Foutzes in the Forties – 1940 United States Census


Foutz Don 515 Race Street Dover Ohio 1941

Colt's grandfather, Don Foutz, stands in front of his father Vance's house at 515 N. Race St. in Dover, Ohio about 1941.

Vance Foutz Family | 1940 Census

The genealogy world has been abuzz the last few weeks with the release — after the requisite 72 years — of the 1940 federal census.

Since then, the keepers of sites like Ancestry.com have been galloping along like little ponies, scanning thousands of pages, preparing to index each name, place and other pertinent factoid, the better for you to find your family in 1940.

Now, they are still probably months — and many, many misspellings and general bafflements (sorry, faithful transcribers) — away from indexing the whole whopping document. But now that scanning and electronically uploading the document is complete, we have a wonderful window on the world of our ancestors more than seven decades ago.

That is, if you know where to look.

In the next few posts, we’ll check in on the main branches of our family tree and see what the census has to say about them.

Home Sweet Home at 515 N. Race St., Dover, Ohio

There were no big surprises from a family we’ve closely followed since back in 1900, when the census found my great-grandfather Vance living with his parents, Jonathan and Rebecca, and next-youngest brother Charles in his oldest brother Sherman Foutz’s home in Washington D.C.

Following the death of Great-Great-Grandfather Jonathan Foutz later that September, Rebecca and her youngest boys followed a circuitous route before settling in the city their descendants have called home for more than a century since.

The 1910 census found Vance living along Second Street in downtown Canal Dover, just a couple doors east from where my great-grandpa Robert Ley Sr. (and eventually his son) would house their dental practice. The young family of three includes wife Laura and oldest son Roy, born in 1908. And mother Rebecca is living with them, and would remain there until her death in 1915.

At least two of Vance and Laura’s children called Second Street home from birth, with Carl following in 1911 and Don in 1914. It is unclear when the family moves to the corner of Sixth and Race streets, but by 1920, when the census finds them there, daughter Doris (born 1917) has joined the fold.

The family calls 515 N. Race St. in Dover home for 25 years or so, throughout Vance and Laura’s kids attending Roosevelt High School — Dover High’s name in the 1930s, the marriages of their children and the births of their oldest grandchildren. Vance has seen sons Roy and Carl follow him into work at the Reeves steel mill, but in 1940, youngest son Don is still a holdout.

According to the census:

Vance and Laura own their home and it is worth about $3,000.

In their schooling, Vance and Laura didn’t go beyond the eighth grade — probably common for two turn-of-the-century farm kids.

Kids Don and Doris — the only two of their brood still living with them (though Doris would marry in September) — both completed four years of high school.

Vance worked 44 hours the previous week as a boiler fireman at the steel mill.

Don worked 40 hours as a mechanic at a “public garage” — likely Fred Potschner Ford.

Doris worked 8 hours as a “sales lady” at a “retail notion” store.

In 1939, Vanced worked 40 weeks, Doris 2 and Don 0. For this, Doris was paid $18. Vance and Don both declined to report their income — or, mom Laura couldn’t bring it to mind, since she was the one the census taker talked to.

As for where the family would be bound next — I won’t make you wait another 10 years for the next census release — we know they are still living at 515 N. Race the following year, when a series of pictures, including the one headlining this post, are taken of Don and bride-to-be Erma Johnson outside his family’s home. And on that couple’s auspicious wedding day in May 1942, Don is caught by the lens outside his parents’ home and headed up the front walk at the Johnson place in New Phila. (I think.)

The 1940 census is also unique in that it catches our ancestors more than a year before the United States is plunged into World War II. The next record for Vance is his draft registration in April 1942, which reports his address as still 515 N. Race.

It is a March 17, 1947 contract to sell the bungalow behind Vance and Laura’s home at 289 Front Street in Dover to Don and Erma that establishes a time frame for when they next move.

For now, let’s fast-forward 70-some years for a look at 515 N. Race today. The exterior has changed quite a bit from the pictures of that bygone era, which usually showed several trellises out back, along with a swing, a bike, some ladders. It appears the steps and door at what I guess was the side of the house have been removed. But then, when I took this picture I wasn’t sure it was the house, and I didn’t get the best angles on it.

Too bad the censuses don’t include photos. Guess that’s left to us.

Foutz Vance Dover side 2011

Could this angle on 515 N. Race St. be where so many Foutz family pictures were snapped in the late 1930s and early 1940s...?

Foutz Vance Dover rear 2011

... Or could this? I'm guessing it's more likely the other shot, since renovations since then would have had to not only include enclosing the stairs, but adding a fireplace and chimney as well.

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