Life After Jonathan and First Foutzes in Dover, Ohio
By the time the picture above was taken in 1918, all of my direct ancestors had left Harrison County.
And most of the ones with significant ties to the Bowerston area were dead, or had dim memories of the way Foutzes got along throughout the 19th century.
Which is why tracing the history of my great-great grandfather’s family is crucial to understanding our earliest Foutz ancestors in America.
Jonathan Foutz was born on a farm in Harrison County, Ohio. Just like his father, my great-great-great grandfather Gideon was, after my fourth great grandfather Michael Pfouts brought the family to Harrison County from Maryland about 1810. Near as the records tell us, Michael was a 1787 immigrant from the lower Neckar River region of Germany.
For the first few decades of Jonathan’s life, all went pretty much as it had for farming Foutzes their first 100 or more years in America. And then: change.
Jonathan’s family was first to change their surname’s spelling to Foutz. (Gideon and some of his siblings were buried as Fouts.)
Their children were the first in my line to attend and graduate from college.
They were first to leave the farm behind and live somewhere else, and somewhere urban: first, in Washington D.C. with their oldest son, Sherman; then later, in the town four succeeding Foutz generations called home — what was then Canal Dover, Ohio.
Growing up, I had no idea my family first settled in Harrison County. So, how do you reconnect with the homestead? The answer: “tracing it forward.” In other words, undertaking a genealogy search that isn’t limited to your direct ancestors, but branches out to siblings and sons and daughters of siblings and their descendants and downward and onward and so on.
Already, this approach to growing numerous side branches in the family tree has borne fruit. Connecting with Dawn James, a descendant of Jonathan’s daughter Ida, has meant the chance to share family documents and heirloom photographs, such as the one of great-great grandma Rebecca below. Getting to know not only our direct forefathers, but their siblings and cousins and distant relatives as well, brings us closer to having direct contact with descendants who still call Harrison County home today — and may hold the key to answers about our earliest ancestors.
Rebecca (Caldwell) Foutz – Picking up the Thread
Last October, I started a newsletter series on the Jonathan and Rebecca Foutz family with posts on my great-great grandfather and great-great grandmother.
This week, we’ve picked up the thread: first, with a catch-up post on Jonathan, and a link to the first October Foutz post.
Today, we revisit the life story of Rebecca (Caldwell) Foutz. How she was allegedly born on the Gideon Pfouts homestead. Moved with her parents to Sherrodsville. Then returned to Harrison County to marry Jonathan. They raised 7 children there: Sherman, Lila, Rachel, Ida, John, Charles and my great-grandfather, Vance. By 1900, they were living with Sherman in Washington D.C., their two youngest sons along for a journey that was cut short with Jonathan’s death in 1900 at a young 55.
In fact, my great-grandfather Vance, who died in 1968 at age 80, outlived everyone in his immediate family. His mother, Rebecca, had the second-longest lifespan, succumbing to stroke in 1915 at age 67.
By then, she had been living with Vance and his family in Dover for at least five years, maybe longer. She’d had the chance to hold my 1-year-old grandfather, Don, in her arms. What if she had lived as long as her son? As long as my own grandmother Foutz would? Would my family have more of a connection — if not in actual experience with living relatives, than at least in memory — if Jonathan’s and Rebecca’s generation had been around to share that history.
For now, all we can do is imagine their lives and the secrets time has hidden from us a century later. And work to “trace forward” the tree, and see what new connections might shed new light on old mysteries.