Tag Archives: Ohio

52 Ancestors: #50: Paul Kaser, No Permanent Residence

Paul Kaser 1909-1996

Where you live provides hints to a life.  Why did you live where you did? How did the place and the circumstances influence you?

It has occurred to me that my children and grandchildren may not have any idea about the movements of my parents, Paul and Harriette Anderson Kaser–who were VERY mobile. After all, if the information you have about a person consists of “Born: Clark Ohio” and “Died: Tucson, Arizona”, you are missing a lot of life in between.

So I am going to talk about the times in between, starting with my father, Paul Kaser.

We always joked a lot in my family about my mother’s family having gypsy blood, because they loved to travel. But as I look at the pattern of my father’s life, he seemed to enjoy keeping on the move, as well.  Here’s the timeline.

Baby Paul Kaser

Baby Paul Kaser

1909: Born in Clark, Ohio. Clark is a small village, unincorporated, that straddles two Ohio Counties, Holmes and Coshocton. According to the census, the Kasers lived in both sides of that line from time to time.

Clifford Kaser Tin Shop

Kaser Tin Shop, Keith, Clifford, (front) Milton, Paul. About 1914. Killbuck, Ohio

1911-1912: Family lived in Killbuck Ohio, where his father, Cliff Kaser, started a business. Killbuck is only a few miles away from Clark, but was a slightly larger town (approx. 900 population).

Paul Kaser Tacoma Park MD, Seven-Day Adventist

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

1914-1915: This school year, Paul was a student in Takoma Park MD, where his family lived to be near the Seven Day Adventist main gathering.

Before 1920: Family lived in Millersburg, Ohio, where he went to school, but returned to Takoma Park during the summers of 1921-23 for Seventh Day Adventist camps. The Kaser home in Millersburg was on a main street, across from the school. Millersburg was and is the County Seat of Holmes County, about 15 miles away from Clark and Killbuck.

Paul Kaser 1920s

Dandy Paul Kaser 1920s

1926: Went to Washington D.C. to start seminary in September, but his mother died in October, and his father made him return to Millersburg to help with the business and his younger brother, until the business was sold in 1928.

1926-1929: Lived in Millersburg Ohio with his father and younger brother until younger brother until his younger brother died.

1929-30: Worked and lived (probably in a rooming house) in Wooster, Ohio.  Wooster is in the next county north of Millersburg.

1930: His father died and he lived briefly with his older brother, Keith, who lived on a farm near Millersburg, Ohio

1931-1937: Returned to Killbuck, Ohio where he worked at various jobs, and probably lived in rooming houses, or with his sister Irene Kaser Bucklew.

1937: moved to New Philadelphia Ohio for a job. He had worked at part time and temporary jobs throughout the depression, but he wanted to get married and Harriette Anderson would not marry him until he had a permanent job.  He answered an ad for a government job in New Philadelphia.

Pau; Kaser 1940s1938: Married and moved with new wife to apartment ,#12, 2080 Front Street, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. [WW II Draft Registration] Cuyahoga Falls and New Philadelphia are in northwestern Ohio. Cuyahoga Falls is a suburb, north of Akron.

1939: Apartment in New Philadelphia: 344 Sixth Street, NW. New Philadelphia is a pleasant, medium-sized city in northwestern Ohio, about 70 miles south of Cleveland.

1940-1943: Rented home at 337 5th Street, NW New Philadelphia, where he, his wife and first baby live.  My mother wanted to stay in New Philadelphia, but opportunity drew them elsewhere.

September 1942-January 1944: 2521 Chamberlain Street, Ames Iowa [Application for Chicago job Jan. 9, 1944]

1944-March 1946: Chicago, Illinois to work with U.S. Weather Bureau, lived at apartment at 5213 Dorchester Ave., Chicago, Ill. [10/19/45] and later at an apartment near the University of Chicago, 5136 Kimbark Avenue, Chicago 15, Ill. [from letter to draft board] I can remember the latter apartment, although I was only three or four. When my mother’s father died in the summer of 1944  she returned to Killbuck, and she stayed there to give birth to my brother in October 1944. Paul soon also found a way to get back to Ohio.

Paul Kaser famil, 1944

Paul and Harriette Kaser with baby Paul William and Vera Marie 1944, Killbuck Ohio

Summer, 1944: During one of those summers during the war years, while my brother was still in a baby buggy, the four of us spent the summer on Mt. Weather in Virginia, not far outside of Washington.  It was an idyllic break in the usual routine.  I’ll talk more about Mt. Weather in future installments.

March 1946- 1947: Under address on forms, father poignantly writes, “no permanent address.” The young husband apparently does not want to admit that the family is living with his in-laws. He is working for an Ohio government office with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, and his wife and two children are in Killbuck with Vera Anderson, but he spends most of his time on the road on his job, living in hotels. When he is in Columbus, he has a rented room.

Kaser House in Columbus

Franklin Avenue House (on left) in 1992. Nearly 50 years after we lived there.

1947-1948: The family rents a house in Columbus Ohio on Franklin Avenue. This house was just a few blocks away from one of the main streets east of the downtown, Broad Street.  The large brick houses were originally built early in the 20th century for the managers of the breweries that were once common in Columbus. It was what is euphemistically known as a “changing” neighborhood. On streets around us, homes were declining in value, and poorer and poorer people were moving in to what was once the area where writer James Thurber lived. When I visited in 1992, the area was become gentrified–recovering from having been a haven for crack houses. Many of the houses on our street were gone, burned to the ground.

Fall, 1948: Purchases  a house for the first time in his life, at age 39 at 1445 Loretta Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, so he can spend more time with his family, which is about to increase, as a 2nd girl is born. This is in Linden, an area of Columbus north of the University. It was a blue collar area with well-cared for homes.  Since then it has fallen into disrepair.

Fall, 1952: Purchases a house in Killbuck Ohio on Schoolhouse hill, because he decides that a small town is a better place for children to grow up than in the city. Additionally, my mother can get a teaching job near Killbuck, and help the budget of the growing family.

Fall 1956: Purchase a house at 325 Conklin Drive, Hilliard Ohio. Hilliard is a Western suburb of Columbus Ohio. On most days he drives me to Ohio State University on his way to his downtown office. This house is in a new subdivision and the house backs up to an open area. Once again he has a backyard in which to garden, and a house to improve–he adds a recreation room in the basement and adds built-ins to his daughters’ room.

Paul Kaser Retires

Paul Kaser’s Retirement

August 1969:  Retired. After retirement, he and his wife lived in two different apartments or condos in Columbus, Ohio before moving to Arizona.

In 1962, when I moved to Arizona with my husband and first child, my parents were sad to see us go, but cheerfully remarked that it would give them an excuse to travel to Arizona, where they had never been. In fact they visited frequently, and eventually moved there.

1970s: Purchased house in Scottsdale, Arizona to be nearer his two daughters in Arizona and son in California.

1986: Sold house and moved to Mesa Arizona to be nearer younger daughter.

1988: Moved to apartment in Scottsdale after his younger daughter moved away.

1992-1996: Retirement at  independent living facility in Tucson Arizona, near me, his older daughter. There he died in 1996, at the age of 87.

One thing that stands out in Paul Kaser’s life is the large percentage of time he spent living in rooming houses, boarding houses and hotels. Living under other people’s roofs influenced him. For one thing, it made him a stickler for cleaning up after oneself. For instance, he never used the bathroom sink or tub without wiping it out afterwards.

Because he realized what a privilege it was to own his own home, he also threw himself into home ownership with a passion. Once he was able to live in his own house he built  bookcases, painted and repaired, landscaped and gardened.

Loretta Avenue garden

Loretta Avenue garden, in Linden area of Columbus Ohio.

From 1946 until his retirement in the 80s, Paul Kaser drove from one corner of the state of Ohio to another in his job with the Division of Water Resources. My father spent so many hours driving the roads of Ohio, that his left arm, which he habitually rested on the open window, was permanently darker than his right.

Although he enjoyed the traveling life, and meeting a variety of people, once he got home, he wanted to stay there.  Mother, who had been “stuck at home” was always ready to go for a drive or take a road trip. Understandably, that did not sound very appealing to Father.  However, once he got out on the road with the family, he probably enjoyed the journey more than anyone else.

I think the lifelong necessity of having to go wherever the jobs were (just as his father had to a lesser extent) led him to feel comfortable wherever he was.

The other thing that his life in rented rooms and hotel rooms did for him was give him time to read. He read widely, but particularly liked Biblical history, archaeology and mysteries.   He went through every contemporary detective book–Micky Spillane’s Mike Hammer books were favorites; and he educated himself on such arcane subjects as ancient history by reading a ten-volume set on history before the Romans. For a person whose college career was halted before it even began, he was the best educated person I knew.

Information for this profile comes principally from his own biographical notes, except where I have added document sources in brackets.


Paul Kaser 1981

Paul Kaser 1981


Holiday Recipe: Mrs. Lanham’s Fruit Cake

Fruit Cake

Mrs. Lanham’s Fruit Cake ready for Christmas.

Mrs. Lanham, who made these fruit cakes, was short and well padded. She had one of those rubbery faces that results from having teeth extracted without replacing them with false teeth. She was loving and friendly, and could always be counted on to provide some sweets to a little girl.

You can see her at the top of the page in the picture of the Anderson restaurant. The woman 2nd from the right is Grace Lanham. Her arms are folded, her apron is tidy, and she has a net on her hair.

I always knew her as Mrs. Lanham.  She would have been about 47 years old in this picture, when she was working in the restaurant that Vera and Guy Anderson, my grandparents, ran in their home in Killbuck.

Even though she is not an ancestor–or even a relative–she did wear aprons, and she was a good cook.  So I was pleased to find a recipe card in my mother’s collection that was labeled “Mrs. Lanham’s Fruit Cake” with the note at the top, “Worked for Grandmother“, in case I had forgotten who she was.

This is definitely one of the easiest fruit cake recipes you will find. So you do not need to be intimidated. And if people don’t like fruit cake, call it “raisin cake.” It is, indeed very similar to Aunt Rhema’s raisin bars.

Permanent Wave Machine

Permanent Wave Machine used in 1940s

Mrs. Lanham lived just across an alley from the Andersons, in a tiny brick house that had once been a post office. The building later served as a beauty shop where I got my first permanent on one of those machines that looked like an instrument of torture.  But I digress.





This fruit cake recipe has to be one of the simplest ones in existence.  Of course, I couldn’t just let well enough alone. I had to add a few touches.  But I resisted gussying it up by putting red and green maraschinos on top of the dough to decorate it, but of course once you bake it, it is YOUR recipe, so feel free to gussy away.

fruit cake

Mrs. Lanham’s fruit cake. The one on the left has already been wrapped in a brandy-soaked cheesecloth.

I will admit that this is not a regular at my house, but only because I make Emily Dickinson’s  Black Cake every year. (Feel free to follow that link and compare her more complex cake, which I refuse to call fruit cake.)  I borrowed a bit from Emily, and wrapped Mrs. Lanham’s cake in brandy-soaked cheesecloth.  I don’t think she would disapprove (although she no doubt was baking this during Prohibition, and I can’t really see her buying bootleg liquor).  It is just that Mrs. Lanham’s fruitcake was probably developed during Depression and War years, when some products were scarce.

In fact, if you’re baking for someone with an egg allergy, note that this cake has NO eggs!

Mrs. Lanham’s Fruit Cake Recipe

Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Occasion Christmas


  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups raisins (or 1 C. mincemeat, 1 C. raisins)
  • 1/2lb butter
  • 1 1/2 cup water or coffee
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • teaspoon cinnamon


1. Cook together the sugar, raisins, sugar and liquid until butter is melted. Cool.
2. Mix together flour, soda and spice. Stir them into the cooled liquid ingredients.
3. Pour into greased loaf pan or tube pan and bake one hour in 350 degree oven.


I thought the one teaspoon of cinnamon was not spicy enough, so I added another teaspoon, plus a 1/2 tsp of mace. That still did not make an overly spicy cake. You could add cloves or other spices to your liking.

On the recipe card, my mother noted "Nuts, etc. may be added." I decided to add some "etc." and put in some mixed candied fruit I had left from another project, as well as some currants.  I think I would prefer at least half currants.

As you can see in the picture, I used three medium sized disposable loaf pans, since I will be sending two of these to other people. That made for rather thin cakes, and I think it would be better to use two of that size, or just one loaf pan or a tube pan.

My final adjustment, was to wrap the loaves in cheesecloth soaked in brandy. It adds flavor, and also preserves the cakes. Highly recommended.

Permanent Wave machine picture from Health and Fashion Today.

52 Ancestors: #49, The Invisible Aunt Catherine, Illegitimate Child

Catherine Sapp (Butts) (1891-??)

In the small town of Danville, Ohio, St. Luke’s Catholic Church is a long time institution.  In fact, the original St. Luke’s in Danville was one of the oldest Catholic churches in Ohio.  A couple from Maryland, George and Catherine Sapp moved to this area of Ohio, and several families from their Maryland congregation and one nearby–St. Ignatius in Mt Savage and St. Mary’s in Cumberland–followed. The settlement they started was known by their name, and the Sapps donated the land for the first church, a log structure built in 1824.

One of the people who later joined this Catholic Community was  Henry Butts, my great-grandfather, who had been born in 1835 in Pennsylvania. Henry, a day laborer and farmer, fought in the Civil War when it started. He and his wife, Ann Marie Smith Butts were devout Catholics, and there are family stories of how Ann Marie walked to church, many times carrying her small children.

Mamie Butts Kaser mother of Catherine Sapp

Mamie Butts Kaser About 1893– Wedding picture?

So it must have been a great shock for the family when they learned that their daughter, Mary Isadore was pregnant with an illegitimate child. Pictures of “Mame” and the stories that my father told about her give no hint of a rebellious nature.  On the contrary, she looks very meek. How embarrassing it must have been for her to stand in front of the congregation of friends and neighbors with the father of the child, George Sapp as their illegitimate child was christened in 1891.

Was this George a member of the family that had started the church? Judging by census records, he was not a son of the original George and Catherine, and if he was related, I have not been able to prove it, since there are more George Sapps than you might imagine.

The question of why George and Mary did not wed is only one of the many mysteries about K/Catherine Sapp/Butts.  This aunt on my father’s side, is shrouded in mystery.

Why Did George and Mame Not Marry?

Did the Butts disapprove of George? On the christening record at St. Luke’s church, it identifies George as “non-Catholic.” Very strange, if he was related to the family involved with the church. Perhaps he was the black sheep of the family and the Butts family wanted to keep their daughter from him.

Is it possible that the Sapps did not approve of the Butts family?

Was George already promised to another?

What Was Her Name?

Then, there is my mysterious aunt’s name.  The Ohio Birth Records say that her name is Casalena Sapp.  A census report in 1900 has her name as Cathaleen Sapp but in 1910 the census shows her name as Katherine Butts, but since there are Catherines (with a “c”) in both the Butts and Sapp families, Catherine is more likely. (With a bad transcription explaining the “Casalena” and the “Cathaleen”.)

Catherine Sapp/Katherine Butts

Katherine Butts – 1910 United States Federal Census

Catherine Sapp/Katherine Butts

Katherine Butts, dressmaker – 1910 United States Federal Census

One other clue to her name is the fact that my sister’s middle name is Katherine, and my mother explained to me that she was named for “a favorite aunt.”  I always thought that was an aunt on my mother’s side who she referred to as “Aunt Cath” (although her name was really Caroline). My mother did say, “Of course we changed the spelling to “K” because Catherine with a “C” is the Catholic way of spelling it.” And mother was NOT a Catholic. My sister says she always thought it was an “aunt” on my father’s side.

Catherine an aunt? She was really my father, Paul Kaser’s half sister. Apparently the “aunt” part was a family myth that either my father believed, or maintained to hide the illegitimate child.  As my sister points out, my father was very protective of his mother, so might not have wanted to discuss the truth. On the other hand, he seemed pretty open about other things that happened in his family.

That aunt vs sister thing partly explains the confusion about whether her name is Sapp or Butts. Her father’s name was George Sapp, and her mother’s name was Mary Isadore Butts.  Since she was an illegitimate child, her last name was up for grabs. In fact, just two years after C/Katherine was born and baptized at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Danville Ohio, Mary Isadore, known as Mame, married Clifford Kaser and  gave birth to four children, including my father, Paul Kaser, born the year after this picture was taken.

Mame and Cliff Kaser Family 1908

Kaser Family, Irene, Mary I. (Mamie), Keith, Clifford Kaser About 1908

Meanwhile, George and Mary Isadore (Mame) did not want to get married, so when Mame married Clifford Kaser in 1893, and Cliff–apparently not the most tolerant of husbands– did not want to adopt the little girl. So the toddler C/Katherine stayed with her grandmother and grandfather, Henry Allen and Ann Marie Smith Butts. In the 1900 census, the little girl is listed as Cathaleen Sapp, but in the 1910 census, she is 18, listed as a dressmaker, and her name has changed to Katherine Butts.

Where Did She Go?

It came as a surprise to discover her name in this 1910 census, because up until now I had believed the family tale. “A History of the Henry Allen Butts Family” written for a family reunion by Rev. Homer Blubaugh, says:

“Catherine was not accepted by her stepfather [Clifford Kaser], so lived with Ann and Henry Butts, her grandparents, until age 16.  One night she walked out of Henry’s house without saying ‘goodbye’ and is never heard from again by anyone in the family.  Mame’s sister, Rosalie, was there that evening and remembered her quiet disappearance.”

Rev. Blubaugh’s history is a combination of research from original documents and family hearsay, so the age at which the girl disappeared is not the only thing he got wrong. But disappear she does.  I can find no trace of her after that 1910 census.

How on earth will I ever track down the movements of a young woman who wanted to disappear–particularly when I have no idea what name she might have been using? This is where it would be nice to have a long-lost cousin pop up with a clue as to what happened to Casalena/Cathaleen/Catherine/Katherine Sapp or Butts or some other name she assumed when she left the only home she had known. Help??

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the son of
  • Mary I. Butts Kaser, who is the mother of
  • Catherine Sapp (or Butts).

Research Notes

  • “A History of the Henry Allen Butts Family” by Rev. Homer Blubaugh (unpublished)
  • Personal correspondence from Jane Butts Kilgore.
  • Personal correspondence from Mary Vonville.
  • St. Luke’s Records 1829-early 1900. Available through Googlebooks.com for purchase.  I saw the relevant records in person at a visit to St. Luke’s.
  • Birth, death, marriage dates from Ancestry.com various census and other records.