Tag Archives: Joseph Kaser

Finding Joseph Kaser the Carpenter

Joseph Kaser III (1827- Circa 1893)

[Update 2017: I have changed Joseph Kaser II to Joseph Kaser III for my reference. The founder of this line, Joseph Kaser had a son, Joseph, Jr.  Joseph Jr. had a son who should be Joseph II. My great-grandfather was born three years later to Joseph Jr.’s brother, my great-great I grandfather George.  So I believe I erred when I called my great-great-great grandfather ‘II’.]

Do you remember the beautiful miniature chest made by my great-grandfather Joseph the carpenter?

Joseph Kaser's carpentry

Great Grandfather Joseph Kaser made this handkerchief chest.

Last year I wrote about him and the beautiful handkerchief chest I inherited.  But I did not know much about him or any of my father’s line before Joseph.  I knew he was the father of my paternal grandfather, Clifford Kaser, and I knew the names of his children and that he lived in Clark, Ohio when Clifford, next to youngest of seven children. I knew that Joseph was born in Pennsylvania. But what a difference a year makes. (See notes at the end for some of the details and hardships of the search.)

My great-grandfather, Joseph Kaser III was named for his paternal grandfather, Joseph Kaser, whose father may have arrived in America nine years before he was born–but that’s another kettle of fish for next time. Joseph III’s father was George Kaser (possible Johann George Kaser). The proliferation of Joseph’s and George’s in the family contributed to my hair rapidly turning even grayer. (He did not refer to himself as Joseph III. I am doing that to help keep straight the various Josephs–see additional note at top.)

Joseph’s birth year could be 1824 (G.B.), 1825, 1827 or 1830 according to which Census record I choose to believe. Based on the names of spouse and children, despite spellings of Kaser, Caser, Kazer and Kaiser–the reports are all referring to my great-grandfather. He was born in Baden, a small village in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, now part of metropolitan Pittsburgh. (mistakenly listed as the place of birth: state, territory or country: Baden” in the 1870 census). So much for census records being irrefutable sources of information!

At some time prior to 1847, he had moved with his father and mother and family to Ohio where he met Catherine Samsel (Sampsel), who was born in Ohio.  Joseph and Catherine were married on August 17, 1847 (*G.B.) when she was 18 and he was about 20 years old. They lived next to his father George, probably in a house they built on George’s farm.

The family farms (for several of Joseph’s brothers would wind up living in a row) lay near Clark, Ohio.  Clark is an unincorporated town split by the county line between Coshocton County and Holmes County Ohio. Clark was originally called Bloomfield.  And the Holmes County portion lay in German Township, an unsavory name when World War I came along–so it became Clark Township.  That means that without going anywhere, they might be listed as living in Bloomfield, Clark Township, Coshocton, Ohio, or German Township, Holmes County, Ohio or a few other variations.

The population of German Township had swelled from 246 in 1830 to 703 by 1840. The settlers were mostly German or German Swiss who were fleeing religious persecution in their native lands.  Most of the new arrivals had first settled in western Pennsylvania and then later moved across the Ohio River into Ohio.

In 1842 the town boasted a store and by 1854, two physicians.  What they could not get in Clark, they could find in nearby Killbuck, Holmes County, which held several blacksmith shops and other necessities of life.

Joseph and Catharine continued to live next door to papa George Kaser and his wife Lydia as their children arrived.

  • 1849: Susan (Named for Joseph’s mother Susan)
  • 1852: Cornelius
  • 1853: David
  • 1855: Johnathan
  • 1864: Anna (known as Emma, possibly named for Joseph’s sister Ann.)
  • 1867: Clifford (my grandfather. Another Clifford is the grandson of Joseph’s brother, Daniel.)
  • 1870: Edward

There was a school a mile outside of town in 1850, and private schools and classes at churches taught in German as well as English. As far as I have been able to learn, the children’s education stopped at 8th grade.  The boys started working as laborers when they became teens.

By 1850, Joseph is established as a carpenter. Several of his brothers are carpenters as well, a talent prevalent among the German Swiss Mennonite population of the area even today.  In 1860, Joseph is listed as a miller.  Perhaps the Civil War created more demand for a miller than for a carpenter?

It appears that none of Joseph’s younger brothers fought in the Civil War, although George and Samuel would have been the right age.  Perhaps the family were conscientious objectors.

Before the baby of the family came along, Susan had married and Cornelius had gone to work as a farm laborer for another family nearby. In 1870, when he is 19, Cornelius is listed with the Graham Family in Clark.

The next son, David, stays with his parents even after he is married in June, 1880, but later moves out on his own and tries various vocations. Johnathan also lives at home until he is married  in 1883, although he is working “outside” as a day laborer. Even after he is married with several children, his occupation continues to be day laborer.

Joseph Kaser III seemed to do well in the world, accumulating some wealth, no doubt some of it from the farm, but also from his carpentry and his short stint as a miller. Since he and his brothers stayed clustered together near their father, and several of Joseph’s sons also stayed in the same area, it is ironic that the closeness of the Kaser clan did not continue into my father’s generation, leaving me with so many questions about my Kaser ancestry.

The Kaser Geneaology * states that Joseph died on January 12, 1893, but I have no other verification of his death date.  His wife, Catherine, outlived him by at nearly 20 years if the Kaser Genealogy is correct, dying in 1910 (G.B.). [UPDATE: I have since found a record in Find a Grave indicating that Catharine Kaser was buried in 1911 in the Clark (Ohio) Cemetery.]

Notes on the Research

Last year, having decided that great-grandfather Joseph was a dead end, and my Kaser research was stuck in Pennsylvania in the 1820s in Pennsylvania, I moved over to tracing my mother’s line.  Before I left the Kasers, I had found an 1850 census that showed a George Kaser living next door to a Joseph Kaser.  This George was the right age to be Joseph’s father and Joseph would fit neatly into the line of births in the family.  But I could not easily locate more information, so I closed the Kaser file.

Breakthrough #1

It turns out that the 1850 census was just the first breakthrough, and would be proven to indeed be a father and son–not to mention other sons–who lived in a row.

Breatkthrough #2

A few months ago, the second breakthrough came when a Kaser cousin got in touch through Facebook.  She owns a copy of what we call *”the Green Book” (G.B.), a Kaser family lineage book.  While some of the information in the book is proving to be shaky, it did confirm the names of Joseph’s brothers and sisters   (my paternal grandfather Cliff Kaser’s uncles and aunts) as well as the names of Joseph’s children–Clifford Kaser’s siblings.  The facts matched up with the little bit my father had told me, years ago.

The Green Book traces the Kasers back to Europe, but tells two contrasting stories, so like most research finds it presents new puzzles along with some answers.

Breakthrough #3

Finally, after look for Kaser, Caser, Kaiser, Kayser, Kaiser and other variant spellings, I discovered a George Kaeper in the 1870 census that proved to be my great-great-grandfather George Kaser.  I would never have searched for that spelling, but I used one of genealogists favorite tricks.  When you find a known family member in a document like a census record, read all the pages surrounding the record to see if relationships jump out.

I found Samuel Kaser (27), family #95 next to Charles Kaser (35) Family #96 in Monroe Township, Coshocton County, Ohio and there at family #94 was George Kaeper. George Kaser was the father of Samuel and Charles, and Joseph.

Kasers in 1870 Census

1870 U S Census for Clark Twp Coshocton County

So where was Joseph? Doing a search for variant spellings, I found Joseph Kaeser in Clark Township, Coshocton County, the neighboring township (family #86). It is even possible that the township line split George’s farm between counties. All these families are confirmed to be the right people by ages and other family members listed with them, and I know that they had a habit of living close to each other.

In 1860 George and sons Charles, Thomas and Joseph all listed with the last name spelled Caser, are living in a line in German Township.

Joseph Kaser family in census

1860 U. S. census for German Township, Coshocton County Ohio

Other Sources

U.S. Census, 1840 (George Kaiser) German, Holmes, Ohio; 1850 (George Kaser), German, Holmes, Ohio; 1860 (George Caser) , Clark, Coshocton, Ohio; George Kaeper,  Spring Mountain, Monroe Twp.,Coshocton, Ohio

Church Record Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985, (United Church of Christ) Henry’s Church of the Bethern (Spring Creek Dunkard) pg 470 in Lancaster County PA Gravestone Inscrptions , Dr. Al Gerberich Collection. Genealogical Society of PA

Census Non-Population Schedules  1850, German, Holmes.

I have checked an online copy of History of Coshocton County: Its Past and Present, 1740-1881, by A. A. Graham (1881).  Available at Google Books.

The Kaser History: A History of Dates and Other Interesting Facts (1994) edited by Deborah D. Morgan and others.  Birth and death dates from “the Green Book” were sometimes verifiable at Ancestry.com through Ohio online records, where they have not been confirmed, I have noted (G.B.) beside the information.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the son of
  • Clifford Kaser, who is the son of
  • Joseph Kaser III.

Is There a Villain in the Kaser Family Story?

I have always thought that my grandfather, Clifford Kaser (1867-1930), was the villain in my family story.  Not the classical evil villain, certainly, as he was a righteous, hard-working, religious man. But a villain to family because he was so righteous, so focused on hard work, and so stiff-necked when it came to religion. And since he died before I was born, it was easy to make him out to be a bad guy. He never had a chance to prove otherwise in person. And I had only my father’s stories of grievances against his father to go by. And those, unfortunately stern photographs from back in the day. Even in this picture with the hint of a smile, he looks like a tough cookie.

Clifford Kaser

Clifford W. Kaser, probably about 1928 or 1929.

But I’ve been “living with” Cliff Kaser (I don’t think anyone ever called him Clifford) for a few days now, and I have slightly adjusted my opinion. Cliff was born in 1867, the 6th child of Catharine and Joseph Kaser. The family lived in Bloomfield, Ohio, a town that later changed its name to Clark.  (Research note: most geneaological records depend on locating a person in the United States by city or township, county and state. However, the little town of Bloomfield/Clark was/is split right down the middle between Coshocton County and Holmes County. That makes life a little too interesting for the researcher.Family members who lived in the same town, might be in different counties.)

Cliff’s oldest brother, Cornelius, was 13 years older. His brother Edward, born in 1871 was the youngest of the family.The only member of this large number of aunts and uncles that I ever heard my father mention was Emma (also listed in records as Anna), and I will be writing about her shortly.

Most members of the family stayed in or near Clark and their family and farms. That was my first clue that I might be able to relate to Clifford. He didn’t stay put. He changed jobs, he changed locations and he changed religions.

On October 26, 1893 Cliff married Mary Isadore Butts (1869-1926), more commonly called Mamie, in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. According to my father’s records they were married in Mt. Vernon by a Squire Workman. That is significant because Mamie’s family were devout Catholics. One year later, they had their first son, Keith. The whole story surrounding his marriage to Mamie contains one clue as to why I had an unfavorable opinion of Cliff, but that will have to wait for another day.

Clifford Kaser and wife

Mamie and Cliff Kaser About 1893. Wedding picture, perhaps.

Keith was born in Danville, which was the town Mamie came from.Wherever they lived in those early years, by 1900 they lived in the town of Coshocton, Ohio and Cliff was working as a “tinman,” to support his family, now increased by the birth of Irene and Paul (my father).

In 1910, they were living in Clark Township again, surrounded by Cliff’s family and Cliff was a barber with his own shop. I find it interesting that his older brother owned a tinshop, but Cliff worked as a barber. (From cutting tin to cutting hair–what the heck.). In another coincidence that may not be entirely coincidental, the 1930 census shows Cliff’s future brother-in-law George Sutherland as owning a barbershop in Clark.

Very soon after the 1910 census, Cliff started a tin shop in Killbuck, Ohio. The family was living in Killbuck when Milton was born in 1912.  Judging from Milton’s size in the first picture below, this postcard picture had to be taken in 1913 or 1914. (Note: I can’t help wondering if the same itinerant photographer who took the promotional postcard pictures of my Daddy Guy’s stores also took these of Kaser’s Tin Shop).

Clifford Kaser Tin Shop

Kaser Tin Shop, Keith, Clifford, (front) Milton, Paul. About 1913

Kaser Tin Shop

Kaser Tin Shop with Keith and Clifford about 1913

The tin shop did not last long. Cliff had converted to Seven Day Adventism and took his family (whether they wanted to go or not) with him.  The Adventists were an evangelical and fundamentalist church formed in the mid 1800s, and increasing their evangelical efforts post World War I.  The World Headquarters of the Adventist movement was in Takoma Park, Maryland near Washington, D. C. and Cliff moved his family there for a year or two during the teens of the 20th century. My father, who was born in 1909, was old enough to remember the experience quite well. You can see him in the center front row of this picture, squinting one eye. This picture is dated 1914-1915, Takoma Park.

Paul Kaser Takoma Park MD, Seven-Day Adventist

Paul Kaser (center dark suit) with Seven Day Adventists in Takoma Park MD 1913-1914

When they returned from Tacoma Park Maryland, they settled in Millersburg, Ohio, and according to the 1920 census,Clifford was working as a “plumber” for the railroad. But he went back to working with tin, this time as an installer and repairer of furnaces. Millersburg is where my father finished high school in 1926, and where the most damning evidence of Cliff the villain arises in the family story.

My father was intellectually curious and longed to go to college. The family agreed, but he must go to a Seven Day Adventist School and study to become a minister.  At 17, he took a train to D.C. and started studying Greek and the Bible, but just a month after he started his exciting studies, he got a telegram from his father. His mother had died in October, 1926.

My father never got over his outrage that his father had not contacted him to tell him his beloved mother was ill. To make matters worse, Cliff announced that Paul could not return to school, but must stay to help with the furnace business. The two older children had married and left home. Only Milton, 15, and still in school, remained at home.

This picture was the last time the whole family would be together for a portrait. Mamie, who looks much older, is 56 and Clifford is 59.


Clifford Kaser Family

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

Then, tragically, five months and one week after their mother died, the youngest Kaser boy, Milton, came down with a lung disorder and died in my father’s arms in April 1927. My father, grieving for the two people he felt closest to in the world, and having to work at a job he hated, got one more blow. His father married another woman and boarded a train for Florida. He (and also I when I heard the story) couldn’t help but feel that Cliff got what he deserved when his new wife, promptly deserted him once they got to Florida. Apparently she was just looking for a ticket out of Millersburg.

Cliff returned to Millersburg and continued to conduct his business, but in June, 1930, he went into the hospital for minor surgery and died of complications. My father, at 19, had lost his mother, his younger brother and his father and his chance for higher education.  He blamed it all on Clifford. How Paul Kaser survived on his own through the tough economy of the 30’s is yet another story for future episodes, but now we are talking about Clifford.

While the rest of the Kaser family stayed in the small town of Clark all their lives, Clifford moved away. While others stayed close to the farm and farming-related occupations, he tried different occupations. He apparently was good with his hands–a good craftsman. He had an entrepreneurial spirit, starting businesses of his own. While many members of his family could never write anything more important than “farm day laborer” on the census report, he wrote “Own”, under employer.  He was adventurous enough to move clear across the country at one point.

Whatever I might think about his strictness, I have to admire the fact that he lived by his own beliefs.   Ever job he did must be done well. And he followed his religion strictly. My father remembered that he went to extremes to avoid working on the Sabbath.

The main message Clifford Kaser passed on to my father was that the aim of life is to leave the world a little better than you found it. He did nothing huge in this world, but he supported his family without being dependent on others. And he fathered fine children. His gravestone mentions perhaps the best thing in his life. It reads, “Cliff Kaser, Husband of Mamie.”

The Carpenter’s Apron: Great Grandfather Joseph Kaser

[This article pertains to Joseph Kaser, ancestor of my father, Paul Kaser (1909-1996). And the aprons hold nails instead of protecting from batter spatter.]

Joseph Kaser (b. c.1827-d.?), my paternal great grandfather, was a carpenter. And that is about all I know.

I inherited this little chest, which my father said was a “handkerchief chest” and I love all of it.  The wood, I think–because I’m not an expert–is walnut. A common wood in Pennsylvania and Ohio where Joseph lived.  It does have some small nails, so is not all put together with mortise and tendon joints like an earlier chest that I have from the other side of the family. But it has beautiful turned legs, and some lovely joinery. The chest has held up pretty well, considering that it must be somewhere between 120 and 160 years old.

I like the compartments in the drawer to hold odds and ends, and the large space under the lid for handkerchiefs. I put the Kleenex™ box there for a size comparison, but it turns out to be an ironic reference. People DID once use a lot of cotton and linen handkerchiefs!

Although I have tons of information about my mother’s ancestors–particularly following a maternal line back through the ages– my knowledge of the Kaser line stops in Bloomfield (now Clark), Coschocton County, Ohio with Joseph Kaser, born around 1827.

So why don’t I know more? Because I have only done on-line research and that only gets you so far. And also because I once counted up the variant spellings of Kaser and came up with a dozen before I gave up.  And then there is the first name, Joseph, (with so far, no indication of a middle name) which is about as common as it gets.  There are Joseph Kasers galore in Ohio and Pennsylvania around the early 1800’s. Not even counting all the Kayers and Kaisers and Casers, etc.

My father knew that his grandfather lived in Coshocton County when my paternal grandfather, Clifford Kaser was born. And father knew that his grandmother’s name was Catharine Sampsel. What I have been able to track down is that Joseph married Catharine Samsel (which also is spelled Sampsel) in March 1847, and the 1880 census tells us that Joseph was born in 1827 and Catharine was born in 1825.

According to that same census report, he and his parents were all born in Pennsylvania, so Joseph’s family may well have been in the United States during or before the Revolutionary War, but when and from where and how and why did they come to the United States?

Because their children are listed in the 1880 census, we can see that the Kasers lived in Ohio at least from 1852, because their oldest son, David was 28 in 1880 and was born in Ohio, as were all the other children. David is married in 1880, and still listed as living at the residence of his parents.  The complete list of Kasers in 1880 folllows.

  • Joseph Kaser, 53, carpenter Born in Pennsylvania
  • Catharine Kaser, 50 *However according to her gravestone she would have been 51 at the time of the census. Born in Ohio
  • David Kaser, 28, carpenter
  • Ellen Kaser, 18, housework [David’s Wife]
  • Johnathon Kaser, 20, day laborer
  • Anna Kaser, 17
  • Clifford Kaser, 13 (my paternal grandfather)
  • Edward Kaser, 10

Not only have I not been able to find out who Joseph Kaser’s parents were or when their family came to the United States, or what country they came from, I am searching for information on a rare Kaser relative that I actually met. She was “Aunt Jennie” whom I visited with my father in the 1940’s and 50’s in Mt. Vernon Ohio. How is she related to these people?

[NOTE: A little more searching and I discovered that Aunt Jennie was actually related to my father’s MOTHER rather than his FATHER–so she was not a Kaser. More to come.]

But I have many more avenues to travel down before giving up.  I can track every one of the siblings of Clifford Kaser to seek more information. I can post on bulletin boards on genealogy sites. I can follow leads in an old newspaper article I found in my father’s files about a band in Clark, Ohio that ties to another keepsake–a battered old trombone.

The family seems to be full of people who are handy with their hands–from carpentry to tin- smithing to playing the trombone.  My father enjoyed making things, but the things he built for me, I left behind as Ken and I moved from house to house. He had built bookcases in our Columbus, Ohio house and when we moved to Arizona, he built bookcases for us, and repaired anything that needed fixing in the five houses we lived in before he died.

Meanwhile, if you know anyone named Kaser, ask them if they know about Joseph the carpenter who lived in Bloomfield/Clark, Ohio. And let me know.