Quondam Exploration


  Discovering The Past In The Present  . . .               

 Johan Peter Gaß of Old Newton Township 
Sussex County New Jersey

New Jersey Archives, Series I, Volume 5. Extracts from newspapers. Pages 571-572.

“To be sold at Public Vendue, at the Court-House in Sussex County, on Tuesday the 26th of November next [1766].

“A tract of Land lying in the Township of New-town, in the County of Sussex, and Province of New-Jersey, on the head Branch of Pawlins Kill, and divided into the following Lots of Farms, viz. [namely]:

“No. 1              168 Acres, in Possession of Mathas Snook
No. 2              209              John Loder
No. 3              143              Not tenanted
[No listing for Lot No. 4]
No. 5              250              Daniel & Colin M’Kennie
No. 6              173              Leonard Weidner
No. 7              140              Elisha Robins
No. 8              157              Elisha Robins
No. 9              144              Benjamin Brewer
No. 10              152              Nicholas Yost
No. 11              211              Peter Cass
[No listing for Lot No. 12]

[Total listing of 1,747 acres of land, or about 2-3/4 square miles. With Lots 4 and 12 added in, the tract would have exceeded 3 square miles.]

“This Tract of Land lies about Six Miles from Sussex Court House, and five from Andover Iron Works, which is a good Market for all Kinds of Country Produce; and the great Road to Goshen runs thro- it: It is exceeding well water’d by Springs and Brooks; well accommodated with Meadow Land, and fine Swamps, and a sufficient Quantity of Wheat Land, level and clear of Stones, and as good in quality as any upland in Sussex County. One Sixth part of the Purchase Money to be paid on the 1st Day of May, 1766. One sixth on the first Day of November, 1766. One sixth on the first Day of May, 1767, all without Interest; and the remaining Three-sixths secured by a Mortgage, or other satisfactory Security, may be paid as may suit the Conveniency of the purchaser. The Lands will be shewn by Elisha Robins, living on the Premises, or Robert Allen; Living at Pepack, in Somerset County. And any Person choosing to Purchase at private Sale, may apply to said Robert Allen, who has a Power to agree for the same. The Title is indisputable, and good and sufficient Deeds will be given to the Purchasers, by JAMES PARKER.”

[James Parker owned the deeds and titles to the entire tract of land. The lands were shown to prospective buyers by Elisha Robins, tenant of sections 7 and 8. Robert Allen of Pepack, Somerset County, acted as land agent. Section 1, comprised of 168 acres, was listed as “in possession of” Mathias Snook. Section 11, comprised of 211 acres, was listed as “ditto” Peter Cass.]

Lease to Peter Cafs (Gass/Coss)

“Lease - To - Peter Cafs [Cass] for 7 years from 25th March 1766 for Farm No. 11, 210 [and] 8/10 acres, at 35 Bushells wheat per annum to be delivered at Jacob VanDerveer[‘]s Mills &tc. –“

Source: James Parker Papers, Manuscript Group #18, Box 2, Folder 7. New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ. Leases for Matthias Snook, John Loder, Daniel McKennie, Leonard Weidner, Elisha Robins, and Nicolas Yost are found in Folders 5-7. See advertisement to sell tract of land in Sussex County in “New Jersey Archives,” Series I, Vol. 5, pp. 571-572.

THIS INDENTURE Made the Tenth Day of May in the Sixth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign King GEORGE the Third -- Anno Domini 1766 between James Parker of Perth Amboy in the County of Middlesex and Province of New Jersey of the First Part, and Peter Cafs [Cass] of the Second Part.

WITNESSETH, That the Party aforesaid of the First Part, in consideration of the rents and covenants herein-after-mentioned, hath demised, set, and to farm let, to the said Party of the Second Part, all that tract of land, situate, lying and being in Newtown [Newton] in the County of Sussex and Province of New Jersey aforesaid being part of a larger tract of land belonging to the said James Parker and known and distinguished by Lott or Farm No. 11,

Beginning at a white oak tree standing in the line of the larger tract being the Southwest corner of Lott No. 10 thence running south 88 degrees east 8 chains thence south 80 degrees east 41 chains to a black oak bush thence south 69 degrees East 35 chains and 25 links along the Lines of Lott No. 10 to the line of Lott No. 2 thence south 22 degrees & 30 minutes West 12 chains to a line of Lott No. 1 thence North 81 degrees west 31 chains along the line of said Lott to a corner thereof thence south 7 chains to an elm tree on the North side of a branch of Pawlins Kill being another corner of Lott No. 1 thence North 80 degrees West 45 chains down the said branch crossing the same several lines to the North side thereof being another corner of said Lott No. 1 in the line of the larger tract thence North 2 degrees West 28 chains and 50 links along the said line to the beginning containing 200 and 10 acres and 8/10ths of an acre --

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, to the Party aforesaid of the Second Part, for the term of seven years, from the 24th day of March last past rendering therefore yearly and every year, the rent of 35 bushels of good clean and merchantable wheat to be delivered at Jacob Vanderveer[‘]s Mills in Somerset County or elsewhere within that distance as the said James Parker shall direct -- on every 25th Day of March, during the Term aforesaid.

AND the Party aforesaid of the First Part, for himself and his Heirs, doth covenant, grant, promise and agree, to and with the party aforesaid of the Second Part, that he will warrant and defend the said Peter Cafs [Cass] in the Possession of the demised Premises, during the Term aforesaid, against all and every Person and Persons claiming, or to claim, any Estate, Right, title or Interest therein of thereto, or to any Part thereof,

And in case the party aforesaid of the First Part, will defend such suit or suits, prosecution or prosecutions, at his charge, without leaving any Part thereof to be paid by the Party aforesaid of the Second Part, he giving him notice to defend such Suit or Prosecution. And in Consideration of the Premises, the Party aforesaid of the Second Part, agrees, covenants and promises, yearly and every Year, to pay rent reserved as aforesaid, together with such Taxes, as the Premises aforesaid shall be liable to pay; and to cut no green Timber but for the use of the premises; not to plow any part of the premises more than once in three years for winter grain, to plant at 50 six-foot distance one hundred apple trees and to fence their use themselves and keep up the number so planted during the term of this Lease, the said trees to be planted within the two first years of this Lease, to clear seven acres of meadow between his field and Pawlins Kill clear and smooth and fitt for the scythe all in one piece to fence and keep up the same and that he will not at any time during the term of this lease sett the woods on fire or suffer it to be done my any body under him but if fired by accident that he will assist all that in him lays(?) to extinguish the same and prevent it from burning the fences and that he will during the continuation of this lease keep his fences in tenantable order and at the expiration of the term deliver up the same in good sufficient and lawful fence --

And at the expiration of the term for which the premises are demised as aforesaid, to yield the same up to the party aforesaid of the First Part, or his order, if required. But if not required, then the party aforesaid of the Second Part, is to hold the demised premises, until such time as three month notice in writing shall be given to either party by either party, that the said lease is, at the end of the said three months to determine provided always, that if the party aforesaid of the Second Part, shall, during this lease, desert, leave, quit, or give over the possession of the premises, without leave in writing of the party aforesaid of the First Part, then the term by these presents granted is from thenceforth to determine and ceases. And the parties aforesaid, severally and respectively do bind themselves each to the other, respectively in the sum of five hundred pounds proclamation money of New Jersey -- aforesaid, for the true performance of their respective parts of the premises.

And for the more certainty of delivering up possession to the lessors at the end of the term aforesaid, I, the said Peter Cafs [Cass] -- lessee, do hereby appoint any attorney at law to appear for me and to receive a declaration in ejectment against me on the demise of the lessor for the premises in the above lease, as of any term during the continuance of this lease, in the Supreme Court of New Jersey and thereon to confess judgment of that same term, with cost of suit, with power to release all errors in the judgment. In witness whereof the parties to these present indentures, have interchangeably set their hands and seals the day and year first above-written.

Sealed and delivered in the presence of
[Signed] Petter GaB [Gass] (Last character resembles Greek Beta, is a German “Eszett,” Anglicized as double “s”.)
[Signed] Robert Allen (agent for James Parker)
[Signed] Jacob Jingling (believed to be German translator)

Addidional Notes Re:  Lease, Parker to Gass/Coss



Source: James Parker Papers, Manuscript Group #18, Box 2, Folder 5-7. New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ.

Sussex County, April 17th, 1770


In the year 1766, you leased a Plantation in this [Sussex] County to one PETER CASS [CAFS], who died about a year ago, & in his will appointed me one of his executors. Soon after his decease the other executor & myself were very desirous of giving up the possession of the place to your agent Mr. Robert Allen, as were also the widow & relatives of the deceased. But Mr. Allen absolutely refused to accept the farm & said we (the executors) wou[l]d be liable to perform the covenants & that he should look to us for the rent. We not knowing but it might be so, endeavoured to do the best (as we thought) for the estate. And the bearer(?) has(?) of Barnet VanDevender offering to take the place & fulfill the covenants, we agreed to let him have it upon those terms. And having acquainted Mr. Allen with the land, he very willingly gave his consent thereto & directed me in what manner to proceed, which directions I have strictly followed. Nevertheless Mr. Allen, when he was in this County last month, warned VanDevender of the place, said it was, by your directions, and if he did not go off by the 25th of this Inst. he would be [e]jected by you. If that should be the case it may probably be the ruin of VanDevender as he is in a manner among Strangers, and on the engagement given by Mr. Allen, moved his family at a great expense above sixty miles to settle upon that place. Therefore [I] hope he may be permitted to enjoy his Farm which will give much satisfaction to [him].

Your most Obed't. Serv't.

[Signed] George Razor

“LIST OF FARMS AT WHITE PONDS IN NEWTOWN, SUSSEX COUNTY. May 26, 1766.” Includes "Peter Kafs" – [promissory?] note for L.3 [3 pounds]

“MEMO[RANDUM] OF INQUIRYS to be made for the Settlement of Sussex Rents with Robert Allen & The Tenants. [No date.]”

Lott No. 11 was leased to Peter Cafs [Cass] for 7 years from March 1766 by a letter from George Razor 17th April 1770[.] [I]t appears Cafs died about a twelve month before and that the place got into the possession of Barent Vandeventer who was succeeded by Jona Danells [Jonathan Daniels].
How was the Rent till Danells came on it [and] settled?
Danells came on the place March 1771 and [paid] 35 bushels wheat p.an [per annum] and afterwards had it at L.15 [15 pounds per annum].
When did his first lease end[?] [I]t was for for 2 years but did he not live on it longer at this rate[?] He has Csedes [seeds?] for 35 bushels wheat only 24 Dec 72 and for L.15.
20th Ap[ril]: 75 & L.15
22d Oct. 76 both by the hands of Alex[ande]r Kirkpatrick
When did Danells leave the place & when did Chapman go on it --

“Untitled and undated document.”
William Thompson was succeeded in his [lease?] & is stated on next leaf -- To PETER CAFS [CASS] for 7 years from 26th March 1766 as the lease will appear but Cafs [Cass] died in the spring. Razor dated 17 April 1770 will appear and the Barent Vandeventer who I got off the place but rent was paid till the year 1771 when I leased all begin the amount & leave a space to state the [for statement by] Robert Allen who probably will know the whole
Hi Joy,
The information about Peter Gass (Gasser) comes from Annette Kunselman Burgert's book, "Eighteenth Century Emigrants from Northern Alsace to America." She lists the children of Peter and wife Magdalena nee Springer as Johan Jacob (b. 1728), Maria Elizabetha (b. 1729), Peter (b. 1733) and Anna Magdalena (b. 1736). The will of Peter Gass/ Coss (d. 1769) of Sussex County, New Jersey mentions another Peter Coss, who was born in 1747. It's possible that the first son named Peter died young. His mother apparently died because his father was married a second time to "Cattern" or Catherine. The son Peter named in the will could be a child of the second marriage, named for the son who died, which was customary in those days. Since New Jersey has few records from this period of history, we can only speculate about this.
I hope this helps.

I'm looking for a reliable researcher of the Coss family who settled in Belmont Co., Oh., and you seem to have the best grasp of the facts (or at least have facts corresponding to what I have). That is, I believe the father was named George Coss, not Jacob - as you do.
But here are some other questions for you, with hopes of starting a dialogue:
I posted last year that I knew George's wife to be known as Margaret Cleckner, not Mary. For this I have several proofs. Yet, I see that among those Coss descendants posting their family trees around the internet, they keep using the couple "Jacob" and "Mary."
I'm also amazed that nobody seems interested in pushing back the generations to George's father Peter back in NJ.
There is also a Revolutionary War certificate in Sussex Co. that almost certainly refers to this George Coss.
I am aware of the article in the Chillicothe newspaper on the occasion of Jacob Coss' 100th birthday. There is some vagueness about George having had a first marriage and a number of children from it; yet, it seems as if the only potential child from that union is George, Jr.
Or, do you know of other Coss children from the first marriage?
Finally, does anyone, do you know, have a date of death for Margaret Coss or place of burial?
Thank you very much,
Outline based on George W. Coss’s Family History

Rev. George Washington Coss (abbreviated GWC) was born in Spring Hill, OH, in 1850 and died in Grand Rapids, OH, in 1933. He wrote a family history in 1925. He and a number of his relatives were members of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. I sent a copy to the United Brethren Historical Center at Huntington College, Huntington, IN.

GWC was 74 when he wrote his 48-page “Coss Family History,” for his niece, Mrs. Elva Coss Green. She had it published by the Keystone Press of Toledo, OH. I put a few facts in question in quotation marks, followed by what I think might be likely alternatives in brackets. (I grew up in Sussex County, NJ, and think he made a few mistakes.)

Mrs. Beverly Kepler Coss, wife of Edwin Lee Coss, sent me a photocopy of GWC’s family history in 1981. She received it from George Ellwood of California, one of GWC’s great-grandsons.

The seven Coss brothers of Belmont County may have roots in Sussex County, NJ. The Palatines to America organization tentatively identified Peter Gass or Coss as an ancestor from Alsace who immigrated to America in 1738 and died in Sussex County, NJ, in 1769. Whether or not George Washington Coss and his father William are related to the Cosses of Belmont County, Ohio is unknown.

Jonathan L. Coss


George Washington Coss Family History

I. William Coss and Sarah Jane Gay, Parents of GWC

George W. Coss wrote that his father William was born on June 3, 1806, in “Essex” [Sussex] County, New Jersey. GWC said, “...I have not been able to trace his life while a young man. He worked on the canal some time in his life...” [George may have been referring to the Erie Canal or its branch canals.] From his children’s birthplaces we know that William spent some time in New York State before moving to Ohio.

At age 24, William Coss married Sarah Jane Gay on August 14, 1829, in upstate New York. Sarah Jane was born to William Gay and his German-speaking wife Sallie on April 9, 1809, in Herkimer County, New York. Sarah Jane gave birth to 12 children. The first three were born in New York State. The birthplace of first-born Phebe Jane is unknown, but William G. was definitely born in Livingston County and Calvin in Washington County. The rest of the children were born in Fulton County, Ohio. Sarah Jane Gay Coss died on October 25, 1887, at age 78, and was buried in Fulton County.

Thomas Mikesell’s history of Fulton County (1905) says that Willard E. Gay was born in Herkimer County, New York, on March 29, 1815, and became the director of the Fulton County infirmary. He may have been Sarah Jane Gay’s brother. Sarah’s father, William Gay, moved to Fulton County in 1840, according to Mikesell’s history.

George W. Coss wrote of his father William: “He must have lived in New Jersey some few years, as the first record I can get of him in Ohio is when he bought 70 acres of land of Martin and Louisa Gay [in] 1841....” William died on August 21, 1884, at 78 years, and was buried in the family cemetery near Spring Hill, Ohio.

William was an avid hunter. According to GWC, he “depended mostly on having furs and skins enough to buy our boots and shoes for the children.” GWC also described William’s fondness for a hunting dog named Brandy: “One day the dog was after a deer. Father was following him and heard a gun crack, and heard nothing more of the dog. When father got there the dog was dead. One of the Gays [his in-laws] had shot him. Father saw Gay standing a few rods away and was so angry he drew his gun and had a mind to shoot him. But Gay said, ‘Don’t shoot; I shot at the deer, but hit the dog.’”

William had a terrible temper. GWC wrote, “Some times when the older boys [his brothers] would not mind [?], father would take a rod [ramrod] and whip them. Perhaps that is the reason the boys left home so soon. I heard one young man [one of his brothers?] saying that a gun was dangerous without either lock, cock, stick or barrel. Some said how can that be and he said he knew it was so, for his father whipped him with a ramrod.”

Sarah Jane ran the family household and farm. With help from her children, she did all the farm and household chores, while William and the older sons went off hunting. GWC wrote, “My mother was a very, very hard working woman, and was the main spoke in the wheel in raising and providing for the family.”

II. William and Sallie Gay Jane, Parents of Sarah Jane Gay

The parents of GWC’s wife, Sarah Jane Gay, were William and Sallie Gay. William Gay was born on February 20, 1778, possibly in Sussex County. He died on October 19, 1840, and was buried on Mefford Hill, near Toledo. He married Sallie, who was born on June 25, 1785. GWC didn’t mention her maiden name or the date of their marriage.

Sarah Jane Gay’s parents were both baptized on the same day – July 9, “1726” [1786?] – in the “Walpeck” [Walpack] Congregation of “New York.” [Walpack is located in Sussex County, New Jersey. George didn’t mention the name of the church sect. It may have been Dutch Reformed.]

After William Gay died, his widow Sallie “went to live with his youngest daughter, Mrs. Almira Goodrich, in Michigan, and lived there until her death July 20, 1867.” GWC wrote, “Harvey Goodrich [Almira’s husband?] came to Ohio and removed the remains of her husband [William Gay] to Michigan and was buried by her side…. I well remember her. She was the first one that ever talked to me about being a Christian.” [The 1850 census recorded Almira M. Goodrich living in Hillsdale County, Michigan.]

III. The Children of William and Sarah Jane Coss

1. Phebe Jane Coss was born on June 14, 1829, in upstate New York. She was married to Isaac Stickles. GWC wrote that Isaac “opposed” her religious life. She left the United Brethren to join the Free Methodist Church in Ohio and later joined the Church of the Nazarene in Calif. Isaac died in Hillsdale County, Michigan. She died on March 19, 1913, at her son’s home near Pleasanton, California. Phebe and Isaac had seven children, but GWC only mentioned William Ottobine Stickles by name.

With such an unusual name, Phebe Jane’s son, William Ottobine Stickles, was probably named for the Rev. Philip William Otterbein. Rev. Otterbein of the German Church and a Mennonite named Martin Boehm met on Pentecost Sunday in 1767 at a “Great Meeting,” hosted by Isaac Long at his big barn in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After hearing Boehm preach, Rev. Otterbein announced, “We are brethren!” This was the beginning of the United Brethren Church in America.

2. William G. Coss was born on August 14, 1831 in Livingston County, New York. William was married to Angeline Moon on November 16, 1854. She was born in “Copackflates” [Copake Flats, Columbia County?] in New
York State, on July 3, 1836. They were the parents of nine children. William G. was a millwright who served with the 38th Ohio Infantry during the Civil War. They lived in Kansas and in Ohio. Four of William G.’s children died young. He and Angeline had religious conversions in
1874. They joined the U.B. Church at Findlay, Ohio. GWC wrote that both William and Angeline were U.B. pastors. Angeline died on November 18, 1913. William G. died from stomach cancer on March 31, 1918, at his sister’s home in Pioneer, Ohio. William G. and Angeline were buried in
the Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo.

Elsie, possibly one of William G.’s children, wrote an article, “Christ as our Example” for the U.B. newsletter, Christian Conservator, in 1901. Stella Seth Coss, the youngest daughter, traveled from St. Louis to Ohio in 1904, in an attempt to improve her health; she died two days after arriving at her father’s home.

GWC mentioned the names of only five of the nine children of William G. and Angeline Coss:
Jennie Coss was born September 13, 1859. She was married to a Mr. Gordon and moved to Hiawatha, Kansas. They had four children, but their names were not mentioned.
Grant W. Coss was born on November 9, 1861.
Sherman B. Coss was born on August 20, 1866, became a barber.
George E. Coss was born on July 8, 1868, also a barber. He lived in Toledo.
Charles Willard Coss was born at “Pompa Hill” [Pompey, Onondaga County?], NY on September 27, 1868. [Either Charles’s or George’s birth date is wrong]. He married and moved to British Columbia. A daughter Maggie was born on August 20, 1877.

3. Calvin H. Coss was born on February 9, 1833, in Washington County, NY. He was married on April 19, 1868 to Wealthia Field, a school teacher born at Bucyrus, Ohio in 1842. He was in the 67th Ohio Infantry in the Civil War. He was a farmer, played the violin and liked horses. From Pioneer, Ohio, they moved to Breeze, MO. Calvin died on February 4, 1895, and was buried in Nashville, MO. After his death, Wealthia lived with her eldest daughter, Mrs. Elva Coss Green, in Alba, MO.

Calvin H. and Wealtha Field Coss had six children:
Elva Miriam Coss was born on March 27, 1870. She married Willis J. Green in 1902.
Mary Coss was born on January 21, 1874, in LaSalle County, Illinois.
Herbert Field Coss was born on January 2, 1875, in Pioneer, Ohio. He was married to Mary Cone in 1897.
Roscoe Lee Coss was born on March 1, 1877, in Pioneer, Ohio.
Vio [Violet?] Dell Coss was born on February 8, 1878, near Spring Hill, Ohio.
Otto C. Coss was born on September 20, 1879, Russell Co, Kansas. He was married to Luella De Haney in 1918.

4. Martin V. Coss was born on July 14, 1835 in Fulton County, Ohio. He served with the 38th Ohio Infantry in the Civil War, and married Mary Zilener on September 12, 1884. He died on September 12, 1894 in Fresno, California. GWC wrote, “He, like the rest of the boys, got the western fever and went west. I have no knowledge of where all he went, or where he lost his wife. He roamed around considerably.”

5. Sylvester R. Coss was born on September 27, 1837 in Fulton County, Ohio. He was married to Catherine Hall, date unknown. GWC wrote, “Before his enlistment there was a son born to them, April 12, ‘1866’ [1860].” Sylvester was a surveyor for the 44th Illinois Infantry. He
was honorably discharged on January 12, 1863, at Covington, Kentucky, where he had been an invalid for some time. Sylvester wrote to his father William, who brought him back to Ohio. Sylvester died on January 27, 1863, five days after he reached home. He was buried in the Tedrow Cemetery in Dover Township.

GWC wrote that Catherine and her son, Martin S. Coss, “lived at our house for some time. In fact father raised him.” She died a few years later. Martin became a contractor, painter, and paperhanger. He married Eliza Kibler about 1880. They had six children: Lilly, Clyde,
Mrs. Gladys Coss Steele, Martin, and two others unidentified.

6. Leonard V. Coss was born on September 7, 1839, near Spring Hill, Ohio. Leonard was in the 67th Ohio Infantry during the War. He went west, got married (wife’s name not mentioned) and returned home. He died on August 16, 1918, at Pioneer, Ohio.

7. Harvey A. Coss was born on May 4, 1842. He served with the 55th Ohio Infantry during the Civil War and was wounded at Resaca, Georgia. He married Mary Pulver, traveled throughout the West and “lost her,” details of death unknown. He lived in Weston, West Virginia, for a
time. He died on October 20, 1924, in Galveston, Texas.

8. Franklin (Frank) D. Coss was born on March 25, 1844, in Fulton County, Ohio. He served with the U.S. Veteran Infantry in the Civil War. His first wife died in Indianapolis, leaving a son named Frank. His second wife died in St. Louis, where they raised a large family
(their names not mentioned). His youngest, Stella Seth, died on March 25, 1904, according to her obituary in the UBC newsletter. Frank’s third wife, Alma Andrews of Galena, Kansas, had no children or none with Frank. GWC wrote, “They [Frank and Alma] were both preachers [who]
traveled for the Radical United Brethren” in Ohio. He died on February 24, 1922, at Fort Dodge, Kansas.

Frank Coss wrote several articles for The Christian Conservator in 1900. They are “A Confirmation,” “Redeemed,” and “Revival at North
Lima.” Alma Coss wrote an article for the same publication entitled “How to Backslide,” in 1898.

9. Emily L. Coss was born on February 23, 1846, in Fulton County, Ohio. She was married to James H. Pulver [possibly the brother of Harvey’s wife Mary], who was wounded in the Civil War. They had two children, Frank and Nella. Frank went west and married. Nella Coss married Mr. Fountain and lied in Toledo. They had three children not identified by
name. Two of them died and a son survived.

10. An infant, Mary A. Coss, was born and died on the same day, September 25, 1849.

11. [See below.]

12. Clarry [Clare?] Ortencie [Hortense?] Coss, the youngest, was born on October 3, 1852. She was married to John Hickman, a farmer and Civil War veteran. Their daughter (not identified) married and lived in West Unity, Ohio, in 1925.

IV. George Washington Coss

11. Washington Marion Coss was born on January 25, 1850, at Spring Hill, near the present town of Tedrow, Ohio. His parents allowed him to change his name in early boyhood to George Washington Coss, by which he was known for the rest of his life. GWC was influenced at a young age by his devout German-speaking grandmother Sallie Gay, his sister Phebe Jane, and his aunt Almira. His brothers, William and Frank, became strong believers and ministers for the United Brethren Church.

GWC wanted to join the army during the Civil War, but was too young. He worked on the farm while his brothers were in the army and attended school sporadically. He sheared sheep (for $2 a day) and cut timber for spending money. He hated plowing, but he enjoyed breaking steers. Like his father, GWC had a “temper” as a young man. His parents led the family worship, providing a model for GWC to follow as an adult.

George W. Coss wrote about fights with a devil that came out of his mother’s box of carpet rags at night. “Whether it was in a dream or awake, I do not know.... He would jump around on the bed, strike at me, until I was covered with perspiration and gave up, whipped.” After many frustrating nights, GWC took his sister Phebe’s advice. He got rid of the devil simply by saying, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, you get out of here.’ Later, GWC was baptized in an icy river, but then backslid into his habitual sins of drinking hard cider, chewing tobacco and lying to God.

According to GWC, he hired a widow named Frances Caryl to help his mother with the housework and weaving. In 1877, at age 27, he married Frances, who was 16 days older than he was. Her husband had died from consumption or tuberculosis, and she had a son named James (b. 1870) from that marriage. James grew up, married, and settled in Toledo with his wife and three children. James had contracted tuberculosis when GWC wrote his history. GWC wanted to rent the family farm from his father, but William instead rented it to his son-in-law, John Hickman. GWC then bought 40 acres in Wood County, Ohio, where he farmed and cut timber.

GWC’s father died on August 21, 1884. It may have been after William’s death that George studied the Bible and began holding his own family services. He went to hear an inspiring preacher, Rev. Bartley, who was affiliated with the United Brethren and Methodist churches. After he was saved and “sanctified” [made holy], GWC began preaching as a volunteer at schoolhouses for the U.B. in 1888. [Due to a shortage of ministers, the Methodists and United Brethren didn’t require their preachers to attend a college or seminary.] GWC was ordained on September 8, 1889, when he was nearly 40 years old. He wrote, “I joined the Conference under the charge of Bishop Wright. He is the father of the Wright boys, who built the first “aeroplane.” Wright was a leader in the United Brethren’s Radical wing, which lost out to the Liberal wing. The Radicals supported the election of lay representatives in the church government.

Besides his family history, GWC wrote several articles for the United Brethren newsletter, The Christian Conservator: “Their Fruits” (1891), “Sandusky Revival” (1898), “Melmore Mission, Sandusky” (1898), and “Grand Rapids Donation” (1900).

GWC moved his family to Burgoon in Sandusky County, Ohio. When the United Brethren divided into Liberal and Radical wings in 1889, he joined the Radicals, who advocated lay representatives in the church government. Each wing in GWC’s area had alternate use of a brick church until they began locking each other out. His life was threatened on several occasions. He wrote, “The feeling ran high, almost ready to commit murder.” GWC wrote defensively about instructing his children to fight back at school. Eventually the Liberal wing won control of the U.B. Church.

GWC preached to the United Brethren on several circuits in Ohio: Beaver Creek, Deshler, Portage, and Toledo. After preaching for three weeks in Woodside, Ohio, without converting anyone, he told the congregation, “God would send a judgment.” When seven of them died within a month, he felt the awesome power of God’s mysterious ways.

Preaching had its rewards. GWC described a meeting in which it seemed that the congregation “all tried to shout at once. We had a large box stove. The house was old and the “sleepers” [load-bearing beams] were springy. One day old Father Rinebolt got to jumping up and down, and the stove would jump clear of the floor and come down and rattle. I told him the stove shouted, too. They all said it was the best meeting that was ever held in that place. I took in about twenty members for the church.” At age 55, after preaching for seventeen years, GWC was honorably dismissed from the United Brethren on September 22, 1905.

GWC’s daughter Bertha died in 1911 from tuberculosis and his wife Frances died on December 11, 1915, also from TB. In the following year, he married a widow, Alice Stevens, of Toledo. They separated seven years later. GWC gave his house to his daughter Myrtle, after her loving care of Frances.

GWC then traveled about the country to see his relatives. He visited his son Henry in St. Louis and sister-in-law Wealthia in Jasper County, Missouri, where he helped with farm work and did some preaching. He visited his brother Frank in Galena, Kansas, and his brother Harvey in Weston, Missouri. George and Harvey went to Leavenworth, Kansas, to see the Old Soldier’s Home and prison. GWC then visited his niece, Jennie Gordon (William G.’s daughter) and her family in Hiawatha, Kansas.

When he completed his family history in 1924, GWC was living in a rented room in Toledo. He had outlived his first wife, his eldest daughter, and all of his siblings except for his two youngest sisters. GWC lived another eight years, dying at age 83 from arteriosclerosis in Grand Rapids, Ohio. Perhaps he was taken into the home of his daughter, Alta Viola Conrad, who lived in Grand Rapids.

The frontispiece of GWC’s family history is a photographic portrait of him holding a Bible. Under the photo is a quotation: “Buy the truth and sell it not; for the Lord God is a Sun and Shield. The Lord will give Grace and Glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” GWC joined two Bible passages together: “Buy the truth and sell it not” is from Proverbs 23: 23. The rest comes from Psalm 84: 11.

V. The Children of George W. and Frances Coss

1. Edward Carl Coss was born on December 21, 1877. He married Sadie Caskey on September 21, 1898. They lived in Toledo and had seven children: George, Tyrus and five unidentified daughters. [Tyrus was named for baseball great Ty Cobb.] Written next to Edward’s name are the words, “my maternal grandfather.”

2. Henry Leroy Coss was born on July 26, 1879. He and his wife raised three daughters in Toledo. He served in the army as a corporal during the Spanish-American War. They apparently relocated, as he wrote on the title page of the Coss history: “Property of Henry L. Coss, Dearborn, Mich.”

3. Bertha May Coss was born on December 6, 1883. GWC wrote, “She was converted to God in…1898 at Portage camp meeting.” [Camp meetings were important to the church for gaining new members.] Bertha married James Bailey on November 10, 1903. They lived in Weston, WV, and raised two daughters, Frances and Ruth. James remarried after Bertha died of tuberculosis in 1911.

4. Myrtle L. Coss was born November 16, 1887. She married a policeman, Roy Harris, April 18, 1903, and lived in Toledo. Daughter Naomi married James Brittson in 1910.

5. Alta Viola Coss was born September 7, 1889. She married a farmer, George Conrad, on September 22, 1910, in a double wedding ceremony with Naomi Harris and James Brittson. Alta and George lived with their son (illegible) in Grand Rapids, Ohio