Tag Archives: Bill Anderson

Harriette Anderson Kaser Remembers Scary Places

And Speaking of Scary Things–Today is my brother’s Birthday! Happy Birthday Paul William Kaser.

Elizabeth O’Neal’s Genealogy Blog Party at Little Bytes of Life suggested an October theme–The Scariest thing you’ve found in your genealogy research. You can see more scary family history by clicking on the link to her site.

Last year I shared my mother’s story of the Dead Body, which is certainly one of the strangestHere’s another of mother’s scary memories.

The Haunted Shack and Scary Anderson House on Mile Hill

Old Anderson Farm

Old Anderson Farm, Photo courtesy of Herb Anderson

The family of my grandfather, Leonard Guy Anderson (aka Daddy Guy) owned a house just outside of Killbuck, Ohio on Mile Hill.

Guy’s uncle had planted extensive orchards on the property.  Mary Brink Anderson, Guy’s Mother, lived there when Guy married Vera Stout (my grandmother). She gave the farm to Guy and Vera and that is where they lived when my mother and her two brothers were pre-schoolers.

That house must have seemed like a mansion to the toddlers, Harriette Anderson (my mother) and her brother Bill. Baby Herb was too young to run around getting into mischief with his slightly older siblings.  But the big old house provided plenty of opportunity for scary adventures. And to add to the fun, there was a smaller house that the children were ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN to enter. So of course they did. And there was a shack with a mysterious and scary history. The buildings gave plenty of opportunity for imagination to run wild.  In her 90s, my mother remembered her childhood.

Harriette Anderson Kaser:  An artist lived at the end of the lot by the big Anderson orchard. [She was not sure of the name but thinks it might have been “Bus Close who married Wanda Orr.” See Note at end]

HAK: We weren’t allowed to go there and play. I think mother and dad really believed the scary ghost stories about that house. Mary Leckrone lived in a farm house nearby. We (Harriette and her brother Bill) went down and played with her. 

HAK: The fruit farm (the Anderson house on the hill) had a beautiful house. There were two farms up above Welcome—Anderson and Allison. They got deeds from the government. Maybe after the Whiskey Rebellion. [I have yet to check this out.]

This is the house where the Anderson and Stout family gathered for a family picture in 1909 when Harriette and Bill were about 3 and 4 years old.

Caroline Anderson Bird

Family portrait at Anderson Farm. Photo from 1909. Harriette and Bill sitting on their grandfather’s lap in right front. “Daddy Guy in white shirt and necktie in back row center and Vera in front of him holding baby Herbert.

HAK: Down the road ½ mile a little shack was supposed to have been a stop on the confederate soldier’s route. [She first said underground railroad and then changed to confederate soldiers.] We kids would stand outside and yell because we wanted the ghosts to come out. Then hearing noises.

[Note: There are persistent rumors that Southern soldiers marched through Holmes County, but no evidence that rebs ever made it that far north in Ohio.]

HAK: We were not allowed to go in the basement. An outside stairway went down. I remember a side door that went down to basement. Water in the basement made it more scary. (Note: Apparently the children didn’t follow orders about not going into the basement of the shack!)

The three children about seven years before this story.

Who would think these angelic children could be so ornery?

HAK: Mom and Dad (Vera and Guy Anderson) would tell us ghost stories about the place.

Guy Anderson had acquired a parrot somewhere, and its presence added to the unusual and scary atmosphere of the old house.

HAK: The parrot would follow us when we went there to play. (The parrot followed them into the forbidden territory.)  It  would say “Mama’s calling.”  She (Vera) was always scolding the parrot for following us.

Poor Vera. Nobody seemed to pay attention to her commands! Neither the children nor the parrot! But a horse had more sense than the kids and the parrot.

HAK: An old horse, “Old Jim” wouldn’t go near the old house (because of ghosts.)

[Note: she switches back and forth between shack and artist’s house, so it is not clear which is which.]

Mary Brink Anderson and others

Guy Anderson and Vera (holding Herbert). Guy’s mother Mary Brink Anderson. Back Jennie McDowell King. 1909

No wonder their mother was afraid to let them play in the haunted house’s basement. Daddy Guy, who was always a jokester, had Vera scared with his tricks, and besides he had the Celtic talent for story telling.

HAK: Daddy Guy was a great story teller—making up stories about these houses.

HAK: Dad (Guy Anderson, aka Daddy Guy) used to hide in the house and make noises to scare Bill and me away. Your Grandma Vera was very susceptible to ghost stories and Guy would scare her.The big farmhouse on the top of the hill had two stairways. A back stairway led from the kitchen to a back door. Dad would go up and pound on the floor to scare mother. The kids knew what he was doing and they would go with him.

I always thought of my mother as fearless, and it is clear she got her training early as she and her brother defied the ghosts in the scary old farm houses.

Mother’s family did not stay in the house very long. By the time her brother Bill was old enough to start school, they had moved back into town.  I always thought my grandmother just was not cut out to be a farm wife. But thinking about her superstitious nature and the ghost stories and Daddy Guy’s tricks, the farm may have been just too scary.

Read another of Harriette’s Scary Memories here.

Note:  I have asked the helpful people on The Killbuck Gang Facebook page to help me figure out who the artist  was that mother refers to in this story. Turns out Bus Close and Wanda Orr were a more recent generation–the time just doesn’t match up.  But someone has suggested that Bus Close’s FATHER was an artist, and I’m trying to determine if that’s who mother was thinking of.

Uncle Bill Runs Away. 52 Ancestors, # 9: William J. Anderson

William J. Anderson (1905-1975)

Ben and Nettie Anderson

Portion of Guy and Vera Family 1909 . Dr. William Stout is holding 2 1/2-year-old Harriette and 3 1/2-year-old Bill Anderson.

We’re back in 1909 once again as  the extended family of Guy and Vera Anderson (Bill Anderson’s parents) gather at their farm house outside Killbuck, Ohio on a warm May day.  The little boy, eldest son of Doc Stout’s youngest daughter, was named for his two grandfathers. William for Dr. William Stout and J. for his father’s father, Joseph J. Anderson. No, his middle name was not Joseph. It was just ‘J.’  Mother said she thought that although her parents wanted to honor both their fathers, they were reluctant to give little Bill the name of a man who had died so young, so they gave him just the initial. Since the Anderson line is a long succession of Josephs and Johns, that works quite well.

Here’s another picture of the three children taken about the same time as the big family picture–maybe even the same day. I have no doubt that the adorable hat my mother is wearing came from Node Nelson’s hat shop, which we caught a glimpse of here. And Uncle Bill is already demonstrating the fashion sense that we see on him later.

The three children about seven years before this story.

The three Anderson children, Harriette looking worried, Hebert just trying to stay upright in his long dress and Bill and Bill looking tough and defiant.

Bill Anderson, 8th Grade, 1918

Doug Hodgeson and Bill Anderson, 8th Grade, 1918

As I have mentioned before, my mother, Harriette, worshiped Bill, her older brother, and followed him everywhere, even insisting on being allowed to attend the same class that he was in at school.  Harriette was the scholar in the family, delighting in reading and exploring all kinds of subjects, but Bill–not so much. I can imagine that his favorite class was recess, and his favorite activities had to do with DOING, not studying.

When Bill dropped out of school after 10th grade, his parents sent him to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, Citizen’s Military Training Camp, created by the federal government for young adults after the close of WWI. Here he is in his uniform.

Bill Anderson1921

Bill Anderson, a cadet at Ft. Knox, 1921 at the age of 16 or 17.

From an early age he had mechanical skills.  He was one of the first people in Killbuck to build a radio when the early radio kits came out. In case that did not impress you, let me point out that radios were a BIG DEAL. The 1930 census even counted households with radios. Later in life one of Uncle Bill’s many jobs was repairing radios, T.V.s, and anything electrical. He could fix anything connected with mechanics, including plumbing.

As a girl, I was impressed with his sense of derring-do.  I asked him once if he was not afraid of working on electricity in a house without turning off the power. And he scoffed. Once he was piloting a small airplane, and wanted to take me up for a flight. Although I loved my Uncle Bill, I screamed bloody murder when he tried to put me on the plane, until he gave up. Clearly, I did not inherit his fearlessness.

In 1923, when Harriette was 17, and Bill was 18, the family moved to Columbus, Ohio. Harriette had just graduated and wanted to study medicine to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather Doc Stout.  Guy and Vera supported her going to college, and thought that the men in the family could get better jobs in the capitol city, and save money by not having to pay for outside housing and food for the new Ohio State University student.

However, jobs were harder to find than they imagined.  Vera took a job at a hospital, but quit after one day because she could not stand the sight of the sick people. Harriette seems to be the only one who thrived in their new location, going to Ohio State Football games and dating a handsome pre-med student. Bill, however, became despondent at not being able to find work.

One morning, Vera and Guy came downstairs to find a piece of paper folded up like a small envelope. On the outside was the formal address:

L.G. Anderson

1353 Wesely

Columbus, Ohio

Bill Anderson note to parents 1924

Bill Anderson note to parents 1924

Inside, was a polite note that shook up my grandmother so much, that she, who tended not to keep anything, kept the note in her desk all her life. (Or perhaps she was more amused than shaken.)

(I inserted periods but left the original spelling.)

Dear mother and dad

I am not coming home to night. I am leaving for California. don’t worry about me for we have blenty of money. lyle got cash from his sister and with what I got we will have enuff. I will wright in a day or so and tell you how we are coming. please don’t worry

your son

Wm Anderson

I couldn’t find eny work so there is not mutch yuce staying here.

A dapper Bill Anderson

A dapper Bill Anderson

Somewhere along the line, Bill had met Sarah Warner and they became an item. My mother believed that they met on this occasion when the family gathered on the porch of Hattie Morgan’s house in Killbuck. That would indicate that Mother was friends with Sarah and had invited her to her home in Killbuck.

Family, 1920's Killbuck, Ohio

Family, 1920’s Killbuck, Ohio. The man on the left looks to me like Herbert, next is Sarah, then my mother, Harriette, and Vera Anderson. Behind them on a chair is Hattie Morgan Stout with two sisters of Doc Stout. I am assuming that Bill Anderson took the picture.

 

William J. Anderson

This picture of Bill Anderson would have been taken about the time he and Sarah married, when he was 19.

I have no idea exactly when (or even if) Bill took off for California, but he could not have stayed long, because on September 15, 1924, he took out a marriage license to marry Sarah Warner and they were married the same day. At the time in Ohio, persons under 21 years old (unless the woman was pregnant) were required to have parental consent for marriage.  That explains why both Bill and Sarah claimed to be twenty-one on their marriage license application, although she was twenty and he had just turned nineteen the day before.

It is entirely possible that “leaving for California” was a cover story for his going to Madison County, Ohio, where Sarah lived, and where they were married. Bill Anderson played the angles all his life.

With his good looks, sense of style, and ability to get what he wanted out of life, I believe William J. Anderson would have made a very good con man–if he had only learned to spell.

Notes:
Information about William J. Anderson and  comes from personal knowledge, and from death records, obituaries, census records and marriage records obtained from Ancestry.com; and from the recorded recollections and photo albums of my mother, Harriette V. Anderson Kaser (1906-2003). You can learn more about the history of Ft. Knox Kentucky at this website.

This has been a weekly post in the 52 Ancestors/52 Weeks Project started by Amy Johnson Crow at “No Story too Small.” Check out her weekly recap showing the list of participants for some ripping good stories.

A Halloween Tale: Harriette’s Haunting Story of a Dead Body

My mother recorded many of her memories when she was in her eighties and nineties, and one of them tells of a very scary night with a dead body in the house. This reminds me of a Mark Twain story–something that Tom Sawyer might have experienced.

As background, in the early twentieth century, Killbuck Creek, running slowly through Killbuck, Ohio, froze in the wintertime from bank to bank, and Harriette Anderson (Kaser) (1906-2003) remembered “we had one gorgeous skating party after another. ” So skating was second nature to all the children.

One skating night with her brothers was very unusual, however.

The three children about seven years before this story.

The three children about seven years before this story.

Bill and Herb and I had been allowed to go skating that night.   We never were allowed to go skating alone at night, but we went out with a gang that went skating over on a pond, not in the creek. I wasn’t very old–probably ten or eleven and Bill was a year older and Herb a year younger. When we came home, we were aware of why we had been allowed to go skating.

Some time before, a very elderly aunt of my father’s was brought home from Florida quite ill. [‘Aunt Am’ Amy E. Anderson Roof was born in 1843, so would have been 73 when Harriette was 10 years old.] My mother and dad were taking care of her. [Vera and Guy Anderson].

Aunt Am passed away while we children were out skating and I’m sure this was the reason Mother and Dad sent us out to skate, so that we would be out from under foot at this particular time.

Of course, we were very curious about this sort of thing, but as soon as we got in the house, we noticed–well, actually before we got in the house, we noticed–that the undertaker was there and they had shut off the room in which Aunt Am had died and they were working on the dead body.  At that time nearly everyone who had a death in the family, they were buried from the home and the undertaker came and prepared them for burial at the house, which they did with our Aunt Am Roof.

Dad and Mother were tired because they had been up so many,many nights caring for her.  Before they went to bed, they had put us upstairs, tucked us in good and tight  because it was quite chilly.  The boys were in the first room upstairs in a double bed, and I had a three-quarter bed in my own little room in the back of the upstairs. I’m sure that night [my parents] went to sleep so soundly because it was the first night that they had been able to sleep straight through for a long time.

In the middle of the night, I wakened and realized that my bed was directly over where Aunt Am’s dead body lay on the floor below our rooms.  I was so sure that she was coming up through that floor after me.  I don’t know why.  We had never been frightened by bodies before, but I was quite frightened.

I couldn’t stay in my bed any longer.  I got up to the foot of my bed and called “Bill! Bill!”  He answered immediately because he wasn’t asleep either because evidently he had death on his mind, too.  We were thinking  Aunt Em was down there and she was dead. We hadn’t had any experience with a dead body before this.

I asked, “Bill will you come in here and get me?” and he said, “No, Harriette, I won’t put my feet on the floor of your room, but if you get to the foot of your bed and jump off as far as you can, I’ll reach in and get you. ”

So I got to the foot of my bed and I jumped as far as I could jump to my door, and Bill reached in and grabbed a hold of me and jerked me into the boys’ room.

I felt much better because I was no longer directly over that dead body of Aunt Am that lay straight under my bed. I got in bed with Herb and Bill, and we lay there and we talked until we heard a rooster crow.

We were so delighted. Bill said, “Well, it’ll soon be daylight.  Then we won’t be afraid.  The rooster’s crowing; it’s getting to be morning.”

It turned out that our parents were sleeping so soundly they didn’t hear us, even when I jumped.  They were sorry when they heard our story that they had not told us, but it never once entered their minds that we would have any fears at all because they had no fears and didn’t expect us to.

So that was our first experience with death, which was rather frightening for three little kids. It was a winter experience that we had related to skating, but thank goodness not a regular winter experience.

 

Bill and Harriette Anderson in 8th Grade, a couple of years after the event.

Bill and Harriette Anderson in 8th Grade, a couple of years after the event.

What was your first experience with a dead body?  Were you ever in a house where a body laid in state in the living room?