In Good Countenance #10: Abraham Sperling

Sperling Abraham

Fourth Great-Grandfather Abraham Sperling


Abraham Sperling | Ley Family History

It’s been a few years since I’ve had the chance to tromp around the old family stomping grounds in Tuscarawas County and come face to face with haunts of ancestors close and far-flung. Distant Foutz cousin Dawn James and I like to refer to this practice as “full-contact genealogy.”

I dunno, there’s something a bit more tangible than juggling JPEGs and squinting at old clippings or the botched transcriptions of barely coherent hobbyist genealogists when you go foraging through cemeteries that seem as if they haven’t seen visitors in the last year. But then you see recently-laid flowers on the headstones of relatives from extended branches of the tree and it’s an arm-tingling, goosebumpity feeling: the blood that runs through you still runs through this place, too. And will, long after you move away and longer still, when your bones repose in some similar hillside.

One of my dispatches from a visit home in 2013 saw me sharing the stories of fourth great-grandparents Abraham and Catherine Sperling, who found their way to Port Washington, Ohio from New Jersey in the middle part of the 1800’s. He was a shoemaker, butcher, auctioneer and soldier (in his 50’s during the Civil War!), among other occupations, and she bore him 10 children, 8 of whom survived into adulthood.

Their fourth child (and third daughter) was Harriet “Hattie” Sperling, who went on to marry James Hammersley and was mother to Minnie Eillene, whom members of our Ley family may know better as Minnie Ley, wife of great-great grandpa Charles.

I’ll share more in a couple days about Hattie, who remained a devout member of the Moravian Church and remained in Port Washington even after the young death of James in 1869. For now, feast your eyes on the “vintage visage” of Abraham, courtesy of Mike Parker’s tree on and curated by Mac Wilcox and his genealogist-sleuth brothers at Props for their excellent work and generosity — looking forward to see what more they turn up!


Abraham Sperling

Another pic of fourth-great-grandfather Abraham Sperling, not dated.

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Vance Foutz – Drunken Car Crash

Vance Cleveland Foutz

Great-Grandfather Vance Cleveland Foutz, 1887-1968

Tusc Ave. Crash Lands Vance Foutz in Hot Water

It’s Memorial Day weekend, family and friendlies, occasion for cookouts and Indy 500 watching and — in Dover Foutz tradition, Indy 500 cookouts. As the commercials say: drink responsibly.

A maxim Great-Grandpa Vance Foutz might have followed a bit more closely on a late May weekend some 76 (!!!) years ago. The (typically traitorous) New Philadelphia Daily Times made Vance an unwitting subject of its front page that Saturday, May 19, 1939, chronicling his misadventures of the night before, as he piloted a car and two female occupants into a parked vehicle along Tuscarawas Avenue.

Complicating matters — a fire plug suffered in the collision, flooding the scene. Other damage? Blackened eyes, cut lips and a fine of $100 plus costs.

Read the full report — and stay out of the police log, kiddos.



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Foutz Bros Waylaid on Way to Cage Match

Great-Grandpa Vance Foutz, far left, was not along when sons Roy, Don and Carl suffered a car cash in March 1946. But then, Vance had some other dustups to his name.

Great-Grandpa Vance Foutz, far left, was not along when sons Roy, Don and Carl suffered a car cash in March 1946. But then, Vance had some other dustups to his name.

Family Fender Benders: Don Foutz, 1946

To err is human. To find your fenders trading paint — or parts — with another automobile during the course of your lifetime, um, mundane.

If the local newspaper captured everything from 6-year-old birthday parties to jury summonses to ailments cured, you can bet it faithfully recorded the minor dustups that were a matter of routine on 20th century roadways in and about town.

And in case you never thought grandpa — or grandma, or great-grandpa — encountered a bad turn or two behind the wheel, well, this series should dispel that myth.

In all its permanent record detail.

Today’s inaugural installment puts us on an Ohio back road in March 1946. The two oldest Foutz brothers — Roy and Carl — are passengers in a car piloted by their youngest brother, my then 32-year-old grandpa Don. They’re on their way to a road Dover basketball game when they suffer that common specimen of automotive transport — road trippus interruptus.

From the New Philadelphia Daily Times of Monday, March 18, 1946:

En route to the Dover-East Liverpool basketball game at New Concord, a car driven by Don Foutz, 32, of Dover, was involved in a collision with a car driven by W.F. Jones, 24, of Canton, two and a half miles north of Newcomerstown on Rt. 21, Saturday at 6 p.m.

State Highway patrolmen said the accident occurred when Jones stopped for a car that was partially parked on the highway and the Foutz car, also traveling south, was unable to stop and struck the rear of Jones’ car.

Carl and Roy Foutz, brothers of the driver, suffered bumps and bruises. Both machines were damaged.

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Birthday Soiree for 6-year-old Donn Foutz

Waddington Joy Foutz Don 1950

Joy Waddington and cousin Donn Foutz, about 1950.

Donn Foutz’s Sixth Gets Times Write-up

Yes, it was common for the local paper in 1950’s Ohio to lend precious ink to even the most everyday occurrences. Such as a six-year-old’s birthday party.

Albeit, this March 1950 shindig was for the illustrious Uncle Donn Foutz.

Hey, Happy 71st, Uncle Donn!

From the Tuesday, March 14 edition of the New Philadelphia Daily Times:

Six-year-old Donn Foutz was a happy boy Saturday when his mother, Mrs. Don Foutz, entertained at a birthday party at the Foutz home, 323 E. Front St., Dover.

Tom Schupbach, Donald Maughan, Jack Colley and Rolly Varner won prizes.

Others attending were: Bobby and Carl Foutz, Susan Hardesty, Carol and Jim Edwards, Katy Andreas, Dick Williams, Jim Lanzer and Matt Fisher.


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Dover Police Blotter: Stolen Tire

Foutz Don Tire Theft Mar 1940


Honestly, Who Steals One Tire?

And honestly, who throws a shoe?

From your bustling hometown of Dover, the police blotter of 75 years ago. Grandpa Don Foutz suffered a stolen wheel and tire from his Chevy roadster overnight that Saturday, according to the New Philadelphia Daily Times of March 5, 1940.

Maybe police should have been on the lookout for a uni-roadster piloted by some sketchy looking character?

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