Johann Nikolaus Heischmann When Nettie and E.W. married, Nettie’s ancestors had not lived as long in Ohio as E.W.’s; but both Heischmans and Clouses came to the U.S. during the Revolution. Both immigrated in an out-of-the-ordinary way
Heischmans in Virginia, Indiana and elsewhere identify their progenitor in this country as the John Heischman (“Hychman”) who in 1796 bought from Jacob Funkhouser 199 acres of land in Trout Run Valley near present-day Wardensville in Hardy County, West Virginia. Before the Civil War, Hardy County was a part of Virginia. A Heischman Genealogy dated 1982, which circulates among Heischmans in Virginia and West Virginia, calls attention to the Heischman-Funkhouser deed as does William Harpine’s Heischman History circulating among Heischmans in Indiana and Ohio. Harpine points to an additional Heischman purchase of 205 acres in Trout Run Valley from John Hisey in 1802.
Both Genealogies overlook the earliest Heischman purchase on record [S-406, Virginia Northern Neck Land Grants, III (1775-1800)], 22 acres on Narrow Passage Creek in neighboring Shenandoah County to the east, still part of present-day Virginia. The land record gives two dates: 28 February 1786, date of a survey; and 28 April 1788, a transaction date, it seems. The deed describes John “Heishman” as assignee of Peter Holler, Jr., described as assignee of Henry Weatherholt. The survey established boundaries by references to adjacent landowners. One such was “George Zeigler.”
Another Shenandoah County record is of the marriage of John “Heisemann” and “Magadena Zigler”—most likely, “Zeigler”—in 1785. John Heischman not only bought land in Shenandoah County but also married there a woman whose maiden name was the same as the surname of the owner of land adjacent to the acreage he bought. The two records seem to say that John, three years after marrying, set himself up as an independent landowner next to land owned by his wife’s family. One might speculate that like two of his grandsons in Ohio, John married the daughter of a farmer with whom he had lived as a farm laborer.
Additional records clear away confusion caused by the variant spellings. The 1828 will of “John Hyushman, Sr.” gives “Magdalena” as the name of his wife. The Virginia Census of 1810, constructed from tax lists, places the household of John “Hishman, consisting of 3 white “tithables” with 6 horses and no slaves over 12 years, near Wardensville.
Records above discount, except as garbled accounts, stories that have circulated locally, which the Heischman Genealogies repeat, namely that two or three Heischman brothers at an early time came into Hardy County from Pennsylvania or Germany. Records cited above lay the groundwork for reconstructing Heischman family history from Revolutionay War documents.
Filby and Meyer’s Passenger and Immigration Lists Index lists only one immigrant named “Heischmann” in colonial times. The Index refers to C.N. Smith’s Merceneries from Ansbach and Bayreuth, Germany, Who Remained in America after the Revolution (German American Genealogical Research Monograph, No. 2, 1979). Smith’s entry, based on British military records in London, reads as follows: Heischmann, Johann Nikolaus, private, A/3. Deserted 12 May 1783. “A/3” refers to “Captain Stein’s” company in the regiment from Ansbach which the Margrave Alexander “rented” to the British between 1777 and 1783. “Deserted” has the meaning here of declining to be returned to Germany.
The one listing in Filby and Meyer’s Index does not guarantee that there were not other Heischmans in this country early, but it makes it unlikely. At present the Ansbach grenadier is the only candidate for the designation “forefather’ of the Shenandoah Heischmans; and the Shenandoah Heischmans are the only documented Heischmans in the U.S. before the second half of the nineteenth century.
The difference in given names in the records (“John” vs. “Johann Nikolaus”) may be a problem for some. In some German usage, the middle name was the important one. All the children in a family, male and female, might have the same first name; whereas English usage made the first name all-important and able to stand alone as in the Virginia records. It should be noted, also, that the Heischman of the third generation in whom we are most interested, Nettie’s father, was named “Nicholas.”
That John Heischman surfaced in Shenandoah County, Virginia, supports the supposition that he was a German mercenary. After the surrender of the British at Yorktown in 1781, men from the Ansbach regiment and others were held as prisoners of war at Winchester, twenty or thirty miles to the north of Narrow Passage Creek.
Boatner’s Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (p.1241) numbers Ansbach soldiers in Cornwallis’ army at Yorktown at 948. It is certain that Johann Nikolaus Heischmann above was among them. Max von Eelking’s The German Allied Troops in the North American War of Independence 1776-1783 (II, 252) notes that among the Ansbach units that surrendered was that captained by “Heinrich Carl Friedrich von Stein.”
After the battle, British, Hessian, and Ansbach prisoners were marched to sites in western Virginia and Maryland. Residents along the way and even the guards behaved toward the prisoners in a way they probably did not expect. A British officer assigned to observe their treatment in compliance with a British-American accord described it this way: Thither [to Winchester] our men were conducted and though the lodging was indifferent, and the issue of provisions, particularly of flour, very irregular, of the treatment which they received, both from the guards and the country people, they had no reason to complain. The former put them under little or no restraint, while the latter gave them frequent invitations to their farm-houses. (The Virginia Historical Record, VI, 208) Their friendly reception must have been due in part to the fact that the population of western Virginia at that time was predominantly of German descent. The prisoners themselves were tractable. Writing to the Governor of Virginia on April 3, 1781, a Col. Taylor described German prisoners then held in the state as “very orderly and easily governed,” requiring only “a small militia guard” (Calendar, II, 8).
Joseph Holmes, Deputy Commissioner General of Prisoners, wrote from Winchester on November 6, 1781, that 2100 prisoners taken at Yorktown and 40 enemy officers assigned to observe their treatment had arrived the previous evening (Calendar of Virginia State Papers, II, 578-9). By January 1782, American officers in charge of prisoners were writing back and forth to discuss moving them, according to plan, north to sites in Pennsylvania and Maryland. It is of interest that in the correspondence Holmes refers to the German prisoners at Winchester as “Anspachs.”
Bad weather and the prisoners’ inadequate clothing caused him to propose to Col. James Wood, Superintendent of Convention Prisoners, that the march be delayed or that the number of prisoners be cut in half. “It seems to shock the feelings of humanity to drive out of a warm habitation a poor creature stark naked in such a season” (Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, III, 13).
Whatever compromise was reached, there was no clean sweep of prisoners at Winchester until the end of the War. In a letter to Holmes dated May 14, 1782 (Calendar, III, 164), Col. Davies expressed surprise that the militia (numbered at 100 in a letter of May 21) were still required there. The Virginia Calendar of State Papers yields continuing references to prisoners at Winchester, one as late as February 18, 1783 (III, 438). The Memorandum of Agreement concerning prisoners which the British and Americans drew up April 19, 1783, numbers the prisoners at Frederick and Winchester (presumably all or mostly German), including women and children, at 1500.
If difficult weather conditions stood in the way of transferring prisoners in a timely way, another condition prevented their transfer even more. An exchange of letters in January 1782 (Calendar, III, 8) concerns, among other matters, the fact that “a very great number of the prisoners” scheduled to be moved have disappeared. A letter of July 4, 1782, defends the officer responsible: “The Orders...he has endeavored to execute, but as fast as they [the prisoners] are collected they escape; the inhabitants aiding them in this.”
The remark suggests that prisoners simply faded into the German population surrounding them. They were absorbed in another way, one in which the authorities themselves colluded. An eyewitness account in Max von Eelking’s (German Allied Troops, p. 215) relates that some of the German troops arriving at Winchester in November, 1781, “were at once allowed to go to work for the neighboring farmers, thus earning comfortable quarters, good living and suitable clothing, while those who remained in the barracks had little of any of the good things promised at the surrender.”
In December, a harried Col. Holmes was finding the practice burdensome. In a letter to Governor Harrison (December 8, 1781) he complains that “a number of British Pris’rs of War lately captured at York Town are now straggling about the several Counties within the State” (Calendar, I, 643). Holmes’ superior, Col. J. Wood, in a letter dated April 4, 1782, echoes his complaint (K.G. Greene’s Winchester, Virginia, and Its Beginnings, p. 234) “I have the country [people] in general to contend with, who are anxious to conceal them as Labourers are exceedingly hard to be got.”
By this time in Virginia, employing prisoners of war in some cases was formalized. On December 8, 1781, (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XXXI, 251) James Craig, owner of a plantation 40 miles from Charlottesville, and Henry Vigall, a Hessian prisoner taken at Saratoga, signed a contract with the following provisions: Henry Vigall to “attend a gristmill and still with the help of a negro wench or such other labor as the said James Craig shall find necessary... for and during the space of one year....in consideration of which the said James Craig is to give...fifteen pounds twelve shillings in gold or silver and also one acre of land for corn.” The proprietor agreed to provide clothing at a certain price and to pro-rate payments if the prisoner was exchanged.
From all of the details cited, an hypothesis concerning the progenitor of the Shenandoah Heischmans takes shape, namely, that he was taken prisoner at Yorktown, marched to Winchester, found employment as a farm laborer, formed attachments, and by failing to rejoin his corps on Staten Island in accordance with the offical proclamation declined to be returned to Europe. Adjutant General Baurmeister of the Hessian forces expressed displeasure with 512 such “desertions’ which he attributed to “the scattering of printed invitations and previous persuasion on the part of the inhabitants” (Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals 1776-1784).
The Heischmans who immigrated from Virginia to Ohio were robust, well favored. Such attributes, an ability to speak German, perhaps even family connections between Germany and America enabled the Ansbach grenadier to find ready acceptance among people of German origin in the Valley. At that time there were especially heavy concentrations in Shenandoah County.
Nicholas Heischman Nikolaus Heischmann’s grandson Nicholas served during the Civil War on the Southern side. His military career can be reconstructed from muster rolls and movements of units to which he belonged. His children spoke often of the fact that he lost a finger at Gettysburg, an injury confirmed by his photographs. They may have been unaware of the full extent of his service.
A first group of muster rolls gives dates of Nicholas’ enlistment in Company C of the 33rd Virginia Infantry in both 1861 and 1862, the earliest being June 3, 1861. Six others give June 5 and June 21, 1862. The muster rolls identify Nicholas’ place of enlistment as Harrisonburg, fifty miles south of his home at Wardensville.
The 33rd was part of Stonewall Jackson’s renowned army corps. What is helpful in thinking about Nicholas’ enlistments is the coincidence of the last ones above with the fact that in early June 1862, Jackson was operating against Union forces in the vicinity of Harrisonburg. Also it is clear, as will be seen later, that Nicholas was with Jackson at the Battle of Antietam. Thus it seems safe to assume that Nicholas took part in actions in which Jackson was engaged from the beginning of June until the latter part of September 1862.
On June 17 Jackson began a march with the main body of his troops to join Lee in the defense of Richmond. On the 25th he took up positions within 15 miles of the city. His customary “celerity” of movement caused uncertainty on the Union side concerning his whereabouts. In numerous battles lasting until September, Lee lifted the siege of Richmond and forced the Union army to withdraw north to safeguard Washington.
On September 2, Lee began a flanking movement around Washington into Maryland and Pennsylvania. He positioned Jackson’s force to the west, assigning it the task of taking Harper’s Ferry at the head of the Shenandoah Valley. Jackson moved with his usual “celerity” to lay siege to the city. The garrson surrendered on September 15th.
When Jackson rode into Harper’s Ferry, Union soldiers stood along his route to see him pass. Eye witnesses contrasted the well-dressed, well-equipped Union officers and men to Jackson’s ragged troops and to the poorly dressed, poorly mounted Jackson himself. One is reported to have said “”he’s not much for looks, but if we’d had him we wouldn’t have been caught in this trap!” (Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, II, 627 )
Jackson moved next to reinforce Lee’s forces facing McClellan’s army near Sharpsburg, Maryland, arriving on the afternoon of the 16th. The next day one of the major engagements of the War, known as the Battle of Sharpsburg or as the Battle of Antietam, was fought. Nicholas was one of Jackson’s exhausted soldiers who prevailed against the Union assaults.
He was also one of the Confederate casualties, estimated by one Confederate general at 20,000. Muster rolls of Company C, 33rd Infantry, dated October, November, and December 1862 and August, September, and December, 1863, describe him as “absent” and “wounded in battle of Sharpsburg.” The muster roll of December 31,1863 describes him as “Absent without leave since Nov. 28/62.” It appears that Nicholas was absent for some time, allowably, it seems, from the rolls and then was judged delinquent.
He was not a deserter, however, but a “straggler.” we are coming up against a habit of Confederate soldiers which Confederate officers complained about, namely, “straggling.” Free spirits on the spur of the moment appeared and disappeared from their units. Or changed from one unit to another. Nicholas did the latter. While regarded as AWOL, he was serving in the 18th Virginia Cavalry
His service began when the 18th was organized. In the winter of 1862-63, Jefferson Davis sent Captain White to recruit “scouts and spies” to operate in the mountainous country along the eastern border of what is now West Virginia. The response was heavy, so much so that D.E. Beall of Hampshire County collected a “considerable number” of recruits and attached them to the forces of Confederate General Imboden, who was then operating in the vicinity of Wardensville. Beall was commissioned lieutenant colonel of a newly formed 18th Regiment. A number of Heischman men were among the recruits. Maxwell and Swisher’s History of Hampshire County (1897) prints (p. 591) a muster roll of Company 1 of the 18th Virginia Cavalry which includes William, Philip, John, and Nicholas “Hishman.” Maud Pugh’s Capon Valley (1946) lists (II, 87) among the men of Company 1, John and “Nicholas Heishman.”
The 18th Virginia Cavalry saw action during Imboden’s raid—actually Imboden and Jones’ raid— farther into West Virginia in April and May 1863. The two forces moved north and south along the center line of the state, the prime objective being destruction of railroad bridges on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad thirty miles on either side of Fairmont near Morgantown. On his return, Imboden reported (War of the Rebellion, 1889, Series 1, Volume XXV, Pt. 1, 104 ) that he had “compelled the enemy to destroy large and valuable stores at Beverly, Buckhannon, Weston, Bulltown, Suttonsville, and Big Birch, captured and brought away over $100,000. worth of horses, mules, wagons, and arms, burned their blockhouses and stockades...enabled the [Confederate] Government agents to buy and bring out to places of safety over 3100 head of cattle.” Although Imboden employed his cavalry constantly in this action, the 18th Regiment suffered only one casualty.
As Lee advanced toward Gettysburg in June and July 1863, Imboden’s brigade of cavalry conducted raids on Lee’s left flank, destroying railroad bridges and cutting the canal below Cumberland, Maryland. Imboden reports in his memoirs that, having been thus engaged, he reached the battlefield at noon on the third and last day of the battle. Lee assigned him to repell any cavalry demonstration on his rear. “None of a serious character being made, my little force took no part in the battle.” (Battles, III, 420).
However, Nicholas’ children were not wrong when they said that he fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. Probably he lost his finger in one of the numerous skirmishes in the retreat that followed. Lee assigned Imboden’s brigade the task of guarding the wagon train, which left the battlefield at 4:00 P.M. on July 4, the 18th Virginia Cavalry at its head as an advance guard. The column moved rapidly, considering the rough roads and the darkness, and from almost every wagon...issued heart-rending wails of agony....Scarcely one in a hundred had received adequate surgical aid....the wounded...had been without food for thirty-six hours. Their torn and bloody clothing, matted and hardened, was rasping the tender, inflamed, and still oozing wounds. Very few of the wagons had even a layer of straw in them, and all were without springs (III, 424). Twelve or fifteen miles from the Potomac, Union cavalry in small parties attacked the wagon train, which stretched out for seventeen miles with detachments of troops and guns at intervals of a quarter or third of a mile. Elements of the advance guard left their position from time to time to help fend off such attacks. At Williamsport, Maryland, on the river, where the column halted for serveral days to regroup and care for the wounded, it was attacked by a Union force of 7000 men.. Imboden with no more than 3000 men successfully defended the town, employing the 18th Virginia Cavalry intensively in the heaviest fighting on the Confederate left.
One can feel close physically to Nicholas Heischman in a description of members of the Confederate cavalry given by John L. Collins of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, captured during an attack on the wagon train: They were quiet, courteous, and considerate; they all seemed young of light build with fair or sandy complexions predominant; and better than all, they had more by far than the average share of intelligence (Battles, III, 431)
Four thousand prisoners crossed the Potomac on July 9 guarded by Imboden and the 62nd Virginia Regiment, their destination being Staunton and beyond that, Richmond. Lee called Imboden back to question him concerning fords and to ask for the 18th Virginia Cavalry to act as Lee’s advance guard and guide if it should be needed. The Confederate army crossed the river on July 13.
Union armies did not pursue Lee beyond the Potomac so that a relative calm set in in the Shenandoah Valley. Lee retired east of the Blue Ridge, leaving Imboden in command in the “Valley District.” Imboden reports (Battles, IV, 480) that during the fall and winter 1863-64 his force frequently raided the B & O Railroad. In December it prevented Union General Averell from getting into the Valley to strike at Staunton. But in April and May 1864, Imboden’s force faced a more serious threat from a Union army commanded by General Sigel established at Winchester.
On May 2, Imboden set out to meet Sigel with, among other units, the 18th Virginia Cavalry. Imboden notes that his “1500 or 1600 veterans with their horses, were in splendid condition for hard service” (Battles, IV, 480). Imboden attacked Sigel’s flanking parties, using the 18th and other units as he was forced back to New Market, where on May 15, 1864, the reinforced Confederate army in a major battle caused Sigel to retire to Strasburg. On May 14, the 18th Virginia Cavalry had engaged with Sigel’s cavalry 2500 strong, was “vigorously pressed” and fell back skirmishing. On May 15 Imboden’s cavalry formed the extreme right of the Confederate line.
In two weeks a reinforced Union army, with General Hunter replacing General Sigel, renewed its advance, driving Imboden’s reduced force before it until by June 17th, having occupied Staunton, Lexington, and Buchanan, Hunter threatened Lynchburg.
At this time one of the ablest of Confederate generals, Jubal Early, arrived at Lynchburg with his army corps with orders from Lee to drive Hunter out of the Shenandoah and to threaten Washington. Early did just that. By July 9, 1864, his army had advanced into Maryland and on that date defeated General Lew Wallace at the Battle of the Monocacy just south of Frederick. Early then moved to within sight of the Capitol dome in Washington but retired (July12) without attempting to take the city.
Early’s cavalry in this campaign included Imboden’s brigade. In his descriptions Early mentions that he sent Imboden’s force to destroy railroad bridges on the B & O Railroad in the vicinity of Martinsburg (Battles, IV, 493). He mentions that on July 11, Imboden’s cavalry under Colonel Smith led Early’s infantry through Rockville “so as to reach the 7th Street pike which runs by Silver Springs into Washingrton” (Battles, IV, 497).
The final chapter in the seesaw struggle for the Shenandoah began on August 7, 1864, when Major General Philip Sheridan assumed command of the Union army. Sheridan and Early maneuvered their forces through several engagements on September 19 east of Winchester; on September 20 at Fisher’s Hill; on October 19 at Cedar Creek, the last being the most celebrated. In an unexpected attack, Early defeated the Union army, which then rallied and drove him from the field. The 18th Virginia Regiment was still intact at Cedar Creek even though the Confederate cavalry had been mauled in earlier engagements. These three engagements, incidentally, were fought in the general vicinity of the Heischman homestead near Wardensville.
On March 2, 1865, near Waynesboro, Sheridan attacked what remained of Early’s force and took 1600 prisoners. His victory ended Southern resistance in the Shenandoah. Early’s cavalry dispersed to their homes in the Valley.
On October 19, 1864, date of the Battle of Cedar Creek, Nicholas was captured at Greenspring, West Virginia. Held briefly at Cumberland, Maryland, he gave an oath on October 22 not to fight again, was released, and, according to the military record, “went north,” presumably with his brother Abraham, to central Ohio. Clarence Heischman (died 1992), Abraham’s grandson, knew from members of his family that Nicholas and Abraham were in a tavern in Gahanna when John Souder, local farmer, came in looking for farm hands. Thus began a relationship with the Souder family into which the brothers married: Nicholas to Angelina in 1866; Abraham to Catherine in 1870. Some impressions of Nicholas have been passed along through the generations. Clarence Heischman, when asked for his impression, said, “I always heard that he was a great man.” His comment may reflect, apart from other distinctions, the aura Nicholas had as a Civil War veteran. Nettie was especially proud of his erect bearing and, no doubt, of the fact that he was a large, handsome man. Emma Strait, Abraham’s daughter, Nettie’s cousin, as she was dying and her mind wandered into childhood, dreamed of helping “Uncle Nick load hogs.”
Nicholas settled deep into community life. He was elected the first Treasurer of the annual Souder Reunion, which still exists, and an elder of the Peace Lutheran Church in Gahanna. To his granddaughter Blanche, he was “the nicest man who ever lived. If anybody wanted anything, they went to him.” Blanche knew that he pumped the church organ and that he liked to walk. When the Clouses came down from New Albany to church, they stayed on to eat Sunday dinner at Nicholas’ farmhouse out Havens Corners Road. Offered a ride, he refused, saying he would get there before the horses did.
When Nicholas’ wife died in 1886, she left him a life tenancy of the land she had inherited. In 1913 Nicholas’ six surviving children, with his consent, sold the land; and he went to live in Gahanna. He died in 1915 and is buried with Angelina in the old Lutheran cemetery on the north side of the Village. Nettie had two sisters: Sarah (Sally) and Amanda (Mandy). The three daughters were “amiable,” to use a word the Western Intelligencer used in wedding notices of the early nineteenth century to describe a bride. And extremely courteous so that “courtly” comes to mind. The daughters spoke in a measured and distinct way, influenced, perhaps, by the fact that they had been bilingual in childhood.
Sarah, the oldest, cared for the other children after their mother died. She married Jacob Wengert and lived in a bungalow on North Street in Gahanna. Jake ran a filling station on Route 62 for many years. He had a deliberate way of picking a candy bar out of a glass case or taking the top off a bottle of soda pop while he clenched a cigar visibly between his teeth. Blanche said Jake and his partner drank too much while waiting for customers. I still see him sitting by himself in the Peace Lutheran Church on a Sunday morning, his noble head against the background of a stained glass window. He might make you think that you were looking at the profile of a Holy Roman emperor.
Sarah was attracted to tales of the supernatural. I heard her relate once in a hushed voice that a large portrait on her parlor wall had fallen to the floor at the exact moment the person pictured died many miles away. E.W. and Nettie took me with them sometimes when they went to visit with Sarah on a Sunday afternoon. I remember picking a book by G.A. Henty,The Boy Knight, out of the glassed-in bookcase-desk in Sarah’s parlor, and of being transported, while the adults gossiped, to the Holy Land, where with my sword I vanquished Saracen hordes.
Mandy married Jacob Lindenmeyer, who operated a farm along Price and James Roads near the Columbus airport. He prospered selling potatoes out of the field to customers from the city. Jake had a heavy German accent and an explosive way of speaking.
Mandy in youthful photographs is beautiful. I remember her at an advanced age as an invalid confined to a chair speaking in an animated way about “bunny rabbits” she watched long hours through the kitchen windows.
Nettie’s two brothers who resembled Nicholas most, being well favored and strong looking, died young from flu or consumption: Elza in 1911 at the age of 31 and Victor in 1912 at the age of 35.
Nicholas’ other three sons, bachelors, lived alone in little houses they built or had built: Billy (died 1950) on a plot of ground planted to evergreen trees in the country; Albert (died 1945) in a garage-like building on the most important east-west alley in Gahanna between the old elementary school and the Presbyterian Church; Lee, real name “Orley,” (died 1956) on North Street beside his sister Sarah.
E.W. said approvingly that as a young man, Billy worked hard and saved his money. Later on Billy became sickly. A wisp of a man with a long beard, he complained in a high voice of old-fashioned ailments such as neuralgia and catarrh. When he was most impoverished in old age, he was a familiar sight pushing a cart through Gahanna to collect from the backs of store buildings wood and cardboard boxes, which he burned in an iron stove.
It embarrassed E.W. that Albert was lazy, didn’t have a regular job, and sometimes in the thirties worked for lthe WPA, which E.W. disapproved of. Now and then E.W. offered Albert a job without much hope that ålbert would take it. On summer evenings Albert was one of the band of boys and town loafers who sat on the massive stone blocks of the retaining wall south of the iron bridge over Big Walnut Creek, coughing up yarns. People in the street caught glimpses of him sitting at the bar of a tavern that occupied part of the frame store building to the north of the bridge. Albert had a flushed face and a soft though audible way of speaking. I met him sometimes as he moved up and down the alley between his house and downtown, talking to people he encountered in an outgoing but hesitant manner. I knew that he invited some of my friends to look at what they called “girlie” magazines in the little house in the alley, but he never invited me.
Lee, the youngest of Nicholas’ sons, coped best with the business of living. He was a house painter. His flimsy-looking Model-T Ford truck with its load of ladders was a familiar sight in the village. Lee was gregarious, often stopping at the hardware to join the conversation around the iron stove in winter or the conversation batted back and forth by townspeople and farmers seated on the low stone wall and platform out front in summer. Lee’s conversation started up and kept going like an engine running. He made “Yep” into a three or four syllable word to fill spaces between sentences or lulls in the conversation as though as a painter, he took pains not to leave gaps of “lapping.” E.W. or Nettie pasted Lee’s baby picture next to E.W.’s in E.W.’s photograph album. Lee looks the same there as he did in middle age, heavily jowled and a bit abstracted. Behind his jovial manner and vigorous conversation, it seemed, some preoccupation weighed forever on his mind.
I have caught Nettie’s siblings in a net much more recent than 1896, when Nettie and E.W. married. Then the siblings were young and promising. I won’t go on to enumerate the many Souders Nettie was related to through her mother, the Heischmans she was related to though her father, and the Clotts she was related to through her grandmother, all of whom must have watched with interest E.W. and Nettie’s coming together.
Suffice it to say that a percentage of E.W.’s success in the hardware resulted from these connections, the Souder ones especially. Their progenitor, Jonas Souder, instrumental as a charter member in establishing the Peace Lutheran Church in the 1830’s, was Nettie’s great-grandfather