Lucy Sutherland Photo and Losing Focus

Despite pledging to myself that this year I would stick to the main line of ancestors, I can never resist a mystery.  And Lucy Sutherland presented a mystery.

Lucy Sutherland

Lucy Sutherland (Fair) carte de visite.

In sorting through old photographs, I came across this pretty lady.  On the back I saw it was photographed in Millersburg, Ohio, by a photographer who took many pictures of my other ancestors.  The hand-written name below the photographer’s imprint on the back was Lucy Sutherland.  At the top on the back someone had also written #4 Mrs. L. S. Fair,Clark.

Both of those surnames struck a chord.  One of my father’s aunts, Emma Kaser married a Sutherland.( I  found the story of Emma and George to be quite interesting. You can follow the link to her name if you’d like to read it.)  And my mother’s half-sister, Rhema Anderson married a Fair.  The Sutherlands, Fairs, and Kasers all lived near or in Clark, Ohio.  So how come I didn’t know Lucy Sutherland? And was she born a Sutherland or did she marry one? And why would my mother or father have her photo in their collection?

What I Knew Or Learned

The carte de visite photo looks to have been taken in the 1870s, judging by the style of the photograph and by the style of her dress.  I guessed her age as in her 20s or 30s.

I searched my family tree for Sutherlands, but Lucy was not there.  So next I turned to Fairs. Since I had not added the family of my uncle (by marriage) Earl Fair, my tree was of no help, so I emailed a Fair cousin. He consulted with his sister, who did some research and came up with the fact that Lucy Sutherland married Phineas Franklin Fair, brother of Lyman S. Fair.

That solved the question of why Mrs. L. S. Fair’s name appears on the back of the picture, and firmly places the drama in Clark, Ohio.

P.F. Fair and Lucy were married on November 4 1879, so Lucy was unmarried when she had this picture made, but it is logical to assume that it was indeed taken in the 1870s.  The two newlyweds were twenty-five years old according to their marriage license, so in the picture she was a bit younger than I had guessed–in her early twenties.

A little more digging, and some mysteries clear up, but as usual–new ones emerge.

Three Families Come to Clark, Ohio

In the 1820s, a young Joseph Kaser (III) arrived in Ohio with his parents.  He married and had a large family including Emma Kaser (b. 1864) and Clifford Kaser (b. 1867).

In 1836, five-year-old Daniel Fair arrived in Ohio with his parents. He grew up and married and had several children including Phineas Franklin Fair (b. 1855) and Lyman S. Fair (B. 1866)

About 1864, the Daniel Sutherland Family, with nine-year-old Lucy Sutherland (B. 1855) and other children, including two-year-old George Sutherland (b. 1862) moved from Pennsylvania to a farm near Clark, Ohio (then called Bloomfield).

By 1879, when Lucy Sutherland married Phineas Franklin Fair they were both twenty-five years old.

In My Tree

The cast of characters as they show up in my family tree:

Clifford Kaser, My paternal grandfather.

Emma Kaser, My great-aunt, Clifford’s sister.

Lyman S. Fair, Father of my uncle by marriage, Earl Fair.

Phineas Franklin Fair, Uncle of my uncle by marriage, Earl Fair.

George Sutherland, husband of my great-aunt, Emma Kaser.

Which makes Lucy Sutherland, the lady in the picture, the sister of the husband of my great-aunt. AND the wife of the uncle of the husband of my aunt.

Got that?

More Lucy Sutherland Mystery

The mystery of why my parents would have her photo remains unsolved.

And the fact that Phineas Franklin married a second time in 1903 adds piquancy to the story.  Lucy pretty much seems to disappear from records after her one son is born in 1886. Find a Grave identifies a grave marker as hers and says she died in 1951 (age 96) but I can’t read the tombstone, so don’t currently have any more information from that. There also is a Lucy A. Fair on a property map of the area where P.F. Fair also has land, but most records refer to her as Lucy J.

I am going to leave it to the Fair family to sort this out if they choose, and go back to my direct line, now that I at least know my connection to the lady in the photo. Thanks for the entertaining distraction, Lucy, but I’m back in focus.

Penmanship Samples, a Family Heirloom

My handwriting is terrible. Some very old penmanship samples showed me just how awkward. My struggle with writing made me admire my grandmother’s Spencerian script even more. But she was not the only person with good handwriting back in her day.  If you look at the penmanship of most of the entries in the autograph books of Maude and Vera Stout, you will see many examples of children who might have studied penmanship with a master.

One day when I was visiting her, she showed me three pieces of paper with fanciful birds, drawn by pen in swooping lines of every-changing width.  I gaped. The person who created these penmanship samples was an artist. In fact, the drawings were promotional material. Advertising differed in the 1880s from today’s TV and websites. So did penmanship.

  The International Association of Master Penman, etc. provides a haven for those who think penmanship counts. They introduce F. W. Tamblyn, who moved from itinerant penmanship teacher to penmanship by mail courses. If you love beautiful penmaship, you may want to givve their site a look.
Penmanship Sample

This is smaller than the other two penmanship samples, also done by J. S. Johnston of Millersburg, Ohio. Like the other two, it is on ruled paper like children used in school.

They were all signed by J. S. Johnston, Millersburg, Ohio, and two of them designated that Mr. Johnston was a Penman.  My grandmother had kept them folded in a drawer for more than sixty years.

Itinerant penmanship teachers swarmed over the countryside in the 1800s. At that time, penmanship fell under the category of vocational training.  For those of us researching court documents and old legal papers, we become familiar with the handwriting of clerks hired for their beautiful and clear penmanship.

Grandma Vera Anderson explained that the penmanship teacher would come to town (Killbuck, Ohio) and set up outdoors near the center of town, creating these awesome examples of his work and handing them out to the children who gathered around.  Of course, he really wanted the youngsters to run back home and tell their parents about the wonderful drawings and that they could sign up and take his class so they, too, could make their writing a work of art.

In this one I admire the delicate suggestion of tree limbs in the background of the top bird, and water behind the lower bird. And how beautiful that U. S. A.!

Penmanship Sample

Two graceful birds in penmanship sample by J. S. Johnston of Millersburg, Ohio. Note he made an error in writing Millersburg! 7 3/4″ wide by 9 1/2″ tall.


I think of the skill needed to make these penmanship samples with a scratchy metal pen dipped again and again in a pot of ink and I get the shivers.  Even if he had never studied the concept, he was working with negative space and balancing the decorative designs around the page so that they fit into the whole.  His composition draws the eye just where he wants it.

I wonder how long it took for him to create something like the complexity of the drawing below? I can almost hear him talking to the gathered children as his hand flew across the paper. He told them how these lines form part of letters in handwriting, and wouldn’t they like to be able to do this, too?  Here, take this paper home and show your Mother and Father. I will be here all week giving lessons in penmanship.

Penmanship Sample

Very detailed picture made by penmanship teacher, J. S. Johnson of Millersburg Ohio, on ruled paper like a child’s school tablet. 7 3/4″ wide x 10″ tall.

When I inherited the drawings, I framed them properly as a work of art should be framed. Now they are well over 100 years old, and protected.

I think of these examples of penmanship, and the children’s desire to write beautifully in the autograph books whenever I hear the current discussion of whether it is practical to teach script in school any more, since everybody prints or keyboards.

Poor Mr. Johnston, the penmanship teacher, would be bereft.

As I would be without these gorgeous penmanship drawings.

Note: This post is a response to the weekly prompt of the 52 Ancestors project started by Amy Johnson Crow.    This week’s prompt: Heirloom

Stahler widow's pension

Pension Application: Is This Adam Stahler THE Adam Stahler?

How many Adam Stahler/Stohler/Stollers were there serving in the Revolutionary army from Pennsylvania? A pension application surprised me with an answer.

Thanks to Fold3, the website that digitizes millions of military records including pension applications, and thanks to the Family Search Center at a local LDS church, I have been able to see the eighty-plus page application for a widow’s pension for my 4x great-grandmother Eva Marie Stahler, survivor of Captain Adam Stahler. I say “see” advisedly, because just because you can see an image of an old document does not necessarily mean you can read it. (More about that in my next post.)

Several references on referred to Adam’s service in the American Revolution –or the Continental War as it is called in some of the pension application legal papers.  However, those Ancestry references in other people’s trees were not sourced, so I could not verify the information.

I knew that Eva Marie/Mary, Adam’s wife had received a widow’s pension because as I wrote in this article on her–the 1840 census told me so. But that didn’t help with information about where Adam served and when.

Maddeningly, the only piece of paper available on that might prove his service, the pension application, had this scanty information, a cover page to a pension application.

Stahler widow's pension

Cover page, application for widow’s pension for Eva Maria Stahler.


This is the cover page of the lengthy file for Mary’s application for a widow’s pension.  Her husband died long before she did.  He died in 1803 and she not until 1842. The act re-authorizing the orphans’ and widows’ pensions passed in July 1836. Between 1784 and 1836 widows received no pensions, and their right to pensions was reinstated in 1836. The changes in the pension law over the years are quite complex.

The rest of the legal document resides at Fold3, a pay-for site for which I do not have a subscription.  To the rescue comes the Family Search Center a few miles from me.  At the LDS Family Search sites, you can utilize their computers to find documents on some pay sites.

I struggled through the many, many pages with the many, many different forms of unreadable handwriting and faded images since I wanted to squeeze out every bit of information possible.  I knew from studying some of the records of my New England Revolutionary veterans that they would contain a full description of Adam’s service, as well as verification of things like birth and death and marriage dates and place of residence.

What I didn’t expect was sworn testimony that Adam Stahler, my 4th great-grandfather was the ONLY officer with that name, including variant spellings.

Sure enough, one witness swore that he had studied the officer’s lists from Pennsylvania for men named Adam Stahler, Stohler or Stoller, and verified that the Captain Adam Stahler whose wife was applying for a pension stood alone.

YAY!  That nagging fear that I might be mixing up the records of two people vanished.  A witness in 1853  provided information helpful to a family history search in 2018. Amazing!

The Letter

Letter of testimony

Letter Testifying there is only one Capt. Adam Stahler 1853



Secretarys Office


I do hereby certify that I have carefully exmined the rolls of the collection of Northampton County remaining on file in this office the years 1777, 1778, 1780 and 1785 and that I find but one Adam Stahler, or Stohler, or Stoller, Captain in said rolls.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Secretary’s office to be annexed [affixed] at Harrisburg this seventh day of April in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fifty three and of the Commonwealth the seventy-seventh.

E. C.[?] [surname unreadable]

Depy Secy of the Cowlth

Next up: Adam’s military record and why there is testimony coming in in 1853, when Eva Maria/Mary first applied for the pension in 1836 and she had died in 1842. Curiouser and curiouser.

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 III, who is the son of
  • George Kaser, who is the son of
  • Joseph Kaser and Elizabeth Stahler Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Adam Stahler.

A Note on Research

Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, The National Archives, Application of Eva Maria Stahler, widow of Captain Adam Stahler,
Accessed at the Family Search Center, Tucson NW