The following is a transcript of a manuscript written and typed by Gilbert F. Fites. The original manuscript was thirteen pages long. It was written on Mr. Fites’ official stationary with the letterhead:
Southern State Normal School
Springfield, South Dakota
C. G. Lawrence
“Gilbert G. Fites, Librarian” then appears on the upper left just below the letterhead.
The copy in my possession is included as a part of “The Ancestors and Descendants of Johnannas Feuz and Margaret Gertsch Feuz” by F. Richard Imboden. As such, it is a copy of a copy of a copy. I have done my best to copy the text as is, with original punctuation, spelling and grammar.
Lisa Kaylene Powell
21 April 2006
BEING AN ACCOUNT OF THE FITES FAMILY IN AMERICA
AS OF APRIL, 1928, PREPARED AT GLENMONT OHIO
BY GILBERT G. FITES
The name is spelled “Feitz” in the earlier records in Ohio, but later records show the name being spelled “Fites”. The Iowa Branch of the family still use the earlier spelling.
Very little material is available concerning the records of the family in Switzerland. This much we know and this is that the original family consisted of four children. The girl died at the age of eighteen years from an attack of pneumonia. The boys were name Christian, john and Henry. Each came to America separately in the order named between the dates of 1830 and 1840.
Christian was the first brother to migrate. He entered upon a Government Homestead in Richland Township, Holmes County, Ohio. The community was later and in fact is still known locally as French Ridge. Some years later, he removed to Owen County, Indiana, where he resided until his death. He had two sons, named Christian Junior and John. Christian Junior met with an accidental death by striking his head against an overhanging limb while riding a horse through the Indiana forests after night. He left a posthumous child. John was married three different times and left a rather large family of children. The writer is unable to gain any further information on this branch of the family. It seems that John lived at Terre Haute, Indiana, at the last account available.
Henry Fites was the last of the brothers to migrate. He settled upon a relinquishment which he obtained in Knox Township, Holmes County, Ohio. This community is known locally as Locust Lick. He was the father of six children, named Henry Junior, David, Margaret, Lucy, Ann, and Mary. Henry Jr. was married to Elizabeth Frendrich and died rather young leaving one son, David who now lives in Monroe Township and has a family of eleven children, five boys and six girls. David, the second son of Henry Sr., served in the O.V.I. during the Civil War. Upon his return to civil life, he was married to Jane Hunter. There were four children, three girls and one boy. Ola is the lone survivor of these children and is married to Lemuel Strouse. They are living at Glenmont, Ohio. David was a public spirited man and served in several official capacities within the county. He lived with his father and cared for him during his father’s declining years, and continued to live on the original homestead after his father’s death. Ann was married to a man by name of Smith and settled near Hanibal (sic) Missouri. They reared several children. Mary was married to David Ringenbarger (sic) and settled in Polk County, Iowa. The writer has no data concerning the other members of the family, namely Lucy and Margaret.
John Fites, grandfather of the writer was the second brother to migrate from Canton, Berne, (sic) Switzerland. He was married to Margaret Gerch in 1832 and sailed for America the same year. They first settled in Stark County, Ohio, but learning that Government land was still be to had in Holmes County, they migrated to Richland Township in 1834 and entered upon 160 acres of land lying to the north west and cornering the entry made by his brother Christian. This is about two miles south of what is now Glenmont, Ohio. The place was first known as Napoleon, later it was called Blackcreek, and finally it came to be known as Glenmont. When they arrived they found a settler by the name of William Bower living with his family in a log cabin near the land they proposed to enter. These people offered them shelter and here they remained until John was able to rear the cabin of logs cut from the surrounding forest. This cabin was erected about forty rods southwest from the Bower cabin. The walls were raised from logs faced on two sides and the openings between the logs were filled in with clay. The floor was made of split slabs and the roof was of clapboards all taken from the native forest. The fireplace was built in of stone (sic). Here John and his wife Margaret established their home in America which was later blessed by birth of six sons and three daughters all of whom gave a good account of themselves during their (sic) lifetime
Previous to coming to America, John had served for three years in the Swiss Army as a cavalryman. The knowledge which he gained as a horseman in this capacity stood him in good stead when he came to Ohio, and he was among the first in the community to discard oxen and use horses in the fields and on the road. He soon developed into a very successful farmer and was able to add to his land holdings quite rapidly. A forty and an eighty acre tract were added on the south of his original homestead. Then he bought a ninety-six acre tract a mile below Glenmont, also a forty acre tract and a hundred acre tract a few miles north of Glenmont near the old Woolen Mill.
His home soon became a community center and within two years after his arrival, a log church 24x24 was put up a few rods east of his home. In addition to furnishing the logs and the site for the building, he also donated the land for a church yard cemetery (sic) when that need arose in the community. Services were held in this church until 1874 when the frame structure was built in Glenmont.
He was of a generous turn and stood ever ready to assist his neighbors in their labor and financial difficulties. In politics he was a life long Democrat. He was a member of the township board of trustees and a member of the local school board for several years. He was a member of the governing board of the local Reformed Church for many years and his advice was always sought in the councils of the church. Death claimed him in 1869 at the age of sixty-two years, the immediate cause being malaria.
John and Margaret were the parents of nine children all of whom were raised to manhood and womanhood. The first born was named John, Sr. (sic) The others were as follows: Samuel, Margaret, Christian, Henry, Louisa, Frederic, William and Mary.
John Feitz, Junior, was born in 1835 and died January, 16, 1918 at the age of 82 years. He is buried at Earlham, Iowa. He was married to Rose Ann Lenacher and resided for two years in Holmes County, about two miles north of Glenmont near the old Woolen Mill. He then sold out and moved to Owen County, Indiana, where he resided for some time, later moving to Madison County, Iowa, settling near Earlham. He raised seven children, three boys and four girls, whose names are as follows: Carolina , (deceased); Lucy, in North Dakota; Joseph Henry, in California; David Albert, in Colorado; Emma, (deceased); Orilla, in Earlham; Charles, in Colorado.
Samuel Fites was born 1838, died July 7, 1864, in the U. S. Army at Nashville, Tennessee, his regiment being stationed there at that time. He was buried in a soldier’s grave at Nashville. He was 26 years old at the time of his death and unmarried.
Margaret Fites was born in 1841 and died June 4, 1927. She is buried at Glenmont, Ohio. She was first married to Rudolph Roth and was the mother of two sons, John and Julius both of whom died and were buried in Denver, Colorado shortly after reaching early manhood. Rudolph disappeared a few years after their marriage and was never heard of again. Margaret returned home and helped care for her invalid mother during the latter’s declining years. She spent several years as a practical nurse in Denver, Colorado. In 1907, she returned to Ohio and was married to Covington McDowell of Glenmont and spent the remainder of her life amid the scenes of her girlhood. She is buried in Sunnyside Cemetery at Glenmont.
Christian Fites was born in 1842, and died in 1904, at the age of 62 years. He is buried in Union grove Cemetry (sic). In 1869, he went to Iowa and remained there for six years. He returned to Ohio and continued to work on the home place until the death of the mother in 1881. Then he purchased 120 acres of the original homestead and lived there during the remained (sic) of his life. He was married to Sarah Pyers-Bucy, a widow. They had one son, named, Walter.
Henry Fites was born in 1845 and died at the age of 66 years. He is buried in Union Grove Cemetry (sic). He was married to Lucette Buren and they raised three children. John of Killbuck, Ohio; Bertha Jones, of Glenmont, Ohio; Laura Grey, of Lincoln, Nebraska. Henry located on the Blackcreek farm just below Glenmont where he resided his entire life. A part of this farm is now leased to the Briar Hill Stone Company which is getting out a fine quality of building stone and shipping this material to various parts of the United States. His widow lives with her daughter Bertha in Glenmont.
Louisa Fites was born in 1847. She was married to Frederic Imboden and later moved to Madison County, Iowa, 1869, where they reared a family of four boys and three girls. The writer does not have all of their names available at this time. Since her husband’s death, Louisa has been living with her daughter Cora t Earlham.
Frederic Adolph Fites was born February 11, 1850. He married Maria Garver, April 8, 1880, who died March 26, 1928. When his father’s holdings were distributed, he purchased the west 80 acre tract. He also purchased a 35 acre tract known locally as the Smith lot adjoining this land on the west. Later he bought 80 acres from the White estate on the east. He remained on this farm until 1918 when he retired from the farm and moved to Glenmont. He still operates the farm in a general way. There were three children, Gilbert of Springfield, S. Dak, Roy, of Lakeville, Ohio, and Edna who keeps house for her father in Glenmont. When the C. A. & C. R.R. was being built through the community, he rendered several days of volunteer service to the surveyors who laid out the right of way between Killbuck and Glenmont. He served for many years as an officer on the Board of the local Reformed Church at Glenmont and was often chosen to represent the church as a delegate to represent the church in the state councils. For over a quarter of a century, he has acted as the treasurer of the Union Grove Cemetry (sic) Association.
William Albert Fites was born in 1852. Died December 23, 1902, at the age of 51. He was married to Louisa Studer. There were two boys and two girls. Albert lives on a farm on Wolfcreek. Howard lives in Southern California. Rosella lives with her mother in Killbuck. The other daughter died in infancy. William purchased the south eighty of his father’s farm, but operated it from his home on Wolfcreek. He was a community builder, and was for several years a stockholder and officer in the Killbuck Savings Bank where Rosella is at present Cashier. He is buried in Wolfcreek Cemetry (sic).
Mary Fites was born 1853 and died September 7, 1879 at the age of 27 years. The mother remained an invalid from the day of Mary’s birth. Mary was married to John Peter Cly in 1870. They resided for about four years in Coshocton County, Ohio, in a community known locally as Dutch Run. Then they moved on a farm near the old Woolen Mill north of Glenmont. There were three boys. George H. married Emily Firkins and they reside near Dexter, Iowa. They have four children. John H. married Elizabeth Emrick. They reside at Akron, Ohio. There were two children, both died in early infancy. William G. has five children all living near Glenmont, Ohio. Mary and her husband are both buried in the Union Grove Cemetry (sic).
(The foregoing is a sort of preliminary draft of the First and Second Generations with a brief mention of a portion of the Third Generation of the Feitz Family in America. The writer hopes to be able at a later date to obtain a more satisfactory account of the descendants of these two brothers. He also hopes to bring together important facts concerning names, dates of birth, marriages and deaths of the known members of the thrid (sic), fourth and fifth generations of John Feitz, as these facts become obtainable and will welcome the cooperation of every member of the family in this direction.)
Gilbert G. Fites, Springfield, S. Dak.
THE FEITZ FAMILY IN AMERICA
Margaret Gerch-Fites was born in Canton Berne, Switzerland, and 1809, and died April 18, 1881 at the age of 73 years. She was buried in Union Grove Cemetry (sic), Richland Township, Holmes County, Ohio. She was married to John Fites in 1832 and migrated with him to America the same year.
She had one brother and one sister. The sister was married to Christian Ammeter. The Ammeter’s migrated to America and settled on a farm a few miles north of what is now Glenmont, Ohio. They left no children. The brother remained in Switzerland and followed his occupation of herdsman in the Alps Mountains. There is said to be a published account in Switzerland concerning one of his adventures. It appears that he in company with fellow herdsmen were bringing down the herds from the upper pasture regions at the close of the season, when a sheep was missed along the way and young Gerch ventured too near the ledge of an overhanging rock in an effort to locate the lost animal. His footing gave way and he went tumbling down into the chasm which was reported to be more than a thousand feet in depth. His fellow hersdmen (sic) tried to locate him but were not successful. They gave him for lost and continued on with their flocks down into the village, where they gave their account. So certain were the relatives and villagers that death had overtaken their fellow townsman, that a funeral ceremony was held in the village church for him. Luckily, however, Gerch did not fare so badly. After falling some feet, he struck a rocky ledge which smashed one arm, bruised up his body somewhat and rendered him unconscious. Just how long he remained unconscious is not known. When he did come to his senses, he was unable to make his presence and plight known to his fellows above, and neither was it possible for him to make his way to the beaten path above. In his dilemma, he decided to explore the lower depths of the chasm in hopes that possibly he might find an outlet. When he reached the bottom, he discovered a small stream which entered a cavern. He followed this and after many tight squeezes was able to regain the outside world. In due time he was able to make his way on down to the village where he was acclaimed a hero and a general holiday was declared that the villagers might celebrate the event of his miraculous return. He continued to live in the village and died there at the age of ninety years. We have no account as to whether he was married and left any children.
Margaret was the mother of nine children as has already been noted. At the birth of Mary, she was left an invalid in which condition she remained during the remainder of her life. She possessed a very excellent voice and was a beautiful singer. As a girl in Switzerland, she took part in many of the singing activities. On one occasion she was awarded a silver medal which was prized very highly by her. At her death, she gave it to her daughter Margaret who kept it until 1927, when at her death she gave it to Edna Fites of Glenmont, Ohio, who now has charge of it. On the obverse side appears the following: MUND UND HERZ ZUS A MEN LOBT DESS HERREN NAMEN 1734. The figure is that of a Saint strumming upon a harp. On the reverse appears the the (sic) following: GOTT FORCHT UN FLEISS BRINGT BRINGT NUTZ UND PREISS. The medal is about the size and closely resembles and (sic) American Silver Dollar, having milled edges and borders.
Other keepsakes of Margaret’s include the following: gold Locket, Darning Ball, Needle Case and a Trinket Case. There were given to her daughter Margaret who kept them until 1927 when she passed them on to Edna. The gold locket contains a painted rose and was given to her by a family for whom she worked as a maid in Switzerland. The darning ball is of hard dark wood which closely resembles walnut. It is about two inches in diameter. The needle case is also of wood rsembling (sic) walnut. The case is in two sections, the rim of the cap is bound with a bone or ivory ferrule. The case when closed resembles a ten cent cigar in size and shape. The trinket case is made from a white wood resembling holly. It is round, being about three inches in diameter and about four inches deep. It looks like the old style cheese boxes in minature (sic).
Some time previous to her death a daguerreotype was taken of her. From one of the daguerreotypes, an enlarged picture was made, and this is in the possession of Frederic Fites of Glenmont, Ohio.
BEING A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE ORIGIN AND
GROWTH OF THE REFORMED CHURCH AT GLENMONT,
OHIO – By Gilbert G. Fites as narrated
to him by his father, Frederic A. Fites.
In 1834, John Feitz and his wife Margaret homesteaded on a 160 acre tract of government land situated about two miles south of what is now Glenmont, Ohio. The region was entirely covered with a growth of heavy timber. There were several other families in this community also natives of Switzerland. An occasional itinerant minister visited the community and preached at various homes, sometimes in the house or in the barn depending upon the size of the gathering and the condition of the weather. The idea of having a community house of worship was soon developed and John Feitz offered to furnish a site and donate the necessary logs for the building. His offer was accepted by the members of the community and by 1836 a log structure 24 x 24 feet was in readiness for church services. This building was situated a few rods east of the Feitz homestead. For a while there was no regular preacher. Then came one Frederic Huncher, who served the congregation for twenty years. In addition to this pastorate, he also preached at Germany on Kaylor’s Ridge, Dutch Run, Beaver Run, and on Wolf Creek. The last two places were not regular preaching points. During the Huncher pastorate fair sized congregations were established. The log church on the Feitz Farm came to be known as new Switzerland and was used continuously until in 1874, when the membership decided to build a new frame structure, in Glenmont, then known as Blackcreek. This new building served the needs of the congregation until the year 1912, when a new and more modern building was erected on main street in the village. Here services have been held contniuously (sic) until the present date-April 1928. Rev. Heffly is the present pastor.
Rev. Frederic Huncher lived on a farm near an inland Postal Center, called Jimtown. He made his pastoral visits on horseback, using his own horse and those of his parishioners in a system of relays. In this manner he was able to cover his wide field of endeavor in a single day. In several instances he did not travel upon the beaten highway, but took crosscuts through the timber. There is still evidence of his path on the Bower hill west of Glenmont where he used to take the short cut from his home to the Feitz farm. He is buried in a rural cemetry (sic) on Kaylor’s ridge. At the time of his death, he was a resident of the state of Wisconsin, but it so happened that he was visiting in this community at the time his final sickness and death overtook him. It seemed altogether fitting and proper that his final resting place should be in one of the church yards so long the scene of his labors in Christ’s Kingdom.