Margaret (Sprowls) Pfouts | 1823-1906
This blog series explores the lives of Foutz ancestors as revealed in their obituaries. Much of this information was gathered during a March 2011 research trip to Tuscarawas and Harrison counties in Ohio.
One of the most fruitful exercises I endeavored to complete in my genealogy research was one I undertook last May, following a Spring trip home to Ohio that got me, well, immersed in all of this again.
Being home for a writing trip got me dually interested in visiting some of the cemeteries where my ancestors were laid to rest, and that got me fired up enough to wonder about where they lived, and when, and what was going on.
In short, I was hooked again. And wanted to go beyond what I could find online (which, anyway, is substantial).
One advantage to digging through all that has been indexed and archived online is to lay a foundation for any on-site investigating you eventually plan to do. And get organized when it comes to seeking out — or, more often than not being sought out by — distant relatives. If you don’t know your stuff, and have it pegged to that branch as an offshoot of that branch stemming from that fork in the family tree, etc., well, it can be pretty overwhelming.
So, with the aid of Ancestry.com’s extensive database, I sat down to catalog, page by page, every Foutz, Pfouts or Fouts (or the like) who lived in Harrison County from 1850 through 1900. I kept a database, and kept track of who was in certain families and where those families lived and moved in the county until they died or disappeared.
All that cataloguing helped me match names back to the information I had on my great-great-great grandfather Gideon’s and great-great-great-great grandfather Michael’s families. And knowing where Pfouts siblings ended up — and with whom — has begun to bear fruit in the sharing of information and heirlooms with descendants. Pretty darn cool.
All in the Family — 19th Century Pfoutses
When the census first records the names of every household member, in 1850, all of my great-great-great-great grandfather Michael Pfouts’s sons and daughters are living and going about the farming life in Monroe, Stock and North townships, Harrison County.
There is oldest brother Michael and his wife Mary (Heaston), brother Jacob and wife Anna (Watters), sister Catherine and her husband Nathan Watters, sister Mary and her husband Richard Hurless, and youngest brother Gideon and his wife Delilah (Jones). The family patriarch, meanwhile, is living out his final year with neighbors John and Barbara Snider as Catherine and Nathan take over his farmland in North Township.
One set of three siblings share a farm in the southeast corner of Monroe Township. Brothers Jonathan (born 1805) and John (1807) are living with youngest sister Elizabeth (1826). The brothers gained patents to the neighboring parcels in 1827 and 1829, respectively, and probably took in their youngest sibling as their father’s health failed, or after their mother, Catherine, died in 1844.
I say probably, because later that year the siblings’ situation changed. In December, John marries Irish immigrant Margaret Sprowls a week before Christmas. He’s 43; she’s 27.
For the rest of their lives — 40-odd years — the siblings would farm side by side. John, married, and with his growing family by Margaraet. Jonathan and Elizabeth, not married, cohabitating siblings. That’s all the public record shows us.
In the late 1860s, Jonathan takes on for farm help his namesake nephew, my great-great grandfather, Jonathan, as his young family is getting started. The elder Jonathan is first to pass away, in 1885, at age 80. Elizabeth follows in 1889, a young (for these farming Foutzes) 73, and John precedes Margaret in death by 13 years, in 1893.
Learn more about John Foutz’s bride in this clipping preserved in a binder at the Puskarich library in Cadiz, probably from the Cadiz Republican:
Margaret A. Foutz, (nee Sprowls), widow of the late John Fouts. She was born in County Fermanagh, Ireland, April 1st, 1823, and died at the home of John Thompson and wife at Conotton, O., June 30th, 1906.
When but six years old she, wit her parents, emigrated to America and settled at Philadelphia, Pa., from thence to Harrison County, where she has lived ever since.
Her husband died in 1893, also, one son at the age of 10 years. There remains of her immediate friends three children, Mariah, Andrew and Nancy, also eighteen grandchildren, three sisters and one brother.
The deceased was of a very kind and gentle disposition, always ready to help in time of need. She was converted and joined the U.B. Church at an early age, and remained a faithful member until death. Her faith in God was unwavering.
The funeral was held from the M.E. Church at Conotton, Sunday, July 1st. Services were conducted by the Rev. W. E. Boetticher. Sermon from text Gen. 47-9. Interment at Conotton Cemetery.
One enduring mystery of this Foutz couple is exactly which gravestone/s they lay claim to in the traditional family burial ground of Conotton Cemetery.
My March 2011 trip uncovered the resting places for the family patriarch, Michael, and probable great-great-great-great grandmother Catherine (Gideon’s 1911 death record, as last of that generation to die, leaves the father field blank, but fills “Unknown” for mother). OK, so Dawn found them with her mystic powers. ;-D But during both my 2010 and 2011 trips home, I’ve found gravestones that seem to match John and Margaret, as well as their children.
The one above gets the month and day correct for Margaret’s birth, but strangely leaves the date of death blank. The year is incorrect — though matching several censuses (only the 1870 census seems to get it right; but I haven’t tracked down the 1900 record yet, which was the first to ask for month and year). And John’s info is all wrong.
In both trips home, I photographed the grave of a Joseph Pfouts, “son of J & M Pfouts”, who died at 10 years old. That seems to match the child mentioned in Margaret’s obit. And also seems to match a child born in 1860 and identified as Oliver in the single census in which he appears (1870). The gravestone reads “Joseph Ol”, presumably for Oliver. (See below.)
Trouble is, I can’t remember whether that stone was next to the John and Margaret stone, or was near a similar-looking stone (not that mean a feat, in that place) for a “John” that I located right by Gideon’s plot in 2011. Lack of proximity, here in Chicago, and the inscrutability of one’s notes, so many months (and a year for the 2010 trip) after the fact.
Either case is remedied by future visits back, hopefully sans rain, and armed with the knowledge of census-combing and newspaper diving (and chalk, right, Dawn?). In short, though, there were a lot more Foutzes kicking around Harrison County back in the day than anyone in my family previously thought.
Stay tuned for more.