Ancestral Profile of the Week – 5/17/2010
The gist: each week (that I remember to do so) I’ll post a few tidbits about a family member whose history I’ve been looking into. Most likely, there will be some tidbits you didn’t know. Almost always, what I’ve dug up will bring up more questions. As usual, your help in unearthing more clues/answers is appreciated.
Charles Ley is my great-great-great-great grandfather, and our first Ley ancestor to immigrate to the United States. Census records indicate he was born in Bavaria, as was his wife, Susan Carolina Vogelsang. They married May 25, 1835 in Shanesville, Ohio.
A lot of information about Charles comes from two fat paragraphs in a series of “Biographical Sketches of Salem Township (Tuscarawas County) Residents” — about his son, and my great-great-great grandfather, Augustus — and in the Powell Family History, with that family’s connection to the Leys through August’s wife, Harriet Powell. Here’s the rundown from the Salem Twp. sketches:
AUGUSTUS LEY, merchant, Port Washington, was born in Shanesville, this county, October 11, 1839, son of Charles and Susan C. Ley, who are natives of Germany. Charles Ley was born in November, 1808; his wife, in 1817. They emigrated to Ohio in 1831, and settled in Sugar Creek Township, this county, where they have since remained. Of their eight children, six are yet living. …
Contradictions and Further Clues
The above history differs from a Powell family history published around 1920 — and Charles’s grave marker in Union Cemetery, Port Washington — in important ways. Here is that text:
August Ley, husband of Harriet (Powell) Ley, was born at Shanesville, O., Oct. 11, 1839. His great grandfather, John Frederick Ley, was born May 6, 1738; was a minister; died April 1, 1788. His grandfather, Frederick Chas. Ley, was born (sic) was also a minister, died in 1818.
His father, Charles Ley, was born Dec. 11, 1807, in a province of Germany, though, according to trusty tradition the Ley family were originally from the Netherlands, and were an influential and talented people. Charles came to America in 1833, locating at Shanesville, O., where, on May 25, 1S35, he was married to Caroline Vogelsang.
So, to recap: Powell history has Charles’s full birth date: Dec. 11, 1807. This is consistent with what is etched on his rose-stone obelisk, which records his death as Feb. 10, 1897, and his age at death as 89 years, 1 month, 29 days. That puts a far more accurate birth date as Dec. 11, 1807 — NOT November 1808, almost a full year later.
Powell family history also records their emigration as 1833. In any case, they would have made the trip before 1835 and their marriage, which international and Ohio marriage records list pretty definitively as happening in Shanesville. One wonders about the circumstances around their vows. Census records indicate they both came from Bavaria. Family and local histories show an immigration arrival together. And yet, Charles is 10 years older than Carolina. And she is just about 18 on the nose at the time of their marriage. So, there’s likely a story there. (And marriage records, incidentally, also report Charles’s birth year as 1807.)
German ancestry, and Bavarian, to boot
According to family legend, there’s a Frederick Charles Ley in my mom’s ancestry, something of a fun fact due to my father’s name being Frederick Charles Foutz. And according to Powell history, the European Leys were ministers. Those older generations of Leys don’t seem to have come over from Germany, judging by census lists from 1840 and 1850 on, and Frederick Charles’s death in 1818 — I’m still looking. But by focusing on the more definitive birth date for Charles — Dec. 11, 1807 — we begin to fill in more of the details.
The 1850 Census reports Charles’s birth and that of his parents in Germany. Censuses in 1860, 1870 and 1880 get more specific, reporting that place of origin as Bavaria.
International genealogy records show a “Karl Gottleib Ley” being born Dec. 11, 1807 and christened at Sankt Alban, Pfalz, Bayern. His parents are listed as Carl Friederich and Charlotha Elisabetha. (Carl is a German form of Charles.) There are no other records that match so precisely.
Carl Friederich and Charlotha Elisabetha had other children christened in the same location during that decade: Johanetta Katharina, born Oct. 1804; Friderich Kristian, born July 1806; and Elisabetha Louisa, born March 1809. Could be these are Charles’s siblings — how many came with him to America?
A record from the international archives provides an important connection to that Powell family history entry. It shows a Karl Friedrich Ley being born Dec. 16 1771 to a “Joh. Friedrich Ley” and a Maria Phillipina. An international marriage record shows Karl Friedrich marrying Charlotha Elisabetha “Engelin” on Jan. 3, 1803. Most importantly, all of these records trace to “Evangelish Lutherische” parishes in Pfalz, Bayern — the same area as all of Charles’s and his siblings’ births.
Life in Shanesville, and occupation as a saddler
How and when Charles and Carolina came to America, and who came with them, is still a mystery. I’ve researched a couple ship passenger lists with a Charles L???, Charles Ley, and Charles Bra??? Ley, that connect, variously, to Germany, and Bavaria, and Stark County, with arrivals in 1834 and ’35. But I’m not convinced.
What is definitive are the censuses — each one from 1840 through 1880 — that establish Charles and Carolina in Shanesville, Salem Twp., down the road a piece from Port Washington, Dover, Sugarcreek, what-have-you.
The 1840 census is the last not to list individual family members. Charles is listed as head of household, with the following breakdown of residents: 2 males under 5 years old, 3 males 15-20, 1 male age 30-40 (that would be Charles), 1 female under 5, and 2 females 20-30 (one of whom would be Carolina). Whether or not this indicates siblings made the trip, or just the housing trends of the early 1800s, is not known.
The 1850 and 1860 censuses illustrate Charles’ and Carolina’s growing family: Frederick, born about 1836; Augustus, 1839; Amelia, 1841; Lewis, 1844; Maria, 1847; and little Charles, 1859 (if, indeed, this is their son at all).
These censuses establish Charles’s trade as a saddler. This job required an extensive apprenticeship, thorough knowledge of a horse and its anatomy and how it should be cared for, and the skill to make saddles by hand. Probably a pretty important and lucrative trade, back then, considering everyone got around by horsepower.
By 1870, only Amelia, now 28, and 11-year-old Charles are living with Charles and Carolina. There is another change: in 1860, there was another adult living with them, an Emma Ley, recorded as 53 — one year older than Charles. Is she a sister? A sister-in-law, perhaps married to Friedrich Kristian or another unknown brother? I haven’t looked into this yet. But it could provide a clue to other members of Charles’s family making the trip from Germany.
By 1880, the last census where they appear (most of the 1890 federal record was destroyed by fire), Charles is 72, Caroline, 62 (though younger, she would precede him in death by a year, in January, 1896). They are being tended by a 15-year-old servant, Sophia Derfer, who was born in Ohio, with father from Bavaria and mother from Wuerttemberg, Germany.
Charles and Carolina share the striking rose-colored obelisk in Union Cemetery, Port Washington. Another side of the obelisk is given to honoring “Louisa and Emma, daughters of C & C Ley”. With the 1860 census record, and the connection to Pfalzen, Germany, there is a bit of a mystery here as well. Are these daughters of Charles and Carolina, one of which could be a nickname for Amelia, the other perhaps for Maria? Or are these the daughters of Charles’s parents, Karl Friedrich and Charlotha Elisabetha, and thus Charles’s sisters? We know of Elisabetha Louisa, and we know of the Emma in the 1860 census, born about 1807, though the interval between Friedrich Kristian and Charles himself is difficult, to say the least, biologically. Another mystery.
Charles’s son Augustus, and Augustus’s son, Charles Henry (father to Robert Earl Ley, Sr.), and their wives and some of their children are buried in a large Ley plot behind Charles’ and Carolina’s marker.