Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Headstone Dedication for our Civil War Grandfather, George W. Caseman

My summer road travels took me back to my old Kentucky home and some family I haven’t seen in over 50 years. 

Corporal George W. Caseman and his second wife, Eliza Ellen Moore, are buried in unmarked graves at Clarksburg Cemetery in Lewis County, Kentucky.  His son, George E. Caseman, has a marked grave in this cemetery.  My Kentucky sister, Janie Nute-Thomas, and I were able to obtain a new granite headstone for a Civil War great grandfather through the Veterans Administration.

Clarksburg Cemetery, Lewis County, Kentucky

We held a touching full military ceremony with the help of Kentucky Sons of Union Civil War Veterans, complete with honor guard, firing salute, presentation of flag to next of kin, and taps.   John Kalbfleish and John Mills from the Kentucky Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War travelled from Lexington to assist with the memorial.

Sergeant Allen Dillow, Ret. USAF, receiving flag from Commander John Kalbfleish, Kentucky Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

The flag went to our Vietnam veteran cousin, Air Force Master Sergeant Allen Dillow - we are like two peas in a pod - and he tried hard not to show he was tearing up at receiving the flag. Even more cool, we had a good crowd of descendants from our Civil War guy who came for the dedication, some of whom lived in the same town and didn't know they were related. Never underestimate the power of blood kin, especially Kentucky kin.

First row, left to right:  Katharine Dixon, MD, Brodie Forman, Heather Monteith
Second row:  Janie Nute-Thomas, Kathleen Fannin, Linda Dyer, Bonnie Caseman Hampton, Janice Smith
Back row:  Allen Dillow, Ray Nute, George Howell, Connie Monteith

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wailing gets you nowhere in China. Trust me. I know.

Friday morning, we got our luggage out our door for pick-up bright and early as Brenda instructed us to do the evening before, and we brought our passports to her at breakfast.  She said she would use them to get our boarding passes for the flight to Yichang where we would board our ship.

I forgot to mention in my earlier post that the breakfast buffet at the Shangri-La is international.  IHOP has nothing on this place.  We could choose from Chinese (salads and vegetables and dinner food and - oh, the noodles!), English (love those grilled tomatoes and mushrooms), or American (pancakes, waffles, omelets, bacon, yogurt and cereal) – and hordes of fresh fruit. I had my first lichi (lychee?), which was pretty interesting.  There was a melon with tiny black seeds throughout the white meat.  I didn’t like that one so well.  The big surprise, however, was the watermelon.  Watermelon was served at every meal.  I was in breakfast heaven.

From this breakfast Kathie and I absconded with some food for lunch since lunch was to be on our own.  She picked up some smoked salmon and a roll; my choice was cheese and a roll.  Surreptitiously tucked those in Kathie’s bag and we were off.

On our way to the airport we stopped at the Shanghai Museum where we got more than our fill of non-modern Chinese art.  I like that stuff ok but one can take only so many old paintings of tall skinny mountains shrouded in mist with a little fat man sitting in the window of a house at the foot of said mountains.  Or Buddha sculptures – in every pose, every medium, and every size.  Or ethnic dress – could we at least put the clothes on a manikin?  Personally, I would have liked to see some contemporary Chinese art.  Surely they have some of that somewhere.

We drove to the airport where Brenda handed us our passports and boarding passes.  The group melted into the lines for security and, as usual, I chose the line that took the longest.  Consequently, when the young man at the desk told me that something on my boarding pass didn’t match the corresponding whatever on my passport and that I would have to go back out to the ticketing area to get it fixed, Kathie had already cleared security and was waiting for me but everyone else had left the area and headed to the gate – including Brenda our guide/babysitter/negotiator.  I mouthed an explanation to Kathie, then turned around and high-tailed it back out to the lobby.

Remembering Steve Martin’s advice, I explained my dilemma slowly and clearly to the ticketing agent.  In turn, he explained slowly and clearly to me (several times, because reading lips isn’t so easy when the lips speak with an accent) that I needed to go down to A18 to have the supervisor – who looked like he was all of 20 years old - fix my boarding pass.  The whole time I was imagining Brenda freaking out because she had lost one of her ducklings.

When I returned to the security area with my corrected boarding pass, there were Kathie and Brenda looking very relieved to see me.  I wasn’t out of the woods yet though.  No sirree, now I got to have the scanner guy relieve me of all of my hand sanitizer.  “What??  But I have it in my quart sized baggie of liquids,” I wailed.  No, he wasn’t having any of that.  It was flammable, he said.  I should have packed it in my checked baggage, he said.  

I spent the rest of the trip in varying states of anxiety that I didn’t have any hand sanitizer. 

And this is why I don’t blog very often…I get so hung up writing stream of consciousness stuff that I can only cover one day of travel at a sitting.  Throw in photographs and hyperlinks to background material and I get, like, paralyzed in the quagmire of details. 

So, next installment, whenever that may be – we may actually cruise the Yangtze.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Confucius says, “Don’t be sad that it is over, be happy that it was.”

Kathie and I left for LAX early enough on Tuesday morning to arrive in plenty of time for our 1:30 p.m. flight to Shanghai.  Oh my gosh, the traffic was heavy!  For someone used to Charleston traffic, the ride up the 5 from San Diego was…well, let’s just say it set the tone for our time on the ground in China.

Our flight was long but Kathie had upgraded our seats to coach plus.  Nice going, Kath.  Crossing the international dateline, we arrived in Shanghai at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday – totally disoriented time-wise.  It took me a bit to figure out that China is 12 hours ahead of Charleston but yet 15 hours ahead of San Diego.  How could that be if San Diego is three hours closer to China than Charleston is?  Mind blowing, I tell you. 

(And ALL of China is 12 hours ahead of Charleston, because even though China covers 5 time zones geographically, their government has decreed that everyone there should go about their day in the same time zone.  As an American, I had a little difficulty comprehending how that would work.)

A sweet Chinese girl was waiting for us as we came out of baggage claim.  She guided us to our shuttle and chatted with us as we drove to the Shangri-La Hotel.  Along the way, we passed the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, our first run-in with modern Chinese architecture.  What the heck?  It looked like a bad Godzilla movie version of a space ship.  Seriously bizarre.

At the Shangri-La, we met Brenda Chao, who would be our guide for the whole trip.  She is from Shanghai but lives in Beijing – a lovely lady who took great care of us.  More about her later.

We settled into our room.  This place is really stunning.  The crystal chandelier in the lobby lounge must have been ten feet tall and looked like a very sparkly reactor core on the starship Enterprise.  Beam me up, Scotty!  I was truly mesmerized by it, especially with the cityscape showing through the 2-story window behind it.

After a huge buffet breakfast on Thursday morning, Brenda hooked us up with our local guide, whose name for our purposes was Charlie.  When I say us, I mean Kathie and me along with 20 other Americans we had never met before.  More about them later. 

We boarded our bus and set out into incredible traffic to see the fantastic skyscape of the relatively new business district of Shanghai from across the Huangpu River.  The Shanghai Tower is the tallest building in China and the third tallest in the world.  It wasn’t totally finished when we were there but I still don’t get the design – tall, skinny, asymmetric, kind of wobbly looking.

Then we did a quickie tour of the old concessions and stopped at the Yu Yuan market.

Yes, that girl's t-shirt says Cnahel, instead of Chanel.  Whatev.

Not sure what those little guys on the sticks were.  Maybe corndogs?

After Kathie and I walked around a little, we pushed through the crowds to get to the tea house for a spot of tea.  No Starbucks for us, baby.  (Yes, there was a Starbucks right there in the little square.)  

Weren’t our pots of tea pretty?  Mine was silver needle with osmanthus (tea olive) blossoms.  Very delicate and refreshing.

Then we braved the traffic to get back to our hotel for a dim sum lunch – yowza, that was nifty!  Bowls and bowls of Chinese dumplings with every filling you can imagine – all set on a glass lazy Susan in the middle of the table so you can scoop out what you want from each bowl as it’s passing by. 

After lunch, back on the bus to the silk “museum”, where we were shown how raw silk is transformed into comforters, pillows, etc.  (Here’s a video if you want to see for yourself.)  Of course, they had a lot of stuff we could buy; Kathie and I settled on a pair of silk bed pillows each – and I can tell you those pillows are wonderful!

After the museum, another long bus trek back to the hotel to change before heading out to the Shanghai Acrobats show.  I grew up in the Ed Sullivan era so I’ve seen performers juggling a gazillion plates at a time but wow, these folks were something.  My favorite was the little girl in the big hoop, twirling all over the stage, seemingly without getting dizzy.  Even bone-tired I was in awe of her skill.

Next – off to the Yangtze. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Frogger Dude, 2002-2015

"I found a kitten crossing Highway 17 (in Mt. Pleasant)," the Animal Control lady said over the phone back in October 2002.  I had recently lost another kitty and she knew I was hurting.  "He's really friendly with my other cats and dogs.  Would you like to have him?"

Thus began my life with Frogger, so named after the video game by my girls.  Kelly remembers him as just a scrawny little kitten, only about 8 weeks old.  Over the years he porked up to 21 pounds - just a soft sweet mass of love.  Always purring, often lying on his back with his feet up in the air, the first to come running when he heard the cat food can pop open.  So when he quit eating altogether yesterday, I knew that was it. 

Rest in peace, Frogger Dude.  You were one in a million and I will miss you until we meet again, little man.  Try to leave the birdies and snakes alone in the meantime, k?

Saturday, July 04, 2015


It's been a quiet 4th of July - one daughter working and the other celebrating her birthday with her husband.  So I've gotten a lot done - yard work, laundry, sitting with my sick kitty, and crafting.  I even managed to slip in a bit of a nap.  All in all, a good day.

As I went about the day, I thought about the courage of our forefathers who drafted the Declaration of Independence.  Did they write, "I cannot stand this king" or "This is the lousiest king ever" or "Death to the infidels"?  No, they eloquently listed their grievances against the king and declared that the colonies would no longer be politically connected to England, finishing with, "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Wow.  I want to write like that. 

I thought of the courage of the women as they waved goodbye to their husbands and sons, not knowing if they would return but absolutely knowing that their own lives would not be the same again. 


I wonder if my ancestors whose courage gave me my freedom would be proud of me today.  I hope so - I'm sure proud of them.

I hope you've had a terrific Independence Day!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Caseman Family: George W. Caseman (1828-1913)

*Grace was born to an unmarried Mary Jane and took on the last name of her stepfather, William Martin.
Tracing the Caseman family beyond Mary Jane becomes more difficult as we go back into the 1700’s and early 1800’s.  Records become scarcer, lost in floods, fires, or never recorded in the frontier and backwoods of Kentucky and western Pennsylvania.  Maybe someone from the family got into town to record a birth or death at the court house and often they didn’t; or perhaps there was no nearby court house.  The dead might be buried on the farm with just a stone or wooden cross marker, or the headstone has been destroyed.

George’s Civil War background has been described in The Killing Fields of Chickamauga and They Stood As If Every Man was a Hero although George’s capture by Confederates outside Atlanta during Sherman’s march was not detailed.

Our mother - who would have been George’s great-granddaughter - always insisted Mary Jane’s side of the family was German.  Since George’s wife, Meriah, was likely Scottish descent the German side had to come from the Casemans.

Suggestions have been made that George's father Jacob descended from William Caseman in Frederick County, Virginia and later Greene County, Pennsylvania, and that William’s original name was Wilhelm Kaeseman.  Wilhelm was born in Nesselrode, Germany and was a Hessian mercenary fighting for the British when captured at Yorktown.  While being marched around as POW’s, the prisoners had opportunity to “get lost”, i.e., escape, and that Wilhelm stayed and settled in this country as a young man.  Again, this is myth until we are able to make documented connection between our Jacob and Wilhelm.

Venango County, Pennsylvania

Franklin, Pennsylvania, lies at the confluence of French Creek and the Allegheny River in Venango County.  Franklin was the site of first a French fort and later a British fort in the 1700’s, The British were massacred and Fort Venango burned  by Indians in 1763, followed by construction of Fort Franklin by the Americans.  A frontier community was established in the late 1700’s in the Fort Franklin area by Virginians, many claiming land for their services in the Revolution.  Travel through the early 1800’s was difficult due to poor condition of any roads and trails, leaving inhabitants heavily dependent on creeks and rivers.  Boats easily brought passengers and goods upstream from Pittsburgh via the Allegheny and this is likely the path by which the Caseman’s arrived.

The family’s presence in Venango County, Pennsylvania, in 1828 is established by the fortuitous finding of George’s birthplace on his Civil War enlistment and later his marriage certificate with Eliza.   His parents are established as Jacob Caseman and Lydia by records in Pendleton County.  Later census records establish Lydia’s birth as about 1798 in Pennsylvania, but Jacob’s birth, age, and their marriage have not yet been found.

There are no Casemans or families with similar spellings in the 1820 Venango County census so it is relatively safe to say at least John Jacob arrived between 1820 and George’s birth in 1828.  Did they arrive as a family, or did John Jacob migrate on his own and marry a local girl?

The 1830 census shows a John J Caseman family with man and woman in the appropriate age range and  and four children living in French Creek near the fork with the Allegheny River, the only Casemans in Venango County in that census year so we can be relatively certain this is our family.

We do know with some certainty that young Lydia, George’s older sister born in 1821, and the older Lydia, John Jacob’s wife, were both born in Pennsylvania but their birth places lack county documentation and we do not know the older Lydia’s maiden name.  There is a 7 year gap between sister Lydia and George’s births which could be accounted for by a number of possibilities.  That John Jacob and Lydia electively decided not to have children until they migrated from elsewhere in Pennsylvania would have been highly unusual for the times.  Another thought is that young Lydia was born from a previous marriage, her mother since died, and older Lydia was Jacob’s second wife, starting a second family with George in 1828.  However,  the most plausible explanation is that several children between young Lydia and George were born but died in childhood.  The support for this option is that young and old Lydias share a common name, a frequent practice at the time and a bane to genealogy researchers.

Hamilton County, Ohio

A History of Venango County relates one of the first settlers in Franklin was George Power who helped build the fort, stayed a bit longer, then moved on to Fort Washington which is now Cincinnati.  He returned to Franklin in 1790 and lived on the bank of French Creek until his death in 1845.  Did John Jacob hear about Ohio from this neighbor, or other neighbors?  Franklin was becoming more hospitable by the time John Jacob decided to move on with his family.  By the early 1800’s roads were being laid out, and by 1823 the town had a hotel, a lumber yard, brick maker, justice of the peace and two story houses.  An influx of settlers grew the county from 4000 in 1820 to 9000 by 1830.  Was it becoming too crowded and land too expensive?  If John Jacob had established his homestead on the banks of French Creek, were they prompted to leave due to frequent severe flooding?

In any event, several years after the birth of Lydia the couple had three more children in quick succession, George in 1828, Jacob in 1831, and Mary Anne in 1833.  By time of the 1840 census, the family and four children had migrated down the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers to Anderson, Hamilton County, Ohio.  A fifth and last child, Foster, was born in Hamilton County in 1842.

Older sister, Lydia, came of age in Hamilton County and married Robert Hay in 1842, subsequently remaining in the Covington area.  By 1870, Lydia was twice widowed and living in Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky.  Her 70 year old mother, the older Lydia, is in the home.

Pendleton County, Kentucky

Our Jacob, Sr., and Lydia came to Pendleton County sometime between 1842 when Foster was born in Hamilton County and 1847 when there is documentation Jacob Sr. bought a mill from Alexander Rouse in Pendleton County (Pendleton Circuit Court, p. 229).  Jacob, Sr. likely died in the next 2-3 years as he is not listed in the 1850 census.  Proceedings in 1853 show the Jacob, Sr. was “much embarrassed” financially at the time of his death, and the mill was foreclosed leaving his heirs to pay his debts.

In 1850 widowed Lydia is living with 22 year old head of household George W. who is now supporting his mother, his three younger siblings, Jacob now 19, Mary Anne, 15, Foster 8, and a one year old Edward.  A circuit court document in 1855 issued a summons for George to appear before the judge to show cause why he should not be bound out in the death of the infant son of Jacob; this may be Edward as he does not show up in later censuses.  

Our 24 yr old George married 20 year old Meriah Johnson, daughter of farmer and mill owner William Johnson, in 1852.  George is farming in Flower Creek, indeed just a designated post office with no associated town.  The closest village is Butler.

The mother, 55 tear old Lydia, remarried  in 1855 to a neighboring farmer, 79 year old John Clinkenbeard, and left the family home.

Jacob, Jr., 26, married 15 year old Sarah Mains from a nearby farm in 1857. 

In 1860, twenty year old Foster is working as a farm hand in Campbell County, Kentucky, which is Sarah’s home county.

George and Meriah had their first child, Lydia, (another Lydia!) in November 1852 followed by another 3 children over the next 8 years.  Of these, only our great grandmother, Mary Jane, survived childhood.  Tragedy struck the family when 5 year old Lydia and 1 year old Jacob L (another Jacob!) died with infant flux within days of each other.  Young William, born in 1858 is on the census in 1860, but not ten years later in 1870 when he would have been only 12, and he must have died sometime in the interim.  Their fifth child, Emily, was born in 1861 months before George left for war.

In October 1861, 33 year old George and his two brothers, 30 year old Jacob and 19 year old Foster, enlisted in the Union Army, Kentucky 23rd Regiment, Company D, and trained a Camp King near Covington, Kentucky.  George is described as tall at 6’ 3/4”, hazel eyes, black hair, and a scar over his right temple.  Foster is described as 5’8”, dark complexion, brown eyes, black hair.

The regiment went by foot to Lexington, then to Louisville where they boarded a steamer and were transported to Nashville.  They wintered 1862-63 at Nashville and saw little action through the spring and summer.  Through this period, George was promoted through the ranks to Corporal before even leaving Lexington, then to Sergeant by July 1862.  All three boys left the unit in August 1862, “left behind on the march,” a week before the units first severe fight at Round Mountain in Tennessee and remained AWOL until March 30, 1863.  Very likely they went home to help with fall harvest, possibly tobacco; with some re-organization of Rosecrans’ army an amnesty was offered allowing the boys to return without penalty other than George was demoted back to private status.

The 23rd remained in Tennessee through the summer until moved to Chattanooga in September 1863.  They did reconnaissance up Lookout Mountain looking for Confederates and subsequently engaged in the horrific fight at Chickamauga.  On the first day of battle, September 19, Lt. Colonel Foy, commander of the 23rd, describes arriving at Lee and Gordon’s Mills about daylight, having some marching and flanking action and entering the fight at about 11 AM,

“…the battery to our rear was pouring in destructive fire into their (Confederate) ranks and the Twenty -third Kentucky poured in volley after volley.  After we had been in this position about one-half to three-quarters of an hour, I noticed that the enemy were renewing the attack with redoubled vigor.  The Second Kentucky retired step by step and inch by inch until they arrived on a line with us.  At this instant I noticed the 24th Ohio giving slowly back.  I immediately sent an officer to see what was the matter.  He brought the word back “all right” and that they intended to hold their ground.  We now fought, I suppose for about an hour longer, but right in the midst of the fighting, finding out that the artillery to our rear was wounding some of the men in the right companies we moved to the left … we renewed our ammunition, marked to pass lines to the rear, which was done in good order… we had scarcely fallen back when the enemy redoubled their attack with great fury…they stood as every man a hero…side by side and shoulder to shoulder did the 24th Ohio and 23rd Kentucky stand up and successively repulse the enemy in all his attacks…the fire now was very hot.  It appeared to me as though every third man in the regiment was struck… finally, seeing we were outnumbered at least five to one, I very reluctantly gave the command to retire.  I found my loss to be 1 officer killed, 3 officers wounded, and 42 enlisted men wounded and 9 killed.”

Among the 9 enlisted killed was young Foster, twenty one years old.  The Union had 16,170 casualties (killed in action, wounded, captured, missing) and Confederates 18,454 in those two days of battle.  Foster is buried at Chattanooga National Cemetery.

Foster Caseman, 1842-1864, killed in action at Chickamauga
Having lost a brother at their side, George and Jacob, nevertheless, would have to fight the following day which was just as horrendous until retreat of the Union Army into Chattanooga.

The 23rd remained in Chattanooga surrounded and under siege by the Confederate Army until General Grant opened a supply line across the river to the starving men.  A week after Chickamauga, Jacob was accidentally shot by a drunken guard in his barracks, requiring amputation at the elbow and ending his soldier career.

George, alone without his brothers, and the 23rd moved out and participated in the great charge up Missionary Ridge on November 25 to break the siege, “there was never such a bold and daring charge made or witnessed by the Army of the Cumberland,” according to the commander of the 23rd.

With their three year enlistment up in January 1864, George and most of regiment re-enlisted and continued on with Sherman’s march through Georgia. George fought through the battles at Rocky Face, Resaca, New Hope Church, Pine Top, and was finally captured at Kennesaw just outside Atlanta on September 24.  He was a prisoner of war, perhaps at the horrific prison at Andersonville as his release occurred in Savannah on November 21, 1864.  He reported back to the Union Army on November 25 and rejoined the fight chasing Hood’s army back into Tennessee and Alabama where he mustered out in January 1865.

After the war

Age 37, George returned to farming at Flower Creek, to Meriah and two young children, Mary Jane and Emily who was just months old when George enlisted. Over the previous 9 years, he had lost one brother killed in action at his side, one disabled with an arm amputation, the sudden deaths of two young children, an infant nephew in his home, and possibly a third child, William.  He and Meriah had another five children in rapid succession between 1866 and 1874.  Sometime before the1880 census Meriah died.  No record of her death or burial site has been found.

Jacob returned to Sarah Ann and the two children born before he went to war.  He worked the farm, bought a sawmill, and obtained an artificial arm.  He and Sarah had three more children, the last one born a month after Jacob’s death in 1874 at the age of 37.

Our great grandmother, Mary Jane was 10 when her father George returned home from the war and 4 years later, at age 15 in November 1869, Mary Jane married and left the home. She lived briefly in the Pendleton County area in Falmouth but within 3-4 years she and her husband, Frank Shumate, moved away to Illinois then to Lewis County, Kentucky, where Frank was killed by a horse, leaving her widowed with two young children.

Lewis County, Kentucky

The 1880 census finds widower George with six children near Vanceburg on a farm next to newly widowed Mary Jane and her two young children.  What drew the family to the Clarksburg area some distance from Flower Creek and who moved here first is unknown.  Mary Jane is supporting herself as a seamstress, likely living on the same farm in Valley where her husband was killed in 1879, and George is farming.

George and Eliza's marriage certificate
The same year, 1880, no doubt needing help with raising his young children, George took another wife, - a young Eliza Moore who was the same age as his daughter Mary Jane.  George had another four children with Eliza over the next 16 years, for a total of 14 children in all.  There was 32 years difference in age between Mary Jane and George’s last child. born when George was 68 years old.

George and Eliza remained in Valley on the farm next to Mary Jane and finished raising his children.
George and second wife Eliza Ellen
By 1910, George had moved into Vanceburg, living on Third Street, and Mary Jane has finished raising her children, soon if not already living on Dry Run close to Grace.

George died December 30, 1913 at his home at age 85.  He is buried in an unmarked grave in Clarksburg Cemetery.

Friday, July 04, 2014

The Caseman Family: Mary Jane's Story

Mary Jane was born July 31, 1854 in Pendleton County, Kentucky, with her birth name registered as Mary Jane Ceeseman, father George W Ceeseman and mother Mariah Radigal.  The county birth records list the mothers’ names under the maiden name.  Mariah’s registry under Radigal is puzzling as her maiden name was Johnson and she had no earlier known marriages.  No Radigals were listed in Pendleton County in 1850.  Ceeseman appears to be a misreading of the handwriting.

The family lived on a farm in Flower Creek, Kentucky, rural Pendleton County with hilly, rolling terrain and fertile river flats.  Flower Creek had a post office on the east bank of the Main Licking River.  The land was backwoods country with only wagon roads through the forest and some stage coach routes up to the Ohio River where people could take a boat to Cincinnati and Louisville.  The Kentucky Central Railroad was put through the county the year Mary Jane was born.  The county did not have a newspaper until 1870.  An old cemetery existed in the main town of Falmouth containing pioneer graves, but in 1930 the headstones were used for crushed stones to build roads.  A one room school house was built in Butler, the nearest village, in 1856 and this is likely where Mary Jane and her siblings attended school.    Her grandfather, William Johnson, had owned a saw and grist mill on the South Fork of the Licking River in Pendleton County since 1832.  An uncle, Jacob Caseman, had a saw mill on Flower Creek until his untimely death at age 37 in 1874.

Mary Jane was the second of 14 children born to her father over a span of thirty four years and two wives.  Mariah birthed the first ten children and 4 half siblings were born to father’s second wife in Lewis County.  Two siblings died when Mary Jane was 4 years old, - Jacob at age 15 months and her older sister, Lydia Ann at age 5 years - within 4 days of each other, both with infant flux.  No record is found of her brother, William H (1858- ) after 1860, so he likely also died in childhood.  A sister was born in 1861 several months before George enlisted in the Union Army.  Of George’s five children born before the Civil War,  only two survived childhood.

George was a farmer, likely a tobacco farmer as Pendleton County was one of the first counties in Kentucky to produce tobacco.  George was away at war from the time Mary Jane was seven until 10 years old, leaving Mariah with three young children, Mary Jane,  William, 3, and Emily, 7 months.  In this instance, the oldest girl - 7 year old Mary Jane - would have taken on many household responsibilities.  George’s two brothers, Jacob and young Foster, enlisted at the same time, leaving no men to work the farms.  Jacob had married in 1857 and that family also lived in Flower Creek with two young children when Jacob went off to war with his brothers.
Our only photo of George (1828-1913)
The three brothers, George, Jacob, and Foster, all farmers, enlisted in the Kentucky 23rd Infantry in the fall of 1861 after the tobacco crop would have been harvested and left their infantry unit in August the following summer about the time crops would again have to be harvested.  They were absent from the Union Army for several months and returned before the 1863 spring campaign started.  As a result of absence over these few months, George was demoted from sergeant to private.

In June 1864 the family would receive news that George had been captured by the Confederate army at Kennesaw Mountain just north of Atlanta during Sherman’s march through Georgia.  He was released in November 1864 and returned home to the farm in January 1865.  After George’s return, he and Mariah had another five children in rapid succession, and then nothing further is heard about Mariah who presumably died sometime between the 1870 and 1880 census.

Five years after her father's return,  fifteen year old Mary Jane married 23 year old Francis Marion Shumate in the family home.  Frank was from nearby Carter County but there were other Shumates living in Pendleton; likely, Frank came to Pendleton County through these connections.

Mary Jane's and Frank's marriage license, Pendleton County
The 1870 census shows Frank and Mary Jane living in Falmouth, the Pendleton County seat.  Frank was a laborer; Mary Jane keeping house.  Frank’s 14 year old brother died the following year.   The couple had three children over the next several years, George W.  born in 1874, Frances Elizabeth (“Aunt Sis”) in 1876, both born in Illinois, and Jesse in Lewis County in 1879.  The family’s location in Illinois or when they moved out of Pendleton County is not known.

Mary Jane and Frank moved from Illinois to Clarksburg in Lewis County by 1879.  She had her third child, Jesse, in April 1879 just days before her husband was killed by being kicked in the head by a horse.  By age 24, Mary Jane was a widow with three young children who had suffered multiple other losses, including three young siblings, mother, a young uncle (Foster) in the civil war, a second uncle (Jacob) in 1874, a mother in law in 1871, a 14 year old brother-in-law, as well as having a father away at war for several years and not knowing whether he would return after capture by the Confederates.

The 1880 Census shows Mary Jane living in Valley, Lewis County, Kentucky, and working as a seamstress.  On the next farm is her widowed father, George, and his six children ranging in age from six to 19 years.  We don’t know whether George or Mary Jane was first to move to the Valley/Clarksburg area.  My grandmother, Grace Lee, was born to an unmarried Mary Jane in 1883.  Recent research supported by the 1880 Lewis county census and a letter to Grace in 1902 shows the father was William Frederick Horsley, a 35 year old farm laborer living with his sister on a nearby farm.

Complicating matters further, eight months after Grace was born 29 year old Mary Jane wed a 49 year old farmer from Fleming County, Abia .J. Dillon.  William Frederick - biological father of Grace - was a witness at the wedding.

Mary Jane and Abia Dillon marriage certificate listing W.F. Horsley as a witness.

Mary Jane had another loss in 1885 when her son, George W., namesake of George Sr., died at age eleven years old.  Her second child, 14 year old Francis, married a 30 year old man, William Johnson, and left the home in 1889.   Mary Jane and second husband, Abia, may have separated before his death in 1889 as he died in Fleming County.

Mary Jane's children:  Jesse Shumate, Grace Martin, Francis Shumate
Mary Jane took a third and ten-year-younger husband in 1890, William “Bill” Martin. and this marriage lasted forty five years until Mary Jane’s death.  Grace had gone by the Shumate name, but after this marriage she took the Martin name, and thus we knew her maiden name as Grace Lee Martin.

Half sister, Lydia Caseman, Lydia's husband Charles Wallace, and Mary Jane, photo taken in 1890's
Mary Jane, husband Bill, and Grace are still living in Valley in the 1900 census.  Hiram Horsley, a nephew of William Frederick owns the next farm over and William Frederick is living with another nephew in Hamilton County, Ohio, working as a day laborer.  Her 72 year old father, George, had remarried at age 52 to Eliza Ellen Moore, a woman the same age as daughter Mary Jane, and they are living on a nearby farm with George and Eliza’s four teenage children.  Indeed, George fathered his last child at age 71!

Back to Mary Jane and Bill’s story, they had no children of their own but Ramona describes Bill as a caring stepfather to Mary Jane’s children. 

Mary Jane’s youngest, Jesse Shumate, married and left the home in 1898, made a living as a farmer, but had his own tragedies with deaths of two wives at young ages.  Jesse’s life was filled with loss and one of his descendants related Jesse felt he was a curse.  For a time around 1920, Mary Jane and Bill are caring for Jesse’s two children in their home.

Grace eloped in 1902 at age 19 to a 26 year old teacher, Jacob Dillow.  Indeed, he had been her teacher at Valley School.  Why they eloped is unclear as Jacob was a fine, upstanding, educated young man.  They remained in Portsmouth for the next 3-4 years until buying a farm in Vanceburg just over the hill from Mary Jane and Bill’s farm in Valley. 

By the 1920 census, Mary Jane and Bill left their farm in Valley and bought a home just across Dry Run Creek in Vanceburg, Lewis County where they were readily available for grandparenting Grace and Jacob’s seven children.  The family suffered another loss when one of the grandsons developed diabetes and died in 1925 at age seventeen.  Another grandson died in 1934 from typhoid fever.  Son Jesse's first two wives died at young ages, one in the 1918 influenza epidemic.

By 1930, Mary Jane and Bill, still living in the Dry Creek home, were also operating a general store in the area.  Her daughter, Francis. never had children and during Mary Jane's lifetime continued to live in Clarksburg, a once thriving community just north of Valley.  Grace and Jacob gave Mary Jane seven grandchildren and Jesse three grandchildren.

 William Martin and Mary Jane

William Martin in front of his and Mary Jane's General Store and Sunoco Station, Vanceburg, KY
Our mother spoke fondly of Mary Jane, often adding“the men really liked her.”  She had searched for Mary Jane’s paramour and father of Grace with some clues but only with the internet have we been able to track this gentleman.  William Frederick Horsley never married that we know, but lived with various relatives until his death in New Grand Chain, Illinois, in 1922.

Mary Jane died June 18, 1935 at age 80 with influenza; her husband lived another sixteen years.  Both are buried in Woodland Cemetery.