Archive for January, 2009

New Neighbor

Meet Mrs. Bobcat

A neighbor and fellow homeowners’ association member who lives across the creek took these photos and emailed them to us this morning with the following: “Thought you guys would want to see what’s living near the creek. She has two new kittens and is actively feeding them. Spotting her is almost a daily occurrence now.”

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Change Has Come to America

Change Has Come to America

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Zoe certainly makes Skyping fun!

Skyping with Zoe and Joel

Skyping with Zoe and Joel

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And I thought PRENTIS was a difficult name!

A 2nd great-grandmother of mine was a CASTETTER, but my genealogical research has turned up so many variations of this family name: Castetter, Castator, Castater, Castteter, Carsteter, Casteter, Castor, Kirstaetter, Kestiter, Kearstuter, Kerstetter, Kierstaetter, Kirstätter, Kirschstatter, Karstetter, Kastetter, Kastater, Kastator, Kaster,  Kostatter, Kostetter, etc. Census takers and transcribers created even more unusual variations in spelling (Custaton, Casteller, Castelter, Casteator, Castrater, etc.), making it very difficult to find available records!

From J. R. Baker: “The surname seems to have originally been Kerstaetter. It was spelled that way, plus Kirstetter, Kerstetter, Karstetter, etc. in German church records in Pennsylvania. When the family reached Kentucky and Ohio, the officials, of English descent, spelled it Castator or Castetter. I’ve been told that it is pronounced similar to Gestapo (cas-TAH-ter).”

Some time ago, while researching my Castetter/Castator line, I found a wealth of information in Stephen Arlington Kerstetter’s online publication: THE KERSTETTER FAMILY: THE EARLY YEARS, 1727-1850. Part V refers to Michael and Dorothea Kerstetter (a.k.a. Johannes Mikael Kirstaetter and Maria Dorothea Dietz), my 6th great-grandparents. They were the parents of Martin Kerstetter (a.k.a. Johan or Johannes Martin Kerstaetter) who married Abby Elizabeth (a.k.a. Appolonia and Abigail). Martin and Abby were the parents of Michael Castator (a.k.a. Castater, etc.) who married Anna  (“Anne”) Thomas. Michael and Anna’s oldest son, George Washington Castator (a.k.a. Castater and Castetter, etc.), married Elizabeth (“Eliza”) Anne Watson, 24 Aug 1840, in Ripley County, Indiana. George and Eliza Anne are my 3rd great-grandparents.

I was very grateful to the author for all his effort and found it extremely helpful to my own research; however, it dead-ended for my branch of the family with a snippet of information that piqued my curiosity:


(p. 55 )

Michael Born about 1798 in Tennessee
Married Anna Thomas on Jan. 16, 1817 in Butler County
Died in Ripley County, Indiana after 1840

(p. 58 )

• Michael and his wife Anna apparently moved from Butler County to nearby Ripley County, Indiana, not long after their marriage in 1817. The 1820 census in Ripley County shows Michael, his wife, and two daughters and one son under the age of ten. At the time of the 1850 census, an Anna Castator, age 49, was living with the family of George Washington Castator in Ripley County.

George Washington Castator married Eliza Watson on Aug. 24, 1840. George
Washington was born about 1817 in Ohio and Eliza about 1820 in Indiana. Eliza
apparently died after 1850. The 1870 census listing includes a Louisa Castator born in Indiana about 1821.

Born where, you say?

None of my own information suggests that Michael was born in Tennessee; however, Anna’s birthplace is listed as Tennessee in the 1850 census. As with most families, a lot of public information is conflicting. Parental information on census reports between 1880-1920 for some of their children confuses me further with birthplaces listed for both Michael and Anna as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Germany, Kentucky, “the United States of America,” or left entirely blank.

I had concluded that only Anna was born in Tennessee, and that Michael was probably born between 1797-1801 in Northumberland Co. (or adjacent Snyder Co.), Pennsylvania, as were his other siblings (from various family records). Do documents exist (Tennessee land records, etc.) that suggest Michael was born there instead of Pennsylvania?

Castetter, Kerstetter… Where are you?

As for Michael living past 1840, I’ve located a Mikael Castator residing in Ripley Co. in 1830, but haven’t yet found any record of him still living there in 1840. I did find record of a Michael Castater in Ross, Butler, Ohio in 1840, but the ages in the household aren’t right for him at that time (must be some relative though!). My records agree that he was married 16 Jan 1817 in Butler County, Ohio to Anna Elizabeth Thomas (born abt. 1801-02 in Maryville, Blount, Tennessee*, and died after 1850 in Ripley Co., IN). They had seven known children: George Washington, Abigail, Mary Ann, Elizabeth, Malinda, Susannah (“Susan”), and Ira Ishmael. The 1830 census records another son, while a known daughter was overlooked. Was there another son we don’t know about, or did the census taker mistake their youngest daughter for a boy?

*I assumed Anna was from Blount County, Tennessee since Michael’s sister Christina / Christiana was supposedly married there in 1808, and have recently found more evidence to support this. According to another researcher for this family, Tracy Bischoff, who found land records, the Castator family was living in Butler Co., Ohio by 1811, and apparently Anna’s family also moved from Tennessee to Ohio, where she and Michael were married in 1817. They may have known one another in Tennessee, but without documentation proving otherwise, I tend to believe she was the only one of the two actually born there. There are several marriage and land records for people with the surname Thomas in Butler Co., Ohio and Ripley Co. IN, which are thought to be relatives, but the names of Anna’s parents have only recently been discovered. (See updates below.)

Almost all family histories indicate that his father died about 1814, but C. R. Mapes gives an unsourced date of 1 Sep 1815, in Snyder Co., Pennsylvania, and Tracy Bischoff gives information extracted from Michael’s father’s will. An unnamed source gives the date of  20 Aug 1814. Abby (recorded incorrectly as Abegail Castrater) was still living as of 1820, as evident in Butler Co., Ohio census records. Since she was a widowed landowner there, it seems logical that Michael died there instead of Pennsylvania, as Tracy Bischoff believed.

Tangled Roots…

When I read on page 58 that Eliza was assumed by the author to be dead after 1850, I wondered how many other family researchers had the same misconception. She was still living in 1860, and I had already seen the 1870 census with “Louisa J.” as George’s spouse and knew it was a mistake. Also still living in the household at that time were daughter Ida, son John, and their married daughter, Margaret Jane (“Jennie”) Bone, whose husband was either temporarily away or living elsewhere for some reason. Apparently wherever one was living at the time the census was taken, was where one was documented, whether it was a permanent residence or a temporary one — so the inclusion of a married daughter without her husband (or children, if there were any) could also be evidence of an extended visit there without her spouse.

I wasn’t sure when George died, but I knew Eliza lived past 1881. Census mistakes were common.  I have a Louisa in another family line whose name was pronounced in a way that rhymes with Eliza — so with this in mind, I believe the census taker may have simply misheard her name. Eliza was still married to George in 1870, and did not die until sometime after 4 Oct 1881, when she was married 2nd (probably in Ripley Co., Indiana) to William Hobbs.

At that point in reading the Kerstetter genealogy, I checked for contact information for the author and planned to offer “new” information and correct what I knew to be inaccurate — but first I thought it best to locate Eliza in public records after 1870.

With some difficulty due to the many variations of the family name, I finally located Eliza in the 1880 census, divorced —not widowed as I’d always believed — and living in Ripley Co., Indiana with her youngest son, John T. Castator (their last name transcribed as Castater on the census). Who knew? Not only was I surprised at this discovery, but the idea of divorces being recorded in census records of that time period had never even occurred to me. Incidentally, John T. is also recorded as John F. on the 1870 census, and on the 1860 census, the family name is spelled Castteter [sic].

Besides the name of Eliza’s second husband and their date of marriage (provided years ago by my grandfather), I have no other information about him from family records. Online records for Ripley County marriages also only go through 1880, and they were married in 1881. According to Granddad, Eliza died in Delaware Township, Ripley Co., Indiana (no date given), but I find no record of her there past the 1880 census. Unfortunately, 1890 census reports were mostly destroyed by fire, and she’s nowhere to be found by 1900.  It appears that both Eliza and her second husband were deceased by 1900.

My family records never gave any indication of their divorce. I don’t know if there was a deliberate “cover up” of this information by subsequent generations, but it was definitely not shared with me.  While contemplating this new information, it occurred to me that the notation of divorce could be incorrect, and then it also occurred to me that even if they were divorced after 1870 and George had since died, Eliza’s marital status in 1880 would probably be “single.” Since it was neither single nor widowed, then George must have still been living and there should also be an available census record for him in 1880. Maybe this is why social networking sites like Facebook include the relationship status “it’s complicated.” Census forms apparently needed the same option back then, and probably still do today!

Unable to find any record for a divorced George, I wondered if he had already remarried by then. With further checking, I found an 1880 census record in Fairmount, Grant, Indiana under the name George Custaton (Castator, transcribed incorrectly) that could belong to him with a much younger wife, Margaret — but also with three children (the oldest a teenager and the youngest born in 1879). Because none of the children were recorded as stepchildren to George, I dismissed it at first, but after much more searching, that was the only George I could locate that could possibly be him! By then I felt like I was playing a game of Clue.

It was Colonel Mustard, in the conservatory, with a revolver…

Recalling that in 1870, married daughter Margaret (“Jennie”) was listed as a household resident, I tried to make the 1880 record a better match for our George by considering that maybe Margaret was again (or still) living with her father without her husband (Did his occupation involve frequent or extended travel?), that perhaps she was recorded incorrectly as wife instead of daughter, and that the children were actually grandchildren to George — but her birth year was off by four years, she was more commonly known as “Jennie,” and if the name I have for her husband is correct, she was in her own household in 1880 with different children. All that pretty much ruled out this Margaret being a daughter rather than wife.

The wrong family name and the fact that both of this George’s parents were “born in Ohio,” should not discredit the possibility that this is our George. Names and census information were often poorly recorded or transcribed, and it is apparent that several siblings of George who lived past 1880 also gave erroneous information for their parents’ birthplaces. Our George’s youngest brother Ira, a Civil War veteran who lived at least through 1920, changed his response for that section of the form on every available census after 1880!

If there are any real inaccuracies on this census, what are they? Did the census taker mean to write “W” for “widowed” rather than “D” for “divorced” on Eliza’s original form, or if George was still alive and married to this younger Margaret, were all or at least two of the children really adopted stepchildren, but not recorded correctly?  If George was still living in 1880, but this wasn’t the right George, where is the correct census record? If the record I found is the right record and there are no errors, then our George may have fathered two or all of these children illegitimately before his divorce from Eliza, and that would have been quite the scandal!

One factor that supports this being the right record for our George is that the youngest child, Ira, has a name common to our family line and could have been named for his brother Ira. Another is that in 1900, this same Margaret (now widowed) is Margaret CASTETTER, living with her married, oldest daughter’s family. CASTETTER is the way of spelling the family name that by that time was preferred by all of George’s children and at least some of his siblings.

Divorces at that time were not so common, especially late in a marriage. Why would a woman married forty years prior to 1880 divorce her husband? An adulterous relationship with a much younger woman and 1-3 illegitimate children would certainly explain a divorce, a change in location, and why vagueness or a possible “cover story” may have led future generations to assume George had died before Eliza married a second time.

Forgive me, George, if I have unjustly shamed you!

Although there are many unanswered questions regarding this family, the real story is probably not nearly as complicated as incorrect or missing information makes it seem. No family is perfect, but it was not my intent to let my curiosity fabricate or unearth an unsavory family tale. What I have or haven’t yet found is definitely not enough to conclude without doubt that George had a second family with adulterous beginnings — but it does raise the possibility.

It’s all relative

Apart from all the mystery surrounding George and Eliza’s final ten years, it’s interesting to note that except for one unnamed brother who (if he existed at all) apparently died in infancy, all the rest of George’s siblings survived into adulthood and married.

George’s oldest sister Abigail married Eliza’s older brother, Henry Watson. They had ten children.  George’s sister Mary Ann creates yet another mystery: Did she marry William Culver, Culyer, or Cuyler, and did they have any children? George’s sister Elizabeth married John Morris and then nothing more is yet known. The sister Malinda (or was it Melinda or Belinda?) married Levi Tucker. They had eight children. The sister Susannah (“Susan”) married Richard Lyons (a.k.a. Lions and Lyens). They also had eight children. George’s brother Ira, born a decade or more after all the rest married Florence J. and they had nine children.

George and Eliza’s firstborn was my 2nd great-grandmother Sarah who married Josephus Main. They had eight children, including my great-grandfather John Dwight. The rest of George and Eliza’s children included William Montgomery who married Belle Little, Margaret Jane (“Jennie”) who married Mr. Bone (probably James Milton Bone), George Washington Jr., Franklin Marion who married Sarah A. Brinegar, Ida May who married Martin Van Buren Brown, and John T. All this makes for quite an extensive descendant outline covering eight generations beginning with George and Eliza. There are also eight known previous generations in this lineage.

The Source of the Matter…

My sources for this family line include online Ripley County Indiana marriage records (site linked above), personal records, and genealogical records of my maternal grandfather, Weldon C. MAIN (J. Dwight MAIN3, Sarah E. CASTETTER2, George W. CASTATOR1) compared with various family trees, marriage records, military records, census data, and public records available through Ancestry.com and other online searches.


Update: (14 Jan 2009)

Since originally writing this entry, I have attempted to connect Michael Castator’s wife, Anna Thomas, to others of that name in Blount County, Tennessee. My findings indicate there were several Thomas families residing in Tennessee by 1800, some with Welsh ancestry and some with German. Our Thomas line would more likely be German, and with Blount County ties, I zeroed in on the most likely family to be that of Anna’s father. A Jacob Thomas of that location had five sons and one daughter. The daughter (Margaret) and two of his sons (Jacob and Adam) remained in the area and their descendants have been fairly well documented. The remaining three sons (George, Henry, and John) were mostly unaccounted for. Other than their mention in Jacob’s will, there was apparently no further record of them in Blount County.  I emailed Bettye Heinrich, a known descendant and she very kindly offered assistance in checking census and marriage records for the areas in which they were believed to have lived. The 1820 Ripley Co. census revealed Anna living near a Henry Thomas old enough to be her father and a George Thomas, old enough to be her brother. The 1820 Butler Co. Census revealed Abigail Castator living near another George Thomas. Butler Co. marriage records revealed a possible sister Elizabeth.

Bettye Heinrich directed me to a Thomas Family website that had archived the findings of now deceased Barbara Fitzmaurice. In the last years of her life, Mrs. Fitzmaurice made several forum posts on genealogical sites regarding the Thomas family of Blount Co., TN. As I became more convinced that Anna was a daughter of Henry, I recalled seeing in one of her posts that Henry’s wife was named Mary, but couldn’t relocate it. Attempting to find that, I instead found another, and there, among Henry and Mary’s children were Anna, George, Elizabeth, and others.

Combining data from government documents and several family histories available online, I have concluded the following:

Jacob THOMAS (farmer) b. abt. 1739-43, Northumberland Co., PA; d. bet. 20 Jun – 28 Aug 1804, in or near Maryville, Blount, TN; m. abt. 1760-61, Pennsylvania, to Margaret ____, who was still living as of 1808, and d. in or near Maryville, Blount, TN. They had the following children:


  • Margaret THOMAS (F) b. abt. 1762, Northumberland Co., PA; d. aft. Jun 1836, Blount Co., TN; m. abt. 1789, Blount Co., TN to Jacob NEIMAN, b. bef. 1759, PA; d. May 1793, Knox Co., TN (now called Blount Co.); issue.
  • George THOMAS (M) b. abt. 1763, Northumberland Co., PA; d. aft. 1820, probably in Ross, Butler, OH. (Probably father of George THOMAS, b. abt. 1790, Tennessee;  who m. Margaret ____, b. abt. 1790, Tennessee; both probably d. in Ross, Butler, OH.)
  • Henry THOMAS (M) b. bet. 1764-67, Northumberland Co., PA; d. aft. 1820, Rush Co., IN; m. abt. 1783, Pennsylvania to Mary ____, b. 1767, Pennsylvania; d. Rush Co., IN; Issue. (See list below.)
  • John THOMAS (M) b. abt. 1768, Northumberland Co., PA; d. __, probably in Indiana. (Likely one of the first land owners of Ripley Co., Indiana, along with other Thomases.)
  • Adam THOMAS (M) b. 1 Jan 1770, Northumberland Co., PA; d. 10 Jan 1855, Blount Co., TN; m. 1st,  abt. 1790, Blount Co., TN,  Anna B. ____, who d. abt. 1840, Blount Co., TN; issue; Adam m. 2nd, 13 Nov 1849, Blount Co., TN, Jane Ralston, b. 1826.
  • Jacob THOMAS (M) b. abt. 1780, Northumberland Co., PA; d. 10 Sep 1855, Cleveland, Bradley, TN; m. 20 Feb 1812, Blount Co., TN to Margaret Elizabeth NEIMAN, b. abt. 1787, TN; d. 10 Jun 1888, Cleveland, Bradley, TN; issue.



Children of Henry and Mary THOMAS:


  • Jacob THOMAS (M) b. 30 Oct 1784, Pennsylvania
  • Henry THOMAS (M) b. 1786, Pennsylvania; Served in the War of 1812.
  • Margaret THOMAS (F) b. 1787, Pennsylvania
  • Elizabeth THOMAS (F) b. 9 Apr 1790, Tennessee; m. 8 Feb 1810, Butler Co., OH to Stephen SCUDDER, b. abt. 1785; Stephen may have d. in War of 1812, as there is no record of him beyond that. Another Stephen Scudder in Liberty Twp., Butler, OH proves by later census records not to be him, but is probably a cousin. Elizabeth may have remarried.
  • Barbary THOMAS (F) b. 16 Nov 1792, Tennessee
  • Mary Ann THOMAS (F) b. 1794, Tennessee; d. 1855, Rush Co., IN; m. 1813, Butler Co., OH to Jacob BOLSER / BALSER, b. 1789, York, PA or Butler Co., OH; d. Aug. 1844, Rush Co., IN; issue.
  • George THOMAS (M) b. abt. 1798, Tennessee; d. 1869, Rush Co., IN; m. 27 Nov 1818, Butler Co., OH to Elizabeth ELDER, b. 17 Jul 1797, Tennessee; d. 18 Jan 1869, Rush Co., IN; issue.
  • Anna Elizabeth THOMAS (F) b. abt. 1801-02, Maryville, Blount, TN; d. bet 1850-60, Delaware Twp., Ripley Co., IN; m. 16 Jan 1817, Butler Co., OH to Michael CASTATER / CASTATOR; issue.
  • Susannah THOMAS (F) b. 8 Jan 1802, Maryville, Blount, TN; m. 2 Mar 1819, Ripley Co., IN to James Stevens, b. abt. 1799.





Eliza’s 1880 census supports the information I had from my grandfather’s records that Eliza’s parents were both from England. Granddad’s information included that she had a brother Henry Watson (b. 11 Apr 1817), who married Abigail Castator (oldest sister of George W.).  Abigail was b. 8 Sep 1819 In Delaware Twp., Ripley Co., IN, and died 5 Dec 1880, in Union, Worth,  MO. After her death, Henry married 2nd in 1882, to Elizabeth _____ (born 21 Apr 1829 in VA; d. 15 Aug 1905 in Grant City, Worth, MO).

From Henry’s 1900 census, his place of birth is England and his year of immigration is 1818. (His sister Eliza was born abt. 1821 in Ripley Co., Indiana). Henry is listed as both Henry Watson and Henry Walton on Ripley Co. marriage records (alphabetically, he’s Walton, and by date, he’s Watson). Henry and his second wife are buried in Grant City Cemetery, Grant City, Worth, MO. Abigail, some of their children, as well as Abigail’s sister Balinda (as spelled on her headstone; a.k.a. Belinda and Malinda) and brother-in-law Levi Tucker are buried in Bethel Cemetery, Union, Worth, MO. The Tuckers’ daughter Elizabeth married Ellis Denver Watson, whose grandmother was born in England, so was probably indirectly related to Henry. Her family is also buried in Bethel Cemetery.

I don’t know the names of Eliza and Henry’s parents. I suspected they were children of Eber and Phebe (Thompson) Watson, since Eber was the only Watson on the 1820 census for Ripley County, but a marriage record for Eber in Phebe in Butler Co. Ohio says they were married there in 1805. They do have ties to Ripley Co., Indiana though, so may be related in some way. Perhaps Eliza was born in an adjacent county where other Watsons resided and moved to Ripley County later.

I found a reference for James V. Watson, born in London, England in 1814, and “when quite young his parents removed to Indiana.” This Watson moved around a lot, but was somewhere in Missouri about 1832. Our Henry was in Worth County, Missouri by 1855 as one of its first settlers. Since Eliza and Henry’s parents came to Indiana from England in 1818, this James could fit into their family as a brother. I will try to research this possibility further.


EDIT (22 Apr 2014): I was contacted yesterday by Sarah E. North, saying she was a descendant of Henry Watson’s sister Sarah Joanna (Watson) Jackson. I had never heard of Sarah in all these years. How did I miss her? She also said, “The whole family is listed in THE EMIGRANT’S GUIDE by William Cobbett, an English reformer.” I had also never heard of this book, so I began searching online for where to find it. I love the Internet! The book is available online: The Emigrant’s Guide, and there on page 50 is my third great-grandmother’s date and place of birth, as well as correcting her middle name for me (it’s not Eliza Jane as my grandfather believed, but Eliza Anne, short for Elizabeth!), and finally giving me the names of her paternal grandparents and several other relatives. I had guessed completely wrong about her paternal grandfather. The family correspondence is amazing! PLEASE READ THE LETTERS and see my updated genealogy!

EDIT (1 May 2014): You know my methods, Watson

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