James Ashley Hobbs (1843-1920)

James Ashley Hobbs (1843-1920)

James Ashley Hobbs was probably born in October 1843.  The 1850 and 1870 Censuses indicate he was 6
and 26 at the times of the two censuses. The 1880 and 1910 censuses infer that
his was born in 1844 and the 1900 Census clearly indicates he was born October
1844. Additionally, when James enlisted in the CSA in December of 1862 he
indicated his age was 20, suggesting an 1842 birth year. Because the 1850 and
1870 censuses are closer to the event, I believe that 1843 is more likely
correct. Martin County Heritage does
suggest James Ashley Hobbs was born in 1841, however the entry includes a
question mark, does not cite sources, and is not corroborated by any other
sources. Because of that, I discount the birthdate in Martin County Heritage.

All entries are consistent with his being born in North
Carolina. In 1840, his parents were living in Beaufort County, North Carolina[1]; in
1850, he and his parents were living in Martin County, North Carolina[2]. Therefore,
it isn’t clear exactly where in North Carolina he was born.
James was the sixth child of eight children born to George
W. and M. Hobbs, although it appears that two of his older siblings died before
he was born.

Civil War Service – CSA

North Carolina Civil War Flag
James enlisted in the 41st Regiment (Cavalry) sometime
before October 1862 when he transferred to Company G[3].  In September, 1963, he transferred to the 17th
Regiment – NC Troops (2nd Organization) Company A – Roanoke Guards[4]. In
December, 1963, he was admitted to Hospital No. 4. In Wilmington, South
Carolina. He was there until 3 February 1864, when he was returned to duty in
Hamilton, Martin County, North Carolina[5]. We
also know he was issued clothing on 21 June 1864[6].
After the war, James married Annie Deborah Long on 16 May
1866 in Hamilton, Martin County, North Carolina[7]. The
young family located to Temperance, Amherst County, Virginia where their first
three children, Charles Leon, George Samuel, and Annie Elizabeth were
born.  Then about 1873 they moved back to
North Carolina and lived in Palmyra, Halifax County where James was a merchant.
While in Palmyra, daughters Mattie D. and Mary Emolyn (Emily) were born[8]
About 1878 the family moved back to Martin County and lived
in Hamilton where James was a Farmer, carpenter, & captain on a steam boat
on the Roanoke River. 1878 also saw the birth of their sixth child, Roland
Rivers Hobbs.
Sometime before 1880 they lost their second child, George.
1881, 1883, and 1885 saw the births of three more children, James Floyd, Fanny,
and Mary Lillian Hobbs.[9]

In 1890, their oldest daughter, 18 year-old Annie Elizabeth
Hobbs married Frank Alton Armstrong. Sometime before 1896 two of their
daughters, Mattie and Mary Emolyn, died. While living in Hamilton, James was a
member of the Masons and attended the Methodist Church[10].
Martin County Courthouse, Williamston, North Carolina
Photo by J. Stephen Conn
James Ashley Hobbs was Clerk of Court from 1896 until 1914
In 1896, James was elected Clerk of Court for the Superior
Court of Martin County, North Carolina and the family moved to Williamston and
rented a house on Main Street. Clerk of Court is a prestigious position and one
he held until 1914[11].
In 1903 his daughter Fannie died[12].
In 1910, his daughter Mary Lillian Hobbs married James
Dallas Howell[13].
In 1913, his wife of 47 years passed away[14].
James was said to be a quiet person, he raised a fine
garden, and kept the place in first class shape. He read to his grandchildren
the continued stories in the “Youth’s Companion” and “Comfort.”[15]
James continued living in Williamston until his death in
1920. He died while in Hobgood, Halifax County, North Carolina. Both he and his
wife are buried in the cemetery in Hamilton.[16]


James Ashley Hobbs had a grandson (daughter Mary Lillian
Hobbs Howell’s) son name Ashley.

He also had a great-grandson, (Son – James Floyd Hobbs’ son
– James Floyd Hobbs’, son – James Ashley Hobbs) named after him.

Further Actions:

Find James Ashley Hobbs in the 1860 Census. (unsuccessful
in Ancestry.Com and Family Search.com)
Further research James Ashley Hobbs’s contribution
to the Civil War and the actions of his companies. (Lots of things on Fold 3 to
Find, document, and photograph James and Annie’s burial
location. (Not seeing on Find-a-Grave) 

List of Greats

1.    James Ashley
George W.

[1] 1840 Census, Ancestry.com, 1840; Washington, Beaufort, North
Carolina; Roll: 355; Page: 268; Image: 546; Family History Library Film:
[2] 1850 Census, Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Martin,
North Carolina; Roll: M432_636; Page: 403B; Image: 443.
[3] James H. McCallum,
Martin County during the Civil War
Including a Roster of Troups from Martin County (:  Martin County Historical Society, 1971), Page
[4] James H. McCallum,
Martin County during the Civil War
Including a Roster of Troups from Martin County (:  Martin County Historical Society, 1971), Page
[5] Hughes, S. J. N.,
& Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage
(Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 418
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[11] Francis M. Manning
and W. H. Booker, Martin County History – Vol. 1 (Williamston, N.C., Enterprise
Publishing Company, 1977), Page 188-189.
[12] Hughes, S. J. N.,
& Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage
(Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 418 –
James Ashley Hobbs
[13] North Carolina,
Marriages, 1759-1979, Family Search, J. D. Howell & Mary Lillian Hobbs –
Accessed 2013-12-07. https://familysearch.org/pal:/mm9.1.1/f847-tqy.
[14] Hughes, S. J. N.,
& Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage
(Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 418 –
James Ashley Hobbs


Genealogical Fun – John & Charlotte Raasch

Sometimes you just need to do something fun.  I had a couple really bad days researching
the Darling/Huber (See Brick Wall) line and working on my “Adair Project” without any
successes.  A very frustrating few days
of work, so it was time to do something that would be fun. 
While doing some work previously, I had found a couple
Homestead Claims for my “Raasch Project.” Homestead claims generally have some
really great and important information that you don’t find anywhere else.  In this case, I had two people, who certainly
were related, and each had 80 acres in the same section of land.  Also, these type of documents are great to learn
and gain texture to these people’s lives. 


  In reviewing the documents, we learned that Charlotte was a
widow, before May of 1868 and homesteaded land in Dodge County, Nebraska.

In another document in the homestead package we learn much
more about her life in Nebraska.  Her
neighbors, one of whom I’m sure was a relative, and probably her son, swore
that Charlotte had been there for six years and had three children. 
The John Raasch homestead papers indicate that
he had built  a one-story 20×32 house
that had four doors and nine windows.  On
the other hand, the Widow Raasch (Charlotte) had built a 12×14 foot house with
one door and two windows.  Other
documents mention that she had dug a well and had a shed.  It had to have been a harsh life.  Mother and three children in a house very
much like the John Curry House photographed by Solomon D. Butcher made
available by the Nebraska State Historical Society.  I’ve seen “Nebraska Gothic” before and never thought much of it. A couple making do in the Nebraska homestead period.  Now I visualize my friend’s ancestors, widow with three kids at the same kind of house.  I can her mom asking one of the kids to go out to the well to draw
water in the cold, windy, Nebraska winter.
The John Curry house, near West Union, Custer County, Nebraska, 1886
Photo by Solomon D. Butcher. Thanks to the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Partial map of Township 19 North, of Range 7 East
Dodge County, Nebraska
Then it is fun to take an old map of the area and draw in
the plots that John and Charlotte Raasch had. They bordered each other.
Charlotte’s piece was nice, flat and desirable. 
John’s was bisected by the Elk Horn River which surely made farming
impossible on the southern third of his land.
I can tell how genealogically geeky I am because I find
visualizing how people lived and making up maps of where they lived as fun. I
know my friend, for whom I am doing the Raasch Project, appreciates the effort
I am putting in and the documents I am finding. Meanwhile, I’m just enjoying
the fun of finding cool stuff.  

Brick Wall – Jacob Huber (bef 1860–?)

By – Don Taylor

I know that “crossing the pond” can prove frustrating in
genealogical research. Jacob Huber really brings that point home clearly to
me.  I know virtually nothing about
him.  When I first began working on my
wife’s genealogy, I was so happy to learn that her mother had some family
photos of the Hubers from the turn of the previous century (my guess) and, most
excellent, the photos included names on the back. 
“The Huber Family”
“Back of the Huber Family”
Then, when I found John Huber marriage record entry which
names his father, it clearly collaborated what the photos indicated.  I also knew from several records that John
Huber was born in Windlach, Switzerland, I assumed that Jacob lived there. 
I then began my regular process to find information
regarding Jacob.  I found nothing.  In my searching, I found another person
researching the Hubers in Windlach. 
Although his or her Hubers certainly were not the same ones I’ve been
seeking, a response to his post on Ancestry Message Boards suggested ordering
parish records for the Canton through the family history library. 
What a great idea. Maybe there is a hole in the brick wall. I
searched the Family Search catalog and found three entries for Church records in Zurich. Of course, most are in German. 
The first one appeared to cover 1600-1700, outside of my search area.
The second one related to Immigrants in 1859 — Also outside of my search area. But, the third one “Die
Pfarrbücher der Züricher Landschaft als bevölkerungsgeschichtliche und
chronikalische Quelle”– what might that be?  Thanks to Google Translate, I learned it means, “The parish registers of
Zurich’s landscape as historical population and chronical source”  Perfect.  Could it be exactly what I’ve been looking for. I then saw it is a book, not so
good, then I found a call number and then the disappointing words,
“availability: missing.” There is a link to see if the book is available
anywhere else through World Cat. Sadly, it isn’t available anywhere else. Also,
World Cat has a note saying, “The use of parish registers as a historical
source in the rural areas of Zürich, Switzerland.”  Clearly, a better translation than what
Google provides. I was afraid of that. The book isn’t the parish registers;
rather, it is a book, in German, about using parish registers.  Not of any help to me.
So the hold in the brick wall that I thought I had seen
wasn’t really a hole.  Maybe just a crack
in the mortar but it does provide a new set of angles to work on.  I’m sure I’ll find a way to see the parish
records without going to Switzerland. 
I’ve just got more to do. So, I guess I’ll suggest that when you hit a brick wall, don’t despair.  Poke around a bit and you should get some ideas. As long as you have further actions to do it isn’t really a solid brick wall. There is still a hole you can work through. 

Bio – Jacob Huber (bef. 1860 – bef. 1960)

Jacob Huber was born in Switzerland[1]
sometime before 1860. (That assumes he was at least 20 when his son John was

He married Kath Struckland[2] sometime before
1879. (That assumes Jacob & Kath were married when their son John was conceived.)

Family oral history indicated that only John Huber left
Zurich, so it is assumed that Jacob died and was buried in the Windlach/Stadel
bei Niederglatt area.

Further Actions:

Search for
sources of vital records for Windlach/Stadel bei Niederglatt in the canton of Zürich, Switzerland.
Search for and contact people with the Huber surname in the
Windlach area of Zürich, Switzerland
Visit Windlach and Stadel bei Niederglatt, Zürich, Switzerland
(or entice another family member to visit it and do some research while there.)

List of Greats
John Huber
2.    Jacob Huber
Jak Huber


[1] 1910 Census, Census Place: Elberta and Josephine, Baldwin, Alabama; Roll: T624_1; Page: 5A; Enumeration
District: 0013; FHL microfilm: 1374014.
[2] Wisconsin Marriage
Records, Johana Huber and Bertha Trunpe, 02 Mar 1905. groom’s name:  Johana Huber. 

Feb 13, 1920 – Chin Chin Plays Myers Theater in Janesville, WI.

Donna in Janesville, WI, at the Myers Theater – Date: Feb 13, 1920
Donna and the cast of “Chin Chin” completed their
one night stand in Eau Claire and headed for Janesville, 180 or so miles to the
south for another one-nighter.
Preshow advertising began with an announcement
on February 7th in the Janesville
Daily Gazette
by the theater manager, L. C. Hensler, that a Charles
Dillingham show was returning to Janesville for the first time in more than ten
years for “one night only.” The announcement mentions “Chin Chin” and the
“Famous Clown Saxophone Band.”[i]
Source: Newspapers.Com
Janesville Daily Gazette
(Janesville, WI) 11 Feb 1920, Pg 6
Leading Comedians, et al
The advertising continued with another
announcement on February 10th that mentioned both the size of the
company (65) with 40 Girls and 35 men back of the scenes.  (I know that adds up to 75 people.) It also
mentions “two car loads of scenery” and some of the acts as well as the hit
songs from the show, including:
Girls I’m Through,
                  Violet, Violet,
                  The Pekin Patrol,
                  Love Moon,
                  The Chinese Honeymoon,
                  Temple Bells,
                  Bally Mooney, (etc.)
The Daily Gazette of February 11th  showed a graphic of the two male stars, Roy
Binder & Walter Wills as well as 12 of the women in the show.  Certainly, Donna would have been one of those
12, however, the quality of the on-line image isn’t high enough to determine
which one is Donna.
After the show a short article detailing the
non-existent plot and the characters of the show including the role of the
Goddess of the Lamp, the part played by Donna.
Myers Grand Opera House

Interior of the Myers Theater – Post 1929 “Moorish” remodel
Photo Credit: [Janesville Daily] Gazette File Photo
When “Chin Chin” played at the Myers
in 1920, it was old.  It has been built
in 1870 as the Myers Opera House.  A fire
in 1891 caused the Opera House to be rebuilt and renamed as the Grand Opera
House. It was a modest sized, ground floor, theater held about 1000 people –
400 on the main floor, 293 in the balcony, and 300 in the gallery. The stage
was 32 by 30 feet in size.[ii]
In 1920 the 50-year-old theater, managed by Peter L
Myers, was sold to the Janesville Amusement Company[iii] who installed L. C. Hensler as the
theater’s new manager.
In the late 1920s the theater changed
from live performances to movies and was remodeled into a “Moorish” style movie
place to show Hollywood films.[iv] [v]  The theater remained open until the mid
1970s. Finally, in 1977, demolition began on the building and the site became a
parking lot for the Rock County National Bank. [vi]
Further Research

Review another source for the Feb 11, 1920 issue of the Janesville Daily Gazette for a higher quality image.
Besides the “Gazette,” the Cahn-Leighton Theatrical Guide mentions the Janesville “Recorder” as a daily A.M. paper. I can’t find an on-line edition of the “Recorder” on line. Annually see if it becomes available.


[i] Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) ·
Sat, Feb 7, 1920 · Page 6
[ii] The Cahn-Leighton Theatrical Guide – 1913-1914.
[iii] Hedberg Public Library Local History Database http://hedbergpubliclibrary.org/ Search results for” Myers Theater
[v] Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville’s history (1998), pg. 182. See: http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/WI/WI-idx?type=turn&entity=WI.CityRock.p0187&id=WI.CityRock&isize=text
[vi] Hedberg Public Library Local History Database http://hedbergpubliclibrary.org/ http://hedbergpubliclibrary.org/
Search for Myers Theater

Bazsika & Kocun – Tragedy on Iron Ore Road

[Previously I posted a poem by Jenne M. that related her mother’s line through poetry. Here is the same story in prose.  I think it is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen that tells the same family history using two very different mechanism. After you read this version, go back and read (or reread) the poem.  You will gain new insight into her family’s story. Hopefully, you will also consider a new way to tell your own stories.  Poetry can be an incredibly  powerful tool.  – Don Taylor]

Bazsika and Kocun

by Jenne M. (guest blogger)

I first knew I had to embark upon ancestry work years ago – back in 2001, after my maternal grandmother died of colon cancer. “The house of your ancestors is falling into ruin,” the dreams whispered, showing me visions of a ramshackle Cape Cod, with the stars and space lurking behind the rotted floorboards.

Frank Bazsika and Marie Kocun on
their wedding day,
with Victoria Kocun at left.

With a broad face and a ready laugh, Marie Kocun Bazsika seemed to defy the circumstances life brought her. Born Mary but baptized as Marie, she had a twin brother, Stephen, who was a talented musician that died relatively early. A car accident, my grandmother told me once; illness due to a weakened constitution from drinking, my mother countered. He died at the age of 46, four years before my birth.

Marie, called Mae by her friends, was a small, merry woman, the daughter of Slovak immigrants. Swept up by the times, at the age of 16, she married a handsome Hungarian soldier: Frank Bazsika, one of many to bear that name in his family. Once, she told me that she and her husband were advised not to have children – ostensibly because Usher’s Syndrome, a form of deaf-blindness, ran in their lines. I haven’t been able to ascertain whether that was the truth, but half of her children ended up having the disorder.

But that was the least of Mae’s trials. Behind that long, handsome face of her tall, burly husband lurked the Fomhoire.

The beloved first son of his daughter-heavy family, Frank was heavily spoiled by his shopkeeper parents, who pampered him in every way, and looked aside when he beat his sisters with the fire poker. Violent and charming by turns, he dressed impeccably as a young man and, like so many of his generation, ended up drafted during World War II.

He served in Edinburgh in Scotland for at least some of the war, as a mechanic. At some point during his service, he fell in love with a Frenchwoman – named Marie, like my grandmother – whom he had to leave behind. Perhaps this ideal paramour made his own Marie seem so small and provincial, unwanted and vulgar. Perhaps this other Marie existed only in his mind, which danced on a narrow floor of sanity, dipping into periodic chasms of violence and despair.

When he returned, the darkness – the one that had always been with him, according to his sisters’ testimony – rose up and swallowed him, coloring his fantasies with rage. Gone were the smart suits and the smile, eradicated by a love of vulgarity and sadism. Continuing his work as a mechanic, he also dabbled in get-rich-quick schemes, running the gamut from gas stations to chicken farms, none of which he ever put his hands to; rather, his wife and children were the laborers. Parasites who didn’t earn their keep, he thought and had his wife shovel chicken shit the morning after giving birth. His family lived in squalor and fear, while he spent their meager earnings on himself and his pleasures: cars, sweets he wouldn’t share and, finally, the rifle that would prove his undoing.

He confessed to the priest and nuns that he had long smelled his flesh burning in the fires of hell, and gleefully shared fantasies of beating his wife and torturing his children – which he enacted daily, with creative flair.

Frank was, in short, a born psychopath.

Marie fled often, but to her husband’s family and not her beloved twin and parents, fearing that he would exact his vengeance on them. She left her children behind to fend for themselves. Following the advice of the nuns and priests, she always returned, until the cycle became unbearable once more. Frank and Marie existed in a strange dance of hatred and need, circling one another, lunging in for blows and pain.

Frank Andrew Bazsika
served in World War II

The blast of a shotgun ended the dance.

Frank’s eldest son and namesake took his father’s gun and waited with a sniper’s patience for his father to return home from work. A flash of light, a blast, and the red blossomed from his chest, mingling with the mud. Marie ran to him, frantic. My mother – then 16, a year younger than the namesake – watched. Her elder brother fled, but was caught later by police, tried and sentenced for homicide and spent many years in prison. In those days, no one cared about child abuse and its impact on the generations beyond.

Marie never remarried, and sold off the chicken farm piece by piece. Eventually, she left the house on Iron Ore Road, living on the hillside behind it – and then, Iron Ore Road entirely.

While abuse shaped her life, Marie was more than the blow she received. During World War II, she worked at General Cable, testing field wiring for Army telephone lines, and later worked at her husband’s tire store. After selling the business, she then worked as a waitress, the first on the New Jersey Turnpike. She converted to the Jehovah’s Witness faith, enjoying mission trips and camaraderie. She greeted death – and the union with her God – as a friend.

[Jenne M. is a Guest Blogger.  If you wish to contact her, please use the comments form below and I will forward your request to her. – Don Taylor]