Month: April 2014

15. David Harrison Caylor


For this week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge, I’ve decided to focus on the short life of my husband’s 3rd great grandfather, David Harrison Caylor.

David was born around 1836 in Pennsylvania to Henry and Rebecca Caylor.  At some point, he headed west to the rural farming community of Patch Grove, Grant County, Wisconsin. On January 14, 1858, he married Catherine Rice, daughter of Tobias and Clarinda (Barhan) Rice. David and Catherine had 3 children: Rebecca Ann, Susan Catherine and John Henry.

Although life in Wisconsin seemed quiet, the rest of the nation was in turmoil and found itself in a Civil War. On August 13, 1862, the 26 year old David enlisted at nearby Mount Hope by Thomas Bintliff, and then headed to Camp Randall in Madison, Wisconsin to become part of the 20th Infantry Regiment, Company I along with several of his neighbors. Records showed that David had hazel eyes, with dark hair and a dark complexion.

The regiment was mustered into service on August 23, 1862 and then left Wisconsin for St. Louis on August 30th. The regiment stayed in St. Louis until September 6th, then traveled by train to Rolla. They stayed there for a week, then marched 135 miles to Springfield, Missouri, arriving on September 24th.

However, the long march and camp conditions were too much for young David. While camped in Springfield, he contracted typhoid fever and died on October 28, 1862. He left behind very few personal effects: great coat, blanket, pair of cotton drawers, pair of cotton pants, handkerchief, no money, a small notebook with a note that he loaned $100 to Arthur Jackson on the 10th of September. He was buried in a makeshift cemetery near the hospital. In 1867, his body was exhumed and was buried in the Springfield National Cemetery.


Certificate of Service for David H. Caylor. Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, WI.


14. Agnes V. Tolle – “The Singing Harpist”

This past week, I was enjoying browsing through and finding old newspaper articles about various ancestors. That is when I stumbled on to this distant cousin, and immediately knew that she would be this week’s post for the 52 Ancestors challenge.

Advertisement from The Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA. March 17, 1946.

Agnes V. Tolle is my 1st cousin, 2xs removed. Her mother, Agnes Donnelly, was a sister to my great, grandmother, Elizabeth Donnelly. Their eldest sister was Mary Ann Donnelly, who was the grandmother of comedienne, Imogene Coca. So, I had always known there was a little bit of showbiz on that branch of the family tree.

She was born on February 1, 1905 in Philadelphia, the daughter of Albert and Agnes (nee Donnelly) Tolle. Agnes began playing the harp at the age of seven.

“Well, my mother decided that I should play the harp, and after all, it’s an Irish harp.” Agnes was quoted as saying in the February 20, 1939 Harrisburg Telegraph.

Agnes and her 2 brothers, Albert and William and her sister, Mildred grew up on Glenwood Avenue in Philadelphia. Their father, sadly, had taken his own life in 1914, leaving their mother to raise them on her own. However, the arts must have been a huge influence in their life. Sometime before 1930, Agnes and her mother and sister moved to Manhattan where she began pursuing a career as a musician. They were located there in the 1930 census on West 170th Street, Agnes’ occupation listed as a musician at the theatre and her sister, Mildred was working as a dancer in a night club.

I found many advertisements and articles on Agnes, spanning from 1928 to 1950. She performed with Victor Borge’s orchestra and performed all over the country. And she performed at several cocktail rooms and restaurants in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Advertisement from TheSheboygan Press, Sheboygan, Wisconsin., November 14, 1947.

Advertisement from TheSheboygan Press, Sheboygan, Wisconsin., November 14, 1947.

Advertisement from The Springfield Union, Springfield, MA., May 1, 1948.

Advertisement from The Springfield Union, Springfield, MA., May 1, 1948.


Advertisement from The Gettysburg Times, Gettysburg, PA. March 30, 1928

Advertisement from The Gettysburg Times, Gettysburg, PA. March 30, 1928

However, I discovered that playing the harp was not Agnes’ only passion. I found her name in the book, Bums No More: The 1959 Los Angeles Dodgers, World Champions of Baseball by Brian M. Endsley. On page 25, in a chapter talking about when the team last played as the Brooklyn Dodgers I found:

” ‘Died – Sept. 24, 1957’ That was the text on the hand-written cardboard epitaph placed in the rotunda at Ebbets Field that same evening in Brooklyn, New York by two distraught Brooklyn Dodger fans, Rosemarie Keegan and Agnes Tolle, after a night game with the Pittsburgh Pirates.”

Could it be that Agnes was a die-hard Brooklyn Dodger fan?

And then I discovered that this beautiful, sophisticated harpist also enjoyed BOWLING! In an article from the Reading Eagle on April 24, 1942:

“Agnes Tolle, harpist de luxe at the Abe Lincoln, bowls in the wee hours at Cole Watson’s… the harp hasn’t taken up the game as of yet.”

As an avid bowler myself, I really enjoyed finding that last article. I never would have guessed that I would have found another ancestor that enjoyed bowling.

Before searching the newspaper sites above, Agnes would have been just another name sitting in my family tree. Thanks to performing a few searches, I was able to find out that she was actually a fascinating person.

13. Augustus and Sarah Jane (Keiper) Hettig



Monday will be the 144th wedding anniversary of my great great grandparents, Augustus and Sarah Jane Hettig. Both have somewhat unique family stories, and are both somewhat challenging to research. So I decided to honor them in this week’s 52 Ancestors blog post.

The story handed down was that Augustus wanted to escape military service in Germany and stowed away on a ship bound to America. He met a family on board that sympathized with him, so they basically “adopted” him while on board, and young Augustus took on their last name of “Hettig.” It was also said that his real last name was “Leppard.” One of my Mom’s aunts had given me a newspaper clipping of his obituary. It said that he was born in Leipsic, Germany on May 27, 1850 and that his parents were Valentine and Sofia (Manderling) Hettig.

So was this all true? I had heard that the “stowaway” story was quite common and to not completely trust it. I began by finding Augustus in the census records, living with Valentine and Sofie in White Haven, PA as Augustus Hettig. He was listed as a son at age 20, along with his younger “brothers,” Alven, age 12; Lewis, age 10; and Otto, age 7. I had also found Valentine’s naturalization papers which led me to the date Valentine arrived in America.


I had found Valentine and Sofie easily enough in ship passenger records. They arrived June 5, 1867 in New York on the S.S. Baltic. The ship left Germany at the port of Bremen. Valentine, Sofie, Alven, Lewis and Otto are all listed, but no Augustus Hettig, who would have been 17 at the time of arrival. However, listed immediately under the Hettig family was “Schnabel, Aug, 17.” Could the story be true and could this “Aug Schnabel” possibly be my great, great grandfather? However, I could not be sure and have not figured out if I could prove or disprove it. Thus, this is where I had hit my brick wall with my great great grandfather.

At this time, in nearby Kidder Township, Carbon County Pennsylvania, my great great grandmother, Sarah Jane Keiper was growing up. And Sarah Jane also had an interesting story handed down about her. It was said that she was actually a “full-blooded Indian that was adopted by German parents as an infant.” According to Sarah’s death record and census records, her parents were Reuben and Elizabeth (Prutzman) Keiper. She was born April 16, 1853. I have never been able to find proof of Sarah’s “adoption” and it’s possible such a document does not exist, since there probably were not adoptions recorded back in the 1850s. She was never listed as being Native American in any other her records, so I am unable to prove the Native American story. So, I hit my brick wall with Sarah Jane as well.

However, you can tell she kind of looked Native American in her photo. With her obvious dark coloring, she must have looked exotic to a young man who had just arrived to this land from Germany. And he must have intrigued her with his German accent and probably wild tales of stowing away on a boat. I imagine it did not take the two long at all to fall in love. Augustus and Sarah were married on April 14, 1870 in White Haven, PA and lived with the Hettig family after their marriage. Their first child, Reuben Oliver, was born a year later on April 16, 1871.

Augustus and Sarah eventually moved to the picturesque village of Noxon, PA in nearby Wyoming County. Augustus found employment as a lumberman, most likely at the Trexler & Turrel Lumber Company. Sarah took care of the home and their 9 children. Business was good in the town of Noxon, and the Lehigh Valley Railroad built and extension through there so that the lumber could be transported to other areas throughout the state. As Hettig brood got older, Augustus’ and Sarah’s sons; Reuben, Stewart, Stephen, Charles, and Wilson; all found employment through the railroad.

In 1927, Augustus and Sarah Jane left Pennsylvania to live in upstate New York, with their youngest daughter, Jessie May Hathaway. Both were now elderly and Sarah Jane was now an invalid with heart trouble. Sarah passed away on November 12, 1931. Augustus followed 2 years later on October 28, 1933. Both are buried in the Schnevus Cemetery in Schnevus, New York.

So, happy anniversary to my great great grandparents. Someday, I hope to break through at least one of your brick walls as an anniversary gift.



12. William McDonald Wolfe

It is so hard to focus on this week’s 52 Ancestors post. I am much too excited for tonight’s season premier of Game of Thrones instead. I had read all the books long before the series had started, and to say I’m a huge fan is an understatement.

Alas, there are no Starks, Lannisters or Baratheons in my family tree. No bastard sons brought home from war nor any Red Weddings. What in Seven Hells am I going to write about?

So using Game of Thrones as inspiration I have decided to write about my husband’s 3rd Great Grandfather, William McDonald Wolfe. The direwolf afterall, is the sigil of House Stark.

ImageWilliam was born March 18, 1842, not in chilly Winterfell, but near Esteville in Scott County, Virginia. His parents were Emanuel Wolfe and Sarah Curr. He grew up on his parents’ farm with his 3 brothers and a sister.

The United States found itself in the Civil War in 1861 and many young men went off to war. Young William was one of these and enlisted with the Confederate Army on May 20, 1861. He was a private for Company D, 37th Virginia Regiment. His company participated in the first Battle of Kernstown, Virginia on March 23, 1862. In this battle, a group of 3000 soldiers, under the command of General Stonewall Jackson confronted a Union Army of 7000 under the command General James Shields. At the end of the day, the Confederates were forced to retreat. William was among the many wounded from this battle.

William returned to Scott County after the war, took up farming and married Amanda Moran on March 17, 1864. They had 7 children. In 1896 William received a land patent and packed up his family and headed west to settle in Upton, Missouri. William lived there until his death on April 14, 1914. He and his wife, Amanda, are buried in the Liberty Cemetery in Turley, Missouri.

Of course, now my husband is pleased to find that he has Wolfe blood in him. He says it is only proof that he is “King of the North.”