When I hatched the Campfire blog, I promised stories, and not info dumping. I suppose if you want to bone up on the family tree, with all its attendant foliage and bark and roots and soil and — yes, at times — rot, then Geni.com is the place to cruise profiles and get lost in a branch or a dozen. For my budding forest, there are more than 300 photographs, 100 or so documents and nearly 800 family members to pore over.
Here, I’d like to train a spotlight on some select tidbits. A foretaste of the feast, if you will.
Which brings us to an awfully big dining table. And all those Foutzes you heard of, but never really got a good look at, seated around it.
All in the Family
When I started digging into genealogy a couple summers ago, I had great info to go on when it came to my mom’s side of the family. I knew the Leys, at least, growing up. An uncle and five aunts and grandparents I was blessed to know into adulthood assured me of that, not to mention all those sprawling Thanksgiving get-togethers at 1 Parkview Drive.
But Dad’s side presented a lot of dead ends. I had heard of a few relatives by name, of course. Vance Cleveland Foutz, for whom I might have been named. (Cleveland Ohio, anyone? Combining the paternal great-grandfather’s middle name with that of the maternal Robert Ohio Weible.) And what kid of 8 could forget filling out a genealogy worksheet for school and having to squeeze in “Christina Laurina Katherina Zeigler” for the great-grandma married to Vance?
But that’s all they were, names. My dad being the youngest of three brothers — and his dad 3rd of 4, and his dad, in turn, 7th of 7 over a 20-year span — a lot of the mass family gatherings seemed to happen years before he was conscious of them. Relatives died out. Dad’s Grandma Foutz died when he was barely 4. His Grandpa Vance used to babysit him on football Friday nights when Grandpa and Grandma would watch his brothers down at the stadium. Or else drag Dad to a poker game with Vance’s constant buddy Jacob Lentz. But it wasn’t like they talked family history, and Vance passed away the summer Dad turned 16.
My Grandpa Foutz died of lung cancer when I was 4. Of his two brothers, one was dead when my dad was just a baby; the other lived down in Florida and died long before I was born. His little sister, Doris, lived in Pennsylvania with her family. I remember visiting them just once, and going deep into the mountain where my great uncle Wayne worked for the Social Security Administration. I remember they had a trashcan or something that looked like a life-size replica of R2D2. Perhaps needless to say, at that age I didn’t quiz them much on family history, either.
Turns out, Foutz history was something Doris and my Grandma Erma puzzled over for years. Letters between the two share the questions — and few answers — they dug up. Grandma had names — including my great-great grandparents Jonathan and Rebecca, and even great-great-greats Gideon and Delilah — but not a lot more.
It seems the generation that followed knew even less. At least, nothing that was spoken of where I could pick it up.
So it’s been gratifying to nail down Foutz genealogy and history in particular. And having done that, to comb through what Grandma and earlier Foutzes held on to to put faces and further details with the names and dates and locations I uncovered.
A party on Front Street
I love candid shots. Granted, when it comes to ancient ancestors like Gideon and Jonathan Foutz, or the Caldwells, the Crambletts, what-have-you, I’d take studio shots, sculptures, caricatures, napkin sketches — whatever’s available. But finding a nice series from an occasion that happens to include several relatives I’d never laid eyes on before? Ring the buzzers, daddio, ’cause that’s the jackpot.
Well, someone was minding the shutter well November 24, 1949. Photos from Thanksgiving catch several relatives in the act of chowing down and/or hamming (or turkeying) it up:
Great-grandma Laura Foutz, Grandpa Don Foutz, Grandma Erma Foutz, Great Uncle Roy Foutz, Great Aunt Louise Foutz (wife of Carl), Uncle Bob Foutz and first cousins (once removed) Donna (daughter of Carl) and Suzanne (daughter of Roy) Foutz.
Inscriptions on the photos indicate the gathering took place on Front Street. This could be in the bungalow behind 289 Front Street, which Vance and Laura sold to Grandpa and Grandma in 1947, and which is where they lived until moving around the corner to Cross Street a few years after my dad was born. Or, it could have been in the house at 289 proper, assuming Vance and Laura had moved from their home at 515 Race Street (along Sixth Avenue east of Wooster) where Grandpa Foutz lived during high school, and at which another set of photos is staged eight years earlier, in 1941.
See Geni.com for these and other pics of relatives not all that long ago. Doesn’t it look as if you could just ring the bell, grab a napkin and just settle down to eat?
Because the thing about candids is that some folks manage to duck the lens, I’ll include this great staged shot of the entire Vance Foutz family. Not sure of the date on it, but I’d guess sometime in the late 1930s/early 1940s.