Tag Archives: Irene Kaser

52 Ancestors: #15: The Amazing Truman Bucklew : Things I Never Knew…

Lewis Truman Bucklew (1897- 1995)

Truman Bucklew

Truman Bucklew, 1940s

Although I try to stick to writing to my direct relatives rather than those related only by marriage, sometimes their stories are just too amazing not to be told. And since I hinted at Truman Bucklew’s unusually adventurous life when I wrote about his wife, my Aunt Irene Kaser Bucklew, it is only fair that I explain a bit about his life.

In September, 1918, he filled out a World War I draft registration card which describes him as having blue eyes and black hair, of short stature and medium weight. He has a physical disability that will prevent him from serving in the armed forces–a “stiff hip.”  But that disability did not prevent him from doing just about anything else he set his mind to–with one disappointing exception.

At the age of 22, he had to take on some responsibility for his mother, when his father died of cancer at the age of 68. Truman lived with his widowed mother until he was thirty-two.  He had dropped out of school before high school and first worked for his father’s local telephone company fixing telephones then became a mechanic, fixing engines. Truman was obviously skilled at fixing things, as he later worked helping The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to install the first electrical lines that arrived in Killbuck, Ohio in 1930.

Irene Kaser 1920's

Irene Kaser and Truman Bucklew

You can follow his progress after he married Irene Kaser, in my story about her.

But  before Irene and Truman met he had become known as the first to own an airplane in Holmes County, Ohio. He bought a Curtis Motors airplane after taking lessons in Missouri. Once he learned to fly, he flew the plane back to Holmes County.  A few years later, he bought a WACO biplane (trading his 1926 Pontiac according to a newspaper article).

In 1927 the first civilian pilot’s license was issued. The FAA , Federal Aviation Administration, did not exist, so the governing body was the Aeronautics Branch of the Commerce Department.  Truman sold that plane in 1929, when he learned that he could never get a pilot’s license because of his “stiff hip.”

In an article in the Holmes County Hub, he tells a fascinating story.  “A photographer from Millersburg, a Mr.  Keckler, would strap a pine box to the side of the plane and go up with me [in the plane] and take pictures of Millersburg and Killbuck. ” That is amazing.  I wonder if any of those 1920’s photos survive? I seem to recall seeing Truman pictured in a leather helmet like pilots wore, but I cannot find it.

His aviator adventure earned him a spot on a mural commissioned by the Millersburg Pizza Hut and painted by Ruston Baker of Killbuck, Ohio. Here’s a partial list of the people honored, and a picture of Truman’s biplane flying over an Amish buggy and a covered bridge. (That is SO Holmes County!)

When he and Irene married, Truman owned the Ford automobile agency in Killbuck, but that business failed during the depression and after the REA project, he was out of work for several months.

In my story about Irene, I mentioned him working in Fredericktown, and the newspaper article says that he worked in a factor making control cars for blimps during World War II, so that may have been in Fredericktown.

At some point in the late fifties, he and Irene moved from the house where I had visited them on Main Street to a small house on Water Street.  There, Truman put his handyman skills to work remodeling and enclosing the front porch. (My grandmother Vera later purchased that house and lived in it during her last years).

Truman Bucklew House

The Truman Bucklew House on Water Street in Killbuck, before and after enclosing porch and remodeling.

His handiness was even put to use by the circus when he lived in Sarasota Florida, winter home of Barnum and Bailey after Irene died.  He was hired to make equipment for the circus. Amazing.

Truman Bucklew carpentry

Hutch made by Truman Bucklew

He turned to self-taught wood working and cabinetry in his later years.  The Holmes County Hub article mentions how he would find wood drifting in the creek (which was just behind the house) and identify the wood. He called it “resurrecting.”

He built himself a lathe and started making rocking chairs, which he said you could find “all over Ohio,” as he had given them to nieces and nephews. He also made hutches, and this photo belongs to a cousin who is fortunate enough to have one of his creations.

 

 

The  talented man even made a spinning wheel. Amazing! In the newspaper article he says modestly that woodworking is something that anyone can do. “I wouldn’t say that I have talent,” he says, “just perseverance.”

Truman’s second wife, Margaret Jane (Jennie) Butler, was raised by her grandfather and grandmother, Merriman Lisle and [namesake] Margaret Anderson Lisle.  Now here’s where it gets interesting. Margaret Anderson was the aunt of my maternal grandfather, Leonard Guy Anderson. (Margaret Anderson Lisle was also the half sister of Erasmus Anderson, whose Civil War Letters I have published.) You can find the story about how she came to raise two Butler sisters, and a Lisle/Butler family picture here.

Truman Bucklew's wife Jennie

The Butler Girls with Margaret Jane (Jennie) on the right). Photo from Ancestry.com tree of M. Blosser (circa 1905)

So, my uncle-by-marriage married my second cousin once removed! (The grand daughter of my great grand aunt.)

They met in Sarasota Florida, where Truman lived most of the time after Irene died.  Truman was Margaret (Jenny)’s third husband. She had divorced the other two.  They married in 1960, but it was a short marriage, as she died 2 1/2 year later in Sarasota.

In 1967, according to a 1991 article in the Holmes County Hub, Truman married a woman named Irene, again in Sarasota. She is quoted in the 1991 article, so their marriage would have been the longest he had. ( I have not found documentation so don’t know who she was, or whether she survived him.)

[Update: The name of his third wife was, interestingly enough, Jenny Irene Lanham Aufrance (combining both his first wives’ names. And she did survive Truman.]

In another amazing coincidence in Truman’s life and marriages–Irene Lanham Aufrance Bucklew is the daughter of Grace Lanham, whose picture appears at the top of this page (2nd from right), who lived next door to my Grandmother Vera, and whose recipe for fruit cake  I published.

Truman Bucklew article

Article in Holmes County Hub, August 1982

Truman was honored at the Killbuck Homecoming Celebration in 1982 when he was in his 80s. In 1991, at 93, he was the grand marshal for the Annual Antique Festival parade with the theme “The Wonder of Flight.” Truman’s amazing life ended when he died and was buried beside Irene Kaser Bucklew in the Killbuck Cemetery in 1995, when he was 98 years old.

How We Are Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the brother of
  • Irene Kaser (Bucklew), first wife of
  • Truman Bucklew.

Research Notes

Census records from 1930 (Killbuck, Ohio) and 1940 (Killbuck, Ohio) help tell me where Truman was and what was happening in his life.  These records were accessed on line at Ancestry.com

World War I Draft Card Ohio Registration, County: Holmes, Roll 1832249 for Lewis Truman Bucklew. Accessed through Ancestry.com

The Marriage License of Irene Kaser and Truman Bucklew, found on line through Family Search.org.  “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X85V-NFL : accessed 6 April 2015), Truman Bucklew and Irene Kaser, 15 Mar 1931; citing Wayne, Ohio, United States, reference ; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 425,763.

The Marriage License of Margaret Butler Kittleson,Accessed at Ancestry.com original from , Florida Marriage Index 1927-2001Florida Department of Health,Jacksonville, Florida Vol. 1881, Certificate 11299. Accessed through Ancestry.com

The Coshocton Tribune. The searchable database of this newspaper is accessible on line. I found it through Ancestry.com and found Irene and Truman in many Killbuck columns, Personal section from 1935 to 1945 and beyond. I noted a dozen articles and scanned many others.

Newspaper Interview: “Truman Bucklew: A Look Back” Holmes County Hub by J. A. Thompson-Winant , August 1982. (Image found on a family tree at Ancestry.com).

Newspaper interview: “93-year-old Truman Bucklew Has Memories of Time when Both He and Flying were Young.” Holmes County Hub, by Rhonda Rossner, October 10, 1991. (Image sent to me by Annette Kaser).

Photographs are my personal property except the headshot of Truman which is cropped from a photo found in a public tree on Ancestry.com and the images of the mural, shown on a placemat and provided by Ruston Baker, the artist.

The hand-made hutch is a family heirloom in possession of Annette Kaser, photo used by her permission.

Family stories and personal experiences contributed to the story.

[UPDATE} From personal coorespondence (and see comment below) from the great-grandson of Jenny Irene Bucklew, who also is fortunate enough to own the spinning wheel that Truman made.

 

52 Ancestors: #14: Irene KaserBucklew: See You In the Personal Column

Irene Kaser Bucklew 1898-1957

My Aunt Irene, older sister to my father, Paul Kaser, worked hard but faced numerous roadblocks in her life with a sense of humor. I knew Irene, as a kind woman, the ideal housekeeper–cook–gardener–and quilter. She had the Kaser bent for story telling and word play. But I got to know her better through a Personals column. No, not THAT kind! Small town papers reported in the personal column, who was traveling, giving dinner parties, serving on committees–all the details of personal life.

Irene was the second child born to Clifford Kaser and his wife Mary Isadore (Mame) while they were living in Clark, Coshocton County, Ohio.

Keith Kaser and Irene Kaser 1898

Keith and Irene Kaser 1898

From the time of her birth, Irene could not hear well. Because of her hearing impairment, her speech was affected. Although she could speak, the words lacked the sharp sounds that she had never heard.

Irene Kaser

Kaser Family circa 1908. Irene on left.

The Kasers lived in Clark until Irene was about 13, when they moved into Killbuck for two years. Then they moved on to Takoma Park, Maryland, (just outside Washington D.C.) to  be near the headquarters of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Although they returned to live in Millersburg, Ohio by 1920, they spent summers at the Seventh Day Adventists Camp at Takoma in the summer. Irene had dropped out of high school after her junior year, about the time they first moved to Takoma Park.

We know that they were there sometime during 1921, when Ohioan Warren G. Harding was President, because his wife hired Irene’s mother Mame and Irene to do sewing for her. (See my story  here.)

Irene Kaser and Paul Kaser

Irene Kaser and Paul Kaser late 1920s

In 1920, at the age of 22, Irene was still living at home with her parents and was not employed.  In October 1926, Irene’s mother, Mary Isadore (Mame) Kaser suddenly died. (My father had gone to Washington D.C. to go to college, but immediately returned home.) Irene was needed at home to help take care of her youngest brother, Milton (14 years old). However, in 1927, tragedy struck again, and Milton died.

Their father, Clifford Kaser, remarried, traveled to Florida, came back, had surgery, and he too died in 1930.

Once Cliff left, Paul and Irene were on their own. I have traced Paul’s efforts at staying employed during the Great Depression, and Irene had an even harder time with no skills but her excellent housekeeping talent.  What I found about Irene was surprising, to say the least.

A rather confusing 1930 census lists Irene with a family that runs a boarding house as the servant doing general housekeeping in Orrville, Wayne County, Ohio.  However, special notations indicate that although she worked there, she actually lived with her brother Keith Kaser and his family in the same town.

Although I was not surprised to see Irene working as a housekeeper at the age of 32, her employer surprised me.  Under race, Henderson Cannon is identified as Negro.  A young white woman working for a black man would seem unusual in 1930 anywhere, but particularly in Wayne County, Ohio, in the center of Amish and Mennonite German/Swiss immigrants, where it was extremely rare to find any blacks, even to this day. The household of the 33-year old man from Mississippi, included his wife, 38, born in Arkansas, a four-year-old son and a 49-year-old boarder, all “Negro.” There was also a 21-year-old white boarder and a boy (14) who apparently lived elsewhere.  The men are all factory workers.

Whatever the circumstances of this unusual employment, it did not last long.  On March 20, 1931, Irene married Truman Lewis Bucklew, 33, a resident of Killbuck, Ohio.  On the wedding license application, her residence is Wooster, so she must have moved to another housekeeping job very shortly after the census of 1930.

Irene Kaser 1920's

Irene Kaser and young man (Truman?)

 

Truman Bucklew was still living at home with his widowed mother in 1930, and working as an automobile mechanic.  The quiet, handsome Truman has quite a story, including owning and flying the first airplane in Holmes County.  It seems to me that he would have been quite a catch, but like Irene, he did not marry until he was over 30.

I am so curious as to how they met and what the attraction was between the handsome adventurer and the homely housekeeper. Maybe it was her cheerful story telling, or her flare for cooking and sewing and making a comfortable home.

“She’s ugly as a mud fence,”Irene would say.
Truman Bucklew

Truman Bucklew, 1940s

By the time he and Irene were married, Truman had acquired the Ford Automobile Agency in Killbuck, Ohio. (My father, Paul Kaser, worked as a bookkeeper for Truman’s car dealership for a time.) They moved to Killbuck, and Irene because involved in several activities.

 

Irene Kaser Bucklew

Irene Kaser Bucklew

At first, she may have attended the Killbuck Church of Christ, but when I was in high school, I recall her taking me to a service of her Seven Day Adventist Church and she and Truman attending the church camp in Mt. Vernon at least once, so she had returned to her childhood religious roots.

The Ford dealership did not survive long in the depression, and in 1937, a small article in the personals column of the Coshocton Tribune tells us that Truman is working in Fredericksburg, but visiting on weekends. By 1938, Irene is living in Frederickstown, a different place so he may have changed jobs.

The 1940 Killbuck census tells a story of hard times. Truman, listed as an electrician instead of mechanic as he has been in the past, last worked for the REA (Rural Electrification Project), but has been out of work 22 weeks and is “seeking work”. His education ended with 7th grade, so he had been scrambling for any kind of work during the depression. Since the census was taken April 4, Truman had not worked since the previous October. They must have had a very bleak holiday season in 1939. Their entire household income was $450 a month from “other sources.”

Even though times were tough, Irene spent hours making a “Wedding Ring” baby bed quilt as a gift for my family when I was born in March 1939. The meticulous work on this quilt with its tiny squares of colorful fabric still impresses me.

Irene Kaser Bucklew quilt

Irene Bucklew Wedding Ring pattern Baby Quilt 1939. Crib sized gift for me when I was born.

Irene Kaser Bucklew quilt

Irene’s baby quilt close up

Each piece is approximately one inch square, but to make it more challenging, each must be hemmed with just the right amount of curve to fit into its circle. Care was taken to select colors that would blend pleasingly–made trickier by interlocking squares. Note that the interlocking circles each have a pattern of pink and blue, since in those days, no one knew until the baby was born whether it would be a girl (pink) or a boy (blue).  This entire quilt is hand stitched.

I don’t know if Irene ever entered her quilts in County Fairs, but they surely would have won many prizes.  When I think of visiting their house, I see a huge quilting frame taking up the entire living room and Irene and Truman’s sister Bertha ( who lived with them at the time I was visiting) bent over the colorful fabric taking careful tiny stitches while they bantered and gossiped.

“See you in the funny papers,” Aunt Irene said as I left her house.

The Coshocton Tribune had a Killbuck column, which featured personal announcements about people’s comings and goings and meetings, etc. I learned much about their lives from the archives of the Tribune.  For instance, Irene and Truman had recovered sufficiently by 1941 to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary, along with Irene’s birthday and my 2nd birthday–all in March.  In a 1942 flower show in Killbuck, Irene swept up ribbons–two first places and two 2nd places. The newspaper tells me that Mrs. Truman Bucklew had major surgery in October 1942, but I don’t know what kind. The newspaper even told me in detail about a problem with wisdom teeth.

Irene and Truman enjoyed vacations in Florida and sent many snapshots home.

Thanks to the newspaper personal columns, I know they went to Florida in December- January 1956. I don’t know if that was their last trip, but on May 30, 1957, Irene died, just 59 years old.  The Ohio record of deaths says she died in Mt. Vernon, which is one more surprise to me. Perhaps she was visiting friends among the Seven Day Adventists. My family had moved to the Columbus area in the summer of 1956, and in May 1957 I was attending Ohio State University, so I did not return to Killbuck for the funeral.

My sister and I were talking about Irene the other day, and she said, “She is one of those relatives that I wish I had known better.”  Me, too.

“Oh, you’re full of prunes,” she would have said.

How We Are Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the brother of
  • Irene Kaser (Bucklew)

Research Notes

Census records from 1900 (Coshocton, Ohio), 1910 (Clark, Ohio), 1920 (Millersburg, Ohio), 1930 (Orrville, Ohio) and 1940 (Killbuck, Ohio) help tell me where Irene was and what was happening in her life. The 1930 and 1940 census in particular gave me surprises.  These records were accessed on line at Ancestry.com

The Marriage License of Irene Kaser and Truman Bucklew, found on line through Family Search.org.  “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X85V-NFL : accessed 6 April 2015), Truman Bucklew and Irene Kaser, 15 Mar 1931; citing Wayne, Ohio, United States, reference ; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 425,763.

The Coshocton Tribune. The searchable database of this newspaper is accessible on line. I found it through Ancestry.com and found Irene and Truman in many Killbuck columns, Personal section from 1935 to 1945 and beyond. I noted a dozen articles and scanned many others.

Photographs are my personal property except the headshot of Truman which is cropped from a photo found in a public tree on Ancestry.com

The wedding ring quilt is a family heirloom in my possession.

Family stories and personal experiences contributed to the story.

 

Is There a Villain in the Kaser Family Story?

I have always thought that my grandfather, Clifford Kaser (1867-1930), was the villain in my family story.  Not the classical evil villain, certainly, as he was a righteous, hard-working, religious man. But a villain to family because he was so righteous, so focused on hard work, and so stiff-necked when it came to religion. And since he died before I was born, it was easy to make him out to be a bad guy. He never had a chance to prove otherwise in person. And I had only my father’s stories of grievances against his father to go by. And those, unfortunately stern photographs from back in the day. Even in this picture with the hint of a smile, he looks like a tough cookie.

Clifford Kaser

Clifford W. Kaser, probably about 1928 or 1929.

But I’ve been “living with” Cliff Kaser (I don’t think anyone ever called him Clifford) for a few days now, and I have slightly adjusted my opinion. Cliff was born in 1867, the 6th child of Catharine and Joseph Kaser. The family lived in Bloomfield, Ohio, a town that later changed its name to Clark.  (Research note: most geneaological records depend on locating a person in the United States by city or township, county and state. However, the little town of Bloomfield/Clark was/is split right down the middle between Coshocton County and Holmes County. That makes life a little too interesting for the researcher.Family members who lived in the same town, might be in different counties.)

Cliff’s oldest brother, Cornelius, was 13 years older. His brother Edward, born in 1871 was the youngest of the family.The only member of this large number of aunts and uncles that I ever heard my father mention was Emma (also listed in records as Anna), and I will be writing about her shortly.

Most members of the family stayed in or near Clark and their family and farms. That was my first clue that I might be able to relate to Clifford. He didn’t stay put. He changed jobs, he changed locations and he changed religions.

On October 26, 1893 Cliff married Mary Isadore Butts (1869-1926), more commonly called Mamie, in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. According to my father’s records they were married in Mt. Vernon by a Squire Workman. That is significant because Mamie’s family were devout Catholics. One year later, they had their first son, Keith. The whole story surrounding his marriage to Mamie contains one clue as to why I had an unfavorable opinion of Cliff, but that will have to wait for another day.

Clifford Kaser and wife

Mamie and Cliff Kaser About 1893. Wedding picture, perhaps.

Keith was born in Danville, which was the town Mamie came from.Wherever they lived in those early years, by 1900 they lived in the town of Coshocton, Ohio and Cliff was working as a “tinman,” to support his family, now increased by the birth of Irene and Paul (my father).

In 1910, they were living in Clark Township again, surrounded by Cliff’s family and Cliff was a barber with his own shop. I find it interesting that his older brother owned a tinshop, but Cliff worked as a barber. (From cutting tin to cutting hair–what the heck.). In another coincidence that may not be entirely coincidental, the 1930 census shows Cliff’s future brother-in-law George Sutherland as owning a barbershop in Clark.

Very soon after the 1910 census, Cliff started a tin shop in Killbuck, Ohio. The family was living in Killbuck when Milton was born in 1912.  Judging from Milton’s size in the first picture below, this postcard picture had to be taken in 1913 or 1914. (Note: I can’t help wondering if the same itinerant photographer who took the promotional postcard pictures of my Daddy Guy’s stores also took these of Kaser’s Tin Shop).

Clifford Kaser Tin Shop

Kaser Tin Shop, Keith, Clifford, (front) Milton, Paul. About 1913

Kaser Tin Shop

Kaser Tin Shop with Keith and Clifford about 1913

The tin shop did not last long. Cliff had converted to Seven Day Adventism and took his family (whether they wanted to go or not) with him.  The Adventists were an evangelical and fundamentalist church formed in the mid 1800s, and increasing their evangelical efforts post World War I.  The World Headquarters of the Adventist movement was in Takoma Park, Maryland near Washington, D. C. and Cliff moved his family there for a year or two during the teens of the 20th century. My father, who was born in 1909, was old enough to remember the experience quite well. You can see him in the center front row of this picture, squinting one eye. This picture is dated 1914-1915, Takoma Park.

Paul Kaser Takoma Park MD, Seven-Day Adventist

Paul Kaser (center dark suit) with Seven Day Adventists in Takoma Park MD 1913-1914

When they returned from Tacoma Park Maryland, they settled in Millersburg, Ohio, and according to the 1920 census,Clifford was working as a “plumber” for the railroad. But he went back to working with tin, this time as an installer and repairer of furnaces. Millersburg is where my father finished high school in 1926, and where the most damning evidence of Cliff the villain arises in the family story.

My father was intellectually curious and longed to go to college. The family agreed, but he must go to a Seven Day Adventist School and study to become a minister.  At 17, he took a train to D.C. and started studying Greek and the Bible, but just a month after he started his exciting studies, he got a telegram from his father. His mother had died in October, 1926.

My father never got over his outrage that his father had not contacted him to tell him his beloved mother was ill. To make matters worse, Cliff announced that Paul could not return to school, but must stay to help with the furnace business. The two older children had married and left home. Only Milton, 15, and still in school, remained at home.

This picture was the last time the whole family would be together for a portrait. Mamie, who looks much older, is 56 and Clifford is 59.

 

Clifford Kaser Family

Kaser Family: Paul, Irene, Milton, Keith, Clifford, Mary I (Mamie) About 1926

Then, tragically, five months and one week after their mother died, the youngest Kaser boy, Milton, came down with a lung disorder and died in my father’s arms in April 1927. My father, grieving for the two people he felt closest to in the world, and having to work at a job he hated, got one more blow. His father married another woman and boarded a train for Florida. He (and also I when I heard the story) couldn’t help but feel that Cliff got what he deserved when his new wife, promptly deserted him once they got to Florida. Apparently she was just looking for a ticket out of Millersburg.

Cliff returned to Millersburg and continued to conduct his business, but in June, 1930, he went into the hospital for minor surgery and died of complications. My father, at 19, had lost his mother, his younger brother and his father and his chance for higher education.  He blamed it all on Clifford. How Paul Kaser survived on his own through the tough economy of the 30’s is yet another story for future episodes, but now we are talking about Clifford.

While the rest of the Kaser family stayed in the small town of Clark all their lives, Clifford moved away. While others stayed close to the farm and farming-related occupations, he tried different occupations. He apparently was good with his hands–a good craftsman. He had an entrepreneurial spirit, starting businesses of his own. While many members of his family could never write anything more important than “farm day laborer” on the census report, he wrote “Own”, under employer.  He was adventurous enough to move clear across the country at one point.

Whatever I might think about his strictness, I have to admire the fact that he lived by his own beliefs.   Ever job he did must be done well. And he followed his religion strictly. My father remembered that he went to extremes to avoid working on the Sabbath.

The main message Clifford Kaser passed on to my father was that the aim of life is to leave the world a little better than you found it. He did nothing huge in this world, but he supported his family without being dependent on others. And he fathered fine children. His gravestone mentions perhaps the best thing in his life. It reads, “Cliff Kaser, Husband of Mamie.”