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Jacob and Casper Kettering

Jacob and Casper Kettering

Jacob and Casper Kettering were orphans.  Their parents, William Casper Kettering and Elizabeth Ashbaugh, had settled in Warren Borough, Pennsylvania in or before 1836.1, 2, 3

Kettering was a carpenter, and died at a very young age of injuries sustained by a fall from a roof in 1842 or 1843.  Unconfirmed sources indicate that he was born in 1812, so he would have been about 30 at the time of his death. 1

When Wm. Casper died, he left Elizabeth alone with six children.  The eldest was Jacob, born in 1833, so he was about ten when his father died.  The youngest was Mary, born in 1840, only two or three years old at the time of her father’s death.  Casper was the next-youngest, left fatherless at the tender age of three or maybe four.  Elizabeth, too, was in her early thirties at this time; unconfirmed sources place her date of birth at about 1808.   

Elizabeth took her children on a raft, and traveled 130 miles down the Allegheny to meet up with her father in a place called "Logan's Eddy", near Delmont, PA, leaving Warren behind as a sad memory.1

On hearing this story, one might have a “Tom Sawyer” vision - of Elizabeth hewing trees and lashing the logs together, poling her way down the river with her long skirts flapping in the breeze, soaked to the knees while her children huddled under a makeshift tent – but that may be a bit melodramatic.  In 1840, the major industry in Warren was lumber, which was routinely floated down the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh. Other goods were regularly transported along this river between the two cities; it is more likely that Elizabeth bartered for her transport on a merchant’s barge with a hog or a few chickens. 

After reuniting with her father, the family’s problems did not subside.  Elizabeth re-married; according to Catron the man’s name was Hauser or Houser.  Jacob, the eldest, did not get along with his new stepfather, and ran away.1  Shortly thereafter, Elizabeth herself died Neither her husband nor her father were prepared to raise five children themselves, so  Isabel, age 10, John, 8, Hannah, 6, Casper, 5, and Mary, 4, were split up and sent to be raised by various families in the area.  They are shown on the 1850 census as living in Washington, Franklin, and Allegheny Townships; no two of them together.  According to H.H. Catron’s notes, this all took place in the middle of the 1840’s, perhaps 1846 or 1847.1

By 1860, Casper was a grown man of 21; he lived in a rooming house where Hannah Spencer was working as a chambermaid at the age of 18.  It’s possible that one of her family members was the owner of the rooming house.  They were married in December of 1860, and they began their family with the birth of Mary in October of 1861.    They had three children before 1864, when Casper joined the Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, and five more after his return in 1865. 

Jacob headed West from Delmont.  His whereabouts from 1845 to 1860 are still unknown;  he has not been located on the 1850 Census and we have found no additional information.   He does show up in 1860 in Buda, Illinois; like his long-lost brother, he, too, married in that year.  His wife, Harriet Kriger, was Casper’s age when she married – about 21 to Jacob’s advanced 27.

Jacob and Harriet settled in Princeton, Illinois, and had eight children.  Between 1865 and 1870 they moved from Illinois to Iowa, and between 1880 and 1893 to Lincoln, Nebraska. Many of the children moved south to Miami, Oklahoma, when they grew up.  Members of this family also show up in New Mexico and Colorado. 5

It is not difficult to imagine these two as grown men; brothers, friends, raising their families on nearby farms, gathering at holidays with little cousins running up and down the stairs and playing in the barn, helping out in each other’s lives – but that just did not happen.  It is doubtful they ever had contact .  

The land that William Casper Kettering had bought in 1836 and 1838 comprised the entirety of his estate, and it passed to his six children.  Between 1858 and 1862 the five younger children, John, Isabelle, Hannah, Casper and Mary, each sold their shares of lots #58 and #38 in Warren Borough to John F. Davis, of Warren.6  In 1863; the share belonging to Jacob Kettering was sold at a tax sale.  Jacob Kettering's whereabouts were unknown at the time, and he was delinquent in his taxes.  His share, too, was purchased at this tax sale by John F. Davis.7 


1.  Catron, Henry Harding, 1956 (unpublished) Notes compiled during the research of "The Kettering Family in America"

p. 53: "G. Mastin Jr. records the purchase at a Tax Sale of Lot #58 in Warren Borough for $56. - and turns it over to CASPER KADERING of Warren for $4.25 (note - Mastin was a lumberman, mill-owner, and business man - may have owed Casper Kettering for work)"

p. 55: "Casper Kettering was a carpenter.  He is said to have falled (sic) off a roof (Warren, Penna.) and been killed.  Said to have been buried on the Old Jackson Farm Cemetery.  After his death, his wife took the children and wen town the river on a raft.  Her father met her at LOGAN'S EDDY on the Allegheny." 

These notes are on file at the Warren County Historical Society, 210 Fourth Avenue, PO Box 427, Warren, PA; www.warrenhistory.org

2.  Deed of Sale filed 12 Nov 1836, from G. Mastin, Jr. to William Casper Kettering, Warrenborough PA Deed Vol. G., pp 255

3.  Deed of Sale filed 11 Sep 1838; CASPER KETTERING purshases from JOHN F. DAVIS and REBECCA DAVIS, his wife, Lot #38 in Warren Borough - consideration $225

4.  US Federal Census, 1860, Princeton, Bureau Illinois; NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

5. US Federal Census, 1870; Census Place: Cass, Cass, Iowa; Roll: M593_380; Page: 68A; Image: 140; Family History Library Film: 545879.

6.  Deed of Sale (Multiple) Warrenborough PA

Vol Q page 142, 4, Feb 1858 (John Kettering to John F. Davis, his share of lots #38 and #58)

Vol Q page 308 1. March 1858 (Isabelle McLaughlin to John F. Davis, her share of lots #38 and #58)

Vol Q page 512, 8 Jan 1859 (Hannah Kettering to John F. Davis, her share of lots #38 and #58)

Vol S page 16, 30 Oct 1860 (Casper Kettering to John F. Davis, his share of lots #38 and #58)

Vol T page 53, 9 Jun 1862 (Mary E. Kettering to John F. Davis, her share of lots #38 and #58)

7.  Tax Sale Records, July 1863

"Whereas JACOB KETTERING, whereabouts unknown, one of the heirs of CASPER KETTERING, ecd., has been delinquent in his taxes on Lots #58 and #38; therefore the Commissioners of Warren Co., ordered them up for sale for taxes - purchased by John P. Davis, for the share of the tax due by the said Jacob Kettering." 

Additional support is obtained from the US Federal Census rolls from 1840 – 1900; city registries, personal recollections and family photo albums.


Linked toCasper Kettering; Jacob Kettering; William Casper Kettering

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