Saddling up with Karl Ley – Shanesville, Ohio | Ley Family History

Ley Karl Shanesville Front 2012

The front of the house that sits on the property Karl Ley called home in Shanesville in the 1800s. Could this be the very structure in which he lived and conducted his saddlery business? Maps comparing 1875 to 2012 suggest so.

Cruising the Streets of Shanesville – 1875 vs. 2012

This year marks the 205th anniversary of the birth of our first Ley ancestor to immigrate to America.

The life and trade of Charles Ley, a prominent saddler in Shanesville, Ohio, has been chronicled at least a few times in this space. In an early post two years ago, I guessed at the origins and family makeup of Charles and his wife Susanna Carolina Vogelsang Ley, and shared several key birth, marriage and census records, and excerpts from local histories. Now, thanks to the wonderful — and authoritative — history compiled by distant cousin Doris Eileen Hill, The Carl Frederick Ley Family, all the facts and names line up.

Doris also shares some great photographs and maps from back then. The primary focus of this post will be to share with you the location of my fourth great-grandfather’s saddlery and horse stables back in 1875, and show you the location today. But I’ll summarize the high points of his history first.

Born in Bavaria

My great-great-great-great-grandfather was born Karl Gottleib Ley on Dec. 11, 1807 to Karl Friedrich Ley and Charlotha Elisabetha Engel. His father was a second-generation minister, and baptized Karl Gottleib in the Evangelical church at Pfalz, St. Alban in Bavaria.

This was the same church Karl Gottleib’s grandfather John Frederick Ley, great-grandfather George William Lauckhardt and great-great grandfather John Nicholas Lauckhardt led from the 1690s through John Frederick’s death in 1788. Karl Friedrich Ley had been installed there in 1801.

Karl Gottleib learned the saddler’s trade and emigrated from Bavaria in 1833, entering the United States through New York City. He settled in Ohio in 1834, establishing himself in Shanesville.

Marriage and Life in Tuscarawas County

On May 25, 1835, Charles (the name he was known by in America) married Susanna Carolina Vogelsang in Canton, Stark County, Ohio. Susan Caroline was from Neuhof, near Waldmohr in the Rhine Palatinate, Germany, and was born there on March 27, 1818.

In 1836, Charles and Caroline bought the land on which they would live for the next 54 years. They built the family home on lot 9 in Shanesville, where it appears Charles also housed his saddlery business.

It was there that they raised eight children: Frederick (born 1836), Louisa (1837), my third great-grandfather Augustus (1839), Emilia (1841), Lewis (1844), Minnie (1847), Emma (1855) and Karl (1858).

Minnie has the unique distinction of being twice a Ley. Karl Gottleib’s brother back in Germany, Friederich Christian Ley, followed in his ancestors’ footsteps and studied theology. One of his four sons, Carl, born Nov. 15, 1844, immigrated to America in 1867. He spent a few years living with his cousin Frederick (see above) in Washington, Ill., where they ran a drug store. In 1870, he returned to Shanesville and married cousin Minnie on May 19. These Leys, among others, carried the family name westward, settling with their 10 surviving children (two died in infancy) in Illinois, Iowa and eventually, New Mexico. Minnie and Carl are buried in Missouri Valley, Iowa.

As for Charles and Caroline back in Shanesville, Doris Ley Hill relates:

The Ley families were well known for their harness and saddlery, and even supplied the government during the Civil War. Charles served on the school board, and in 1848 was instrumental in moving the log school building into the village as a dwelling, and building a brick two-room schoolhouse on lots 52 & 53. The apparently were active members of the First German Reformed Church; the Ladies’ Guild was formed and held its first meeting in the Ley home, with Caroline being elected President’ and, all their children were baptized in the church.

Many of Charles’s sons went on to become successful businessmen. Augustus, my third great-grandfather, established dry goods stores in Bakersville and Port Washington. It is to Port Washington that Charles and Caroline moved in 1890 and where they spent the rest of their days. Caroline died Jan. 12, 1896 at age 77; Charles followed on Feb. 10, 1896. He was 89. They are buried in Union Cemetery, Port Washington, next to the distinguished family plots of Augustus, my great-great-grandfather Charles Henry Ley and Augustus’s son, Lewis Emery Ley and his family.

Ley Karl Shanesville side 2012

The side of the Shanesville property which Charles and Caroline Ley called home from 1836 to 1890 as it appeared in February 2012.

Charles Ley’s Shanesville — Then & Now

Shanesville, some 115 years after Charles’s death, still retains the same basic layout as you drive in on Ohio 39 headed west through Sugarcreek.

According to the (undated) plat map below, the town fathers began their numbering just after the intersection of what is now Route 39 to the north and Main Street to the south. On the north side of where those avenues combine to form Main Street, they began counting 1, 2, 3… westward.

Charles and Caroline’s old place is former plat 9, located at the the west end of the third block from that intersection. This 1875 Shanesville plat map — while not bearing the names of the owners as the one below — shows the lot numbers clearly.

Examining the structures on the detailed business map and comparing to the 2011 aerial view from Google Maps, I can’t help wondering if the essential bones of the house today are indeed built upon the one Charles and Caroline shared from 1836 to 1890. Granted, the home may have been rebuilt during their tenure there, and has obviously been updated in the last decade or so.

Still, it’s a fine feeling to be walking up the same street your ancestors did so many years ago, and know the general layout has remained consistent through the centuries.

Ley Karl home Shanesville 1875

Lot #9 in Shanesville, Ohio -- shown in this 1875 map -- belonged to Charles and Caroline Ley from 1836 to 1890.

Shanesville 2011

Lot #9 in Shanesville, Ohio as it appears today, in this 2011 aerial view from Google Maps.

Categories: Ley, quickie post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Post navigation

7 thoughts on “Saddling up with Karl Ley – Shanesville, Ohio | Ley Family History

  1. Pingback: Robert Earl Ley Jr.: 1950s Fluoridation Crusade | Whispering Across the Campfire

  2. Pingback: R.E. Ley Jr., Dover Councilman-at-Large | Whispering Across the Campfire

  3. Pingback: A Case of “Burglarious” Entry – Augustus Ley | Whispering Across the Campfire

  4. Pingback: Places of Rest & Remembrance #9 | Abraham & Catherine Sperling | Whispering Across the Campfire

  5. Pingback: Honoring Our Family’s Veterans | Robert Earl Ley Jr. « Whispering Across the Campfire

  6. Kathy hill

    We have more stuff from the saddlery. Please call Doris to discuss.

  7. Earl

    Very nice, Colt. And I mean very nicel You have already been busy this year. Thank you very much, Earl

Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: