Attaching Broken Branches

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My distant cousins have been great at helping me reconnect with a family that my ancestors had let slip away.  A phone call a couple of years ago helped make the connection to the Zuver family. I can only speculate on what family differences caused a gap so large that descendants wouldn’t know a grandmother’s maiden name. The split between the West’s and Zuver’s seemed to have begun before the death of Jacob West. The gap widened after his death and the move of Mary Zuver West, my great-great grandmother, back to the Butler area. Rumors and speculation circulated amongst the two branches, each accusing the other of hidden wealth and favoritism. It wasn’t too long before communication ceased completely between the families.


A distant cousin sent photos from the Fairview cemetery of our mutual Zuver ancestors and gave me permission to post them on my blog. Arthur James Zuver, 1896-1940 was his grandfather and my 1st cousin three times removed. Our mutual direct relation would be George Emery Zuver, grandfather of his Arthur James Zuver, whose headstone photo has also been included. Although there is a stone for Grace K Zuver, 1902-1990, Arthur James’ sister, she is not buried in Fairview cemetery.  She is buried in Fort Pierce, FL with her two other brothers, Harvey and Fred Zuver.


Many of the Zuver’s were buried in Fairview cemetery, Pleasantville, Pennsylvania including Brownlee Zuver, son of William, grandson of George, Civil War veteran, which I have written about previously. Thomas Zuver’s family, my great-great grandmother’s Mary Zuver’s brother, is buried here.


Thomas was the son of George, his family suffered through a horrifying fire that would kill 5 of his children, injure himself, his wife, Nellie C Ives and their surviving children. The children that perished, Emery, Roland, Martha M, and Lettie, Nellie R. are buried in Fairview Cemetery in unmarked graves.


The story about the fire would be included in newspapers across the nation:


The Washington Post,  (Washington, D.C.), 1907 > November > 22


Five Perish in Fire

Two Others of Family Injured; One Probably Fatally.

Dog in House Gives Alarm


Father Rescues Wife and Baby and Falls Unconscious

Soon After Tragedy in Zuver Home Near Titusville, Pa., News Comes of Death of Mrs. Zuver’s Mother in Indiana – Boy Sees Flames Leaping Around His Little Sisters, and Is Unable to Go to Their Rescue.


Titusville, Pa., Nov 21 – Awakened by the barking of his dog early today, Thomas W Zuver, an oil-producer living east of here, found his house in flames. With difficulty he saved his wife and their baby. Two sons escaped from the second story, but were badlly injured. Five children were burned to death. The dead:

Emery Zuver, aged twelve

Roland Zuver, aged eleven

Martha M Zuver, aged nine

Lettie J Zuver, aged seven

Nellie R Zuver, aged five

The injured:

Nelson Zuver, aged sixteen; burned about the hands and face; will recover.


Awakened by His Dog


The fire is supposed to have originated in the floor, beneath an overheated gas range. When Zuver, awakened by the dog, sprang from his bed, the flames filled the sitting room. He forced the window sash out, calling to his wife to bring the baby.


Climbing to the porch roof, Zuver met one of the older boys coming through a window. The boy fell senseless on the roof and dropped to the ground. Flames prevented Zuver from re-entering the window, and he dropped unconscious from the roof.


Saw Sisters in Flames


Wilbur, another son, attempted to save his little brothers, but failed. Looking through the hallway, he saw his three little sisters sleeping as the flames lapped up the bedclothes about them. Wilbur jumped from the window, and in the yard found his mother and the baby partly overcome by smoke.


Soon after the fire, a telegram was received from Van Buren, Ind., announcing the death of Mrs. Zuver’s mother, Mrs Martha Ives. The latter’s body will reach here Friday, and funeral services for the six dead will be held at Pleasantville Saturday.


Four years later Thomas would pass away: 

 New Castle News, New Castle, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, July 12, 1911


Grief Proves Fatal


Butler, Pa. – His health shattered by shock and grief occasioned by the loss of five children and his home by fire when a gas explosion occurred at his home near Leasureville n(Pleasantville?) four years ago, T. W. Zuver, aged 53 died at Clintonville.



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