A Road Trip to Guernsey County, 52 Ancestors #17 Lib Stout Cunningham

Elizabeth J. Stout Cunningham 1856-post 1940

In this picture, “Aunt Lib” (seated to the left of the pillar) was visiting Killbuck at the home of Harriette Morgan Stout (white hair, center of picture). On the far right, partially obscured by the pillar is one of Lib’s daughters, Merle. Seated on the edge of the porch, left to right are Herbert Anderson, Sarah Warner (Anderson), Harriette Anderson (Kaser) (daughter of Vera), Vera Stout Anderson (daughter of Hattie.)

Aunt Lib Stout can be seen sitting to the left of the porch post in this picture taken on the porch of Hattie Morgan Stout (to Lib's left). One of Lib's daughters is on the far right in back.

Aunt Lib Stout can be seen sitting to the left of the porch post in this picture taken on the porch of Hattie Morgan Stout  in Killbuck, Ohio (to Lib’s left).

When my mother was growing up, her family drove from Killbuck in northeastern Ohio to Guernsey County in southern Ohio about once a year to visit Stout relatives.  What is today a quick drive, could be quite an adventure in the teens of the 20th century. The favorite relative was Aunt Lib–Elizabeth Stout Cunningham.  Aunt Lib was the third of four daughters of Emeline and Isaiah Stout, born in Feburary, 1856.

In 1881 when she was twenty-three, she married James Edward “Ed” Cunningham, who grew up on a farm just down the road from the Stout farm.  They had two daughters, Mary (1882) and Merle (1885). Another child died in infancy.

Mother told me  that “Aunt Lib never took a step that she didn’t run. She was the most fun and we always went to visit her.”

Harriette Anderson Kaser’s memoirs included this description of going to Guernsey County on the Old National Road (which she calls ‘Pike’).

To see a modern day map following roughly the route that mother’s family would have followed (before there were freeways, which cut the trip to just under two hours), click here: From Killbuck to Guernsey County. The George Stout house still stands, north of I-70. Apparently the farm was sliced in two when the Interstate was built.

Guernsey County..was my Grandfather William Stout’s home county where all of his family grew up…and the family farm was just out of Cambridge on the other side of the first crooked bridge on the Old National Pike.*

We did love to go to Guernsey, not particularly to the old farmhouse, but up to another sister of my grandfather’s Aund Lib Cunningham.  Now that was our favorite stop, and she was one of our favorite people.  The joy of this whole thing was that always before we took this trip, we were taken out of school to go on an automobile trip and this didn’t happen [much] at the time.

This took place when we were very young.  Dad has a little red Maxwell they called a “Runabout” at that time.  The thing that I remembered about that car was that it was just a one-seater and that back of it was a round tank with gasoline, and there was a little trunk on the back of that…Mother had put a cushion and some blankets in between the little round tank and the back of the front seat, and this was where Bill (Harriette’s older brother) and I sat for our trip to Guernsey County.  Mother held Herbert, who was much younger and smaller at that time.  All of the kids at school were nevious that we were going to Guernsey County because we were going to get out of school.

We would get up and Mother would pack a lunch.  We would usually leave early on Friday morning for Guernsey County.  Now it’s only a two or three hours’ drive down there, but at that time it was really a full trip.

Somewhere along the line we always had car trouble of some kind, but it was a nice trip.  We were always very frightened when we got to Coshocton.  Bill and I would sit back there and wonder if we’d get through Coshocton or not.  That seemed like such a big city at that time.  We’d get through Coshocton and then we’d go down to Newcomerstown and straight on down.

Oh, it was such a nice trip and there was a nice place along the river where we always stopped and had our picnic lunch, and then we would go to Cambridge and when we got through Cambridge, we always had a sigh of relief because as soon as we got through Cambridge, we hit the Old National Pike.

Now the Old National Pike is part of I-40 I think, that went clear across our country. Of course at that time it didn’t go that far.  I think it probably went as far as St. Louis.  It was a brick road, and it was very rough, but until that we had lots of mud roads, if it rained, or lots of very rough, dusty roads if it was dry, so when we hit the Pike, we were really thrilled.

When we got through Cambridge, we always looked for the old crooked bridge and the second farm on the other side of the Old Crooked Bridge was Grandfather’s [Isaiah Stout].  Uncle George Stout still lived there, and we would always stop and see them, just for a few minutes, but we would have to go on much farther to Aunt Lib’s and Uncle Ed’s up on the hill in a place called Putney Ridge.

When we [got] there, Aunt Lib was always so happy to see us and we were so happy to see her.  She and Uncle Ed were just such a charming, sweet couple. They had two daughters, Mary and Merle, and both of their daughters were school teachers.  By the way, Uncle Ed Cunningham was the first of many in the state of Ohio to have a life teaching certificate, so he had been a teacher for many, many years also.

Aunt Lib always had all kinds of food ready for us and everything wonderful for us children to play with, and Uncle Ed would go out and show us all things on the farm where they lived…I would be frightened when he’d show us where the turkeys were, because we weren’t used to turkeys.  We were really frightened at those big birds that he showed us.  But this was a real treat, and we went to Guernsey County about once a year.

*My cousin Larry Anderson and his wife scouted the old Stout farm and took this set of pictures of the Old Crooked Bridge.

The Old Crooked Bridge on National Highway, Guernsey County. Pictures by Larry and Judy Anderson

The Old Crooked Bridge on National Highway, Guernsey County. Pictures by Larry and Judy Anderson

Larry and Judy pinpointed the location of the George Stout farm in an e-mail they sent me when they explored.  Take I-70 east to Guernsey County. At the Quaker City exit, go North on 513. Almost immediately, turn left (west) on Bridgewater Road. 

They say, for the Stout cemetery, go south on 513 and go right on Lydic Road off 513 (Batesville Road). When it dead ends, go to Gatts Lane. The Stout cemetery is in the fireld.

Elizabeth Stout Cunningham died October 1, 1945 in her home on Pleasant Ridge in Guernsey County. Unlike the other Stouts who lived in Ohio, she is not buried in the Stout cemetery, but instead is buried beside her husband James Edward Cunningham in the Friends Cemetery in Quaker City, Ohio.

Elizabeth Stout Cunningham

Elizabeth Stout Cunningham gravestone, Friend’s Cemetery, Quaker City. Photo from Find A Grave.


Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher

is the daughter of Harriette Anderson Kaser

who is the daughter of Vera Stout Anderson

who is the daughter of William Cochran Stout

who is the brother of Elizabeth Stout Cunningham.


“Harriette Anderson Kaser’s Memories of Killbuck, Ohio in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s” were transcribed from an audiotape recorded in the home of P. W. Kaser, Fresno, California about 1980.  Paul William Kaser, her son, made the transcription.  Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher made slight edits.

Added material was taken from other notes of conversations with Harriette.

From Ancestry.com, I gathered information on birth, death, residence, family, etc. from Census and birth and death reports.  

The burial information and photograph come from Find A Grave.

Family photographs are in the author’s possession.

This has been a weekly post in the 52 Ancestors/52 Weeks Project started by Amy Johnson Crow at “No Story too Small.” Check out her weekly recap showing the list of participants for some ripping good stories.


Antique Car Mania and a Road Trip that Went Wrong

In tomorrow’s 52 Ancestors Story, I talk about a journey that my mother’s family made annually from Killbuck, Ohio in Holmes County to my grandmother Vera Stout Anderson’s relatives in Guernsey County. Instead of food this week,we’re talking about a journey in an antique car.

Mother (Harriette Anderson Kaser) mentions in her story that her great aunt Elizabeth Stout “Lib” Cunningham was a terrific cook, but unfortunately, she doesn’t tell us what Lib cooked.  Instead she remembers all the details about every antique car, the road conditions and travel directions. Even though my mother was a home economics teacher for many years, she was always more interested in cars than in food preparation.

In her eighties and nineties, she could lovingly describe every car she ever owned.  And Grandma Vera Anderson and Grandpa Leonard Guy Anderson started driving cars as soon as it was feasible.  After the ones named below, in the late 20′s they owned a Stutz, which you can see here. My uncle Herbert Anderson posed beside that car in 1927. 

In her story that I relate tomorrow, Mother describes the red Maxwell Runabout that her parents were driving when she and her brothers were small.  From the pictures I have been able to find, theirs was probably a 1912.  Mother describes a round gas tank in front of a luggage box and that is missing on the earlier models I’ve seen pictures of, but it is present in 1912. Nevertheless, here’s a picture of a 1911 Maxwell Runabout, because I like to picture my Grandmother and Grandfather and their three small children in this bright red car.

Antique car Maxwell runabout

1911 Maxwell runabout. Photo By Greg Gjerdingen, Creative Commons License

Mother tells another story about a  later trip to Guernsey County, in another car, the Saxon. The Saxon was harder to find pictures of (with use permitted), but here’s one that was for sale. It is a 1917, which was no doubt more practical, although not nearly as much fun.

Antique Car, Saxon

1917 Saxon Touring Car.

Here’s my mother’s story of a trip that went wrong.

One time when we decided to go to Guernsey County, we had just gotten a new Saxon car.  We were pretty good chunks of kids by this time, pretty good size, and Grandma Stout was going with us.  Now Grandma Stout was a little bit like our mother.  She was a good traveler.  She liked to go and she never complained on a trip, no matter where she went or how uncomfortable she was.

We got down on the other side of Newcomerstown on this trip and it started raining.  It poured and it poured, and we started up a little hill–not a very big hill–and dad had to change gears.  When he changed gears, the rear axle broke on the car, and there we were –stranded in the car.  It was night by the time we got that far because we’d been so slowed down on the mud roads. They were mud roads out of [south of] Newcomerstown.  They had no pikes. [paved roads]

We looked out across a field and there was a light in a farmhouse out across the field and so …Dad decided that maybe we should try to get over there to get out of the car because we couldn’t stay in the car all night and he couldn’t see to do anything with it. So we started walking.

By this time the rain had slaked up a little bit, but it was wet and so messy.  We started walking and we came to a little stream and Grandma didn’t see the stream and she fell. We thought that she would be hurt, but she got up laughing and thought it was a really good joke that she had fallen the stream.

By this time the storm was over, and it was getting moonlight.  It was rather nice, and we could see. When we got to the farmhouse, we realized that we were not at any palatial place.  It was probably nine o’clock by that time.  The peple were so nice.  They were quite poor. You could tell that, but they tried so hard to accommodate us and find sleeping [places]. …there were my brothers, my Grandmother, and my dad and mother and I, so there were six of us dropping in on these people, and this poor farm lady put every one of us to bed.

I don’t know how any of us slept very well.  I think I did.  If I’m not mistaken, I slept with two girls that were in the family, and Grandmother slept in a bed with the hired girl. She said [later] that the bed didn’t smell very good, and Grandmother was pretty particular anyway.  She’d have been willing to sit up all night, but she knew that would offend the woman.  And Dad and Mother had a bed, and the boys shared a bed with their son.

In looking for pictures and information about the Saxon car, I came across a site dedicated to Saxons and their collectors.  They have a story there, The Suffragist Saffron Saxon, about a Suffragette who traveled across the country campaigning for the woman’s vote.  Since Grandma Stout read the New York Times, sent to her by her son Will, I like to think that she read that story and it influenced the family decision to buy a Saxon.

Of course I can’t provide concrete evidence, but the circumstantial evidence is strong. We know her son who lived in New York, sent her the paper. We know that her greatest desire was to live long enough for women to vote. And we know she was not bashful about expressing her opinion.

Perhaps she would have changed her mind after the night of the road trip gone wrong in this antique car.


“Harriette Anderson Kaser’s Memories of Killbuck, Ohio in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s” were transcribed from an audiotape recorded in the home of P. W. Kaser, Fresno, California about 1980.  Paul William Kaser, her son, made the transcription.  Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher made slight edits.

Added material was taken from other notes of conversations with Harriette,

Water, Water Everywhere on the March to Vicksburg:Erasmus Anderson Letter #11

Carthage Louisiana  April 20th 1863

Dear Wife,

…We have made our way around here at last, partly by land and partly by flat boats and yawls for the land is nearly all under water here and the rebels have cut the levee to try to stop us.  We are now about 30 miles below Vicksburg.

The 16th O.V.I., as part of Ulysses S. Grant’s plan to take Vicksburg, has continued to march south on the Louisiana side of the river. The march to Vicksburg is underway, although the troops are going south, in order to cross well below Vicksburg and attack from the South.

On the march to Vicksburg

To Smith’s Plantation April 18 1863

The “finally here” is an understatement. Our usually irascible Erasmus seems almost optimistic in this letter. Cpl. Wolbach’s account describes the long slog from Richmond Louisiana, where ‘E’ wrote his last letter to a levee just past Smith’s Plantation. Wolbach says:

“Moved on April 13 through fearful roads all day across fields. Avoiding the roads where they were the worst, picking our way around ponds and over bayous, with great loads of mud sticking to our shoes, the regiment dwindling away and becoming smaller every hour.  Sweating, weary and hungry, the advance fragment of the 16th reached the place for the night’s encampment.”

Erasmus said “…the rebels have cut the levee to stop us.” Wolbach explains that the land is flooded for about a mile between the plantation and the river because the Confederates have cut the levee. The first men to get there built rafts from boards torn from nearby buildings, and later troops are ferried across that water.

Erasmus speculates at length about the strategy of the army, although it is “hard for me to say anything of about what we are going to do”

…but from all appearances there will be something done soon.  The Rebels have or are reported to have a fort at Grand Gulf below here.  I think it is the intention to take it and go on down to Fort Hudson and there connect with Farragut’s Fleet and take Fort Hudson, then the two fleets can connect together on Vicksburg.  My opinion is there will be hot work in this quarter before long but the gun boats will do the butt end of the work; in my opinion we have a powerful fleet here and above and [both in his immediate vicinity and north of Vicksburg] put it with the fleet below [south of his present position] it will be enough to do almost anything.

This is quite a change in outlook for the usually pessimistic Erasmus who has been predicting that the Union could not win.  Perhaps the cannonading that took place a couple nights ago impressed him with the power of the Union’s Navy.  He tells Suzi:

There is eight big gun boats down here and two transports.  They run the blockade the other night.  They had a warm old time though, one transport sunk, the gun boats was not hurt.  They are soggy looking old things.  I tell you it would do you good to hear them let loose.  It makes it roar up and down the Mississippi for about a quarter of an hour like thunder.
Vicksburg-gunboats attack

Vicksburg-gunboats attack, April 16 1863

This is the battle that Erasmus and the other men heard boom from 30 miles (Wolbach says 18 miles) away in Vicksburg.  The fleet consisted of seven ironclad gunboats and one wood gunboat (General Price) as well as  three transports pulling ten barges. The ship that went down was the Henry Clay, a transport ship. Cpl Wolbach gives a detailed and dramatic description, which you can read here.

Given what they marched through to get here, and what he can see around him Erasmus is concerned about how they are going to go forward.

Now if we have to go clear to Fort Hudson, I see no other way to go but march for we have no boats and cannot get them below Vicksburg and I don’t see how we are to march it will be a long hard and hot march.  The weather is very hot here now but if I only keep good health it is all I ask.

Wolbach has mentioned that it continues to rain, and “Very little besides the levee at New Carthage was above water.  Much of the back country was one vast watery waste.”

Once again Erasmus voices the soldier’s complaint his own colorfully expressed–”Nobody tells us nothin’.”

I may be mistaken in regard to our movements for it is all guess work for we know nothing about it for a soldier is just like an ox he don’t know in the morning where his bed will be at night; he don’t know whether he will move today, tomorrow, or if he does move, where he is going; whether it will be 5 miles or 50 but it is all for the best I suppose in the rounds.

He is looking at Suzi’s letter, and starting to answer her plaintive inquiry about when he will be coming home.

I see but poor prospects of it till peace is made.  Unless something turns up that is unseen at present [musing--]not but I like to be at home but the impossibility of the thing[--] but I hope this summer will put an end to this war some way or other.  If we can succeed in taking these three places on the river I don’t see how the rebels can hold out much longer.  They will not give up until the bitter end.

Despite his change of tune, he can’t resist one political jab at the leadership.

If we had the right kind of men this war would have been over long ago.

But suddenly Erasmus is ordered to pack up.They are moving again.

This is a hasty close.

E. Anderson

Although this letter is dated April 20, the troops moved out on April 19, so he may have had the dates wrong.  This next move takes them to a much more pleasant camp, which he will describe in his next letter.

Previous letter: Vicksburg Campaign begins

Notes: The transcriptions of his Civil War letters  which I use with the permission of a descendant of Erasmus’ widow and her second husband, and I am deeply grateful for permission to share the letters.

Other sources include:

  • A site devoted to the 16th OVI that is a real treasure trove of information about Ohio’s soldiers in the Civil War. That site is the source for Cpl. Wolbach’s “Camp and Field” report which was published in the 1880s.
  • Ancestry.com where I find birth, census death, military and other records of my ancestors and the people that Erasmus mentions.
  • Maps and the photograph come from Michael K. Wood’s site on the 16th OVI, linked above.