Category Archives: family

Elizabeth Stahler Kaser, Who’s Your Daddy?

Making  assumptions about Elizabeth Stahler Kaser did not work out so well.

BACKPEDALING

At the beginning of the year, I announced that I would turn my attention to my father’s line because I know far less about the ancestors on his side, than on my mother’s.

I still intend to keep the vow to concentrated on my father’s line, but I need to “bark up a new branch” because I jumped to a conclusion that has proved to be wrong.

As a visual aid, I recently printed out poster-style family trees of Harriette Anderson (Kaser) and Paul Kaser.  It vividly demonstrates why I should concentrate on my father’s side of the family.

(Please pardon the quality, but names are not important at this point.  I just want to illustrate the relative size of known ancestors at this point.

Harriette Anderson

Harriette Anderson Kaser Pedigree Chart 11 generations. Two more not shown.

Paul Kaser Pedigree Chart

Paul Kaser Pedigree Chart, five generations.

In January, I also announced that I would be starting with the known–the parents of Elizabeth Stahler Kaser who married Joseph Kaser.  Then I proceeded to spend three months researching the families of Adam Stahler and Eva Maria Henrich. I assumed they were Elizabeth’s parents.

I WAS WRONG!

TRUST BUT VERIFY

The feeble “evidence” for most of my father’s line comes from a history about the family of Joseph Kaser. From that book, which does include some references, I determined that Joseph Kaser’s wife was Elizabeth Stahler from Pennsylvania. I wrote about Elizabeth Stahler Kaser hereAnd about Joseph here.

A distant cousin who is related to my father’s maternal line, the Butts/Butz family, long ago had told me about the Goshenhoppen Register–a record of itinerant Catholic priests. The Butts family were Catholics.  The Kasers that I knew of were not.  However, she found an Elizabeth Stahler in the Goshenhoppen Register, along with her birth and baptism in 1775 and her parents, Adam Stahler and Eva Maria Henrich.  This was good new indeed, I thought. Although I did wonder at whether she changed religion just to marry Joseph, or what was happening there.

In hindsight, I should have looked for additional confirmation before proceeding down that particular rabbit hole.  But I dug up what I could, which was not much, and explored the lives of her children and Joseph’s will to help fill in some blanks.

WHY I TRUST THE GRAVESTONE

When I found her on Find a Grave–complete with a picture of her gravestone in Nashville, Ohio, it seemed strange.  I knew that Joseph and Elizabeth  Kaser had lived in Clark, Ohio, and Joseph, who died several years before she did, was buried at the Zion Reform German church in New Bedford Ohio. Many Kasers are interred at New Bedford.  However, Exploring their children’s lives and Joseph’s will points to evidence that Elizabeth spent her declining years in Nashville with her youngest son. In addition, I have no doubt that this is Joseph’s wife, Elizabeth, because their tombstones are identical in style. The same stone carver made their stones, even though they are in different parts of Holmes and adjacent Coshocton Counties in Ohio.

The tombstone says Elizabeth Kaser was born August 5, 1777–NOT 1775 as in the Catholic birth and baptism records.  Tombstones are not perfect, but in this case, I am inclined to believe the tombstone’s date.  My problem–I had found that Find a Grave reference a couple years ago.  Why did I ignore it?  Just because it was inconvenient?  I need to slow down.

WHAT I DON’T KNOW

The key to learning sometimes is realizing what you do not know.  Earlier, I assumed that the Kaser history was right about Elizabeth’s maiden name and I assumed that my distant cousin was right about her baptism and birth records in a Catholic Church register. I thought I knew those things.  Now, I have to admit that I don’t really know her parentage or her birth place.

I have found a Pennsylvania marriage record for an Elizabeth Stahler who married a man whose name is described as Fye (but I believe it is probably Frye). That tells me there was indeed at least one other Elizabeth Stahler in eastern Pennsylvania.  However, I have not found a marriage record for Joseph and Elizabeth Kaser.

So I don’t know:

  • Elizabeth’s maiden name (although the Kaser History has proven reliable on that score, and odds are it actually is Stahler.) [With new evidence, I now believe the Kaser history was wrong even about the surname of Joseph’s wife.]
  • The date and place she and Joseph were married.
  • Who her parents are and where she came from in Pennsylvania.

The basic information!

NEXT STEPS

While I looked through the Lutheran/Reform church records of Pennsylvania some time ago, I was not looking for the name Stahler, so I need to go back to those records.  It appears that they are not on line, so I will have to go to the Family History Center at an LDS church to peruse them.  If I am lucky, a marriage license will show up.[In fact, I need to stop focusing on Stahler all together.}

But what if even the Kaser history is wrong and her last name is not even Stahler?  Although I do not generally look at other people’s family trees and I never depend on them for answers, they can lead to new sources and sometimes a contact with the tree owner can be useful. So I need to contact people whose family trees show Joseph Kaser(1776) and his wife  Elizabeth.

Meanwhile, I have corrected as much as possible in the posts on Ancestors in Aprons. I have decided to let the posts I wrote about Adam Stahler, Eva Maria Henrich and Christian and Margaret Henrich stay on Ancestors in Aprons. Although I do not need information about the Stahlers and the Henrichs since they are not related to Elizabeth Kaser, there are many people out there looking for information about Stahlers and Henrichs and they might get something out of my research.

Oh yeah–just to keep things interesting, one of Joseph and Elizabeth’s sons–George, who is my great-great grandfather–also married a woman whose last name is Stahler. I am making no assumptions about her! [And in fact her name might be Stehler instead. Or something else close to Stahler. Open mind!]

The Mass House: Making a Home for the Church

IMPORTANT NOTE

Although this story about Christian Henrich and his wife Margaret and the Mass House, continue to be fascinating, I now believe I was barking up the wrong tree branch, and they are not actually related to me.  I explain elsewhere how that happened.

It is worth noting that the Catholic church history remains important to my family tree, as my father’s grandfather, Henry Allen Butts and his wife Maria Smith were Catholics. But Joseph Kaser and his wife were members of Reform congregations.

BEWARE if you are researching the family of Joseph Kaser. There apparently were two Elizabeth Stahlers from Berks County, and the one I have been researching, whose parents were Adam Stahler and Eva Maria Henrich, is NOT the one who married Joseph Kaser. 

I have left this post for those people who might be researching the Stahler-Henrich lines.

Additionally at the bottom of the post, you will find links to family homesteads in my actual ancestor lines.

——-

Although the “Mass House” built by my 5th great grandfather, Christian Henrich/Heinrich is long gone, someone who visited the spot took this picture of the still extant farmhouse from the 18th century. (NOTE: April 2, 2018. I am now in touch with the Joseph who entered information on Find a Grave, and will probably be making several adjustments to the information below. BEWARE of facts in flux.)

Christia Henrich's home

Home of Christian Henrich in Berks County, PA, built circa 1760. (Outbuildings later additions)*

When I wrote about the Henrich family in my post about Elizabeth Stahler Kaser, I said this (which turns out to apply to a different Elizabeth Stahler who WAS the daughter of Christian Henrich, but NOT the wife of Joseph Kaser.):

According to the records (written in German) kept by Jesuit priest, Rev. John Baptist Ritter, Elizabeth Stahler was born January 19, 1775. The priest baptized her on the 19th of March at her grandfather, Christian Henrich’s home.  Christian (and his wife Mary Margaret) were as religious as his names sounds.  He built a sort of way station for the priests on the circuit who stopped by to say Mass and officiate in church rituals.  The name, Asperum Collem, meaning ‘sharp-pointed mountain’ in Latin, appears frequently in the Goshenhoppen Register as the site of baptisms and marriages. Today the place, in Berks County, near Allentown Pennsylvania, is known as Spitzenberg Mountain (or Hill) (sharp-pointed mountain/hill in German).

When I went looking for more details on Asperem Collem, I found the picture at the top of the page.  It definitely made this an exciting day of research. Today I would like to fill in a little more of the detail in that sketch of Christian Henrich’s home and Asperum Collem.

THE CHURCH

Religion, as I have discussed earlier, was an important part of the immigrants’ lives.  And the influence reached far beyond Sunday services. As in New England with the meeting houses that doubled as places of worship, the Pennsylvania churches provided a place for the community members to gather. Although unlike New England, there were many denominations in the German community. The church kept the language alive. The church provided social welfare and education. But in the early days, settlers were so far apart that they could not build a church building, so they relied on traveling ministers and priests.

A church opened in Goshenhoppen in 1754, established by the Jesuit priest, Father Schneider, to serve the itinerant priests serving the territory too far from the church for regular attendance. (For the complete history of the early Pennsylvania Catholic church and Goshenhoppen Mission, see http://GoReadingBerks.com )

My German ancestors came from both Reform/Lutheran religious roots and from Catholic roots.  When they arrived by ship in Philadelphia in the mid to late 1700s, they moved on as quickly as they could to better farming country in eastern Pennsylvania.  The towns were widely scattered in that area, and, at first, more wilderness than cultivated fields and village streets.

Most importantly for the researcher, the church kept records. Those traveling priests and ministers provide essential records for historians.  And the Goshenhoppen Register, records births, baptisms, marriages and deaths in Berks and other counties (  Bucks, Northampton, Montgomery, Lehigh, and Lebanon) where my German ancestors lived.

DIGRESSION ON HIS BIRTH AND DEATH DATES

At this point, much research remains on Christian Henrich.  Conflicting data shows two possible arrival years on two different ships, I have not yet seen a translation of his probate papers into English, I have more than one possible birth record in Germany, and although there is a picture of a tombstone, I cannot be certain it is correct when it says he was born December 13, 1715 and died when he was 80.  For now, I will assume that the information on the tombstone is correct.  According to the person who put the picture on Find A Grave.com, the picture was taken by a relative several years ‘previously’  and no tombstones remain where it was found. Rather shaky evidence, so you see why I have much research to do.

THE FARM

Whenever he actually arrived, and it looks like 1732  a better date than 1742, by 1746, he bought his first tract of land.  And by 1767 and 1769 he had prospered enough to expand his farm with two more purchases in Berks and Lehigh Counties of Pennsylvania.

If “Joseph” on Find a Grave is correct, the house you see in the picture at the top of the page dates to the 1760s–post Revolutionary War. However, Christian must have built another house prior to the pictured one, to house his growing family, as he had seven/eight children between 1748 and 1757. (One of those was my 4x Great Grandmother, Eva Maria Henrich Stahler, whose story about her struggle with a widow’s pension I have been writing about.)

THE MASS HOUSE

Apparently,Christian and his wife opened their home to Catholic services soon after building it. But at some point, they built a small stone house as a Mass House where priests could hold services, but also could spend the night, if their travels left them in the region more than a day. Because of that, it could also be called the priest’s house.

The Goshenhoppen Register frequently notes that a baptism or marriage took place in  the house of (various parishioners.) Because of those records, we learn that many of the Henrich children and grandchildren were baptized/or married at the house of Christian Henrich, frequently described as “Asperem Collem,” or “near Asperem Collem” (with the Latin named spelled in various ways.) I cannot tell when Christian Henrich built the separate Mass House, but the earliest baptisms that I found recorded at his house took place in November 1762, and the last one that I saw was in November 1785.

THE CEMETERY

The saddest part of the story about the farm involves a cemetery.  Some believe there are approximately 100 graves on the hillside behind the house, but the stones have all disappeared. [I wonder if the imaging that indicated bodies buried might have revealed an Indian burial ground?  At any rate, the jury is out on whether the 100 graves are real or local lore.

What is known, according to Joseph Eckroad, is that there are four stones on the property.  Christian Henrich and his wife, an obelisk of Indian who requested to be buried near his friend Christian, and a foot stone with initials.

These may be the only remnants of a large family and Catholic community that once gathered at Christian and Margaret’s farm.

Christian Henrich Sr. Tombstone

Christian Henrich Sr. gravestone. Photo downloaded from Find a Grave.com

CHRISTIAN
US HENRICH
IST AM -13- DEC
EMBER 1715
GEBOHREN- SEIN
ALTER AUF 80
JAHRE ALT-
AUS DER TIEFE
RUFE ICH, HERR
ZU DIR HOeRE MEINE ST
IMME -PS- 130

The reading above is from the Find a Grave page posted by Joseph Eckroad.  The translation below, is mine (with a little help from Google).

“Christianus Henrich is here, Born 13 December 1715, His age at 80 years old -From the Deep I call to you. Listen to my voice. Psalms 1-30.”

Joseph Eckroad writes to me in an email, that he now believes there is a different reading of the tombstone. He has posted an update, with the first part of the German inscription, and his explanation on his Find a Grave page for Christian(us) Heinrich, Sr.

There is an alternate reading for part of the tombstone (with colons representing the raised dots):

IST:AM:13:DEC
EMBER:____[G]
ESTORBEN:OH
N:OELEEHN:80
JAHRE:ALT

OHn=Ohne Oeleehn=Oil “Without anointing of the Holy Oils”
Auf Hoch Deutsch: Ohne Oel
Auf Platt Deutsch/Tteutsch/Duitsch = “Ohn’ Oleehn”

Auf Englisch: Psalm PS 130
From the depths O Lord, I cry out to you
Hear my voice.
Psalm 130

(Credit is due to my unofficial assistant at Ancestors in Aprons, Cathy Meder-Dempsey, who figured out what PS 1.30 meant. She further furnished me with extra information.

Psalm 130 (Vulgate numbering: Psalm 129) is the 130th psalm of the Book of Psalms, one of the Penitential psalms. The first verse is a call to God in deep sorrow, from “out of the depths” (Out of the deep), as it is translated in the King James Version of the Bible respectively in the Book of Common Prayer.

It has been set to music and is a funeral song. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalm_130 

It seems obvious that someone has used chalk or paint to bring out the letters on the old stone, and so it is difficult to tell if it is completely accurate.

The gravestones are gone. The Mass House no longer stands.  The picturesque pond was added later and the two outbuildings we see also date after Christian’s time. But it seems to me a small miracle that even part of his house from the 1760’s still stands. I might even get to visit the old homestead if I ever get to eastern Pennsylvania.

EARLIER ARTICLES ON THE OTHER OLD HOMESTEADs

The theme this week in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors Challenge suggests we write about “The Old Homestead.”  You might want to check out some old posts that I wrote about various “old homesteads” in my family.

Jedidiah Brink. This very popular posts uses an app to meld photos taken by a Brink cousin in Ohio and their explanations, plus my research of this great-great grand uncle’s home in Holmes County.

Morgan, Stout, Anderson.  Several homes near Killbuck Ohio that were the homes of my mother’s mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, and great-grandmother.

William Morgan Stout. Three apartments in New York City occupied at various times around 1900 by my great-uncle had some interesting history.

Frederick/Frederich Badertscher Sr.  Turning to my husband’s family I show a really old photo of his great-grandparents, Swiss immigrants, sitting in front of their farmhouse near Kidron, Ohio.

RESEARCH NOTES

(More to come)

Find a Grave.com, Christian Henrich, Sr.  I am deeply indebted to a person on Find a Grave.com for posting his known information. The picture above and description of past and present property is by “Joseph”. I have now corresponded with Joseph Eckroat, who entered the information on Christian Henrich, Sr. and other members of that family.  He is related through marriage to Christian Henrich, Jr.  Joseph  published on Find a Grave a very detailed analysis of the information known and speculated about Christian Henrich and his family.

*Joseph credits the photo on Find a Grave as follows: Courtesy of Duane F. Alwin, Ph.D.,   McCourtney Professor of Sociology & Demography,   Director, Center on Population Health & Aging,     Pennsylvania State University, University Park PA,  Emeritus Senior Research Scientist, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.

Our Henry Home at Prufmond, cited by “Joseph” on FindaGrave.com. Some of the information (for instance, the will and land warrants)  from “Joseph” is sourced from a book called “Our Henry Home at Prufmond” by Jim Henry.  I have not yet been able to locate that book.

Pennsylvania Census 1742, Philadelphia County, from Ancestry.com, Jackson, Ronald V., Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp.. Pennsylvania Census, 1772-1890. Compiled and digitized by Mr. Jackson and AIS from microfilmed schedules of the U.S. Federal Decennial Census, territorial/state censuses, and/or census substitutes.

Pennsylvania Land Warrant, Christian Henrich, 1768, Berks County. Accessed at Ancestry.com, Pennsylvania, Land Warrants, 1733-1987.

(?)Ship List, 1742 Philadelphia, Christian Henrich. STRASSBURGER, RALPH BEAVER. Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808. Edited by William John Hinke. Norristown [PA]: Pennsylvania German Society, 1934. 3 vols. Vols. 1 and 3 reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1964. Repr. 1983. Vol. 1. 1727-1775. 776p. Accessed at Ancestry. com. U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s.    This is the list I am not sure of.

(?)Württemberg, Germany, Family Tables, 1550-1985 A possibility of Christian Henrich’s birth in Germany and his family.  Names a Christianus but date does not agree with tombstone (March 1717). Accessed at Ancestry.com

(?)Württemberg, Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1500-1985  Another reference, probably the same person as above, named Christang but same parents and baptism date coincides. Accessed at Ancestry.com

Eva Maria Stahler’s Widow’s Pension: The Battle Continues

IMPORTANT NOTE

Although this story about Adam Stahler and his widow continued to be fascinating, I now believe I was barking up the wrong tree branch, and they are not actually related to me.  I explain elsewhere how that happened.

BEWARE if you are researching the family of Joseph Kaser. There apparently were two Elizabeth Stahlers from Berks County, and the one I have been researching, whose parents were Adam Stahler and Eva Maria Henrich, is not the one who married Joseph Kaser. 

I have left this post for those people who might be researching the Stahler-Henrich lines.

The Soldier and The Widow

Adam Stahler, my 4th great-grandfather, a German immigrant, fought in the American Revolution–not just once but several times–not just as a humble private as many of my New England ancestors, but as a Captain.  However, when his widow, Eva Maria tried to collect her widow’s pension, she faced a legal ordeal. The battle for the pension lasted longer than the war had taken to fight.

During her lifetime, although the court paid her the minimal widow’s pension, she was unable to get the increased amount due the widows of officers. You can see how I discovered the widow’s pension here, and read about what the first part of the legal battle entailed here.

The Soldier’s Son and the Second Hearing

Ten years after her death, and twenty years after the first hearing, the story resumes when her son, Christian, goes back to court to argue that, as the song goes, “they done her wrong.”

By this time, 1852, Christian is in his seventies, and only one other child of Eva and Adam Stahler still lives–Eva’s namesake Eva Marie Stahler (Neur), who is now married and living in Ohio.

Christian had hired an attorney who came loaded with proof of Adam Stahler’s length of service and the fact that he was indeed a Captain, served the appropriate length of time and his family should collect a higher pension.

Apparently, the court found several holes in Eva Maria’s case, and one of them had to do with spelling.

In a letter that seems extremely sad in retrospect, Christian Stahler explains that neither he nor his mother knew of concrete proof of his father’s service (beyond the testimony of fellow veterans) at the time of the first appeal.  In fact, they had asked at the pension office at Pennsylvania capital city Harrisburg and been told there was nothing. Had they found any records they would have presented them.  However, the new attorney (presumably he gets credit) discovered pay records, enrollment records, and more official records that are testimony to the service of Captain Adam Stahler/Stohler.

…That the person she other employed to assist her with her application had a great deal of trouble with it. Spent some weeks riding the country to obtain the testimony necessary to support it. That had he known that the offices at Harrisburg could have shone any light upon the services of the said Adam Stahler he would have applied there and presented with what testimony he acquired from _____ ______ the testimony in that office, but there was nothing to inform him that there was testimony there.

Because of Adam’s rank, Eva would have been eligible to receive $280 a month instead of $120 for her widow’s pension.

Can’t you just feel the frustration that then 84-year old Eva must have felt in back in1832, along with all Adam’s fellow veterans who had testified?

In an earlier article about this pension, I focused on a letter that reported that the writer of the letter had studied the Revolutionary War rolls looking for Adam Stahler, Stohler, or Stoller and had proven that regardless of how it was spelled, there was only one Adam Stahler.  Apparently, during the first appeal, evidence presented did not convince the commissioner of pensions as to Adam’s service.  Part of the problem of course, involved the free-wheeling spelling of the 18th century.

In June 1852, the new lawyer in the case, J. E. Buchanan, says

The proof herewith submitted will show that he was called ‘Staller.’ In the copy of the record which shows that he was at time of the battle of Brandywine until at Chester Aug. 18th 1777 he is called ‘Staller’ and in one of the affidavits he is called by that name. He is called Stahler in the retinue of the 3rd battalion of militia officers dated May 21 1777. But in the Retinue on the same sheet he is called ‘Stahler’ which reconciles the apparent difficulty of the name. The names are the same in sound however.

And it appears that the bureaucrats just weren’t paying attention in the 1852  widow’s pension hearing.  A full year later, Mr. Buchanan (Esq.) writes again, introducing the testimony mentioned above from the man who analyzed the rolls.

 I forward to you additional testimony in the case of Eve Maria Stahler of Pennsylvania making application for an increase of her pension under the act of July 4 1836. In your letter of April 5th inst. I am requested to furnish in the form of an affidavit the opinion of some old respectable inhabitant of Northampton County Pennsylvania that there was but one officer of the name of Adam Stahler vs Stohler in the militia of that County who rendered services during the Revolutionary War.

I just don’t see how he could have explained it more clearly. And he chose, he said to forward testimony from the Secretary of the office where the records are kept as a better source of information, than the requested old soldier’s testimony.  And he repeats once again that although the names Stahler and Stohler and Stoller are spelled differently, they sound the same.

Surely after such a frustrating widow’s pension case, Christian Stahler’s attorney must have stalked off to the nearest tavern, muttering about the blockheads who could not understand that a name might be spent several ways but still apply to the same person.

Did they win the case? One piece of paper that might contain the answers, has faded beyond recognition and the columns of numbers do not make sense to me. So I have not been able to figure out yet who won the case. UPDATE: Another accounting is clearer and shows that Christian and his sister, the only surviving children were awarded the amount that their mother should have received. THEY WON!

But this story proves that genealogists are not the only ones who have a problem when surnames are misspelled.

Notes on Research

U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900, index found at Ancestry.com and 84-page file read and copied from “Application of Eva Maria Stahler, widow of Captain Adam Stahler,”  www.fold3.com/image/18467518?terms=adam%20stahler&xi
d=1945 
 Accessed at the Family Search Center, Tucson NW