#29 The Early Villhauers {52 Ancestors}

I had some luck tracking down some of the earliest Villhauers on my dad’s side of the family tree using Family Search.  I even ordered a couple microfilm rolls from them that had quite a few references of these early Villhauers.  It was amazing looking at these old church records of these members of my family!

The earliest Villhauer, according to other family trees out there and find a grave was Johann Vielhauer (also shown as Phielhauer) so kind of interesting name spelling differences.  He was born in 1525 in the Baden-Wurtemberg area of Germany.  His wife’s name is unknown.

The following is the research I have done into the Villhauer line starting with Johann Ludwig  (Louis) Villhauer who I wrote about here.  Below is my microfilm image of his birth record in a bible from Germany.  His parents were Michael Villhauer and Elizabetha Stief.


On familysearch.com I found a transcribed copy of Johann Ludwig Villhauer’s marriage record to Susanna Askani on Nov. 14, 1878.  I love these marriage and birth records as they give so much more info, like birth dates and parents’ names. His birth date matches the one from the micro film as do his parents names (more or less-his mother is listed as Eva Elizabeth Kief).  Susanna’s birth date was Feb. 3, 1853 and her parents were Abraham Askani and Sophie Ruder.

Other microfilm images I have are a birth record for Johann Micheal Villhauer born 20 Jan 1825 in Baden, Germany to Johann Philipp Villhauer and Anne Rosine Laux.

A marriage record for Johann Micheal Villhauer to Eva Elisabetha Stief on 21 Jan 1850 in Baden.  Their parents are listed as Johann Philipp Villhauer and Rosina Laux along with the brides parents who were Georg Heinrich Stief and Eva Maria Buechner.

It was wonderful to see my family tree fill out on the Villhauer side with all of the birth and marriage records adding generation after generation.


Some scrapbook pages I made of these microfilm images.




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#28 Adam Villhauer — Bayonet Combat

adam villhauer


My father’s grandfather will be the topic of this week’s post for the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge (I’m so far behind it’s not even funny anymore, but I want to keep chugging along anyhow).

My dad was very close to his grandfather as he raised my father for many years after my dad’s parents divorced when he was a little boy.

Adam Villhauer was born in Baden, Germany on May 24, 1879  (according to his WWII draft card)  I found his Baptism record in Baden Germany on family search stating that he was Baptized on May 24, 1879.  His parents are listed as Ludwig Villhauer and Susanna Askani.  I have been unable to find death dates for Ludwig or Susanna.  Ludwig was born February 22, 1855 and Susanna was born February 3, 1853 in Baden, Germany. (I found Ludwig’s birth record on a microfilm image, and Susanna’s birthdate as well as Ludwig’s again, on their marriage record- both from family search- this was the first time I’d ordered microfilm through family search and I was excited to find images of so many original documents featuring many of my father’s ancestors!)

On July 3, 1880, Susanna and an 11 month old Adam arrived in the United States.  They are listed in the steerage section.  Adam’s father Ludwig is not listed with them on the passenger list.  My best guess is that he arrived in the US before the rest of his family, possibly to procure a place to live as well as possibly a job.  Whether he was around for the birth of his son or left for American after they found out Susanna was pregnant, I’m not sure.  Either way they all met up in New York again in 1880.

Since there is no 1890 census, I have not located the family again until the 1900 census where they are all living in Queens, NY.  By this point Susanna is no longer listed with the family.  She and Ludwig had a second child in New York.  I found Their daughter Elizabeth’s birth record on family search listing Ludwig and Susanna as her parents, she was born on March 8, 1883.  My guess is that Susanna died in childbirth as according to the 1900 census, Ludwig was married for 17 years to a new woman named Barbara.  That would mean that he married her in 1883, the same year Elizabeth was born.  Ludwig and his second wife Barbara also had a child named Sophie who was born in 1890.  There is also another child living with them named Emile Walter who is listed as Ludwig’s step son.  So Barbara also had a child from a previous marriage.  Emile is 13 in the 1900 census.

On the 1900 census, Adam is 21 years old and is employed as a Mason.  I received a scan of this wonderful memento of days gone by, my great grandfather Adam’s business card showing that he continued work as a contractor.  I love knowing this fact about him as my own dad (Adam’s grandson) is a general handyman who also does this type of work, as well as any other household repairs, plumbing, electrical work, etc.  I love seeing these kinds of similarities in my family trees!

adam villhauer 2
From November 1900 until November 1905, Adam was a corporal in the US Marine Corps, and fought in the Spanish American War.  My dad remembers his grandfather showing him this huge scar on the inside of his upper arm which was from an injury he received in combat when he was badly cut by an enemy’s bayonet.  A couple of my dad’s cousins were kind enough to share Adam’s discharge papers as well as many of these wonderful photos. I also have a found a record on anestry.com from the “Spanish American War Military and Naval Records” which shows that he was accepted for enlistment Nov 22, 1900 and that he served on the USS New York from 2-16-01 to 7-8-04. He was promoted to Corporal and served on the New York in Philippine Waters. He was honorably discharged on Nov. 21, 1905.
adam villhauer discharge paper

I did some searching online and found an amazing assortment of photos from the USS NY that were taken around when Adam was on the ship, each of these photos was labeled as circa 1900.  Adam was aboard the USS NY by February 16, 1901.  Whether or not he was in the background of any of the photos, I really can’t say.  But it’s still amazing to get a glimpse of what life was like aboard the very ship he served on and to see photos from the right time period as well.

uss new york around 1900Singlestick exercise USS New York c.1900

Circa 1900. U.S.S. New York crew of forward 8-inch guns

sailors on the USS New York circa 1900


I was able to find a WWI draft card for Adam on ancestry,which shows that he is living at 64 Stryker Ave in Woodside, Queens, NY along with his wife Mary Elizabeth Villhauer.  His profession is Brick Mason and he works for the John Rohan Bros.  The form says that he is of medium height and build with brown hair and blue eyes.adam villhauer service record


adam villhauer and mary dods wedding

Adam and Mary were married in 1907

adam villhauer and mary dods

Another photo of them as a young couple.  I do not know the date for this one.



In 1910 Adam is still living in Queens, NY on Stryker Avenue, and is married to Mary Dodds (1885-1959) she was born in New York to parents who had also been born in New York.  I have been unable to find much information on Mary, other than her birth date through census records and death date from her tombstone.  on the 1880 Mary is show living with her mother, Catherine, and father, John H., who is a truck driver.  By the 1905 NY state census, Catherine is no longer listed, although Mary (listed here as Mamie-her nickname even as an adult) now has two younger brothers- James (born around 1886) and George (born about 1889).  As of 1910, Adam and Mary have 2 chidlren Rose who is almost 2 and Elizabeth who is about a half year old.

Sadly in March of 1914 their daughter Elizabeth dies.  I found an obituary notice for her from March 15, 1914 in the Newtown Register.
newtown register thursday march 15 1914 adam and mary villhauer

I was able to find another intersting article about Adam and his family that is from the August 21, 1919 edition of the Newtown Register.
newtown register thursday august 21 1919

The 1920 census record states that Adam was naturalized in 1900.  They now have three children together Rose who was 11 in 1920, Mary who was 8, and my grandfather Louis who was born on June 23, 1912 and is 7 years old at the time of the census.

On the 1930 census states that Adam was married to Mary at the age of 27 which means that they got married sometime in 1907.  He is now 50 years old and is working as a gas tiller, they still live in Queens, NY on 34th Avenue.

I also found a WWII draft card for Adam saying he is 62 years old and now living at 128 Highland Blvd, Monmouth New Jersey and is self employed as a concession owner.  I love that his signature is on here too!

My dad told me the story of Adam and Mary’s time working at the Keansburg, New Jersey amusement park.  They owned a baseball throwing game and their stand was located on one of the side streets off of the main boardwalk.  They left New York to retire to New Jersey sometime around 1948 or so and then opened up this game.  My dad went to live with them a few years later when he was in second grade, so around 1951 or so.  He remembers that customers paid 10 cents for 6 baseballs, and then would toss the balls at heavy black canvas panels that had buttons embedded in them.  If the thrower hit a button they earned points.  The points were kept track of electronically above the stand.  The buttons were arranged with a 90 point button in the center, and four 40 point buttons in each corner.  A thrower also got 30 points for hitting the back ground.  The canvas panels must have been pretty far back!  There were ten sets of baseball games all lined up along the front of their stand.  Players would then use their points to purchase novelties from Adam and Mary.  My dad said that Adam would spend the winter months, when the amusement park was closed, in his basement of their bungalow home at 128 Highland Boulevard, just a few streets away from the park and boardwalk, making and painting plaster dogs that people could win with their points.  Adam and Mary, along with my dad, would also make trips to warehouses, such as Redbank to pick out other prizes buttons and even horse clocks!

My dad remembers his grandfather crawling around behind the game to fix the gears and mechanisms that made the game work.  During the summer season when the park was open, my dad and and his grandparents lived in a small apartment that was attached behind the game.  There was just a kitchen, a small room for my dad, one for his grandparents, and a bathroom.  There was a gas stove and an old ice box that they had to fill with ice to keep their food cold.  My dad lived with his grandparents from his 2nd grade through 7th grade years.  He remembers falling asleep listening to the sound of people playing the baseball game.  He’d hear the thunk of the ball as hit it the canvas, or a ringing bell when a successful thrower hit a button.  “We have a winner!” his grandfather would call out in the night.  He remembers seeing his grandparents sitting together at the end of the day counting their dimes from all the players that evening.

Another memory my dad has with his grandfather is from a spring day when they were working on fixing the steps leading up to the front door of their bungalow.  My dad and Adam were clearing out rocks and tossing them aside so they could have a clear space to work.  One of the rocks they tossed sat in the sun and when it warmed up they saw it hop away.  Turns out they tossed out a toad that had been in it’s petrified hibernation state.  They thought it looked just like a stone, but once the sun warmed it the frog woke up!

My dad remembers that Adam died from a fall off of his garage roof at his home.  They were pretty sure he had a heart attack which caused him to fall from the roof.

I also found this obituary about his life from the June 30, 1958 Long Island Star Journal:
long island star journal monday june 30 1958

The last record I have for Adam is his Veterans Grave site record from Ancestry. It states that he died on June 28, 1958 and is buried at Long Island National Cemetery. His wife Mary is also buried there and she died ten months later on May 12, 1959.

I will include his wife Mary’s obituary here as well, since at this point I really don’t know enough more about her to warrant a new blog post.
long island star journal friday may 15 1959 mary dodd

And a few scrapbook pages for Adam Villhauer:
bob-adam villhauer2

Adam Villhauer dischargebob-AdamandMary 

That Girl RGB

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#27 David Hibbs {52 Ancestors}

My husband’s three times great grandfather was David Hibbs.  I found a great photo and some wonderful information, which I combined together here, about David Hibbs from the following 2 books:
Genealogical and Personal History of Fayette County Pennsylvania, Volume 2 By James Hadden


History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania: with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men by Franklin Ellisdavidhibbs


David Hibbs was born July 18, 1809, on the old homestead near New Salem, Menallen Township, Fayette county, PA. His parents were Lacy Hibbs (1762-1819) and Sarah Craft (1766-1848) who were both born in Pennsylvania as well. He was of English descent, and was educated in the common schools. He engaged in general farming and did an extensive business in live stock, which he raised and sold, and if the opportunity offered when he could do so to advantage, he bought. Mr. Hibbs held the usual township offices entrusted to a careful business man, and was for three years a member of the almshouse board.

In all positions he conducted the public business in a satisfactory manner. In politics he was a Democrat. For many years he was a member of the German Baptist Church, and held the office of elder for a number of years. His pecuniary start was small. By industry and careful business management he was able to leave his family in comfortable circumstances. His success was due to his integrity, his industry, his devotion, his unselfishness, and charity. These made his character great, – “The virtues are the forces and powers in life.” He was a quiet man, made but little show, and did his duty as nearly as he was able, and was content. The best legacy he left his family was a good name.

He married, on April 18, 1839, Hannah Walters , born in Masontown , daughter of Ephraim Walters. Jr. They had nine children, two of whom died in infancy. The other children were:

Jefferson Walters (1840-1909)

Mary Frances (1843-1922) Sarah Elizabeth (1847-1917)

Harriet Ann (1849-1938)- Dan’s 2nd great- grandmother

Lucetta Hibbs (1854-1922)

George Lacy (1858-1907)

John Gibson Hibbs (1862-1940)

David Hibs died on May 18, 1868 in Fayette County, PA. His wife died 37 years later in Fayette CO. as well.

and here’s his scrapbook page:

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#26 Ephraim Walters Sr {52 Ancesters}

My husband’s 5 times great grandfather was named Ephraim Walters Sr. and he was born in 1744 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to John Casper Walters (1715 – 1756) and Hannah Barbara Baer (1714 – 1756).  Ephraim’s story is a particularly interesting one!

On July 8, 1756, when he was about 12 years old, his family’s home was raided by a group of Native Americans.  The story states that Ephraim’s father, Casper, was killed right away and that his mother was tortured, but survived.  Three of his younger siblings are said to have been killed at the same time.  The four oldest children, including Ephraim, his brother John, Mary and Rebecca the children were taken in by Native American families and traveled through Ohio and Western Pennsylvania areas.   Ephraim was eventually adopted by a Shawnee chief named Yougashaw.  Over time Ephraim and his siblings were rescued from the Native American families they were with.  John, however after serving in the Sandusky Expedition in 1782 was displeased “with the ways of the whites” and family legend has it that he returned to the Native Americans and married a Native American woman.

During his time with the Shawnees, Ephraim became a skilled hunter and warrior.  He also fought with the Native Americans who sided with the French.

Ephraim was ‘liberated’ by Col. Henry Bouquet in November 1764, as reported by the Pennsylvania Gazette of January 17, 1765.

In 1770, Ephraim married Mary DeBolt, who interestingly enough was the granddaughter of a full blooded Shawnee woman.

Ephraim claimed 7,00 acres of land by “tomahawk title” meaning that he claimed the land he purchased by carving his initials into some of the trees he felled.  This land was in what is now Fayette County, PA.

Ephraim and Mary had the following children:

George Washington Walters (1770 – 1844)
Andrew J Walters (1771 – 1831)
Elizabeth Walters (1772 – 1838)
John E Walters (1774 – 1864)
Ephraim Walters (1776 – 1865)  my husband’s 4 times great grandfather
Jacob Walters (1780 – 1870)
Henry Walters (1782 – ?)
Mary Polly Walters (1783 – 1859)
Henry Walters (1785 – 1836)
Aaron John Walters (1788 – 1866)
Charity Walters (1790 – 1851)

On May 15, 1774, he was elected to help chase Tories and Native Americans away from the Fayette and Greene Co, areas of Pennsylvania.  He served in Captain Bazil Bowell’s 1793 Fayette Co. Militian where he acted as an “Indian Scout.”  Since Ephraim Walters had spent so much of his youth with Native Americans he knew their fighting styles and taught this to the whites he was now working with.  I do find this interesting, as I have read accounts of how his wife Mary was a frontier nurse and assisted both whites and Native Americans.  I wonder how they came to terms with these kinds of differences in their household.

Ephraim applied for pension as a Revolutionary War Vet when he was in his 90’s so he was not approved as all those who had served with him had already passed away.  He is listed in the Revolutionary War Rejected Pensions as follows: “Suspended for a more perfect account of his services.”

Ephraim died on December 8, 1835 at the age of 91 in Fayette Co., PA.

The following is from

C. Gerald DeBolt

“In 1770 [Ephraim Walters] located by “tomahawk title” about 700 acres of land in that country, which to-day is among the finest and most valuable land of any in western Pennsylvania. In the same year he married a Miss DeBolt, of French descent, and from this union there were reared seven sons and three daughters, three lived to the age of ninety; six to over seventy-five, and one to fifty-five. During the Revolution, Mr. Walters raised a company for the defense of the settlement. Many a night when he was out on a scout, his wife fearing the Indians, would leave the cabin and with her children sleep “in the bush”. In the war of 1812, his youngest son being drafted, Mr. Walters, though over seventy-five years of age, offered himself as a substitute, and was accepted. His thorough knowledge of the Indian character, rendered him very efficient. For a number of years he filled the office of Justice of the peace. Mrs. Walters was a remarkable woman, always full of life and energy. She served as midwife for the frontier settlement for some forty years; kept a fine horse, and no kind of weather day or night appeared to make any difference to her. She died in 1842, aged ninety-four.’ Ephraim Walters died in 1835. His will was probated Jan.5, 1836. See p.34 for his will. His wife, Mary (Debolt) Walters, died in 1842. As mentioned at the beginning of the story on Ephraim and Mary, they are both buried at Jacobs Lutheran Cemetery.”

A scrapbook page about Ephraim Walters Sr.

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#25 David Stuart Harllee {52 Ancestors}


davidstuartharleeb1800and his signature:

My 4 times great grandfather on my maternal side was David Stuart Harllee.  He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on May 10th, 1800 to Thomas Harllee (1767 – 1827) and Elizabeth Stuart (1767 – 1817).  His father was from Virginia and his mom from South Carolina but they married and spent their lives in South Carolina, where they also both died.  The couple had 11 children (included David Stuart).


On May 20, 1823 David Stuart was issued a license to marry Harriet Pope Barnes Harriet Pope Barnes (1807-1855) who was from Robeson Co, North Carolina.  They were married some time after this date.  The couple had the following children:
James Jacob dates unknown
Elizabeth Ann (1825-1907)
William Frederick (1827-1866)
Mary Ann (1829-1876)- my 3 times great grandmother
Julia Josephine (1833-1920)
Thomas Henry (1835-1920)
Harriet Ellen (1837-1911)

David Stuart Harllee began a partnership with his father at his general store beginning on April 12 , 1819, before David was 19 years old.  About a year later on August 31, 1820, David’s father Thomas gave him 750 acres of land on the southwest side of the Little Pee Dee River, near present day Little Rock, SC.  As time passed he added on to this land.  On May 14 1830, David Stuart was made a Deputy Surveryor by his brother John Harllee and was certified by the Surveyor General on January 22, 1831.  He helped to survey Marlborough and Marion Counties in SC.

In 1825, when he was just 25 years old, he was elected sheriff of Marion District, SC and served as Sheriff until 1829.

Prior to November 12, 1835 he moved to Cheraw, SC where he started a mercantile business.  He was living on a large plantation in Chesterfield Co, South Carolina which he bought for $3000.00 as recorded in the SC, Marion Co, Deed Book.  This area was near the Little Pee Dee River and was about 1500 acres.

Several years later he began studying law and passed his bar exam in December of 1849 when he was nearly 50 years old.

Shortly thereafter he moved once again to Chesterfield, Co, SC to an estate he called “Pine Forest.”  In a letter to his daughter dated December 8, 1849 this new home was nearly completed.  He and his wife Harriet spent the rest of their lives at this home.  David Stuart Harllee died August 28, 1854 and his wife Harriet died the following year on September 3, 1855.

There are some wonderful letters that survive from David and his wife to their children as well as a memorial about him by the Reverend C. Betts written after David’s death.

I love how the description was written, in particular the end, “As a husband and father none could be more devoted–none more affectionate…”

A scrapbook page for David Stuart and his wife Harriet:

and a second just about David Stuart Harllee

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#24 Jane Foster {52 Ancestors}

Still playing the catch up game with my family tree!

This week I am focusing on Jane Foster who is my husband’s three times great grandmother.  I found this wonderful photo of her on ancestry.com.


Jane Foster
28 April 1826 North Union, PA
12 December 1875 Uniontown, PA
Jane was born in North Union, PA to John Ferree Foster (1788-1860) and Jane Fetz (1794-1870).
In 1846 she married Robert W. Hogsett and the two had 8 children:
Lucinda (1848-1916)
John foster (1849-1922)
Fuller (1850-1929)
Daniel Sturgeon (1853-1870)
William (1855-1941)- My husband’s 2 times great grandfather
Samuel E. (1856-1942)
Robert W. (1861-1925)
Jane Jennie (1865-1894)
She lived her whole life in Pennsylvania and died on December 12, 1875 at the age of 49.
After her death, Robert Hogsett married a woman named Susan Allen (1823-1889).

my scrapbook page for her:

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#23 Elsie Holle ~ 52 Ancestors


This week, as I work to catch up, I will write about my dad’s grandmother, Elsie Holle (also sometimes Elsa).

My dad’s grandmother was named Elsie Holle.  She was born on April 25, 1886 to Gustav Holle and his wife Thekla Burgarth.  Elise was an only child.  Thekla had given birth to a stillborn son on February 17, 1888.  Then her mother died just one year later giving birth to a second son who also died.  I’m not sure if he was a still born or died during or shortly after being born.  I found a birth record for the son of March 22, 1889 with no name. Thekla’s death record is dated March 23, 1889. She was only 31 years old.

Elsie was born in Pennsylvania. I’m not sure exactly what part of Pennsylvania she was born in as I do not have a birth record yet for her, but I have found her Baptismal record stating that she was Baptized on April 24, 1887 at the Emanuel Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, PA.

I find her living in Delaware, PA with her father in the 1910 census. In 1914, Elsie married Frederick Reighel (Fredrico VonReighel) who was born in 1882 in Austria and came to the US on September 10, 1910.

The two had just one child, Anna Dorthea Reighel–pronounced “Regal”-like royalty.

According to Gustav’s 1921 passport-declaring him as legal guardian of Anna Dorthea, Elsie died on October 27 1920. Frederick Reighel had been in contempt of court and not seen since 1916 (when Dorthea was only about two years old.) I finally found Elsa’s death record after searching forever.  She died from Septicemia from an infected lip.  She spent 3 days in the hospital before dying at 12:20 pm on October 27, 1920.

I wonder what her story was. Why was Fredrick so in contempt of court that he fled the city and left his wife and young daughter behind? I hope to someday find the answers to these questions and to understand more about my great grandmother.


I only just finally found her death record. Her name had been listed as Elsie Keighel instead of Reighel.

And here’s her scrapbook pages:

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#22 Mary DeBolt ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks

I’m back to blogging about my family history after a brief-ish summer hiatus! It’s so busy at home with my girls not in school or daycare and we have so many fun adventures and are also gearing up for a big Disney trip this fall, but now I’m hoping to get back on track with my blogging and catch up with everyone else. I’m 11 weeks behind though! yikes. Anyhow here is my next ancestor who is my husband’s 5 times great grandmother on his mother’s side.

Mary Debolt was born in Lancaster Co, PA on March 4, 1748 to Hans Michael DeBolt (1723-1788) and Elizabeth Burt (1723-1789). Mary’s grandmother, Mary Seaworth Chartier was the daughter of Martin Chartier (1659-1725) and his Shawnee wife Sewatha Straight Tail (1660-1759). Mary DeBolt married Ephraim Walters Sr. (1744-1835) around 1769/70. The two had 10 children, George Washington Walters, Elizabeth, John, Ephraim Walters Jr., Andrew, Jacob, Mary, Henry, Aaron, Charity. The two originally settled in Virginia where their oldest son George was born. Soon after his birth they moved to Fayette Co., PA. Mary DeBolt was a pioneer nurse, doctor and midwife among both the white settlers and Native Americans in the area now known as Fayette Co., PA. Family stories state that she would ride a pony to see her patients and that “she always took the most direct route, often having to jump small fences along the way.”

Mary DeBolt Walters died in the home of her daughter Mary in Greene Co., PA on December 18, 1842. She was 94 years old. She is buried in Jacob’s Lutheran church beside her husband Ephraim Sr.

I love to imagine her cantering over the hillsides and through the woods to give aid to those her were in pain. I also love that she was a doctor to Native American people, which I imagine might not have been very common at this time.  This is also amazing given the fact that her husband’s father, and three youngest siblings had been killed by a tribe of Native Americans on their farm in West Virginia. The four oldest children were taken by the tribe and raised as their own. Ephraim and his sisters Rebecca and Mary eventually left the tribes they were with. Ephraim’s brother John decided to go back to Native American culture after some time back with the Whites as he disapproved of the ways of the Whites. Mary’s husband, Ephraim, joined a militia where he taught the soldiers how to fight Native Americans as he knew their techniques and tactics. I do wonder how he and Mary came to terms with their differences. Was this something they ever talked about? Did he agree with her helping the very same people he was fighting?


And here’s a page for Mary DeBolt:


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#21 my dad~Happy Father’s Day! {52 Ancestors}

In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, I thought I’d take the time to write about my dad for this week’s post of 52 Ancestors.  I will not include his first name for his privacy.

I started writing this for a father’s day post, but got super busy before finishing it, I’d still like to add more after talking with my dad, we were all together for father’s day, but I just wanted us all to enjoy each other’s company and I didn’t want him to feel like he was being interviewed!

My dad was born on August 8, 1943 in New York.  His parents were Anna Dorthea (Thea) Reighel (1914-?-deceased)and Louis Adam Villhauer (1912-1999).


His parents separated when he was young and he bounced around a couple foster homes before he was taken in by his grandfather Adam Villhauer.  He lived with his grandfather for a while before he was then taken in by his uncle John Villhauer.  I really need to sit down with my dad and talk about his childhood with him, but unfortunately we just haven’t had the time.  My mom remembers that when his parents divorced that his mom (Thea) married a man who was part of a traveling carnival which was why she couldn’t raise my father.  I’m not sure why he didn’t go to live with his father, unless that was a part of the divorce requirements.

I don’t have a lot of photos of my dad growing up, just a few here and there, I really wish I had more.


My dad with his two older brothers


My dad at age 4, this is one of my favorite photos of him.


My dad went to Holy Cross High School High School in Burlington Co., New Jersey.  I was ecstatic to find some year book photos of my dad during high school on ancestry.com.
I especially love this page which shows my dad and his co-captain accepting the passing of the trophy from the senior captains.  My dad is the guy on the left.  He is also in the group photo at the top.   I can’t tell you how amazing it was to see these yearbook photos!  I have a few of him as a little kid and then a bunch after he met my mom, of course.  So finding these photos of his teenage years was just incredible!

I also love this one of him zoning out in typing class

and then my dad in chess club as well 🙂

Finding all these great photos made me want to find more and luckily I still live near John Carroll University where both my dad and I went to college, so it was super easy to stop by there and ask to see the old yearbooks.  I looked in every year book while he was in school there and found a few more photos.
Of course there was the senior photo, he graduated in 1968.  But I also found a photo of him on the football team again:


My dad is in the top row, 5 from the left (#69), he was kind of a jokester, to say the least, so he gave the wrong name – B. Starr, the name of one of his friends  when he filled out his name for this photo.

I also found this great candid of him playing guitar in the dorm room:
He’s the top guitarist in the back.


My dad took a couple years off from college to join the Navy during the Vietnam War.  He was on the USS Austin at this time in the Caribbean.

Robert Villhauer - E-3 Navy

My dad in his Navy uniform

I was also able to find this photo of the ship he was on:


I have so many stories I want to share about my dad that I could probably write a book.  He is certainly one of those people who lives life to the fullest and has been involved in all sorts of adventures, both good and kind of scary!

There was the time, while in the navy, that he was arrested in Mexico and put in this open air prison with just a dirt floor and fencing to keep people in.  He was with several Navy buddies and they’d been drinking and being a little crazy and were therefore arrested.  Fortunately another Navy friend was able to track them down.  He says he worried that they’d never get out.  There was another man there who said he didn’t even know why he was in jail or how long he’d been there.  Just this poor forgotten guy.

When I was really little, my dad got in a really bad fight and was hit over the head really hard with a bat.  After a few days he started having severe headaches and went to the doctor.  They told him to take it easy and just go home and take some extra advil.  A few days later he was still having really bad pain and went back.  The doctors took a closer look and discovered he had a blood clot and needed immediate brain surgery.  My dad was shocked and asked why there wasn’t a step between advil and brain surgery.  He was rushed off and the next time I saw him his head was shaved and he had a huge bandage on his head.

My poor dad has been electrocuted more times then he probably cares to remember!  Once during a bad thunderstorm his friend’s car rolled over power wires that had fallen and the car was all tangled up in them.  My dad got out to help direct the driver away from the power lines.  He put his hand out to direct the driver, and as the car was slowly rolling over the wires my dad’s tip of his middle finger grazed the car door and he was electrocuted so badly that he burned holes in his socks.

Another story that stands out about my dad and electricity was when I was in either high school or middle school.  My dad is a general handyman and can fix everything, and once when he was working on a ladder three stories up, his ladder somehow came into contact with an electrical wire.  Unfortunately it was a metal ladder and the whole thing started bucking so badly from the electricity that it actually carved gouges into the cement driveway below.  Fortunately the ladder bounced away from the house and he fell backwards into the wall of the house next door (the houses were close together, fortunately, just separated by a driveway).  I remember my dad driving me by the house later to show me the grooves in the drive way.

Then there was a time more recently, like in the past 5 years or so, that my dad was trimming trees at his and my step mom’s house.  Her house’s backyard is right up against a deep ravine.  He was trimming trees near this ravine when somehow the bottom of his ladder broke off and he was left dangling from a branch over the ravine.  My step mom wasn’t home at the time, but somehow, by the grace of God, she came home right after this happened and was able to get a second ladder under my dad’s feet.

I swear this guy is part cat!  The number of times he’s been severely injured and lived to tell the tale!

My dad is also the guy who always gets a close by parking spot even on days when a parking lot is packed with people.  And it’s not like he circles until he finds one, it just always magically appears as he begins to look for a spot.

He also is the type that know literally everyone!  It doesn’t matter where we go or how far from home we are, my dad will see someone he knows.  He once went to Toronto, we all live in Ohio, and on an elevator in some building he ran into some guy he knew from way back.

It’s really no surprise that so many people know him and remember him.  My dad is really a pretty cool guy, and in fact he’s such a cool and fun guy that even in high school when you are supposed to think your parents are ridiculous and be embarrassed of them, I still thought he was a cool guy then.  He used to do a lot of open mic, playing his guitar and harmonica as well as singing, at coffee shops and on Coventry which was a big hangout place for a lot of us in high school.  Everyone knew my dad and liked that he sang and played guitar.  He was a great dad to have growing up.  My parents separated when I was about 5 or so, but he remained a big part of my life and my parents both loved me so much that despite the fact that they didn’t love each other any more they both still worked really hard to still be parents together and they once again became really good friends.  I remember thinking as a child that even though my parents didn’t live together that I had a better relationship with my dad than some of my friends did who still had a dad living with them.  He’s the kind of person who is totally un self-centered.  He is good natured and people are just happy to be around him and hear is crazy stories and be involved in whatever he is doing because something strange, funny, or unusual will probably happen.

He was always willing to be as silly as  a kid could ever want their parent to be.  He would always race with me down the street whenever I wanted, and for a long time he would pretend to let me win.  One day he told me that he realized he lost because I really had become faster than him.  I was really into puffy paint shirts for a while and I made him tons of shirts with frogs on them, or horses, and who knows what else.  He was such a good sport about wearing these shirts too!  I spent a lot of my summer days with him when I was out of school and my mom was still working.  I remember these being care free times where we would wander the city, making quick stops to area homes where he would touch up some paint, fix a leaky faucet, or repair something else broken, hanging out at coffee shops, and always  running into people he knew.  People loved meeting me because basically I was a smaller identical version of my dad!  I look more like my mom as I get older, but as a little kid I was the exact image of my dad, goofy grin and all!

My dad encouraged in me a love of music and sports.  He came to every track meet, every piano recital, every band/orchestra concert, marching band performance, and horse show I was in.  And he was always proud of me, and I was always aware that he was proud of me, no matter who well or poorly I did in a competition/performance.


The best part about this photo, besides my dad pretending to kiss a frog, is that he’s wearing, in public a ridiculous puffy paint shirt I’d made him. He always did stuff like that 🙂



At a family talent show during elementary school




Don’t worry, I was crying because I was happy!

And a bunch of scrapbook pages:
















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#20 Sidney Franklin Mills {52 Ancestors}

My maternal great grandfather was named Sidney Franklin Mills.  He was born on March 21, 1879 in St. Stephen’s, Alabama.  His parents were Burrel Mills (1854-1906) and Amanda Smith (1854-1935). Sidney was one of six children born to Amanda and Burrel.  Their other children were: Lucy (1896-1954) Ada (1894-1958), Ida (1887-1969), Lillian (1882-1939), and William (1876-1935).  I have located Sidney Mills on the 1880 census, living with his parents in Washington Co, Alabama.  At the time Sidney is 1 year old and his brother William is 3.

I found him again on the 1900 census when he was 21 years old.  In addition to all the siblings mentioned above there are 4 other people living in his house.  The first are listed as Burrel’s daughter in law Laura and her child Ida, I think it’s safe to assume she is William’s wife.  The next two are boarders, Knox Mallett (fantastic name!), and Frank Hamilton.  At this time they are all living in Greene, MS.  Sidney is working as a either a booker or booper?-really hard to read, and his father is in timber.  This census record also tells us that Sidney’s mother, Amanda, was actually the mother of 7 children, however only 6 are still living.  My guess is a stillborn, or a child who died very young as I haven’t seen any record of this 7th child as far as a name goes.

The 1930 census shows them living in Piave, MS with 10 of their 11 children (6 of whom were born to his first wife Hallie).  Sidney’s oldest has already moved out at this point.

By the 1940 census, Sidney is living with his second wife Frances in Perry, Mississippi.  At this point, many of their children have moved out and there are just 4 daughters still living with them as well as one son in law.  This is the last census record for Sidney Mills as he died at the end of 1941.


Sidney Franklin Mills


Hallie Pauline Covington and Sidney Franklin Mills


On March 2, 1904 Sidney married Hallie Pauline Covington (who I wrote about here)

After she died in 1916, he married a woman named Frances Menerva Smith who was nearly 20 years younger than he was.  The two were married from 1878-1941, when he passed away.  Frances was born on March 30, 1898 and died on May 13, 1984 in New Augusta, MS.  Her parents were John Jordan Smith and Sarah Emaline Burge.

Frances and Sidney had 5 more children together: Mary (1924-1992), Mildred (1920-1998), as well as three more who are still living so I will keep their names unlisted. My grandmother Sadie (written about here) was a daughter of Sidney and his first wife Hallie, but she loved Frances very much and called her Miss Frances.


Miss Frances with her and Sidney’s daughter Mildred around 1920 shortly after Mildred’s birth

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I also found his 1918 WWI draft registration card on Familysearch.org.  I love finding little tidbits like this for several reasons.  I love seeing a relative’s signature, which you can see at the bottom of the first page, and I also like seeing characteristic details, like he was 5’9″, had blue eyes, and dark hair and that he was stout (!).  It helps make him seem more real than a serious looking face in a black and white photo.


Sidney was a turpentine man and therefore traveled around quite a bit with his job.  I love this old photo I have of him in this awesome horse drawn buggy.  The photo was sent to my grandmother many years ago by one of her cousins.  The letter stated that the photo was of “uncle Sid” (as it was her uncle, but my grandmother’s father) and Grandpa Mills.  However, I am pretty sure that the man on the right (as you look at the photo) was actually the Mills’ store clerk Burton Core.  Looking closely at the photo the second man doesn’t seem old enough to be Sidney’s father. I wish it was’t so damaged.  The photo here is actually after I did a TON of work on it with photoshop.  The original is horribly damaged 😦

 photo UncleSidandGrandpaMillsinCovingtonAL.jpg

Sidney died on December 27, 1941 at the age of 62, in New Augusta, MS.

His scrapbook pages:
 photo mary-SydneyFranklinMills.jpg

 photo SydneyFranklinMillstext.jpg

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