Category Archives: Documents and Letters

Valentine Day Is February 9th

Between my mother and father, Valentine Day fell on the 9th of February–and March, and June, and July, and August, and every other month. Here they are a few years before they met in 1933.

Here’s a letter my father wrote to me in 1945.  He had a job that kept him “on the road” most of the time, and faithfully wrote letters home. Mother and I and my baby brother were living in Killbuck, Ohio at the home of my grandmother. I think of this letter explaining their unique Valentine Day as a love letter to my mother–disguised as a letter to their nearly six-year-old daughter.


East Liverpool Ohio

February 9 1945

Dearest Little Rabbit,

This is going to be a really truly fairy story that actually happened.  Once upon a time there used to be a club in Killbuck called the Dramatic Club.  That means a group of people who put on plays like the one you went to see Bobby in.  Your mother was in the club and so was your daddy.  One autumn we put on an operetta, that’s a play with lots of songs in it as well as speeches.  At that time your mother and daddy weren’t so well acquainted as they are now and if daddy had kissed mother hello or goodbye as he does now she would have slapped his face.

Well your mother was a teacher and her job in this operetta was to coach the actors so that they would know their speeches when they got up in front of all the people–just like she helped you learn your speeches to say at church.  Daddy was an actor (?) and played the part of a very dumb englishman and he had a mustach (now remember about the mustache.

Your daddy didn’t learn his lines as fast as he should have and so your mother had to give him lots of help In fact they used to go off in a corner of the basketball floor and go over the speeches and over and over.  Now one of the reasons your daddy was so slow learning to say his speeches was that he spent most of the time thinking what a pretty girl your mother was and how sharp and perky she was, and trying to get nerve enough up to ask her to go out with him and be his girl.

Now this club always went out somewhere and had a party after the play was over so finally your daddy got up nerve enough to ask your mother to go with him to the party.  And what do you know, she said she would.  And we all had a very nice party except that mother said she didn’t like daddy’s mustache (remember?) and she wouldn’t go to any more parties with him unless he shaved it off.  Well daddy shaved it off because mother always means what she says and as a result Mother and daddy got married.

Now all of this happened on the 9th day of the month so that the 9th day of the month is a sort of valentines day every month Just between your mother and I.  And thats why I’m telling you this story today because today is the 9th.

A Few Notes:

  • There are a couple more paragraphs about the snow, and telling me to be a good girl and play with my brother, and saying when he will be home.
  • Mother explained that the drama club was one of the ways the young people of Killbuck found to entertain themselves during the Great Depression when they could not afford to pay for entertainment.
  • “Bobby” is my cousin Robert J. Anderson, son of William J. Anderson whose letter from the Pacific we saw earlier. In one of my Grandmother Vera’s letters, she had mentioned Bobby putting on a show for the family, mimicking Hitler, so he was quite the performer.
  • “…like she helped you learn your speeches to say at church.”  I don’t recall speeches plural, although I know that kids had to memorize Bible verses and sometimes recite them in church. But the one I do remember is learning “Now I am Six” from A.A. Milne’s series of Pooh Bear books. Mother did a good job. Sixty-plus years after reciting that poem for the Lady’s Aid Society at the church, I can still recite it.
  • “…go off in a corner of the basketball floor”.  The school in Kilbuck had a small multi-purpose auditorium with only room for a basketball court.  For basketball games, seating was in a balcony on one side of the court.  On the other side of the court, there was a stage, raised about four feet above the main floor.  For basketball games, people would sit on bleachers on the stage.  When plays were performed on the stage, folding chairs were set up on the basketball floor (I can see basketball coaches everywhere shrinking back in horror!) as well as the seating in the balcony.  The school was built in the twenties, and when I went to high school there in the fifties, performing in class plays, the set up was still the same.
  • “get nerve enough”. Not only was she an authority figure–a teacher, and he was working at odd jobs, but she was two and a half years older than he was.
  • The mustache.  Not only did Daddy never sport a mustache again–I have found no photos of him with a mustache. Mother REALLY didn’t like mustaches!

The Ninth of the month continued to be a Valentine day they marked the rest of their lives. And we celebrated their 50th anniversary in June 1989.

FOUND IT! Hidden Information in1840 Census

Eva Maria Henrich Stahler ??-??

What an obscure line on the 1840 census plus a report on a Widow’s Pension told me about my 4th great-grandmother.

My maiden name is Kaser.  If you have been around here for a while, you are aware that I have a great deal more information about my mother’s side of the family, than my father’s.  That seems to be because the women in the family passed down the responsibility of keeping track and passing on the family stories. I’m the latest to be tagged “It.”

As I explained earlier, my great-great-great grandfather Joseph Kaser married Elizabeth Stahler. That leads me to exploring the Stahler family, and I am currently piecing together the life of Elizabeth’s father, Adam Stahler, son of an immigrant, and a patriot. However, since the 52 Ancestors challenge this week points us to Census, I can’t resist a short digression about Elizabeth Stahler’s mother, Eva Maria Henrich (Stahler) and how “hidden” information on an 1840 census and a widow’s pension document gave me some interesting information.

Mary Henrich Stahler Questions

Admittedly, I still don’t know a lot about Mary Henrich Stahler.  (Her complete name Eva Maria floats in and out of the records, but she seemed to be known as Mary.)

I was not absolutely sure what year Mary was born, and could not find any information about her death.  Since her husband was born in 1747, I figured she would have been born close to that date.

An Ancestry hint led me to the 1840 census. Specifically to a page that lists , under a column headed “Pensioners for Revolutionary War or Military Service Included in the Foregoing.”

1840 census Pensioner

Eve Mary Stahler listed on 1840 census as Revolutionary War pensioner.

This “hidden” page of the census tells us, in the 2nd family listed, that in a family totaling five, with two engaged in agriculture, there is a Revolutionary War pensioner named Eve Mary Stahler, who is 92 years old.

If you would like to pursue information about an ancestor of yours that you suspect could be on the pensioner rolls–mostly veterans of military service–there are several sites where you can find them indexed. This site has particularly valuable information, I think.

Eva Maria Henrich Stahler 1748-??

Hurrah! First question answered–she was born in 1748, just one year after her husband. As to WHERE she was born, although I did not find a baptism record, or other birth record, that question was answered by looking at her father’s history. He had arrived in North America in 1742, and moved immediately to Berks County, Pennsylvania, where he spent his life. So that is where she had to have been born.

Although it is impossible to know the details of her young life, we do know of her father and mother’s deep involvement with the Catholic Church, and have to imagine that she helped in hosting visiting priests and hosting the many services that took place in their home.

Marriage and Family

When I scanned the Church records from the Catholic “Goshenoppen Register,” I found her wedding to John Adam Stahler on May 15, 1768, at Weissenberg, alias Macungi”  (More about that in my extended bio of Adam Stahler.}

Eva Mary, or just Mary, and Adam, had six recorded children who were baptized in the Catholic church.

On November, 1768, Catharine was born. Whoops! Looks like Mary was four months pregnant when she married.  Let’s just blame it on the traveling priests who weren’t always around when you needed them!

I found no church records for children born to Adam and Mary during the period between 1769 and 1775.  That would be unusual, so there may be missing records, or they may have lost some babies during that time.

March 19, 1775. Elizabeth, my third great-grandmother came next.

The Revolutionary war was heating up, and even though Adam  signed up and became a Captain in the Pennsylvania military, the couple spent enough time together to make a son.

May 1, 1776 the church recorded the birth and baptism. They named him Christian for his grandfather–Mary’s father.

July 29, 1777 came Eva Maria , mother’s namesake, and the last child for which I have a record.

Adam, like most of my ancestors, farmed his plot of land.  We find hints that their life was a financial struggle during the recession that followed the Revolution, as Adam applied for military loans.

Mary’s husband, Adam, died in 1804.  He was just 57 years old.

More From 1840 Census

So far, the only other clue I have found to Mary’s life, resides in that 1840 census that gave me her birth date.  I have learned that it is a very good idea to look backward and forward through the census from the page that has the main data you are looking for. Surprises lurk on those other pages.

Going back one page from the page pictured above tells me who Mary was living with in 1840.  Well, kind of.  It gives me the name of the head of household.  That, of course, starts another chain of searching. Who is John Klingeman and what is their relationship? That will wait for another day.

For now, I know that as an old lady, she was not living alone, but in a house with a middle-aged couple and two young men, presumably their sons.The couple is too young to have been one of her daughters and a husband, so it could have been grandchildren, or related through one of her own siblings.

By the way, she seems to be the only woman whose age falls between 90 and 100 in this area of Pennsylvania, so she would have qualified for that post I wrote about older Ancestors.

1840 Census

1840 Census with family of Mary Stahler.



So when did she die?

Another Ancestry hint points to a list of pensioners’ payments with a notation as to when her payments ended. It says Name: Maria Eva [the Eva apparently added as an afterthought] Stohler ‘of Adam’; Rank: Captain; Half Yearly Allowances: 60; Commencement: Mar. 1825.

Pension payments

Eva Maria Stahler ‘s pension payments

And the facing page where we see an accounting of her payments in March and September for each year, until 1843, where a notation reads: Died 24th of May 42 [1842] I cannot make out the entire line of writing above her payments, but it looks as though it applies to her, and includes the words “paid in full [something] date of death  [something].

Widow's Pension Payments

Eva Maria Stahler, Pennsylvania Accounting for widow’s pension payments.

Now the circle is complete, and we know the exact date of death of Eva Maria (Mary) Henrich (Stahler).

Eva Maria Henrich Stahler 1748-1842

Of course there are many loose threads dangling from that “complete” circle.  The questions I mentioned above about the identity of the family she lived with in her declining years, for instance.  And if I can find a pension application, I might know much more about her and her circumstances.

But I am very grateful for the hidden information on the 1840 census and the Pennsylvania record keeping of the Revolutionary War pensioners for giving me some hints about my fourth great-grandmother.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (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, who is the son of
  • Elizabeth Stahler (Kaser), who is the daughter of
  • Eva Maria Henrich (Stahler)

Notes on Research

Goshenhoppen Registers (second series) 1765-1786, read in translation at Google Books where it is published as Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, Vol 3 by Rev. Thomas C. Middleton, Translator and Annotation, Philadelphia, 1891.

1840 United States Federal Census, Miffllin, Columbia, PennsylvaniaRoll: 449; Page: 162; Family History Library Film: 0020540.

The National Archives; Washington, D.C.; Ledgers of Payments, 1818-1872, to U.S. Pensioners Under Acts of 1818 Through 1858 From Records of the Office of the Third Auditor of the Treasury; Record Group Title: Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of War. (Revolutionary War) Widows Pensions 1815-1843.

Blue Star Mother: Family Letters

Blue Star Mother flag

Blue Star Mother flag with three stars.

Blue Star Mother

In December, I shared my grandmother Vera Anderson’s letters written in December1943.  During that month, she was thinking about Christmas and in her role as a Blue Star Mother. She was very concerned about her Navy SeaBee son, William. Through her letters, we saw a bit of what life was like on the homefront during World War II.

Many homes in Killbuck Ohio displayed a small banner with one or more blue stars embroidered on it. Grandma’s silk Blue Star Mother’s flag looked like this, with stars for Uncle Bill (William) Anderson, Uncle Herbert Anderson and my cousin Bob (Robert J.) Anderson.  When these letters were written, only William had joined up the Navy, but the other two would join before long. (I don’t know whatever happened to the banner, but it is one heirloom I would love to have.)

Articles on the Internet provide contradictory information about the beginning of the Blue Star Mother banners–with some claiming they started in World War II. However, this story seems to be the more accurate one. A soldier from Ohio designed the original flag in World War I.  By the time of World War II, the government codified who could fly the banner and the size and design.

Since December, I have selected snippets from Grandmother’s letters to my mother that showed her role as a gardener (and preserver of vegetables) and in her role as a Rosie the Riveter as she tries to make enough money to support her sick husband and herself. Now I am going back to grandma’s role as a Blue Star Mother. Some of the excerpts below are from December letters, so you may have read them before, but I wanted to put the whole story together.

During World War II, no matter what else was happening in people’s lives–and she related births, deaths, marriages, a bank scandal, basketball team and grandchildren’s accomplishments–the war was never far from her mind.

[I will be publishing the entire letters on a separate page for the benefit of relatives and anyone else who would like to see all the details of life on the homefront in a small Ohio town.]

I have struggled to date some of the earlier letters, but still do not know for sure the order of the letters. She wrote them in October and November 1943, but in many cases only put the day of the week rather than the date, and if I do not have the envelope or other clues, I cannot date them with certainty. The December letters all had dates on them.

The October Letters

Bill and Sarah Anderson 1943

Bill and Sarah Anderson, Aug. 1943 in Killbuck, Ohio

This is an earlier letter, because there is no mention of William leaving California.

Sent Wm. a letter and a compass this morning. Will send you his letter. Didn’t I send you his address?

For good measure, she includes his address at the end of the letter:

  • W. J. Anderson E.M. 3/C
  • 12 Spec. Batt. Platoon #2
  • Port Hueneme
  • Calif.

This letter seems to have been written before the October 12th letter.

Sarah (his wife) … had a letter from Wm saying there were 12 boats in there to be loaded and they was working them awful hard. He said his boss said he was the best checker he ever had and Wm. Says he always asks for him. He said they was loading their equipment on one of these boats so he thought they would be going this week. He said he thought they would go to Espiretu[Espiritu] Santo, an island east of Australia. It is 15 x 168 on map. We found it and put a flag on it. I do hope they get across and nothing happens. I guess all we can do is “Hope for the Best.” I do hope this D- war is soon over. Wm says he wants to go so I guess he will get his wish. I hope he never regrets it but we will never know if he does. It will be a wonderful trip and experience for him but he is sure taking an awful chance.

I was very young, but I vividly remember the large map of the Pacific that we studied and studied during the war, trying to figure out where my uncles and cousin were.

In another letter, Grandma show that although their mind is on the war, there is time for levity. (Bob–son of William the sailor)

Bob put on quite a show imitating Hitler last night and we laughed until we cried. He is good.

Another October letter, written before Oct. 12:

I will send you William’s address as I am afraid if you don’t write right away he won’t get it as he wrote Sarah they will be on alert after Fri. was the report now. Thinks they will be sailing before many days. That isn’t just what he said but I can’t think of the word he used but that it meant they will not be allowed any leaves or any liberty after Fri. He said they all were ready and wanted to get it over.

October 12. Sarah and Bob (William’s wife and son) visited grandmother with news. Sounds like William’s departure is imminent and he has been having an adventure. Grandma almost sounds like she envies him, but she is terrified that he will actually be going to war.

Sarah and Bob was here a little while. She had a letter from Bill yesterday and he thinks he will be sailing around 15 or 18 for where I told you. [Espiritu Santo—island east of Australia] He says he weighs 175# and can take the training with any of them and better than most of them. He says he has been having some wonderful trips out on ocean with Coast Guard that Flying isn’t any thing to being out on rough ocean in one of those boats. Every thing is closed up tight and you look out in the water through the windows and wonder some time if it will ever get on top again. He is ready to go. I think it is terrible. I wake up at night and it seems like a dream that it can’t be so. I wish it was over. I am afraid Wm is getting right in the midst of it. He doesn’t write us very often. Herbert had a nice letter. I am glad he wrote you.

A letter probably written October 25, she lists some of the local “boys” who are facing the draft.

Wm is still in California. I hope he never leaves there. But he would be disappointed.

Earl and Elliot told me he was going to Cleveland and enlist in C.B.s Frank Kinsey passed and they say Bob Purdy has been called out of Coshocton Co. Mr. Click got reclassified in A-1. Franklin Day got his notice also.

You may notice that “Mr. Click got reclassified A-1”  This is the same Mr. Click who later gets arrested for embezzling from the local bank. Ironically, his crime kept him out of the armed forces.

November Letters

November 19, she writes:

Wm is still in Calif. He was out fighting that forest fire.

The LA Times in September 1992 reported on the 60 worst fires in southern California in the past 60 years, including this, “DATE: November, 1943 AREA: Topanga Canyon, Malibu, Los Angeles County ACRES: 40,000 ”

On Google Books I found interesting information on the American attitude about forest fires during World War II.  On page 42 of the book, “The Culture of Wilderness: Agriculture As Colonization in the American West” I learned the the FBI suspected foreign incendiaries as the cause of the California forest fires in 1943.  They learned, instead, that it was caused by Americans not used to dealing with the dry conditions.

America had good reason to worry about forest fires and produced posters (Yep! more posters) warning that preventing forest fires was defense against the enemy.  In fact, Japan had incendiary balloons that they successfully floated over the western U.S., particularly the states of  Oregon and Washington. Fortunately, they were unsuccessful in starting forest fires.

Toward the end of November, she writes:

We haven’t heard from William for several days. I am afraid he is going to have to go. They called them all together and told them they would leave this month. I had sent him a fruit cake and cheese. Hope it got there before he left. Sarah also sent him cookies and pickles.

Another letter still is hopeful that he will not go overseas. She includes a list of Killbuck men who are enlisting or reporting for examinations. Mrs. Alderman apparently has not heard from her soldier husband.

William is still in Calif. Said in his last letter some talk of going up coast to some port in Wash. I hope they do keep him in States. He got my box and said it came through in very good shape. He said they had a farewell party and the boys put on a show and I will send you a part of the program.

Bernard Click Bernard Gallion and Franklin Day, Loudell Lanham’s man all go to Columbus next Wed for examinations. Helen Alderman told me to day she didn’t know where Louie is.

December Letters

December 10, she is feeling melancholy about Christmas.

I think William has sailed as he thought he would go into Secure last Sun or Mon. I am all broke up about it. He mailed his Xmas cards last week.

December 14, some ominous news from William.

Sarah had a letter from Wm saying he was sending clothes etc home as he thought he would go into Secure last Mon. nite. Didn’t know where they was going but a lot of tents on boat so thought must be somewhere it would be warm. I am so sorry I was so in hopes he would never leave the States. I feel awful bad about it.

In same letter she mentions working at the movie theater for another woman going to a Blue Star Mother meeting, so apparently she is not active in that organization.

Worked for Amy last Sun afternoon and Mon night as she went to Blue Star Mother meeting.

About December 22, she writes the last letter that remains in this series. It is the letter that unveils the bank scandal but also starts with  specific news about William.

Yes, Wm sailed Sat Dec 11. Only wonder where he is and how he is tonight.  I know he would have been disappointed if he couldn’t have gone.

After all the hints that he might be going, and the periods of waiting, it is definite. Her son has gone to war and she is officially a Blue Star Mother.