Monday, March 11, 2013

Matrilineal Monday - Bertha Cutler

I'm not going to lie, Bertha Cutler is one of my favorite ancestors. There, I've said it. I'm not sure why I have such a strong attachment to Bertha, but I am consistently drawn to her. I've written about her many times on this blog, but I continue to come back to her. Honestly, there isn't much I don't know about Bertha. The only thing I don't know is her personality, what she was REALLY like. Of course, I won't ever be able to figure that out. I also do not know what she looked like. What I wouldn't give for a photo!
Bertha was born December 28, 1841 in Plymouth, Richland County, Ohio. She was the first born of four known children to James Cutler and Eliza Bodine. James Cutler was an immigrant born originally in Wheatacre, Norfolk County, England, and Eliza Bodine was born in New York.
Eliza Bodine and James Cutler, Bertha Cutler's parents.
I have only found record of four children born to James and Eliza, however, based on the distance between births, I believe that there were more. James is listed as a farmer on each census. Bertha's mother, Eliza, died in 1855 and James remarried a woman named Asenath. Asenath died in 1864 so I imagine that Bertha spent quite a bit of time helping raise her younger siblings.

Bertha married Philip Kuhn on September 19, 1860. Just days after their two-year anniversary, Philip enlisted in the 120th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He would be gone from home for the next three years. On May 8, 1864 Philip was captured on the Red River and transferred to Camp Ford, a prisoner of war camp near Tyler, Texas. Through the magic of Google, I was able to find an archive of letters between Philip and Bertha during that time.
Through their letters I learned that Bertha was at home alone with 2 small children. In the one letter I have from her to Philip she sounds no different than a military spouse from today. Philip and Bertha had a total eleven children. Around 1867, the couple moved their small family to Missouri, where they farmed for a decade and had seven more children. By 1880 they had moved to Centralia, Nemaha County, Kansas.

In 1894 the couple moved to Baldwin City, Kansas, in order to give their children better access to higher education. They raised educators, a reverend and doctors. Philip died in 1899 and Bertha was the head of her household until her death in 1908. She died in Baldwin, Kansas, and is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery.

Bertha's obituary as printed in the The Baldwin Ledger, 30 Oct. 1908, page 1, col. 5.

   Bertha Cutler was born Dec. 28, 1841, at Plymouth, Ohio, and passed to her rest Wednesday, Oct. 21, 1908. When very young she united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which she continued a consistent member until death. She was united in marriage to Philip Kuhn, Sept. 19, 1860. At the close of the war they removed to Wellsville, Mo., from there to Centralia, Kans., and since 1894, have made Baldwin their home. The funeral services were conducted by Dr. L. H. Murlin, assisted by Rev. Jenness, at the home on Friday afternoon, and interment was Monday at 11 a.m.
   Mr. Kuhn passed to his rest nine years ago. Mrs. Kuhn was a member of the W.C.T.U. and a life member of the Missionary Society of the M. E. Church. She leaves to mourn her death, one sister, two brothers, five sons and four daughters, all of whom met at the old home. It was a sad return home for the entire family had not met at the old home place together since the death of the father. The family re-union that was being planned for the Christmas time came all too soon and the bereaved brothers and sisters returned to the last home gathering with sad and aching hearts.
   All who knew Mrs. Kuhn recognized in her a pure Christian woman whose kindness of heart shone out of her eyes and was betrayed by her every act. She was the devoted mother of 11 children, 9 of whom are still living and all members of the same church.
   Words can add nothing to a life like hers, full of devotion to her family, her friends, and above all, her church.
   During her life in Baldwin she formed many friendships and the breaking of the tie brings grief to many hearts. The deep sympathy felt for the bereaved family is expressed on every hand.
   The old home is broken and the brothers and sisters departing to their work, but the memory and influence of the good mother will always live in their hearts, and give inspiration and courage to a high and noble life.

I mentioned above that I will never really know what Bertha was like, but that isn't totally true. It is clear through the information I do have that she was loved, so she must have been loving. She was willing to move to a new city for better opportunities for her children and she was passionate about her faith. I imagine her to be a "salt of the earth" type of woman and very strong. Maybe that's why she is one of my favorites!

To read more about Bertha Cutler Kuhn, please check out the following links:

To Meet Tuesday - Bertha Cutler Kuhn
Breaking down a genealogical brick wall -

Based on the above information I have the following "due-outs" for Bertha:

1. Find a photograph!
2. Research Methodist Episcopal church records for more information on Bertha.

This post is part of my on-going goal of 2013 to research each of my 32 3rd great-grandparents more in-depth. Bertha is #2 on my list.


Beth Lee Southworth said...

How awesome that you found these letters, Heather!

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Beth, I know, right! To date those letters have been my best genealogical find.