Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day!

          In honor of Father's Day this year, here is a small pictorial tribute to my paternal line and some of the other paternal lines in our family tree.

My Paternal Line

My father, Richard, and me:

My father's father, Roy Webb:

Roy's father, John David Webb:

My mother's paternal line

My paternal grandfather, Charles Wilbur Sadler

C. W.'s father, Wilbur Fisk Sadler:

Wilbur's father, Thomas William Sadler:

My husband's paternal line

 My husband's father, Neal Morehart:

Neal's father, J. Warren Morehart with Neal and his brother Charles:

Warren's father, David Hackett Morehart:

David's father, Jacob W. Morehart:

My husband's mother's paternal line

My husband's maternal grandfather, Robert Brown Smith:

Robert's father, Gaius Smith:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Caleb M Houdyshell suffers a tragic loss

     Household fires were a very real threat in our ancestors' times. They cooked with fire and heated their homes with fire. They used fire to heat water with which to wash themselves and their belongings. They lit their houses with fire. They used candles. They used wood, coal, gas, oil, and kerosene in fireplaces, stoves, ovens, furnaces, boilers, and lamps. The fires were a threat in and of themselves, and so were the hot coals and ashes they produced. I have read about numerous fires suffered by my and my husband's ancestors, but the fire that devastated Caleb Houdyshell's family was the worst.
    Caleb Martin Houdyshell was my husband's great-great-great grandfather. He was born in Ohio on September 29, 1837 to John and Cynthia (Mahurin) Houdyshell. When he was 19, he married 18 year old America Virginia Yakey in Cass County, Indiana on December 23, 1856.  She was the daughter of Henry and Mary Yakey. Caleb and America welcomed a daughter named Ida in July 1858, and then two sons: Willie in April 1862, and Frankie in June 1864. They appear to have had one more child, whose name I do not know.
     In the fall of 1864, Caleb went to fight for the Union Army in the Civil War. He survived the war, but he suffered from numerous physical complaints as a result of the illness and hardships he had endured while in service. He went home to America and his children, and the family moved to Competine Township in Wapello, Iowa in the fall of 1867. There they took up residence in a one and a half story wood home near his parents and siblings.
     A few months after their move to Iowa, tragedy struck the family. In the early morning hours of January 22, 1868, some hot ashes that had been deposited in the "shed part" of the house ignited a fire that quickly spread through the rest of the house. Caleb was not home, but America, their young children and Caleb's younger sister Carrie (Caroline Druscilla Houdyshell) were all sleeping in the house at that time. Only America, Ida and the unknown fourth child were able to escape the burning house. Five year old Willie, three year old Frankie and their 22 year old aunt Carrie all perished in the flames. The story of the fire was carried in papers as far away as Chicago.
     America and Caleb were devastated. They tried to pick up the pieces of their lives and continue. They had one more child together, a daughter named Lillian who was born on July 28, 1869. America died just over a year later on August 14, 1870.
     Caleb went on to marry again. He married Sarah Cowger in 1871, and he and Sarah had two children together named Mary Estella and Rolla. Caleb and family moved to Kansas for a time but then settled back in Iowa--in Ottumwa. Caleb suffered from poor health the rest of his life, and his son Rolla caused him much grief, but those are stories for another time.
     Fire brought public notice to Caleb again in 1901. He was walking down a street near his home in Ottumwa at about 7:30 on the morning of April 11, when he noticed smoke coming the attic of a house. He rushed to raise to notify the occupants of the house and telephoned the fire department. No one was injured and the fire department responded so quickly that the house suffered minimal damage. He was able to give that family the happy ending that his was denied.

Article about the tragic fire of January 22, 1868, that appeared on the page two of the January 31, 1868 edition of the Chicago Tribune. Digital image of the newspaper found at ChroniclingAmerica.