Finding Joseph Kaser the Carpenter

Joseph Kaser III (1827- Circa 1893)

[Update 2017: I have changed Joseph Kaser II to Joseph Kaser III for my reference. The founder of this line, Joseph Kaser had a son, Joseph, Jr.  Joseph Jr. had a son who should be Joseph II. My great-grandfather was born three years later to Joseph Jr.’s brother, my great-great I grandfather George.  So I believe I erred when I called my great-great-great grandfather ‘II’.]

Do you remember the beautiful miniature chest made by my great-grandfather Joseph the carpenter?

Joseph Kaser's carpentry

Great Grandfather Joseph Kaser made this handkerchief chest.

Last year I wrote about him and the beautiful handkerchief chest I inherited.  But I did not know much about him or any of my father’s line before Joseph.  I knew he was the father of my paternal grandfather, Clifford Kaser, and I knew the names of his children and that he lived in Clark, Ohio when Clifford, next to youngest of seven children. I knew that Joseph was born in Pennsylvania. But what a difference a year makes. (See notes at the end for some of the details and hardships of the search.)

My great-grandfather, Joseph Kaser III was named for his paternal grandfather, Joseph Kaser, whose father may have arrived in America nine years before he was born–but that’s another kettle of fish for next time. Joseph III’s father was George Kaser (possible Johann George Kaser). The proliferation of Joseph’s and George’s in the family contributed to my hair rapidly turning even grayer. (He did not refer to himself as Joseph III. I am doing that to help keep straight the various Josephs–see additional note at top.)

Joseph’s birth year could be 1824 (G.B.), 1825, 1827 or 1830 according to which Census record I choose to believe. Based on the names of spouse and children, despite spellings of Kaser, Caser, Kazer and Kaiser–the reports are all referring to my great-grandfather. He was born in Baden, a small village in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, now part of metropolitan Pittsburgh. (mistakenly listed as the place of birth: state, territory or country: Baden” in the 1870 census). So much for census records being irrefutable sources of information!

At some time prior to 1847, he had moved with his father and mother and family to Ohio where he met Catherine Samsel (Sampsel), who was born in Ohio.  Joseph and Catherine were married on August 17, 1847 (*G.B.) when she was 18 and he was about 20 years old. They lived next to his father George, probably in a house they built on George’s farm.

The family farms (for several of Joseph’s brothers would wind up living in a row) lay near Clark, Ohio.  Clark is an unincorporated town split by the county line between Coshocton County and Holmes County Ohio. Clark was originally called Bloomfield.  And the Holmes County portion lay in German Township, an unsavory name when World War I came along–so it became Clark Township.  That means that without going anywhere, they might be listed as living in Bloomfield, Clark Township, Coshocton, Ohio, or German Township, Holmes County, Ohio or a few other variations.

The population of German Township had swelled from 246 in 1830 to 703 by 1840. The settlers were mostly German or German Swiss who were fleeing religious persecution in their native lands.  Most of the new arrivals had first settled in western Pennsylvania and then later moved across the Ohio River into Ohio.

In 1842 the town boasted a store and by 1854, two physicians.  What they could not get in Clark, they could find in nearby Killbuck, Holmes County, which held several blacksmith shops and other necessities of life.

Joseph and Catharine continued to live next door to papa George Kaser and his wife Lydia as their children arrived.

  • 1849: Susan (Named for Joseph’s mother Susan)
  • 1852: Cornelius
  • 1853: David
  • 1855: Johnathan
  • 1864: Anna (known as Emma, possibly named for Joseph’s sister Ann.)
  • 1867: Clifford (my grandfather. Another Clifford is the grandson of Joseph’s brother, Daniel.)
  • 1870: Edward

There was a school a mile outside of town in 1850, and private schools and classes at churches taught in German as well as English. As far as I have been able to learn, the children’s education stopped at 8th grade.  The boys started working as laborers when they became teens.

By 1850, Joseph is established as a carpenter. Several of his brothers are carpenters as well, a talent prevalent among the German Swiss Mennonite population of the area even today.  In 1860, Joseph is listed as a miller.  Perhaps the Civil War created more demand for a miller than for a carpenter?

It appears that none of Joseph’s younger brothers fought in the Civil War, although George and Samuel would have been the right age.  Perhaps the family were conscientious objectors.

Before the baby of the family came along, Susan had married and Cornelius had gone to work as a farm laborer for another family nearby. In 1870, when he is 19, Cornelius is listed with the Graham Family in Clark.

The next son, David, stays with his parents even after he is married in June, 1880, but later moves out on his own and tries various vocations. Johnathan also lives at home until he is married  in 1883, although he is working “outside” as a day laborer. Even after he is married with several children, his occupation continues to be day laborer.

Joseph Kaser III seemed to do well in the world, accumulating some wealth, no doubt some of it from the farm, but also from his carpentry and his short stint as a miller. Since he and his brothers stayed clustered together near their father, and several of Joseph’s sons also stayed in the same area, it is ironic that the closeness of the Kaser clan did not continue into my father’s generation, leaving me with so many questions about my Kaser ancestry.

The Kaser Geneaology * states that Joseph died on January 12, 1893, but I have no other verification of his death date.  His wife, Catherine, outlived him by at nearly 20 years if the Kaser Genealogy is correct, dying in 1910 (G.B.). [UPDATE: I have since found a record in Find a Grave indicating that Catharine Kaser was buried in 1911 in the Clark (Ohio) Cemetery.]

Notes on the Research

Last year, having decided that great-grandfather Joseph was a dead end, and my Kaser research was stuck in Pennsylvania in the 1820s in Pennsylvania, I moved over to tracing my mother’s line.  Before I left the Kasers, I had found an 1850 census that showed a George Kaser living next door to a Joseph Kaser.  This George was the right age to be Joseph’s father and Joseph would fit neatly into the line of births in the family.  But I could not easily locate more information, so I closed the Kaser file.

Breakthrough #1

It turns out that the 1850 census was just the first breakthrough, and would be proven to indeed be a father and son–not to mention other sons–who lived in a row.

Breatkthrough #2

A few months ago, the second breakthrough came when a Kaser cousin got in touch through Facebook.  She owns a copy of what we call *”the Green Book” (G.B.), a Kaser family lineage book.  While some of the information in the book is proving to be shaky, it did confirm the names of Joseph’s brothers and sisters   (my paternal grandfather Cliff Kaser’s uncles and aunts) as well as the names of Joseph’s children–Clifford Kaser’s siblings.  The facts matched up with the little bit my father had told me, years ago.

The Green Book traces the Kasers back to Europe, but tells two contrasting stories, so like most research finds it presents new puzzles along with some answers.

Breakthrough #3

Finally, after look for Kaser, Caser, Kaiser, Kayser, Kaiser and other variant spellings, I discovered a George Kaeper in the 1870 census that proved to be my great-great-grandfather George Kaser.  I would never have searched for that spelling, but I used one of genealogists favorite tricks.  When you find a known family member in a document like a census record, read all the pages surrounding the record to see if relationships jump out.

I found Samuel Kaser (27), family #95 next to Charles Kaser (35) Family #96 in Monroe Township, Coshocton County, Ohio and there at family #94 was George Kaeper. George Kaser was the father of Samuel and Charles, and Joseph.

Kasers in 1870 Census

1870 U S Census for Clark Twp Coshocton County

So where was Joseph? Doing a search for variant spellings, I found Joseph Kaeser in Clark Township, Coshocton County, the neighboring township (family #86). It is even possible that the township line split George’s farm between counties. All these families are confirmed to be the right people by ages and other family members listed with them, and I know that they had a habit of living close to each other.

In 1860 George and sons Charles, Thomas and Joseph all listed with the last name spelled Caser, are living in a line in German Township.

Joseph Kaser family in census

1860 U. S. census for German Township, Coshocton County Ohio

Other Sources

U.S. Census, 1840 (George Kaiser) German, Holmes, Ohio; 1850 (George Kaser), German, Holmes, Ohio; 1860 (George Caser) , Clark, Coshocton, Ohio; George Kaeper,  Spring Mountain, Monroe Twp.,Coshocton, Ohio

Church Record Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985, (United Church of Christ) Henry’s Church of the Bethern (Spring Creek Dunkard) pg 470 in Lancaster County PA Gravestone Inscrptions , Dr. Al Gerberich Collection. Genealogical Society of PA

Census Non-Population Schedules  1850, German, Holmes.

I have checked an online copy of History of Coshocton County: Its Past and Present, 1740-1881, by A. A. Graham (1881).  Available at Google Books.

The Kaser History: A History of Dates and Other Interesting Facts (1994) edited by Deborah D. Morgan and others.  Birth and death dates from “the Green Book” were sometimes verifiable at through Ohio online records, where they have not been confirmed, I have noted (G.B.) beside the information.

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 III.
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7 thoughts on “Finding Joseph Kaser the Carpenter

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Thanks, Amy, and I apologize for my snippy note from last week. It is thanks to pros like you that I have learned those little tricks that plow through the brick walls. Sounds like you had a very productive week in Salt Lake City.

  1. Deborah Harrison

    It looks to me as if the Kaeper is actually Kaesser (the “p” being a German spelling of ss). The Rebecca in George’s household has a last name of Kaesser.

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Hi Deborah: I agree, but the transcribed version of the census, which is what shows up in searches, had the p. Since the spelling Kasser had not turned up before for George, I didn’t think to look for either that or the “p” version. At that point, I was not yet convinced that Rebecca was actually his daughter, although now I am, and I’m going to write about her, because the little I know points to an interesting life.

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  3. Stacy Fleming

    Hello. My name is Stacy Jo Kaser. I am married so now its Stacy Fleming and I have been trying to learn my ancestry. My father was older when I was born and passed when I was 2. I dont have any memories of him except fir a piece of paper and a set of encyclopedias. Here is the family line I have found so far:
    Clarence Kaser- 1913 to 1986 (Warsaw, Coshocton)
    Austin Kaser- 1884 to 1949 (Clark, Coshocton)
    Jonathan Kaser- parents were Joseph and Catharine Sampsel
    Joseph Kaser- from Beaver, PA.

    I was reading this article and trying to map it further down the line. Im just trying to see where we are from. Thank you for all your research! Be blessed

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Always glad to find a new Kaser cousin. I do a lot of whining about the lack of information on my Kaser line–particularly further back–Pennsylvania and before that.

      Who knows. Maybe you’ll find something that will help break down those brick walls I talk about.


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