Category Archives: family

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.

TOP TEN Popular Names on My Family Tree

Popular names creates a word picture of the most popular names in my family tree

When Amy Johnson Crow sent out the challenge for this week for the 52 Ancestors challenge, favorite names, I immediately thought of those people whose odd names I had written about earlier, in a post I called, You Named Your Baby What?.  But then I turned to popular names

The Odd Names

From Aert, Abla and Alzana to Zelpha, Zelma and Zachias, there are plenty of one-off names in my family tree that qualify as unusual.

I have also always been fascinated by the naming traditions of the Puritans, who seemed to compete in who could find the most obscure Biblical names, or wished-for qualities.  Those popular names that poor little babies were saddled with include, in my family tree, Resolved, Thankful, Waitstill, Hopestill, Deliverance, Freegift, and one that would fit right into a hippy commune in the 1960s–Freelove.

My Personal Favorites

Emeline Cochran Stout

Emeline Cochran Stout, mother of Dr. Wm Stout. 1890s.

Aside from oddities, my own personal favorites include my great-great grandmothers, Emeline Stout and Isabella McCabe; the great-uncle who died in the Civil War, Erasmus Anderson; 1st cousin 7X removed–Love Stone; and 3rd cousin 1 x removed–Mandelay Zauk.  (I may have to research Mandelay’s family just to find out why they chose such an exotic (albeit misspelled) name.)




Then I got to wondering what my ancestors and family members named the majority of babies. If parents today wanted to follow tradition (as my nephew did in naming his first son), they might look at the family tree.

After all, current popular names have generally drifted far from the Puritan naming traditions, although the list for 2017, linked here, has some old-fashioned names showing up. Parents today don’t follow the older European tradition of “first son–paternal grandfather; second son–maternal grandfather; first daughter–paternal grandmother; second daughter–maternal grandmother, etc. etc.”

So I counted.

Turns out they were not as creative as my focus on Fountain and Salmon or Ima Bird might have indicated.  Just like the rest of the world, they were naming their babies by the popular names “John” and “Mary.”  The Mary may be deceptive because there are all those German ancestors who prefaced the name a person was actually called with the name of a saint, and understandably, Mary was a popular religious prefix.  Nevertheless, I counted them as Mary, because that’s what their “first” name was. ( John also was a popular prefix, in German in the form Johannes or Johan.)

The other reason for counting all the Marys as Marys is that there also is a high number of baby girls named “Hannah,” and for the most part, I don’t know whether that was just the name they went by, or they were originally named Mary. Because Hannah is a nickname for Mary. Go figure.  My aunt Maude was also a Mary, but was always called Maude, and there probably are other examples of Marys called something else that I didn’t catch.

This list is culled from 2536 people on my tree–some of whom do not have names. The nameless ones are generally infant deaths.  Dates range from the 16th century to the present.

  1. Mary
  2. Elizabeth/Elisabeth
  3. Sarah
  4. Hannah
  5. Ann/Anne/Anna
  6. Rebecca/Rebekah
  7. Martha
  8. Lydia
  9. Margaret
  10. Susan/Susana/Susannah
  1. John
  2. William
  3. Joseph
  4. George *
  5. James/Jim
  6. Thomas
  7. Samuel
  8. Daniel
  9. Robert
  10. Isaac**


*George frequently, but not always, was “George Washington.” Similarly, there were a fair number of Benjamin Franklins although not enough to make the list.

**Many of the Isaacs come from the Stout line where there was a string of Isaacs and Isaiahs. Interestingly Isaiah shows up on the current list of popular baby names.

So what names are popular on your family tree??


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.