ELIZABETH STAHLER (Kaser) (1775-1843)
My 3rd Great Grandmother on my father’s side, Elizabeth Stahler Kaser, was born to a German immigrant family who settled in Berks County Pennsylvania. Unlike many of my ancestors on my father’s side who belonged to reform churches, the Stahler family belonged to the Catholic Church.
As I am researching the Stahler family, that religion has proved to be a blessing because the earliest generations in American show up in the oldest church registry still extant for the eastern United States–the Goshenhoppen Register. Because once the German settlers left the Philadelphia area they were venturing into virtual wilderness, with, at best, very small towns, Catholic priests traveled from settlement to settlement until churches could be built. Two who covered the circuit out of Goshenhoppen from 1741 until 1764, wrote down every wedding, conversion and baptism they officiated at in a small book. That treasure was translated in the 19th century, and is available on Google Books today. (See research notes).
I will talk more about the traveling priests when I get to Elizabeth Stahler’s grandfather–the first comer of the Stahlers–Christian Stahler. But for now, her family history leaves me with a couple of religion questions.
- Where the heck is the record of her marriage to Joseph Kaser? I cannot find it either in the Catholic church records, nor in the Lehigh County Zion (Lutheran) Church records that records many Keiser/Kaser families.
- Did she convert from Catholic when she married Joseph, or had her family drifted away from the Catholic church before that?
The Birth Family of Elizabeth Stahler
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 the home of her grandfather, Christian Henrich. Christian was a man 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 Collum, 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).
The Registry in translation lists Elizabeth’s parents as Adam Stahler and his wife Mary. This may be a simplification by the translator, as their “real” names were Johann Adam Stahler and Eva Maria (or Mary). The sponsor at Elizabeth’s baptism included her grandmother, Margaret Henrich.
Elizabeth had an older sister Catherine, born in 1768. Either I am missing some records, or the couple may have lost some children in infancy, but for five years there are no more additions to the family. Following Elizabeth in quick succession came Christian, 1776 (named for their Grandfather) ; and Eva Maria/Mary, 1777, named for their mother. If there were other children, I have not seen them in church records.
Besides having lots of little children around the house, the big event in young Elizabeth’s life must have been her father’s military service. During 1776 and 1777, Adam was serving in the militia as a Captain fighting the British in the American Revolution. (His service record will get more detailed attention when I talk about his life.) As a toddler, Elizabeth might not have understood, but she would have been very aware of his activities with the militia.
That military service must have proven disrupting, not only because there were four small children at home for their mother to care for alone, but also because the war was not very far away.
Building a Family with Joseph Kaser
Between 1798 (speculation) and 1800, Elizabeth Stahler married Joseph Kaser (also spelled Keiser, Kaiser, Kayser). He was nearly two years younger than Elizabeth, and of a different religion. Joseph and Elizabeth had nine children while they lived in Pennsylvania. I listed the children and my reasoning behind certain assumptions when I wrote about Joseph Kaser. You can check that post here. Since I wrote about Joseph, I have read the Kaser History on microfilm at an LDS Family History Center. I have also scanned the church records that I previously had only seen indexed. I will continue to review that material and update any information I have written about the Kaser family.
About 1824, they moved to Ohio in the area of Clark, a small town bordering Holmes County and Coshocton County.
According to The Kaser History: A History of Dates and Other Interesting Facts (1994) edited by Deborah D. Morgan and others, of the nine children of Joseph and Elizabeth, seven remained in Ohio and two moved to Indiana after the deaths of their parents.
1800: George Kaser (G.B., Census reports 1840-1870) [My ancestor.]
George married in 1822, had a son born in Pennsylvania in 1823, and another born in eastern Pennsylvania in 1824. I believe they were traveling with his parents and his wife was pregnant when they left Lehigh County and had the baby along the way.
1802/3: Elizabeth Kaser born (according to G.B. No other evidence yet.)
1806: Jonathan (Find a Grave–buried in New Bedford, OH; 1860 census)
1807: Lydia Kaser (Church birth and baptism dates)
1808: Joseph Kaser, Jr. (Census records and Find a Grave , buried at New Bedford, Ohio)
1810: Anthony (or Andrew?) Kaser ( Church birth records)
1814: Nathan Kaser (Church records; some census records)
1816: Timothy Kaser (Church birth records; Find a Grave–died in N. Liberty,St. Joseph County, Indiana)
1818: William Kaser (Church birth records; Find a Grave–died in St. Joseph County, Indiana)
(The Kaser History also mentions a “Tom” and an unamed infant who died early, but I have found no record of them. It is possible that “Tom” could be a misreading of Tim for Timothy, but I do not know for sure.)
Although the oldest five would have certainly been old enough to help with the move, it certainly was quite an undertaking for Elizabeth to move her entire household with children from six years old to twenty-four years old. You can see a map that clarifies how difficult the terrain was, if you click on this link to George Kaser.
Is my speculation about the birth of Joseph Kaser III correct?
What is the relationship of Elizabeth Stahler (Kaser) to the wife of George Kaser –Lydia Stahler/Stehler/Staehler (Kaser)?
Apparently the Kaser family was close–quite literally because they lived on farms that were adjoining or very near each other in Holmes County, Ohio.
End of Life
The children were grown and independent by the time their father died in December 1842. Joseph left Elizabeth one stove and a cow, two beds and bedding and such other household and kitchen furniture as she may select, not exceeding eighty-dollars in value. You can see what else the will said at the updated Joseph Kaser post. Joseph signed his will in German and from what I have learned about the German immigrants and their church, I doubt that he spoke much if any English. I wonder if Elizabeth also spoke only German?
I believe that Elizabeth went to live with her son William in or near Nashville, Ohio after Joseph died. William was married, 24 years old and had been named executor of his father’s will.
Elizabeth received news earlier that year that her mother had died in Pennsylvania.
Five months after her husband, Elizabeth Stahler Kaser died at the age of 68.
Although Joseph had been buried in the churchyard if the New Zion Church in New Bedford, Ohio where many Kasers lie, Elizabeth was buried in the cemetery in Nashville, Ohio.
I always try to weave a story around an ancestor’s life, but I can only share the bare facts about Elizabeth, because there is very little evidence to build stories. She married in Pennsylvania, had nine children–about one every two years before the family moved across the central mountains of Pennsylvania to settle in the sparsely settled northwest territory of Ohio. There her sons’ farms thrived and they lived close together, with, I imagine many family dinners and much sharing of work. Her husband left enough to care property to be sold and provide for her, but she only outlived him by a few months.
Her legacy is a family that grew and spread, not only in Ohio but particularly in Indiana and now far beyond the midwest.
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)
Notes on Research
- The “Kaser Genealogy” (aka Green Book) referred to is The Kaser History: A History of Dates and Other Interesting Facts (1994) edited by Deborah D. Morgan and others. Out of print. I first obtained information from a cousin who owns a copy of the book, and then accessed it on microfilm at an LDS church Family History Center.
- Zions Lutheran Reformed Church, Zionsville, PA index of records at Ancestry.com)Unfortunately the website for the church has been updated and they no longer have the history page, but I have given you a link to the “wayback machine” where you can find the old page.
- Birth and Death records from census and Find a Grave through Ancestry.com
- Cemetery records from the New Zion UCC church (formerly German Reform) in New Bedford, Ohio.
- Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998, Record for Joseph Kaser, Will Records, 1825-1906; Index to Wills, 1825-1965; Probate Place: Holmes, Ohio