Posts Tagged With: Washington County

Five Enduring Foutz Family Mysteries

Jonathan Foutz

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

Genealogy Never Rests

Just keep sleuthing, just keep sleuthing….

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

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

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

What do we do? We sleuth….

Questions to Keep Sleuthing By

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

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

1. Where did Michael Pfouts come from?

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

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

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

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

2. What happened to Rachel Foutz?

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

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

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

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

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

Kaiserslautern Coat of Arms

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

3. What can we learn of the Netherlands Leys?

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

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

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

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

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

Who were Thomas Johnson’s parents?

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

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

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

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

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

5. Where, in Wales, were the Morgans?

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

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

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

Everything else? Time to get sleuthing.

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

Ralph & Sherman Foutz’s Raucous Youth

Glen Mills Schools Delaware Pa

Getting sent to Glen Mills Schools for troubled youth, outside of Philadelphia in Delaware County, was a constant threat for Sherman Foutz’s rough-and-tumble grandsons Ralph and Harry Sherman as they grew up in 1920s and 1930s Harrisburg.

Rough & Tumble Times for Ralph & Sherman Foutz

Research in the last month has shed new light on the mysteries surrounding the family and descendants of my great-great uncle Sherman Foutz.

As intriguing as new leads in genealogy are, though, they only manage to stitch together the roughest weave of a life.

There are still plenty of gaps you can poke fingers through.

But that’s the kind of discourse we’re left with as we examine lives of 70, 80… 100 and more years ago. Absent an audience with our actual ancestors, we collect clues, consider them. And end up, perhaps, with a closer understanding of who they were, and what life was like.

We can see, for instance, well enough to realize that by the time of his father Sherman’s death, Oscar Foutz was living far away from his family, and divorce in 1917 only seemed to cement that.

We can see that Oscar certainly doesn’t show up with family members, or even in and around Harrisburg, from 1920 on. And that widowed mom, Lizzie, though she has the care, for a time, of grandson Ralph and foster daughter Catherine, seems occupied enough with continued existence in Harrisburg, albeit an increasingly solitary one.

What happened to grandsons Ralph and (Harry) Sherman Foutz? Newspaper accounts from their boyhood through their 20s reveal repeated run-ins with local and state authorities. They are listed as “homeless,” “old offenders.” They’re responsible for robberies, thefts, the odd assault.

We know that life eventually settles down for Ralph. He meets and marries Virginia Henson. Finds steadier work as a truck driver. Has seven kids — and countless more grandkids, through which his story lives on, and new ones among his descendants are written.

I’d like to know more about the Virginia and Ralph Foutz who became “gram” and “pap” to my distant Foutz cousins. And of his younger brother who shared their grandfather Sherman’s name.

Their youth, and what became of Oscar and Florence and Lizzie, is only part of the story. The way my own Grandpa Ley’s losing his mother as an infant, and half-brother as a young teenager, shaped his early life, but he wrote his own story the rest of his 70+ years. Or how my Grandma Erma Johnson Foutz lost three brothers within three years to separate water-related accidents. Tragic at the time. And certainly echoed through stories I heard growing up. But the next 61 years for her were filled with family — six other siblings and countless memories.

So, a youth with a rap sheet doesn’t define the shape of the mature man.

But it can underline and even explain much of what we’ve discovered about life after Sherman’s death in 1915.

Foutz Rapsheet: 1920s

I thought it might be useful to view the newspaper accounts I’ve collected in decade-long snapshots.

The beginning of the 1920s find 11-year-old Ralph in the care of grandmother Lizzie Foutz and 14-year-old (adopted) aunt Catherine. This is about the time Lizzie works as a cook for the Elks Home.

Eight-year-old brother Sherman, on the other hand, is probably living in Harrisburg with mother Florence, stepfather William Frank Orner, and half-brother Raymond Carroll Orner.

If Lizzie’s life didn’t seem clearly hard-scrabble when considering the census record (and Oscar’s and Grace’s absence), consider that 11-year-old Sherman is already “on parole” and considered “an old offender” by the courts, and that when the brothers reunite for a theft in 1922 they are identified as “two homeless children.”

  • October 15, 1920: Ralph Foutz, “an old offender”, already on parole (at 11), admitted to running away from home and is sent to Mont Alto hospital for treatment in lieu of being sent to Glen Mills school for troubled youth, according to the Harrisburg Evening News.
  • Jan. 6, 1922: Ralph and Sherman Foutz, “two homeless children,” are sent to Glen Mills troubled juveniles school after “figuring” in a bicycle theft, according to the Harrisburg Telegraph.

Foutz Rap Sheet: 1930s

As Ralph and Sherman reach their 20s, their involvement in thefts continues, and their estrangement from family seems complete.

Youthful, but no longer considered children, their crimes no longer land them in hospitals for treatment or schools for troubled youths. The major crime both are involved in at the beginning of the decade puts them in county prison for more than a year.

Their victims? When not random, they include family. Ralph and Sherman break into and rob the farmhouses of their grandpa Francis Hartman and Aunt Hannah Gable, Florence’s father and sister. Ralph faces additional time for stealing a necklace and cash from a girlfriend’s house in Harrisburg.

Some context: according to my latest research, Florence’s second marriage didn’t last long. In a genealogy boards discussion from 2006, a daughter of Raymond Carroll Orner reported that William Frank Orner moved away and remarried, and that her father was told as a boy that his mother had died (in reality, she wouldn’t die until 1938, when “Carroll” was 20). By 1930, there is a Florence Orner listed in the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Asylum in Harrisburg. I haven’t cemented the connections yet, but if this holds together, it would seem the fracturing of Oscar and Florence Foutz’s family was complete.

  • Dec. 28, 1931: Ralph, 23, is charged with felonious entry and larceny for entering a Harrisburg home and stealing $2.62 and a necklace, according to the Harrisburg Telegraph.
  • Nov. 27. 1933: Transported back to Harrisburg after serving 22 months in Berks County prison for breaking into his relatives’ farmhouses, Ralph, now 25, is made to answer for the stolen cash and necklace from 1931. He pleads guilty, but asks for leniency, telling the judge, “I’ve learned my lesson. All I ask is a chance to prove it.” The judge sentences Ralph to a reduced 60 days in Dauphin County prison, but tells Ralph if he is arrested again, he’ll serve three years, according to the Harrisburg Telegraph.
  • April 1936: Sherman, 26, is sentenced to 60 days in Washington County (Maryland) jail for stealing instruments from a parked car in Hagerstown and likely selling them to a second-hand store, according to the Daily Mail.


Foutz Ralph Virginia

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

Foutz Rap Sheet: 1940s

Although I haven’t tried to assemble an exhaustive account of the Foutz brothers’ run-ins with the law, by their late 20s and 30s, life appears to settle down for Ralph and Sherman.

Ralph successfully pleads for leniency in the early 1930s, and stays out of trouble before getting involved in a hold-up and robbery. He is granted parole, however, returns to his wife, Virginia, and young son.

  • Feb. 8, 1938: Ralph, 29, is held on $2,000 bail after he and three 18-year-old youths attempt to hold up and rob residents of a Harrisburg house. He pleads guilty to assault with intent to rob, unlawfully carrying firearms and a statutory offense, and is sentenced to 9 to 18 month in Dauphin County prison. Five months later, a judge grants Ralph’s plea for parole, which cites his wife and 2-year-old son being on relief, according to the Telegraph.

During the course of the 1940s, Ralph finds steady work as a truck driver, and celebrates the births of Charles Harry, in 1939, and Catherine in 1941. Like his father, Ralph appears to enjoy boxing, as articles in local papers in the late 1930s indicate.

Foutz Ralph more boxing Lebanon Daily News 17 July 1934Foutz Ralph amateur boxer Evening Sun Hanover 1 Sep 1937

A truck accident in 1944 is the final off-kilter news item for Ralph and family in the 1940s.

Brother Sherman, meanwhile, faces serious time in 1946 after being involved in stealing from a refrigerator car. Although I’ve found a couple traces of him marrying (a woman named Mary) and moving back and forth between Harrisburg and Hagerstown in the 1930s and 1940s, that’s where the story of Oscar’s younger son goes dark for me.

Just as these articles have helped shine a little more light on Sherman Foutz’s descendants in the early part of the 20th century, I’m hoping getting to know Ralph and Oscar through their family will illuminate what happened next.

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

Know Thy Patriarchs | 8 Foutz Generations

Donald Dale Foutz

Grandpa Donald Dale Foutz

Ancestral Anthology, Part 2 – Foutz Family

Alot of my research into my family history the last two years has focused on the Foutz branch.

Why? Well, as I’ve mentioned in this space a few times, when your father is the youngest son of a youngest son of a youngest son of an oldest son who died young, at 55, and in turn was son of another youngest son, something seems to get lost in translation.

Imagine, all those older relatives — if they’re still around — gathering around the table or slumping in easy chairs in the living room, sharing memories and talking about the olden times and you’re, what? Four years old? Six? Two?

So, the discoveries we’ve made and the places we’ve journeyed in the last year or so are nothing short of remarkable, when it comes to a surname and family we basically knew only a little about. And that was true of my grandmother, Erma (Johnson) Foutz and her sister-in-law, Doris Foutz Waddington, too. Their letters from the 1970s show that they were struggling to fit the pieces together. And to be fair, Doris was even younger than my grandfather.

What we do know, now, is that Foutzes farmed the steep hills of Harrison County, south of and around Bowerston, for over 100 years. That our first ancestor in America came there, after emigrating from Germany, about 1811. And that 100 years later (and now, nearly 100 years ago), an ancestor we do know about, my great-grandfather, Vance Cleveland Foutz, brought us to Dover, where the next 4 generations lived out their lives on football fields and in steel mills and in all the local haunts.

Here’s a look, in detail, at what we know. And a start at deciphering the mysteries that remain.

Foutz Ancestry – Looking Back 8 Generations

1. Jonah Robert Foutz and Benjamin Peter Foutz

Born in Illinois, Sept. 6, 2006 and Sept. 9, 2008.

Colt Foutz

Colt Foutz

2. Frederick Colt Foutz (married Kathryn Marie Knutson)

Born in Dover, Ohio, June 2, 1976. Educated at Carnegie Mellon University and Columbia College Chicago. Newspaper reporter and columnist in Ohio and Illinois, freelance writer, musician. Currently manages a creative team at a Chicago advertising agency. Married Sept. 21, 2002 in Olathe, Kansas. Katie was born Dec. 8, 1977 in Rochester, Minn. Parents of Jonah Robert, Benjamin Peter.

Fred Foutz

Fred Foutz

3. Frederick Charles Foutz (married Janet Louise Ley)

Father. Born in Dover, Ohio, June 5, 1952. Educated at the University of Cincinnati. Salesman, sales manager, customer service rep. Married Dec. 21, 1975 in Dover. Janet was born May 25, 1952 in Dover. Parents of Frederick Colt, Daniel Morgan, Jacob Ley, Samuel Chase.

Don Foutz Erma Johnson

Don & Erma Foutz

4. Donald Dale Foutz (married Erma Maxine Johnson)

Also pictured above. Grandfather. Born in Dover, Ohio, March 4, 1914. Died November 14, 1980 in Dover. Mechanic, steelworker. Married May 9, 1942 in Dover. Erma was born Oct. 27, 1920 in New Philadelphia, Ohio. She died July 16, 2000 in New Phila. Parents of Donn Dale, Robert Vance, Frederick Charles.

Vance Foutz Family 1940s

Vance Foutz & Family, 1940s: Vance, Don, Doris, Laura, Carl, Roy

5. Vance Cleveland Foutz (married Christina Laurina Katherina Zeigler)

Great-grandfather. Born Sept. 7, 1887, near Bowerston, Ohio. Died Aug. 4, 1968 in Dover, Ohio. Steelworker. Married Oct. 26, 1907 in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Laura was born Dec. 17, 1885 in Canal Dover. She died Aug. 29, 1956 in Dover. Parents of Roy Vance, Carl William, Donald Dale and Doris Pauline.

Jonathan Foutz

Jonathan Foutz

6. Jonathan Foutz or Pfoutz (married Rebecca Jane Caldwell)

Great-great grandfather. Born May 1845 near Bowerston, Ohio. Died August 1900, either back home in Harrison County or at his son Sherman’s home in Washington D.C. Farmer. Married Oct. 11, 1865 in Harrison County. Rebecca was born July 13, 1847 in Harrison County. She died May 25, 1915 in Dover, Ohio (in the home of her youngest son, Vance). Parents of Sherman S., Lila Ann, Rachel L., Ida Bell, John Cephas, Charles Ross and Vance Cleveland.

7. Gideon Foutz or Pfouts (married Delilah Ann Jones)

Great-great-great grandfather. Born Jan. 4, 1822 in Monroe Twp., Harrison County, Ohio. Died Feb. 17, 1911 in Bowerston, Ohio. Farmer. Married Jan. 18, 1843 in Harrison County. Delilah was probably born July 8, 1824 in Harrison County. She probably died Nov. 26, 1905 in Monroe Twp. Parents of Jonathan, Tabitha, John G., David, Nathaniel and Nelson.

8. Michael Foutz or Pfouts (married Catherine X)

Great-great-great-great grandfather. Born 1768, probably in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, were the Pfauts-Fouts-Foutz name is traditionally viewed to have originated, along the lower Neckar River valley. Died April 21, 1851 in North Twp., Harrison County, Ohio. Emigrated from Germany in 1787. First settled in Washington County, Maryland, where he married in 1799. Came to Ohio about 1811, gaining the patent to his 80 acres of farmland in North Twp. in 1824. Catherine was born about 1877 in Maryland. She died Nov. 18, 1844 in Harrison County. Parents of Michael Jr., Mary, Jonathan, John, Jacob, Catherine, Gideon, Elizabeth, all of whom are listed in the May 1851 review of Michael’s will.

Gazing into the mists….

ON THE SPELLING OF OUR NAME — From source documents and signatures on documents, including land patents and Michael Pfouts’s 1851 will, it would seem that the original spelling of our surname, at least once our ancestors landed in America, was Pfouts. This is how it appears in early censuses in Harrison and Tuscarawas counties, too.

But Gideon and Jonathan appear on 1875 maps as Pfoutz, and by the time Gideon is buried his death certificate indicates Fouts, while oldest son Jonathan is using Foutz, as is his oldest son, Sherman, in the Washington D.C. census and in several articles written about Sherman from that time period.

In any case, Vance Cleveland Foutz formally has dropped the P and the s by the time he moves to Dover, sometime after his father’s death in 1900. What is interesting is that several of Gideon’s brothers keep the Pfouts spelling. Most notably, his oldest brother, Michael Jr., and Michael’s son and namesake, Michael III, who moves the Pfouts family to Wood County, Ohio following his father’s death, sometime after 1870. They still use the Pfouts spelling today.

ON THE 9TH GENERATION AND EARLIER — It all comes down to whether 19-year-old Michael crossed the Atlantic alone, or did so in the company of a father or other ancestors, possibly also named Michael.

John Scott Davenport’s Pfauts-Fouts-Foutz newsletters establish Michael as emigrating in 1787 and coming to Washington County, Maryland before moving on to Harrison County, Ohio. But I’ve found no other mentions or details on our ancestor, aside from that initial accounting of immigrants in the opening of each newsletter from 1980 to 1987. There were newsletters before this — as far back as 1970, called Fouts Folks, but I haven’t been able to get hold of them.

According to other genealogies in the early newsletters, several Fouts families congregated in Maryland, and perhaps that’s what drew our ancestor there, to family. But these ancestors quickly sold off their land — as did ours, when you think about it — and moved on, most notably to North Carolina. We also don’t seem to be connected, at least after emigration, to the Foutses who made their homes in what is known as the Pfoutz Valley in Pennsylvania. This area is more than 100 miles north of where Michael Pfouts settled in Maryland, and seems to be the origin of many of the Pfoutses who became Mormons. So far, in my research, our families have mostly congregated to the Lutheran Church, most notably in Bowerston and Dover, Ohio.

But back to Washington County, Maryland. Censuses before 1850 do not list anyone but the head of household, and then list the number of males and females in the home, according to age group. I have found evidence of at least two Michael Pfoutses living near each other in Maryland (same census page) before 1811, when Michael’s son Jacob was born in Harrison County, effectively documenting the family’s move there. But until I find a death record, or a grave for this supposed elder Michael Pfouts, or something to trace them both back to the mother country, I can’t get to my fifth great grandfather and back.

ON WHERE WE’RE FROM IN GERMANY — Again, the Pfauts-Fouts-Foutz newsletters of the 1980s establish that Foutzes of all stripes — well, at least German stripes — came from the lower Neckar River valley in what is Baden-Wurttemberg today.

Just as the first Leys in America reported their German state of origin as Bavaria, an area that was later folded into Rheinland-Pfalz after World War II, the region the Pfoutses are from was made into Baden-Wurttemberg. What we don’t know is whether Michael Pfouts would have emigrated, back in the day, from Wurttemberg, or Baden, or Hesse, or some other German state that was active and governing and, hopefully, documenting all of this back then.

But for now, consider your roots originating in the Black Forest region. Home of Danube, east of the Rhine. Place of castles and cuckoo clocks and fast cars (Mercedes Benz and Porsche call the place home). The main cities include Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Rottweil and Rottenberg. Other Pfoutses have been connected to Mossenbach (possibly Mosbach today?) and Rohrbach.

Tubingen houses Neckar River Germany

Tubingen houses reflected in the Neckar River, Germany.

Categories: Foutz, Johnson, newsletter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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