In Good Countenance #12: Minnie (Hammersley) Ley

Irma Haines Chris Wiand Minnie Ley

Minnie (Hammersley) Ley: Vintage Visages

Greetings, family and familiars, on what would have been Grandpa Robert Earl Ley Jr.’s 97th birthday.

Been awhile, but the genealogy train keeps on chugging, with certain dedicated, extended relatives at the controls, making an unexpected stop every now and again. This is a dispatch from Mac and Brad Wilcox, distant cousins through the far-flung Ley line, and proprietors of the site Kin Connection.

Today’s treat? We finally get to pin down — or rather, gaze upon — a great-great-grandmother who remained the only ancestor of that generation for whom I hadn’t discovered a photo. And now we can see her for ourselves. Meet Great-Great-Grandma Minnie Eillene (Hammersley) Ley!

As Mac related in a recent email:

My brother Brad and I have about 3,000 photos and hundreds of documents done so far. Perhaps we are half-way.

We came across the attached photos yesterday that were in a  scrapbook maintained by my great aunt, Mary Ellen Wing (1891-1972).  She was responsible for saving many of the photos and documents that we are all now enjoying.  Mary, who wrote the identifications on these photos,  was the youngest child of Adeline Sperling, who in turn was the youngest child of Abraham and Catherine Sperling.

Unfortunately, neither photo was dated, but we have some educated guesses as to the details.

One photo is labeled “Irma- Uncle Chris -Minnie Ley”.  I am reasonably sure that the picture includes Christian Wiand (1844-1934), center; Minnie Eileen Hammersley Ley (1965-1929), at right; and Irma Haines Ley (1900-1945), daughter of Minnie Ley, at left.

I suspect this was taken in the back yard of the Wiand home at the corner of Main and High in Port Washington. The foliage indicates summer, probably mid-1920’s.

The other photo is labeled “Earl + sons + Uncle Chris”.  This photo also includes Christian Wiand and clearly was taken in the front yard of the Wiand house, since the house across the street, at the right edge of the photo, is still there, looking at Google maps.

I presume “Earl” is Robert Earl Ley (1883-1959), at left.  Robert Earl Ley Jr (1918-2008) is holding the baby, and Richard Earl Ley (1927-1933) is next to Christian Wiand. This photo looks like it was taken in spring before the trees leafed out.

One guess as to the baby, which I think is a girl, is Mary Ellen Ley (1931-2011),  daughter of Lester Ley and Daisy Nan Shively. Perhaps this was before/after her Christening, maybe in the Spring of 1932. Perhaps you can confirm this or set me right.

Earl Ley and Sons, Christian Wiand

Filling in the Family Foliage

I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear of a trove of forgotten photos, I burn to see what — more importantly, who — is in there.

Mac and brothers, remember, shared the goods on fourth great-grandparents Abraham and Catherine Sperling, as well as the crucial details and a breathtaking glimpse of third Great-Grandmother Hattie (Sperling) Hammersley Wiand. Two crucial discoveries there were the cause of death for Great-Great-Great Grandfather James Hammersley, taken during a tragic accident while working on the Erie Canal; and the story of her second husband, Christian Wiand, a successful Port Washington hardware merchant who grew into more than just a stepfather/stepgrandfather to later generations of Leys. He was truly a member of the family.

These and other photos reveal those gatherings in a way that invites you to step in.

For the first time — for me, anyway — we meet my great-grandfather Earl Ley’s sister, Irma (Ley) Haines, arm in arm with her mother and step-grandfather.

We again visit what I feel Mac has accurately pegged as the front yard of Chris’s place in Port Washington, though the criscrossing sidewalks and hard bricked corner of the place at first suggested to me a church. But maybe that’s the suggestion of the christening playing on my imagination.

I can’t say for certain, though the dates seem to line up right. My first inkling is that Grandpa Robert Earl Ley Jr., youthful in the above photo, could even have been holding his brother Dickie. For that to have been the case, though, we’d be looking at a photo from September 1927 (88 years ago!), and grandpa would be just 9. He looks older to me….

The only other photo I’ve seen of Dickie is the portrait below. So, if Mac is correct, this is another glimpse of father and sons, as well as a young relative. If the occasion is, indeed, Mary Ellen Ley’s christening in 1931 (I didn’t even have Mary Ellen in my working tree), then grandpa would be about 12-13, and Dickie around 4, which seems to fit the little boy in the photo.

So, still some gaps to fill in. But we’ve bridged a crucial gap missing from the collection of ancestral faces on our tree. Hello, dear Great-Great Grandmother Minnie Ley.

Ley Richard c. 1930

Richard “Dickie” Ley aboard a bicycle, early 1930s.

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Happy Father’s Day, Family Guys!

Fred and Frederick Colt Foutz at the Cincinnati Zoo, 1970s.

Fred and Frederick Colt Foutz at the Cincinnati Zoo, 1970s.

Fred Foutz, Father in Action

Happy Dad’s Day, dads everywhere.

I am grateful to have grown up with and benefited from the stellar example of my own dad, Fred Foutz, who showed me what it means to be an active, involved, in a word dad of a dad.

With three little dudes of my own, I can appreciate even more how important it is to have a good man in sons’ lives, to raise good men of their own.

Anytime in the ’80s, you could find us with Dad in the backyard or on a walk to the park, playing soccer, riding bikes, flinging the frisbee, shooting hoop.

As we got older, throughout the ’90s, more often than not I’d be on a run with Dad, or sharing a burger, or chatting about finances or anything at all long into the night on a drive back and forth to college. And he was always handy with a van and tireless arms to tote my stuff from one apartment to the next.

Today, I share a deeper appreciation for the moments my dad was always about most — family time. Whether it’s at the beach, sipping a cold brew over a hot grill, vegging out in front of a classic flick or, increasingly, watching the endless zip of the next generation.

They can zip away, knowing they’re never far from the watchful — and admiring — eyes of a father.



Growing up, with Mom sometimes moonlighting at People’s Drugstore, Dad would be home to make us dinner and tuck us in.


An early (recurring) bedtime project of Dad’s was introducing Dan and me to Mark Twain and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.



Vacations are always a favorite family event for Dad. Here, an early one, to Ocean City, Md.


Have bike…


… will travel, with DadPower (TM).


Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Categories: Foutz, Milestones | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Moore’s Promotion for Fred Foutz, 1977

Janet and Fred Foutz, c. 1977.

Janet and Fred Foutz, c. 1977.

Promotion, Second Son for Fred Foutz

Next to your birthday, maybe there’s no better “me” day than earning a big raise or promotion at work.

Today, as we give Dad a nod for celebrating the 63rd Year of Fred, we rewind the clock 38 years to a newsworthy high point in the early Foutz household.

The Nov. 11, 1977 edition of Zanesville’s Times Recorder, um, records a step up for Dad at Moore’s Lumber and Building Supplies, otherwise known as the coolest company in Ohio to sport a winking fox logo (very impressive in my under-5 years…).

Moore's logo

As the Recorder reliably reports:

Moore’s Names Foutz An Assistant Manager

Moore’s Lumber and Building Materials announces appointment of Frederick Foutz as assistant branch manager of the retail store at 2413 Maple Ave.

The new promotion for Foutz, effective immediately, was announced by Moore’s distribution centers division operations manager, David E. Pomerleau; and Mid-Atlantic regional manager Thomas Scanlon.

Foutz has been employed by Moore’s chain since Nov. 1, 1976, when he was hired into Moore’s management training program here.

On Jan. 8, he was named night and Sunday manager of Newark, Moore’s store, leading up to his current promotion and transfer back to Zanesville.

Foutz is a native of Dover. He and his wife, Janet Ley Foutz, live on Gorsuch Rd. at Nashport, with their 15-month-old son, Colt. The Foutz are expecting a second child.

Foutz is a graduate of University of Cincinnati from which he holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics. He is an active member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

Moore’s 79 lumber and building material store are established in 11 southeastern and middle America states.

In addition to Zanesville location, Moore’s serves the communities of Chillicothe, Delaware, Dover, Findlay, Lancaster, Lima, Mansfield, Marietta, Portsmouth and Wooster, with additional stores in the planning stage. Divisional executive offices are in Roanoke, Va.

Moore’s is part of Evans Products Co. (NYSE and PS), with headquarters in Portland, Ore.

Evans is a leading retailer of building materials, a producer of customized homes, a manufacturer of building products and specialty metal products. It also manufactures and leases railcars and truck trailers.

Moore’s — probably — doesn’t exist anymore. Aside from chilling accounts of “corporate carve-outs” and entrepreneurial vision maximizing corporate outcomes (excuse me) on investment sites, and factual info on Bloomberg business, the old Fox is far too hard to find on this little invention called the Internet to be a viable business in 2015.

But the Foutz family, of course, is still going strong. And the day after that Record article was published, doubled the number of uncommonly handsome sons by adding my little bro, Dan.

Not that the hometown Dover-New Phila Times-Reporter had the slightest inkling of that when they got around to reporting Fred Foutz’s promotion Nov. 29:

Frederick Foutz of Nashport, a native of Dover, has been named assistant manager of the Zanesville store of Moore’s Lumber and Building Materials, a division of Evans Products Co., which also has a store in Dover. He joined the company last year in Newark. Foutz is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and a member of the Elks. He and his wife, the former Janet Ley, have one child.

Sorry, Dan. CONGRATS, DAD!

And… happy birthday!


An early Foutz family portrait: Fred, Janet and baby Colt, 1976.

An early Foutz family portrait: Fred, Janet and baby Colt, 1976.


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Sherman Foutz: Contrasting Obits Still Yield Clues

Sherman S. Foutz

Second Great-Uncle Sherman S. Foutz

More than One Way to Relate Life and Death

When my wife and I encounter the inevitable errors in daily newspapers — or, beginning our career as reporters, lapse into them ourselves — we often trot out my teasing twist on a saying (from somewhere): “History went and got itself up in a great… big… damn… hur… ray.”

To put it more coarsely, in the course of reporting a story and turning it around on a daily news cycle: shit happens.

Bad enough when this is part of the fluid daily record, working up dispatches on city council meetings and business transactions and arrest warrants and base hits. Somehow, pathetically, worse still when publishing those items submitted by the public for posterity, for the milestone sections of births, graduations, weddings, funerals.

In my first gig as entertainment and features writer for the Sandusky Register, I also manned the Saturday obit desk. And it was impressed upon me — right away — to follow a template, type it up slowly and triple-check my work.

Oh, and when gathering the info yourself, never to trust a single-only, no matter how well-meant, source. “If your mother says she loves you, CHECK IT OUT.” In other words, verify all info.

Well, leave it to life to allow shit to keep happenin’.

And we encounter these maxims time and again in genealogy, too. The yeoman volunteers who pore over countless census pages of centuries-old script, deciphering names that do not belong to their family tree, and doing so… erratically. Over-zealous neophyte researchers who, in their breathless haste, mistakenly prune a branch here, graft an alien trunk there, yielding cascading crops of ill-gotten family fruit. Or those who trot out a sweet, but still quite often dead wrong reasoning: because grandma said.

Remember? “If your mother says she loves you, CHECK IT OUT.”

Newspapers are wonderful troves of info. And certainly, they have been indispensable in helping to decipher what it is our case study on genealogy in my family: untangling the life, death and descendants of my great-grandfather Vance Cleveland Foutz’s oldest brother, Sherman Foutz.

When I first looked into Sherman’s story, starting in 2008 and documenting for the first time in 2010 in this blog, we had far more questions than answers. Slowly, painstakingly, we made the necessary connections, in the public record and in person with distant relatives, to fill in many missing pieces. By last year, and a series of posts tracing the family’s life in Pennsylvania through several newspaper articles, we’d put the wraps on many a mystery.

One useful tool: not just settling for one clipping of a newspaper article, but combing through related editions in the dozens of active newspapers in the early part of the 20th century. Just like in the maxim for checking out what your darling, single source says, relying on multiple versions of a milestone event can assemble a full, richer composite of the life and times you’re researching. Once, of course, you weed out the red herrings.

On Sherman Foutz’s life, I started with the yellowed clipping reporting his death that my great-grandfather had kept for nearly 55 years before his own passing. Due to the hands which cut into the newspaper, there was no month, day or year, no attributed publication. That data was to be gained from other sources — the gravestone, the death record from Denver, Colo. Curiously, though, one mystery was brought about by a simple omission — this first obituary, which I later identified as from the Harrisburg Telegraph, listed his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Grace, but no mention of his son, Oscar; daughter-in-law, Florence; or local grandsons.

A few years and a paid subscription to later, I dug up a death announcement, published the day after Sherman’s death, also in the Telegraph, which yields additional clues: age at death, address in Harrisburg, a sketch of his career with the Knights of the Maccabees and recent job change, and — voila! — mention of Oscar and his son’s address… in Arizona!

The other day, not looking for any info on Sherman, but still trying to trace more on Oscar, who doesn’t pop up again for us until his mother’s death in 1945, I found a curious third obituary. This one published in the Harrisburg Daily Independent, also on the day after Sherman died. From that Tuesday, April 6, 1915 edition:

William (sic) S. Foutz Prominent Maccabee Succumbs From Long Illness

Word was received here of the death of William (sic) S. Foutz, 135 North Summit street, who died near Denver, Col., yesterday where he had been ill for some time. He was 47 years of age. For seventeen years he was deputy and organizer of the Maccabees of the World.

For the past year Mr. Foutz was unable to attend to any business and on January 1 he left for Colorado. He is survived by his wife and daughter, Grace, of this city, and a son, Oscar, of Arizona. No arrangements for the funeral have been made, but interment will be made at Bowerstown (sic), Ohio.

So, some significant errors in the printed record here, most notably Sherman’s renaming and the misspelling of his hometown of Bowerston. But had I stumbled upon this article first, perhaps through some creative searching of the archives, I would have still gotten the tid bit on Oscar’s western location, and some additional details on how his work had suffered from his illness. No update on his change in career — for all we know, he still could have been working for the Maccabees, according to this record — and thus, I view with skepticism the specific “seventeen years” summation of his duties. But between the sources, we get a richer picture, provided we’ve done a bit more gathering of wool and smoothing out the rough parts.

“If your mother says she loves you, CHECK IT OUT.”

Sherman Foutz obit

April 1915 obituary for Sherman Foutz lists only his wife and daughter as survivors. From the Harrisburg Telegraph.

Foutz Sherman S death announce Harrisburg Telegraph April 1915

Son Oscar Foutz is listed as a survivor — and living in Arizona — in Sherman Foutz’s 1915 death announcement.



Categories: Foutz, General Genealogy, Milestones | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Postcards from Port Washington | Ley Family History

Curtis Wiand Wall Safe Hardware Store Port Washington Ohio

Wallsafe from Curtis Wiand’s Port Washington, Ohio hardware store.


Port Washington Detritus: Family Artifacts Online

“Port Washington enjoys the enviable distinction of being one of the prettiest and most picturesque villages in the state….”

So begins a newspaper advertorial of June 1901, taken from the pages of the Uhrichsville, Ohio News Democrat, describing the home of our Ley ancestors. Maybe the description doesn’t jibe with the quaint, cloistered cluster of homes and stores we know more than a century later, lightyears after the town’s peak as bustling canal port. But consider it a record of what life was like for our great-great-great-grandparents and their families then.

With commendable zeal, her citizens have realized the beauty of the town’s delightful situation and have made neat improvements, commensurate with its natural facilities.

The town strikingly resembles in appearance the much admired villas of northern Georgia whose attractiveness is well known to northern tourists.

Well-kept lawns, smooth-shaven as a priest, spacious streets, an artistic arrangement of shade trees, some attention to floriculture and landscape gardening — all attest the love of the beautiful in the towns-people.

Environed by an excellent farming country, the business interests of the town have largely kept pace with its needs, but not to that extreme limit which excludes sociability and cleverness, which are distinguished features of the place –qualities which are better appreciated by those who have witnessed amid the incessant hum of machinery and dust of unceasing toil, the hopeless surrender of domestic pleasures to the all absorbing whirl of business.

Properly speaking, Port Washington presents a just mean between the extremes of these towns which are as dead as John T. Brush’s classification rules and those which are oblivious to all save insatiable greed for lucre.

The recent census shows the town’s population to be about 600. …

Trippy, right? And all a well-typed online search away to the curious and family-minded of 2015.

In the past few days, our latest newsletter installments have (re?)introduced us to our Sperling and Hammersley ancestors, neighbors and family to the Leys in bygone days of Port Washington.

For the pictures most recently shared of Abraham and Catherine Sperling, and Great-great-great Grandmother Harriet (Sperling) Hammersley Wiand, mother of Minnie (Hammersley) Ley (wife to Charles Ley), we have fellow genealogy sleuths at Kin-Connection to thank. They mined the best source of all — family records, photos, documents and memories.

But some of the additional ways we’ve filled in the blanks the last week — about the tragic death of Third-Great-Grandpa James Hammersley, and the remarriage of Hattie to hardware merchant Curtis Wiand — came from one of the central tenets of my original genealogy dare in summer 2008: that to dig up generations worth of stories on your ancestors, in today’s information-in-an-instant age, you need only a curious mind, tireless fingers and a hardy internet connection.

What a wealth of stuff there is online.

To conclude our series on the Port Washington Sperlings, Hammersleys, Wiands and Leys, here’s a few more tidbits a broad bandwidth away.


Town Life in Port Washington, Ohio, c. 1900

Hattie’s second husband, Christian Wiand, and their descendants through Curtis V. Wiand, kept up for many decades the hardware store in Port Washington he established shortly after their marriage. The above safe from that store — amazingly – was offered at auction three years back (2012) in South Dakota and sold for $50.

Similar to the ruby glass once gifted to Lizzie Foutz, there are countless family trinkets circulating out there. Kinda makes you want to watch the auction circuit, eh?

Christian’s family had first established themselves in Carroll County, Ohio, before residing in Clay Township, where he and Hattie were eventually married. A nice paragraph on the family can be found — through the wonder of Google Books search — eminently accessible, online.

Wiand Henry bio History of Tusc Co


Through free and paid archives, newspaper records paint a vivid portrait of the day. The gushing advertorial that begins this post actually appeared in different guises through a number of editions in the years around the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries.

Rolling back a couple years, we find a Port Washington where Great-great-great Grandfather Augustus Ley’s dry goods store also thrives. Unfortunately — and serving as a lesson of online research — the scanned copies available in as well as have the same big blot in the bottom corner of page 11 of the Nov. 30 1899 edition, marring what is undoubtedly a description of Ley’s store, leaving us to decipher:

… & Co. are located on…

…are. They are good

… (ca)rry a full line of the

…. (goo)ds, groceries, etc.

… have a fine trade and pay the highest prices for produce, etc.

… F.H. Powell’s (undoubtedly related to us through Hattie Powell, Augustus’s wife — yes, another Hattie) general store is in the storeroom formerly occupied by A. Ley. He is a hustling young merchant and is doing a thriving business. He also has a millinery department in connection with his store.

But elsewhere on the page, we check in with Christian Wiand, c. 1899:

C. Wiand, the hardware merchant, keeps a complete line of hardware, tinware, cutlery, stoves, etc. He also has a nice lot of buggies and wagons on hand and carries a good line of cigars in connection. He is located on the Public Square.

By 1901, Augustus Ley has died, but his descendants are continuing their profitable trade along with their Wiand neighbors, as related in the June 11, 1901 edition of The News Democrat:

C. Wiand conducts the hardware store and has a very complete stock. Mr. Wiand is a gentleman of genial manner, apt business qualities and is thoroughly conversant with the public policies of the day. His son, Curtiss, who is employed with him, is a pleasing business man, held in high regard by all who know him.

Lewis Ley (son of Augustus), the gentlemanly traveling representative of Dies, Fertig & Co., is a resident of this place. Mr. Ley’s father, recently deceased, was a pioneer business man here, and all of the family are held in high esteem.

Flipping forward through the archival pages, to April 26, 1906 in The Daily Times of New Philadelphia, we read of the devastating San Francisco earthquake, and how relief efforts have hit home:

All of those who wish to show their sympathy to the people of San Francisco who are in need can place their money in the little tin box at Christian Wiand’s hardware store.

News accounts of the day are filed with notes on who’s coming, who’s going, who’s visiting whom, sometimes reprinted from previous editions. And that holds true in 1930, same as ever, when the Oct. 30 edition of The Daily Times records a 1920 visit of Christian Wiand and wife to their daughter, Minnie, in New Philadelphia. By then, sadly, both mother and daughter have passed away. But print marches on.

Some of the advertorials on Port Washington and other ancestral stomping grounds would close with train tables, departure and arrival times and the rates to get you across a country that, from these descriptions, is bright and full of life and beckons to us through time. If only it were as simple as punching a ticket and climbing aboard….

Port Washington, Ohio street scene c. 1870s

Port Washington, Ohio street scene, circa 1870s. Courtesy of Chuck Schneider, a descendant of the carriage shop owner.





Categories: General Genealogy, Ley, newsletter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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