Tag Archives: Lehigh County

Just the Facts: Elizabeth Stahler and Her Family

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Questions:

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

52 Ancestors: #8 The Values of George Kaser

George Kaser b. 1800- d. After 1870

My great-great grandfather, George Kaser was a mystery to me until an accidental discovery, which I described last week when talking about my great-grandfather Joseph Kaser II.  That discovery led to several more records unmistakably George.

While our ancestors always remain something of a mystery–particularly without journals and letters to hear their voices, the bare facts of census reports and church records have shown me where George Kaser’s loyalties lay.  He stayed loyal to his extended family. He was loyal to his culture and the German language. He was a supporter of his church.

Baptism church of George, listed in the Kaser Genealogy Book as Zions Lutheran Church, Zionsville, PA.

This is a huge help, since those records as indexed include lots of the Kaser names we’re working on, but to see the entire record, I’ll need to go to the LDS Family Research Center. The index tells me that George was born on February 2, 1800 and baptized on April 11, 1800 at Zions Lutheran Church, a German Reform congregation in Zionsville, Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.The history of that church is here.

GERMAN HERITAGE

George’s grandparents had emigrated not too long before his father Joseph Kaser I was born.*  Although I have not looked for immigration records yet, it seems obvious that the family first arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum has numerous displays of great interest, particularly if your ancestors arrived through Pennsylvania’s port.  When I visitied a few years ago, museum personnel had to come looking for me and persuade me to leave at closing time because I was lost in time looking at exhibits of the people of many nations who poured into Philadelphia in the 18th and 19th centuries. (And that was BEFORE I started exploring my own family history.)  Follow this link if you want to visit the museum on line, or plan an in-person visit.

Many of the German families who arrived in Philadelphia had no love for the city.  They were farmers, looking for fertile soil and abundant timber.  Most moved further inland to Lehigh County, first settled by German immigrants in 1735.

There they could build their own log churches in peace, rather than be harassed as they had been in Germany for rebelling against the “high church.”  They could live comfortably with their own customs and their own German language.

The first schools were started by the churches.  Almost all the churches in the area had only German language services and general classes were likewise taught in German. In fact, the first English-speaking services were not conducted until 1891– long after George and his family had moved to Eastern Pennsylvania.

It seems clear that my second great-grandfather, George Kaser, did not speak English at all, unless his younger children, who attended bi-lingual schools taught him a bit.

CLOSE FAMILY

About 1823, the twenty-three-year-old George Kaser married a woman named Lydia, who may have been twenty at the time. She also had been born in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Counties map from Rootsweb.

By the following year when their son Joseph II (my great-grandfather) was born, the family had moved to Baden, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. On the map above, you can see the county designated as LEH (Lehigh) on the right and BEA (Beaver) on the far left of the map.  Because of the pattern of this family’s relocations, I will assume that his father, mother and siblings moved across the state at the same time and all settled in Baden together. And it is a good thing they had a big family to help. You see that purplish color in the map below?  That’s the Appalachian Mountains.  And they would have been crossing them on foot, or at the most with a few wagons for the oldest and youngest family members.  “Big Deal. Just moving across the state, you think?”  Think again.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Relief Map by United States Geological Survey (USGS)

It is quite possible that deed records may show that the family never actually lived in Beaver County, but only paused their briefly so that Lydia could give birth, because all the rest of George and Lydia’s children were born in Ohio. If that is the case, Lydia was traveling in her last weeks of pregnancy on this difficult journey.

As is usually the case in these pioneer families, the children came at approximately two-year intervals, six boys and three girls by 1840.  The exception was the last child, Samuel, born four years after his nearest sibling in 1840, when Lydia was about 40 years old. A surprise child!

At any rate the family moved ultimately to an area on the border of Holmes and Coshocton Counties in Ohio.  At the time of the 1840 census, George’s father Joseph and his wife, George’s three brothers Joseph Jr., Timothy and William are all living near George, on adjoining farms near Bloomfield (Clark), Ohio. The town straddles the Holmes/Coshocton County line.

Although Ohio had become a state in 1803, it was still a rough land when the Kaser families arrived.  The History of Coshocton County points out that as late as 1835 there were still chunks of “unentered” (in other words, wild, unclaimed) land in the county.  They go on to point out that the county’s populations was almost entirely German.

RELIGION IN OHIO

Once again clinging to their culture and their German Reform church, the Kaser clan attended the Zions Reformed Church (now Zion United Church of Christ) in New Bedford, Coshocton County, Ohio. At that time the church was a log building. A new building was built in 1858, and the building that stands today was built in 1889.

Church, New Bedford OH

Zions United Church of Christ/Zions Reform Church, New Bedford, Ohio.

Several of the Kaser burials in Ohio are at a Zions Reform Church. (39 listed on Find A Grave.com) You can see their cemetery plot map here:  (Actually, I was unable to get it to download, so wish you luck. If you decide to visit them, I’m sure you can get a hard copy.)

New Bedford, Ohio is in the northern part of Coshocton County, near Holmes County and logical destination for people who lived around Bloomfield (later called Clark). The Coshocton County history (written in 1881) points out that most of the residents of the township that includes New Bedford were German. and 4 of the 5 churches had services only in German. Plus three more churches just over the line from the township boundary also were German-speaking churches. The New Bedford Zions Reformed Church did not hold all English services until the 1880s.

GEORGE AND HIS FAMILY PROSPER

Life was rough, but the Kasers seemed to prosper (and multiply!).  Twenty years or so after arriving in the wilderness Ohio, the 1850 agricultural census lists George’s assets at a cash value of $1880, while farms around him are valued at $100-$1500.  He had 55 improved and 30 unimproved acres and owns 4 horses, 4 milch cows, 2 other cattle, 18 sheep and 11 pigs.  He raises wheat, Indian Corn and oats.

Seven of Lydia and George’s children are still living at home in 1850, and son Joseph II lives next door in German Township (Later called Clark Township), Holmes County.  Also nearby is George’s brother Joseph Jr.  George’s son Daniel has moved with his 15-year-old wife and infant.  He is working as a blacksmith, but still has a few acres for his two cows and two sheep–necessities of the self-sufficient rural life.

By the time he is 60, George’s holdings have increased in value to $3000, now listed in Clark Township, Coshocton County.  Besides his wife Lydia, his sons George Jr. (23) and Samuel and his daughter Lydia (16) are still living at home.  Sons Charles, Thomas and Joseph all live adjacent and Daniel’s holdings on his farm in Holmes County are increasing. Daughter Rebecca lives with a widower who lives nearby, probably caring for his children.

In 1870, I find George Kaeper (probably misspelling of the original German Kaesser) at 70 years old  living in Monroe Township, Coshocton County with his now 30-year-old son George Jr. and his 26-year-old daughter Lydia.  I will talk about Rebecca and other family members in a separate post.  But George’s wife Lydia is no longer listed.  Apparently she died sometime between 1860 and 1870.  Sons Samuel and Charles live on adjacent farms and Joseph lives nearby over the line in Holmes County.

Although he seems to be moving around, George may well have stayed in the same place while county lines changed, or his farm might have extended over the county line and was sometimes counted in one place and sometimes in another.

Here are the Holmes and Coshocton maps of counties by today’s names. (Clark, Holmes, was previously called German). To line them up, Crawford Township, Coshocton should be directly south of Holmes Clark Township.

Homes County Ohio Coshocton County Ohio

The 1870 Census is the last record I have found of George, so he probably died some time in his 70s.

*I am calling George’s father Joseph I to differentiate him from George’s son, Joseph II and George’s brother, Joseph Jr.

GEORGE AND LYDIA’s CHILDREN

  • Joseph II, b. 1824 in PA, named for his paternal grandfather and George’s brother.
  • Daniel, born 1827 in Ohio
  • Thomas, born 1828 in Ohio
  • Ann (Emma) born 1830 in Ohio
  • Rebecca, Born 1832 in Ohio
  • Charles, Born 1834 in Ohio
  • George Jr., Born 1838 in Ohio
  • Lydia (Jr.), Born 1840 in Ohio
  • Samuel, Born 1844 in Ohio

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie 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

Notes on Research

  • The “Kaser Genealogy” 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 obtained information from a cousin who owns a copy of the book.
  • History of Coshocton County Ohio: Its Past and Present 1740-1881 (1881) by Albert Adams Graham. Available on line at Google Books.
  • A History of Lehigh County Pennsylvania from the earliest settlement to the present times, including much valuable information for the use of schools, families, librarians (1902). James J. Hauser, Available on line at Google Books.
  • Pennsylvania County Map: Rootsweb
  • Zions Lutheran Church, Zionsville, PA index of records at Ancestry.com
  • Birth and Death records from census and Find a Grave through Ancestry.com
  • Other websites linked in the article.