52 Ancestors:#25 Widow Cares for the Homestead

Mary Röst/Rust (1855- before 1930)

When her husband, Cornelius Kaser, fell from a cherry tree and died in the summer of1900, Mary Kaser was left with the family homestead in Clark, (Holmes County, Ohio) to care for. Rather than turning it over to her adult sons who lived with her, Mary told the census taker that she was the head of household and a farmer. I have found so many women in these circumstances who married within the year in order to have a man to take care of them and their farm.  But Mary had the advantage of older sons to help.

Her life could not have been easy up until then. Mary’s parents were immigrants, coming from Wittemberg Germany before she was born in New York State in 1855.  I have not been able to trace their movements, but apparently they followed the path of so many German immigrants to northern Ohio, because in 1877, Mary met and married Cornelius Kaser in Ohio.

It had taken Cornelius a long time to reach the point where he could call a farm his own. All of his early years were spent working as a laborer for someone else, but some time before 1900, when he was over 40 he was finally able to claim a farm as his own.  I have not inspected land records, but expect to learn that he was living on a piece of the Kaser homestead–the land that his father owned that was adjacent to so many other Kasers in and around Clark, Ohio.

When her husband died, Mary was left with five children ranging in age from seven to 22. Faced with a terrible tragedy at the age of 45, Mary seemed to take charge and move on. I imagine it would have been important to her to hold that farm together.

Her oldest son, Henry married a few years later and daughter, Ella (Mary Ellen) married Robert Kleinknecht before 1910, leaving siblings Otto (b. 1883) and Wilbert (b. 1889) and young Elsie (b. 1893) at the Kaser homestead.

After working for a time as a laborer, Mary’s son Henry  moved with his wife to live with his father-in-law not far from the Kaser homestead.  Ella and her husband lived in an adjoining county. In the next few years, Henry presented his mother with two grandchildren, and Ella was busy giving birth yearly and then every other year to Florence (1908), Fern (1909), Forest (a girl–1910), Homer (1915) and a daughter Helen (1917). I loved the names Ella chose for her first three daughters–it makes her seem fanciful and nature-loving. Perhaps chasing after three children under six years old in the household sapped her imagination before Homer was born.

In 1917, Ella died, leaving five children behind. She might well have died in childbirth–worn out after having all those children in a short time.  I have not looked into what happened to the other four children, but the oldest, Florence (10) , went to live with the grieving mother Mary Kaser and her sons Wilbert and Homer.

By 1920, Elsie (Mary E.) had also married–to a Allen Winklepleck–boy, those girls did complicate their last names, didn’t they?

Mary may have enjoyed having another female in the house in the last years of her life. Florence married in 1928. Two years later, she and her husband and two small children moved in with her father. (Yet another example of extended families inhabiting one homestead.)

Mary died before she was 75, because she does not show up on the 1930 census.  In the next installment, I will talk about her sons Otto and Wilbert, who helped her on the family farm.

Added note:  As I was looking at these aunts and uncles and cousins of my father, Paul Kaser, I was a little surprised to find another Paul. Henry, who would be my father’s first cousin, named his son Paul R. Kaser (born in 1911). My father had no middle name. And I had not seen another Paul in the family before this.

There was a girl in Henry’s small family, too, Fern was born in 1909, the same year that Ella’s Fern was born. My father was also born in 1909, so it is too bad if he never was acquainted with these second cousins. However having a play group of Paul and Paul and Fern and Fern may have gotten a bit confusing.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the son of
  • Clifford Kaser, who is the brother of
  • Cornelius Kaser, who is the husband of
  • Mary Rost/Rust Kaser

Research Notes

Census records from 1860 (German Twp, Holmes Co, Oho); 1880, Mechanic Twp, Holmes Co., Ohio; 1900 German, Holmes Co. Ohio); 1910, German Twp, Holmes Co, Ohio; 1920, Clark, German Twp Holmes Co, Ohio.

Democratic Standard Newspaper, Coshocton Ohio 13 July 1900, page one, “Fractured His Neck.”

Death Record. Hayes Presidential Center Obituary Indexers and Volunteers. “Ohio Obituary Index.” Database. Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center.

World War I Draft Registration Card for Wilbert Kaser. United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

World War II Draft Registration Card for Henry J. Kaser, Willbert Ralph Kaser and Otto Kaser

United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147. National Archives and Records Administration.

All of these records were accessed through Ancestry.com

3 thoughts on “52 Ancestors:#25 Widow Cares for the Homestead

  1. Michelle Ganus Taggart

    It amazes me how strong many of the women of that time were. So many were left without husbands and difficult circumstances and yet just kept going. I realize we don’t always know about the tears they shed or the bad days that they had, but they managed to do what needed to be done and keep going. Great post.

    Reply
    1. Vera Marie BadertscherVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Farm wives are incredibly busy anyhow, and to think of the shock of losing a husband and then taking over the management of the farm, just blows my mind. Particularly when there are still young children at home.

      Reply

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