My headstone of the week this week belongs to “The Perfect Son-in Law,” Philip Kleiss Auxer. Philip is one of my 3rd great grandfathers, and one that I have a lot of respect for. Philip Kleiss Auxer was born in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County to Michael Auxer, Jr. and his wife, Catharine Kleiss Auxer on 6 April 1810. He was named after Catharine’s father who had died 10 years previously. Philip died in Harrisburg, Dauphin County 75 years later on 27 January 1886 and is buried in Harrisburg Cemetery.
It’s the life between the dates that’s important, and Philip was important to a lot of people, mainly his wife, daughters, and mother in law. Mother in law?? Yup! and of course you’re going to find out why!
Before Philip had reached his 7th birthday, his mother was a widow with 5 children under 10 years of age. His father’s friend (and I use the term loosely) Philip Albert, was appointed guardian for the children and before the year had passed he had married his “friend’s” widow.
Michael had few specific wishes in his will. One of them in particular was mentioned in his obituary that appeared in The Church Advocate, a publication of the Church of God.
From Michael Auxer’s Will: Item, it is my will that my beloved wife, Catharine, shall keep my four children in her care, viz: Amelia Auxer, Philip Kleis Auxer, William Auxer and Adam Auxer, and provide for them, until each of them may have received education sufficient for them, and then direct my three sons to such trades as they may choose to learn . . . “
From “The Church Advocate”: . . . Losing his father at an early day, he was placed among strangers where he was trained to a life of honesty and industry. . .”
Philip Albert went on to to sell the various properties left by Michael to his widow to care for her children and it is unknown where the money went. What is known is the fact that the two youngest sons, William and Adam, were schooled as “Poor Children” and the County took the responsibility of paying for their education since their mother was no longer able to.
Philip was established as a wagonmaker by 1840, married with a young family in the Stackstown area of Lancaster County. By 1850 the family had sold their property and moved to Harrisburg with his wife, 2 daughters, a son and a granddaughter. Within 10 years his mother-in-law, Susannah Bischof Leader Kaylor, joined the family.
Susannah had married after the death of her first husband Samuel Leader. The marriage to George Kaylor did not work out and Susannah (the Woman’s Libber of her time!) had a prenup in place and sued George for divorce. Philip was her representative as her “Next Best Friend,” in the divorce, a common practice in 1854. With her monthly alimony and her sole and separate property firmly in place, she joined the Auxer family in Harrisburg. The house on Boas Street was full.
In 1873 the couples only son, Abraham, died and Mary followed him to the grave 4 years later. The two girls had left and taken the grand daughter with them. This left just two people living in that big house on Boas Street, Philip and his mother-in law, Susannah . . .Susannah who would live to the ripe old age of 94 years old. And, just exactly who do you think took care of her in the waning years of her life?
Bingo! her son in law, Philip! This man had to be a candidate for Sainthood! Since I can’t even imagine my husband in a million years taking care of my mother for 7 years after I leave this earth, I must pick Philip’s headstone in Harrisburg Cemetery as
Linda’s Headstone of the Week for Week #10!