Posts Tagged With: tuberculosis

Sherman Foutz: Contrasting Obits Still Yield Clues


Sherman S. Foutz

Second Great-Uncle Sherman S. Foutz

More than One Way to Relate Life and Death

When my wife and I encounter the inevitable errors in daily newspapers — or, beginning our career as reporters, lapse into them ourselves — we often trot out my teasing twist on a saying (from somewhere): “History went and got itself up in a great… big… damn… hur… ray.”

To put it more coarsely, in the course of reporting a story and turning it around on a daily news cycle: shit happens.

Bad enough when this is part of the fluid daily record, working up dispatches on city council meetings and business transactions and arrest warrants and base hits. Somehow, pathetically, worse still when publishing those items submitted by the public for posterity, for the milestone sections of births, graduations, weddings, funerals.

In my first gig as entertainment and features writer for the Sandusky Register, I also manned the Saturday obit desk. And it was impressed upon me — right away — to follow a template, type it up slowly and triple-check my work.

Oh, and when gathering the info yourself, never to trust a single-only, no matter how well-meant, source. “If your mother says she loves you, CHECK IT OUT.” In other words, verify all info.

Well, leave it to life to allow shit to keep happenin’.

And we encounter these maxims time and again in genealogy, too. The yeoman volunteers who pore over countless census pages of centuries-old script, deciphering names that do not belong to their family tree, and doing so… erratically. Over-zealous neophyte researchers who, in their breathless haste, mistakenly prune a branch here, graft an alien trunk there, yielding cascading crops of ill-gotten family fruit. Or those who trot out a sweet, but still quite often dead wrong reasoning: because grandma said.

Remember? “If your mother says she loves you, CHECK IT OUT.”

Newspapers are wonderful troves of info. And certainly, they have been indispensable in helping to decipher what it is our case study on genealogy in my family: untangling the life, death and descendants of my great-grandfather Vance Cleveland Foutz’s oldest brother, Sherman Foutz.

When I first looked into Sherman’s story, starting in 2008 and documenting for the first time in 2010 in this blog, we had far more questions than answers. Slowly, painstakingly, we made the necessary connections, in the public record and in person with distant relatives, to fill in many missing pieces. By last year, and a series of posts tracing the family’s life in Pennsylvania through several newspaper articles, we’d put the wraps on many a mystery.

One useful tool: not just settling for one clipping of a newspaper article, but combing through related editions in the dozens of active newspapers in the early part of the 20th century. Just like in the maxim for checking out what your darling, single source says, relying on multiple versions of a milestone event can assemble a full, richer composite of the life and times you’re researching. Once, of course, you weed out the red herrings.

On Sherman Foutz’s life, I started with the yellowed clipping reporting his death that my great-grandfather had kept for nearly 55 years before his own passing. Due to the hands which cut into the newspaper, there was no month, day or year, no attributed publication. That data was to be gained from other sources — the gravestone, the death record from Denver, Colo. Curiously, though, one mystery was brought about by a simple omission — this first obituary, which I later identified as from the Harrisburg Telegraph, listed his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Grace, but no mention of his son, Oscar; daughter-in-law, Florence; or local grandsons.

A few years and a paid subscription to newspapers.com later, I dug up a death announcement, published the day after Sherman’s death, also in the Telegraph, which yields additional clues: age at death, address in Harrisburg, a sketch of his career with the Knights of the Maccabees and recent job change, and — voila! — mention of Oscar and his son’s address… in Arizona!

The other day, not looking for any info on Sherman, but still trying to trace more on Oscar, who doesn’t pop up again for us until his mother’s death in 1945, I found a curious third obituary. This one published in the Harrisburg Daily Independent, also on the day after Sherman died. From that Tuesday, April 6, 1915 edition:

William (sic) S. Foutz Prominent Maccabee Succumbs From Long Illness

Word was received here of the death of William (sic) S. Foutz, 135 North Summit street, who died near Denver, Col., yesterday where he had been ill for some time. He was 47 years of age. For seventeen years he was deputy and organizer of the Maccabees of the World.

For the past year Mr. Foutz was unable to attend to any business and on January 1 he left for Colorado. He is survived by his wife and daughter, Grace, of this city, and a son, Oscar, of Arizona. No arrangements for the funeral have been made, but interment will be made at Bowerstown (sic), Ohio.

So, some significant errors in the printed record here, most notably Sherman’s renaming and the misspelling of his hometown of Bowerston. But had I stumbled upon this article first, perhaps through some creative searching of the archives, I would have still gotten the tid bit on Oscar’s western location, and some additional details on how his work had suffered from his illness. No update on his change in career — for all we know, he still could have been working for the Maccabees, according to this record — and thus, I view with skepticism the specific “seventeen years” summation of his duties. But between the sources, we get a richer picture, provided we’ve done a bit more gathering of wool and smoothing out the rough parts.

“If your mother says she loves you, CHECK IT OUT.”

Sherman Foutz obit

April 1915 obituary for Sherman Foutz lists only his wife and daughter as survivors. From the Harrisburg Telegraph.

Foutz Sherman S death announce Harrisburg Telegraph April 1915

Son Oscar Foutz is listed as a survivor — and living in Arizona — in Sherman Foutz’s 1915 death announcement.

 

 

Categories: Foutz, General Genealogy, Milestones | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

Did Oscar Foutz Outlive His Father?


Foutz Sherman S

Sherman S. Foutz, oldest brother to Colt’s great-grandfather, Vance Foutz.

Surviving Foutz Son Lost to History

Genealogy — thorough, mystery-revealing genealogy, anyway — never unfolds in a straight chronology.

Our look into the latest revelations of the lives of my great-great uncle Sherman Foutz’s family continues this week with a bit of family history time travel. His elusive son Oscar Foutz is today’s focus.

Like life, in which we age in a progression of days and weeks and years, but bounce back and forth in our memories, the time-travel leaps of an active, living mind, genealogy doesn’t reveal its deeper secrets by merely starting at birth and ticking off milestones until death, burial, fill-in-the-blank on the tree.

You often have to start at the end of a life to understand the relative you’re researching, the places they’ve lived, the things they’ve done, the people they’ve loved. Obituaries are — usually — rich troves of the essentials you need to merely confirm that who you’re trying to get to know is, in fact, the family member you’re looking for: birth date, parents, hometown, occupation, spouse, surviving children and siblings, those who preceded them in death.

Filling in the blanks, and ticking off those necessary confirmations, means flipping back and forward through multiple sources to reveal a life lived long after it has ended: birth certificates, census records, draft cards, marriage certificates, gravestones, newspaper clippings.

Often, if you can’t start at the end of a life, you lose the threads which connect you, through history, to its beginning, not to mention its meaningful middle.

For a long time, I’d assumed Oscar Foutz, nephew of my great-grandfather Vance Foutz, had died even before his father, Sherman, succumbed to tuberculosis in 1915 at a too-young 47.

The main reason? Sherman’s yellowed obituary from that April, which my great-grandfather still possessed when he died some 53 years later, lists only his wife and daughter, Grace, as survivors.

Sherman Foutz obit

Whereabouts of Wife and Sons Murky

Adding to Oscar’s challenge as genealogical cipher, are the odd notations in censuses — and his eventual, utter absence from these records.

Jump back 5 years from Sherman’s death. The 1910 census spotlights the family in its Harrisburg prominence.

Living at 1908 N. Third St., the household is headed by a 23-years-married Sherman and wife Elizabeth. Oscar, 21, has worked the entire year as a railroad fireman. Grace, 19, is out of school, but not employed.

And there, a bit of the cryptic: A 1-year-old grandson, Ralph, is also among the household. And Oscar is listed as married two years. But his wife is not living with the Sherman Foutz family.

At first, this led me to wonder if Ralph’s mother — Oscar’s wife — may have died young, perhaps in childbirth. Though, if that were the case, why would Oscar be listed as married two years and not widowed?

Over the last few years, I filled in some of the gaps, discovering Oscar’s marriage to Florence Hartman in September 1908 (after applying for marriage Jan. 1 that year — Ralph was born Dec. 19); discovering the birth of a second son, Harry Sherman, in March 1910; Florence’s visiting Oscar at a National Guard camp in July 1911.

But if finding Florence missing from Oscar and Ralph’s home two years into marriage is puzzling in 1910, by 1920 both parents — and Harry Sherman, for that matter — have vanished from the usually helpful census map.

Son Oscar a Solider, then a Ghost

Skipping five years after Sherman’s death, the 1920 census finds 11-year-old Ralph Foutz living in the care of his grandmother, Sherman’s widow, Elizabeth.

A foster daughter, 14-year-old Catherine, is also listed, and Grace is listed, but then crossed out. Further research turned up Grace’s marriage 8 months after Sherman’s death to Fred Chaney, in what looks like a West Virginia elopement since no family is listed. The couple turn up in Uhrichsville, Ohio, near Sherman and Elizabeth’s birthplace, in the 1920 census. So why is Grace mistakenly entered (and first reported) in the Harrisburg household?

More and more curious.

The family by 1920 has changed addresses, living now at 59 North Tenth St., where they host two boarders and Elizabeth works as a cook for the Elks Home. Harry Sherman is not listed; nor is Oscar; nor is Florence.

What happened to Ralph’s family? With Sherman’s death such a tragic, distracting shadow in my research, I wondered if a September 1910 Gettysburg Times articleindicated trouble for the family.

The article reported that Oscar W. Foutz, of Harrisburg, after receiving his pay as a soldier in the National Guard, went to Allentown with three other men for a night on the town. While making the rounds, a man named William Croghan crossed their paths, was hit with a club and relieved of his valuables. One of the men in Oscar’s party plead guilty and was sentenced to 2 years. Oscar also confessed and got nine months in prison.

Now, Florence would visit him in National Guard camp the next year, indicating, it seems, Oscar’s reinstatement and the family’s continued unity. Though where was she in 1920? Where was son Harry Sherman? And what became of Oscar Foutz?

Did Oscar succumb to tuberculosis like his father? One of Sherman’s (and my great-grandfather Vance’s) nephews, Karl Coleman, also dies of tuberculosis a month prior to Sherman back in Ohio (in the home of Vance). Did Florence and the baby die of it as well?

Reading tea leaves, 100 years distant, is an imprecise business. Death, an easy explanation, can distract. And incomplete records fail to illuminate, and instead lead astray.

In my research this winter, suddenly, an open door. Oscar lived.

Obituaries are often preceded by shorter death announcements. The same was true of Sherman Foutz’s death, only recently discovered. As reported in the Tuesday, April 6, 1915 edition of the Harrisburg Times, Oscar is not only listed as a survivor, but living, by then in Arizona!

What do we know of Oscar — and the rest of Sherman Foutz’s family and descendants — in the years that follow? More to come….

Foutz Sherman S death announce Harrisburg Telegraph April 1915

Son Oscar Foutz is listed as a survivor — and living in Arizona — in Sherman Foutz’s 1915 death announcement.

Categories: Foutz, General Genealogy, newsletter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

In Good Countenance #9 – Ralph Foutz


Foutz Ralph Virginia

Virginia (Henson) Foutz and Ralph Francis Foutz, in an undated photo.

Ralph & Virginia Foutz | Deepening the Sherman Foutz Connection

Enough digital ink has been spilled in this blog on Sherman S. Foutz, oldest brother to my great-grandfather Vance Cleveland Foutz, that I’ll spare you the extended recap and cut to the news at hand.

The last breakthrough I blogged about was the discovery, through Pennsylvania church records on Ancestry.com, of baptismal logs listing Ralph Francis Foutz and Harry Sherman Foutz as sons to Oscar W. Foutz and Florence Hartman Foutz.

Those documents firmed up a lot of information, including:

  • reaffirming Oscar and Florence as a couple and parents
  • confirming their residency in Reading, Pa. in the first decade of the 20th century
  • confirming their church affiliation, like most Foutzes, as Lutheran
  • confirming birth dates for Ralph and Harry
  • revealing the young couple had a second son, Harry, a problematic revelation, since neither he, nor parents Oscar and Florence, appear in any records I’ve uncovered since the time of patriarch Sherman Foutz’s death from tuberculosis in 1915

That was always the core mystery behind these Foutzes. Sherman was beloved as first-born, prominent, successful son of Jonathan and Rebecca Foutz, and certainly admired by his youngest sibling, my great-grandfather Vance, as evidenced by the clippings and photos that remained in his possession and were eventually passed down to my father, Fred. But his early death seemed to cut off the rest of that family from my own.

Oh, it seemed as if Sherman’s daughter, Grace, would show up from time to time, as evidenced by my great-aunt Doris (Foutz) Waddington’s memories, and Grace’s surprising signature in Vance’s 1968 funeral registry (Grace herself was just two years from death). But Grace (Foutz) Chaney died childless. Her 1970 obituary mentions a foster-sister, Catherine Rutt, of Lititz, Pa., and several nieces and nephews — what became of them? What became of her brother, Oscar, who isn’t mentioned in her 1970 obituary, and his own children and descendants?

Tracking Down Ralph Foutz

The pieces started to fill in, where Ralph Foutz is concerned, in connections I made through several Harrisburg, Pa. city directory entries of the 1930s and 1940s. Same name, same city as where he grew up in the care of grandma Lizzie Foutz (Sherman’s wife), according to the 1910 and 1920 censuses. Seems a likely connection.

Next, the 1987 Harrisburg Patriot-News obituary for Virginia Henson Foutz names Ralph F. Foutz as her husband, preceding her in death. The obit mentions Virginia as retired from the L. Wohl Children’s Dress Factory. In Lizzie Foutz’s 1930 census entry, foster daughter Catherine is listed as a dress-stitcher. Same employer? Again, a possible connection.

Through the website FindAGrave.com — ridiculously named, but deeper and deeper by day in its breadth: I cannot overstate how helpful this is as a primary source — I located entries for Ralph and Virginia Foutz in Woodlawn Memorial Gardens (named in Virginia’s obit) in Dauphin County. I submitted a photo request — another helpful feature of FindAGrave — and a man named Karl Fox was kind enough to photograph these relatives’ final resting places. From those photos, I could confirm birth and death years. Incalculably helpful.

So from the information in the obituary, backed up by the confirmation from documents listed above, I was able to start branching out in my search for what happened to Oscar and his descendants. This led me to connect with third cousins once removed Henry Foutz, Kathy Allen and Sandi (don’t know your last name yet, dear).

As often happens — it’s true of me, too, of course — Henry, Kathy and Sandi were curious about their family’s origins as well, and beginning to coax info from parents and aunts and uncles, Ralph’s and Virginia’s kids, Nick Sr., Charles, Catherine, Arthur, Grace, Agnes and Frances. I shared the info I had, on our connection through Sherman, Oscar and Ralph, as well as the Foutz/Pfouts family story all the way back to Michael and Wuerttemberg, Germany.

Kathy and Sandi kindly shared the photo of their grandparents that is featured in this blog. (BIG THANKS!)

As for their Foutzes, Henry was been instrumental in putting together a big Pennsylvania Foutz reunion the last few years. From the photos he’s shared on Facebook, looks like it was a lot of fun. Maybe we can see that expand to include Ohio and other far-flung Foutzes?

As for filling in the details on Ralph, Oscar and the rest, what we still don’t know:

  • What happened to Lizzie Foutz (Sherman’s wife) after the 1930 census? We know she dies in 1945 and is buried with Sherman in Longview Cemetery near Bowerston, Ohio. What was she doing in 1940? She wasn’t living with Ralph or foster daughter Catherine? Where then?
  • What happened to Catherine (Foutz) Rutt, husband John Roy Rutt and their descendants?
  • What became of Ralph’s parents, Oscar and Florence, and his brother, Harry Sherman Foutz? Again, the last record I have of them is from a 1911 Reading Eagle article reporting Florence’s visit to Oscar at National Guard Camp Thomas Potter Jr. in Mt. Gretna.

I’m looking forward to working with newfound extend family to discover these stories together.

Categories: Foutz, General Genealogy, quickie post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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 Ancestry.com.

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.

Categories: Foutz, quickie post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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