52 Ancestors: #8 The Values of George Kaser

George Kaser b. 1800- d. After 1870

My great-great grandfather, George Kaser was a mystery to me until an accidental discovery, which I described last week when talking about my great-grandfather Joseph Kaser II.  That discovery led to several more records unmistakably George.

While our ancestors always remain something of a mystery–particularly without journals and letters to hear their voices, the bare facts of census reports and church records have shown me where George Kaser’s loyalties lay.  He stayed loyal to his extended family. He was loyal to his culture and the German language. He was a supporter of his church.

Baptism church of George, listed in the Kaser Genealogy Book as Zions Lutheran Church, Zionsville, PA.

This is a huge help, since those records as indexed include lots of the Kaser names we’re working on, but to see the entire record, I’ll need to go to the LDS Family Research Center. The index tells me that George was born on February 2, 1800 and baptized on April 11, 1800 at Zions Lutheran Church, a German Reform congregation in Zionsville, Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.The history of that church is here.


George’s grandparents had emigrated not too long before his father Joseph Kaser I was born.*  Although I have not looked for immigration records yet, it seems obvious that the family first arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum has numerous displays of great interest, particularly if your ancestors arrived through Pennsylvania’s port.  When I visitied a few years ago, museum personnel had to come looking for me and persuade me to leave at closing time because I was lost in time looking at exhibits of the people of many nations who poured into Philadelphia in the 18th and 19th centuries. (And that was BEFORE I started exploring my own family history.)  Follow this link if you want to visit the museum on line, or plan an in-person visit.

Many of the German families who arrived in Philadelphia had no love for the city.  They were farmers, looking for fertile soil and abundant timber.  Most moved further inland to Lehigh County, first settled by German immigrants in 1735.

There they could build their own log churches in peace, rather than be harassed as they had been in Germany for rebelling against the “high church.”  They could live comfortably with their own customs and their own German language.

The first schools were started by the churches.  Almost all the churches in the area had only German language services and general classes were likewise taught in German. In fact, the first English-speaking services were not conducted until 1891– long after George and his family had moved to Eastern Pennsylvania.

It seems clear that my second great-grandfather, George Kaser, did not speak English at all, unless his younger children, who attended bi-lingual schools taught him a bit.


About 1823, the twenty-three-year-old George Kaser married a woman named Lydia, who may have been twenty at the time. She also had been born in Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania Counties map from Rootsweb.

By the following year when their son Joseph II (my great-grandfather) was born, the family had moved to Baden, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. On the map above, you can see the county designated as LEH (Lehigh) on the right and BEA (Beaver) on the far left of the map.  Because of the pattern of this family’s relocations, I will assume that his father, mother and siblings moved across the state at the same time and all settled in Baden together. And it is a good thing they had a big family to help. You see that purplish color in the map below?  That’s the Appalachian Mountains.  And they would have been crossing them on foot, or at the most with a few wagons for the oldest and youngest family members.  “Big Deal. Just moving across the state, you think?”  Think again.


Pennsylvania Relief Map by United States Geological Survey (USGS)

It is quite possible that deed records may show that the family never actually lived in Beaver County, but only paused their briefly so that Lydia could give birth, because all the rest of George and Lydia’s children were born in Ohio. If that is the case, Lydia was traveling in her last weeks of pregnancy on this difficult journey.

As is usually the case in these pioneer families, the children came at approximately two-year intervals, six boys and three girls by 1840.  The exception was the last child, Samuel, born four years after his nearest sibling in 1840, when Lydia was about 40 years old. A surprise child!

At any rate the family moved ultimately to an area on the border of Holmes and Coshocton Counties in Ohio.  At the time of the 1840 census, George’s father Joseph and his wife, George’s three brothers Joseph Jr., Timothy and William are all living near George, on adjoining farms near Bloomfield (Clark), Ohio. The town straddles the Holmes/Coshocton County line.

Although Ohio had become a state in 1803, it was still a rough land when the Kaser families arrived.  The History of Coshocton County points out that as late as 1835 there were still chunks of “unentered” (in other words, wild, unclaimed) land in the county.  They go on to point out that the county’s populations was almost entirely German.


Once again clinging to their culture and their German Reform church, the Kaser clan attended the Zions Reformed Church (now Zion United Church of Christ) in New Bedford, Coshocton County, Ohio. At that time the church was a log building. A new building was built in 1858, and the building that stands today was built in 1889.

Church, New Bedford OH

Zions United Church of Christ/Zions Reform Church, New Bedford, Ohio.

Several of the Kaser burials in Ohio are at a Zions Reform Church. (39 listed on Find A Grave.com) You can see their cemetery plot map here:  (Actually, I was unable to get it to download, so wish you luck. If you decide to visit them, I’m sure you can get a hard copy.)

New Bedford, Ohio is in the northern part of Coshocton County, near Holmes County and logical destination for people who lived around Bloomfield (later called Clark). The Coshocton County history (written in 1881) points out that most of the residents of the township that includes New Bedford were German. and 4 of the 5 churches had services only in German. Plus three more churches just over the line from the township boundary also were German-speaking churches. The New Bedford Zions Reformed Church did not hold all English services until the 1880s.


Life was rough, but the Kasers seemed to prosper (and multiply!).  Twenty years or so after arriving in the wilderness Ohio, the 1850 agricultural census lists George’s assets at a cash value of $1880, while farms around him are valued at $100-$1500.  He had 55 improved and 30 unimproved acres and owns 4 horses, 4 milch cows, 2 other cattle, 18 sheep and 11 pigs.  He raises wheat, Indian Corn and oats.

Seven of Lydia and George’s children are still living at home in 1850, and son Joseph II lives next door in German Township (Later called Clark Township), Holmes County.  Also nearby is George’s brother Joseph Jr.  George’s son Daniel has moved with his 15-year-old wife and infant.  He is working as a blacksmith, but still has a few acres for his two cows and two sheep–necessities of the self-sufficient rural life.

By the time he is 60, George’s holdings have increased in value to $3000, now listed in Clark Township, Coshocton County.  Besides his wife Lydia, his sons George Jr. (23) and Samuel and his daughter Lydia (16) are still living at home.  Sons Charles, Thomas and Joseph all live adjacent and Daniel’s holdings on his farm in Holmes County are increasing. Daughter Rebecca lives with a widower who lives nearby, probably caring for his children.

In 1870, I find George Kaeper (probably misspelling of the original German Kaesser) at 70 years old  living in Monroe Township, Coshocton County with his now 30-year-old son George Jr. and his 26-year-old daughter Lydia.  I will talk about Rebecca and other family members in a separate post.  But George’s wife Lydia is no longer listed.  Apparently she died sometime between 1860 and 1870.  Sons Samuel and Charles live on adjacent farms and Joseph lives nearby over the line in Holmes County.

Although he seems to be moving around, George may well have stayed in the same place while county lines changed, or his farm might have extended over the county line and was sometimes counted in one place and sometimes in another.

Here are the Holmes and Coshocton maps of counties by today’s names. (Clark, Holmes, was previously called German). To line them up, Crawford Township, Coshocton should be directly south of Holmes Clark Township.

Homes County Ohio Coshocton County Ohio

The 1870 Census is the last record I have found of George, so he probably died some time in his 70s.

*I am calling George’s father Joseph I to differentiate him from George’s son, Joseph II and George’s brother, Joseph Jr.


  • Joseph II, b. 1824 in PA, named for his paternal grandfather and George’s brother.
  • Daniel, born 1827 in Ohio
  • Thomas, born 1828 in Ohio
  • Ann (Emma) born 1830 in Ohio
  • Rebecca, Born 1832 in Ohio
  • Charles, Born 1834 in Ohio
  • George Jr., Born 1838 in Ohio
  • Lydia (Jr.), Born 1840 in Ohio
  • Samuel, Born 1844 in Ohio

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the son of
  • Clifford Kaser, who is the son of
  • Joseph Kaser II, who is the son of
  • George Kaser

Notes on Research

  • The “Kaser Genealogy” referred to is The Kaser History: A History of Dates and Other Interesting Facts (1994) edited by Deborah D. Morgan and others. Out of print. I obtained information from a cousin who owns a copy of the book.
  • History of Coshocton County Ohio: Its Past and Present 1740-1881 (1881) by Albert Adams Graham. Available on line at Google Books.
  • A History of Lehigh County Pennsylvania from the earliest settlement to the present times, including much valuable information for the use of schools, families, librarians (1902). James J. Hauser, Available on line at Google Books.
  • Pennsylvania County Map: Rootsweb
  • Zions Lutheran Church, Zionsville, PA index of records at Ancestry.com
  • Birth and Death records from census and Find a Grave through Ancestry.com
  • Other websites linked in the article.

Molasses Apple Upside Down Cake

An Apple Molasses Upside-Down Cake with a little help from Harriette and Betty

I started the day in a frugal mood.  A bowl of apples shoved to the back of the refrigerator, were threatening to wither and turn brown.  Oh no! My grandmothers and great-grandmothers would not stand for that!

Remembering that incredible butter and molasses spread I had discovered along with this recipe for pumpkin/cornmeal bread, I cored and sliced the apples and threw them in a skillet with butter.  When they were nicely browned, I drizzled them with molasses.

Apples and molasses

The apple slices browned in butter and molasses

But what do do next?  Maybe put them over a cake? It was time to pull out one of those vintage product cookbooks from my shelf.  This one–Betty Crocker’s Cake and Frosting Mix Cookbook (1966)–seemed perfect.  Betty always has a suggestion, and this book takes you from the basics of baking (with a mix of course) to some fancy decorating.But everything in the book seems doable for the ordinary person.

I love how the illustrations show imperfect decorations.  See the dribble on that little petit four in the foreground?  It makes the reader feel that they could do this do.  Maybe our expectations in the 1960s were a bit tamer than today?  Unless you count the expectation that we would polish silver and actually have a tea party with several kinds of cake.

But back to the recipe search–as I thumbed through the book, I saw several pages of upside-down cake recipes, including an apple upside-down cake. Ah-ha!

One of my mother’s go-to desserts that we all loved, was pineapple upside-down cake. How I loved that gooey syrupy top that surrounded the pineapples and maraschino cherries that Harriette Kaser baked on the bottom of an iron skillet, until it was carefully turned upside down in all its glory.

The Betty Crocker Cake Book suggests using one jar of cinnamon apple rings, drained, instead of pineapple slices in their basic pineapple upside-down cake recipe.  Pour 1/4 cup of butter (1/2 stick),  into the cake pan and top with brown sugar and  the pineapple slices and cherries.

Betty Crocker cake mix

Betty Crocker cake mix and recipe for Upside-Down cake

I already had a skillet with apples browned in butter an molasses (instead of brown sugar).  All I had to do was arrange them, mix up the Betty Crocker© spice cake mix and pour it over the top.

 upside-down cake apples

Cooked apples arranged for upside-down cake.

The book suggests using one-half of the prepared mix. Because my skillet was a little larger than a regular 9″ cake pan, I used a bit more than half. ( I made the remainder of the batter into cupcakes, to freeze for later.)

The cake needs to bake at 325 degrees (since the pan is dark), and took about 45 minutes.

With upside down cakes, you must invert them on the serving plate immediately when they come out of the oven.  With a cake pan, that is fairly easy, but with a heavy iron skillet and a heavy platter, it is a challenge.  As you see, it didn’t break up and fall apart (whew!), even though I did not get the cake centered on the platter. Imperfect. Just like a real cook.

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Apple Upside-Down Cake

The only remaining challenge is letting it cool before I can dig into that molasses-buttery goodness.

Apple Molasses Upside-Down Cake

Serves 10-12
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold


  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 3 tablespoons Molasses
  • 5 Small apples (cored and sliced)
  • 1 box Spice cake mix


1. Melt butter in iron skillet
2. Stir in sliced apples. Cook until soft (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally.
3. Drizzle molasses over and stir to coat apples. Arrange apples in an attractive pattern in pan.
4. Mix cake mix according to directions on package
5. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the skillet on top of the apples.
6. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (Or bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees if using a 9" round cake pan)
7. When you take skillet (or pan) out of oven, immediately invert onto serving platter. Leave skillet on top of cake for about ten minutes. Lift off and let cake cool on platter.
8. Serve plain or with whipped cream.


You can use the remainder of the cake batter to make a one-layer cake or 9-12 cupcakes, following baking directions on cake mix box.

If you do not care for spice cake, substitute another flavor of cake mix.

Used copies of Betty Crocker’s Cake and Frosting Mix Cookbook are available at Amazon.com. If you purchase through this link, you are supporting AncestorsinAprons.com and helping with my research. Even though it costs you no more, I make a few cents on each sale through my links. THANKS!

Welcome #52Ancestors Bloggers

Thanks, Amy Crow Johnson for featuring my update on leads false and true to my  great-grandfather Joseph Kaser (Joseph the Carpenter) at this week’s 52 Ancestors 2015 roundup. And welcome to those of you who clicked over from No Story Too Small to check out Joseph and Ancestors in Aprons.

If you’re new to Ancestors in Aprons, please poke around and see what might interest you. Civil War letters? Recipes and food history? Ohio small town life? New England Puritan settlers?

If you’d like to be sure not to miss coming editions of family stories and historic food and recipes, why not subscribe? It’s FREE.