(thanks to my cousin Darrell for catching several typos in the post – they have been fixed. Any existing errors are my own, sadly) This photo of Thomas Asher ( T.A.) McLeland is one of a pair (much large and with the details painted in) that hang in my front hall. The other is my great great grandmother Caroline Decker McLeland. Thomas and Caroline led ordinary lives. I’m going to spend the next few posts talking about Thomas’ life as I’ve put together the pieces so far. I’m not going to include sources – at this point. Once I’ve posted the whole thing, I plan on moving it to my website The McLeland-Wieser Family with sources etc. I already have many photos of T.A. and Caroline’s family on the site. Check them out.

Thomas Asher McLeland was born, 1835, in either Wayne or Clinton Counties, Indiana to John McLeland and his wife Matilda Asher. Thomas, or T.A. as he was known most of his life, was the third child and first son for John and Matilda. Shortly after the birth of their second son, James R. McLeland, Matilda Asher McLeland died. John wasn’t the kind to raise a young hopeful family on his own. He remarried almost immediately to Martha Jane Koonz a young widow with one son. John and Mathilda had several children so T.A.’s adolescence must have been full of the chaos of younger brothers and sister.

Many of T.A’s mother’s family lived nearby, including 2 Uncles and an Aunt. By the time T.A. was 20 his father had been once more widowed and had remarried again. Now he again had a household full of young half siblings. John had also moved his continuously growing family to Boone County, Indiana where he was running a general store and becoming very active in the local Christian Church. Perhaps the household was just too full, perhaps he saw economic possibilities, perhaps he felt a closer kinship with his Asher relatives. Whatever, the reason, at the age of 22 T.A. and his only full blood brother, J.R. moved with their Asher Uncles to Allen County, Kansas.

They arrived at the height of the terrorism and political skullduggery called “Bleeding Kansas.” Although Allen County wasn’t at the heart of the troubles, the massacre at Marais des Cynes was only about 60 miles away. The area around Iola had been heavily settled by Free Staters, making it a prime target of the raiders from Missouri. T.A. and Thomas Asher, William Asher and Alvin Asher settled in the area of Deer Creek Township well away from the majority of the trouble.

Living nearby was a household of 2 families newly arrived from Illinois. William Decker, his second wife Catherine, his daughter Caroline and his younger brother Alfred and family had migrated from Pennsylvania to Illinois. There William and Catherine’s 3 young sons were born. The families arrived in this tense and volatile part of the territory just a few months before the Asher and McLeland families. Shortly after their arrival William Decker died. His widow, left alone with 3 very young children remarried almost immediately. And almost immediately William’s estate became mired in controversy. Alfred Decker and the former Catherine Decker tangled in court several times. Among the deponents in one episode was Thomas Asher McLeland.

Shortly after giving his testimony in 1861, T.A. married the orphaned Caroline Decker. Like many young married men in the early 1860’s, T.A. left his bride and joined his brother in the the Kansas volunteers, both in the cavalry. T.A. saw limited “frontier” duty, guarding rail lines etc. Many years later his pension file would relate that most of his service was away from the main battlefields but was just as muddy, tiring, disease ridden and nearly as bloody as the more “glamorous” service of his cousins. His younger brother never saw combat. James R. died of disease at Fort Scott , KS before his training was completed. Many years later T.A.’s elderly father applied for a Civil War pension based on the service of his deceased son James.

By the time T.A. came home from the war, his Asher relatives had nearly all migrated across the bloody Kansas border into Missouri, leaving Caroline and her step family waiting for T.A. to return. I have no idea if William Asher was pro Confederacy but the timing of his move seems odd. Alvin and Thomas Asher served in the Union army. And T.A. and his children kept in regular touch with Thomas Asher and his family. Whatever wounds may have been given during the Civil War appear to have been mended fairly quickly at least among some of the family.


I really thought, back in April, that we would be mostly done by now.  But here it is nearly the end of May and still no kitchen sink.  At the moment the back wall of the house is gaping open.  We’ve had to replace a sill plate and make a hole for the plumber to use for venting the dishwasher.  That little detail got missed in the original plumbing.  Ah well, such is remodeling.  I’ve learned about patience and persistence and building techniques in this past year so I guess it wasn’t a total loss.  I’ve also learned about stress eating, denial and telescoping time.  Rumor has it that the window salesperson will be here on Monday and the built-in cabinetry for the hutch has supposedly been ordered today.  Tomorrow is our 24th Anniversary – and also co-incidentally the 1 year anniversary of our remodel.  I’d say that I’ll be back to blogging soon but my reputation for veracity isn’t the best right now<G>

And absorb me so completely.  I’ve neglected this blog so totally I’m almost ashamed.  But the end is in sight.  Countertops are installed tomorrow and then the final electrical and plumbing next week and then we can use the newly redone kitchen.  The floors and walls in the rest of the main floor are done and some furniture is in.  We still have woodwork and to install the new windows sashes.  Frankly those are outside of my control  Dearest husband is in charge of woodwork.  It may take months (the family jokes that it will take years)  but the house is more than liveable, it is lovely and I truly feel that we have respected the historic nature of the house while updating for our lives.  Sigh.  Now for the second and third floors.  Well maybe not quite yet.

ben-and-lydia-wedding-1919.jpg This lovely photo shows Bernard Joseph Anstoetter and Lidwina Kramer just after their wedding in Dyersville, Iowa, December 1919. My mother in law, child of Ben and Lydia had one of the rarest surnames I’ve ever researched. Every person in the United States with the surname Anstoetter/Anstoeter was directly related to her within 3 generations. All of them descend from 2 brothers who arrived in the US about 1868. This also appears to be a very rare surname in Germany. It’s always a bit of a shock to search for a name and have almost nothing turn up! However this has its good points. Anything I post or write about the family is sure to be found and read. As a result I’ve just been blessed with wonderful instance of Genealogical Serendipity.

The Anstoetter men hailed from Hummeldorf near Salzbergen Germany. Neither Hummeldorf or Salzbergen are large towns even today. So you can imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail from an official of the Historical Society for Salzbergen. She was interested in finding out more about these former citizens of her town. And it turned out she had access to the unmicrofilmed church records of St. Cyriakus in Salzbergen. So a gift from heaven!!! Continue Reading »

I don’t usually write about work (much) but I’ve been having alot of fun with a new database we’ve recently subscribed to.  America’s GenealogyBank is lots of fun.  I been reading the social news for early 20th century Dallas.  Looks like I married into the wrong branch of the family :> There is a nice selection of smaller town newspapers, Bellingham and Olympia newspapers so far for Washington state.  If you don’t live in Seatttle – does your library subscribe.

Following up on the legend of the death of Moses Gould in 1816, I had some questions. Would a logger’s death have been so commonplace it wasn’t recorded in a local newspaper? Was it likely that Moses was working as a logger? The rest of his family appear to have been primarily ship carpenters and farmers. What was the life of a logger like in this very raw period of Maine life?

Being a librarian I turned to print sources first 🙂

The University of Maine Bulletin, (series 2 #37, 1935, pages 13+) published an entire issue, over 150 pages on “A History of Lumbering in Maine 1820-1861” The following snapshot of the dangers and rewards of a lumbermans life is taken primarily from that bulletin.

In the 1820’s, a lumberman worked 4 months a year during the dead of winter. He could earn, on average, 75 cents per day at a time when a bushel of corn cost 60 cents. The men boarded in a lumber camp at a cost of 25 cents per day. If he was careful with his money, he could come out of the woods at the end of the winter with close to $60 in his pockets. Of course that assumed that he hadn’t spent anything at the camp store. And over a long winter it seems likely that he would need to purchase some items, a new shirt, perhaps or some tobacco. Still, that was a lot of money for the early 1800s. And the work was theoretically seasonal. Young farmers, working hard in Maine’s thin soil and short growing season to provide for their families, may have been lured by seemingly big money. The newspapers and government reports of the 1830’s and 40’s are full of gloom and doom scenarios about lumbering killing agriculture in Maine. They asserted, probably with much truth, that loggers made poor farmers. They planted late and since their oxen had spent the winter in the woods with the logging teams, they had poorly manured fields. So naturally they had poor crop yields and the cycle was perpetuated.

Camp life was brutish. Sabbath was rarely celebrated. The lumber camp consisted of 10-50 men, from several lumber teams. They lived in rough log structures with open central fires. The central fire was used for cooking as well as warming the bunkhouse and was never allowed to go out. Death from fire or smoke inhalation was a constant fear. Meals typically consisted of bread, pork and beans. Consumption of strong liquor was commonplace. It was believed that alcohol would keep off colds and fevers. The men worked as long as there was light with which to see. Fatigue and cold undoubtedly played a major role in the constant danger of the work.

A team consisted of 6-9 men who worked together all winter long and had sometimes worked together for years. The boss set the pace of the work, determined which trees would be felled next and when the felling portion of the season would end. The choppers selected, felled and cut the logs. The swampers cleared for the logs. The barker and leader hewed the bark off of the tree on the drag side of the log and got the logs ready for the teamsters. The teamster looked after and ran the “haul.” They were in charge of the teams of oxen (later horses) who pulled the logs to either the river or a designated storage site. The teamsters usually earned the most money and provided their own oxen and harness.

Once the weather began to break the log drive began. The drive, predecessor of the cattle drives of the 1880’s, was the laborious process of rafting the logs down river to the port of sale, usually Brunswick or Topsham for the Androscoggin River. This was the most dangerous part of the lumbering process. Breaking the landing – rolling the logs into the stream and maybe cutting into the ice to get the logs moving was very dangerous work, so was breaking a log jam which was hard wet work that required agility and good judgment even when very tired. Between 1831-1868 (in just 5 newspapers) there were 25 drownings reported during The Drive. And it is highly probable that the newspapers didn’t report every death.

Whether the unfortunate man was crushed by a tree he was felling or while breaking a landing or he drowned while breaking a jam “such accidents had to be charged up to the hazards of the industry. The victim of a logging accident was usually buried in two flour barrels, his grave was soon forgotten but occasionally his fate might inspire some crude poetic effusions [in the local newspaper].” page 102

My 4th great grandfather, Moses Gould died, reportedly at age 40, while lumbering in the Maine woods. He left a wife, Anne Adams Gould, and 7 young children. My 3rd great grandfather was his youngest son Joseph Gould. Joseph never knew his father. In fact if the various brag book entries for Joseph and his brother Elisha are any indication, Joseph and his siblings may have been “placed out” by the county authorities and have grown up with little knowledge of their family in general. There are no other family or brag book stories related to Moses aside from the legend of his untimely death. I say legend because I’ve been unable to find any confirmation of the family story. I have not found any newspaper articles and the family is represented by the barest of factual entries in the Lisbon, Maine town records

page 31 “The children of Moses Goold & his wife Anne were born as follows viz:

Thomas Adams Goold was born November the 8th AD 1799
Charlotte Coombes Goold was born January the 4th AD 1802
Sarah Goold was born May the 3rd AD 1803
Moses Goold Junior was born August the 18th AD 1808
Sarah Goold the 2nd was born March the 20th AD 1811
Elisha Doyle Goold was born September the 18th AD 1812
Samuel Adams Goold was born May the 4th AD 1814
Joseph Goold was born November the 8th AD 1815”

page 32
“Deaths in the family of Moses Goold
Sarah Goold Departed this life June the 30th AD 1806
Moses Goold Departed this life March the 26th AD 1816”

Anne Adams Gould may have remarried but her life after her husband’s death is obscure to say the least.

The legend of Moses’ death was handed down in at least two families, that of Joseph and of his older brother Elisha Doyle Gould. Elisha was a couple of years older than Joseph, so perhaps he would have been aware of the circumstances of his father’s death. Joseph and Elisha’s families were separated by thousands of miles when Joseph moved his very young family first to New York, then Pennsylvania, then Iowa and then finally Nebraska. But of course Elisha could be the source of the story that appears in the brag book entry of Joseph’s son Garvin H. Gould.

Whatever the source of the story, his marriage to Anne Adams and his early death are the only things I really know about Moses Gould. So I’ve been trying to roll the shadows aside, at least a bit. I’ve cast a wide net and the results are fascinating. I know much more now about the lives of Maine loggers and farmer in the early 1800’s than I did before I began this effort. And it seems completely possible that Moses Gould could have been killed while involved in some sort of timber activity, even if, as seems likely, he wasn’t a lumberman full time.