John Cephas Foutz | 1877 – 1899
For the longest time, my grandma Erma Foutz was convinced her husband’s father, Vance, had a brother named George.
Early drafts of the family tree she had been assembling in the late 1970s scored correctly for my great-grandfather’s brothers Sherman and Charles, but she kept pulling the lever and coming up TILT for this George she was fixated on.
And why was that, exactly?
A couple interesting reasons, if not necessarily sound ones. But hey, much of genealogy is gazing into the swirling mists….
Reason 1: the documents my grandparents had to go on when reconstructing their Foutz ancestry consisted of a few newspaper clippings and some already moldering photographs. One of the more reliable accounts was the obituary of my great-great grandmother, Rebecca (Caldwell) Foutz, which listed only three living children — my great-grandfather Vance and his sisters, Lila (Mrs. Sam Hatheway in the article) and Ida (Mrs. Thomas Moreland) — and a larger cluster of living siblings, among them George Caldwell.
But it seems unlikely Grandma — a pretty sharp cookie in most matters — would mistake a Caldwell for a Foutz. (Although it happens….) Her sister-in-law, Doris (Foutz) Waddington, tried to clarify the matter in a March 1979 letter:
Another rainy Thursday like last week when we were in Ohio. I don’t have any information to help you for the family tree. I’m sure Sherman Moreland would be glad to supply you with dates & names & etc. His address is (deleted in this blog — COLT). I still think George Foutz was Dad’s cousin….
As an aside, there’s Sherman Moreland again. Great-grandfather to Dawn James, a distant cousin and friend of the blog who is busy transcribing his memoirs. But great aunt Doris gets the gold star, because she’s right on when it comes to George W. Foutz, a son of my great-great grandfather Jonathan Foutz‘s brother John G. Foutz.
George and his wife, Bessie, would have been around long enough (they died in 1964 and 1971, respectively, at 81 and 77) to possibly keep the old Harrison County connections going with cousin Vance, who was only 5 years younger than George, closer in age then many of his six older siblings. And George and Bessie had enough descendants who stuck around the area to maintain ties, including Clyde “Lefty” Foutz and Irene (Foutz) Czatt. (Beth Foutz, a granddaughter of Clyde, just reached out to the blog this week.)
So, now that we’ve got our Georges straight, who was this mystery brother?
Another Tragically Early Foutz Death
Throughout this series on my great-great grandparents’ immediate family, I’ve lamented the fact that within a 20-year period, between 1899 and 1919, seven of the nine family members — all but Lila and Vance — passed away, leaving descendants in neighboring counties largely unknown to and out of contact with one another.
Rebecca was listed on the 1900 census in Washington D.C. (in the household of eldest son, Sherman) was having 7 children who survived to adulthood, 6 of whom were then living. In the 1910 census, in which a widowed Rebecca is living in the home of my great-grandparents Vance and Laura, the figure is revised to a 6 with a 5 outlined heavily over it.
The revision probably indicates the death of their middle daughter, Rachel (Foutz) Coleman, whose husband, listed as widowed, and two sons (but not daughters Blanche or Bessie) are also living with Vance.
But first to go was fifth child John Cephas Foutz. Born Sept. 29, 1877, he was a good 10 years younger than oldest brother Sherman and would be 10 years older than youngest brother Vance.
I haven’t found out much about John, to say the least, where his interesting middle name came from. Jonathan and Rebecca seemed to split the ticket nicely between given names of familial (Lila, Rachel) and unusual (Sherman, Charles Ross, Vance Cleveland) significance. The loss of the 1890 federal census to fire — another common theme for families of this generation — prevents us from knowing more about this family, or John, before his death on Jan. 22, 1899.
By then, according to his death record, he is 21 years old and working as a clerk back home in Bowerston, while his parents and younger brothers may already be living in Washington with Sherman. He is listed as single, so he has already passed the young ages at which all of his older siblings wed. But of what he died — accident, illness, something else — I’ve turned up no clues.
About the only piece of information I’ve uncovered is in an edition of the Twin City News, published four days after his death:
John Fouts died on last Sunday and was interred in the Lutheran cemetery. The funeral was conducted by the Maccabees.
The article matches the date of his death and would seem to indicate a service that included his brother Sherman’s contribution as a high-ranking member of the Knights of the Maccabees. But regarding details, which were often liberally shared in an era when newspapers held forth on everything from overnight visits to whose crops were planted first to residents with nagging head colds, it’s frustratingly vague.
And thus, John Cephas Foutz exits the world. And, apparently, our further understanding.
Among the lingering mysteries is where, exactly, John is buried. The article mentions the Lutheran cemetery. Which would seem to indicate what is now called Longview Cemetery, where brother Sherman and niece Grace and nephew Karl, along others, are buried. There are some extra gravestone bases near Sherman’s grave, but no identification in the records I’ve perused. And his parents and others of his generation were buried in Conotton Cemetery.
Another mystery, worth solving I’d say, is who, exactly, is pictured above. Is this a portrait of a youthful Sherman (the dark hair and features show a resemblance) and next-youngest brother, John? Are these Vance’s closest brothers, John and Charles? Or is this a sitting of an older Charles and Vance after John’s and Sherman’s deaths? Nobody seems to know.
And that keeps the questions surrounding John’s death burning more than 110 years later.