Getting a Fix on the First (Farming) Foutzes

Foutz-Johnson Genealogy Newsletter #2 – August 2010

This photo shows part of the cemetery where many Foutz ancestors are buried. The rolling, wooded hills are typical of the terrain in North and Monroe townships, Harrison County, Ohio.

“Each goodly thing is hardest to begin.” – Edmund Spenser

At the close of the first four-part Foutz-Johnson genealogy “newsletter”, in the first series of posts for this blog site, I promised that “next time” I’d be getting into the story of my first Foutz ancestors in America.

Since then, I’ve probably started and restarted this particular entry a dozen or more times. It’s not from a lack of research or material that I’ve so far been unable to find the right words to proceed. On the contrary, since I first saved a draft of this post in late May, I’ve expanded my knowledge of early Foutzes in Harrison County probably tenfold: combing censuses, and birth, land and death records; tracing the movement of various Foutz siblings and cousins from decade to decade; matching up names with gravestones that were a mystery to me during a March 2010 visit.

But, as with most things dusty and genealogical, the more solid ground I find, the more gaps appear that cry out for bridging.

So with a nod to Spenser, let’s plunge right in, acknowledging that:

* there’s a lot of information to share with you

* there is still more to dig up

* and the author reserves the right to let his account lie fallow when it’s time to go back to the well, to bring up more of that cool, vivifying substance which runs through all true and lively narratives

* only promising that he will resume “whispering across the campfire” at you, the soonest he finds the next bend around which to take this evolving story of our family’s place in history.

Part One: Land for Sale, Cheap

Harrison County, Ohio. 1820s.

The Pfouts clan has been knocking around these parts for about a decade now. They made the trek from Washington County, Maryland, which is where patriarch Michael married Catherine in 1799, according to the International Genealogy Index. Census records show about half of their kids were born there, or just over the border, in Pennsylvania. But in 1811, son Jacob was born in Harrison County. For the next 200 years, there would be Foutzes who call this part of Ohio home.

The first series of documents that reliably name and connect Foutzes in this part of the country are found in the archives of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Census records don’t name more than the head of each household until 1850.

According to the Historical Collections of Harrison County, published by Charles Hanna in 1900, the lands bought by the federal government from the Six Nations Indian tribes — known as the Seven Ranges — had been surveyed and opened for sale after 1785. But the initial minimum size of the tracts (called sections) for purchase was 640 acres, which put land ownership out of reach for most citizens, particularly new immigrants and fledgling farmers.

On April 24, 1820, Congress enacted a law that set the minimum size parcel at 80 acres (or “eighties,” an eighth of the original 640-acre section). The Land Act of 1820 eliminated land purchases on credit. Instead, settlers could formalize their claims for a down payment of $100, and $1.25 per acre, payable in quarterly installments over four years. For cash purchases, patents were issued some six months to two years after final payment.

The Historical Collections show five Foutzes gaining patents to farmland in Monroe and North townships, Harrison County, between 1824 and 1831:

Michael Pfoutz, 10/24/1824, 78.98 acres, E 1/2 SW 13.13.6

Jonathan Pfauts, 5/22/1827, 79.5 acres, E 1/2 NE 23.12.6

John Pfautz, 4/2/1829, 79.5 acres, W 1/2 NE 23.12.6

Jacob Pfautz, 11/1/1830, 78.98, W 1/2 SW 13.13.6

Michael Pfoutz, 7/1/1831, 80 acres, E 1/2 SW 20.13.6

Despite the differences in spelling — which would vary over the next 80 years, partly due to errors in transcription, but also from family choice — all of these Foutzes are related. The first Foutz is the family patriarch, Michael. International records report his birth about 1768 in Germany, likely Baden-Wurttemberg. The Pfautz-Fouts-Foutz Genealogy Newsletter, published by Dr. John Scott Davenport throughout the 1980s, lists his emigration to the United States in 1787. The other Foutzes gaining patents — Michael (Jr.), John, Jacob and Jonathan — are his sons.

All in the Family

The document that definitively ties these family members together surfaces in 1851. But a flip through the 1850 federal census — and an intimate knowledge of what all those numbers and letters mean for each land patent — literally puts them on the map together.

To understand the series of 3 numbers in each patent, read them backwards. Let’s take our family patriarch’s “address” of 13.13.6, since it also matches up with his son Jacob’s digits.

The 6 refers to the range — remember our original “Seven Ranges”?

The middle “13” is the township number — though it doesn’t correspond to the actual, named township in which the parcel resides. (For example, Michael’s parcel is located in North Township, even though it bears the same number — 13 — as son Michael junior’s parcel, which is in Monroe Township. In turn, John and Jonathan’s parcels are located in township 12, but they also reside in Monroe Township.)

The final number is key, once you orient yourself on the map by range and township. The first “13” in Michael’s plat address is the number of the 64-acre section. From there, we can pinpoint his parcel’s location — it is the east half of the southwest quarter of section 13 in township 13, range 6.

Using the 1904 map below, I’ve illustrated the locations for the sections of each land patents listed above, as well as the section containing the farm of Michael’s youngest son, Gideon, otherwise known as Colt’s great-great-great grandfather, who I’ll get to in a moment.

Harrison County, OH

Sections where Pfoutses had farms in the mid- to late-1800s are highlighted.

So, we can see how closely these Foutzes (or Pfoutses) lived to one another. But how do we know they’re family?

The most important source is a record for the will of Michael Pfouts, again found in the Historical Collections of Harrison County. Michael dies in April, 1851. The probate for his will that May lists the following survivors:

… wife, name not given; children, Mary Hurless, Elizabeth, Catherine Waters. Michael, Jonathan, John, Jacob, Gideon; execs., Jonathan Pfouts, John Pfouts; wits., Jacob Bowers, David Bowers.

The International Genealogy Archives, accessible at, also matches up these children with Michael and Catherine Pfouts. This is also the source for the 1799 wedding date of Michael and Catherine in Maryland.

The 1850 census provides a foundation for locating these ancestors and their families in Monroe and North townships. By tracing their movements through successive censuses in 1860, 1870 and 1880, we can compare to an 1875 map of Harrison County which helpfully listed the names of landowners on their carefully outlined parcels, and voila, we get a literal geography of where this extended family lived and interacted in the 1800s.

On the first map below, Monroe Township, working from top to bottom:

* Section 20 — Michael Pfouts Jr. shows up in the 1850 and 1860 censuses here (on the land owned in 1875 by J.M. Bower and J. Fonte) with wife Mary and their nearly-adult brood of kids. By 1870, only Mary remains. She will follow their son, Michael III, to Wood County, Ohio. (Where descendants still spell their surname Fouts.)

* Section 25 — Gideon Pfouts is already head of a growing family when he first shows up on census rolls in 1850 along with wife Delilah, son Jonathan (Colt’s great-great grandfather), and daughter Tabitha, along with lodger John Hurless, likely an inlaw of sister Mary. Gideon will farm this land for the next 60 years, eventually yielding the farmwork to sons Nathan and Nelson.

* Section 23, John Pfouts & Jonathan Pfouts — these brothers would farm side by side for more than 50 years. The 1850 census shows an unmarried John, but by 1860 he is listed with wife Margaret and their growing family. Curiously, the 1850 through 1880 censuses illustrate that Jonathan would live alone with younger sister Elizabeth the rest of their lives. Eventually, nephew Jonathan Foutz (great-great-grandfather to Colt) takes over a parcel in this section.

Continuing with the bottom-most map, North Township:

* Section 13, Jacob — He farms alongside his father, Michael, and then his sister, Catherine Watters, through the 1850 and 1860 censuses, then moves his growing family to Rush Township (south of Uhrichsville) in Tuscarawas County. By 1875, his parcel is owned by D.F. Heastan and S. Lauhrige.

* Section 13, Michael — Our 82-year-old patriarch appears on his final census in 1850 living in the home of John and Barbara Snider. He reportedly has learned to read and write English, something some of his children still cannot claim. His daughter, Catherine, and her husband, Nathan, have already taken over his land, which they still occupy as of the 1875 map below.

Now that we’ve got the lay of the land, we’ll explore the families and lives of these early farming Foutzes in the next installments of this series, which, as noted above, will be collected as the Foutz-Johnson Genealogy Newsletter #2.

Harrison County, OH

Locations of current 1875 Pfouts farms and former family parcels highlighted.

Harrison County, OH

1875 locations of current and former Pfouts parcels are highlighted.

Categories: Foutz, Johnson, newsletter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Getting a Fix on the First (Farming) Foutzes

  1. Pingback: Dover, New Phila Foutzes Connected by Football, Genes | Whispering Across the Campfire

  2. Pingback: Places of Rest & Remembrance #1 — Michael Pfouts « Whispering Across the Campfire

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