52 Ancestors, #51, Harriette Anderson, Fire, Flood, Relocation

Harriette Anderson Kaser 1906-2003

Packing and moving sends shivers up the spines of many people.  My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser took it all in stride.  Although she spent almost all of her youth in Killbuck, Ohio, her family frequently moved from place to place.  Then, when she married Paul Kaser, they bounced around the Midwest following his jobs, and eventually moved to Arizona.

I will track her pre-marriage years here, because you can follow his moves after marriage by looking at last week’s article on my father, No Permanent Residence.

1906-circa 1907: Monroe Township, Holmes County, Ohio.


Harriette Anderson

Harriette V. Anderson, six months old, born 1906

Harriette Veolia Anderson was born in her doctor grandfather’s house in Killbuck, Ohio.  Her mother and father, Vera and Guy Anderson were living on a farm near Killbuck in Monroe Township, but her mother went “home” to have her baby.

Vera and Guy named their only daughter for her maternal grandmother, Harriet (Hattie) Morgan Stout and her paternal grandmother, Mary Veolia Brink Anderson. Her grandfather, “Doc” Stout wanted everyone to call her Hattie, and that nickname stuck with her at least into her twenties. She hated the middle name so much that she did not even use the initial.  After she married, she signed Harriette A. Kaser instead of Harriette V. Kaser.

Once she was back in town, Grandma Vera did not want to return to the farm, and they moved into Killbuck where Grandpa “Daddy Guy” tried various businesses.

1907-1924: Killbuck, Ohio

1907: The House that Burned. Grandma Vera did not like country life,. So the family moved from the Anderson family farm into a small house in Killbuck. The first house they lived in had belonged to Mary Morgan, Vera’s grandmother. There disaster struck.  Mother told about it in a recorded memoir:

This house burned in the fire that was known as the Duncan Building fire and Mother and Dad lost all of their furniture.  I was just a baby when this happened.  Grandmother rushed over when she heard the screams of the fire and carried me back to her house.  Bill and Rhema sat in a little wagon out in front of Grandma’s house and watched the house burn down.  The fire broke out at night when everybody was sleeping and completely engulfed their home and also the Duncan Building.

Note: The Duncan Building stood on Front Street in Killbuck between Killbuck Creek and Main Street.

1908: The Little House After the fire, the family (Guy, Vera, older brother Bill and 2-year-old Harriette) lived for a short time with Dr. Stout and Hattie, and then moved into another small house. Later Harriette’s grandmother Anderson joined them. In that house, Vera gave birth to her third child in three years (Herbert, born in 1908)

Harriette also recalled the playpen her father built.

Dad…buil(t) a playpen out on the porch with a frame.  I can remember the frame that they put up, and he put up a wire around it.  You didn’t go out and buy a playpen like you do now. Here’s where Bill and I played hour in and hour out.
Harriette Anderson

Harriette, Herbert and Bill Anderson Circa 1909

1909/10: Monroe Township farm.  Since Guy Anderson was not proving to be a terrific businessman, the family once again tried farm living.  They bought the family farm that belonged to Guy’s Aunt Amy Anderson Roof.

I related my mother’s memories of the farm when I discussed all the people in the family picture taken in 1909. But she had another story to tell that I found very interesting. The fact that they were living on the farm proved to be a life-saver in 1913.

At this same time, there was a tremendous flood down in the valley.  I believe it was called the 1913 flood.

Note: She was right. The 1913 flood was the worst natural disaster ever to hit Ohio. Ironically, it stimulated the installation of steam gages and tracking those and underground water gauges later became my father’s occupation. You can see a USGS video about the 1913 Flood here. And here is what mother remembers:

Killbuck Bridge flood

Undated photo, probably 1929. Flood covers Killbuck Bridge where Main Street leads out of town on

There was no gas, nothing to cook with down there, but Mother did have the tank gas up on the hill where she was living.  Mother would bake loaves and loaves of bread and would load them into the buggy and take a whole buggy load of bread and give it to people because they didn’t have any bread to eat.  Every day while the town was shut off, Mother did this.
Another thing I can remember is the horror of that flood because it called for men to stand out on the bridge and poke with long poles, push the debris and the limbs and all of the things that came washing down, to keep them from back up on the bridge and maybe pushing the bridge off its foundation.  The men would stand on the bridge and poke those things either off to the side or down deep enough that they would float under the bridge.  My dad was one of the volunteers offering to do this.  I cried all night.  Mother said I cried and screamed because I was so sure that my father was going to be drowned.
Harriette Anderson

Harriette Anderson, 16, H.S. graduation 1923


1923-1924: 1453 Wesley Ave., Columbus Ohio

Harriette Anderson

Harriette Anderson and boyfriend Ray Jarvis at Ohio State, 1923

Harriette wanted to go to college, and her father and two brothers thought job opportunities would be better in Columbus, so they moved there in time for her to start school in the fall.  At the end of her first year of college, she was asked to come back to Holmes County to teach. The rest of the family returned to Killbuck and she went to live with her step-sister and husband–Rhema and Earl Fair.

1924-1925: Clark Ohio

Rhema Anderson Fair

Harriette Anderson, Earl, holding Richard, Rhema and Frank in front. (1925, Clark)

1926-1938 Killbuck Ohio

She got a job teaching at the larger school in Killbuck, Ohio, and lived with her parents, who by then were running a boarding house in the old Stout home.  In 1930 she was very briefly married, which is a story for another day.

During her teaching years, she gradually finished her college degree by attending Kent State University in the summers.

Harriette Anderson

Harriette Kaser (on the right) coach of Killbuck Women’s Basketball Team 1928

1938: Dover, Ohio

She married my father Paul Kaser in June 1938, and you can follow their many moves if you care to go to last week’s article on him.

She outlived her husband by seven years, allowing her to see a new century, but they did not reach their goal of having been married for 60 years.

Harriette Kaser 1981

Harriette Kaser 1981

Most of this information comes from Harriette Anderson Kaser’s recorded memoirs that my brother recorded and transcribed (THANK YOU!). Some comes from notes I made of conversations with her late in her life, and from the collection of photographs that she handed on to me. I am so grateful to her for valuing family history and passing on her memories.

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