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Not Our First Rodeo: A Slice of My Life

The Generations

I have been trying to isolate the blog from the Covid-19 virus pandemic, (a little genealogical social distancing) but decided I should discuss the health challenges that my generation faced. After all, everyone seems convinced that we elderly who were spawned in the Silent Generation are most at risk.

If there is one lesson that the Silent Generation wants to pass on to the other generations, it is that we must work together, as a community to successfully survive these massive challenges. Our parents generation joined together in unprecedented actions and we honor them with the title The Greatest Generation. We need to learn from their actions.

Then it comes to generations, we hear a lot these days about the Millenials–everyone likes to blame them for everything. And the Baby Boomers, who believe that everything is all about them– are verging on proud of the fact that they have reached an age where they are in the most vulnerable class for infection by Covid-19. So how does the present Covid-19 virus compare with the health concerns my own older generation have faced? My inclination is to whine, “Life just hasn’t been fair.”

The Silent Generation

My Senior class at Killbuck Ohio in 1956

I am a member of the Silent Generation. People who like to categorize such things, say that people born between 1928 and 1945 belong to the Silent Generation. Before us, came the Greatest Generation (belatedly named that because of their bravery in WWII and their rebuilding spree after the war) and after us, came the Baby Boomers (1946-1964). Next came Gen X (1965-1980) and then the Millenials (1981-1996). Of course there are more, but I want to narrow the focus to these five, and particularly my own Silent Generation. My children fall on the cusp of Baby Boomer/Gen X.

Our parents had lived through the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II. Most of us arrived on the scene in time to understand and be frightened by the War. I wrote about some of my war memories here. The unfortunate children lost a parent or other close relative to the War. I was lucky and that did not happen to me.

Those two factors, Great Depression and World War, deeply affected the psyche of our generation. It also meant there were fewer of us because our parents lived in uncertain times and many were reluctant to have many children.

We inherited a sense of frugality, which helps in situations that we find ourselves in today, like avoiding excess trips to stores. Because we inherited a sense of pessimism and fear due to economic and political disaster, we coped by keeping our heads down. That is why the name Silent Generation came about. However, don’t let that fool you. We also provided the leaders and many of the workers in the Civil Rights Movement. We women were pioneers in the Women’s Rights/Equal Rights Amendment fight. And those who went into health care fields conquered many of the diseases that had plagued our earlier lives.

Diseases Faced by the Silent Generation

But today, March 2020, all eyes are focused on an enormous challenge caused by a virus called the Novel Virus, or Covid-19. We keep saying we have never seen anything like it. However, if you look at the challenges faced by our Silent Generation, you can see that we have fought such wars before.

Childhood Diseases of the Silent Generation

Typical Quarantine sign posted by the Public Health Service in the 1940s and 1950s.

Isolation and Quarantine. As children, our parents expected we would get the big three childhood diseases: Measles, Mumps and Chickenpox. Unlucky children might also get smallpox or scarlet fever. There were no vaccines. There was no surefire cure. You just rode it out. Mother served us jello and Vernor’s Ginger Ale. I read lots of books. I particularly liked to read a poem by Robert Louis Stephenson who had personal experience with child sickness. The Land of Counterpane comes from “A Child’s Garden of Verses.”

“When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day. “

After the 1944 creation of the Public Health Service, Public Health Nurses arrived on the scene. I clearly remember when my brother and I had measles abot 1948. The Public Health Nurse came to the house and checked on us, and then put a cardboard sign on our front door announcing the quarantine of our house.

Today, instead of assuming that children will get these diseases and the household will be quarantined, the diseases are rare. Scientists developed vaccines: Chicken Pox (1964) ; Measles (1969); Mumps (1971) . Smallpox ended in the U.S. by 1980.

Temporary closing of businesses, stricter isolation in summer months. Another serious disease threatened us and frightened us even more than the 3 childhood diseases. Polio outbreaks occurred in the summer and public gatherings were limited, swimming pools closed, and newsreels at the movie theater filled with footage of children lying trapped in iron lungs. It was a frightening disease. The ban on swimming pools and gatherings created inconvenience during the summer break from school, but unlike the other diseases we had faced, we felt we could do something to beat this one. Kids in the 1950s and 1960s eagerly joined in collecting dimes for the March of Dimes to fight polio. And we all rejoiced at the work of Jonas Salk, who created a barrier in the form of a drop of liquid on a cube of sugar that would immunize against polio.

Silent Generation in College

Development of new medicines and medical decisions. When we moved on to college, the development of a birth control pill was underway. The idea caught the attention of most every woman, and throngs flocked to doctor’s offices for the pill. At first it was only available for menstrual irregularity–not birth control–and hundreds of thousands of women developed menstrual irregularity. When I got married in 1960, my doctor could prescribe the pill, but no one was sure how long it was safe to take it. Before 1960, young women went to the Planned Parenthood office for birth control pills before doctor’s offices were permitted to prescribe.

The pill, welcomed by most women, nevertheless presented challenges as we became test subjects.

Of course there was a catch. Those early pills had been scientifically tested, but now with hundreds of thousands women taking them, we began to see some problems–like increased ovarian cancer rates . So we were, in a sense, test subjects for how this new drug would work in the long term. By 1988, a new, safer, decreased dose pill became available. By then those who started taking the pill in the 60s were no longer on it, and we had no idea what the lasting effects might be.

Silent Generation Gets Married and Starts Families

Unintended consequences. Another drug for women turned out to be a worse disaster. To fight nausea, doctors gave Thalidomide to pregnant women in the early 1960s. Within a few years the doctors knew that the drug was causing horrendous birth defects, and the drug disappeared from the market. But it was the men and women of my generation who lived with this medical disaster.

Ava Gardner and Gregory Pick in The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Government messages drive behavior changes. Finally, we went to the movies and the glamorous romantic leads inevitably smoked cigarettes as they bantered with clever lines. So naturally, we decided smoking was sophisticated and romantic, and we smoked up a storm. We began play smoking with candy cigarettes when we were very small. When we got older, the tobacco companies ratcheted up the pressure. They shipped sample packs of cigarettes to colleges and handed them out at banquets, dances, sporting events. The companies hired students to stand on the Oval and pass out the small packs of cigarettes. Somebody convinced us that the correct social behavior included offering our guests cigarettes as well as booze.

It wasn’t until 1964 when the first Surgeon General’s report on the effect of smoking came out, that society began to act. I remember my father , a smoker, teasing my husband and me. He and my mother had bought me a car, and he drove it from Ohio to Arizona to deliver it in 1964.

“You notice it has no ashtray,” he said. “I figured you two would read and follow the Surgeon General’s report.”

We did not immediately follow that no smoking guidance, but within the next dozen years, we had both quit smoking. The unprecedented national campaign, pushed forward by the government, meant that everyone knew the risks of smoking. Whether they followed advice or not.

Misinformation and behavior changes. In the eighties, another particularly frightening health threat emerged–AIDS. Within the wider population, authorities and organizations battled misinformation. Medical researchers got to work and today instead of being a death sentence, AIDS is a disease that people live with. But the existence of AIDS led to many direct and indirect societal changes from recognition of the gay community to more caution in sexually active adults.

The Silent Generation, a Retrospective

So while some pretty wonderful things happened during the Silent Generation’s adulthood (roughly 1948 to the present), we lived through World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and what somebody recently dubbed our present crisis, World War C. We also faced Senator McCarthy, race riots, Anti-War demonstrations, and many threats to our physical health. ( I have not even mentioned the many virus and bacterial-caused diseases that continue to threaten humankind in addition to Covid-19.)

It seems unfair that we were in the correct age range to suffer through those early childhood diseases, land smack in the middle of the polio epidemic and then served as guinea pigs for women’s medications. If we survived all that, we find ourselves a target again. Most of those earlier health threats have disappeared because of brilliant researchers, awareness of the public health system, and community action. We just hope that all those other generations will take seriously the needed community action to defeat the present challenge. Thanks.

P.S. I belatedly realized that I should add this note. We are very fortunate during the present virus pandemic, despite the fact that we are targeted. That is because our lives are very little disrupted. Even our income stream stays pretty much the same (provided the stock market returns to normal–which hits some people hard). But we feel much compassion for the younger generations–our children and grandchildren–who are faced with abrupt changes in life style and income. And we are so grateful to those who are checking up on us, running errands for us, and just staying in touch. Thanks again.

The Search for Stouts Begins

Isaac Stout ( 1800-1877)

When I wrote about my great-grandfather, “Doc” Stout’s brother Frank (John Franklin Stout), I discovered a tidbit about Isaac, their grandfather. According to a biography of Frank in a book about Omaha, where he settled, I read that Frank was of Dutch stock and his father, Isaiah walked from New Jersey to Ohio. However, their grandfather, Isaac lived all his life in New Jersey.

The Questions

Where does the idea come from that the English Stouts were Dutch? Well, that search uncovered the most interesting of my many fascinating female ancestors. But first–a few generations in between Doc Stout and that 8th great-grandmother.

Although my mother and her mother and her grandmother were in touch with the Stout family of Guernsey County, Ohio, they never regaled me with stories about the ancestors in the Stout line. Undertandably, they focused on our Pilgrim ancestor William Bassett and the builders of the How Tavern in Sudbury Massachusetts. I’m sorry that my mother missed out on some very interesting people. The Stouts have a rich history in New Jersey before they went West.

Isaiah, the father of “Doc” Stout and my 2x great-grand father, arrived in Guernsey County Ohio about 1839. He was only seventeen when, according to that history of Omaha, he walked all the way from New Jersey to Ohio. But surely he was walking alongside wagons carrying other families? If so, who were they and why did he head for Ohio?

Isaac Stout (1800) — His Beginning

To try to understand these questions, I needed to go look back at 2x great- grandfather Isaiah’s family–his father Isaac (my 3x great-grandfather) and Isaac’s brothers, uncles, and aunts.

4x great-grandparents Isaiah and Catherine Kennedy Stout had seven children, all born in New Jersey, and all boys. (I will tell their story in the future). They named Isaac, the first child, for his grandfather. And yes, you are seeing the beginning of a naming penchant that would make life difficult for family historians from then on. The numerous Stout families all seemed to name a son Isaac and another one Isaiah for many generations.

Isaiah Stout (1822) and His Siblings

At twenty-two, (December 19, 1822) Isaac Stout married Mary Ann Johnson, my 3x great grandparents . Their first child–you guessed it–named for his grandfather Isaiah— born in 1822, would later walk to Ohio, and among other accomplishments, become my 2x great-grandfather.

Ann Elizabeth (Eliza) Stout (1825)

The young couple, Isaac and Mary Ann, must have been devastated when they learned the condition of the second child, Ann Elizabeth, known as Ann Eliza in census records. Born in 1825, she continued to live at home until 1839, despite the fact that later census reports classify her as “idiotic.” By 1839, her mother had died when she was seven and her father had remarried the same year–1832.

It is very sad to contemplate the condition of care given to people in need. However, I can understand that with four other children, having a girl who was incapable of normal life would be beyond their abilities. Particularly when she reached her teens. We have to remember that developmental disabilities were not understood and there were no social workers or psychologists to help the parents.

I can’t help wonder if the first son, Isaiah’s, decision to leave home at seventeen might have been related to the family sending Ann Eliza away, since it was the same year.

From the time she was fourteen years old she lived on a “Poor farm” with others who had “defects.” She lived in the township of Hillsborough, within an hour’s buggy ride from her parents home in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

I’m guess that she was intellectually disabled, the more recent name–“retarded.” But since the catchall term of the time was “idiot”, that is how she is classed on census forms. In 1880 the schedule of “defectives” shows two “idiots”, two crippled and one “sunstroke and rheumatism” and one “insane.” Other Poor Houses or Institutions in the county housed paupers or insane.

Ann Eliza Stout, fourth on this 1880 Scedule of Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes.

Sadly, the first census with her name, 1850 when she was twenty-five years old also shows a two-month-old named Isaac Stout, most probably her child. I have been unable to find any further information about this Isaac Stout, who does not show up on subsequent census reports. If he survived childhood, he may have been adopted by someone who changed his name.

Ann Eliza lived until 1888, her entire life spent in these “poor farms” where various farmers and their families provided shelter for a dozen or more “defectives.”

George I Stout (1827)

The third child in the family, George I (sometimes transcribed as George J) was only five when his mother, Mary Ann, died, so spent most of his childhood with his step-mother.

He married about 1849, and he and his bride, Susan Davidson, moved in with his in-laws, where his first child, Mary, was born in 1850. They had two more children, George in 1855, and Sarah in 1852. George never left North Brunswick, New Jersey, where he died about 1856 when he was not quite thirty.

The probate papers for George, filed in New Jersey, show that he was a partner in a business called Runyan and Stout. I could not find information about his partnership, so do not know what business he was in. By the time debts and claims were paid, the estate was insolvent and many creditors were paid on the basis of a few mills per dollar owed.

By 1860, Susan was remarried.

Isaac Stout (1830)

Next, in 1830, baby Isaac Stout arrived. Isaac, perhaps following in the footsteps of his brother, headed west. Since he would have been only 9 or 10 when Isaiah left for Ohio, I doubt that he went along on that trek. I also have some nagging doubts about whether the California Isaac Stout in the 1860 and 1870 census reports and Find a Grave are the same as the Isaac Stout from New Brunswick, New Jersey. There is another Isaac Stout born about the same time in Indiana. So this Isaac is still a bit of a mystery.

If I have the right Isaac, and he did go to Contra Costa California, he died at the age of forty-three and is buried there . Another young death in this small family.

Isaiah’s Father Remarries, Stays in New Jersey

Isaiah was ten when his mother died and his father remarried about 1832. Although the record is not crystal clear, I believe he married Esther/Hester Bennett. This assumption comes from a marriage license and census reports. I also believe she was probably a widow and Bennett was her first husband’s name. However, I cannot prove that yet.

According to census reports, Isaac had two children with Ester in 1836. Mary J. about 1834 and Julian about 1836. I have not found definitive information about Julian, who is marked as a female on the only census where I see the name. I did find a Julian occupied as seamstress in a city directory, and also searched for female names close to Julian with no results.

In 1880, Esther Stout, then 76 years old, was living with Mary J. and her husband Edwin Stewart. I have had to add this information after I originally published this post, partly because another Esther married another Stout in the same generation, and both of their names vary from Esther to Hester and back again. But chiefly because of a census report that gets the prize for most errors or one particular person. Beware, if you are studying an 1880 census report for New Brunswick New Jersey.

The census taker, James Price, who seems to have good hand writing, puts Edwin’s name as Edward; and makes a very funny mistake on occupation (which I have confirmed is actually Hatter). He also changed Edwin’s age from 52 to 32. Well done! Not.

And the prize for most errors on a single person in a census goes to…..

Isaiah’s father, Isaac, died at the age of 77, October 1, 1877 and is buried in New Jersey. He had done nothing in his life to draw the attention of the authors of various books about his region or books about the Stout family. I assumed he lived all his life as a farmer. However, an 1850 census does show an Isaac Stout, 51, cabinetmaker and his wife Esther in Brunswick, New Jersey. There is also an index of craftsmen that lists an Isaac Stout as cabinet maker but it has no dates. It was quite possible that he both had a farm and was a cabinetmaker, as I have seen with some of my other ancestors.

Coming Next

Next I will look at Isaac’s brothers and sisters to see if any of Isaiah’s uncles could have been responsible for the young Isaiah’s travel to Ohio.

How I Am Related to Isaac Stout and Isaiah Stout

  • 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)

Notes on Research

United States Census Reports, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, New Brunswick Middlesex, New Jersey; 1850, Somerset, Hillsborough, New Jersey.

U.S. Federal Census – 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes,

New Jersey State Census Report, 1905 Pasaaic, Patterson, New Jersey, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Nonpopulation Census Schedules for New Jersey, 1880: Supplemental Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes; Year: 1880; Publication Number: A3469 , Ann Eliza Stout, Accessed at Ancestry.com

New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1670-1965, Ancestry.com, Edwin Stewart and Mary J. Stout , Accessed at Ancestry

New Jersey Marriages, 1684-1895 , Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, comp , Somerset, N. J., Isaac Stout and Esther Bennett, 1832, Accessed at Ancestry

New Jersey, Deaths and Burials Index, 1798-1971, Hillsborough, Somerset, NJ, Ann E Stout , Ancestry.com

New Jersey, Wills and Probate Records, 1739-1991, Probate Records, 1794-1945; Indexes, 1804-1972; Author: New Jersey. Surrogate’s Court (Somerset County); Probate Place: Somerset, New Jersey , George Stout, 1827, accessed at Ancestry.

U S Federal Census Report, 1860 and 1870, Contra Costa, California, Isaiah Stout.

California, Voter Registers, 1866-1898, California State Library, California History Section; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4 – 2A; CSL Roll Number: 10; FHL Roll Number: 976458 , Isaac Stout. Accessed at Ancestry.com

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/103256455 , Isaac Stout, 1873, Contra Costa California

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