Tag Archives: Millersburg

52 Ancestors: #16 Keith Kaser, Farmer to Elected Official

Keith Karl Kaser 1894-1963

Born in Danville, Ohio, Keith Karl Kaser was the oldest in the family of Clifford and Mary Isadore (Mame) Kaser. (Perhaps Mary Isadore went to her family home to give birth to her first child.) But I didn’t know him until he was nearly 50, because my father was fifteen years younger than Keith, and was thirty years old when I was born.  That meant that my Kaser cousins were a good deal older than I was, too. But that did not stop Keith and his wife Blanche from welcoming me into their home for visits.

Because he was the older brother, Keith undertook extra responsibility when both the parents of his family died –his mother in 1926 and his father in 1930. Keith had the heft to handle responsibility and hard work. And he had a lively intelligence and endearing sense of humor, despite a sometimes hard life. Like my father, his formal education ended with high school graduation, but he continued to explore his curiosity about the world.

Chubby young Keith is pictured with his baby sister Irene in this early photo. He would have been about four years old:

Keith Kaser and Irene Kaser 1898

Keith and Irene Kaser about 1898.

And he just kept getting chubbier.  As a young man, he worked for his father’s tin business, pictured here about 1914, (Keith would have been 19 or 20) when his father started a shop in Killbuck, Ohio.

Clifford Kaser Tin Shop

Kaser Tin Shop, Keith, Clifford, (front) Milton, Paul. About 1914

The year after this family picture was taken, Keith married Blanche Belle Craft (1986-1991), who was only 19, and they lived in Killbuck. When he filled in his World War I Draft Registration, in June, 1917, he was a 23-year-old married farmer with one child. He claimed an exemption from military service because of his membership in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, his father’s church.  Keith was described as short and stout, with light blue eyes and light hair.

Keith Kaser and family

Clifford Kaser Family: Paul, Irene, Milton and Keith with Cliff and “Mame” in front. About 1926, the year that “Mame” died, and one year before Milton died.

When the 1920 census was taken, Keith was working for the railroad as a “track man”, and living in Millersburg, Ohio. Some time between then and 1930, he moved to Orrville, Ohio with Blanche and their three children–Evelyn, Phyllis and Dick, where he returned to farming. When their father died in 1930, both Irene Kaser(Bucklew) and Paul Kaser moved in with Keith and Blanche for a time.

And here he is as a farmer in the thirties (his hair had turned prematurely white)[ Correction: I have rethought my identification of this picture, thanks to doubts expressed by a cousin. Although the body type is like Keith in his older years, the face is not right. The man with the hat looks more like it would be Keith. Still need help with dating this picture.] That’s my dad, Paul Kaser in the knitted cap. Paul Kaser did not last long on the farm, moving on to a variety of jobs during the depression.

Keith Kaser on farm.

Keith Kaser on the farm with others, including Paul Kaser. (Others in the picture are unidentified.)

By 1936 (probably a few years earlier) he had received a ticket out of farming.  The Clerk of Courts of Holmes County appointed him as Deputy Clerk, and Keith moved his family into Millersburg, the county seat.  Knowing Keith, and reading about his activities from then on in his life, I really don’t think that farming suited him any better than it did my dad, but either of them would do whatever work they had to do to support themselves and their families.  A work ethic they learned from their father, Clifford Kaser.

In March of 1936 a newspaper announcement listed several Democrat party candidates for the job of Clerk of Courts, including Keith K. Kaser. He won the primary election and when November rolled around he had a free ride. There was no Republican opposition in this majority-Democrat county.

I was amazed to learn that my Aunt Blanche served as Uncle Keith’s deputy clerk. Apparently Ohio had no nepotism restrictions.

Ironically, the same year, my father and mother had started dating, and he had joined her in her efforts for Republican candidates.  Paul Kaser and Harriette Anderson were quite active in politics in the years just before they married.

Ice Cream Socials were held here.

Holmes County Courthouse, Millersburg, Ohio. Photo by David Grant

When I was a small girl, I vividly remember visiting the County Court House in Millersburg with Uncle Keith. He showed me enormous books with hand-written records of transactions that must have dated back decades. I was very impressed with his importance.

Keith Kaser was naturally a social animal, but his leadership tendencies and camaraderie served him well on the political stage.  He was very active in the Masonic Lodge, holding many high offices. And he was a leader, Sunday School teacher, and ultimately Deacon at the Millersburg Church of Christ.  I don’t know whether he left the Seventh Day Adventist Church because there was not one in Millersburg, or because it was Blanche’s choice, but at any rate, he was an active church member for the rest of his life.

When he filled in his World War II Draft Registration card in April 1942, he was living at 208 Clay Street in MIllersburg, and place of employment is listed as East Jackson Street, Millersburg, Holmes County, Ohio (The County Courthouse).  He had blue eyes, gray hair, a light complexion and weighed in at 219 pounds on a 5’5″ frame. At the age of 47, he was experiencing some health problems from his excess weight, and they continued to plague him throughout his life.

One of the things I remember about visiting their home, was Aunt Blanche’s wonderful cooking–particularly the elaborate cakes that she would decorate.  Another thing that sticks with me is the big wooden console radio in the living room.  During World War II when my mom and dad and I visited, we always clustered around that radio listening to the news.

In 1944 Keith Kaser announced that he would not run for a third term as Clerk of Courts, and in 1945, the newspaper announced that he was the Modern Woodmen of America auditor for the State of Ohio. Modern Woodmen is a fraternal benefit society (providing insurance to members, but also fraternal social activities) that was founded in 1883.  As far as I know this was not a paid position, and I do not know what other employment he may have had at this time. I do recall in the 40s or early 50s that Aunt Blanche worked as a sales clerk in one of the stores on the main street of Millersburg.

Keith and Blanche loved to travel, particularly to take car trips, and the Coshocton Tribune personals column for Millersburg frequently details their Jaunts. I took one trip with them, and remember we left very early in the morning. I must have been excitedly chattering as I got in the car because Uncle Keith told me solemnly that I should be quiet, because the neighbors (who were very good friends of Keith and Blanche) were nasty people and if we woke them up, they’d want to go with us. So we had to leave very quietly because we didn’t want them to know we were on a trip. The story worked. I didn’t make a peep until we were on the road. For the longest time I believed his story, and even asked my mother and father about the mean neighbors that Keith and Blanche had.  Of course my parents were mystified.

In 1950, The Coshocton Tribune carried an announcement of Keith K. Kaser running for County Auditor, but I have not yet learned if he was elected.  Probably not, since I do not see any subsequent news about him being in office.

After Keith died in 1963, Blanche eventually sold the house and moved into a trailer home parked on the side lawn.  She still had itchy travel feet, however, and in her seventies, took a Greyhound bus trip across the country. She visited us briefly in Scottsdale, Arizona, but did not stay long, as she had places to go.

Blanche died in 1991 and the journey of the couple who were married 48 years ends  in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Millersburg, Ohio.


  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the brother of
  • Keith Karl Kaser


Photos are from my personal collection, handed down from Paul Kaser, my father, except for the Holmes County Courthouse. If you click on that one, you will find out more about the photographer.

Draft Registration Card, WWI, #271 June 5, 1917, found at Ancestry.com; Ohio; Registration County: Holmes; Roll: 1832249;Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509,

Draft Registration Card, WWII, Serial #1002 April 27, 1942, found at Ancestry.com; United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147. National Archives and Records Administration.

The Coshocton Tribune, found at Ancestry.com Various articles between 1934 and 1955.

Census Records from 1900 (Coshocton , Ohio) 1910 (Clark, Ohio), 1920(Millersburg, Ohio),1930 (Orrville, Ohio),1940 (Millersburg, Ohio) all found at Ancestry.com

Birth Record Found at Ancestry.com:  “Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2011. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.

Death Record Ancestry.com. Web: Ohio, Find A Grave Index, 1787-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012; Original data: Find A Grave. Find a Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi: accessed 25 January 2013.

52 Ancestors: #13 Wedding: Phyllis Kaser Shoup

Phyllis Kaser Shoup

The September, 1946 wedding of my cousin Phyllis Kaser Shoup. I’m the flower girl on the right.

Phyllis Kaser Shoup (1921-2004)

After I went to a wedding last weekend, I started shuffling through various wedding pictures in my photo collection.  At this wedding, of my cousin, Phylis Kaser Shoup, I was a flower girl.

I took my responsibilities very seriously.  To my way of thinking, Phyllis was the height of beauty and sophistication. After all, I was seven years old and she was 25–quite a gap. She had even lived and worked in WASHINGTON, D. C.!  I was justly proud of my beautiful long dress and fancy headpiece.  And at the rehearsal when I was told how to carry a basket of flower petals and scatter them on the floor as the other flower girl and I walked down the aisle, it was serious stuff. During the wedding, I concentrated very hard on getting just enough petals to flow out of the basket, without using them all up before I got to the front of the awesomely beautiful church.

Unfortunately, I don’t know a whole lot of Phyllis’ story, but I’ll share what I do know.

Phyllis was the middle child of my father’s brother, Keith Kaser and his wife Blanche. She had an older sister, Evelyn, and a younger brother Richard (Dick).  When she was young, she lived for a time in Orrville, Ohio, but by the time I started visiting the Kasers, they lived in Millersburg, Ohio, where she went to high school.

When World War II started, there was a great demand for office workers–mainly women–in Washington D.C. So she and her sister Evelyn decided to take their secretarial skills to Washington for the war effort. It must have been quite an adventure for two young women from Millersburg Ohio to to to the bustling city of Washington during the war, with soldiers everywhere.

Phyllis Shoup worked in D.C. during war

WWII office workers DC during World War II. Photo from Library of Congress collection.

They were there in 1945 when my family were spending the summer in Virginia (a story for another day) and I remember that we visited with them.  A few months after that visit, Phyllis returned to Millersburg to get ready for her wedding to tall, dark and quietly handsome John Shoup.  (I just realized how solemn almost everyone in the wedding picture looks. I looked particularly grim–still afraid I might do something wrong, I guess. Actually it was a particularly joyous time. Not only a wedding–but peace time at last!)

I remember going to the wedding shower–a real privilege for such a little girl. And I’ll never forget that my mother brought a gift of a few dishtowels, with a poem she had written. “Even doing dishes can be fun, when it is done for the one and only one.”

After living in Millersburg for a time, Phyl (as she was usually called) and John moved to Kentucky and lived there for most of their lives. They had two small blond babies, and I enjoyed visiting them and playing “big sister”. [UPDATE: When they left Millersburg, they moved to Ashland, Ohio, and in 1967 moved to Louisville Kentucky.]

When John died in 1990, Phyl moved to Ashland Ohio to be near her daughter, and lived there until her death in 2004.

I would love hearing more details about Phyllis from Kaser cousins. For instance, did she and Evelyn work in some super exciting job in D.C.? or were they doing repetitious typing of inventories? [UPDATE: She worked at the Naval Department].  And what were her interests when she moved to Kentucky? [She and John were avid golfers.] How did she and John meet? [Although they went to different high schools, they were both in the All County High School Band, so they were actually high school sweethearts.] So many questions–[and now some answers].

[UPDATES thanks to personal correspondence with Phyllis’ daughter, Debbie Shoup Powers. Thank you Debbie!]

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.”