My maternal grandmother was a Whetsel. This story is from that family line.

Louis Whetsel was born February 12 1862 and died November 6, 1940. He was the son of Layfatte Whetsel and Nancy Worley. On May 26, 1887 he married Alice Bean. Alice was the daughter of Jesse Bean and Amelia Long. The marriage took place in Ohio. Louis Whetsel and Alice had three little boys; Clarence, Jesse and Earl.

I am not sure of the time-line for their move, but I do know this family was living in Los Angeles, California area in 1901. Louis Whetsel worked as a carpenter. Alice Whetsel was in charge of a large rooming house with about twenty-five tenants. By December 1901 Louis and Alice were separated.

On December 17, 1901, Alice was busy cleaning small coal oil stoves. The stoves were portable and could be moved from room to room to heat water and such. She had lit a wick to check one of the stoves and when she blew, to put the fire out, the fire caught on in the coal oil reservoir, which in turn caused the glass to explode and the flames consumed Alice. Alice ran out of the room she was in and some of the tenants grabbed blankets to douse the flames. All the observers seem to know that it was too late for Alice. The firemen said she had breathed the fire and they could see she was burned from her knees to the top of her head.

The poor little boys were no doubt unable to process what was happening to their unfortunate mother. I read an account of the incident from the Los Angeles Times newspaper and I will quote what they said the boys were calling out to their mother. “Don’t worry, mamma; we’ll take care of the house.” “Come back fore next week, mamma, for you know it will be Christmas.”

This account is about as sad as it gets! The boys were my third cousins, 1x removed. My 3x Great Grandfather was their 2x Great Grandfather.




Jesse Woltz was born in Hagerstown Maryland December 15, 1792.  His parents were Dr. Peter Woltz and Maria Breitengross.   Peter and Maria were my Paternal 5x Great-Grandparents. Before leaving Hagerstown, it is likely he apprenticed with his uncle; George Woltz. George Woltz was a well-known cabinet maker in Hagerstown, Maryland. I have seen a picture on the internet of a clock he made and signed.

Jesse served as a private and sergeant in the War of 1812, Stonebrakers Company of Maryland Militia.

Jesse Woltz traveled to Lancaster, Ohio in 1816 with Samuel Herr who was also a cabinet maker. He began a business for himself that same year at Number 9 Wheeling Street in Lancaster, Ohio. He made all types of fine wood furniture and was successful. On September 30, 1816, Jesse Woltz married Elizabeth Canode. She was also from Maryland. The Woltz’s family would include ten children.

It was rumored that he made the cases for Timothy and Thomas Sturgeon clocks.

Later in his career, Jesse expanded his line to include making pianos and organs, including the organ in the Lutheran Church.

It appears that after 1837, Jesse was not doing as well. He advertised to sell the Lutheran Church organ and was taking in borders. He was selling ice cream where he had once sold furniture. In 1839, he moved to Chillicothe to live with his son and died that same year.

In 1842, Elizabeth (Jesse’s widow) married Isaac Hollenback. The Hollenback’s moved to Indiana and Ellizabeth died there in 1880.



Warren Albion Pace was born October 19, 1834 in Effingham County, Georgia. This man is not a blood relative of mine, but that has never kept me from a good story. My great-Aunt, Ora Odessa Whetsel (sister to my Grandma-Orella Ortega Whetsel) was married to James Goodlow Pace and Warren Albion Pace was James father.

In 1860, Warren Pace married Mary Elizabeth Drummon. They had one child, a girl named Cora. At the start of the Civil War, Warren took his wife and child to the Savannah, Georgia area to stay with his family. He joined the 7thGeorgia Confederate Calvary in May of 1862. On June 24, 1864 he was hit by a mini ball that shattered his left elbow. In September of that year, he was in Salem Church, Virginia and told to return home. They could not afford to let him take a horse, so he took off on foot to return to Savannah. He had to go through Sherman’s lines. There was nothing left when he reached his family. Everything was gone! They had no food! Mary and Cora were in poor condition.

Warren then commenced to walk about 150 miles to Hawthorne, Florida, where Mary’s family lived. He would get a mule and cart. When he returned to Savannah, he put Mary and Cora on the cart and he walked them back to her parents’ home. Cora was small and always frail for the remainder of her days, but Mary died the same week they arrived at her parents. The death record says she died from consumption, but the family said starvation. This all is so sad, but it was also a new beginning as the War had ended.

In 1866 Warren married a widow named Henrietta (Fossell) Evans and they raised a family of ten children. Warren Albion Pace died in 1932. He was one month from his ninety-eighth birthday.


Orella Ortega Whetsel was my  maternal Grandmother

Orella was born April 14, 1898. She was the youngest of eight children in her family. Two of the children had died before she was born. Her family was in Lick Township, Jackson County, Ohio. Her father was Daniel Henry Whetsel and her mother was Samantha Angeline Neal.

When our mother died,  she left a few stories she had written about her family members. One was about her mother. I am going to incert it here :

The following was written by Thora Buffinton-Gatwood:

“The time was September 1915. The new schoolteacher was quite an attraction at the dance held in the tiny one-room schoolhouse. Everyone wanted to see her and find out about her family. New-comers were not too plentiful in this mining community of Wellston, Ohio. The shy coal-miner thought the teacher was very pretty and so tiny it was hard to tell her from her older students. In those days all eight grades were taught in one room. Some of the older boys would bring in the coal and tend the fire in the pot-bellied stove. A fresh bucket of coal had just been set near the door. Coming out of a swing, the teacher’s partner released her and she landed in the coal bucket. The shy youg coal-miner rescued her before any other could get there. Since her dress was soiled, he offered to take her home to change. That shy youg coal-miner was my father, Frank Phillip Buffington, born January 13, 1894. The pretty school teacher was my moter, Orella Ortega Whetsel, born April 29, 1898.”

Since my Grandmother died many years prior to my birth I did not know her personally. In fact, I never knew any Whetsel’s. My mother was only nine when her mother died and her father remarried. This was the grandma I knew.

Orella graduated from high school and attended a music conservatory. I have been told that she was an accomplished pianist.

In 1915 Orella married Franklin Phillip Buffington.

In the 1920 census for Carlisle, Sullivan County, Indiana Orella is a housewife and mother of two small children (one of them was my Mother). The family had left Ohio 1919 or 1920.

My mother could tell many stories about her mother and all the things she had been taught by her. She said that her mother could study a dress in a store window and she would duplicate it on her sewing machine. This same story could be told about my mother.

My mother always insisted that her sewing, crocheting and embroidery work was all taught to her by her mother. My mother taught my sister and I these same things, but we had her long after we were nine years old. She also told us she would sit on the bench in the silent movie house while her mother played the piano to match the action on the screen.

Her mother sang folk songs to her and she sang them to us and we sang them to our children. I don’t know where the songs came from, but I know they must have been quit old.

There were three boys born while the Buffington family lived in Indiana, but only one survived. Frank and Orella returned to Ohio by 1927. Orella Whetsel Buffington died in June 1927. She left a husband with three young children.  Her death certificate states that she had a hysterectomy on June 7, 1927. She died of peritonitis on June 9, 1927. Penicillin was not used until the 1940’s. Orella Whetsel Buffington was thirty years old at the time of her death. She was buried in the Fairmount Cemetery, Wellston, Ohio.