Posts Tagged With: birth

100th Anniversary of Bob Ley’s Birth

Grandpa Ley Colt Foutz 1989

Too cool dudes lounging on a back deck at Sunset Beach, 1989. Robert Earl Ley, Jr., left, and his grandson, Colt Foutz.


Happy 100th Birthday, Robert Earl Ley, Jr.


I’m a bit late to the show with this one.

One of the joys of digging into genealogy is, for me, not just discovering the names and dates and wheres and whens of ancestors back, back, back, back up the family tree, but the stories. Nothing seems to crystallize all of that information in a personal, intimate way than discovering photographs of our relatives from long ago.

I’ve been able to gaze upon great-grandparents, dead long before I was born, and in some cases barely a memory to my parents, and feel that connection.

But there’s a similar tickle in collecting photos of your familiar grandparents and parents from a time before you were even a glimmer in their story. To see their familiar faces as infants, or teenagers, or off to college. To imagine their thoughts and hopes and dreams at a moment where they can’t see the future we are only too well-versed in as our family’s history.

Some interesting ways I’ve drawn those parallels have been in projects that snapshot my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ lives when they turned 60 as a birthday present to my mom and dad. And I turned the camera on myself, in a way, when I shared the pictures of my male ancestors growing into men up to the age of 40 in the year I turned 40. (Hint: it was 2016.)

How much more poignant it is, then, to gaze upon photos in order chronicling an entire life. On the 100th anniversary of my grandparents’ births, we did that, first for grandpa Don Foutz’s birth, then for Grandma Sue Weible Ley.

We’ll have to wait a couple years for Grandma Erma Johnson Foutz, the youngest of the bunch, born in 1920. But Grandpa Robert Earl Ley, Jr., is up this year, a few months later than Grandma, and now, a few months after the fact.

Maybe it’s because I was blessed to grow up just down the road and across the town from my mother’s parents: I was used to seeing them in so many daily situations, and at holidays, and birthdays, and just ordinary Saturdays, that the collection below seems so skimpy. That I ought to have more words to say. Though, I guess I have said them in this space many times.

And I’m well aware of albums and slides and troves of photographs that exist elsewhere, which leaves me to wonder and worry about this selection being incomplete. Not really a chronicle, then, but a collection of images that capture the way Grandpa was throughout his life.

From the remarkable infant portrait of him with his mother, Zula, to the shot a short few years later with his father, Robert Sr., knowing that they both had already lost that remarkable, dynamic mother and wife when Grandpa was only 2 — and the sister that might have joined their family portrait.

Grandpa would spend a time with his Fisher grandparents while his father rebuilt a life and remarried. Snapshots of grandpa in the 1930s show him after rejoining his father and stepmother, and, for a time, a little half-brother, Dickie, who would tragically succumb to illness before age 6.

He followed his father’s path into dentistry and public service, and early shots from college yearbooks capture him in the band and on the football team at Ohio Wesleyan as an undergraduate, then transitioning from OWU’s Delta Tau Delta fraternity to graduate school for dentistry at Ohio State, where he’s a fixture on the Psi Omega fraternity page.

Grandma and Grandpa, who’d known each other since their days as Dover schoolmates, were married during a busy time that saw Grandpa enlist in the Marines and serve in World War II. Upon returning home, he thrust himself into civic life, earning election as an at-large city councilman was he was still in his thirties (following a long line of Leys in politics), and working alongside his father, Robert Sr., in their dental practice, by then longest standing in Tuscarawas County.

Snapshots from the 1960s record his civic life (happily, I was able to see these shots in the archives of the local paper), and by the 1970s, his family had grown to include daughter- and sons-in-law, and grandchildren. Some of my first snapshots, on a Kodak Instamatic camera I’d gotten for Christmas (with the disposable flash bar) are of Grandpa and Grandma at home on Parkview Drive, or vacationing with them at Sunset Beach, NC.

Life moves irrevocably forward, and it’s been years since I felt I could still drive up to their house, park by the big pines and walk right into their kitchen to find them sitting around their big, circular table on the other side of Grandma’s purple kitchen cabinets. A last photo in the series below is a poignant shot later in the year after grandma died, when we were able to introduce Grandpa Bob Ley to one of his namesake descendants, Jonah Robert Foutz.

Yeah, I guess there’s some magic in my small collection after all. And a lot of memories. Love you, Grandpa.


Bob Ley: 89 Years in Photographs

(Scroll to view the gallery below, or click any photo for a closeup slideshow.)

Categories: Ley, Milestones | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Five Enduring Foutz Family Mysteries

Jonathan Foutz

Great-Great Grandfather Jonathan Foutz would probably agree with Dory — looking for answers to genealogy questions? Just keep sleuthing!

Genealogy Never Rests

Just keep sleuthing, just keep sleuthing….

Dory from Finding Nemo (and her own eponymous sequel) was really a genealogist at heart. The motto that kept her moving — swimming — kept leading her to families, no matter the leagues between them. First, Nemo’s, then happily, her own.

Aside from occasional bursts of full-contact hereditary rummaging, my genealogical quest has been more of an occasional thing. Some early-a.m. flipping through old newspapers here, some peeks at the burgeoning pile of electronic detritus on there. Day job, Dad duties, mindless TV — all conspire to slow my family-sleuthing from mad scramble to meandering marathon.

And that’s OK. This blog is a record of where we’ve been before, and an open lane to the depths we’ve yet to discover. And often, the way to latch on to new currents is to back-paddle to places we last left off. Dive around. Pick up the tidal pull again.

What do we do? We sleuth….

Questions to Keep Sleuthing By

My goal for this space the next six months is to share, at least once a week, some tidbit or tale that I’ve kept under glass the last few years, or lately untangled from the historical net. These discoveries spark conversations, which in turn spark connections — people with answers, and questions of their own. Keep ’em coming.

For now, here are five of the biggest, most-enduring mysteries I’d like one day to solve, bringing further clarity to the muddy waters of Foutz, Ley, Weible, Morgan, Fisher, Johnson, Palmer, Zeigler origins.

1. Where did Michael Pfouts come from?

Yeah, we think we know. Württemberg. Along the lower Neckar River region in Germany. Where Foutzes of old farmed, fought, made little Foutzes.

So says John Scott Davenport’s Foutz Newsletter of the 1980s: Michael Pfoutz emigrated to America in 1787, settled in Washington County, Maryland, and by 1810 or so was on his way to Harrison County, Ohio, where multiple records pretty definitively trace the Pfouts-Fouts-Foutz story through the succeeding two centuries.

But: Where exactly did Michael come from in Germany? Why did he cross the ocean, at 18? Did anyone come with him? Where else did those possible brothers and sisters, and father and mother, end up?

As the Davenport newsletters grow yellowed, and the originators of that work pass away, we’ve got to look for new answers, new connections. One I may have found, that I’ll reveal in a post soon (to echo Star Wars’ original trilogy): “a sister(rrrrrrrrr)?”

2. What happened to Rachel Foutz?

As traced in the years since an original summation of Foutz mysteries, we now know what became of every brother and sister of my great-grandfather, Vance Foutz, and even have a pretty good bead on their descendants, save for one sister, Rachel (Foutz) Coleman.

Rachel was one of three older sisters to my great-grandfather. We know what became of Lila and Ida. And it’s through Ida’s son Sherman’s diary — and the useful transcribing of distant cousin Dawn James — that we gain a little color around the facts we know, and a window on life in Dover, Ohio after Rachel and family followed younger brothers Charles, Vance and Mom Rebecca Foutz there in the first decade of the 1900s:

  • Born June 3, 1871 to Jonathan and Rebecca Foutz,in Harrison County, Ohio
  • In 1891, at age 20, Rachel married a war vet, William Coleman, more than 20 years her senior, and became stepmom to at least one living son, Berttie
  • They had at least four kids — Carl, who died of tuberculosis at my great-grandfather’s house in 1915 (same spring as Rebecca Foutz and her oldest son, Sherman); Blanche, Frank and Bessie.
  • Bessie, born in 1906 in Dover, disappears, along with mother Rachel, from the record. No other census, death or burial records have been found.

We later find William living in a veterans’ home in Canton, Ohio. And Frank lives until 1959 in Canton (he has a family I have not further explored – could be connections there). Meanwhile, sister Blanche lives until the ripe old age of 97, passing away in 1994 in Kent, Ohio. A few years back, I spoke to a family who knew her well, and shared photos. Story to come.

But what became of Rachel? There’s a mystery even more vexing for all we’ve assembled about our now-distant Foutz relatives.

Kaiserslautern Coat of Arms

Kaiserslautern Coat of Arms. The Leys emigrated there from The Netherlands sometime in the 1600s.

3. What can we learn of the Netherlands Leys?

According to A Short History of the Ley Family, a pamphlet passed down from our Port Washington, Ohio Ley ancestors, the Ley family originated in the Netherlands and came to Kaiserslautern in Germany, probably in the late 1600s.

We can trace the family back through my fourth-great-grandfather, Karl Ley, coming to America in 1833 and settling first in Shanesville, Ohio, and later, Port Washington, making his career as a saddler. And then further back through his father, Frederick Charles Ley, a minister at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Pfalz, Bavaria; and then through his father, John Frederick Ley, also pastor at that parish (succeeding, in fact, his father-in-law, who succeeded his own father).

Neat trick, and probably an amazing place to visit someday for all that family mojo.

But we don’t know much about Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather Ley — not his name, date of birth, city of residence, or death — save that he had a large, rural estate and was mayor, for a time, of his unknown city. And that his dad, Great Ley x 8, was first to move from the Netherlands and settle in Kaiserslautern, where he set up a cloth “manufactory.”

What can we learn from detailed German records, which seem to have been maintained through the tenuous political jigsaw puzzle of those centuries, and through war, etc., but weren’t so far recorded by our relatives?

Who were Thomas Johnson’s parents?

We’ve got names, known to my grandma, Erma (Johnson) Foutz, and her sisters. Just not much else. Maybe because his name was so common?

George Johnson was probably born in England, so says family legend, and he married a, well, Mary, and they settled in Guernsey County, Ohio. That’s the sum total of our knowledge about fourth-great-grandfather Johnson.

Admittedly, it doesn’t get too much clearer with Great-Great-Great-Grandfather Thomas, who died at 42 in the Civil War. Though just where in Mississippi, and of what, is a matter of some debate. (Possibly also due to his fairly common name?)

We hear he was a mule skinner in the army — something to do with nabbing available meat from local farms the army passed through and butchering it for the fighting boys. But we don’t even know that much about the wife he left behind, Nancy Valentine, back home in Guernsey, at first, and then, by 1910 in Jackson, Ohio. There’s a tid bit about her maybe not getting his pension — why? We also don’t know her death.

This is odd, because we know all their descendants, and their paths through Harrison and Tuscarawas counties, Ohio. Time to start sleuthing….

5. Where, in Wales, were the Morgans?

Also in the common name department are my second-great-grandparents, Thomas and Jannett (Rees) Morgan. We know their lives after they emigrated from Wales quite well — from their marriage in Philadelphia in 1872, to their settling in western Pennsylvania, and eventually, in Carnegie, where Thomas ran the Hotel Morgan before he died, in 1897.

What is a continued vexation — a problem not cleared up by the terse obituaries of the 19th century — is just who their parents were. When Thomas first came over; when Janet did. What happened to their sisters and brothers (if they had any) and parents. Even how “Reese/Rhys/Rees” is spelled.

We have theories about where they were from in Wales, and family stories of Jannett and her children going back to visit. We’ve gained their photos, and a hunch about Jannett’s Dad’s name, Daniel.

Everything else? Time to get sleuthing.

Categories: Foutz, Johnson, Ley, newsletter, Weible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newest Apple on the Foutz Family Tree

Caleb Oliver Foutz, born May 30, 2013.

Caleb Oliver Foutz, born May 30, 2013.

Welcome, Caleb Oliver Foutz

Been a fun-filled, dazed week of reacquainting myself with diaper changes and burp cloths and midnight feedings, but what a ride. And a chance to catch up on some overdue postings here.

We’ll start with news that’s barely a week old. Welcome the latest Foutz: Caleb Oliver, born to Colt and Katie on May 30, 2013 in Sioux Falls, SD.

He joined the world at 4:02 p.m. (incidentally, same time as his biggest brother, Jonah Robert Foutz, did back on Sept. 6, 2006) and weighed in at 8 pounds, 3 ounces, measuring 21 inches long.

Little Caleb shares a birthday with his great-great grandfather Robert Ohio Weible (born May 30, 1892 in Dover, Ohio) and third great grandmother Elizabeth (Duerr) Zeigler (mother to Laura (Zeigler)Foutz, born May 30, 1845 in Schlaitdorf, Esslingen, Wuertemberg, Germany).

Caleb’s name comes from the Old Testament, continuing a tradition we established with older brothers Jonah and Benjamin. Caleb and Joshua were the only two of the ancient Israelites who set out from Egypt to reach the Promised Land. The name means devoted to God and ranked #32 for boys’ names in 2012.

His middle name honors Katie’s great-grandfather Oliver Albert Knutson, her dad’s grandpa, who lived and farmed in Northwood, Iowa from 1884 to 1975. Sometime when we can get back to Northwood, I’ll try and scan the old picture of Oliver Knutson’s baseball team, which hangs in the Worth Brewing Company restaurant in downtown Northwood.

This middle name tradition carried on from our naming Jonah Robert to honor several ancestors (grandpa Robert Earl Ley Jr., great-grandpas Robert Earl Ley Sr. and Robert Ohio Weible; third great-grandfather Robert Caldwell (father to Rebecca Jane (Caldwell) Foutz) also shares the name), and Benjamin Peter to honor Katie’s mother’s Peterson side, which descends from Sweden and Per Persson through Grandma Mabel Marie (Peterson) Knutson.

Weible Robert Ohio desk c. 1940

An undated photo showing Great-Grandfather Robert Ohio Weible working at a desk. Probably taken in the late 1930s or early 1940s when he was purchasing agent for the State of Ohio.

Katie's great-grandfather Oliver Knutson as a young man.

Katie’s great-grandfather Oliver Knutson as a young man.

Categories: Foutz, Johnson, Knutson, Ley, Milestones, Weible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Decembers to Remember | Foutz-Ley Birthdays & Weddings

Janet Ley Fred Foutz Wedding 1975

Foutz-Ley Family | December Birthdays & Weddings

Back in July, I published our first family history calendar, in celebration of my brother Dan’s wedding.

This month, we honor Mom and Dad’s 35th anniversary by looking at the numerous family birthdays and anniversaries in December, including Dan’s bride Laura’s birthday, as well as my own wife’s.

Sure, for many December is a time to hold beeswax candles high on Christmas Eve, or rise early as you can the next morning to see what loot jolly Santa/s have deposited under the tree. But for these special few, love, and life, blossomed in this first month of winter.

Put that under your mistletoe!



Birth of great aunt Virginia (Johnson) Knisely, in 1914, and great-great aunt Myrtle Palmer, in 1880. Myrtle, fifth child of my great-great-great grandparents George and Amanda Palmer, and an older sister of my great-great grandmother, Viola Mae (Palmer) Johnson, lived just 5 days. Virginia, oldest sister of my grandmother, Erma (Johnson) Foutz, passed away this summer at age 95.

Virginia Johnson Ernie Knisely 1987 family reunion

Great aunt Virginia with husband Ernie Knisely at the 1987 Johnson family reunion. Virginia passed away in 2010 at age 95.


Birthday of new sister-in-law Laura (Hicks) Foutz. She celebrated her 31st this year!

Dan Foutz Laura Hicks wedding July 2010

From Dan & Laura's wedding in Oregon, July 2010.


Katie (Knutson) Foutz, born in Rochester, MN, during a crazy (so-I’m-told) snowstorm, 1977.

Katie Knutson Foutz wedding September 2002

Katie, on our wedding day, Sept. 21, 2002.


Birth of great-great grandfather, Franklin Eli Weible, 1845 near Canal Dover, Ohio.

Franklin Eli Weible


A unique milestone in the Ley-Weible family — the 1904 marriage, in Port Washington, Ohio, of Edwin F. Weible (nephew of my great-great grandfather, Franklin Eli) to Minnie Mae Ley (sister of my great-great grandfather, Charles Henry Ley). Some 40 years later, Charles Henry Ley’s grandson, Robert Earl Jr., would marry Franklin Weible’s granddaughter, Suzanne Weible. Bob and Sue, being, of course, my grandparents.

Edwin Frederick Weible

Edwin Frederick even looks like a Weible in this bad photocopy. Happily, he married a Ley.


Birthday of great-grandmother, Christina Laurina Katherina (Zeigler) Foutz, in 1885. Also of her husband Vance Foutz’s nephew, Oscar, in 1888 (he was just a year younger than Vance, since his father, Sherman, Vance’s oldest brother, was some 20 years Vance’s senior), and of great uncle Carl Johnson, in 1918.

Laura K. Foutz

Laura K. (Zeigler) Foutz


Carl Johnson

Great Uncle Carl Johnson


Birth of great-great-great uncle Nathaniel Foutz (a younger son of great-great-great grandpa Gideon Foutz), in 1856.


Marriage of great-great-great uncle Howard Augustus Ley (a brother of Charles Henry Ley) to Nellie Williams, 1906 in Punxsutawney, Pa.


Birth of Kathryn (Reif) Fisher, wife of great-great uncle Clyde Fisher, in 1888. My great-grandfather, Robert Earl Ley Sr., and his young bride, Zula Fisher, lived with her older brother’s family in New Philadelphia after the birth of my grandpa, Robert Earl Jr., and up to the tragic stillbirth of their second child and Zula’s resulting death.

Also the birth of Kathryn’s neice, Carrie Mae Fisher, in 1923.


Kathryn (Reif) Fisher

Kathryn (Reif) Fisher


Marriage of my parents, Frederick Charles Foutz and Janet Louise Ley, in 1975. Also the birth of my niece, Symara McLemore Knutson, in 2009!

Symara McLemore Knutson


Birth of great-grandmother Mary Zula Lucrece (Fisher) Ley, in 1895. Also the birth of great-great uncle Dwight Johnson, brother to my great-grandfather, Charles, in 1900.


Marriage of great-great grandparents John William Fisher and Addie May Smith, in 1887.


John & Addie Fisher Family, New Philadelphia, OH

John and Addie Fisher are front, center. Great-grandma Zula is front, left.


Marriage of aunt Jeanne Ley to uncle Roy Leatherbury, in 1970. They celebrate 40 years this December.

Jeanne Ley Roy Leatherbury wedding 1970


Birth of my nephew — and godson! — Brady Dane Foutz Martinez, in 2005. He’s 5 this year!

Brady Dan Laura Foutz July 2010


Birth of great uncle Thomas Leonard Johnson, my grandma’s oldest bro, in 1912.


Johnson siblings 1979

The living Johnson siblings, in 1979. Oldest bro Leonard is far right. My grandma, Erma, is center.

Categories: Foutz, Johnson, Ley, quickie post, Weible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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