Author Archives: Vera Marie Badertscher

Vera Marie Badertscher

About Vera Marie Badertscher

I am a grandma and was named for my grandma. I've been an actress, a political strategist and a writer.I grew up in various places, went to high school in Killbuck, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University. My husband and I moved to Arizona after graduation and have three adult children. I love to travel and read--and have another website for that called A Traveler's Library. I ponder family as I cook.

Ann Marie Smith, Church and Family

If you are a family history researcher or blogger, you will understand why I have been reluctant to tackle this particular family line. SMITH. But the Smiths are not going to get any easier to figure out if I keep ignoring them.  So here is my great-grandmother, my father’s grandmother, Ann Marie Smith (Butts).

Ann Marie Smith 1835-1917

parents of Mame Kaser

Henry Allen and Ann Marie Butts, about 1880

Ann Marie Smith, my father’s grandmother, joined five other children when she was born in Knox County,Ohio on the 12th of April, 1835. The children ranged from three years old to ten. Isaac, their father, the shoemaker, must have mended a lot of shoes to be able to feed his large family.

Her parents, devoted Catholics originally from Maryland, took her to the mission that would become St. Luke Catholic church in Danville Ohio to be christened the following July.

HISTORICAL NOTE:  Four years after Ann Marie Smith’s  baptism, a traveling priest began serving the Danville area.  Jean-Baptiste Lamy would be Annie’s priest when she was a young child. He built the first wooden church to serve St. Luke Church in 1840, before he departed for New Mexico in 1850. This means Father Lamy would have presided over the baptism, christening and infant deaths of the Smith children that came after Annie.  Willa Cather’s book Death Comes to the Archbishop covers the New Mexico life of Father/Archbishop Lamy.

For the rest of her life, Annie would know only Knox County, Ohio as her home, and St. Luke as her church.  The beautiful brick church, with its soaring interior, still serves the area.

While every child certainly was welcomed with love, little Ann Marie must have been a special delight because Mary (Krigbaum) and Isaac Smith had suffered the loss of an infant girl in 1833.

I wrote a bit about Ann Marie’s married life when we read her husband, Henry Allen Butts’ letters home from the Civil War, but I recently realized that I had not looked at Ann Marie’s earlier life at that time.

Ann Marie’s Early Life

During the early years of her life, the Smith family kept growing. But before she gained more siblings, three-year-old Ann lost a 7-year-old brother (George). In the same year, her mother Mary Smith gave birth to another girl who died in infancy, Priscilla Bell Smith.

Then the curse–if they believed in such things–was lifted and five-year-old Annie gained a close playmate when Isadore Orilla  joined the family in 1840. I believe Mary felt particularly close to Isadore, because Annie honored her sister by using her name for my grandmother. Mary Isadore Butts (Kaser) received the names of her grandmother Mary and her aunt Isadore.

Three years after Isadore joined the family, Mary presented another boy, James, and in 1845, the youngest, Joseph Dalice, joined the family.

With a new baby , and a total of eight offspring in the house, Mary Smith no doubt had mixed feelings about her oldest daughter, Mary Jane’s marriage and departure. The oldest son, John Henry also married in 1845. Mary Jane had reached 20 and John (also called Ivan) would now be 22.

Adding Children and Losing Children

In 1847, when Ann Marie reached twelve her mother gave birth to another girl baby who died in infancy.  Poor Mary. She had lost three children in infancy and one at only seven years old. Another shock hit the family when Ann Marie reached fourteen years old.  Ann Marie’s older brother Jeremiah died in a farm accident when he was only twenty-two. Of twelve children Mary Smith had given birth to, only seven survived to 1850.

[In 1849 William Smith, 21, may also have married and lived in another county with an uncle named George, but I need further research on this since there are dozens of  William Smiths to sort out.]

When the census taker wrote down the facts in 1850, he showed 15-year-old Ann Marie as the oldest of the children still at home. The others were sister Isadore (10) and brothers James (8) and Joseph (6). Although their mother Mary apparently could not read and write (at least in English), the Smith children all attended school and became literate. In 1860, Ann Marie still lived at home at 25 years of age–probably already considered a spinster. (The census shows her as 24.)

The Spinster Meets Her Man

In 1860, Henry Allen Butts showed up in the Pennsylvania census living in a boarding house.  How he met his wife Ann Marie Smith remains a mystery to me. Political division stalked the land, and most expected war to break out. Henry, who presumably had not yet met Annie, joined a Pennsylvania Regiment of the Union Army for a year.  When he mustered out, he apparently moved to Ohio. His father had died in 1846, and I am not sure where his mother was by 1860.

Records show that Ann Marie Smith and Henry Allen Butts married August 23, 1864.  They obviously had met nearly a year before that, as their first son, Giles Allen (called Alan or Allen), came “prematurely” a month after the marriage.

The Civil War Intrudes

The war continued to rage in 1864. Henry did not own land, and did not have a skill to rely on, so he joined the Union Army in Ohio. Since Henry had already served a one-year stint with the Union Army from Pennsylvania,  I can think of no reason other than financial that he would leave his “Dear Wif” and the baby he obviously doted on. His love for both of them shines through his letters, regardless of grammatical and spelling challenges.

If Ann Marie felt frightened and alone when her husband left for the front, things only got more troublesome when her brother John also joined the war.

The oldest boy in the Smith family John Henry Smith, enlisted at the beginning of 1864, even though he was already forty years old and married with children.  Henry Allen Butts mentions John Henry in a letter to his wife “Annie”. Annie had told Henry in a letter from home that her brother had gotten a leave and visited with his children.  The visit, in retrospect, suggests a bittersweet memory.  John Henry fought through several severe battles with his unit and died of wounds he received near Nashville Tennessee before 1864 ended.

It is easy to see Mary’s problems during 1864 with her husband gone and money in short supply. She is offered a job helping out as a housemaid, but Henry doesn’t approve of that, so she struggles along, without borrowing and without working outside the house.

Although Henry fought under Sherman in the famous March to the Sea, he survived to return to Ohio and invest in a small farm. More fortunate with babies than her mother, Ann Maria Smith gave birth six times and all six lived to adulthood, although one daughter died at 26.  Ann’s father died in 1886 and her mother died in 1892.

After the War

I encourage you to read the story of the rest of Ann’s life which I covered in this post about Henry’s first letter home.  Rooted in Knox County, near the small town of Danville, Ann Marie lived until April 1917 when she was 82 years old.  My father would have been eleven years old when she died, and remembered both Ann Marie and Henry Butts.

A memoir written by Homer Blubaugh tells more about Ann Marie, so devoted to her church that she would walk a few miles to church carrying her youngest baby, known for her enormous vegetable and flower garden.

Ann Marie Smith lies buried in the Catholic churchyard in Danville, Ohio. (I believe her grave is unmarked. Her husband’s grave was unmarked until a veterans’ organization erected a Civil War Veteran monument.) St. Luke church shepherded her into the world with a christening, brought her solace throughout her life and saw her departure. Henry survived her and died in 1920.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the son of
  • Mary Isadore Butts (Kaser), who is the daughter of
  • Ann Marie Smith (Butts)

Notes on Research

  • History of St. Luke Church and Father Lamy, the St. Luke website.
  • Death Comes to the Archbishop , Willa Cather.
  • United States Census, 1850, Millwood, Knox, Ohio; 1860, Union, Knox, Ohio;1870, 1880, 1900, Harrison, Knox Ohio; 1910, Union, Knox, Ohio.
  • Ohio, County Marriages, 1774-1993, Record for Henry A. Butts, Ancestry.com
  • Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007, Annie M Butts, Knox County, pg 1158,  Ohio Department of Health and Ancestry.com
  • Smith Family Bible,  Isaac M. Smith and family. Family Bible in possession of family of Joseph Dallas Smith; Elizabeth Ferretti Smith Rotterman, near Cleveland Ohio, 2016. Hand written Bible page transcribed by Mary Martha VonVille on Family Search.org https://familysearch.org/tree/person/M7BQ-48D/details
  • “A History of the Henry Allen Butts Family” by Rev. Homer Blubaugh, Saint Mary Church, Lancaster, Ohio.  This is a combination of documented and anecdotal information about the Butts family from Ohio. Some was gathered at family reunions. Some is downright wrong, but some is quite interesting. My copy was sent by Butts descendent Helen Findon in 2003. The document says Revised May 11, ’92 – Rev. Homer Blubaugh. Copies in the authors’ possession.

Happy 5th Birthday to Ancestors in Aprons

. Okay, make that BELATED Happy 5th Birthday.

I would like to make a toast to YOU–Thank you for reading Ancestors in Aprons. Thank you for commenting on posts. Thank you for reading the newsletter and for passing on information about Ancestors in Aprons to your friends on social media or IRL (in real life).  Readers comprise “the better half” of this blogging enterprise.

FIVE YEARS

Here I am with my parents at Five Years Old in 1944–the year my brother was born, changing my status from only child to older sister. I grew a lot in five years and learned a lot. Just like Ancestors in Aprons on its 5th birthday.

Paul Kaser famil, 1944

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

This site actually launched on April 27 2013, when I published three posts–about my memories of grandmother Vera Anderson, thoughts about Family Photos, and a food post about leftovers. Looking  back, it seems that those three topics did a good job of setting the tone for what would follow in the next five years. Family Stories, Photographs and Heirlooms, and Food and Recipes.

As of the 5th birthday (plus a couple of months), Ancestors in Aprons has brought you a total of 523 posts.  (I added 85 this past 14 1/2 months.)  Readers particularly like the recipe posts, returning to them again and again.

Food and Recipes

I noticed this 5th birthday year that many times when I am looking for a particular favorite recipe, rather than open a cookbook or my computer I look at one of the recipes I have published on Ancestors in Aprons. Those specific posts now total 158 recipes that have been identified by category, and that’s a pretty fair-sized cookbook!  An additional 40 posts focus on some aspect of food as it relates to our grandparents or  great-great grandparents without presenting a specific recipe.

As the content grows, the readership grows–more people each year discovering Ancestors in Aprons, and more people each month signing up for the weekly newsletter.

Ancestors By the Numbers

(This is the nerdy stuff, by which I measure progress in research, so feel free to skip!)

In 2016, I wrote this:

Ancestry.com says I have 1,241 people in my tree.  Not all of those people are “people” yet. A birth date, death date and place of birth does not a person make. Family stories bring them alive. Some of those names on the tree are just names, and some are unconfirmed names.

As Of July 2018, more than 3000 names appear on my tree on Ancestry.  The same caveats still apply.  Ancestry recently launched a hint that suggests parentage, and if I followed their hints blindly, I would immediately add another 30 or 40 people to my direct-line ancestry and hundreds to my tree. However, those suggestions just suggest a lot of work to me.  Every one must be confirmed with solid facts rather than “somebody else has this person on their tree.”

Looking at the Pedigree Chart provides a more accurate measure of how my knowledge of ancestors has grown.  The first five generations (from me through 2x great-grandparents) provides a possible 16 people.  I have all sixteen, although one 2x great-grandmother persists in hiding behind her tombstone.  The tombstone says Lucinda–but I have not been able to find her maiden name or more information about her.

Last year, I counted 19  3x great grandparents (out of a possible 32). This year I am counting more rigorously, and only claim to have 15 verified 3 x great-grandparents, plus four with incomplete information.

The  cautious approach,  however, still yields a total of 152 of a possible 1023 direct line ancestors at ten generations.  And I have turned up ancestors in each of the following four generations, so my number of direct line ancestors through 15 generations now totals 228 direct ancestors (plus 17 with incomplete information) compared to 153 two years ago. Definitely progress. And definitely much work to be done.

DNA

Matching up information through DNA matches provides endlessly fascinating detective work.  Fortunately, many DNA matches have contacted me, or responded to my messages to them, and I have been able to add many aunts, uncles and cousins to my tree. Unfortunately, these DNA matches seem to struggle with the same brick walls that I do, and have not shed light on the earlier direct line ancestors, particularly in the Kaser and Anderson lines.

DNA matches have inspired a few posts on people I had previously ignored, but other than that, the DNA research information stays on the Ancestors in Aprons Newsletter rather than here on the blog.  I have decided that my main objective here is to bring ancestors to life through story-telling, not to get into the nitty-gritty of hows and whys of research. If you feel that you are missing something, do subscribe to the weekly newsletter by following this link :

SUBSCRIBE TO THE WEEKLY ANCESTORS IN APRONS NEWSLETTER

What Happened in the 5th Year?

This year saw my husband and me move to an apartment and organizing, downsizing, packing and unpacking got in the way of posting last summer.  The upside, as far as Ancestors in Aprons goes: moving means discoveries.  As I unpacked, I found heirlooms and photos that I had forgotten about–things to jog the memory and inspire some further research and writing.

Then you witnessed my terrible mistake as I climbed far out on a limb that I eventually had to saw off. I discovered that a source listing my father’s 2x great grandparents had it wrong, and I paid the penalty for trusting without verifying.  Much research, and several blog posts later, I was back to not knowing one of the important branches of my father’s tree.

My Favorite Posts In 5th Birthday Year

Just in case you missed them, here are some of the posts that I personally enjoyed the most between April 2017 and June 2018 in order of their appearance.

Autograph books

Vera’s large and Maude’s smaller autograph books

“Remember Me”, Heirloom Autograph Books.  These beautiful books, belonging to my grandmother and her sister, led me to exploring some of their cousins I had not known before.

“Tragedy at Sea”. Agnes Bent’s story made up just one of the fascinations of my New England ancestors in the Bent family.

“Lively Letter from Teen Makes Me Sad”. Nothing brings people to life more than their personal letters. And because my father’s younger brother died young, this precious letter remains the only clue I have to his personality.

I wrote about pictures that I discovered in the move–among them this one of my grandmother as an athlete and my grandfather looking quite the man about town.

When we moved, the find that excited me most–family letters–threatened to consume all my time.  I wrote a series based on my Grandmother’s letters to my mother during World War II. Other letters include  a note from my Grandfather Anderson and  a rare letter from my great-grandmother Hattie Stout. My all-time favorite letter, however, was one written by a naughty little girl to her grandmother. My grandmother Vera Stout (Anderson) wrote to HER grandmother, Emeline (Cochran) Stout.

“Doctor’s Daughter and the Medicine Show”

“Letters from the Front”  these from an uncle to a nephew spanning  in both World War II and Vietnam also reveals the service of those nephews and how war continues to dominate our personal history.

“Bent’s Fort”.  Review of a book that tells the fascinating story of more distant relatives, the Bent family. The Bents gained fame as traders,explorers, leaders in the development of the Rocky Mountain region.

In the kitchen of Ancestors and aprons, I presented many German recipes this past year. I am enjoying introducing German sausages in a still-ongoing series.  I’m also enjoying discovering other new-to-me German dishes. However, when I decided to make a German Black Forest Cake, I narrowly averted tragedy.

The Prince and the Poison Cake”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at the past 14 months, and that you are looking forward as much as I am to the 6th year of Ancestors in Aprons. Who knows where we will go?  What ancestors will divert our attention with their amusing, unusual, or tragic stories? Stick around and find out.

A Scrumptious Sweet Cherry Pie Recipe

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?

A very young Burl Ives in Disney movie So Dear To My Heart sings “Billie Boy.”

Can she bake a cherry pie?  Finally, I can answer yes.  After all, I started baking and cooking when I was a young girl, so after 70 years in the kitchen, you’d think I’d learn something.  It took a combination of lessons to make this winning pie.

For many years, a cherry pie–the kind my mother always made to celebrate Washington’s birthday– meant opening a can of cherry pie filling and dumping it into a pie pan lined with pastry, then covering it with another layer of pastry.  I’m sure my grandmother and her mother and grandmother made use of the red sour cherries that grew in profusion in Holmes County, Ohio, but mother was a working woman and although she always made her pie crust from scratch, she took the modern canned short cut for the filling.

I hasten to say that I don’t usually brag on myself, as “it ain’t fittin’.” But my latest version of fresh cherry pie from scratch  definitely qualifies as the perfect pie.

Cherry pie

Cherry pie with streusel

Although I was the only one in the kitchen, I definitely did not do it all by myself–as you will see.

The Pie Crust

Of course, I use the “Perfect Pie Crust” Recipe. This post explains how many people helped me (some posthumously) to make a pie crust for the cherry pie. My Grandmother and Grandfather Anderson, my mother, and my brother’s mother-in-law all played a part.

Then, from somewhere, probably the King Arthur Flour website, I learned that putting a single crust in the refrigerator before filling and baking will help prevent shrinkage. I hesitate to tell you how many single crusts I have tossed because they wound up only covering part of the pan.

The Topping

From the Mennonite cookbook from Kidron Ohio–where my husband’s ancestors settled– I developed a love of streusel-topped desserts, so a twist on the normal streusel replaces the top crust of this pie. My thanks to Chef John at All Recipes for the suggestion of putting almonds in the topping.  I used flaked instead of slivered, and I liked the texture.  I also changed a few other things in his recipe, so compare the two before you decide which suits you.

Cherry pie served

Pie and served piece

Although brown sugar is suggested in Chef John’s recipe, and is standard in the Mennonite cookbook for streusel, I thought it might not be the best flavor fit in a sweet cherry pie, so I used white sugar. I believe that is the better choice.

The Filling

The big black Bing cherries that we in the West get from Washington State and Oregon State in mid summer, need very little sugar in comparison to the more standard sour pie cherries.  So taste your cherries and decide. There is so much flavor in this recipe, that I suggest using less sugar than you think you need, so that nothing distracts from the cherry flavor.

The extra flavor kick?  In comparing various recipes on line, I discovered this genius idea on The Spruce Eats site–add candied or crystallized ginger to your cherry pie filling. Just as almonds are supremely compatible with cherries, so is ginger.

  You may not have crystallized ginger on your shelf, but let me encourage you to try it out.  I keep it on hand to munch like candy, particularly when my stomach feels a little upset. Googling crystallized ginger will give you dozens and dozens of articles, some with different opinions, but to boil it down, there are some proven medical benefits to ginger. However, crystallized, or candied ginger does have a high amount of sugar, so you have to keep that in mind.  Substituting it for candy you might otherwise eat could help. Pigging out on candied ginger could cause problems.

The Spruce Eats site differs from other recipes in that they use instant tapioca instead of cornstarch as a thickener.  I already am sold on instant tapioca as a thickener, thanks to that Mennonite cookbook, and my late mother-in-law.  To me, cornstarch has a bit of taste that interferes with the main ingredients, and I just don’t like the texture.

And when that luscious cherry pie is baked–be sure to serve it with vanilla ice cream.

I hope that when Billie comes to call, you will be able to tell him “Yes, I can bake a cherry pie, quicker than a cat can wink its eye.” (Or in the version I learned, “in the twinkling of an eye.”)

The Perfect Cherry Pie

Fresh Sweet Cherry Pie With Streusel Topping

Serves 8
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 15 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Cold

Ingredients

Pie Crust

  • Single pie crust (Unbaked)

Topping

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup almonds (Flaked or slivered)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter (One stick/8 Tablespoons)

Filling

  • 2lb sweet cherries, pitted (About 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter (Cut in small pieces)

Filling (Optional)

  • 2 tablespoons candied/crystallized ginger (Finely chopped)

Fillling

  • 1/2 juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions

1. Make pie crust, or take from refrigerator. Roll out a single crust and fit it in 9" pan. Put pan with unbaked dough back in refrigerator until ready to fill.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil to put pie pan on when you bake the pie, and set aside.
3. Mix the Topping dry ingredients with a spoon. Stir in the vanilla. Add the pieces of butter and work in with your fingers until the topping resembles soft dough. Refrigerate.
4. Mix the tapioca, sugar and ginger and pour over cherries in large bowl. Pour over that the juice of 1/2 lemon, and stir in gently. Let this sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
5. Remove unbaked pie shell from refrigerator. Pour in cherries, scraping an accumulated juices from the bowl, spread evenly across crust.
6. Dot with small pieces of butter.
7. Crumble the topping with your fingers and scatter evenly across the top of the cherries, leaving holes in the topping for juices to rise.
8. Put pie on the aluminum lined cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until nicely browned.