A 164-YEAR HOMECOMING BY BOB HILL
The grave stone of Jacob Hause leans a little forward into time and space, the handsome, hand-carved slab partly coated in moss and lichen, yet still readable 164 years after his death:
To the memory of
Who was born February
28, 1785 and Departed
This life July 29, 1849
Aged 64 years 5 Months
His grave is on the knoll of a hill above Stout Road in rural eastern Louisville – the site of the 156-acre farm where Jacob and Frances “Fanny” Omer Hause once cared for their nine children.
Revealing of Louisville’s swampy status at the time, the 1922 History of Kentucky said Jacob married Fanny in 1814, first residing in Louisville, but “The community at that time, however, was unhealthful, and he subsequently moved to Floyds Fork, thirteen miles distant, where he engaged in farming and became one of the successful agriculturalists and large landowners of the locality. He died well advanced in years and high in esteem of his fellow-citizens.”
“He was laid to rest,” a family history said, “in a family plot in a grove of large cedars some 200 yards above where his house once stood.”
There is only one large cedar tree there now, a rising presence above the tall, thick grass and shrubs in the Hause family cemetery where on a cool, gray Friday evening in April, Cindy Marasligiller – Jacob Hause’s great-great-great granddaughter – hurried up the slope on a genealogical mission.
The Hause-Ellingsworth cemetery is perfect for such a quest. It is quiet, remote, offering a distant view of low hills and the trees along Floyds Fork – along with that of an old wooden barn whose rusted-red metal roof has become partially undone, and the ubiquitous utility lines and towers that sweep through the area.
It is a sweet and peaceful place from which to be remembered – and The Parklands promises to keep it that way; cleaned up, tidy and protected. History lives here; planning and construction of the park has been going on less than 10 years; Jacob Hause was buried more than 150 years before that.
The fact that Marasligiller, 49, spent years trying to find the cemetery – to reach out and touch her great-great-great grandfather’s grave stone – only adds to its appeal.
“I was always curious about what I am,” she explained of her passion for family genealogy. “I’ve always been interested in anything that was old.
“In our family nobody knew where they came from…I always wanted to identify with an ethnic group. Are we Irish, Polish, Italian, or what?”
That interest was propelled by trips in her childhood to visit her grandparents, James Benjamin Stout and Sarah Wheeler Stout, who lived in an old house on Seatonville Road her grandfather built in 1957 – and was recently torn down to expand an MSD sewer line expansion.
Prior to that her grandparents had lived in the old Mills-Stout house from 1943 to 1957; the family surnames echoing across the historical landscape of the Turkey Run Park section of The Parklands of Floyds Fork.
Her grandfather’s grandfather was Benjamin Stout. He married Charlotte Hause, a daughter of Jacob. They lived in what’s now called the Stout House, a renovated and preserved structure which is, of course, on Stout Road.
The almost 200-year-old stone home was built on land once owned by Squire Boone – Daniel Boone’s brother. It will now be used for Parklands activities.
Marasligiller’s grandmother – Sarah Wheeler Stout – was the daughter of auctioneer Charles C. Wheeler who lived in the historic Mills-Wheeler House on Fairmont Road.
Wheeler’s mother was a daughter of Kenner Seaton, who was born in 1797 and died in 1872; his family first settled Seatonville; hence its name. He and his wife, Mary, now rest in the Seaton-Mills cemetery.
Seatonville, founded in the late 1700s and home to the area’s first grist and flour mill, general store, blacksmith shop and wooden covered bridge, is gone; all fields, flood plain and a few scattered houses – one original home up on stilts to keep it above the waters..
And so it went – and so it goes.
When visiting her grandparents as a child, Marasligiller would swim and play in Floyds Fork, skip rocks across the river, even venture across Seatonville Road to visit the rapids and waterfalls to be found up Chenoweth Run across from her grandparent’s house – a house which stayed in the Stout family almost 100 years.
Other enduring family bonds were even more personal; faces from the past she now has in her home in Cincinnati.
“Grandmother had tin type images of the Seaton family that would sit around on end tables and such,” she said… “Ben Stout of the Stout House; I have his picture, too.”
Her grandmother – then in her 60s – first began studying family genealogy in the 1970s. She passed on that history to her to her granddaughter – who also has tin type images of Kenner and Mary Seaton, a table and chair made by Kenner Seaton and a quilt fashioned by Mary.
A flight attendant for Delta Air Lines, Marasligiller often uses her travel opportunities to trace family history, to visit grave sites, to collect information. One entire room in her house filled with family genealogy records – details waiting to be fully organized.
“Every time I get out of town I try to make sure I get in some genealogy somewhere,” she said, “but I’m not good with computers yet… I’m more of a collector than a processor.”
“I could work on genealogy all the time but with three kids, a full time job and a husband who travels all the time I don’t get to do it as much as I’d like.”
Her work has led to discovering relatives – English, German, Irish and Scottish – who have been in the country since the 1600s. One of them – a George Eskridge – became a tutor in the early 1770s to a woman named Mary Ball; the mother of George Washington.
Eskridge family tradition has it Mary Ball named her son George out of devotion to George Eskridge.
Marasligiller’s mother is Nancy Stout Trout – her father Ray Trout. Research on his side of the family has been more difficult; the trail stopped with her great-great-great grandfather William Trout. Even her recent use of the DNA testing of family members – which can trace lineage back about 500 years – hasn’t worked with him.
It’s led, in fact, to the questions, possibilities, disappointments and mysteries inherent in chasing down distant relatives.
“No one knows his parents,” she said of William Trout. “The DNA testing showed he is not related to the people he should be related to…We don’t know if he was an extra paternal event, a foundling or what.”
She plans to begin some DNA testing on the Stout family, too, but only with family members she knows will be comfortable with the process.
“You never ask for DNA on the first date,” she said.
Her April visit to Louisville and the Hause Family Cemetery came as the result of another travel opportunity; her son’s Cincinnati high school had a lacrosse match at Trinity High School.
Marasligiller and her mother had tried unsuccessfully to find Jacob Hause’s grave about 10 years ago. She went on-line and became aware of The Parklands of Floyds Fork project and its ownership of the land containing the Hause-Ellingsworth Cemetery; a Hause married an Ellingsworth back in the day.
She called The Parklands office seeking information and a day later was led to the gravesite – which is now protected behind a locked gate.
She was joined by her husband, Ares, who was born in Turkey of Armenian descent, grew up in France, and now travels the world doing engineering design work. Also along was Don Pfaadt, another genealogist and historian with deep family roots along Stout Road.
We first stopped at the Seaton-Mills Cemetery where she posed for a photo between thecracked and faded headstones of Kenner and Mary Seaton – and worried about a large tree inside the cemetery that was pushing against its thick cement walls.
She took a photo of the old Mills-Stout house along Seatonville where her mother had lived – and lamented the loss of her grandparent’s house nearby.
She posed for another picture in front of the renovated Stout House – and then walked quickly up the wet and muddy slope toward the last remaining cedar tree marking the Hause-Ellingsworth Cemetery where Jacob had been buried – apparently without Fanny at his side.
Eight old stones could be seen in the cemetery poking through the green or yellowed grass – or leaning against the cedar tree; five belonging to a Hause, two for an Ellingsworth and one Davis – the latter, co-incidentally, a family name on her father’s side but no relation to her.
As Marasligiller neared the summit of the hill she clapped her hands and raised her arms in victory, then walked over and kneeled before the gravestone of Jacob Hause – a family homecoming 164 years in the making.
About the Author
Former Louisville-Courier columnist Bob Hill is a historian for The Parklands of Floyds Fork. He travels Floyds Fork writing of the people, the places and the history of the stream within the 20-mile park system – all of which is to be preserved in the Filson Historical Society. Some of Hill’s stories appear in A Landscape and its Legacy, the commemorative book for The Parklands of Floyds Fork project. Hill has also compiled a Floyds Fork “Places & Faces” presentation that adds imagery to the words.