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The Doctor and the Girl on the Bridge: A Love Story

William (Doc) Cochran Stout (1845- 1910), Harriett E. (Hattie) Morgan (1842–1928) Married (1872)

We are blessed to have so many memories handed down by our mother and father (Harriette Anderson Kaser and Paul Kaser) in taped interviews and written notes. Today I’m going to share my mother’s favorite Stout family love story.

But first, a peek behind the curtains of genealogical research. One of the most valuable resources for finding out about life in the 1800s comes from local histories and biographies that were being written during that time. Thus we have from the Biographical Record of Holmes County, 1889, this little biography of William C. Stout, (If you want to know more , I talked about William Stout’s education last week here.)

W. C. Stout, M.D., Killbuck, Ohio, was born in Guernsey County, Oho, March 20, 1845, a son of Isaiah and Emeline (Cochran) Stout, former a native of New Jersey, latter of Guernsey County, Ohio.  His father emigrated to Guernsey County when a young man, and followed the occupation of a farmer in that county until his death.  He reared a family of nine children, seven of whom are still living, viz: W. C.; Martha, wife of William Hays; C. H. [Actually George H.], a practicing physician; Thomas A., a ranchman of Wyoming Territory; Elizabeth, wife of Edward Cunningham; Sarah Ophelia, wife of Edward Scott; and John F., an attorney, of Hutchinson, Kas.  …

W.C. Stout was reared on the homestead farm, and obtained his classical education in Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio.  He began the study of medicine with Dr. G. L. Arnold, of Cambridge, Ohio, and graduated from the Eclectic Medical College at Philadelphia, Penn., in 1871.  The same year he located at Killbuck, where he has built up an extensive practice.  He owns a good farm, which he superintends, and is also engaged in shipping lumber, all in connection with attending to his practice.  In his political affiliations he is a Republican.  He is a member of the Disciples Church, in which he holds the office of deacon.  He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, Spartan Lodge, No. 126.  Dr. Stout was married in 1872, to Miss Hattie [Harriett’s nickname], daughter of Mrs. Mary Morgan of Killbuck, and they have three children: William M., Maude and Verah May [Vera May, my grandmother].

The Stout Brothers

The Stout Brothers–Dr. W.C. Stout in front on the right.

Because the Stout family lived in Guernsey County, an earlier guide to that County (1882) talks about William Stout’s mother, Emmaline, and her father, Col. William Cochran who served in the war of 1812 and married three times. The Household Guide and Instructor with Biographies, History of Guernsey County, Ohio, by T. F. Williams, says that Emmaline and her husband Isaiah Stout (deceased before 1882) had 12 children, of whom eight are living.  It mentions that “Their sons Joseph and Jacob helped defend the country in the late ‘unpleasantness.'” I’m still trying to unravel how many children they actually had and what happened to Joseph and Jacob. [Note: I am now convinced they could not possibly have been the children of Emmaline and Isaiah, but instead were brothers of Emmaline. The confusion comes from the arrangement of the sentences in the History of Guenersey County.]

To set the stage for Harriette Kaser’s love story– the small town of Killbuck grew along Killbuck Creek. In the 1800’s people still pastured milk cows in the low lands along the creek, and brought them in to town across the bridge each day.

There are three long parallel streets through the town–Water Street (beside the creek), Main Street, and Railroad Street (beside the railroad track. The downtown district consists of Front Street, which enters town via a bridge over Killbuck Creek and runs perpendicular to the three main streets. Everyone coming into the town from the south crossed over a bridge over Killbuck Creek. Now, here’s Harriette Kaser:

His [Dr. Stout’s] brother practiced in Cambridge and they didn’t want two Dr. Stouts, so he was looking for another place to practice.

[The love story began]  When he first came into town with all his possessions in his buggy, the first thing he saw, crossing the bridge, he found a young lady who had fallen and hurt her leg.  Harriett Morgan was crying because she had fallen on the bridge and cut her leg open.  It was probably summer when school was out.  She was taking cows out to pasture.  She was teaching school in a small school on the road to Stillwell at the time.

He put her in the carriage and drove her home, and carried the young lady inside. But Mary Morgan [Harriet Morgan’s mother] ordered him to put her down and made him come in the back door and show her his certificate before he could treat the knee.

He always said he” had ever seen a prettier knee”.  In old age he would tease, “It’s still on my books.  I was never paid.”  And she would say, “You were paid many times over.”

[They married and] he set up business in his mother-in-law’s building on Front Street. At one time they went west thinking to practice there, but came back to Killbuck.

William Stout diploma

William C. Stout’s diploma from the Eclectic Medical College of Pennsylvania, parchment stiff with age. 1871 Fortunately he had it with him.

Mary Morgan owned a great deal of property in Killbuck at the time. I’ll be talking about her and her two husbands later. Mother told me that Doc Stout and Hattie went to Topeka Kansas for six months, so he may have been relocating near his brother who was a lawyer in Hutchinson Kansas.

A scant ten months after Hattie and William were married, they had their first child, William Morgan Stout. Soon the doctor built a small office next to the Mary Morgan home on Main Street. When they had two more children, the house that Mary Morgan had been living in was too small for them, and they added on to it, creating the large family home I have pictured here before.

Stout Family Home in Killbuck, Ohio

Dr. William Stout and family in front of family home, circa 1885

My mother told me many more stories about William and Hattie and their ongoing love story.  Two of my favorites have to do with gifts.  Once he went to a medical convention in Chicago and bought a hall mirror for her and had it shipped to Killbuck.  (It stands in my living room.) I can’t imagine what a nightmare it must have been to ship it. I know it has been a challenge to us whenever we move it.

He bought child-sized umbrellas for the children and fur coats for the adults

Another time, when his wife was out of town (perhaps visiting my great Aunt Maude in Buffalo), “Doc” missed her so much that he went out and bought a complete new set of china and crystal and new silverware to greet her on her return.

Their love story had a sweet beginning, and never ended.