Posts Tagged With: Knights of the Macabbees

Lizzie Foutz’s Lonely Life

135 N Summit St Harrisburg Pa

The home where Sherman Foutz lived out his last years, at 135 N. Summit St. in Harrisburg, Pa. His widow, Elizabeth, would relocate through a succession of residences in her final 30 years without Sherman.

Sherman Foutz Widow Stays in Harrisburg

The life of my great-great aunt Lizzie Foutz is one I’ve puzzled over for some time, and probably more than that of her well-known husband, Sherman Foutz.

Great-great Uncle Sherman’s life — and early death — after all, is more easily navigable for its documented rise and development and the decisive, tragic final chapter.

But the family left in the wake of Sherman’s losing fight with tuberculosis, at just 47, is harder to trace and understand. Cast out of the spotlight trained upon Sherman for his U.S. Treasury Department appointment, then leadership of the Knights of the Maccabees, then prominent fire insurance business in first Reading then Harrisburg, Pa., the family splits up in the decade after his death.

Earlier posts in this series, gathering new insights from a recent research binge on, have shed light on a few longstanding mysteries about Sherman’s descendants, including:

  • the business circumstances that brought Sherman Foutz from Reading to Harrisburg, Pa. about 1909, even after his family had acquired history-book status in Berks County
  • the omission in Sherman’s 1915 obituary and other circumstantial evidence that seemed to indicate his oldest child, Oscar, preceded him in death, when in fact, as revealed by Sherman’s death announcement (and other documentation we’ll get to), Oscar survived him, though he lived in faraway Arizona as one of his two sons — what happened to the other, and to Oscar’s wife? — lived for a time in Lizzie’s care.
  • the most complete tracing of what happened to Sherman’s family following his death can be found in the 1970 obituary of daughter Grace Foutz Chaney, and a 1969 feature on her life and teaching career in Ohio, though some of the facts are wrong, and mysteries still surround Grace’s childlessness, her choice to live 300 miles from her widowed mother and nieces and nephews, her sporadic but forgotten visits to my great-grandfather Vance (her uncle just 3 years her senior), and her habit of fudging her age, which ended up etched into her tombstone’s incorrect birthdate.

But it is the fate of Sherman’s widow, Elizabeth Wilson Foutz — Lizzie in census records and on personal possessions — that holds even greater intrigue than what we’ve picked through so far.

From Harrison County to Harrisburg, Pa.

According to a history of Berks County published in the first decade of the 1900s, Elizabeth Wilson was the daughter of John Wilson and grew up, like Sherman Foutz, in Harrison County, Ohio.

Born in October 1866, according to census records, Elizabeth Wilson grew up in a family of a dozen or so children. Unlike eldest child Sherman, born in September 1867 on a nearby farm to Jonathan and Rebecca Foutz, Elizabeth was second-youngest of that big brood.

Her parents, John and Mary, were Irish immigrants. They were married in Pittsburgh, Pa. about 1839, and their first children were born in Pennsylvania. By the time Jane “Jennie” Wilson was born in 1843, they were living and farming in Harrison County, Ohio.

The 1880 census is the last to catch Elizabeth Wilson and Sherman Foutz before their marriage, kids and move to Washington D.C. (The 1890 federal census was almost entirely destroyed in a fire.) At the time, Elizabeth is 16 and attending school; Sherman, at 13, also goes to school and his household includes sisters Lila, Rachel and Ida, and younger brother John. The family spells their name Pfoutz.

After graduating from the Harrison County public schools, Sherman attends New Hagerstown Academy in nearby Carroll County, an unprecedented level of education not only for the farming Foutzes as a clan, but for Sherman’s younger siblings as well.

On August 11, 1887, Sherman and Elizabeth are married. He is 19; she is two months shy of 21. Son Oscar will be born 15 months later in December 1888. Daughter Grace follows on Sept. 5, 1890, her birthday two days after her father’s. The family makes their home in Bowerston, where Sherman works in the fire insurance business. Sometime in the 1890s, he is appointed to a clerkship with the U.S. Treasury, during the second presidency of Grover Cleveland.

The 1900 census finds Sherman and Elizabeth and family sharing a house at 732 Flint St. in Washington D.C. with Jonathan, Rebecca and their youngest sons Charles and (Colt’s great-grandfather) Vance. The census catches them in June, just months before Jonathan and Rebecca would return home to Harrison County, where Jonathan would die of Bright’s Disease, a kidney ailment, in September at age 55.

According to the Berks County history, in April 1902 Sherman accepts a role as supervising deputy for the Knights of the Maccabees’ eastern Pennsylvania district. The family moves to Reading, where Sherman succeeds in growing the membership base from 92 to more than 3,500 over the course of the decade.

Property sales records show the Foutzes selling their Reading home in 1909 and moving 60-some miles west to the capital city of Harrisburg, where Sherman continues his Maccabees leadership for a few more years before taking charge of the Protective Home Circle, an insurance collective, in 1913.

About that time, the family moves into a brand new house at 135 N. Summit St. in Harrisburg. Not far from Sherman’s insurance offices on 2nd Street, the red brick home abuts North Terrace Park and boasts 4 bedrooms and 1,900 square feet, according to Trulia stats. A pretty piece of real estate at the time, the family would not stay there long during a tumultuous conclusion to the 1910s.

Foutz Lizzie Glass 1910

A ruby glass uncovered in 2013 at an Ohio auction bears the name of Great-Great Aunt Lizzie Foutz and seems to date from a Modern Woodmen of America benefit in 1910.

Rare Foutz Find: Glass an Artifact of Happier Times

In the years I’ve researched Sherman Foutz’s family and descendants, I’ve turned up numerous photos of Sherman, in portraits and official Maccabees invitations, even newspaper caricatures. Thanks to the Morelands (family of sister Ida), we’ve got a four generations portrait of Grace and her father about 1910 with grandma Rebecca Foutz and great-grandma Rachel Caldwell.

No portrait or picture of mom Lizzie B. (Wilson) Foutz exists, that I’ve found. Same for son Oscar.

We’ve got obituaries to bracket the lives and lend order to the stories of Sherman and Grace. But Oscar comes up missing ink. And until recently, Lizzie did, too. The only clues were census records, and even those were incomplete.

We know that, following Sherman’s death in 1915, Lizzie turns up in 1920 and 1930 still living in Harrisburg.

In 1920, grandson Ralph, 11, is the only carryover from her 1910 household. Sherman, Grace and Oscar are gone. A new addition is 14-year-old foster daughter Catherine, whose birthplace is listed as Pennsylvania and whose parents are listed as born in the United States. Not listed in their house in 1910, and not mentioned in Sherman’s death announcement or obituary, interestingly, Catherine was probably adopted after Lizzie was widowed, when she was as old as 9 or 10.

Never having been listed as employed before, through her 20s and 30s, Lizzie, at 45, now works as a cook in the Elks home. She also hosts two roomers at the family’s rented house at 59 N. Tenth St. — 44-year-old widow Lydia Farber, a cook at a factory restaurant, and her 14-year-old daughter Helen Farber.

By 1930, Lizzie and Catherine Foutz are the sole members of their household, renting an apartment with dozens of other families (in the building, I’m presuming) at 412 Briggs St., about where the State Museum of Pennsylvania stands today, though their address is also listed in a 1930 city directory as 910 N. Third, right around the corner. Their ages are reported, erroneously, as 52 and 20. They should be 55 and 24.

Elizabeth doesn’t work according to the 1930 census, while Catherine is employed as a stitcher in a shoe factory. (The city directory says she is a folder.)

We know from the 1940 census that Catherine is living in Lititz, Pa., about halfway between Harrisburg and Reading. She is married to John Roy Rutt, a cutter in an asbestos factory. Catherine is not employed.

Lizzie vanishes from the public record at this point. Though I have scoured census records in Harrisburg, going neighborhood by neighborhood, I can’t find her. She doesn’t live with Grace in Ohio or Catherine in Lititz, or grandson Ralph in Harrisburg; nor does she show up in the residences of her two surviving siblings. And aside from knowing her death year — 1945 — for a time, I had no inkling of where she was after 1930.

But there, in the newspaper archives of the Harrisburg Telegraph, was her obituary. I try not to take such sudden revelations as a personal judgment on all the hours I’d sunk in prior to that moment. I’ll take it as a stroke of luck instead.

From Dec. 13, 1945:

Foutz Lizzie death Harrisburg Telegraph Dec 1945

From this snippet, we learn that Lizzie was still living in Harrisburg up until her hospitalization in Lancaster (down the river from Harrisburg and south of Lititz). The place is a grassy lot today.

We learn that Oscar may be still alive — and living in Charlotte, N.C. Her obit also confirms just two grandsons  (from Oscar and Florence) — and that Ralph and Sherman are still living. The five great-grandchildren are probably all from Ralph and wife Virginia (Henson) Foutz: Nicholas, Charles, Catherine, Arthur and newborn Grace, not yet a month old when her great-grandmother Elizabeth died.

Lizzie’s body would be returned to Bowerston for burial. She is laid to rest in Longview Cemetery, across from Sherman.

And that’s her story, as much as we can piece together. Still, there are sudden connections that surprise.

Late last spring, around the time of my son Caleb’s birth (a busy time, and part of the reason for the delay in sharing), I was emailed by Nancy Dionne. She was hunting auctions in Zanesville, Ohio and came across a ruby shot glass with a crystal bottom, inscribed “Lizzie Foutz” and “M.W. of A.” with the date 1910.

The glass was thrown in as an “add-on” to a piece of pottery Nancy wanted. Curious about its origins, though, Nancy and fellow treasure hunters chatting in collectors weekly’s forums searched online and found this blog. M.W. of A, Nancy and company found out, was likely Modern Woodmen of America (one of Sherman Foutz’s many affiliations), and the 1910 event may have been a function at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1910.

Nancy was kind enough to mail the glass to me. Now this relic of my great-great aunt Lizzie Foutz’s mysterious life sits atop a bookshelf on the right side of our fireplace and mantle full of family photographs. Here’s hoping that continued piecing together of our family’s past, and sharing in this space, can lead to even more illuminating connections.

Foutz Lizzie Glass 2

Another view of the Lizzie Foutz glass uncovered by Nancy Dionne in a Zanesville, Ohio auction. M.W. of A. likely stands for Modern Woodmen of America, one of Sherman Foutz’s many affiliations.

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Sherman Foutz Wants Your Fire Insurance Business

Sherman S. Foutz

Second Great-Uncle Sherman S. Foutz

1910 Ads Angle for Harrisburg Policy Holders

This post begins a run where we jump the track of mere milestone-gazing — as fun as it’s been sharing a mere foretaste of the feast of newspaper ink uncovered on ancestors from the 20th century during a recent research binge — and return to some of the chief mysteries surrounding the family and descendants of my great-grandfather Vance Foutz’s oldest brother, Sherman Foutz.

The modern-day “Extra Extra?” I’ve solved a few of them.

Those revelations to come.

Today, we warm up with a return to the Sherman Foutz narrative. From the first post on this blog, concerning Sherman Foutz’s promising life cut short in 1915 by tuberculosis, I’ve had a nagging fascination with my great-great uncle’s family and descendants. Partly, because he was a such a mold-breaker for that first century and a half of farming Foutzes: first to college, first to establish himself outside farming, first to break away to the big city after landing a big-time Treasury Department appointment in Washington.

Sherman’s was a life that garnered praise in history books. After his stint in Washington, he made a name for himself in the insurance business and fraternal circles throughout Reading and Harrisburg, Pa.

His was also a life cut short, at 47. He had the money to travel to a famous Lutheran sanitarium near Denver, Colorado to seek a cure, but ultimately succumbed. Leaving big mysteries and a grieving family in his wake.

What happened to son Oscar and daughter-in-law Florence? Why did daughter Grace elope just months after Sherman’s death and move back to Ohio, where she lived within a dozen or so miles from my family of Foutzes but escaped everyone’s memory? And what of wife Lizzie? Her gravestone shows her buried in Ohio alongside Sherman some 30 years after he died, but census records show her living far beneath the social circles they previously moved in, alternately responsible for grandsons Ralph and Harry Sherman and foster daughter Catherine Foutz Rutt, but seemingly cut off from them as well.

What’s the story? More on that in the coming days.

Burnt Out? Find Foutz for Fire Insurance

But let’s get warmed up, if you will, by reacquainting ourselves with Sherman’s family through the press clippings that chronicled their days in Pennsylvania.

Sherman enjoyed success in the insurance business in Reading before packing the family up and moving to Harrisburg, probably about 1909, according to the April 9, 1909 Reading Times.

Shortly after moving to Harrisburg, Sherman’s new business plans are announced in an April 1910 Harrisburg Telegraph item on the Home Friendly Society of Pennsylvania, which planned to pay out sickness, death and accident benefits to qualifying policy-holders.

But Sherman’s bread-and-butter business offering remained his fire insurance practice, as evidenced by the series of ads running in the Telegraph the winter of 1910-11.

The ads themselves read to me today as practically indecipherable, but at least true in spirit to the core of his Knights of the Maccabees affiliation. Still — “Refuse to pay a policy fee… but call on S.S. Foutz?” “Both phones?” “If you need a calendar, come soon, or the supply will be exhausted?” “If you will do this… a souvenir will be presented you.” “Remember the place.”

I’ve written some copy in my time, and probably could have done Great-Great Uncle Sherman a solid. That said, business was good. Take a look and see if you’d sign up.

Foutz Sherman insurance ad 2 Harrisburg Telegraph 6 Jan 1911 Foutz Sherman insurance ad Harrisburg Telegraph 17 Dec 1910

According to a quick search on Google Maps, this block may be where Sherman Foutz did business in Harrisburg. The door in the middle is 33 N. 2nd St. I don’t know when these buildings date to — the whole area looks revitalized — but take a look and imagine Sherman doing business above the pub or restaurant on the second floor.

31 N 2nd St Harrisburg PA

The block where Sherman Foutz may have done business in Harrisburg, PA.

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A New Grandson for Sherman Foutz (c. 1910)

Sherman S. Foutz

Second Great-Uncle Sherman S. Foutz

Harry Sherman Foutz | A New Find in PA Church Records

The family of my great-grandfather Vance Cleveland Foutz’s oldest brother Sherman S. Foutz has long held fascination for my family.

I’ll say “long held fascination,” because even though I’ve only been at this genealogy game for less than four years, among the possessions of Vance’s that were passed on to my grandfather, Don, and then on to my father, Fred, were clippings of his brother Sherman’s obituary and an old Knights of the Maccabees dinner invitation (shown above). Vance didn’t have so much as a shred of memento about the old Foutz farm in Harrison County — and never spoke of those origins — and descendants could only guess at his other family members. Sherman, he felt compelled to commemorate.

Sherman’s story is certainly noteworthy, and divulged in no fewer than a half dozen posts from this blog. The highlights:

* First of the farming Foutzes to attend college, back in the 1880s when that was quite something.

* Applied that background to establish his own fire insurance business.

* Bolstered by fraternal connections, particularly through the Knights of the Maccabees, Sherman expanded his business and earned an appointment to the Treasury Department in Washington D.C. during the Grover Cleveland presidential administration.

* First to leave Ohio in nearly 100 years, Sherman was soon joined by his parents, Colt’s second great-grandparents Jonathan and Rebecca. They appear with Sherman and his young family on the 1900 census in Washington D.C.

* At his appointment’s close — and following father Jonathan’s 1900 death — Sherman rose to further prominence as supervisor of Pennsylvania’s eastern district of Maccabees, growing their membership from 92 to more than several thousand over a few short years.

* The family made their home first in Reading, Pa., then later at a prominent downtown address in Harrisburg, the state capital.

But in 1915, Sherman’s life came to a tragic close as he succumbed to tuberculosis, despite a move to a Lutheran sanitorium in Wheat Ridge, Colo., in an attempt to restore his health.

He was buried back home in Bowerston, Ohio, in Longview Cemetery. His wife, Lizzie, outlived him by 30 years, maintaining a residence in Reading while raising at least one foster daughter, Catherine Rutt. Meanwhile, daughter Grace, also college educated, married shortly after Sherman’s death and returned to Ohio, where she taught school in Uhrichsville and lived a quiet, childless life no more than a dozen or so miles from my great-grandpa Vance, more a playmate than an uncle, since they were born a mere three years apart. And yet, my family knew nothing of Grace, or of Sherman’s family’s ends.

Of particular curiosity to me was what happened to his eldest child, Oscar. Oscar, records show, was active in the military as a young man, serving in the Pennsylvania National Guard. Berks County records — apparently easier to access than others in the state — revealed Oscar’s marriage on New Year’s Day, 1908, to Florence Hartman.

Census records reveal Oscar and Florence’s son, Ralph, living with his grandmother, Lizzie, in 1910 and 1920. But there is no Oscar reported in 1920. And Sherman’s 1915 obituary — as well as Grace’s obit in 1970 — make no mention of Oscar.

A curious incident reported in the Sept. 17, 1910 Gettysburg Times relates how a Private Oscar Foutz, along with three other companions, traveled to Allentown for a night of fun that August and upon meeting a William Crogan of Delaware County, beat him with a club and took his money. Oscar was convicted of highway robbery and sentenced to nine months in jail. The article predicted he “may be drummed out of service.”

How did Oscar’s conviction change the family’s fortunes? He doesn’t appear on another census, and I have not been able to locate Florence, either. Soon after, the family would suffer Sherman’s tragic death, and though I have attempted — and had some success at — tracing Ralph Foutz and his possible descendants in Pennsylvania and elsewhere over the decades that followed, the connection to our Foutzes seems long lost.

This year, however, some new light has been shed on Oscar’s young family. In addition to further substantiation of his marriage to Florence, I’ve located two baptisms in Pennsylvania church records on

The first — no surprise — is for a Ralph Francis Foutz, born Dec. 19, 1908 and baptized March 6, 1909 at Alsace Lutheran Church in Reading, Pa. to parents Oscar Foutz and Florence M. Hartman. “His mother” was listed as sponsor.

The second — a big surprise, actually, since (tragically) this name appears nowhere in records I have seen after this date — is for a Harry Sherman Foutz, born March 28, 1910 and baptized April 22, 1910, again at Alsace Lutheran in Reading, to parents Oscar Foutz and Florence Hartman. Again, his mother is listed as sponsor.

At first, this confirmation of Ralph’s birth and baptism — and the discovery of a new brother, Harry Sherman — is heartening.

This further ties what we know of our Ohio family to the Ralph F. Foutz who grew up and remained in Harrsiburg, Pa. until his death, in 1964, at about age 58. We know about that Ralph’s wife, Virginia Clara Henson, and I’ve begun to trace his descendants, both in Pennsylvania and the larger United States.

It’s good to think that descendants of such a prominent Foutz as Sherman S. live on.

But existing records do not indicate the survival of his grandson namesake. He doesn’t appear on the 1910 census — taken on April 22 — in the household of his grandparents, where both his father and older brother reside. I haven’t found any Harrisburg or Pennsylvania city directory records — as I have with Ralph — that indicate his survival into adulthood.

And what of Florence? She, too, does not appear in the 1910 census along with her husband (listed there as married) or eldest son.

For awhile, I wondered if she had died in childbirth with Ralph, and the census taker had made a mistake listing M for married. At least the 1910 birth and baptism of Harry Sherman nixes that. But where, then, is Florence?

An article in the July 10, 1911 edition of the Reading Eagle seems to support Florence’s continued health as well as Oscar’s reinstatement into the National Guard. The story reports the happy visitation of families to the National Guard camp in Reading. Among those listed is a Florence Foutz.

And so, we are still left wondering, now about three Foutz relatives. What became of Oscar, Florence and Harry Sherman? Perhaps an exhaustive search of the Reading and Harrisburg papers of the period will reveal their fates.

Foutz Ralph F Woodlawn Memorial Gardens Harrisburg Pa

We think we know the resting place of one of Sherman and Lizzie Foutz's grandsons. Ralph F. Foutz, born 1908 and died 1964, is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Harrisburg, Pa. This is his half of his shared headstone with wife Virginia Clara (Henson) Foutz.

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How Did Jonathan Foutz Die? | Foutz Family History

Jonathan Foutz

Colt's great-great grandfather, Jonathan Foutz, 1845-1900

New Answers to Foutz Genealogy Questions | Part Three

The search for clues about my great-great grandfather Jonathan Foutz’s young death, and what befell his family immediately afterward, has for three years been a mostly frustrating slog through old microfilm and crumbling courthouse records.

We’ve hit upon some solid leads, some tantalizing possibilities — but have been left with more questions than answers.

Until this week, when the rediscovery of writings decades old by a grandson of Jonathan nearly 20 years in his own grave has shed new light on the Foutz family more than 100 years ago.

In a post concluding a series on the siblings and parents of my great-grandfather Vance Cleveland Foutz, I posed seven remaining riddles about these Foutz ancestors that scores of records, official and private, had been unable to solve. Chief among these questions — how did great-great grandpa Jonathan Foutz die? And what became of the family afterward?

The journal of Sherman Earl Moreland (third child of Vance’s sister, Ida) — and the work of his great-granddaughter Dawn James to describe 340+ handwritten pages — has finally meant a break in this case.

Shedding Light on a Life — and Death

From a genealogical perspective, the lives of Jonathan’s parents — my great-great-great grandparents, Gideon and Delilah Pfouts — were relatively easy to trace, by comparison.

Gideon and Delilah were blessed with unique names in the family tree. They lived into ripe old age — 77 for Delilah; 89 for Gideon — and stayed put, farming the same land in Monroe Township, Harrison County, Ohio recorded on censuses from 1850 through 1910. Upon his passing, Gideon deeds the land and buildings to youngest sons Nathaniel and Nelson.

Jonathan began his life on the same course as his father, but found himself in quite different circumstances than clans of Foutzes back home.

He was born in May 1845, the oldest of six. He learned the farming trade and by 1865 he was married to Rebecca Caldwell, who as family legend has it was also born on the old Foutz homestead, and apprenticed to an uncle of the same name (as well as an aunt, Elizabeth, and uncle John and his wife Margaret) on a farm in the southeast corner of the township.

Son Sherman was born in 1867, and followed by Lila, Rachel, Ida, John and Charles, with the family brood complete some 20 years later, and with Jonathan 42 and Rebecca 40, with Vance.

And life might have continued as it had for Foutzes in the county the last 75 years, with all growing old and leaning into plows, if not for the precociousness of Sherman.

Unique among Foutzes of the era, Sherman completes a college education at the New Hagerstown Academy and, fortified by fraternal connections made in the Knights of the Maccabees, secures a presidential appointment to the U.S. Treasury department in the 1890s.

The last public record of Jonathan, the 1900 Federal Census, shows him, Rebecca, and their remaining dependents Charles and Vance (Lila, Rachel and Ida were already married) living in the same household alongside Sherman, daughter-in-law Elizabeth and grandchildren Oscar and Grace in a bustling neighborhood of Washington D.C.

And here our questions begin clamoring for resolution. Because an early 20th-century history of Berks County, Pa. reports, in a biographical sketch of a relocated Sherman, the death of Jonathan in September 1900.

The shortness of his life doesn’t gibe with Foutzes of his era. Not when grandfather Michael, first ancestor off the boat from Germany, left the world at 83. And youngest son Vance would go on to notch 80 years.

And so, what was the story? Was Jonathan already ill when the family relocated to Washington? Was the move one of necessity — perhaps the mark of an insolvent or forfeited farm, or to receive care beyond the abilities of country doctors?

And what fate finally befell my great-great grandfather, and of his family, immediately afterward? The next time a widowed Rebecca appears in the public record, it is in the home of my great-grandfather and his young family in 1910, in a town — Dover, Ohio — three future generations of Foutzes would call home. What brought them there?

All of the census records failed to yield further clues. The 1890 document was lost in a fire, and fails to reveal a bridge between Harrison County and our nation’s capital.

Newspapers of August through October, 1900 — microfilmed and electronically scanned — bear no trace of an account of Jonathan’s suffering or passing, even though his family was prominently followed, both at home and in greater D.C.

Cemeteries, canvassed on two occasions, in spring 2010 and 2011, failed to give up a final resting place. And the official caretakers — libraries, the gracious ladies of the historical society, the creaking volumes of the courthouse — yielded marriage certificates for Gideon and Jonathan, wills of Michael and Gideon, but nothing further.

Lucky for all, then, that for the last year, distant cousin Dawn James has been tirelessly transcribing her great-grandfather Sherman Earl Moreland’s memoirs. These four handwritten notebooks provide an important record of Sherman’s 99-year window on the world — and a vital link to what life was like for our ancestors.

Moreland Sherman Earl 1893-1993

Sherman Earl Moreland, 1893-1993

Modern-Day Revelations from the Pen of Sherman Moreland

Sherman was born in October, 1893, in one of the log cabins belonging to his grandfather Jonathan Pfouts, according to family legend.

He was the third child — and second son — of Ida Foutz Moreland, Jonathan’s youngest daughter. His grandfather, Thomas, was a four-time mayor of nearby Bowerston. His father, Thomas, worked as a railroad foreman and fireman in a pottery business, among other ventures. But Sherman would follow three generations of Foutzes into farming.

His writings adopt a narrative style, and tell of boyhood plunges into a Bowerston creek (under the watchful eye of the sheriff’s wife), visits to “Grandmaw Foutz’s” farm, where he raced along the hills with his not-much-older uncles, and the stories told him by his elders.

About 1900, Sherman would have been all of seven years old. Still, his memory places his grandfather’s family in Washington not because of any ill health, but because of Sherman securing a new opportunity for the previously Harrison-County-bound (the paragraph breaks are mine):

Prior to this time Grandpaw and Grandmaw Foutz had moved to Brightwood, Maryland.  Uncle Sherman Foutz had got them a place there to live.  He got John, Charley, and Vance jobs in the postal department.

Not long afterwards they moved back to the Old Log house.  Their former home where I was born. Grandpaw had set out a fine young orchard.  Grafted and budded young trees and plants.  My job was to tag along after him.  And hold his pruning knife while he worked on the young plants.  He always promised me the knife.  And after he died, later Grandmaw Foutz gave the knife to me.  I believe Lloyd has that large black handled knife.

The tool that was used to split out boards, shakes, and pickets.  Gideon Foutz brought with him from across the Allegheny Mountains the same tool that was used to build the four log cabins on the original 160 acre farm.  When Grandpaw would be splitting out pickets with the tool I would pick the pick off the ground and pile them.  A few years ago when I was visiting the old homestead I found the old tool at Gideon’s old log cabin.  I brought it home with me.  Later I gave the tool to my son Sherman Jr.  He still possesses the tool.  I would estimate it to be over 150 years old.

What a thing to be able to see that tool today! Should it still exist, and be in possession of the Morelands, it would be more than 200 years old, and responsible for forging the shelter in which branches of our family were nurtured and grown.

Sherman goes on to share the fate of an uncle and his beloved “Grandpaw”:

Soon after they returned from Maryland Uncle John got down sick with pneumonia that developed into quick consumption (tuberculosis, same disease that would kill his brother, Sherman, and nephew Karl Coleman, son of sister Rachel, both in 1915 — Colt).  And died a young man (in 1899, at 21 — Colt).  Grandpaw soon after died with bright disease.

And there it is, the ailment that ended Jonathan’s life. At the time, “Bright’s Disease” described a variety of kidney ailments doctors in the 19th century were only beginning to classify. According to various online definitions, Jonathan likely suffered from inflammation of the kidneys and protein (albumin) in his urine. The illness may have been brought on by exposure to wet and cold conditions, accidental consumption of turpentine, or developed from yellow fever, typhoid, malaria and other ailments.

Thus, Jonathan departed this world in September, 1900. What became of his family next remained a mystery until Sherman’s writings lifted the clouds. I’ll share that story in tomorrow’s post.

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For the Record | John Foutz, 1899 obit

Unknown Foutzes - Sherman, Vance, Charles or John?

Who are these guys? Could they be Sherman, John, Charles or Vance Foutz? Or Rachel Foutz's sons, Karl and Frank Coleman?


John Cephas Foutz | 1877-1899

Chalk up one Foutz mystery solved.

In a series of posts earlier this year, I ran through what we knew about my great-grandfather Vance Foutz’s siblings and parents. Since, in life, according to uncles and aunts and cousins who were there, Vance was less than open-lipped about his origins (and is, not surprisingly, even less forthcoming in death), there were more than a few picnic baskets which not even the most diligent of bread-crumb-following could uncover.

You know, if you think of genealogy as crashing some big ancestral banquet. Sometimes decades or more after the dinner bell.

One such snack that needed an unusual amount of sleuthing — deciphering the circumstances around Great-great Uncle John Cephas Foutz’s 1899 death at 21. Among the avenues explored:

* the 1900 census, which shows parents Jonathan and Rebecca living in D.C. with John’s brothers (Sherman, Charles and Vance — his three sisters are married back home) and reports 6 of 7 children as still living

* his “short-form” death record (full Ohio obits aren’t available until 1908), which lists his occupation as clerk and his residence as Bowerston, Ohio — though no cause of death

* an item in the Twin City News four days after his death, which reports the day of the week (Sunday), his place of burial (the Lutheran Cemetery), and that the Maccabees, of which he and Sherman were both members, honored him graveside

* an obit in the Washington Post, which merely reports that he died at the home of his parents, and that his funeral was on Tuesday. But as to where that places Jonathan and Rebecca — in D.C. or Ohio — the account is unclear.

It took a trip home and time at the Puskarich Public Library in Cadiz to turn up an article rich in detail, and with a bit of poetry and philosophy thrown in to boot. The clipping was part of a compilation by some distant relative — though I know not which branch — and the source was not indicated (or I failed to record it). But the typeface appears to be from the Cadiz Republican, whose pages recording the death of my great-great-great grandfather Gideon (which I hunted down on microfiche). 

The published account reads:

With sorrow we are called upon to chronicle the death of John Foutz, second son of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Foutz, which occurred Jan. 22, 1899. Age 21 yrs., 3 mons. and 24 days. (He was born Sept. 29, 1877 — Colt)

He went to Washington D.C. nearly three years ago, where he has been engaged in business, but on account of contracting a disease, (quick consumption), he was compelled to give up his labor and return to his home to await his end, which occurred at the above date. (Quick consumpion is an earthy name for tuberculosis, a disease which seemed to “consume” the unfortunate from within; older brother Sherman and nephew Karl Coleman would die of it in 1915 — Colt)

John was a good boy, admired and loved b all his aquaintances, and, that he should thus early in life, with the future so bright and when the ambition of youth is at its highest, be called from among us, has caused sincere expressions of sympathy from everyone. But such is life. The good and bad must alike answer the call from earth. The father and mother, the brother and sister — no one can escape.

There are left to mourn their loss father,moher, brothers and sisters, who have the sympathy of the entire community.

The funeral services were held Tuesday at 11 o’clock at the Lutheran church, conducted by Rev. Kenturer (illegible — Colt) and the K.O.P. Ms. (Knights of the Maccabees — Colt) of which order he was a member in Washington D.C. Interment in the Lutheran cemetery.

“We will not call our loved one back.

For now he resteth wel;

No tear rests on his care-worn cheek,

No sighs his bosom swell. //

Oh, no, we would no call our loved one back,

To this dark world of woe.

But to lay him peacefully to rest,

No sorrow more to know.”

(Looks like Paul Pry is credited with the verse, but I’ve found no corroborating citations or sources.)


Still left to solve: We don’t know where John’s grave is. The “Lutheran cemtery” referenced in newspaper accounts could refer to Longview Cemetery, where Sherman is buried, but I’ve been there twice, and checked the records, and John is not listed there. And we still don’t know the identity of the Foutzes (???) in the above photo, found among my grandparents’ papers.

What else was going on in the world on Jan. 22, 1899? The Spanish-American War was winding down (a peace treaty would be signed in February), while in Cuba, Spanish rule came to an end Jan. 1. Opel Motors was founded Jan. 21. The leaders of six Australian colonies began discussing the confederation of the country as a whole on the day John died. And gangster Al Capone was born earlier that week in Brooklyn.

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