Tag Archives: road trip

My Mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, Arrested on a Road Trip

Well today was rather uneventful according to last evening. I don’t suppose you could possible have understood what I wrote but Dear for the first time in my life I was actually frightened. Tonight we are in a hotel and will continue thus.

Letter from Harriette Anderson to Paul Kaser June 19, 1936

Harriette Anderson
Harriette Anderson (or Kaser) at camp. undated

A suggested theme for a blog challenge was “road trip”.  That gave me an excuse to tell a story I’ve been itching to tell, pulled from my mother’s correspondence. This is not the first story I have told about Harriette Anderson (Kaser) and it will not be the last, because she kept letters and passed on the story of her life in oral history.

Family road trips are also not a new subject for Ancestors in Aprons.  For instance,

A road trip gone wrong in the early 20th century.

Along the Old LIncoln Highway in Guernsey County Ohio

Various Family road trips, including my first one

Trips to World Fairs

It is the trip to the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas in 1936 that provided mother with some real excitement–and I am not talking about the Fair.

First some background.

Harriette Anderson and Paul Kaser had their first date on November 9, 1934.  They started dating and corresponded when they were apart, beginning the following year.  Each summer, my mother and a couple of her school teacher friends would either go to Ohio State University in Columbus to take Education classes, or they would go on a road trip in one of my mother’s string of cars that she loved so much.

In June, 1936, on a trip that started on Wednesday, June 17, and ended ten days later, on Saturday, June  27, she and fellow teachers Sarah Leonard (Keyser) and Fern Patterson (Purdy) and unspecified other “girls” (one was named Alice)  took a roundabout route to the Dallas State Fair. Sarah Leonard was teaching first grade when I started school in Killbuck and Fern was teaching third grade. They seemed ancient then (probably not yet 40)  so it is fun to picture them as young single “girls” bending over road maps and plotting their summer getaway.

From Killbuck, Ohio, they went to Kentucky by way of Grant’s boyhood home and Lincoln’s birthplace to Mammoth Cave. Then they drove through Tennessee. Mother remarked in her letters to the man who would be my father on the beautiful mountains they had driven through (the Appalachians) and visiting Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga.

Road trip stop: Lookout Mtn
View from Lookout Mountain above Chattanooga, TN. Photo by Ken Badertscher

Then through Atlanta and on to Pensacola, Florida. Following the Gulf Coast, which she loved, they drove to New Orleans, where she was charmed by “the old city of New Orleans.” They ferried across the mile-wide Mississippi River and made it to their objective–the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas. Heading home they planned to go through Little Rock Arkansas or Oklahoma City to St. Louis.

Although mother was not usually an early riser, she was up and ready to go by five each morning to beat the heat on this southern road trip. She reports temperatures exceeding 100°. Remember there was no air conditioning in 1930s cars. They probably hung a canvas bag of water in front of the radiator to keep the motor from over heating. She did most of the driving, spelled by her friend Fern. They drove three or four hundred miles a day,  sometimes pausing to see sights along the way and stopped about eight in the evening. This was before the 1950s expansion of the highway system, before dependable chain motels, before quick dry clothes–not to mention GPS for navigation or tablets and laptops with Facebook to stay in touch with loved ones.

Although she was an English teacher, in these letters she rarely used periods at the end of sentences, or capitol letters at the beginning of new sentences as she wrote these letters, because she was so tired by the time she picked up her pen each night.

Road Trip stop
Ohio Pure Oil Station with lunch counter attached ca. 1930s, Photo from collection of Boston Library via WikiPedia

Apparently, Paul Kaser arranged with a friend to give her credit at Pure Oil filling stations along the way, which helped with expenses. They cooked their breakfast and dinner over a campfire. They stopped in towns along the way and filed up on a big lunch at a restaurant. The women stayed at tourist camps–tent camping or cabins–which cost as much as 75 cents or $1.00 a night. That is, until an incident that changed their minds about the safety of the casual tourist camp.

On the evening of June 18, they stopped at the Golden Eagle Tourist Camp in Murfreesboro Tennessee, about 100 miles from Chattanooga. That evening, Harriette wrote her usual letter to Paul, filling him in on the weather, the miles covered and sights seen (most of the day spent at the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, she says.) It is a short note, because she is tired.  But the next morning, she adds more. In her excitement she writes with even more lack of punctuation, and uncharacteristic spelling errors.

Here is her story transcribed with a few clarifications in brackets.

Well one beautiful morning and plenty of excitement. I wouldn’t write this except you might some way read it in the [news]papers. Don’t mention until I get home unless necessary.
Last evening we stopped at the Golden Eagle tourist camp two miles out of Murfreesboro a place recommended by a Pure Oil station, the girls with us went out with the boys in attendants. Of course a very foolish thing to do. Fern [Patterson (Purdy), Sarah [Leonard (Keyser)] and I worried sick about them. They finally returned home and just as we were about asleep at last someone called Alice she didn’t answer then they tried to get in. Several times. Believe me we were excited and called for help [.] instead of coming to help, the station [the Pure Oil station where the tourist camp was located] called the Deputy sheriff. He didn’t have his badge on and for some time the filling station people wouldn’t identify him, and I didn’t let him [in]. He arrested us and took us before the Justice of Peace and the Dam fools got us each for disturbing the peace and [unorderly] conduct. Can you image [imagine]. Here [is] the catch [–] $9.30 each. Of course the fellow [who caused the trouble] didn’t show up so what could we do. 46.50 for a couple Tenn. yells. Its funny now but rather expensive we are staying Hotels and Tourist homes from now on. Wont Bill [Anderson, her brother] laugh [?] tell him you can keep it between the two of you until we see you.

Letter from Harriette Anderson to Paul Kaser June 19, 1936

Then she added a postscript.

“I have been arrested and paid a fine now.”

Postscript of letter from Harriette Anderson to Paul Kaser June 19, 1936

A woman made of lesser stuff might have let such an incident–that frightened her for the first time in her life– convince her to be less of an adventurer, but Harriette kept relishing the open road. She and her girlfriends even stayed in tourist camps on later road trips. They even camped in Texas Tent City near the Dallas Centennial grounds.  Her last road trip with the “girls” was just two weeks before she and Paul Kaser were married two years later on June 9, 1938.

She was not the only one who would not change her ways because of a little thing like being arrested. Paul was not intimidated by marrying a certified law breaker. Although I do not have his letter reacting to her disturbing news, they did set a wedding date within a year and a half. And my father and mother continued to love road trips all their lives, a love they passed on to their children.

A Road Trip to Guernsey County: Lib Stout Cunningham

Elizabeth J. Stout Cunningham 1856-post 1940

In this picture, “Aunt Lib” (seated to the left of the pillar) was visiting Killbuck at the home of Harriette Morgan Stout (white hair, center of picture). On the far right, partially obscured by the pillar is one of Lib’s daughters, Merle. Seated on the edge of the porch, left to right are Herbert Anderson, Sarah Warner (Anderson), Harriette Anderson (Kaser) (daughter of Vera), Vera Stout Anderson (daughter of Hattie.)

Aunt Lib Stout can be seen sitting to the left of the porch post in this picture taken on the porch of Hattie Morgan Stout (to Lib's left). One of Lib's daughters is on the far right in back.

Aunt Lib Stout can be seen sitting to the left of the porch post in this picture taken on the porch of Hattie Morgan Stout  in Killbuck, Ohio (to Lib’s left).

When my mother was growing up, her family drove from Killbuck in northeastern Ohio to Guernsey County in southern Ohio about once a year to visit Stout relatives.  What is today a quick drive, could be quite an adventure in the teens of the 20th century. The favorite relative was Aunt Lib–Elizabeth Stout Cunningham.  Aunt Lib was the third of four daughters of Emeline and Isaiah Stout, born in Feburary, 1856.

In 1881 when she was twenty-three, she married James Edward “Ed” Cunningham, who grew up on a farm just down the road from the Stout farm.  They had two daughters, Mary (1882) and Merle (1885). Another child died in infancy.

Mother told me  that “Aunt Lib never took a step that she didn’t run. She was the most fun and we always went to visit her.”

Harriette Anderson Kaser’s memoirs included this description of going to Guernsey County on the Old National Road (which she calls ‘Pike’).

To see a modern day map following roughly the route that mother’s family would have followed (before there were freeways, which cut the trip to just under two hours), click here: From Killbuck to Guernsey County. The George Stout house still stands, north of I-70. Apparently the farm was sliced in two when the Interstate was built.

Map Killbuck to Guernsey County

Killbuck to Quaker City road map.

“Guernsey County was my Grandfather William Stout’s home county where all of his family grew up…and the family farm was just out of Cambridge on the other side of the first crooked bridge on the Old National Pike.*

“We did love to go to Guernsey, not particularly to the old farmhouse, but up to another sister of my grandfather’s Aunt Lib Cunningham.  Now that was our favorite stop, and she was one of our favorite people.  The joy of this whole thing was that always before we took this trip, we were taken out of school to go on an automobile trip and this didn’t happen [much] at the time.

“This took place when we were very young.  Dad has a little red Maxwell they called a “Runabout” at that time.  The thing that I remembered about that car was that it was just a one-seater and that back of it was a round tank with gasoline, and there was a little trunk on the back of that…Mother had put a cushion and some blankets in between the little round tank and the back of the front seat, and this was where Bill (Harriette’s older brother) and I sat for our trip to Guernsey County.  Mother held Herbert, who was much younger and smaller at that time.  All of the kids at school were nervous [envious?] that we were going to Guernsey County because we were going to get out of school.

“We would get up and Mother would pack a lunch.  We would usually leave early on Friday morning for Guernsey County.  Now it’s only a two or three hours’ drive down there, but at that time it was really a full trip.

“Somewhere along the line we always had car trouble of some kind, but it was a nice trip.  We were always very frightened when we got to Coshocton.  Bill and I would sit back there and wonder if we’d get through Coshocton or not.  That seemed like such a big city at that time.  We’d get through Coshocton and then we’d go down to Newcomerstown and straight on down.

“Oh, it was such a nice trip and there was a nice place along the river where we always stopped and had our picnic lunch, and then we would go to Cambridge and when we got through Cambridge, we always had a sigh of relief because as soon as we got through Cambridge, we hit the Old National Pike.

“Now the Old National Pike is part of I-40 I think, that went clear across our country. Of course at that time it didn’t go that far.  I think it probably went as far as St. Louis.  It was a brick road, and it was very rough, but until that we had lots of mud roads, if it rained, or lots of very rough, dusty roads if it was dry, so when we hit the Pike, we were really thrilled.

“When we got through Cambridge, we always looked for the old crooked bridge and the second farm on the other side of the Old Crooked Bridge was Grandfather’s [Isaiah Stout].  Uncle George Stout still lived there, and we would always stop and see them, just for a few minutes, but we would have to go on much farther to Aunt Lib’s and Uncle Ed’s up on the hill in a place called Putney Ridge.

“When we [got] there, Aunt Lib was always so happy to see us and we were so happy to see her.  She and Uncle Ed were just such a charming, sweet couple. They had two daughters, Mary and Merle, and both of their daughters were school teachers.  By the way, Uncle Ed Cunningham was the first of many in the state of Ohio to have a life teaching certificate, so he had been a teacher for many, many years also.

“Aunt Lib always had all kinds of food ready for us and everything wonderful for us children to play with, and Uncle Ed would go out and show us all things on the farm where they lived…I would be frightened when he’d show us where the turkeys were, because we weren’t used to turkeys.  We were really frightened at those big birds that he showed us.  But this was a real treat, and we went to Guernsey County about once a year.”

*My cousin Larry Anderson and his wife scouted the old Stout farm and took this set of pictures of the Old Crooked Bridge.

The Old Crooked Bridge on National Highway, Guernsey County. Pictures by Larry and Judy Anderson

The Old Crooked Bridge on National Highway, Guernsey County. Pictures by Larry and Judy Anderson

Larry and Judy pinpointed the location of the George Stout farm in an e-mail they sent me when they explored.  Take I-70 east to Guernsey County. At the Quaker City exit, go North on 513. Almost immediately, turn left (west) on Bridgewater Road. 

They say, for the Stout cemetery, go south on 513 and go right on Lydic Road off 513 (Batesville Road). When it dead ends, go to Gatts Lane. The Stout cemetery is in the field.

Elizabeth Stout Cunningham died October 1, 1945 in her home on Pleasant Ridge in Guernsey County. Unlike the other Stouts who lived in Ohio, she is not buried in the Stout cemetery, but instead is buried beside her husband James Edward Cunningham in the Friends Cemetery in Quaker City, Ohio.

Elizabeth Stout Cunningham

Elizabeth Stout Cunningham gravestone, Friend’s Cemetery, Quaker City. Photo from Find A Grave.


Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher

is the daughter of Harriette Anderson Kaser

who is the daughter of Vera Stout Anderson

who is the daughter of William Cochran Stout

who is the brother of Elizabeth Stout Cunningham.


“Harriette Anderson Kaser’s Memories of Killbuck, Ohio in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s” were transcribed from an audiotape recorded in the home of P. W. Kaser, Fresno, California about 1980.  Paul William Kaser, her son, made the transcription.  Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher made slight edits.

Added material was taken from other notes of conversations with Harriette. 

U.S. Census report, 1860, Oxford, Guernsey, Ohio; 1870,1880,1900,1910,1920 Wills, Guernsey, Ohio; 1930 Millwood, Guernsey, Ohio; 1940 Quaker City, Guernsey, Ohio.

Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007, Ohio Department of Health and Ancestry.com

U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, Ancestry.com

The burial information and photograph come from Find A Grave.

Family photographs are in the author’s possession.

Antique Car Mania and a Road Trip that Went Wrong

In tomorrow’s 52 Ancestors Story, I talk about a journey that my mother’s family made annually from Killbuck, Ohio in Holmes County to my grandmother Vera Stout Anderson’s relatives in Guernsey County. Instead of food this week,we’re talking about a journey in an antique car.

Mother (Harriette Anderson Kaser) mentions in her story that her great aunt Elizabeth Stout “Lib” Cunningham was a terrific cook, but unfortunately, she doesn’t tell us what Lib cooked.  Instead she remembers all the details about every antique car, the road conditions and travel directions. Even though my mother was a home economics teacher for many years, she was always more interested in cars than in food preparation.

In her eighties and nineties, she could lovingly describe every car she ever owned.  And Grandma Vera Anderson and Grandpa Leonard Guy Anderson started driving cars as soon as it was feasible.  After the ones named below, in the late 20’s they owned a Stutz, which you can see here, in Road Trip Adventures with Family Travelers. My uncle Herbert Anderson posed beside that car in 1927. 

Herbert Anderson and Stutz Car

Herbert Anderson with family’s Stutz Bearcat 1927

In her story that I relate tomorrow, Mother describes the red Maxwell Runabout that her parents were driving when she and her brothers were small.  From the pictures I have been able to find, theirs was probably a 1912.  Mother describes a round gas tank in front of a luggage box and that is missing on the earlier models I’ve seen pictures of, but it is present in 1912. Nevertheless, here’s a picture of a 1911 Maxwell Runabout, because I like to picture my Grandmother and Grandfather and their three small children in this bright red car.

Antique car Maxwell runabout

1911 Maxwell runabout. Photo By Greg Gjerdingen, Creative Commons License

Mother tells another story about a  later trip to Guernsey County, in another car, the Saxon. The Saxon was harder to find pictures of (with use permitted), but here’s one that was for sale. It is a 1917, which was no doubt more practical, although not nearly as much fun.

Antique Car, Saxon

1917 Saxon Touring Car.

Here’s my mother’s story of a trip that went wrong.

“One time when we decided to go to Guernsey County, we had just gotten a new Saxon car.  We were pretty good chunks of kids by this time, pretty good size, and Grandma Stout was going with us.  Now Grandma Stout was a little bit like our mother.  She was a good traveler.  She liked to go and she never complained on a trip, no matter where she went or how uncomfortable she was.

“We got down on the other side of Newcomerstown on this trip and it started raining.  It poured and it poured, and we started up a little hill–not a very big hill–and dad had to change gears.  When he changed gears, the rear axle broke on the car, and there we were –stranded in the car.  It was night by the time we got that far because we’d been so slowed down on the mud roads. They were mud roads out of [south of] Newcomerstown.  They had no pikes. [paved roads]

“We looked out across a field and there was a light in a farmhouse out across the field and so …Dad decided that maybe we should try to get over there to get out of the car because we couldn’t stay in the car all night and he couldn’t see to do anything with it. So we started walking.

“By this time the rain had slaked up a little bit, but it was wet and so messy.  We started walking and we came to a little stream and Grandma didn’t see the stream and she fell. We thought that she would be hurt, but she got up laughing and thought it was a really good joke that she had fallen the stream.

“By this time the storm was over, and it was getting moonlight.  It was rather nice, and we could see. When we got to the farmhouse, we realized that we were not at any palatial place.  It was probably nine o’clock by that time.  The people were so nice.  They were quite poor. You could tell that, but they tried so hard to accommodate us and find sleeping [places]. …there were my brothers, my Grandmother, and my dad and mother and I, so there were six of us dropping in on these people, and this poor farm lady put every one of us to bed.

“I don’t know how any of us slept very well.  I think I did.  If I’m not mistaken, I slept with two girls that were in the family, and Grandmother slept in a bed with the hired girl. She said [later] that the bed didn’t smell very good, and Grandmother was pretty particular anyway.  She’d have been willing to sit up all night, but she knew that would offend the woman.  And Dad and Mother had a bed, and the boys shared a bed with their son.”

In looking for pictures and information about the Saxon car, I came across a site dedicated to Saxons and their collectors.  They have a story there, The Suffragist Saffron Saxon, about a Suffragette who traveled across the country campaigning for the woman’s vote.  Since Grandma Stout read the New York Times, sent to her by her son Will, I like to think that she read that story and it influenced the family decision to buy a Saxon.

Of course I can’t provide concrete evidence, but the circumstantial evidence is strong. We know her son who lived in New York, sent her the paper. We know that her greatest desire was to live long enough for women to vote. And we know she was not bashful about expressing her opinion.

Perhaps she would have changed her mind after the night of the road trip gone wrong in this antique car.


“Harriette Anderson Kaser’s Memories of Killbuck, Ohio in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s” were transcribed from an audiotape recorded in the home of P. W. Kaser, Fresno, California about 1980.  Paul William Kaser, her son, made the transcription.  Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher made slight edits.

Added material was taken from other notes of conversations with Harriette,