Tag Archives: family stories

Third Birthday of Family Stories–The Numbers,The Names,

Ancestors in Aprons is growing up. April 27, 2016 marks three years of telling family stories. That’s me at three, with my mother. Beginning genealogists are advised, start with what you know, what you can learn from your parents, and grandparents and go back from there.

Mother and me

VMB and Harriette Kaser circa 1942

First Family Stories: Grandma Vera

Herbert Anderson and family.

Guy Anderson and Vera (holding Herbert). Guy’s mother Mary Brink Anderson. Back Jennie McDowell King. 1909

I started Ancestors in Aprons with a tribute to my grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson, my namesake. That’s grandma in the picture below, holding me. You can see her on the same day in the picture at the top of the page, just to the right of my grandpa Leonard Guy Anderson. Surprisingly, Grandma is not wearing an apron in this 1940 picture from Anderson’s restaurant.

Grandma Vera and little Vera

Two Veras. Grandma Vera Anderson holding me at about one year old. 1940














Later I wrote about her surprising statement to me one time which led to discovery of the “lost love” of her youth, not long after this high school graduation picture was taken.

Vera Anderson 1899

Vera Anderson 1899, the year she graduated from Killbuck High School.








And of course you can read about her in the introduction to Ancestors and Aprons, about the Anderson Restaurant.

Vera Anderson (circa 1960)

Vera Anderson (circa 1960)

Then, there were the recipes that came to me in her own handwriting. The sugar cookies that I make every Christmas. The red pepper jam that I finally got up the courage to try.  And her picalilli and corn meal mush that I found recipes for, even though they were not her own handwritten recipe.

Goals of Ancestors in Aprons.

  • My general goal is to trace each line (paternal and maternal in each case) back to the first person to arrive in North America.
  • The gold standard is to be able to tell the family stories about each ancestor.
  • I want to  pass on the family stories told to me, and the family stories hinted at by photos, letters and heirlooms, and the stories gathered by other people with my grandchildren and great-grand children.
  • I  almost always start  with the ancestors nearest the present and moving back through the paternal line with only a mention of wives, and then circle back to trace the grandmother’s stories.
  • Then, of course, there is  food.   I hope to fill in some blanks in the lives of the ancestors by putting a vintage recipe into context, explaining cooking methods and fads and fashions in food.

By The Numbers


Ancestry.com says I have 1,241 people in my tree.  Not all of those people are “people” yet. A birth date, death date and place of birth does not a person make. Family stories bring them alive. Some of those names on the tree are just names, and some are unconfirmed names.

30 and 12

However, the direct line (Called pedigree in genealogy-speak) is somewhat more important. There I have four generations (30 people) on the way to completion (starting the count with my parents), and I can trace half of the additional 16 great-great-grandparents back further–a couple as far as ten, eleven and twelve generations–all on my mother’s side.

347 and 90

To tell the family stories, I have published 347 posts. In order to tell the stories through the foods our ancestors were eating, I have tested and shared 90 recipes. Some that were already family favorites (like Perfect Pie Crust or Corn Meal Mush),some that have become family favorites,  some that were contributed by relatives (like Badertscher Banana Bread or Norma Kaser’s Spiced Pecans ), some that nobody is going to want to cook today (like Civil War Hardtack).

The Challenges

Pau; Kaser 1940s

Paul Kaser 1940s


My father’s family (KASER/BUTTS) has been more challenging. Although I have been able to get back to their entry into the United States in the mid-18th century, I don’t have the rich details that I have with my mother’s ancestors. The Butts family has been thoroughly researched, but the Kaser line (my maiden name) resists easy research.


Guy Anderson in restaurant

Guy Anderson in restaurant, Killbuck, 1940

Likewise, although I have lots of great stories from my grandmother’s female line, my research into ANDERSON, my maternal grandfather’s  line (and thus my mother’s maiden name) has hit a brick wall due to the common names Joe Anderson and John Anderson, so numerous in Pennsylvania.



When I moved from telling the easy-to-come-by family stories, and started doing the research to track other relatives  I found many surprises. Some of them I not only had not heard of, but I had not even realized that surname was part of my ancestry.

Some Family Names

Mother and Grandmother were so proud of having a Pilgrim ancestor (BASSETT) that they overlooked the exciting 17th century immigration story of my Grandmother’s father’s family (STOUT) including shipwreck and capture by Indians.

As so often happens in genealogy, whole big hunks of the family history never got mentioned. When naming my heritage, mother always reeled off “English, Scots-Irish and German.” I’ve added Dutch to that list. Right now, I’m working on my grandfather (Vera’s husband) and his mother’s line.   I know that there is a very rich history stretching back to Holland on his mother’s mother’s side (MIDDAUGH/MEDDAUGH ).  I THINK that her father’s line (BRINK) is also from Holland, but so far I can not prove it.

I also looked at my husband, Ken’s (BADERTSCHER/AMSTUTZ/TSCHANTZ) ancestors who mostly arrived in the late 19th century, and uncovered a big surprise.  His ancestors, we knew were all Swiss.  Turned out they weren’t. There was a big German contingent (BAIR) as well.

Favorite Subjects

My personal favorites:  The Letters of Pvt. Erasmus Anderson and of Pvt. Henry Butts from the Civil War, and my current series on family members in politics. But my favorite reading of all, is reading the comments from YOU. I am so delighted when a new relative drops by and shares more information. Ancestors in Aprons is a Meeting Ground.

The reader’s favorites: In a word–FOOD.  OF the top twenty most read articles, the top three are  Civil War Rations–Hardtack and O.B. Joyful,

Vintage Family Restaurant: The Dalton Darriette (by Kay Badertscher)

Perfect Pie Crust

You also enjoyed reading about some of my ancestors. Naughty Pilgrims–some of my Bassett ancestors, and took the bait of the title “Joseph the Carpenter”, about my great-grandfather Joseph Kaser, and read about my “Daddy Guy”, Guy Anderson and his rules for life.

Who Are My People? What Have I Learned?

My ancestors did not come to the United States via Ellis Island, or gaze up at the Statue of Liberty as they arrived.  I have been amazed to learn that nearly all my roots (on my mother’s and my fathers’ sides) extend back to before the United States was a nation.

They came with the Pilgrims, or with the slightly later wave of German or Scots-Irish immigrants. They moved ever westward–from New England or Pennsylvania or New York. Many of my ancestors were early settlers in the Ohio Territory, arriving before Ohio became a state, or just afterwards.

Some became big frogs in their small ponds, but none were hugely famous. Most were farmers, except for the women in some families who were educated before most women ventured into books. Many were teachers.

They were here when Indian wars were still raging. The men fought in the Civil War for the North, although their hearts were not always in the fight. At least one was involved in the Spanish-American war, and Ken and I both had relatives engaged in World Wars I and II.

They carved farms out of wilderness, built roads over animal trails, settled where the Canals and Railroads and Highways would bring more people. They participate in town government, and are involved in civic betterment. They built new churches, and helped their relatives from Europe resettle in the new land. The most adventurous headed west when gold was discovered, when wagon trains wound over mountains, or railroad lines made travel easier.


Thank you to the relatives who have contributed articles and recipes. Great gratitude to my mother and father for telling their stories and my brother for recording many of them. More gratitude to my grandmother and great-grandmother who saved so many pictures and heirlooms from the past that help tell the stories. Thank you for reading and adding your thoughts in the comments.

Anderson and Stout Family Photo

I’ve been sharing mostly pictures of individuals here, with the exception of some group school pictures, and that great finger-lickin’ chicken eatin’ picture— but one family photo in particular is a real  treasure.  So many stories. The stories these people knew, the stories that were unfolding even as the itinerant photographer took their picture. And the stories they had not yet lived, but we can look at them from the future and see what was coming. (For specific identities of each person, see this Identification post.)

Vera and Guy Anderson and families 1909

Vera and Guy Anderson and families 1909

Twenty-eight family members–all gone now, some of whom died within a very few years of this picture being taken. Several things appeal to me about this photo. It was taken about 1909. My mother thought it was probably in May on my grandmother Vera Stout Anderson’s birthday, so it gives me an image of my mother and her parents’ early life.

Herbert Anderson and family.

Guy Anderson and Vera (holding Herbert).

The ages of the people in the family photo range from barely one-year-old (Herbert Guy Anderson, 1908-1963) held by my grandmother Vera in the center of the picture)—to 91 years old (Isabella McCabe Anderson 1818-1912). She is seated in the center in the large wicker chair, and forms the focus of this four-generation picture.

Herbert Andrson in rare four- generation family picture. Front Grandma Isabella McCabe Anderson, left her son Frank Anderson, Back her grandson Guy Anderson and his wife, Vera holding great-grandson Herbert, far right, dtr-in-law Mary Brink Anderson, Guy's mother. 1909

Front Grandma Isabella McCabe Anderson, left her son Frank Anderson, Back her grandson Guy Anderson and his wife, Vera holding great-grandson Herbert, far right, dtr-in-law Mary Brink Anderson, Guy’s mother. 1909

The names were written on the back of the family photo by my mother and her half sister Rhema Anderson Fair (both of them in the picture as little tykes). The sisters also made an audio tape talking about their recollections of the people in the picture, but, alas, that is lost.  I keep hoping that one of the Fair clan will spot this website and write to tell me they have that audio tape.  Here we have Rhema looking quite unhappy with the whole affair and Harriette sitting with her brother Bill on the lap of “Doc” Will Stout.

Rhema Anderson (Fair)

Rhema Anderson (Fair)

Doc Stout, Harriette and Bill

Doc Stout, Harriette and Bill Anderson

Mother (Harriette Anderson Kaser), in her 90s, reviewed the names and stories with me, filling in a lot of family history. As I research the ancestors in the picture, I keep running into little tidbits that mesh with the stories mother told us.  For instance she talked about the wonderful apple orchids and other fruit trees on the farm she remembered seeing as a little girl. And sure enough, in a slightly later census, I run into a notation that Ben Anderson (Bernard Franklin Anderson), my “Daddy Guy’s brother is a fruit farmer!

The house in the picture, very recognizable, still stands on the same spot — a hill outside Killbuck, Holmes County, Ohio.

Old Anderson Farm

Old Anderson Farm, Photo courtesy of Herb Anderson

Back in the nineties, when my mother talked to me about this picture, she pointed out the wide cement sidewalk in front that circled the house–a rarity at a farm house.  She had a playhouse out back.  She said the house had beautiful woodwork and a front and a back staircase (that one for maids).  There was a large barn, “way off from the house”. Behind the house was a brick spring house where they kept food.  The house sat on a hill with a beautiful view.

I will tell you the stories from time to time of the two childless sisters who were inseparable. Of the couple who raised his younger brother and then raised his two brother’s two children. Of  the two brothers who married two sisters. Of the family members who were not in this picture. Of the men in the picture who went to war. And of course, of those who donned aprons–and what they cooked. Thanks to this family photo I feel I know them well.