Whatever Happened to Rachel Foutz?
If there was one obstacle, more than any other, preventing my grandfather Don Foutz’s family in Dover, Ohio from connecting with their farming roots in Harrison County, not to mention their family’s origins in Germany, it would be this:
Within the first 20 years of the new (20th) century, all but my great-grandfather Vance, and his oldest sister, Lila, were dead.
Their family had been large. To great-great grandparents Jonathan Foutz and Rebecca (Caldwell) Foutz were born, on the old Foutz homestead south of Bowerston, 7 kids: Sherman, Lila, Rachel, Ida, John, Charles and Vance.
John, at just 21, was first — and youngest — to go, in 1899.
Father Jonathan followed in 1900, at 55. (His father Gideon lived to age 89; his mother, Delilah, to nearly 80).
In 1915, oldest son Sherman died in April, at 47. His mother, Rebecca, followed in March, at 65. (Her own mother died 3 years later, at 91.)
Ida died in 1917, at age 44.
Charles died the next year, in 1918, at just 32.
And that left just Vance, barely 30 and a father to four already — Roy, Carl, Don and Doris — and Lila, a sister almost 20 years his senior with a family that was mostly grown.
Small wonder, then, that as my grandpa Don and grandma Erma began comparing notes on family history with their siblings and in-laws in the 1970s, their memories were clouded with vague recollections of numerous cousins and the odd aunt or uncle visiting, but few firm names or dates or places in which to root their ancestry.
This was particularly true as Erma and her sisters-in-law, Louise (Moore) Foutz and Doris (Foutz) Waddington, struggled to uncover any evidence of “Pop Foutz’s” (as Vance was called) sisters. In their first accounting, Lila was the sole female listed. Later, Rachel and Ida were both added, but as this excerpt from a letter Doris wrote my parents in 1981 indicates, the few fragments they had gathered together were already starting to scatter:
I don’t know any more about my dad’s family than Don. Dad was the youngest of his family. His parents, at least his father, died when he was very young. I never knew my grandparents on Dad’s side. Only had a Grandma Zeigler. Never had a grandpa. I recall, as a little girl, going to a funeral of Dad’s sister. He had 3 brothers – John, Sherman, Charles – and 2 sisters, Delilah and Rachel, that I recall.
The funeral great Aunt Doris writes about is undoubtedly Lila’s, in 1936, when she was 19. Doris may have also attended the funeral of her Aunt Ida (whom she doesn’t mention), in Carrollton, but would understandably not have remembered — she was barely 6 months old in November 1917.
And yet she mentions her Aunt Rachel. Is this due to the visits of “several red-headed cousins from Canton” that Louise recalls in a late 1970s letter to Don and Erma? Or some personal interaction, even, with Rachel’s husband, William Coleman, who is noted well in their genealogy notes from the 1970s, though Rachel’s birth — and death — are unremarked upon, uncomfirmed.
They remain a mystery still. (And a reason why she’s not listed among the macabre hit parade above.) But here’s what I’ve uncovered so far.
Rachel (Foutz) Coleman | 1871 – ???
My great-great aunt Rachel L. Foutz was born third of Jonathan and Rachel Foutz’s children, on June 3, 1871. (Almost 105 years to the day before me.)
Her older sister, Lila, was named for their paternal grandmother. Rachel was probably named after their maternal grandmother — Rebecca’s mom, Rachel Cramblett.
She appeared on just one federal census before her marriage. At 9, in 1880, she was normal among Foutz kids of this generation to be attending school and learning to read and write.
She was married barely 10 years later, during a busy couple summers for Jonathan’s daughters. Twenty-year-old Lila and 16-year-old Ida had been first to wed, in 1889. Both marriages were followed, some 4 and 7 months later, respectively, by childbirth. In July 1891, Rachel married William H. Coleman, a man 24 years her senior. By 1900, they would be living in Pennsylvania, with the census-taker recording Rachel’s name, curiously, as Bridget.
William had been married before, as several records more or less definitively illustrate. Though the 1890 census, partially destroyed by fire, can yield no further clues in this case. When the 1900 census finds William and his Ohio bride, they are living in Allegheny, Pa., where William is learning the trade of a stationary engineer in the factories near Pittsburgh. Among the household are three young children with Rachel — Karl, 6; Blanche, 3; and newborn Frank — as well as two older stepchildren to Rachel: Bert, 18, and Charles, 15. The census records their marriage as 9 years old at that time, and theirs, as well as their parents’ births in Ohio, and their children’s births in Pennsylvania.
Probably William lived in or near Youngstown in 1870 and 1880, in the household of his widowed mother, Mary. The 1860 census records a William Coleman living in Perry County with his grandfather Ross, which matches the maiden name of William’s mother on his death certificate. The 1850 census places a child of William’s age again in Jefferson County near Youngstown in the household of Richard and Mary Coleman (although his death certificate records his father’s name as Bartholomew.)
Rachel and William next appear, together, in the birth record of Bessie Coleman, born Jan. 31, 1906 in what is now the hometown of Rachel’s mother, Rebecca, and youngest brother, Vance. Whether intentional, or not, Rachel has chosen for her youngest child the name of a niece, Bessie Moreland, born to her sister Ida and Thomas Moreland in 1890. Three years later, Bessie would marry a Harry Baxter Coleman, confusing genealogists a century later, but probably everyone back then took it in stride.
Where the official record finds — or doesn’t find — Rachel next is more of a leap.
Rachel descendant’s – the long unraveling
By 1910, Rachel’s youngest sibling, my great-grandfather Vance, is head of a bustling household at 22.
At 113 W. 2nd St. in Dover live Vance; his wife of two years, Laura; their infant son, Roy; his 60-year-old mother, Rebecca; his sister Ida’s oldest son, Lloyd; and the family of his 62-year-old (older than his mother) brother-in-law William Coleman — Frank, 10, and Karl, 16.
Vance and Lloyd are both laborers for the same Dover company — the name is illegible. William is employed, somewhere, as a stationary engineer, and even son Karl works as a clerk. Frank goes to school.
But where is Rachel? And, for that matter, where are their two daughters, Blanche and Bessie?
In short: don’t know. It is possible that Rachel died shortly after her youngest child was born. Or died in childbirth. Or is with them, wherever they are, and that she died later. But she never appears on another census. And there is no record in Ohio of her death — at least not found through the usual searches.
The next time a member of Rachel’s family turns up, it is when Karl greets death. During a visit — according to the 1915 newspaper clipping found in my grandma Foutz’s papers — to his Uncle Vance that March, Karl is stricken with tuberculosis and dies two months past his 21st birthday. He is buried in Longview Cemetery in Bowerston, near where his Uncle Sherman is buried barely a month later.
Karl’s brother Frank turns up as a lodger in a Dover house in 1920, and later appears in a Canton house in 1930 — perhaps one of those Canton cousins who visit Vance from time to time. He never marries, according to these records.
Frank next appears on the 1922 record of his father’s admission to the U.S. National Home for Disabled Soldiers in Los Angeles, Calif. It’s a long way from Canton, Ohio to LA, but all the names and dates in this record line up. His children are recorded as Mrs. Blanche (J.T. Escott) Coleman, of Kent, Ohio, and Karl Coleman, c/o the Canton YMCA. William apparently served from January through July, 1865 in the 36th Ohio Infantry. And checked into the Home with a variety of ailments, including myocarditis, bronchitis and fractured ribs.
But William was discharged for the final time in February 1928. He dies seven months later in the care of his daughter, on Aug. 24, 1928, at 81. His death certificate reports his burial in Kent, Ohio.
And what of Blanche? She outlives them all. And remains in Kent, Ohio the rest of her life. She marries Joseph T. Escott, a World War I veteran from Michigan. Escott, listed as an accountant for the railroad in the 1930 census, may have founded Escott & Co. Certified Public Accountants, which, as of 2005, was still operating in Kent. They belonged to Trinity Lutheran Church in Kent, according to these church records. Blanche worked as a registered nurse.
I don’t know whether they had any kids — the 1930 census doesn’t show any. But Blanche lives to be 97 years old. She dies Aug. 29, 1994. She lived a long, and probably fascinating life. But the stories she knew were lost to my family, because her own mother was lost to us years before.