Posts Tagged With: Harrison County

A Visit with Great Aunt Nellie | Repost


Colt Foutz Nellie Johnson Fitzgerald

Colt and his great aunt Nellie (Johnson) Fitzgerald at her home in March 2011.

Hugs & Hospitality in the Home of Nellie (Johnson) Fitzgerald

Great Aunt Nellie (Johnson) Fitzgerald passed away Nov. 19 at age 99. This post, from March 2011, recounts a visit.

I was once a quite enterprising reporter, so I should have known better.

Presented with the chance to spend an afternoon chatting with my Great Aunt Nellie, 94 years young as of last September, I fumbled around with my laptop, spent a good half hour busying my hands consuming trail bologna and deviled eggs and macaroni salad and the like, and utterly failed to pop open a notebook and record our winding conversation with anything more reliable than my own noggin.

Which will have to suffice.

We spent the day chatting in her home, site in the summertime of many a family gathering, afternoons filled with sunshine and pickup softball games and plenty of food and lemonade. There was snow on the ground this time, and a chill in the air. But the atmosphere inside was cozy.

Nellie still lives at home, with some assistance throughout the day, and frequent visits from her son, who lives just up the road a piece. She was also kept company, during our visit, by a former daughter-in-law (I think?) and a great-grandson. So the house was filled with conversation, and I found Nellie to be as delightfully frank, and sweet, and feisty, and fun as I remembered.

Johnson Leona Miller

My great-grandfather Charles Johnson’s first wife, Leona Miller, died shortly after they were married.

The Tragic Tale of Leona Miller Johnson

Nellie has some trouble getting around these days. She greeted us from her easy chair, and moved about the house with the aid of her “horse” — her walker.

We began our visit by flipping through old photos — everything I had stored up in my Family History Master folder on my computer. She confirmed some of the old relatives I was wondering about, including some beauties of my grandma Erma (Johnson) Foutz as a young teenager (see below), and chuckled at ones of herself shortly after her wedding to DeLoyce Fitzgerald and especially at one of her as a baby, posed with older sibs Leonard and Virginia.

“Oh,” she said (of the photo at the bottom of this post), “I forgot to wear my socks that day!”

Nellie’s house is decorated with scores of old photos and mementos. She was kind enough to have copies made for me of a portrait of my grandmother as a baby, and of my great-great grandparents Palmer (which I featured in yesterday’s post).

In her current bedroom hangs a very unique portrait — that of my great-grandfather (her father) Charles Johnson’s first wife.

Leona Miller and Charles married shortly after Valentine’s Day, 1907. She was 23; he was 20.

According to family lore, and retold by Nellie during our visit, Charles, a coal miner, came home one day, perhaps as early as the week they were married, and found Leona on her hands and knees, scarlet-faced, scrubbing the floor.

As he knelt down to tend to her, Leona collapsed. She died shortly after.

Charles returned to the home of his parents (as noted in the 1910 census), and wouldn’t remarry until 1911, when he wed a girl from nearby Dennison, my great-grandmother, Viola Palmer.

“When you think about it,” I knelt down to murmur in Nellie ear, “it’s a sad story, but without Leona dying, none of us would be here.”

“Oh,” Nellie said, the whisper of a grin on her face, “I don’t know.”

There’s not a lot we know about Leona beyond her fate and the image preserved above. According to the New Philadelphia cemeteries department, she is buried in the same plot as my great-great grandparents Clement and Anna Johnson, but I found no marker to indicate such during my stop at East Avenue/Evergreen the next day.

Erma Johnson Foutz

This picture of my grandma as a very young teenager was taken in 1933, when she was not yet 13. Scribbled on the back: “Camp Birch Creek, F-60, Dillon, Montana. C. 15-1 C.R.R.,” which we’ve determined was a WPA-era camp at which her brother Joe was spending the summer. Joe’s name was also written on this picture.

A Big Sister’s Take on a Boy’s Grandma

The part of me that deeply misses my grandma Erma since she passed away in 2000, and yearns to be able to visit her again, really felt fulfilled by seeing Aunt Nellie again.

I remember the time I’d seen her before, after the funeral of my grandma’s second husband, Max, hugging Nellie felt a lot like hugging grandma. And yeah, I miss that.

This time around, I was full of questions. Things I wished I had asked Grandma, growing up. Or had paid more attention to her answers.

Nellie confirmed the many addresses in New Phila her family called home over a period of 25 years. These moves were logged in war records, censuses, and the certificates recording three of her brothers’ untimely deaths.

I also wanted to hear about how my grandmother and grandfather met, if she could fill me in. I’d read in the article detailing their marriage announcement that grandma was a secretary in the offices of the steel mill, where my great-grandfather Foutz and two of his sons worked from way back. But my grandpa only joined the mill later on, after he’d spent years as a sales agent for the local Ford dealership.

So, how, I wondered, did a girl from New Phila end up mixing with a boy from crosstown Dover, and one some seven years her senior at that?

“Oh, your grandma got around pretty good in those days,” Nellie quipped.

“Oh, your grandma was beautiful,” one of her visitors gushed. “And a very nice lady.”

How can an enterprising reporter hold up, in the face of comments both sly and complimentary?

Palmer homestead Scio Ohio

Another view of the old Palmer homestead in Scio, Ohio as it appeared in March 2011.

Tracing the Tree Back — Johnson & Palmer Roots

Nellie was keenly interested in some of the stops on my genealogy tour, asking about the state of the Palmer homestead, where her mother grew up and generations of the family farmed before that.

She was more interested, though, in how my parents were doing, and my wife and kids. “They should come and see me,” she said. And who could argue?

The visit ended much too soon. And I felt, not for the first time, that I’d already crammed way too much into three short days. And felt the weight, in leaving, of not knowing how soon my path would wind back her way again.

But in the work of honoring our ancestors, there are still volumes rich with information to mine.

Nellie had shared with her daughter, Sara (who in turn helps spread the word and get the family tree in order on Geni.com and Ancestry.com), the tale of her grandfather, Thomas Johnson, a Civil War mule skinner who died on a march through Mississippi in 1864. And there is limited info to go on past that, but a definite location to dig into — Guernsey County, where the Johnsons seemed to have first set up shop in Ohio.

Other connections of the family to the great conflict between the states include that of Anna (Burkey) Johnson’s father, Joseph Burkey, a soldier in Company B of the 126th regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Military records indicate he served from May 1864 through June 1865. I’ve visited his grave and snapped a picture there, but I’d love to hunt down a photo, and more info on his time in the war.

Meanwhile, Sara has traced the Palmer connection back through Harrison County farmfields and beyond, to the Balmers of 16th century Germany. A good, yawning gap of time to gape at, and wonder at all the ancestors — and their stories — in between.

Erma Foutz Miller Nellie Johnson Fitzgerald

Colt’s Grandma Erma and her older sister Nellie at his high school graduation, in 1994.

Johnson Leonard Virginia Nellie

A pic of the oldest Johnson kids — Leonard, Nellie and Virginia — about 1916.

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

Rachel Caldwell, Valentine’s Day Baby


Great-great-great grandparents Robert & Rachel Caldwell, parents of Rebecca Jane (Caldwell) Foutz, wife of Jonathan Foutz.

Great-great-great grandparents Robert & Rachel Caldwell, parents of Rebecca Jane (Caldwell) Foutz, wife of Jonathan Foutz.

Born Feb. 14: Rachel Cramblett Caldwell

 

Happy birthday, Great-Great-Great Grandmother Rachel (Cramblett) Caldwell.

And Happy Valentine’s Day, as well.

Born today, 188 years ago, on Feb. 14, 1827 in Franklin Twp., Harrison County, Ohio.

Rachel was the daughter of John Cramblett and Margaret (Gladman) Cramblett, who came to Ohio from Anne Arundel County, Maryland. John’s father, John Crablett Sr., is notable for platting the town of Deersville in Harrison County.

Rachel met husband Robert Caldwell, a native of Virginia, in Harrison County, where they were married in March 1845 — hey, 170 years ago next month.

As much as we can make  out, from census and other records, they had 12 children — and two daughters married Foutzes: Rebecca to Great-Great Grandfather Jonathan, and Mary to his brother (Third Great Uncle), John G. Foutz.

Sweethearts galore.

Sherman, Grace, and Rebecca Foutz; Rachel Caldwell 1910

About 1910, clockwise from left, Sherman Foutz, daughter Grace Foutz, mother Rebecca Foutz and grandmother Rachel Caldwell pose in happier times.

 

Categories: Foutz, Milestones | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fat, Happy Farm Life for Gideon Pfouts


1800s Farmhouse Kitchen

This pic isn’t from the inside of the legendary Foutz homestead, but gives an idea of what an 1800s farmhouse kitchen looked like.

Gideon Pfouts: ‘Never Missed Meal at Home’

Uncovered an interesting morsel from the life of third-great-grandfather Gideon Pfouts in a second obituary.

It’s been a few years since a research trip to Puskarich Library in Cadiz. Thumbing through the microfilm records, I found a plain, practical tribute to what I imagine was a plain, practical man.

As youngest son of German immigrant and Ohio pioneer Michael, Gideon Pfouts lived his whole life on farms in Harrison County, especially the 80 acres he’d tended for some 70 years south of Bowerston.

When he died in February 1911, at 89, the nearby Cadiz Republican printed this dispatch, noting his status as “an aged and respected citizen.”

But combing through online records at newspapers.com, I found a nice alternative news item, from one county over. In the New Philadelphia Daily Times, we get a less formal look at great-great-great-Grandpa Gideon:

86, NEVER MISSED A MEAL AT HOME

Bowerston, Feb. 20: — Gideon Fouts, aged 89, who died here last week of pneumonia never missed eating a meal at home during his entire life. He leaves four sons.

I’d like to think that meant many, many years of meals with family, likely after a long day of chores and tasks around the homestead.

The four sons mentioned as survivors, of course, were his youngest: John, David, Nathaniel and Nelson, at least two of whom continued to tend the farm, as indicated by Gideon’s will, which we haven’t yet detailed in this space but… will.

His oldest children, daughter Tabitha and my great-great-grandfather Jonathan, had passed away in 1874 and 1900, respectively.

Check out the original clipping from the Daily Times here.

Categories: Foutz, Milestones, quickie post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Addendum: Grace Foutz’s Fishy Birth Year


Chaney Grace Fred Longview

Grace Foutz Chaney and husband Fred are buried in Longview Cemetery near Bowerston, Ohio, near her parents Sherman and Elizabeth Foutz. The birth year etched into her stone to match her husband’s is incorrect.

The Facts on Grace Foutz’s Birth

Call this item a correction.

In yesterday’s post, which chronicled the teaching career of Grace Foutz Chaney, and her life, post-marriage, in Uhrichsville, Ohio, I recounted the strange inaccuracies in Grace’s birth year following her marriage to Fred Chaney in December 1915.

Censuses of 1920, 1930 and 1940 all get it wrong. Even her gravestone in Longview Cemetery near Bowerston botches the date.

Which leads me to believe the error was probably intentional. And since the fibbing starts after Grace becomes Mrs. Fred Chaney, maybe that’s got something to do with it.

But I was wrong when I wrote:

But never fear: Grace’s 1970 obituary finally gets her age right….

Actually, the Times-Reporter obit never mentions Grace’s birthdate or age at all. So I thought I’d lay out how we know the truth from the lies — even those etched in stone.

Her definitive birth day and year we find via Ancestry.com in the Ohio Births and Christenings Index of 1821 to 1962. The actual film is not viewable online at Ancestry or FamilySearch.org, but here’s a screenshot of the index entry:

Foutz Grace birth Sep 1890

The censuses of 1900 and 1910, first in Sherman and Elizabeth Foutz’s home in Washington D.C., then Harrisburg, Pa., report Grace’s age as 9, then 19. Because the census-takers visited the Foutz homes in June 1900 and April 1910, respectively, the age is right and matches her birth year of 1890.

Then the official record gets fishy.

Erroneous Records Retain Grace Foutz’s Youth

Grace Foutz marries Fred Chaney on Dec. 18, 1915 in Wheeling, W. Va. This is all corroborated and matched up to the Grace we know in the 1969 Times-Reporter article on her life — which, nonetheless, is off by one year for her grandmother Rebecca Foutz’s death (she met Fred after traveling to Ohio for the funeral) and her marriage later that year.

Their marriage document begins the wackiness, listing Grace’s age as 24 (she turned 25 in September 1915) and Fred’s as 22 (he is just 19).

The 1920 federal census finds the couple in Uhrichsville, Ohio. Taken in February, before either of their birthdays that year, Fred is listed as 24, the age he will in fact turn in that July, while Grace is reported to be 26. She is really 29, and will turn 30 in September.

In 1930’s census, taken in April that year in Uhrichsville, Fred is 33 (correct) and Grace is listed as 34, meaning she has somehow aged just 10 years since her marriage 15 years prior. She is really 39. The record also list’s Fred’s age at first marriage as 19 (correct!), but Grace’s as 20, which doesn’t even match the incorrect age recorded in their marriage license. But at least we’re being consistent in being consistently off.

1940 — Uhrichsville. Another April, ten years later. Fred, 43. Right! Grace, 44. NOT! She’s 49 and will be 50 that September.

Fred’s obituary in September 1955 does get his age right at death, at 59. And his side of their memorial in Longview Cemetery is correct.

But Grace’s obit fails to mention her age or birth date. Maybe because, with no survivors nearby (and my great-grandfather Vance having passed away two years prior), there may be few family members to supply the correct information.

But her death record in Ohio gets it right. Well, at least her age. Here’s another screenshot from an Ancestry.com transcription of the actual record. My guess is that the death date — March 27, 1970 — and her (correct) age, 79, appeared on the record. The transcriber then did the math backwards and got 1891 for the birth year, when we know — don’t we fellow genealogy heads? — that Grace’s birthday in September makes 1890 the matching date.

Chaney Grace Foutz death Mar 1970

And that’s how we know several documents for decades got Grace’s age wrong. My guess is that since Fred died 15 years prior, the gravestone had the birth year of her fancy — one matching Fred’s — etched on her side, with the death year waiting.

But Wait — Are Grace and Fred Related?

Let’s train our thoughts on the original departure from reliable fact. Why would Grace lie about her age at the time of marriage? True, Fred, at 19, seems a bit younger. But not all that unusual for the time.

Could he have been her student? Seems unlikely, since her profile in 1969 claims she met Fred in Harrison County on the occasion of her grandmother’s death in May 1915. Still, the article got other facts wrong.

Consider, for a moment, that the article may have got the circumstances right. And consider what’s left out. Grace’s father Sherman died in April 1915, and a cousin, Carl Coleman, in March, both of tuberculosis. All were buried in Harrison County. Perhaps the Foutzes — widow Elizabeth and kids Oscar and Grace — spent extensive time that year home in Harrison County.

If that’s the case, Grace’s and Fred’s abbreviated courtship of seven months, and marriage away from Ohio and Pennsylvania, could make sense.

But also consider the circumstances under which they met. Harrison County farming life in the 1800s was tightly knit. The same families who farmed together are buried together, and the names adorn the mailboxes today. Still, who is most likely to be attending the same funerals, particularly three months in a row? Family.

Fred Chaney’s mother’s maiden name, Wilson, is the same as Grace’s mother’s. Some preliminary poking around Ancestry trees and census records shows one of Elizabeth’s older brothers, William, born some 24 years before her, has a name (and birth and death dates, allegedly) that match a William Wilson who married an Ellen Dixon. They were parents of a Mary Wilson who matches the birth year of the Mary Wilson from Harrison County who married Emerson Chaney, Fred’s father.

So, could Fred Chaney’s grandpa, William Wilson, be Grace’s mom’s brother? Making William Grace’s uncle, and Mary — Fred’s mom — Grace’s cousin.

It could explain why they never had children, or acted wacky about their ages. But it does deepen the mystery.

Categories: Foutz, General Genealogy, newsletter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grace Foutz Feature Frames Life in Ohio


Sherman, Grace, and Rebecca Foutz; Rachel Caldwell 1910

About 1910, clockwise from left, Sherman Foutz, his daughter Grace Foutz, his mother Rebecca Foutz and his grandmother Rachel Caldwell pose in happier times.

Grace Foutz Chaney’s Happy, Distant Life

In this ongoing series, we’re taking a crack at solving some of the mysteries surrounding the family of Sherman Foutz, my great-grandfather Vance Foutz’s oldest brother.

A recent research binge on newspaperarchives.com blew open a couple doors I thought, given Pennsylvania’s reputation for white-knuckle-gripping its vital records, would probably stay shut fast.

An illuminating source, as ever, are the obituaries of relatives past. And just in case information is incomplete (or wrong) in the final record of our dearly departed — as was the case in Sherman Foutz’s 1915 obituary, the one clipped and saved for 100 years — it always pays to check the initial “extra” to readers of the day or so before — the death announcement.

If I could offer one genealogy lesson — though stories are the point of this blog — it’s that starting from the end of a life often yields the richest clues to an ancestor’s entire life. Obituaries done right, at least the way I was taught as a cub reporter at the Sandusky Register (egad, a decade and a half ago), serve up all the pertinent birth, marriage and death dates; spouses, children, parents, siblings, (living and dead); occupations, places lived, war record; and all the various memberships and associations that make up a life in brief.

A treasure trove, if you can get at it. And hoping, of course, the newspaper chronicling the lives of your loved ones hasn’t adopted the same abbreviated style as, say, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which hadn’t changed its basic name, died, funeral date and place format in the 98 years between my great-great grandfather Morgan’s death in 1897 and the death of his granddaughter in 1995.

But here I go burying the lead.

Fewer links ahead, promise, and a thorough peek into the life of Sherman’s daughter, Grace Foutz Chaney.

A Return Home to Ohio

The central tragedy for Sherman Foutz’s family was his early death, at 47, of tuberculosis in 1915. Following that, the first of our Foutzes to leave the farm in Harrison County, Ohio, attend college and work in the big cities of Washington D.C. and Reading and Harrisburg, Pa., essentially split up.

Eldest daughter Grace marries that December in a West Virginia county neighboring the one a lot of our other relatives seemed to elope to (probably a story in itself). She lives the rest of her life not with her mother, Elizabeth Foutz, or step-sister Catherine, back in Harrisburg, but with husband Fred Chaney in Uhrichsville, where she works as a school teacher.

They never have children. They never leave Uhrichsville. And they have an odd propensity for consistently lying about their ages. In fact, Grace’s gravestone is off by the same incorrect six years as most of the censuses, which made her, for a time, the same age as the six-years-younger Fred, and which was maybe their point in fibbing.

But never fear: Grace’s 1970 obituary finally gets her age right, and spills the details about a lot of her life. We learn Fred precedes her in death by 15 years. Older brother Oscar is also listed as deceased. Then there are the tantalizing hints of “several nieces and nephews” and that foster sister, Catherine Rutt, whom we haven’t found out a lot about yet.

The obit offered a lot of details. But at the time I discovered it among my great-grandfather’s things a few summers back, the usual parade of questions marched along:

  1. When did brother Oscar Foutz die? Preceded could mean a couple years earlier, or as far back as the 1910s, when he suddenly stops being counted among his mother’s residence, where one son, Ralph, resides. The other, Harry Sherman, as well as Oscar’s wife, Florence Hartman Foutz, are also lost to history (But more on them soon.)
  2. Why did Grace marry an Ohio man just eight months after her father’s death? Where and how did they meet?
  3. Why did Grace suddenly and emphatically live so far removed from her widowed mother, young foster sister and the remnants of her brother’s family in Pennsylvania?
  4. And, living as she did just a dozen miles south of her extended family (my own) in Dover, Ohio, did she maintain connections with the greater Foutz clan?

On this last point, the written record seems to suggest Grace knew about Vance Foutz’s family in Dover and kept up with my great-grandfather, her uncle in family relation, but really just three years her senior and one year Oscar’s, an accident of the 20-year span between bookend brothers Sherman and Vance. In fact, when preteen Vance, Oscar and Grace lived together in Washington D.C. about 1900 (family lore has recorded that Sherman got his youngest brothers John, Charley and Vance jobs in the postal department), they were likely more playmates than proper uncle and nephew and niece. That Vance’s and Grace’s birthdays were also close together (hers, Sept. 5, 1890; his, Sept. 7, 1887) could also have been a fun circumstantial bond.

A few years after Grace died, later in the 1970s, Vance’s daughter-in-law, my great-aunt Louise Foutz, was trying to piece together family history with my grandparents and great-aunt Doris Foutz Waddington. Louise counted, among her father’s known siblings, a brother, Charles, and at least two sisters — Mrs. Sam Hathaway, of Bowerston, and Mrs. Thomas Moreland, of Carrollton. …:

Also a brother Sherman that we know little about, and possibly another sister (Louise wrote). … I went to Pop’s sister’s funeral when I was pregnant with Donna. A Frank Coleman used to visit often, and a niece that lived in Urichsville (sic.), and some red-haired nephews from Canton. Neither Doris or I remember names.

The red-haired nephews likely belonged to Charles Foutz, who died of pneumonia in 1918 at age 32, leaving a wife and four children behind. (More on them soon!) The niece is most likely Grace. An examination of great-grandpa Vance’s funeral guest register shows the shaky hand of 78-year-old Grace Chaney as present.

Pity, then, that no one from my grandparents’ generation remembers Sherman’s dynamic daughter. Fortunately, a newspaper article from the same Times-Reporter, a year before her death, tells more of Grace’s story.

Devoted teacher, never tested for teaching license

A January 25, 1969 feature entitled “Wonderful Life…” details Grace Foutz Chaney’s childhood and education, her marriage to Fred, her teaching career and the ways she lived out her days in Uhrichsville.

Read the whole article by clicking the thumbnail below.

Chaney Grace Foutz wonderful life Daily Reporter 25 Jan 1969

Grace Foutz Chaney’s life is detailed in a January 1969 Times-Reporter article.

Some highlights:

  • Born in Bowerston, by the first grade Grace Foutz attended school in Washington D.C., “where her father was connected with the printing department of the federal government.”
  • After the family’s move to Reading, Pa., she attended private girls’ school and, like her father, became active in the Knights of the Maccabees.
  • At 15, having just completed 8th grade, she took a “sub-Freshman” test and was granted admission to Irving College.
  • Though Grace never properly graduated high school, she spent 5 years at Irving, graduating with a “bachelor of science degree for teaching, Latin, English and problems in democracy.” She was also granted a teaching license in Pennsylvania.
  • Grace was granted a teaching certificate in Ohio (as well as 2 lifetime certificates for teaching grade and high schools) and taught for 40 years in Dennison, Tuscarawas, Harrison County, Conesville and Feed Springs. She never served as a substitute, only taught full-time.

The article also details some family highlights, even if the facts seem dubious or outright incorrect.

On brother Oscar, the article reports him as having died in 1945. An interesting — though perhaps false — match to mother Elizabeth’s death year.

As to husband Fred Chaney, the article reports Grace met him when she returned to Ohio for her grandmother’s funeral “in May 1916.” The death of Rebecca Foutz may, indeed, have been the occasion Grace and Fred met, but sources tell us Rebecca died in May 1915, same year as Sherman, and same year as Fred and Grace’s marriage that December.

The article shares Fred’s occupation as railroad conductor, and gets his death right, in September 1955 (coincidentally, on Vance’s birthday). And shares the location of their first shared, and later, Grace’s solitary residence in the Nicola Building at 3rd and Water streets.

Grace’s wonderful life, though illuminated in interesting ways, still is in many ways a mystery. But with some of the clues revealed there, we fill in a few more blanks. More answers to come.

nicola bldg 101 e third st uhrichsville oh

Grace Foutz Chaney made her home in the Nicola Building in Uhrichsville for more than 30 years.

Categories: Foutz, General Genealogy, newsletter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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