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.

I had a comment from another Salt about my brick wall Edward and thought I would follow up on a few thoughts and finds. Interestingly, my commenter also has an Edward Salt who is a dead-end for her. I should probably get in touch with her and ask about the name. And I will take her hint that many Salt families came from Staffordshire.

As I mentioned, the early members of my family sometimes got listed as Salt and sometimes as Salts. So, for example, my Edward Salts was on the 1787 tax list in Berkeley county, Virginia. Listed with no males between ages 16-21 and no Blacks either below the age of 16 or above age 16, 3 horses (including mares, colts and mules), and 3 Cattle. Actually, the 1790 enumeration also listed him as Salts, as did at least some of the tax lists in Kentucky. However, going back as far as my grandfather, it has consistently been Salt not Salts.

So what’s in a name? Is it Salt or Salts? My take on it for now is that in the early days it didn’t make as much difference to people how the name was spelled and it probably doesn’t matter. I should remember to always look for both.

And in a brief digression, have I mentioned how difficult the Salt name is to search because

Salt Lake City from our hotel window

you get a lot of Salt Lake City and a lot of salt (as a necessary of life) and a lot of Salt River or Creek or . . . you get the picture. Depending on what database you are searching it isn’t always possible to specify that these other items should be left out of the results. Even when you can specify, I don’t always remember to do so. Sigh.

Ok, back to my family. I can’t tell yet whether the families named Salts and the family named Salt are related/the same family. In the early days the names seem to have been used interchangeably. In more recent times the record keepers are more strict and we have all standardized the spelling of our names. So in 2011, the Salt family is never listed as Salts; I assume the same is true for the Salts family. People sometimes don’t think they have heard me correctly when I tell them my last name is Salt, but that is another issue. And I have discovered that saying “Salt (pause) as in pepper” usually works.

There is an interesting similarity between a Salts family and my Salt family, going back to 1782, that keeps me wondering. For example, between 1782 and 1789 there are records of a Thomas Salts living in Hampshire county, Virginia [images]. Hampshire county was adjacent to Berkeley county where my Edward has been found in the same time period. Then, Thomas moved his family to Ross county (later Vinton county) Ohio in about 1814 or so, showing up on tax lists from 1817 on. The Edward Salts family had migrated from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Kentucky and then to Clermont county, Ohio, just a few years earlier. The Thomas Salts family had sons named both John and Edward. Admittedly these are very common names, but there were no Thomases in the Edward Salt family. There is no Salt family tradition of a relationship, or any evidence like letters or diary entries that refer to that “other” Salts family.

A genealogy of the Thomas Salts family written by Walter Salts (1978, accessed on described a family tradition that the family was of Irish origin, although Salts is more commonly an English name. Mr. Salts speculated that the family might have lived for some period of time in Ireland on the migration that eventually brought them to the New World. There is also reported to be a family tradition that the family came from the Channel Islands, although Mr. Salts reported no success in locating any evidence to support that tradition. Interestingly, he commented on the existence of Thomas’s contemporary, Edward Salt, and mentioned our family tradition that Edward had married an Irish bride and left England as a result. He had found no connection between the two, Thomas and Edward, at the time of his writing the genealogy although they lived in relatively close proximity (both geographically and temporally) in Virginia.

The tradition of being Irish or having married someone who was Irish is one I need to follow more carefully. I’m not sure why marrying an “Irish lady” in about the 1770s would be grounds for disinheriting as is my family tradition. Did Edward go to Ireland as a young man (for who knows what reason) and come back with a wife? Did his wife, whose first name was Mary, get to England from Ireland before they met? I have started, with, to begin looking at possible births for Edward in England and marriages in the right time frame. So far I don’t have any good hits, and no idea what his parents’ names were. Any ideas from out there would be very welcome!

In the hopes that somebody who reads this might have new information to provide, I am listing my brickwall ancestor Edward Salt and what I know, or want to know, about him. Just putting this information together in one place has been helpful.

Known Information:

* in 1781 he was granted land in Berkeley county, Virginia by Thomas, Lord Fairfax, and was named as being “of Berkeley County”.

Grant to Edward Salts, Berkeley County, Virginia, 1781

* in 1790 he and his family were in western Pennsylvania (Georges Township, Fayette, Pennsylvania), by the federal census [If my list of children is accurate, and his wife was still alive, one female is missing from the enumeration]. With him were two other males and a total of 3 females.

Pennsylvania 1790 census

* he was given a certificate acknowledging his having provided goods/services in the American Revolution in Virginia. [I know I have copies of this, I wonder where I put them?]

* Innocent Salt listed her father Edward when she married William Frazier in Bourbon county, Kentucky in 1794. [Was she a minor at that point, and so needed permission to marry?]

* he was listed (as Edward Salts) on a tax list for Bracken county, Kentucky, dated 22 Nov 1799. [Does this mean he owned land in Bracken county on that date?]

* in 1813 his estate was administered in Clermont county, Ohio. [He died intestate and I have the papers that were filed.]

* John and Edward Salt were listed on the estate papers of Edward Salt.

What I Want To Know:

* who were Edward Salt’s parents and siblings?

* when and where was he born?

* who did he marry, and when and where?

* when (and from where) did he migrate to the Colonies (and was he first in Virginia or someplace else)?

* was he related to the Thomas Salts who was in the same part of Virginia about the same time? [Edward’s name has been listed in various places as Edward Salts as has one of his sons, John. One of our cousins called the family Salts. Another cousin’s line took to spelling the name Sault. It seems that most of the family lines have settled on Salt since at least the time of my great grandfather.]

* who were his children and when were they born? [I have a list of 5 children – 2 sons and 3 daughters – with approximated birthdates, and each of them at some point listed Virginia as place of birth on a census. These names were in a manuscript compiled by relatives, probably in the early 1900s. I am not sure where these names came from.]

Family Myths:

* he was born in Birmingham, Yorkshire, England [which cannot be] or in Berkshire, England

* he married an Irish woman and that led to his needing to migrate to the Colonies (he was disowned)

* he served in the American Revolution and was awarded land in the Virginia Military District in Ohio as a result [he did, apparently, provide goods/services, and son John bought the rights to land from a soldier]

* he migrated from Suffolk County, Virginia to Crab Orchard, Kentucky in 1790

* he built the first cabin in Franklin Township [Clermont County, Ohio] about 1796

Since I have written about my great-grandmother Boothby, I decided I would also write about my great-grandmother in the Salt family. This is about Katie Justice Coffin Salt. Some other time I will write about her parents, and more about the Salt family. I started out to write about her mother, Catherine Elizabeth Justice, earlier and got so distracted by a number of other things that I wrote about that instead. One of my biggest brickwalls is the ancestor in the Salt family who migrated to this country, and I intend to write about him in the future.

Katie Justice Coffin was born in Newport, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, on November 26, 1852 to Catherine Justice Coffin and Zebulon B. Coffin. Her older sister was 12 and her brother was 6. I don’t know much about her growing up years. The Federal population census of 1860, when Katie was 8, shows that the household then consisted of her father and mother, her brother Henry, 2 females listed as “domestic” both born in Ireland and 1 male domestic who was born in Germany. Katie’s older sister Jessie, already married, was living with her husband in the next house. Her grandmother Susan Justice, uncle Harrison Justice, and Anthony Burton (adopted into the family group) lived on the other side of Jessie. Anthony was adopted as a boy (probably not formally) first by Susan Justice, and he lived the rest of his life with various family members. He never married. He worked for Zebulon in his grocery business and served in the Civil War.

In the 1870 Federal census, Katie is not enumerated with her family and I have not yet found her anywhere else. She would have been 17, and her mother had died 4 years previously.  Her recently widowed father, Zebulon was living with his mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and Anthony Burton with his older daughter’s family listed as a separate family group (possibly living upstairs), and three domestic servants. Interestingly, one of these servants, a young woman named Sophie Karewald, spent the rest of her life working for various family members. My current guess is that Katie was off visiting a friend or relatives when the 1870 census was taken, and either not listed or more likely was mis-indexed. By 1880, the households had again reconfigured. Katie and her widowed father lived with Jessie’s family.

Katie Coffin, circa 1880

Next door lived Katie’s grandmother Justice and uncle with 2 servants. Anthony Burton was not living with either family at the time of the census.

In May 1883 Katie married John Clifford Salt and went to live with him on his family farm in Saltair, Clermont County, Ohio.

John Clifford Salt, circa 1880

His mother also lived with them on the farm. This was across the Ohio River and about 30 miles east from Cincinnati. Cliff and Katie were second cousins on the Justice family side. His mother Ann was first cousin to her mother Catherine. I don’t know how they met originally. Not only were they cousins, but they probably knew each other from a young age because there was a certain amount of visiting by the young people to the “country” (from the Cincinnati area to the more rural area where the Salt family farm was). Living out in the country was a big change for Katie.

At the time they married, Katie was 30 which seems relatively old to be marrying for the first time, in that era. I never heard any family stories about why she didn’t marry at a younger age, Perhaps she felt responsible to run the household for her widowed father.

Katie and Cliff had 3 children: Anna (who died before she was 2), Henry (my grandfather), and Susan. When the children were very young Cliff developed mental problems and was committed to a state hospital in Dayton, Ohio. In 1893, just 3 months after the birth of her daughter Susan, Katie was made his guardian and he lived the rest of his life institutionalized. A cousin was told and repeated the story that he was cutting ice to put in the icehouse and slipped and fell, injuring his head. He developed mental problems after that and it was thought that the accident had contributed to his problems. I have never heard any good description of what his mental problems were. Cousin Ruhama’s mother, who was a first cousin of Cliff’s, would go visit him when she could, traveling via the electric trolley to a train. Ruhama also said that she had been told that in the hospital he had charge of the bakery, and generally was fine, but that sometimes “the pressure would build up and he would ask to be confined.“ One time he was not confined quickly enough and he threw dough all over the kitchen even onto the ceiling.

Katie and the 2 children continued to live on the farm,

Katie, Henry, Ruie Salt

with her mother-in-law, until Henry was old enough to be out on his own. This picture shows the three of them, either at the farm or perhaps visiting in Newport. It is one of my favorites because one of my brothers looked so much like Henry at a similar age. Once Henry was out of the house, sometime before 1910, Katie and Susan (who was known in the family as Ruie) moved into Bethel for Susan to attend the high school there. By 1920 the two of them were across the river in Newport, Kentucky and Susan had finished nursing school.

Katie had few financial resources and needed support from her children and her brother. She lived the rest of her life in Newport, and died November 1, 1928. Susan lived with her until her death, and only then did she leave Kentucky and later marry. While there are no mysteries about Katie as there are about some of my other female ancestors, with the exception of where she was in 1870 for the census, there is also little that describes her as a person. I am left wondering what she was like, how she spent her time, what she enjoyed or disliked. She must have been a very strong woman to have managed to raise her two children alone.

In photographing the pictures in one of my old albums I pulled out a small newspaper column, an obituary for a Mabel L. Dodd.  I’m pretty sure that it was originally tucked into the frame of one of the pictures, but now I don’t know which one.  I took it and a loose photo of a man out of the album as we were taking pictures of the pages.  I meant to put them back where they came from but somehow that didn’t happen.  Both the loose picture and the scrap got put back into the album as I packed my things up for the trip home.  But the scrap didn’t get put back with the picture it had been with, nor did the loose picture.

As I was putting albums back on the shelf and putting the electronic files on my computer and emptying the canvas bags after my adventure with Ann, I found the scrap of newsprint again.  Hm…an obituary for a Mabel L. Dodd…who was she?  Why was this saved so carefully and why was it kept with a specific picture?  (Or was it just randomly tucked into the album?)  Was it a picture of her?  I remember seeing this scrap tucked into one of the frames in the album on more than one occasion as I looked through the pictures.  And I have thought about it briefly and wondered if she was a school friend or something since I didn’t recognize the photo or the name at all.  I wonder if I can figure out which picture it was with?  If I can reunite this newspaper obituary with a photo, is it a picture of Mabel?  I know none of the pictures is labeled as Mabel.  And who was she?  I don’t even know for sure who this album belonged to, although I think know the line through which it came to me.  Was she a friend or a relative?  Her name doesn’t show up in my database but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a relative.

Mabel Dodd obituary

Mabel Dodd obituary

I started looking online: what could I find, if anything, on Ancestry or FamilySearch?  The newspaper obituary did not include any information about when it was or where it was.  It did include her deceased husband’s name and a surviving son’s name.  I quickly confirmed her death, in 1972, via the Social Security Death Index and that told me it was in Toledo, Ohio. Next on the Index of Ohio deaths on Ancestry I found her parents’  names listed.  George Lane and Mary Wiley.  The obituary also noted that burial was in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.  Now I had another place to look, since I know that Spring Grove has a nice website that allows searching for names.  I found 3 Dodds by searching the last name.  Spring Grove’s site also lets you search by location, and now I had the section and lot numbers to play with.  Using these I found both of Mabel’s parents and several in-laws, all in the same section and lot.  Spring Grove provides a PDF copy of the burial information so I downloaded all of these.

Mary W Lane cemetery card

Mary W Lane cemetery card

The best lead was the information on Mabel’s mother’s burial card that her parents were Samuel Wiley and Mary Richards.  Mabel’s name isn’t in my database, but Samuel Wiley’s and Mary Richards’s are.  And when I look, there is Mary Wiley listed as their youngest child based on the 1860 Federal census.  I have no information for this Mary other than an estimated birth year (from the 1860 census).  Now I potentially have several pieces of information for her, including a husband and at least one child (Mabel).

Ohio is a wonderful state to be researching because there are a number of places where there is information online to be had.  Death certificates between 1908 and 1953 are indexed in several places, including the Ohio Historical Society, and the FamilySearch Pilot sites.  The images of these are available on the beta site, which I think you have to register on in order to be able to download.  Since I have already registered here, I was able to find and download the death certificates for those people who died before 1953.  I don’t have a death certificate for Mabel but I do for her parents.  This website also has Ohio marriages indexed, although there are no images.  So now I also have marriage dates for Mabel’s parents and for Mabel (as well as everyone else in this general family line I could think of!).

But my real question is what is the relationship between Mabel and any of my relatives.  I have wondered and struggled with the Wiley-Thompson relationship since I first went through one of our family Bibles that included a lot of information about them.  Another daughter of Samuel Wiley and Mary Richards, Martha J. Wiley married George Thompson.  I have not been clear about what the relationship is, but the Bible came to us from a collateral Salt line so I have assumed that there is a connection with the Salt family somewhere.  Thus they are already in my database.  And it turns out that Mary Wiley is also already there, I just didn’t know anything about her spouse or children.

Figuring out the relationships is more complicated.  Finally, by using RootsMagic’s ability to show relationships I can see that Martha Wiley was the aunt of Margaret Thompson Day who married Edward W. Salt, Jr.  Since Mary Wiley was a sister of Martha and Nancy (who was Margaret’s mother), she was also an aunt.  So Martha and Mary were great aunts to Ray Salt (George Raymond Salt), son of Margaret and Edward W. Salt, Jr.  And, ta-da, Mabel who was a daughter of Mary, would have been a first cousin once removed to Ray Salt.  In fact, when I searched the censuses, I found Ray living with George and Mary Lane and Mabel in Cincinnati in 1910.  He was boarding with them.  Ray was a first cousin of my paternal grandfather’s (Henry C. Salt), so the Wileys and Thompsons are not directly related to me but now I know why information about them is in my photo album and family Bible.  Whew!

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