52 Ancestors, #51, Harriette Anderson, Fire, Flood, Relocation

Harriette Anderson Kaser 1906-2003

Packing and moving sends shivers up the spines of many people.  My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser took it all in stride.  Although she spent almost all of her youth in Killbuck, Ohio, her family frequently moved from place to place.  Then, when she married Paul Kaser, they bounced around the Midwest following his jobs, and eventually moved to Arizona.

I will track her pre-marriage years here, because you can follow his moves after marriage by looking at last week’s article on my father, No Permanent Residence.

1906-circa 1907: Monroe Township, Holmes County, Ohio.


Harriette Anderson

Harriette V. Anderson, six months old, born 1906

Harriette Veolia Anderson was born in her doctor grandfather’s house in Killbuck, Ohio.  Her mother and father, Vera and Guy Anderson were living on a farm near Killbuck in Monroe Township, but her mother went “home” to have her baby.

Vera and Guy named their only daughter for her maternal grandmother, Harriet (Hattie) Morgan Stout and her paternal grandmother, Mary Veolia Brink Anderson. Her grandfather, “Doc” Stout wanted everyone to call her Hattie, and that nickname stuck with her at least into her twenties. She hated the middle name so much that she did not even use the initial.  After she married, she signed Harriette A. Kaser instead of Harriette V. Kaser.

Once she was back in town, Grandma Vera did not want to return to the farm, and they moved into Killbuck where Grandpa “Daddy Guy” tried various businesses.

1907-1924: Killbuck, Ohio

1907: The House that Burned. Grandma Vera did not like country life,. So the family moved from the Anderson family farm into a small house in Killbuck. The first house they lived in had belonged to Mary Morgan, Vera’s grandmother. There disaster struck.  Mother told about it in a recorded memoir:

This house burned in the fire that was known as the Duncan Building fire and Mother and Dad lost all of their furniture.  I was just a baby when this happened.  Grandmother rushed over when she heard the screams of the fire and carried me back to her house.  Bill and Rhema sat in a little wagon out in front of Grandma’s house and watched the house burn down.  The fire broke out at night when everybody was sleeping and completely engulfed their home and also the Duncan Building.

Note: The Duncan Building stood on Front Street in Killbuck between Killbuck Creek and Main Street.

1908: The Little House After the fire, the family (Guy, Vera, older brother Bill and 2-year-old Harriette) lived for a short time with Dr. Stout and Hattie, and then moved into another small house. Later Harriette’s grandmother Anderson joined them. In that house, Vera gave birth to her third child in three years (Herbert, born in 1908)

Harriette also recalled the playpen her father built.

Dad…buil(t) a playpen out on the porch with a frame.  I can remember the frame that they put up, and he put up a wire around it.  You didn’t go out and buy a playpen like you do now. Here’s where Bill and I played hour in and hour out.
Harriette Anderson

Harriette, Herbert and Bill Anderson Circa 1909

1909/10: Monroe Township farm.  Since Guy Anderson was not proving to be a terrific businessman, the family once again tried farm living.  They bought the family farm that belonged to Guy’s Aunt Amy Anderson Roof.

I related my mother’s memories of the farm when I discussed all the people in the family picture taken in 1909. But she had another story to tell that I found very interesting. The fact that they were living on the farm proved to be a life-saver in 1913.

At this same time, there was a tremendous flood down in the valley.  I believe it was called the 1913 flood.

Note: She was right. The 1913 flood was the worst natural disaster ever to hit Ohio. Ironically, it stimulated the installation of steam gages and tracking those and underground water gauges later became my father’s occupation. You can see a USGS video about the 1913 Flood here. And here is what mother remembers:

Killbuck Bridge flood

Undated photo, probably 1929. Flood covers Killbuck Bridge where Main Street leads out of town on

There was no gas, nothing to cook with down there, but Mother did have the tank gas up on the hill where she was living.  Mother would bake loaves and loaves of bread and would load them into the buggy and take a whole buggy load of bread and give it to people because they didn’t have any bread to eat.  Every day while the town was shut off, Mother did this.
Another thing I can remember is the horror of that flood because it called for men to stand out on the bridge and poke with long poles, push the debris and the limbs and all of the things that came washing down, to keep them from back up on the bridge and maybe pushing the bridge off its foundation.  The men would stand on the bridge and poke those things either off to the side or down deep enough that they would float under the bridge.  My dad was one of the volunteers offering to do this.  I cried all night.  Mother said I cried and screamed because I was so sure that my father was going to be drowned.
Harriette Anderson

Harriette Anderson, 16, H.S. graduation 1923


1923-1924: 1453 Wesley Ave., Columbus Ohio

Harriette Anderson

Harriette Anderson and boyfriend Ray Jarvis at Ohio State, 1923

Harriette wanted to go to college, and her father and two brothers thought job opportunities would be better in Columbus, so they moved there in time for her to start school in the fall.  At the end of her first year of college, she was asked to come back to Holmes County to teach. The rest of the family returned to Killbuck and she went to live with her step-sister and husband–Rhema and Earl Fair.

1924-1925: Clark Ohio

Rhema Anderson Fair

Harriette Anderson, Earl, holding Richard, Rhema and Frank in front. (1925, Clark)

1926-1938 Killbuck Ohio

She got a job teaching at the larger school in Killbuck, Ohio, and lived with her parents, who by then were running a boarding house in the old Stout home.  In 1930 she was very briefly married, which is a story for another day.

During her teaching years, she gradually finished her college degree by attending Kent State University in the summers.

Harriette Anderson

Harriette Kaser (on the right) coach of Killbuck Women’s Basketball Team 1928

1938: Dover, Ohio

She married my father Paul Kaser in June 1938, and you can follow their many moves if you care to go to last week’s article on him.

She outlived her husband by seven years, allowing her to see a new century, but they did not reach their goal of having been married for 60 years.

Harriette Kaser 1981

Harriette Kaser 1981

Most of this information comes from Harriette Anderson Kaser’s recorded memoirs that my brother recorded and transcribed (THANK YOU!). Some comes from notes I made of conversations with her late in her life, and from the collection of photographs that she handed on to me. I am so grateful to her for valuing family history and passing on her memories.

December 21,Forefather’s Day and Plymouth Succotash

Since the Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas, today at Ancestors in Aprons we are celebrating Forefather’s Day instead of Christmas, with a recipe for Succotash.

Pilgrims Going to Church

Pilgrims Going to Church, watercolor painting by George Henry Broughton (1833-1905)

Boston Globe reports on the early celebrations of Forefather’s Day (long before Thanksgiving was an official holiday), when notables like John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster gave speeches.

In 1769 the holiday organizers ate a meal that was undeniably New England, but not much like today’s Thanksgiving feast—they consumed, according to contemporary records, “a large baked Indian wortleberry pudding, a dish of sauquetach (succotash), a dish of clams, a dish of sea fowl, a dish of cod fish and eels, an apple pie, a course of cranberry tarts and cheese.”

I don’t know about you, but to me, succotash is a simple, tasty vegetable dish combining beans and corn. When in doubt what to serve for dinner, dump a can of green beans and a can of corn in a pot–maybe add a little diced onion and butter–and you’ve got succotash. That’s the way my mother did it.

The dish was understandably popular during World War II and the Great Depression, during times of food shortages because the ingredients were cheap and combining corn and beans provides complete protein.

The corn part is immutable, although lima beans are more traditional than green beans. Even though they are not correct historically, because they were not native to North America. The name comes from the Narrangassett and Massachusetts peoples–sohquttahhash– or “msickquatash” (depending on what source you believe), which meant broken corn kernels or maybe “cooked corn”.

But I was totally surprised when I was roaming through the Pilgrim Hall Museum site and discovered not only a Succotash that I did not recognize, but also a holiday that I had never heard of. Apparently I’m not alone,

In an essay accompanying the recipe, William Talbot, speaking of the Pilgrim Museum, writes,

Thanksgiving belongs to America Forefathers Day is ours. It’s so well hidden that even many Plimothians don’t know about it.They can live in the town and…still think succotash is corn and lima beans. We may deplore their ignorance, but Forefather Day has not been engulfed by the mass culture.
Unlike Williamsburg we can’t stick fancy fruit above the doors of the Pilgrim Village and decorate the Fort Meeting House with laurel and pine. The best we could do is reenact the event when Governor Bradford found some of the strangers playing a game on Christmas day and took away their ball.

For some reason the image of Governor Bradford breaking up the ball game cracks me up.  (As I’m sure you know the reference to “strangers” means those passengers on the Mayflower and other Pilgrim ships who were not members of the church, but were tolerated in Plymouth because they had needed skills.) The Pilgrims came to the new world so they could worship as they pleased without being harassed by government. But woe to anyone in the colonies who did not agree with their creed.

So why is Forefather’s Day celebrated?

Here’s William Talbot again:

We think what they did was worth doing and worth remembering too. We look at the cold waters of the harbor on Forefathers Day and think of them in an open boat heading toward land.It’s worth the effort to get together with others who care about the Pilgrims.

And HOW is it celebrated?  partly by eating succotash–much more complex than lima beans and corn, and probably close to a stew that the Pilgrim forefathers might have eaten. (Minus the food processor, of course.)

So invite one hundred of your closest friends over on December 21, the day that the Pilgrims landed, and serve up Plymouth Succotash. (Wortleberry pie and sea fowl optional.)

Plymouth Succotash

(Traditionally served on Forefathers Day)
For 100 people or 150 as a first course

  • 25 lbs. gray corned beef
  • 5 5-lb. fowl
  • 5 lbs. lean salt pork
  • 6 lbs. dry white navy beans
  • 10 lbs. boiling potatoes
  • 10 lbs. white green-top turnips
  • 20 15-oz. cans whole hominy

Put all the meats in cold water and boil until tender, then drain, reserving the
skimmed broth as stock to cook the vegetables. Bone and dice the meats, and
reserve. The beans take a long, slow cooking in some of the fat broth until they can be pureed in the food processor. The puree is then reserved, and care must
be taken to cool both beans and broth lest they sour, which is a frequent disaster with this dish. The potatoes, white turnip and hulled corn should be cooked in the broth.

Before serving, mix meat and vegetables together and add the bean puree as it is heated. Be careful it neither burns nor sours–small batches help.It reheats particularly well and can be frozen.

Recipe from Pilgrim Museum web site PDF.

52 Ancestors: #50: Paul Kaser, No Permanent Residence

Paul Kaser 1909-1996

Where you live provides hints to a life.  Why did you live where you did? How did the place and the circumstances influence you?

It has occurred to me that my children and grandchildren may not have any idea about the movements of my parents, Paul and Harriette Anderson Kaser–who were VERY mobile. After all, if the information you have about a person consists of “Born: Clark Ohio” and “Died: Tucson, Arizona”, you are missing a lot of life in between.

So I am going to talk about the times in between, starting with my father, Paul Kaser.

We always joked a lot in my family about my mother’s family having gypsy blood, because they loved to travel. But as I look at the pattern of my father’s life, he seemed to enjoy keeping on the move, as well.  Here’s the timeline.

Baby Paul Kaser

Baby Paul Kaser

1909: Born in Clark, Ohio. Clark is a small village, unincorporated, that straddles two Ohio Counties, Holmes and Coshocton. According to the census, the Kasers lived in both sides of that line from time to time.

Clifford Kaser Tin Shop

Kaser Tin Shop, Keith, Clifford, (front) Milton, Paul. About 1914. Killbuck, Ohio

1911-1912: Family lived in Killbuck Ohio, where his father, Cliff Kaser, started a business. Killbuck is only a few miles away from Clark, but was a slightly larger town (approx. 900 population).

Paul Kaser Tacoma Park MD, Seven-Day Adventist

Paul Kaser (center dark suit, squinting) with Seven Day Adventists in Tacoma Park MD 1913-1914

1914-1915: This school year, Paul was a student in Takoma Park MD, where his family lived to be near the Seven Day Adventist main gathering.

Before 1920: Family lived in Millersburg, Ohio, where he went to school, but returned to Takoma Park during the summers of 1921-23 for Seventh Day Adventist camps. The Kaser home in Millersburg was on a main street, across from the school. Millersburg was and is the County Seat of Holmes County, about 15 miles away from Clark and Killbuck.

Paul Kaser 1920s

Dandy Paul Kaser 1920s

1926: Went to Washington D.C. to start seminary in September, but his mother died in October, and his father made him return to Millersburg to help with the business and his younger brother, until the business was sold in 1928.

1926-1929: Lived in Millersburg Ohio with his father and younger brother until younger brother until his younger brother died.

1929-30: Worked and lived (probably in a rooming house) in Wooster, Ohio.  Wooster is in the next county north of Millersburg.

1930: His father died and he lived briefly with his older brother, Keith, who lived on a farm near Millersburg, Ohio

1931-1937: Returned to Killbuck, Ohio where he worked at various jobs, and probably lived in rooming houses, or with his sister Irene Kaser Bucklew.

1937: moved to New Philadelphia Ohio for a job. He had worked at part time and temporary jobs throughout the depression, but he wanted to get married and Harriette Anderson would not marry him until he had a permanent job.  He answered an ad for a government job in New Philadelphia.

Pau; Kaser 1940s1938: Married and moved with new wife to apartment ,#12, 2080 Front Street, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. [WW II Draft Registration] Cuyahoga Falls and New Philadelphia are in northwestern Ohio. Cuyahoga Falls is a suburb, north of Akron.

1939: Apartment in New Philadelphia: 344 Sixth Street, NW. New Philadelphia is a pleasant, medium-sized city in northwestern Ohio, about 70 miles south of Cleveland.

1940-1943: Rented home at 337 5th Street, NW New Philadelphia, where he, his wife and first baby live.  My mother wanted to stay in New Philadelphia, but opportunity drew them elsewhere.

September 1942-January 1944: 2521 Chamberlain Street, Ames Iowa [Application for Chicago job Jan. 9, 1944]

1944-March 1946: Chicago, Illinois to work with U.S. Weather Bureau, lived at apartment at 5213 Dorchester Ave., Chicago, Ill. [10/19/45] and later at an apartment near the University of Chicago, 5136 Kimbark Avenue, Chicago 15, Ill. [from letter to draft board] I can remember the latter apartment, although I was only three or four. When my mother’s father died in the summer of 1944  she returned to Killbuck, and she stayed there to give birth to my brother in October 1944. Paul soon also found a way to get back to Ohio.

Paul Kaser famil, 1944

Paul and Harriette Kaser with baby Paul William and Vera Marie 1944, Killbuck Ohio

Summer, 1944: During one of those summers during the war years, while my brother was still in a baby buggy, the four of us spent the summer on Mt. Weather in Virginia, not far outside of Washington.  It was an idyllic break in the usual routine.  I’ll talk more about Mt. Weather in future installments.

March 1946- 1947: Under address on forms, father poignantly writes, “no permanent address.” The young husband apparently does not want to admit that the family is living with his in-laws. He is working for an Ohio government office with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, and his wife and two children are in Killbuck with Vera Anderson, but he spends most of his time on the road on his job, living in hotels. When he is in Columbus, he has a rented room.

Kaser House in Columbus

Franklin Avenue House (on left) in 1992. Nearly 50 years after we lived there.

1947-1948: The family rents a house in Columbus Ohio on Franklin Avenue. This house was just a few blocks away from one of the main streets east of the downtown, Broad Street.  The large brick houses were originally built early in the 20th century for the managers of the breweries that were once common in Columbus. It was what is euphemistically known as a “changing” neighborhood. On streets around us, homes were declining in value, and poorer and poorer people were moving in to what was once the area where writer James Thurber lived. When I visited in 1992, the area was become gentrified–recovering from having been a haven for crack houses. Many of the houses on our street were gone, burned to the ground.

Fall, 1948: Purchases  a house for the first time in his life, at age 39 at 1445 Loretta Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, so he can spend more time with his family, which is about to increase, as a 2nd girl is born. This is in Linden, an area of Columbus north of the University. It was a blue collar area with well-cared for homes.  Since then it has fallen into disrepair.

Fall, 1952: Purchases a house in Killbuck Ohio on Schoolhouse hill, because he decides that a small town is a better place for children to grow up than in the city. Additionally, my mother can get a teaching job near Killbuck, and help the budget of the growing family.

Fall 1956: Purchase a house at 325 Conklin Drive, Hilliard Ohio. Hilliard is a Western suburb of Columbus Ohio. On most days he drives me to Ohio State University on his way to his downtown office. This house is in a new subdivision and the house backs up to an open area. Once again he has a backyard in which to garden, and a house to improve–he adds a recreation room in the basement and adds built-ins to his daughters’ room.

Paul Kaser Retires

Paul Kaser’s Retirement

August 1969:  Retired. After retirement, he and his wife lived in two different apartments or condos in Columbus, Ohio before moving to Arizona.

In 1962, when I moved to Arizona with my husband and first child, my parents were sad to see us go, but cheerfully remarked that it would give them an excuse to travel to Arizona, where they had never been. In fact they visited frequently, and eventually moved there.

1970s: Purchased house in Scottsdale, Arizona to be nearer his two daughters in Arizona and son in California.

1986: Sold house and moved to Mesa Arizona to be nearer younger daughter.

1988: Moved to apartment in Scottsdale after his younger daughter moved away.

1992-1996: Retirement at  independent living facility in Tucson Arizona, near me, his older daughter. There he died in 1996, at the age of 87.

One thing that stands out in Paul Kaser’s life is the large percentage of time he spent living in rooming houses, boarding houses and hotels. Living under other people’s roofs influenced him. For one thing, it made him a stickler for cleaning up after oneself. For instance, he never used the bathroom sink or tub without wiping it out afterwards.

Because he realized what a privilege it was to own his own home, he also threw himself into home ownership with a passion. Once he was able to live in his own house he built  bookcases, painted and repaired, landscaped and gardened.

Loretta Avenue garden

Loretta Avenue garden, in Linden area of Columbus Ohio.

From 1946 until his retirement in the 80s, Paul Kaser drove from one corner of the state of Ohio to another in his job with the Division of Water Resources. My father spent so many hours driving the roads of Ohio, that his left arm, which he habitually rested on the open window, was permanently darker than his right.

Although he enjoyed the traveling life, and meeting a variety of people, once he got home, he wanted to stay there.  Mother, who had been “stuck at home” was always ready to go for a drive or take a road trip. Understandably, that did not sound very appealing to Father.  However, once he got out on the road with the family, he probably enjoyed the journey more than anyone else.

I think the lifelong necessity of having to go wherever the jobs were (just as his father had to a lesser extent) led him to feel comfortable wherever he was.

The other thing that his life in rented rooms and hotel rooms did for him was give him time to read. He read widely, but particularly liked Biblical history, archaeology and mysteries.   He went through every contemporary detective book–Micky Spillane’s Mike Hammer books were favorites; and he educated himself on such arcane subjects as ancient history by reading a ten-volume set on history before the Romans. For a person whose college career was halted before it even began, he was the best educated person I knew.

Information for this profile comes principally from his own biographical notes, except where I have added document sources in brackets.


Paul Kaser 1981

Paul Kaser 1981