Son of Charles & Minnie Ley | 1891 Death
Newspapers in Ohio around the turn-of-the-(19th)-century were never short on mentions of the Leys. And Tuscarawas County, as it turns out, was never short of newspapers back then.
At this point I will bar myself from traipsing down Tangent Lane to comment on the sad state of community journalism today, etc. and etc. And just allow myself a “Damn. But there were a lot of newspapers back then!”
Among the community rags with news of Port Washington, and Dover, and New Philadelphia, and Coshocton, and Uhrichsville — primary stomping grounds of ancestors on both sides — were the Dover Weekly Argus; the Coshocton Age and Tribune; the Twin City News and News Democrat, of Uhrichsville; and the Daily Times and Ohio Democrat, of New Phila.
The families of my great-great-great grandfather, Augustus Ley, and Charles Henry Ley, my great-great grandfather, were particularly featured in stories and blurbs of the day.
Augustus, born to the first Ley from our family to emigrate from Germany, built upon the community and business sensibilities of his father Karl, a saddler, by graduating from Duff’s Commercial College in Pittsburgh. He returned home to Bakersville to clerk in a general store. Within five years he owned the place. The firm of A. Ley & Co. became well-known throughout Tuscarawas County. And in addition to opening the first creamery in the county, Augustus paid further mind to the wallets of his fellow citizens by serving them as township treasurer and clerk.
August’s oldest son, Charles Henry, followed his father into the merchant’s life, and into politics. During a 13-year apprenticeship in his father’s store, Charles was elected to the board of education and city council. He struck out on his own in 1895, as a traveling salesman for a Pittsburgh dry goods firm, and eventually gained election as county treasurer, a post in which he served two terms, from 1911-1915. (His son, Robert Earl Ley, would assist him during the first term.)
(The above information is culled from three sources: Biographical Sketches of Salem Twp. Residents, found readily online in its entirety; a history of the Powell family – Augustus married Hattie Powell; and from Charles H. Ley’s reelection advertisement.)
During his apprenticeship at his father’s store, Charles married Minnie Hammersley, in June 1888. By that time the family had established itself in Port Washington. Their first child, a son, Walter Augustus, was born August 27, 1889.
The report below came in one of the community dispatches published in The Ohio Democrat in February 1891. These notes from surrounding towns often concerned people visiting friends or family, recent spates of illness, reports of crops growing or struggling, and even, occasionally, good news.
The news in this dispatch was sad for the Ley family. The infant, Walter Augustus, had passed away — the paper doesn’t say of what — at barely 18 months old.
Happily, the outlook for the young Leys would eventually grow sunnier with the births of (my great-grandfather) Robert Earl, in 1893, Lester Herman, in 1895, and Irma, in 1900.
But the family, as a group, died young — perhaps not unusually for that day, but certainly earlier when compared to relatives from previous and succeeding generations. Charles would die in 1925 of a heart attack, at age 59. Wife Minnie would succumb to cerebral hemorrhage four years later, at 63. Lester would die at 46, and sister Irma, at 45. My great-grandfather, Robert Earl Ley Sr., would outlive them at all, long enough to establish a successful dental practice in Dover and work alongside his son, Robert Jr. And yet, still he would succumb too young, at 65.
Charles, Minnie and their infant son are buried at Union Cemetery in Port Washington. Irma is buried near her brother, Robert, at Evergreen Burial Park in New Philadelphia.