Jonathan Foutz | 1845-1900
One of my long-term goals for my genealogy research is to be able to neatly summarize the lives of my ancestors and distant relatives in a terse paragraph or two.
Call it a product of the way most of the neato, whiz-bang family history web sites are designed these days. Part interactive time capsule, part social networking tool (to the present and past), sites like Geni.com and Ancestry.com fascinate and come to dominate your idle time because they offer attractive, logical answers to the over-arching question as you dig through piles of documents and burrow backward through sedimentary layers of history — How do I possibly organize and share all this information?
The heretofore tried-and-true — genealogy charts; family tree diagrams; those awful, official formats for reciting ancestors and descendants that read with as much scintillation as your average outline — has been replaced by logical boxes for vital info, plus places for stories, pictures and comments from relatives as otherwise out-of-touch as a Christmas card, circa 1985, buried in a box in the attic.
It’s compelling, active, accessible stuff. And right in the wheelhouse of an old daily newshound like me. There’s something powerfully rewarding about putting my research instincts and appetites to work and then being able to reel in the big discovery, mount it on the virtual wall for all to admire and make appreciative sounds at.
If I’ve lately burrowed out of site, it’s because the writer in me is doing battle with the archivist. I know there are stories that spill off the page. That spiral into back alleys and disappear. That have no satisfying ending. That bring more questions than answers.
The stubborn journalist in me feels I will eventually break through. But the archivist is busy applying a method to the madness. Because he knows that with so many names, dates, places, sources and suppositions, without a way of separating facts from hunches, and singling out the burning questions, it’s all so much flailing about.
So, since Christmas, when both Mom and mom-in-law (thanks!) gifted me the newest version of Family Tree Making, I’ve taken to dividing and conquering in this way:
1. Using my tree at Ancestry.com for research purposes. To play those hunches and wild guesses that, with a little prodding, sometimes bear fruit.
2. Focusing on the core 5 generations of my tree (from me, back to great-greats, and siblings) in a PC-only file of Family Tree Maker (no public sharing yet), so I can standardize and store all the relevant information.
3. Utilizing my Geni.com tree — and this blog — to share the info and stories I dig up.
Eventually, that should mean less notes and questions and guesses on Geni, and soon, a neat paragraph to condense and convey what we know about our ancestors. Right now, the Geni profiles I’ve added are rich with notes and copied & pasted documents, old questions I’ve since answered, and some bad dates and other info I’ve forgotten about and let ride. There are a lot of branches to keep up with, of course.
Which is why this is a several years project, and not something I’m kidding myself about wrapping up this month, or this year.
And what this post is, I guess, is a long-winded way of explaining why I’m effectively reposting the first 2 posts of a series I started last October.
Jonathan Foutz Family – Picking up the Thread
There have been breakthroughs since then. And changes in my understanding. And so I’ve gone back and updated the posts on my great-great grandparents Jonathan and Rebecca that kicked off a worthwhile thread on the Foutz family.
Over the rest of this week, you’ll read about them, and the lives of their children, including my great-grandfather Vance Foutz. I intended to complete this tour of Vance and his parents and siblings last Fall. But life, and all of the above, intervened. (As it so often will.)
So let’s start with Jonathan Foutz and pick up the thread. Since last October’s post, I’ve uncovered his actual wedding date to Rebecca Jane Caldwell, and also what would seem to be evidence of an earlier marriage.
A Jonathan Pfouts married Isabelle McBeath in Harrison County on May 28, 1863, about two and half years before my great-great grandparents were wed. What gives, eh?
But this is why all the info collected can get a bit overwhelming. Diving into a notebook from last spring, in which I’d recorded all the Foutzes living in Monroe and North townships in Harrison County, and Rush Township in Tuscarawas County, reveals the true answer:
In addition to having an uncle Jonathan Pfouts, my great-great grandfather also shared the name with a cousin, the Jonathan Pfouts who was a son of his father Gideon’s brother, Jacob. This Jonathan Pfouts is shown farming his father’s land in Tuscarawas County in the 1870 census. By then, he and Isabella are parents to Anna, 6, Joseph, 3, and Jacob Jr., 1.
So, perhaps this isn’t a straight reposting at all. But an answer to another riddle, if a brief one. And that’s why all the effort to organize.
But for this week, we’ll resume taking a look at the Jonathan and Rebecca Foutz family. And what we know so far….