Posts Tagged With: intermarrying

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.

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

Aunt Jennie Fisher’s Witchy Encounter


Fisher Walters Family Early 1900s

The sons and daughters of Sarah Ann (Walters) Fisher gather for a portrait with their mother in the early 1900s. Front: Sarah M, John William, Sarah Ann (Walters), Mary Jane “Jennie”, Henry. Back: Emma, Ellsworth, Della, Barclay, Lily, George, Clara Alice, James.

Hauntings in Stone Creek | Mary Jane Fisher

Today’s dispatch comes courtesy of the alert eyes of Ancestry.com connection — and relative somewhere back through all those Leys and Weibles — Judy Schrock, who last month spotted an article in my old hometown paper about an alleged haunting nearly a century and a half ago.

At the heart of this tale of witches: a 9-year-old third-great aunt, Mary Jane Fisher, sister to my great-great-grandfather John William Fisher.

Born Feb. 22, 1861, “Jennie,” as she was called, was the third child and oldest daughter of my great-great-great-grandparents, George and Sarah (Walters) Fisher. (A daughter, Barbara, born in 1860, died in infancy.)

The family called 104 acres of farmland just outside of New Philadelphia in Stone Creek home. George’s father, Henry Fisher, first settled in the area about 1818, according to The History of Tuscarawas County, published in 1884. Through proceeds from day labor, Henry slowly built his savings and eventually acquired 166 acres.

The Fishers were well-connected — and intermarried — with several prominent early farming families south of New Philadelphia, including the Crites (Elizabeth Crites, daughter of Revolutionary War soldier, Jacob, was Henry’s bride) and Walters clans. George married Sarah Ann Walters, whose parents, Abraham and Mary Walters, maintained their nearly-200-acre homestead just south of their own.

In addition to helping raise a large family of 13 children, George served the community as school director. So when in March 1870 The Ohio Democrat reported the first inklings of their daughter Jennie’s encounters with “strange persons and things that other persons who are present do not see,” the rumors were not dismissed out of hand. “Reliable men from the neighborhood say the story is not without foundation,” the paper noted.

Bewitching Mystery for Jennie & Fisher Family

Jon Baker of the New Philadelphia, Ohio Times-Reporter recounted the Democrat dispatches of March 18 and April 1, 1870 in an article published Feb. 18, 2013, some 143 years later. Baker quoted the first report (which, unfortunately, was missing from the Ancestry.com database):

We have strange rumors from Stone Creek. … Windows are broken, when apparently no one is there to break them. A person riding a white horse (Death on a pale horse) has been seen. Sometimes a dog, invisible to vulgar eyes, is seen by this fortunate little seer.

… Some pious people say the little girl is ‘bewitched,’ others that the house is ‘haunted,’ and some more silly still, assert that spirits have ‘a finger  in the pie.’  Of course, the latter explanation finds but few believers.

The mystery got further treatment in the Ohio Democrat of April 1, 1870Baker recounts the tale of Jennie being slapped by an unseen hand while dining at her grandparents’ house, and of joining her grandpa Abraham Walters in chasing a witch nearly 300 yards (50 or 60 rods in the original — thanks, Google, for confirming Baker’s handy calculation) across their farmland.

Her grandfather, Mr. Abraham Walters, heard the sound of the blow on the little girl’s face and saw her motion, but could see no one else.  It was a palpable and decided slap in the face given with considerable force, sufficient to throw the little girl from her seat.

…  During the chase (of the witch), (Abraham Walters) saw a mark on a fence that looked like someone had crossed it.  When they got back to the house, the ‘witch’ was standing near the bake oven.  Mr. Walters did not see anything, but the little girl insists that she saw a woman.

The Democrat concluded its report by inviting clergy of the area to assemble on the grounds and investigate the claims, with an eye toward ridding the grounds of the troubled spirits, possibly through the effort of prayer or by channeling the spirit into a peaceful resting place, “such as a hearth stone.”

According to Baker, the Democrat never followed up on the story.

Marries a Walters, Moves to Van Wert

What became of Aunt Jennie Fisher, in the years after her childhood encounters?

The record remains silent on any ghostly activity. But the Democrat reported her marriage Dec.13, 1883 to William H. Walters. No word on whether this Walters was a relation to her mother’s family. But the article notes William came from Van Wert, Ohio, where the couple makes their home for the next six decades.

Oddly, the same census records that confirms their residency in Van Wert also shows a Mary J. and William Walters living there together, with an infant son, as early as 1880, some three years before the Democrat reported their union. But then, the 1900 census seems to peg their marriage year as 1877 (the document reports 23 years of marriage, which would mean they wed as teenagers), while the 1910 census corrects the record to 26 years, or very likely the late 1883 date reported in the Democrat.

The couple live out their days in Van Wert, raising five children (six, if that early census is to be believed). William passes away first, in 1836, while Jennie (Fisher) Walters lives to the ripe age of 83. She dies Jan. 6, 1944 and is buried with her husband in Van Wert.

Walters Woodland Union Cemetery Van Wert Ohio

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Busy News Day for the Leys (and Weibles) Gets Busier — Part 2


Weible Ley 1028 Walnut Street Dover 2012

This house, at 1028 N. Walnut St. in Dover, Ohio, built in 1900, was the residence of Minnie Mae (Ley) Weible and her husband, Edwin Frederick Weible in the early part of the 20th century. Following the death of Minnie's father, Colt's third great-grandfather, Augustus Ley, her mother, Harriet (Powell) Ley, lived with the couple until her death, in 1915.

Death of Harriet Josephine (Powell) Ley | September 4, 1915

As related in Saturday’s post, when Great-Great-Grandfather Charles Henry Ley stepped down as Tuscarawas County treasurerThe Daily Reporter in Dover, Ohio ran two bulletins conveying the news — of Ley’s successor as treasurer, and of his plans to resume his career as traveling dry good salesman.

Quite a busy day for any family in the newspaper, especially back in 1915. But there was still more ink to be expended on momentous events for the Leys — and their in-laws by marriage, the Weibles.

Though the next dispatch wouldn’t be published for another three days — no such thing as a 24-hour news cycle a century ago — later that Saturday, September 4, 1915, family matriarch Harriet J. (Powell) Ley would pass away.

Her death, at 70, probably did not come as too much of a shock for her loved ones. According to her death certificate, Great-great-great Grandma “Hattie” had been suffering from colon cancer for nearly a year by then. Though perhaps the bustling circumstances of Charles Ley’s departure from elected office, and its accompanying coverage, caused either the news staff or the family to delay the announcement of Harriet’s passing until the day of her services and burial.

Or — and here you’ll have to forgive me my fevered sprint through the microfilm records on the last day of my latest visit home — in 1915, “daily” publication of the Reporter actually meant semi-daily, and the next issue wasn’t until that Tuesday, September 7.

You can read that news here:

Ley Harriet Powell obit DDR 9.7.1915

More About Great-Great-Great Grandma Harriet (Powell) Ley

At the time of her death, Hattie had been living with her only daughter, Minnie Mae, about 10 years.

Minnie Mae and her husband, Edwin Frederick Weible, had beckoned their dear mother to move from Port Washington and join them in Dover following their marriage in 1904. By then, Hattie had been widowed four years. In 1900, Great-great-great-grandfather Augustus Ley had dropped dead of apoplexy in his Port Washington general store. He was just past 60.

Hattie received generous coverage in the Powell Family History by W.D. Shirk. Of her childhood on the Ohio frontier and young adulthood, Shirk wrote:

Harriet J. (Powell) Ley was born in a little log cabin, her father’s home, near Bakersville, in 1845, Feb. 22. She writes, she well remembers the log house with its great wide fire place, and seeing her father roll in the big back logs for it, and well recollects when she was seven years old and they moved into the new brick house.

She experienced the privations, before described in this book, of a frontier life and though school privileges were not good, she so advanced that she passed a county examination of teachers, but never used her certificate, for she shortly got married and now (1914) she writes me, “My grand children often want me to tell them about when I was a little girl, tell them of the old log cabin, and how we used to play under the old chestnut tree, and gather chestnuts, and hazel nuts, and how we used to fish in the little runs and creeks; and how we used to wander over the woods, hills and meadows gathering wild flowers.”

One has to assume that Great-Grandfather Robert Earl Ley was among those kiddos begging grandma for a story of frontier times.

Shirk was still assembling his 1918 history of the descendants of Thomas J. and Henrietta Howells Powell (Hattie’s grandparents, mother and father to my fourth great-grandfather Henry Charles Powell) when he received word from Hattie’s niece, Harriet Loveless, of her death and burial. Shirk shares his affection and respect for his relative as he writes:

Harriet Ley was a woman of more than ordinary brightness and cheerfulness, and from the tone of her letters I can well say, Oh, how she loved her husband and children, and what an example of truly a christian life she set them.

After her husband’s death she wrote me: “The children wouldn’t listen to me staying alone,” so she sold out and moved to Canal Dover to be near them, and made her home with her daughter, Minnie, where she had every care a loving daughter could give.

That home, located at 1028 N. Walnut St. in Dover, was just a block away from the house where I grew up until age 12. It’s now for sale, and you can see some of the preserved interior in its listing at Zillow.com. But we have a more immediate connection to the last home of my third great-grandmother Ley in our own living room in the Chicago suburbs.

Turns out, the wonderful old sofa on which I spent many an afternoon slumbering as a boy and since my parents carted the piece to my Sandusky apartment at age 24, was bought at a 1980s auction at 1028 N. Walnut. Back then, it was a rich burgundy. After a subsequent refinishing, it is gray, and staging ground not only for my weekend afternoon naps but pillow fights and gymnastic romps of Hattie’s fourth great-grandsons, Jonah and Ben. (And probably cause for another refinishing.)

We can’t say for sure if the Weibles ever owned the piece. But a couch that has spanned seven generations? That’s quite the home furnishing feat.

Ley Weible Seven Generation Couch

A typical busy day in the life of our household, circa 2008. At the center of it all is a grey couch purchased at auction from the Dover home where my great-great-great grandmother Ley lived her last decade. It has been (possibly back) in my family for the last 30 years. (Photo by Heather Eidson)

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A Busy News Day for the Leys (and Weibles) — Part 1


Charles Henry Ley

Great-great Grandfather Charles Henry Ley

A Pivotal News Day for the Leys | September 4, 1915

Leys and Weibles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries became accustomed to their hometown papers carrying news of their business and personal lives.

Both families were involved in politics, with my great-great-great grandfather Augustus Ley serving as Salem township treasurer and clerk, and his son (my great-great grandfather) Charles Ley serving two terms as Tuscarawas County treasurer. Regular ads touted the furniture enterprise of my great-great grandfather Franklin Eli Weible, while his son, my great-grandfather Robert Ohio Weible, was a prominent appointed state official, leading the World War II scrap material drives.

These families were first connected in marriage by the union of my third aunt, Minnie Mae Ley — sister to my great-great grandfather Charles — and Edwin Frederick Weible, cousin of my great-grandfather, Robert Ohio Weible.

Charles Ley had served the county through four years before term limits prompted his return to private citizenship. The Dover (Ohio) Daily Reporter of Saturday, September 4, 1915 carried this bulletin, as well as news of his next career move.

Click the links below to read the stories:

Ley Charles ends term Dover Daily Reporter 9.4.1915

Ley Charles resumes traveling job DDR 9.4.1915

But the day would hold more in store for the Leys, and their Dover counterparts who would one day be connected a second time by marriage through my grandmother, Suzanne Abbott Weible, and my grandfather, Robert Earl Ley Jr.

Tune in Monday for part two of a pivotal 1915 news day for the Leys and Weibles, as well as a quaint tale of a house for sale… and a hand-me-down couch.

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In Memorium: Charles Otto Ley


Charles Otto Ley 1940-1972

This painting of Charles Otto Ley hangs in a place of honor on the memorial wall of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. May 24 marks 39 years since Charles's tragic death while in pursuit of a fleeing vehicle.

Charles Otto Ley | 1940-1972

When my brother Dan and I were kids, we played at being heroes.

Superheroes, some days. We’d tie blankets around our throats and jump from the end of the picnic table, soaring off after whatever bad guy or mutant beastie threatened the sanctity of our American way of life — or at least the backyard.

We were military heroes, other days. We’d post our battalion of G.I. Joes on sentry, waiting for Cobra’s inevitable attack. Playing out our bedroom floor battles to a cassette tape soundtrack.

These ideas of heroism, these role models to which we might aspire, were ingrained by our fascination with comic books, cartoon shows. Three-and-a-half-inch men in olive drab with swivel-arm battle grip and removable helmets, gear, weapons, molded into an approximation of the grown-up guys we might one day be.

One of the shows that captivated us, early on, was C.H.I.P.S. It seems ridiculous now, some 30 years later, but Ponch and Jon and their swinging California lifestyle, the coy way they winked at the babes and the swift justice they delivered to criminals were the inspiration for countless backyard routines. We loved ’em. We wanted to be them. With their blue riding helmets and mirrored sunglasses and the way they swooped around on motorcycles — motorcycles! — all to the soaring brass and riding cymbal and Conti-esque driving beat that typified 1970s action.

Yeah, a bit ridiculous. But borne from something real, in the role models we look to for the men we might become.

A Real California Peace Officer in Our Family

Distant cousin Earl Ley, and a deputy at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department with which he was corresponding, don’t enlist the often over-used term “hero” when they speak of the life and tragic death of Charles Otto Ley in a recent email Earl shared with me. They don’t need to. Instead, they recall a young man — younger, when he passed away 39 years ago today, than I am now — with a passion for living, and a love of family and community and dedication to his job.

According to Earl, his older brother was never more proud than the day he graduated from the academy as a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff. Chuck was a man who took pride in service. He was a three-year Marine, part of a family where the four men (his two brothers and his father) served in five branches of the military — the U.S. Army, the Army Air Corps, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force. He worked hard to make the grade as a deputy sheriff, according to Earl, and “loved his uniform, wore it proudly, and (kept it) immaculate.”

Chuck was proud of his athletic ability, too, Earl said, and relished his role as star of the Sheriff’s basketball team. At 6’4, he led the squad to the police Olympics in California, enjoying every minute of competition and the call to sportsmanship on and off the court.

On the police force, Chuck made quite a sight, towering over his much shorter partner, Deputy Roan. The two were fond of each other’s company, and diehards for police work, holding down barstools together long after their shift ended, talking endlessly and devotedly of the rigors of the job.

At home, Chuck wanted nothing more than to provide for his family, Earl said. He tended to house, cars, bills so his wife, Cecille, could lavish time on their four children — Brian, Brad, Marie and Kimberley. Cecille was so confident of Chuck’s abilities, Earl said, she never doubted his safety on duty.

There were aspects of the job that could prove irksome. Whenever Earl visited his older brother in the winter, Chuck was often suffering a cold, the result, Chuck told him, of driving around all winter with his patrol car windows open, listening for alarms. But these were minor nuisances. Chuck loved the community of Industry, and West Covina, where he lived, and cherished time with his family and his beloved animals — his horse, his dog and even eldest son Brian’s pet snake.

And then came one tragic night — May 24, 1972. Chuck and partner were in pursuit of a sports car. The fleeing suspect sped up a highway on-ramp. Chuck gave chase. Whether the treacherous circular roadway proved too much for the police vehicle, or Chuck lost control, the car veered off and rolled over several times, killing Chuck, but sparing his partner.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Industry police community came together to envelope the Leys in an outpouring of appreciation for Chuck’s service. It was a show of respect for which the family was and remains profoundly grateful, Earl said. To this day, a painting of the young deputy Ley hangs in a place of honor at the Industry station.

Though I never knew about Chuck until Earl shared his story this week, I wanted to share his story with our larger family. Those following this blog will recognize, at least in part, the heritage of his name, Charles Otto — for family forefathers Carl Friedrich (or Frederick Charles) and great to the nth power uncle Karl Gottleib (or Charles) Ley; and after Otto Treviran Ley, a son of the intermarrying Minnie (a daughter of my fourth great grandfather Karl Gottleib Ley) and Carl Ley (her first cousin). We join our Ley cousins in pausing to honor his life.

Charles Otto Ley

Categories: Ley, quickie post | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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