Category Archives: family

Surprising Find! Mame Kaser Writes a Letter

Sometimes doing family research can get rather routine. But sometimes an unexpected find has me dancing and grinning with joy.

I have been working my way through a shoebox of letters between my mother and father, Paul and Harriette Anderson Kaser. Their courtship lasted several years, so there are many letters to transcribe. But a few stray bits and pieces showed up in that shoebox where my mother saved the letters.

As I sorted envelopes by the early 1930s dates, I came across a postmark from Oct 15, 1926. What was that about? Addressed to Paul Kaser, Takoma Park Sta., Washington D.C., c/o W. M. C., the return address reads Box 403, Millersburg, O.

Okay, a letter to my father when he was 17 years old, but who was it from and why was he in Washington D. C.? I knew the answer to the 2nd question, as I had written about my father’s attempt to attend college, and how that dream was interrupted. The c/o W. M. C. Stands for Washington Missionary College, a Seventh Day Adventist institution that his father decreed was the only school he could attend.

When I see the signature, I know this is the first thing I have seen that belonged to my grandmother, Mary Isadore Butts (Mamie) Kaser.

Clifford Kaser Family
Kaser Family: Paul, Irene, Milton, Keith, Clifford, Mary I (Mamie) About 1926

The letter, written in pencil, covers front and back of a page from a small, lined notebook. I am puzzled by the fact that the letter is dated Sept. 17 -26. That is nearly a month before the Oct. 15 postmark. Did she forget to mail the letter? Did she get the date wrong? Is there a missing letter sent in October? Was she waiting to get the promised package assembled? (We learn in a letter from Paul’s brother Milton that a blanket and overcoat are just being sent on 24 October.)

Mame’s Letter

Dear Paul

Got your letter yesterday glad to know you are settled & like it so far. I am going down to get your Bag this after noon. You would have had it to take along but the catalog said they had them down there. you didn’t tell me who your room mate is & how long are you paid up for Did some one meet you or did you go out on the car[streetcar?]
be sure all your things are stamped be fore you send them to the wash. It would be a good plan for you to list the things you send. Don’t send any socks or handkerchiefs they won’t amount to much to send home. Irene [Paul’s older sister] & I canned 22 qts of Peaches to day. Keith [Paul’s older brother]is hauling coal to day. Harold C. Has quit the rubber plant & Verne has quit driving the truck. They can live with out work maybe & get their gass[sic] out of the machines that comes to the shops. Milton [Paul’s younger brother] got a 100 in algebra to day. Say when you write one sheet will do you had two yesterday. You writ [sic] as often & you can address some to Milton.


Getting to Know My Grandmother

I have transcribed this as Mame wrote it, except for adding periods at ends of sentences and capital letters at the beginnings. She only capitalized proper names, and did not use punctuation. Her lack of formal education shows, but her content reveals her personality.

After suggesting her son should not use more than one sheet of paper for a letter, Mame sets a good example of frugality by squeezing her last words onto the top of the first page, and squeezing her signature into the remaining corner. I see her thinking that her admonition might discourage him from writing, and she quickly encourages Paul to write often.

Although the letter is filled with hints of a common sense housewife—don’t send handkerchiefs and socks to the laundry because it’s cheap to send them home—I can see how much she is missing her boy. She wants to know every detail of his life at school. Perhaps she is a bit envious, too, as according to my father, she read the Bible every day, and loved to read the poet Milton. My father gave her credit for instilling his love of learning.

I can’t help being amused as her strict moral sense comes to the fore over the way she imagines “Harold” and “Verne” are going to get gas when they don’t have a job. Apparently they are going to siphon gas from cars (machines) that they encounter at someone’s shop.

While I am excited to finally have something actually touched by my paternal grandmother, whom I never had a chance to know, it is sad as well. She was three months shy of her 58th birthday when she wrote this letter. but she did not live to see her son Paul again, or taste any of those peaches she had canned with Irene.

The timetable tells the story.

December 22, 1925: Mame turns 57

February 13, 1926: Paul turns 17

June 1926: Paul graduates from Millersburg, Ohio High School

September 1926: Milton turn 14 and starts his Freshman year in High School

September 1926 :Paul takes train to Washington D.c. to start college
September 17, 1926: Date Mame puts on letter she writes to Paul

October 15, 1926: Postmark on envelope with Paul’s letter from Mame (This letter or a later one.)

October 24,1926: Date on Milton’s letter to Paul, in which he says, “Everyone fine here.”

October 28, 1926: Mame has a stroke but Paul is not informed.

October 31, 1926: Mame’s death, and Paul is informed and returns to Ohio, never to return to college.

You can read more about Mame and her first daughter; Mame sews for a First Lady; and in the two articles linked above.

How I Am Related

Mary Isadore (Mame) Butts Kaser Is the mother of

Paul Kaser, my father


The original letters from Mame Kaser and from Milton Kaser to Paul Kaser are in my possession.

Other information is drawn from earlier research noted in linked articles above.

The Slaves Name Roll Project

Am I Not a Man and a Brother, Am I not a Woman and a Sister logo
Am I Not a Man and a Brother, Am I not a Woman and a Sister, abolition slogan. From Vermont Journal, May 9, 2001 announcement of speech by Jane Williams, whose property the photograph is.

The Massachusetts Howe Family–Slaves?

I have been tracking family history and writing family stories for eight years now, and have added 5000 names to my family tree. All that time, I have been wondering when the slave-holding ancestors and slaves would show up.

It is true that when we visited Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury Massachusetts, we heard that during the time one of our ancestors ran the inn, a black man lived “upstairs.” The story told is that he was a dwarf, and was very attached to Ezekial, and turned down an opportunity to leave.

According to a book called Tavern Signs of America by Helene Smith, the man, Portsmouth, was 33 years old when he was purchased by Ezekial Howe in 1773. And in 1779, an unnamed “garl” was purchased for £200. Since I have not seen bills of sale or personal property tax records or text of Ezekial Howe’s will, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of those specifics.

Stout Family Members Held Slaves

However, when it came to my research on the Stout family of New Jersey, both concrete evidence and circumstantial evidence made it clear that several of the Stouts owned slaves. The main evidence came from their wills, where it is sad to see the enslaved evaluated in inventories along with beds, cows, and clothing.

Some of the descendants of Richard Stout, the pioneer, migrated to the South and I was not surprised they owned slaves. But I was at first surprised at the number of New Jersey dwellers who listed people among their “belongings” in the 17th and early18th century.

Of course, the Dutch who settled New Netherlands were sea farers and traders. And besides their colonies along the eastern seaboard of North America, they settled in the Caribbean and were active in the triangular trade of slaves from Africa, molasses from the islands of the Caribbean and rum from American colonies.

Slave ship on way to America
From a web site on Women’s History, section on slavery in New Jersey.

At least one direct ancestor and several close relatives owned people and I suspect that some of the seafaring Stouts engaged in the slave trade. While it is not comfortable to realize that I am part of the culture of enslavement, it is part of my family history, and part of the story I tell.

The Culture of Enslavement in New Jersey

An excellent article in Salon covers the whole subject of New Jersey’s slave culture, if you want to know more about how it started so early and endured so long.

A page for the historic New Jersey site, the Durrand Hadden House, presents detailed information about the slave trade in New Jersey with some interesting facts about the laws affecting slavery. One of the laws makes it clear that the colonists held American Indian slaves as well as Negro slaves. The subject of enslavement of indigenous people remains largely untold, and I do not have enough information to talk about the Stout’s possible involvement.

New York and New Jersey, both originally parts of New Netherlands, were the top two slave-holding states in the North prior to the Civil War.

New Jersey was the last northern state to mandate the freeing of slaves, in 1804. Even then, the law did not take full effect for another twenty years.

New Jersey was the last Northern State to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment even after it had become law in 1866.

In 1745, 4000 enslaved blacks lived in New Jersey and 75% of them came from four counties, including Middlesex, Essex and Somerset where many Stouts lived.

Several of the Stout wills give instructions to free the enslaved person listed. It seems that when my ancestors freed their slaves they paid a steep price. Starting in 1714, owners must pay a manumission fee to the government if they wanted to free an enslaved person. The £200 bond would be worth $56,000 today. Plus they were required to pay £20 per year to the freed person. Presumably that served as a guarantee that the freed person would not become a burden on the general revenue of the state.

People Counted as Property

Isaac Stout (1740-1823), my 5th great-grandfather. Clover Hill, New Jersey, Hunterdon County. It is not clear that these two people were enslaved.

Sarah Ann Bodene. Isaac’s will mentions a Sarah Ann Bodene and instructs that she be given sufficient cloth to make a dress from wool which is already in the works. She is not specifically designated as a slave, and it is rare that the enslaved were identified with surnames, so she may have been a servant.

Ben. Ben, a black man is given permission to go in search of a place. Does this mean he was a free black man, or did it mean he was an enslaved man freed by Isaac’s death?

Richard Stout, Cpt. (1678-1749) Grandson of Richard Stout. My 1st cousin 8 times removed. This Richard was a plantation owner and shoemaker. Source: Middleton, Monmouth Co. Will dated Dec 28, 1749, abstract from New Jersey records shown on his Find a Grave site. Despite the fact he had several children to whom he might have willed his slaves, he chose to set them free.

Negro Harry and Bess his wife to be set at liberty and have use of the field adjoining Samuel Tilton for life.

Negro Prince to be free.

Negro woman Nanny to be free.

Jonathan Stout (1665-1722) 7th great grand uncle. Hopewell, Hunterdon, New Jersey.

From New Jersey Probate recordes. Inventory After Death, March 24, 1722. Total inventory £362.2.10. Unfortunately the inventory does not mention names, and gives no information as to what became of them.

Two Negro girls (£20)

1 Negro man (£35)

A Very Large Number of Slaves for New Jersey Family

Jedidiah Higgins (1691-1772)/husband of Hannah Stout daughter of Jonathan Stout above, making her my 1st cousin 8x removed. Source: New Jersey Abstracts of Wills, Monmouth County, New Jersey. Buried in Kingston, Middlesex County, New Jersey. Enslaved: Six adults and Four children.

Negro wench Dinah (to wife Hannah)

Negro Wench Dorothy (To daughter Ann Dawson who dies before Jedidiah, so goes to Ann’s daughters.)

Negro Wench Katherine to daughter Mary Stout

Negro Wench Susannah to daughter Rachel Stout

Negroes Margaret and Silas to son Jonathan

Negro Girl Catherine to wife

Negro boy Santo to wife

Negro boy Cesar to wife

Negro boy Peter to wife 

Two Stout descendants in the South.

Sarah Stout, daughter of Freegift, my 6th great-grandfather, married Ephraim Oliphant (1717-1785). They moved from New Jersey to Loudoun County, Virginia. Source: Index of Tithables of Loudoun County VA and to Slaveholders and Slaves 1758-1786. (Ephraim Oliphant also ran an ad for a runaway servant in a Philadelphia paper in 1751. However, the description says the person has light skin with blue eyes and thin hair–in other words, probably white.)

Slave named Tom

Benjamin Merrill (1731-1771) Benjamin Merrill, son of a grand daughter of Richard and Penelope Stout, my 2nd cousin 7x removed. Source: 1759 North Carolina tax roll.

Negro: Phyllis

Jemima Smith Merrill Butner (1728-1801) Widow of Benjamin Merrill. Source: Her will, May 7, 1801, proved February 1803 in North Carolina.

Negro woman, Hagar (to my daughter Nancy)

Negro girl, Rose (to my daughter Ellien

Negro boy, James (to my son Andrew)

Negro boy, David (to my son Jonathan)

This has not been a comprehensive list, I am sure.  I just noted enslavers and enslaved as I came across them, and will add to this list as I discover more.

If you have been researching your Stout ancestors and have specific names of enslaved to add to this list, please do leave comments below.

The Slave Name Roll Project

A blogger named Schalene Dagutis, who blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees, began collecting names of the enslaved from other genealogy bloggers in 2015. Although she has stopped actively cataloguing those names, people still submit their finds to the Slave Name Roll Project.

In addition to wills and tax records, some states, like Virginia, have lists of slaves and slave owners. I also discovered that New Jersey Marriage Records 1670-1965 (I found it at Ancestry), starting on page 229 shows the Hunterdon County marriages of “Slaves and Negroes.” I did not explore further, but this treasure trove lists the names of those enslaved people getting married and the owners and location.

The National Archives has a good guide to researching slaves in federal records.

A new academic project aims to consolidate all the databases that might help name slaves. It is described here.

David Stout Attacks Court Officers

David Stout, 1667 (?) – 1732

As I have written about the descendants of Richard Stout, I have indicated what generation they belong to, and just published an index of my Stout family articles. I am now doubling back to look at my final direct ancestor, David Stout, from Generation Two.

At first glance, my seven x great-grandfather seems to have lived a pretty ordinary farmer’s life in New Jersey. His farm stood near brothers and sisters on land deeded to them by their father. However, David Stout and other relatives lived through what was known as the Provincial Revolt. That period of unrest reached its peak between 1667 and 1700. We know that frustration drew David into at least one incident that pushed him to unlawful acts.

Once again, thanks to studying the lives of ancestors, I learned about an obscure piece of American history. But first, the everyday life of David Stout.

David Stout, 5th Son of Richard

Listed next to last on Richard’s will and other legal papers, it seems probable that David Stout was the next to last child of Richard and Penelope Stout. Like his older brother Jonathan and younger brother Benjamin, David was born after the family had settled in Middletown New Jersey. The first seven brothers and sisters had been born in Long Island.

We know that these three younger children were born after the distribution of land of the Monmouth Patent in 1665, as they are not mentioned in that document.

Marries and Starts a Family

According to the early genealogy of the Stout Family by Nathan Stout, David married Rebecca Ashton in 1688 when he was 21 and she was 16. (Their birth dates exist in the U.S. and International Marriage Records Index found at

Rebecca and David, with several other Stout family members, were active in the Middletown Baptist Church. Rebecca’s father served as the first minister in that church largely founded by members of the Stout family.

On Rebecca’s mother’s side, she descended from a distinguished lineage that traces back to the Plantagenent Age in England. Although I have few details about Rebecca’s own life, I will be writing about her grandparents, John and Rebecca Ferrand Throckmorton, my 9th great-grandparents. Their family life parallels David Stout’s family life in a surprising way.

Like his father, Richard Sr., David amassed farmland in New Jersey. Unlike his father, he did not seem to hold many public offices. However, he did, we shall learn, take part in civic activities.

The birth pattern of Rebecca and David’s seven children follows a familiar pattern to other Colonial families we have looked at. Babies came along every two years at first. The exception–a 4 year gap between James and Joseph and a six year gap before the youngest, Benjamin, was born.

  • Sarah 1689- ?
  • Rebecca 1691-1772
  • *Freegift 1693-1768
  • James Sr. 1694-1730
  • David Jr. 1695-1778
  • Joseph 1698-1770
  • Deliverance 1701- ?
  • Benjamin 1707-1789

*My 6 x great grandfather.

David moved from Middletown to farmland near Amwell in Hunterdon County either “after both his daughter Rebecca and son James had married” (about 1714), or “about 1725.” The notation in Historical and Genealogical Miscellany contains contradictory statements. However, he spent the rest of his life on that farm, and was buried there in 1732.

Riotous Assembly

At any rate, David Stout was presumably still living in Middletown in the summer of 1700, when he got into a spot of trouble. The story that follows illustrates that life was not all peaceful and bucolic in the “English” part of New Jersey, known at that time as East Jersey. David and his brothers and several sisters and their husbands lived around Middletown and Shrewsbury in East Jersey.

Court Records from Monmouth County dated 27 August 1700, show that the Grand Jury called forth Richard Salter, John Bray, James Stout, David Stout, Benjamin Stout [my emphasis], Cornelius Compton, William Boune (Bowne), Thomas Taylor, Thomas Hankison, Jacob Vindorne, Ariam Bennett, Thomas Sharp, Benjamin Cook, Robert Innes, Thomas Estel and Samuel, a servant to Salter.

The charge: “Riotously assembly on the 17th day of July and assaulting John Stewart, high Sherriff and Henry Leonard on the path near the house of Alexander Adam, beat and grievously wounded the said persons, took their swords from them, carry’d them away and Kept them to the value of five pounds money of this province.”

The Causes

What on earth could possess these pious, hard-working farmers to become a mob? Why did they attack court officials by torchlight on the dirt side streets of Middletown? Why would David, already a father of five children, ranging from two to eleven years, old risk his life? I can hear Rebecca’s pleas to him to not put their family at risk this way.

I will lay the groundwork by explaining more about the Provincial Revolt in my next post. It touches on the ownership of land in the colony, on governance by those purporting to be the King’s representatives. It joins a long string of actions and counter-actions between two factions. The people of Middletown and Shrewsbury, the Monmouth Patent area, refused to swear allegiance to English lords who now claimed the right to collect rent from the colonists.

The Governor’s Council sent officers of the court to force the residents of the two towns to swear allegiance and pay rent. David Stout and two brothers who lived nearby, James and Benjamin, plus his nephew William Bowne, joined ringleaders Richard Salter and John Bray and others to run the rent collectors out of town. Then they beat them, took their swords and ransomed them for five pounds.

Prejudice against Scots, and particular hatred of the present Governor , Col. Andrew Hamilton (a Scot ) no doubt helped rouse the townfolk. Their town had voted not to cooperate. The situation had become so serious that the Governor himself led a troop into Middletown two days after the attack on the officers of the court. The townspeople saw that group of armed men under Col. Hamilton as a mob endangering the safety of the locals. They gathered with sticks, swords and guns. The governor gave up and withdrew.

The Struggle for Independence

The author of The History of Monmouth County draws an interesting conclusion. The people of Middletown and Shrewsbury actually gained independence more than fifty years before the American Revolution. The King’s men gave up trying to get them to comply with imposed rents on their property. They were technically free of obligation to the King’s officers.

I read the account of the trial of the Middletown Sixteen (my own coinage), but I never did learn the outcome. As you will see in my next post, this was neither the first nor the last incidence of violence during the Provincial Revolt. The rebellion against authority went so far as to defend a pirate.

I can see now that David and Rebecca had more to worry about than the effect of the weather on their farm. Perhaps David withdrew from active protests after this incident, because although his brothers show up in other court papers, he does not.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • William Cochran (Doc) Stout, who is the son of
  • Isaiah Stout (1822), who is the son of
  • Isaac Stout (1800), who is the son of
  • Isaiah Stout (1773) who is the son of
  • Isaac Stout (1740) who is the son of
  • Freegift Stout , who is the son of
  • David Stout.

Notes on Research

History of Monmouth County, Franklin Ellis, Philadelphia PA: R T Peck and Company, 1885. Entire text is available at This book contains detailed court records including the story above.

Historic and Genealogical Miscellany : Data Relating to the Settlement and Settlers of New York and New Jersey, Vol. IV , John Stillwell, M.D. New York, NY: Self-published, 1903. This entire text is available at The book contains family trees as well as legal documents from New Jersey covering a multitude of information.

The History of the Stout Family; First Settling in Middleton, Monmouth, New Jersey, by Nathan Stout, self published 1823. Accessed at Family

Stout and Allied Families, Herald Stout. San Diego, CA: Self Published, 1968. Filmed by

U. S. Find a Grave, David Stout, 1667-1732