52 Ancestors: #24 Cornelius Kaser, A Life Cut Short

Joseph Kaser, Carpenter

The handkerchief chest made by great-grandfather Joseph Kaser.

Note:  This week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge suggests “Heirlooms” as a theme.  I have previously written about the only Kaser heirloom that I have–a handkerchief chest made by Joseph Kaser, the father of my grandfather Cliff Kaser and Cliff’s brothers and sisters. I am currently writing about those brothers and sisters. I invite you to read about the beautiful heirloom from their father, here.

For other heirlooms I have written about, see Great Aunt Maude Stout Bartlett’s pewter tea set and china tea set, the story of the wonderful  crazy quilt made by my great-great and great-grandmothers, the baby bed quilt made by my Aunt Irene when I was born, the hall mirror of William and Hattie Morgan Stout, the World’s Fair pitcher, and grandfather Clifford Kaser’s old battered trombone.

Cornelius Kaser (1852-1900)

Cornelius Kaser was the 2nd child of Joseph Kaser II And Catharine Sampsell Kaser. He was born in Bloomfield (later Clark), Coshocton County, Ohio in the family farm surrounded by other farms and other members of the Kaser family. At the time that Cornelius was born, Joseph had interrupted his career as a carpenter to run the grist mill in Bloomfield.

Cornelius (I wonder if they called him Corny?)  soon had a little brother, David, to play with and when he was five, another brother, Johnathan came along.  He would have hardly known my grandfather Clifford Kaser, born sixteen years after Cornelius.

In 1870, the federal census lists Cornelius Kaser in two places, and says he is 19, when he actually would have been 18.  He is listed as a laborer living with his parents and family members, but he also is listed living with the family of Thomas Graham (wife Massa), working as one of two laborers on Graham’s farm. Graham, born in Ireland, must have been doing quite well in the new country, since he had not only two farm workers, but a female domestic servant as well. Surely Graham’s success must have inspired the young man to strive to own his own place.

When he was 25, in 1877, Cornelius married Mary Rust. Mary had been born in New York, but both her parents had been born in Wittenburg, Germany and it appears that their name was originally Röst. About a year after their marriage, Cornelius and Mary had a son, officially named John H. but called Henry the rest of his life. In late 1879, a daughter named Ellen but called Ella joined the family.  By then, Cornelius was living in neighboring Holmes County and working in a coal mine. (Listed in the 1880 census as a “coal digger.”)

The Kaser family moved back to Clark, Ohio, when the census taker knocked on the door in 1900. Cornelius had finally stopped doing hard and sometimes dangerous manual labor for other people. They were living on their own farm on the road between Baltic and New Bedford Ohio. I will have to check land records, but since Cornelius’ father Joseph Kaser died a few years earlier, and Cornelius was the oldest son, this could very well have been the family home.

Having been married 23 years, Cornelius and Mary had five children in 1900.  They had lost no children in infancy or childhood.

The eldest son, now listed as Henry J. (22) was living at home and working as a farm laborer. Their daughter Ella also at home and also listed as a day laborer was now twenty years old. Three more children had joined the family, Otto (17) already working “out” as a day laborer, Wilbert (13) and Mary Elsie (7),

Cornelius was 48 at the time of the 1900 census, but was not listed as having an occupation, which was an oversight, since from later documents it is clear he now owned his farm.

The census was taken in June.

Cornelius died in July.

Obituary Cornelius Kaser

Democratic Standard Newspaper, Coshocton Ohio 13 July 1900

While the reporter sensationalized the death by adding the “five small children” remark when the children ranged all the way to twenty-two years old, his death would have been a terrible shock. And it was particularly sad knowing that he had finally achieved the goal of owning his farm and would not live to enjoy it.

Cornelius Kaser was buried at the Lutheran Cemetery in New Bedford, Ohio, near his farm.

Ironically, my great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side, Joseph (Joe) Anderson, also a farmer, died in 1883 as a result of injuries from a fall from a tree. An occupational hazard of farming in fruit tree country, it seems.

Cornelius’ younger brother Clifford, my grandfather, had been married only seven years and had just one child at the time of Cornelius’ death, so my father, born in 1909 never even met this uncle.

While finding Cornelius’ story, I became curious about what became of his family after his death, and so the next story (or group of stories) that I share will be about how a family survives the early death of the father.


How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, the son of
  • Clifford Kaser, who is the brother of
  • Cornelius Kaser

Research Notes

Census records from 1860 (German Twp, Holmes Co, Oho); 1880, Mechanic Twp, Holmes Co., Ohio; 1900 German, Holmes Co. Ohio)

Democratic Standard Newspaper, Coshocton Ohio 13 July 1900, page one, “Fractured His Neck.”

Death Record. Hayes Presidential Center Obituary Indexers and Volunteers. “Ohio Obituary Index.” Database. Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. http://index.rbhayes.org/hayes/index/ : 2009.

All of these records were accessed through Ancestry.com


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