Well we made it to Ohio and back again without mishap or incident. It was something of a whirlwind tour and I sort of feel like I have returned from one of those tours “if it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium”. Why? Put simply: we were in Ohio from Sunday afternoon to Thursday afternoon and visited 10 cemeteries. Only 9 if a repeat visit to one is only counted as one cemetery. My sister is a saint! And we didn’t do anything on Thursday but get ourselves to the airport, return the rental car, and travel.

So here are some of the highlights of where we went and what we saw there. The first day, Sunday, we found the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. It is a huge beautiful cemetery that is also an arboretum and is a National Historic Landmark. Spring Grove is where my immediate Coffin relatives are buried along with one of the Justice lines and those who married into the family. We were lucky enough to run into a once-a-month tram tour as we reached the visitor center, so we jumped on and were treated to a tour of part of the cemetery with a docent providing some history and talking about various kinds of headstones or memorials and the symbols used. It was a perfect introduction and I learned a little too. One of the sites we passed was the stone for Salmon P. Chase, which I had wanted to see because I have started reading Goodwin’s book on Lincoln, A Team of Rivals. After the tour we went wandering on our own and managed to find most of the family, including gg-grandfather Z. B. Coffin and his wife, my g-grandmother Katie Salt, and ggggrandparents Jesse and Susan Justice. We also found Levi Coffin’s headstone – he was an abolitionist and deeply involved in the Underground Railroad.

Monday was the biggest cemetery day. We were in two before lunch and 3 (or 4 if the old and new Calvary cemeteries count as separate) after lunch. We also had a great time sitting talking and looking at pictures with a cousin. I now have a really good reason for needing a Flip-Pal scanner. I would have loved to scan a number of the photos she had. After the photos we all went cemetery walking. This is when we found the memorial for

John Salt

John and Nancy Salt, son of our immigrant ancestor Edward Salt, in the Old Calvary Cemetery in Washington Township. Our cousin told us that there had originally been a separate flat stone for Nancy (who died first) that included where she was born and other genealogical information, but at some point it disappeared.

Tuesday we were up and at it again. We stopped first at the Visitor Center in Batavia (the county seat) and got some good information as well as directions to the Batavia Cemetery. We couldn’t resist going to see it, even though I don’t know of any relatives there. The weather was beautiful and it was a good day for walking a cemetery. We moved on to the Old Settler’s Cemetery in Bethel and found relatives as well as some good symbols and poems on the stones. My sister’s camera battery gave out and she was busy copying information while I took as many pictures as I could. After lunch we went back to the Tate Township Cemetery (where we’d been on Monday) to look for some of the other relatives and spent several hours in the sun (which was not a great idea – I sunburned my arms having not thought to put on sunscreen). With lots of walking and Margaret contributing her amazing ability to spot names, we found many of the people on my list. We finished the day with a stop at the County Library branch in Bethel, enjoying the cooler air, and browsing their local history/genealogy section.

Our last full day there we went back to Batavia and the Visitor Center, and stopped at one of the houses on the Freedom Trail (Underground Railroad and abolitionist sites). We spent most of the morning in the County Library branch in Batavia (the Doris Wood branch) where the Clermont County Genealogical Society keeps their collection of materials. Learned some more history of the area and read about several of our families, sticking to materials that are not available anywhere else. I found a manuscript about one of my Justice lines, that I didn’t know existed. I also found a copy of a diary that I did know about but I think is a different version (at least seems to include material I don’t remember).

The jackpot on Wednesday was visiting with Boothby cousins and being taken to see the old Salt homestead, the house my father was born in. We had seen the house forty or more years ago when it was not being lived in, and knew it had been renovated since then and recently for sale. Our cousin pulled into the driveway so we could see better, and there were people home so we got out. It turns out that a young couple recently bought the house and 40 acres and are happily settling in to do some organic farming along with their full time jobs. The woman was home and showed us around the whole inside, asking questions based on what she had been told about the house. They are interested in old houses and want to know this one’s history. We tried to answer her questions when we could and I hope she is going to send me a computer file of some of the materials she was given about the house. It’s nice to think of a young couple and their daughter enjoying the place, and appreciating the house’s history.

I’m getting ready for a trip to southwestern Ohio with my sister, who is a reliable cemetery

Ready to go!

sidekick. We’ve been traveling together occasionally for a lo-ong time. It is appropriate that I post this today, the day after Father’s Day in the US, since it is my father’s side of the family that we will be researching (and meeting). There are several cousins who I have met briefly but whom my sister has not. I am already connected and making plans with two of these. And I’m hoping for the 3d, although I think he has had significant health problems and may not be up for company.

My sister and I met for lunch on Friday to talk and catch up and make some plans. Long-distance (she lives in northern New Hampshire and I live in Massachusetts) we have put together the basics to get ourselves there and have a car and a place to lay our heads. But we needed to touch base in person and pin down details. I also needed to start refreshing her knowledge of these family lines, since we have only traveled to places for my mother’s lines in the last few years.

Here’s the plan, in a nutshell. There are several cemeteries I want to check out personally and try to get pictures of family headstones in. There are also 3 houses that my father lived in at different times in his

House at Saltair, from Carrie B. Salt’s scrapbook

life, that I want to see – if they are still there. The house he was born in, in Saltair Ohio, I know is still there. The owner just recently sold it. This is what it looked like when he was born there.

And there are the cousins to see, on both the Salt and Boothby sides. Not closer than a second cousin, but family! Interesting to me that my father never spoke of any Boothby relatives except maybe his grandmother who he lived with off and on. I don’t really know if he knew any of his Boothby cousins or uncles, although at least one uncle and his family must have lived close-by. I start to wonder if that was his mother’s doing, or his relatives on the Salt side.

Besides seeing the houses my father probably lived in, I really want to do some cemetery-walking and see the headstones for the family. I know there are at least two very old cemeteries and at least one more recent that contain a number of the Salt family members. I don’t have a proper “cemetery exploring kit” to take on the plane with me but am putting together my list of names and locations as well as the list of equipment to have along.

The equipment grows every year, in my experience. Let’s see, I need my cell phone and bluetooth earpiece and the charger for that. I need my trusty pocket-size digital camera and the extra battery, and probably should take the charger for those batteries. I have had bad experiences in the past with this camera and batteries when I wasn’t prepared to change batteries! And although my sister will also undoubtedly have her camera, I hate to

Partial pile of equipment to take

have to rely on hers. And then the question of binoculars – do I need to take them or not? (At least they don’t require a charger.) And my handy-dandy digital recorder. I might think about talking into it at the cemeteries as an additional way to have information captured. And the cousins might agree to tell me stories. The recorder at least will operate on a single non-rechargeable battery. I think that is all the equipment I will need. Oh wait, not for the cemetery, but for traveling I will want my eReader. And its charger should probably come along too. And of course I need to take my netbook computer along. I don’t yet have an iPad, although both Judy and my husband are working hard to convince me that I need one. The picture doesn’t show either my netbook or my cell phone (which I used to take the picture), or the binoculars that I am debating with myself about. I think I might need a separate suitcase for all of this equipment.

This doesn’t include the other things I need to take, like clothes and a toothbrush and a book or two (I like to read real books as well as ebooks). And sunscreen. And…

Entrance, Ohio Military Institute

Having recently written about my mother’s high school experiences, I decided I should do the same about my father. I don’t have a copy of his high school yearbook. I just discovered that the school (which was a military institute) did have yearbooks while he was a student, but I haven’t yet found a copy. What I do have is several pages from his mother’s scrapbook showing pictures and handwritten notes about her son.

As I have written before, my paternal grandmother lost her first husband and then her second within less than 10 years. She had few job skills and little way to provide for herself and her son. She had moved from the family farm into Felicity, Ohio and that is where my father started school and went through elementary and junior high school. At the same time, she was frequently away from home doing nursing jobs and her mother, Elizabeth Boothby, took care of my father. Thus, the two of them showed up in Felicity Ohio in the 1930 federal census while my grandmother was in Cincinnati living in a tuberculosis sanatorium as a nurse when the census was taken. My grandmother was apparently exhibiting increasing mental problems during this time period, of what variety I am not sure. She was overly attached to my father, that I do know.

Clifford B. Salt, 1931

At any rate, when my father got to be high school age, several people (including a physician my grandmother worked for and my father’s aunt) recommended strongly that my father be sent to a local boarding school rather than attending high school in Felicity and living at home with his mother and/or grandmother. So it was arranged that he would attend the Ohio Military Institute in Cincinnati. In September 1931, 3 months shy of 14 years old, he started high school at Ohio Military Institute.

The scrapbook record shows that my father joined the fraternity, Alpha Chi Sigma, played basketball for several years,

Basketball team, 1932-33


and was a good student who progressed through the ranks. I haven’t yet found out anything about the fraternity he joined, besides the name. There is a college fraternity of that name which is a chemistry and chemical engineering society but I don’t know that this is the same one. Based on Wikipedia, there do seem to be two different ones, but the high school fraternity isn’t any further described.

Newsclippings included in Carrie’s scrapbook show that my father won scholarship honors (not sure what that means exactly) and was promoted to

Award for best-drilled company


cadet captain. His graduating year he was selected best all-round cadet officer, and his company was the best-drilled. My grandmother was clearly very proud of him.

And now I understand where his stated activities and interests on his college application came from (“military drills and sports” as well as swimming, basketball and reading). I always thought the military drills sounded somewhat at odds with the college he applied to – Antioch College.  The interests in sports, especially swimming, and in reading were shared by my parents and likely some of the first things that drew them together.

Class of 1935

Judy asked me a couple of questions about the post I wrote about Ruie or my Aunt Susan (as I grew up thinking of her). The questions were good ones, and I decided to write the update, or the rest of the story as I know it.

Aunt Susan as she looked when I was young

I knew my Aunt Susan to the extent any child knows an adult in her life, especially one who does not live close by. We lived in the Midwest and she and Uncle Bill lived in North Carolina and Florida. So I knew her mostly from being told about her, and from gifts and cards. This was long enough ago that there were many obstacles to communication for family living far apart. Long distance telephone calls were only made in emergencies and maybe occasionally for holidays. There was no Internet or email or Skype or texting. So we wrote letters and sent cards through the mail – what we now call snail mail. Occasionally they would travel to visit us or, more rarely, we would visit them. My family’s first real traveling vacation was to North Carolina to visit them.

Aunt Susan (which is what my father always called her; she was my great aunt) had been part of my father’s life from his birth. She was 25 years old when he was born, and was serving in the Army in South Carolina. So, presumably, she didn’t actually meet him until he was a year old. However, from that time forward she was an active presence in his life. From my grandmother’s scrapbook and photo album and from Aunt Susan’s photo album come a number of pictures showing the two of them. This one was from my grandmother’s scrapbook.

Aunt Susan and a young Clifford

Aunt Susan not only visited them, but she took my father traveling with her on occasion. I don’t know for certain, but I think the first trip they made may have been when my father was 10.  From my grandmother’s scrapbook we know in the summer of 1929 Aunt Susan took him to New England, probably for historic and family reasons (the Coffin side had come from New England to Ohio).  He would have been about 10 and a half. My father saw the ocean, and swam in it, for the first time on that trip.

Aunt Susan also had growing concerns about my grandmother’s mental state as my father was growing up. She kept in touch with the physician who my grandmother did practical nursing for, and she helped make the decision that my father should go away to school when he was ready for high school. He was sent to the Ohio Military Institute, in Cincinnati, which was not very far away but was a residential school. I’m certain that this was difficult for my grandmother and probably my father (although he didn’t talk about it).

It was to Aunt Susan that my father went when, at the end of his first year at college, it became clear that my grandmother could not live on her own at home any longer. Aunt Susan was very supportive and helpful in this difficult time. Her nursing experience and knowledge must have come in very handy in helping know what needed to be done, and who to contact, etc. From this point on, it is clear that Aunt Susan took responsibility for my father, standing in as a parent.

A year or two before this, Uncle Henry Coffin had died and it was his death that changed life for Aunt Susan financially. Uncle Henry never married and he had taken financial responsibility for his sisters (Kate Coffin Salt being one) and their children. With this he also took responsibility for dictating much about how they lived their lives.

It very likely was the death of Uncle Henry that allowed Aunt Susan to buy her house in Florida. And it was certainly his death and the deaths of both his sisters that finally allowed Susan to decide to marry. Her remaining cousins did not have the same authority the older generation had.

Uncle Bill and Aunt Susan about the time of their marriage

So did she live happily ever after? I think so. In general, she and Uncle Bill seemed to be pretty happy together, although of course we didn’t see much of them. I’m sure that there were adjustments required, as for any marriage and especially if you have been used to being independent as both of them had. They were married for 35 years. Susan gave up her nursing job, I think probably about the time she and Bill decided to marry. However, I think it is telling that she kept her original nursing license from Kentucky active into the 1970s, when she was into her 80s.

In continuing to clean out a cardboard box of pictures, albums, and papers that mostly came from my great-aunt Susan, I started thinking about her. She was a big influence in my father’s life and I am curious about her life, so I put this post together, in a first take of how she lived. (That box is now emptied out and off my office floor.)

Susan Ruhama Salt (known as Ruie by the family) was born 28 Mar 1893 in Saltair, Ohio to John Clifford Salt and Kate Coffin Salt. She was the youngest of three, two of who survived to adulthood. Her brother, Henry, was my grandfather. Aunt Susan, as we always knew her, was our stand-in grandmother. How that came to be is part of a family story replete with secrets and various characters that my mother spent years trying to piece together and understand.

Ruie and Henry (both of whom were born after the death of their older sister Anna Catherine before she was 2 years old) were raised by their mother Kate alone from just months after Susan was born. The story about their father, Cliff, was that he had sustained a head injury while cutting ice one winter, which later resulted in his being probated to the state mental hospital. His wife Kate was named his guardian, and he lived the rest of his life there as far as is known. Kate and the children continued to live at the family’s farm until Henry was old enough to be out on his own. Then Kate and Ruie moved into Bethel, a town not very far from their farm so that Ruie could go to the high school in town. Ruie was very studious and made very good grades according to her second cousin. She also played in the all girls’ band (I don’t know what she played). She had a sweetheart while she was in high school but his family moved away from the area so “nothing came of that”. Kate did not approved of Susan’s having boyfriends, for some reason, and she seems not to have had any serious ones after high school.

After Ruie graduated from high school, Kate wanted to move back across the Ohio River to Newport, Kentucky, closer to her father and sister. It was decided by the family that Ruie should study nursing. Although in the beginning she didn’t really want to, she was sent to nursing school at the Speers Memorial Hospital. This hospital was chosen by the family because it was nearby, and because the head was a relative of one of the family’s long-time servants, Sophie Kahrwald. I assume that the reason for sending her to learn nursing was that her mother Kate and she were pretty poor and dependent on Kate’s family. Ruie, by having a profession and ability to work, could help out.

So Ruie, who started going by Susan about this time, went to nursing school. In the beginning it was hard going for her, but she was encouraged to persist and eventually she enjoyed it. The year before she graduated, the Ohio River flooded many of the towns in northern Kentucky and southern Ohio. Here is what the setting looked like.

Speers Memorial Hospital, flooded

In fact, this was part of the huge natural catastrophe of Easter weekend 1913, which included flooding across all or parts of 15 states plus tornadoes. (Here is a site that describes this major disaster.)

Graduating nurses, 1914 (Susan Salt on far right standing)

Susan graduated from nursing school in 1914.

As a young teen I would have loved it if she had been a Frontier Nurse, riding horseback to visit patients in the backwoods, but that isn’t what she did. She worked at the Hospital for several years, and was in the Army Reserves and called to active duty in the Army Nurse’s Corps when World War I created the need for additional nurses. She didn’t serve overseas, but served at the base hospital at Camp Jackson in South Carolina from 1918-1919. She then came back to northern Kentucky and continued to do hospital work. In 1931 she did the course in anesthesia at The Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland and then worked in operating rooms.

Scrubbing up in the OR

Eventually she took on managerial roles and she may have ended up as the superintendent of nurses at the hospital. I am not clear whether she always worked at Speers or whether she moved on to a hospital in Cincinnati. My mother always said she was at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, but so far I have found no evidence of this.

I know that when my father was a college student (in the late 1930s), she was living and working in the Cincinnati/Newport area. She had lived with her mother, Kate, until her death in 1928 and then on her own. She was quite independent for the times, working and living on her own, having a car and traveling. She took my father on several extensive trips of the U.S., both when he was a youngster and when a college student. She stood in for his mother both before and after Grandma Carrie was institutionalized.

In 1939, Susan bought a house in Daytona Beach, Florida. Her Coffin relatives had a house there, which she had been able to spend about 6 weeks each winter in. I think it was in Florida that she first met Bill Liverett, who was the chauffeur and handyman for the Coffin family. The family objected to Susan having any relationship with him. Bill left their employ and joined the Navy, serving from 1942-1945, and after he returned he and Susan married in 1946. By this time the older family members who had objected, and had often ruled Susan’s life, were all dead. My father had married and they had started a family. She was finally freer than ever before to make a choice for herself.

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