancer in October 1916 at age 40. In 1910, Thomas was working as a coal miner and living as a roomer in Mary Lute’s house at 349 W. St. Clair Street. Mary was a divorced mother of three: Ethel, 16, Florence, 12, and Ralph, 12. She married Thomas later that year.
By the time Rosie and Thomas are married, he is father of two children by Mary Lute — Clarence, born in October 1910, and Carl, born in 1913. All six kids and parents are living, in 1920, in the rear of a house at 384 East High Avenue in New Phila — right next door to my great-great grandparents Clement and Anna Johnson. (To be accurate, their address, which is listed as 390 East Avenue from 1900-1920, changes to 890 East High Avenue in 1930 and at the time of Clement’s death. Hard for me to say, exactly, where this is today. But they are listed right next door, on the same census page, in 1920.) Because he and Clement (and my great-grandfather Charles, father of Vance Foutz’s eventual daughter-in-law, Erma Johnson) are all miners, it is likely they knew and even worked with one another.
By 1930, Thomas and Rosie have moved to Canton. They share a house with an Anna Boer (born in Arkansas) and family, and Rosie is listed as a co-head of household with Anna. Thomas works as a laborer for the power company. James (who drives a grocery truck) and Margaret Foutz, at 18 and 14, are still members of the household, while there are two new half-sisters, Jessie, 8, and Rosie, 3. Meanwhile, Clarence Colvin, 19, is listed back in New Philadelphia as a resident of the County Jail.
The whereabouts, after 1930, of Rosie and Charles Foutz’s other children, are less certain. There is a Charles J. Foutz — with mother born in W.Va. — matching John’s age living in Canton in 1930 and working as a shipping clerk. He is married to Amy and has a young daughter, Doris, born in 1924. The Colvin brothers and the Colvin half-sisters, as well as Margaret Foutz, all drop off the public record at this point, and we find no more of John, or Charles John, Foutz.
I have found a James Earl Foutz matching James Foutz’s age who lives and dies in Canton at age 65 in August, 1974. He has at least two children with Alitha Jones: one son, James William Foutz, born in 1937, worked as a millwright in Canton, married a woman named Smith and had 2 sons and 2 daughters; and one daughter, Dorothy.
I’ve also located a Herbert R. Foutz, again matching the birth date of Charles’s son, who lives and works in Willoughby, Ohio in Lake County as a car salesman. He marries a woman named Eleanor and has seven children at the time of his death in January 1963 at a too-young 51 — three married daughters, Elaine Benson, Audrey Herrington and Barbara Melton; and four younger children, Patricia, Linda, Herbert Jr. and David.
If any of these descendants of Charles and Rosa Foutz are still living, it’s a connection to Jonathan and Rebecca that hasn’t been made, at least by my family, for decades.
As for Rosie, she dies of a heart attack in 1948 after suffering from diabetes for several years. She is buried in West Lawn Cemetery, Canton. The death date of Thomas Clifford Colvin is not known, but it appears he dies after his second wife.