Who Do You Think You Are – Walter Lewis Calbetzer?
By Pamela Pattison Lash
In August 2010, Sandy Masters, a direct descendant of Walter Lewis Calbetzer, appeared at the Williams County Public Library Local History and Genealogy Annex in Bryan, OH to discover who were Walter’s parents. She knew he had been reared as the “son” of Elias and Fanny Silvernail Calbetzer of Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI, but she suspected he was the real son of an unknown set of parents. I happened to be doing research there and when she mentioned Grindle as a possible surname, I mentioned to Jane Kelly at the facility that I knew something about an Enoch Grindle. Well, the upshot is that Sandy and I began a conversation and through extensive research I was able to supply a connection for her. From that accidental meeting I was able to piece together this lineage of Walter.
On 20 Dec 1871 Walter Lewis Grindle was born in Madison Twp, Williams Co, OH (Williams Co, OH Births v1 p34); his parents were Enoch Grindle and Tena Cox. Let’s first examine his paternal side. Abraham Grindle (1813 PA – 1887 West Unity, Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH; bur Floral Grove Cem) and his wife Susannah Gill (1816, Somerset Co, PA-1890 West Unity, Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH) were found in the following census records: 1840 Mohican Twp, Wayne Co, OH, 1850 Plain Twp, Wayne Co, OH p362A (under Grindler), 1860 Plain Twp, Wayne Co, OH p261, 1870 Amboy, Hillsdale Co, MI p214A (under Allen Grindle), and 1880 Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH p512A. Their children were an unknown female, William, David, Amanda, James, and Enoch.
Enoch Grindle was born on 19 Sept 1847 in Plain Twp, Wayne Co, OH. He remained with his parents until the Civil War began when he enlisted in Co D 195th Ohio Infantry on 8 Feb 1865 until 18 Dec 1865. After the war the Grindles moved to Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI where Enoch took on the vocation of mason. Enoch married Alwilda D. Venoah in Williams Co, OH on 16 July 1871. Alwilda, daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Venoah, was born in NY on 17 May 1848. The couple later became the parents of Nellie, William H, Irena, and Levi Grindle.
Next we’ll take peak at Walter’s maternal side. John Cox, the son of Jacob and Esther Middary Cox, first married Eliza (surname unknown – born c1825- died bet 1860 and 1867 in Williams Co) c1846 in OH. According to the 1850 Gorham Twp, Fulton Co, OH federal census p344A the couple lived with John’s parents. They appeared in the 1860 Millcreek Twp, Williams Co, OH federal census Pioneer p210A as John 33 PA, Eliza 35 PA, Jacob 13 OH, Abram 11 OH, William 10 OH, John 8 OH, Tena 6 OH, Daniel 3 OH, and Susannah 2 OH.
After the death of his wife Eliza, John Cox married Anna L. Thompson Borton in Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI on 16 April 1867 and they became the parents of Viola and Arminda Cox. Anna L. Thompson was born on 2 Oct 1829 in Erie Co, PA and had married Darling Haines Borton, son of Daniel and Tabitha Rodman Borton, in Defiance Co, OH on 27 Feb 1847. They had seven children. Darling died on 19 Sept 1866 in Amboy, MI. Interestingly, one of John’s sons, William Henry, married one of Anna’s daughters, Margaret. The family next appeared in the 1870 Madison Twp, Williams Co, OH federal census p114A.
A key piece of information is found in the Civil and Criminal Court Records of Williams Co, OH, from Journal 8 p48, on 5 June 1872. Remember prior to this Tena had given birth to Walter Lewis on 20 Dec 1871, approximately five months after Enoch’s marriage to Alwilda Venoah. John Cox had appeared in court as guardian for Tena M. Cox in a bastardy case brought against Enoch Grindle. Enoch was found guilty and a maintenance schedule was set whereby he had to pay Tena $600 for the care of their child. If he defaulted, the court would award her $1200. Enoch refused and was put in jail; later he declared insolvency.
Tena M. Cox was now in a difficult spot. What was she to do? We know she (or someone) gave up Walter Lewis to the Calbetzers. There are several reasons for this. She probably wanted to provide a safe home for her son but she may also have desired to put some distance between Walter and herself as he would be a constant reminder of his father Enoch. Perhaps her father, John Cox, refused to assist in rearing her child; remember Tena was a single, unemployed young woman. Another possibility for Tena giving up her son may be due to her own marriage ten months after Walter’s birth to John Sloan on 20 Oct 1872 in Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI; he was a resident of Ransom, MI; she was a resident of OH; he was 39 born in NY; she was 19 born in Fulton Co, OH. John had been married previously and had at least two children, Francis and Melissa Sloan. Together John and Tena M. Sloan became the parents of Orly/Orrin Orlando Sloan b 1873 in MI, Herbert A b c1875, and Norman C b c1878.
In 1875 Enoch and his brother James donated one dollar each to the Church of God movement in West Unity, Ohio. According to the 1880 Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH federal census p512A Enoch and his family were enumerated as Enoch 32 OH-PA-PA, Alwilda 32 NY-NY-NY, Nellie 6 OH, William H 4 OH, Irena 2 OH, Levi 6/12 OH b Dec 1879. They lived next door to Enoch’s parents and brother James. Wife Alwilda Grindle died on 18 Sept 1898 in Butler, DeKalb Co, IN at the age of 48 Y (The Butler Record, Butler, DeKalb Co, IN, 2 Oct 1896). Her obit stated she was the mother of seven children (four sons and three daughters) with five surviving. Her passing included the comment that the family kept the gold handles and the nameplate from the coffin.
From the 1900 Center Twp, Grant Co, IN federal census p6B we learn that Enoch, a widower, lived in a National Military Home for Disable Veterans; he was a resident there as early as 1897; he suffered from rheumatism. We also learn from DVS records that at age 51 his description was 5’8”, ruddy complexion, blue eyes, and grey hair; he could read and write. His nearest relative was son William Grindle of Butler, IN. Enoch was a plasterer from Butler, IN. Online records show he was in six different DVS facilities from 1897 to 1911. Enoch died on 16 Feb 1911 from gangrene of left lung and foot along with other complications at DVS Home in Milwaukee, WI and was buried in Wood National Cemetery Section 18 Site 106.
While all this was happening, Tena Cox Grindle Sloan’s father, John experienced some marital problems of his own. From the 1880 Madison Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p473, the Cox family appeared as John 52 PA-PA-PA, Anna L 50 PA-PA-PA weaver, Viola L 12 OH, and Arminda L 10 OH. The following information comes from the Williams County Civil and Criminal Court Records: John Cox v Anna L. Thompson Borton Cox (Journal 13 p473 – 2 Apr 1886; Roll 43 case number 1565 – 24 Nov 1885). Anna Cox charged that John was harsh, angry, and violent to her, often using profanity; he would choke and beat her. On 16 May 1885 he abandoned her and lived separately, providing no support. Anna said she was a resident of Wms Co for 18 years; she was 57 years old and in poor health, unable to perform manual labor. She was destitute and had no fuel. She lived on Lot 61, Pioneer, OH. She told the court that John owned in fee simple 100 acres of land in Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI plus Lot 63 in Pioneer. He owned a considerable amount of livestock. Anna wanted a divorce and reasonable alimony. The case was dismissed, but there must have been a later judgment as on 17 June 1890 in Amboy, Hillsdale Co, MI, John Cox married Amanda Shaffer. In the 1900 Bridgewater Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p20, the Cox family was listed as John Dec 1827 (72) PA married 10 years with no children, Amanda Sept 1845 (54) OH-PA-PA. Anna died in Malta, Montana c1904.
So, what happened to Tena M Cox Sloan? The following census records show what life experiences Tena had:
1880 Amboy, Hillsdale Co, MI federal census p39A John Sloan 44 NY-NY-NY, wife Tina M 26 OH-PA-PA, Frances E dau 17 MI-NY-PA, Melissa I 15 dau MI-NY-PA, Orrin A 6 son MI-NY-OH, Herbert A, and Norman C 1.
1900 Coldwater, Isabella Co, MI federal census p8 B Herbert A Sloan 25 (April 1875) MI-NY-MI, his wife Margaret, son Milford, and father John Sloan, a widower, 50 (Sept 1849) NY-NY-NY.
1900 Pleasant Twp, Steuben Co, IN federal census p13A Tena M Sloan 47 (Sept 1852) OH-PA-PA servant for Theodore and Elizabeth Wood; Tena was mother of five living children.
(Tena Sloan married Arthur Reed, son of Jacob H and Eleanor Wabruth Reed, in Coldwater Twp, Isabella Co, MI on 11 Nov 1906; her father was listed as John Cox; he was 39Y and she was 53Y.)
1910 Madison Twp, Williams Co, OH p3A Tena M Shan 57 OH-PA-PA sister to Daniel Cox; she was listed as divorced and mother of 4 children, all living, and a washerwoman for a private family.
1920 Coldwater Twp, Isabella Co, MI federal census p3B Tena Sloan mother of Herbert A Sloan, a widow, 66 MI-MI-MI.
So what happened to Walter Lewis Grindle after his birth? Here is some information on Walter’s adopted parents. Elias Calbetzer, son of Peter and Elizabeth Catherine Waltz Calbetzer, was born on 17 Oct 1829 in Wayne Co, OH; he died in Hillsdale, MI on 12 Feb 1916 and was buried in the Evergreen Cem, Ransom Twp. Wife Fanny Silvernail, daughter of Coonrod and Mary Miller Silvernail, was born on 4 Sept 1836 in Geauga Co, OH and died on 7 Oct 1916 in Hillsdale; she was laid to rest almost eight months after her husband’s death. The couple was childless in the 1870 Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI federal census p218B. From the 1880 Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, OH federal census p42D one finds the Calbetzer (under Colpetser) family enumerated as Elias 50 OH-PA-PA, Fanny M 44 OH-Baden-Baden, and son Walter 8 OH-OH-OH. In the 1900 Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI federal census p42, Elias and Fanny Calbetzer were enumerated as Elias 70 (Oct 1829 OH-PA-PA) farmer married 33Y and Fanny M 63 (Sept 1836 OH-NY-NY) mother of one deceased child. They were married in MI on 2 April 1866. The deceased child was not Walter.
Walter Lewis Calbetzer was enumerated in the 1900 Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI federal census p6B (under Calbertzer) as Walter 28 born Dec 1871 OH-OH-OH; he was married c1893 to Maudie M. 25 (Dec 1874) OH-OH-OH, the mother of three children, none living. By the 1910 Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI federal census p7A Walter and Maudie had three children – Weslie T, Rachel B, and George E. The story began with Sandy Master’s search for Walter Lewis Calbetzer’s lineage. Sandy wanted to know the true circumstances of his adoption so she now has a plethora of records to pursue.