Major Lee Zeigler – Virginia & Ohio

This is my 4th year participating in the A-Z Challenge.  I am writing about people who were born into slavery and  lived to be free, and their descendants.  Today I will write about Major L. Zeigler . He has ties to my family as the 2nd husband of the great grandmother of the wife of my 1st cousin once removed.

Major Zeigler was born in Virginia about 1869. In the 1880 census he was 11 years old and lived in Horse Pasture, Henry County, Virginia with his 50 year old mother, Lucy Zeigler and his 13 year old sister Polly.  All of them are listed as servants and none of them could read or write.

The first time Major Zeigler appears in Cincinnati records is in the 1887 Cincinnati City Directory, where he was listed as a laborer. He would have been 18 years old.  In 1894 he married Ella Bayes. He was 27 and she was 25.  She had been married previously and brought three daughters to the union.  They never had any children together.

In the 1900 census, the family lived at 4214 Eastern Avenue. The house was mortgaged. Major was a coal dealer. His wife, Ella was not working outside of the home. She had given birth to four children and three were still living. Her three daughters were using Zeigler as their surname. Fifteen year old Onie, 14 year old Maud and 11 year old Nennie were all attending school, as was Ella’s 11 year old brother who lived with them.  Ella’s mother lived in the home also. There was one border, 15 year old Murphy McSwain who worked as a coal peddler. He was the only one in the house who could neither read nor write.

In 1910 Major and Ella Ziegler lived in the house at 4214 Eastern alone. They owned their house however, it was not paid off. His occupation is listed as coal teamster. Ella did not work outside of the home.

In 1920 they owned the house free of mortgage. Granddaughter Fern, 16, lived with them. She was not attending school. Major’s occupation was as a mover of household goods. He was 49.  Ella was 51. Neither Ella nor Fern were employed outside of the home.

In 1930 Major Zeigler was working on his own account as a supervisor at his real estate business. They had moved out of the house on Eastern Avenue and were living in their mortage free house in Springfield. The house was valued at $10,000.  Since 1920, granddaughter Fern had married, divorced and had a seven year old daughter, Elaine, who was attending school. Sixty four year old Albert Smith boarded with them.  They did not own a radio.

Ella Bayes Zeigler died on November 18, 1933. She is buried in spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. She was 64 years old.

In 1940 Major Zeigler was 73 years old. He lived in a boarding house. His highest level of education completed was 2nd grade. He was working as a real estate agent.  Major Lee Zeigler died at home on April 10, 1960. You can read his obituary below.

The Cincinnati Enquirer - Monday April 11 1960. Major Lee Zeigler's obituary
The Cincinnati Enquirer – Monday April 11 1960.
Major Lee Zeigler’s obituary

23 thoughts on “Major Lee Zeigler – Virginia & Ohio

  1. All that with just a 2nd grade education. Major lived the dream, that’s for sure.
    Congratulations on making it to the end! This has been a wonderful series that I hope you will continue.

    1. I kept thinking that about the 2nd grade education and decided that although he only went through the 2nd grade in school, he kept his eyes open and kept educating himself right along.

      Maybe throughout the year I will research one person, one person with a beginning letter that many start their name with. I had to skip several interesting people because I had already used their letter. I was happy to find that Major Zeigler has many relatives! I already have my Z for next year.

    1. I was afraid people might think it was a title, but seeing him with that name at 11 would make it plain it was just a name. I knew a man named General.

  2. I’m still trying to work through the relationships links in that first paragraph.
    Wouldn’t it be fine if you had found a man named Major General.
    Great A-Z series, Kristin.

  3. It’s fun to read about this community leader and entrepreneur. I think that you are right that he kept his eyes open and kept educating himself along the way.

  4. Now that A to Z is over I am trying to catch up reading more posts. I was a first timer and it was hard. Congratulations on completing your fourth year. Amazing. Keep documenting your ancestors stories.

  5. Isn’t it amazing how he could do all that with only a second grade education. Wow! It would be nice if things worked that way in this day and age. Maybe a lot more people would be living the American dream if that was the case. Good for him!

    Congrats on finishing the challenge. Great theme.


  6. Kristin – I can’t believe you have done four of these challenges. Oh my goodness. What fortitude! I was flat out doing one but I am so pleased I persevered…I learned heaps. I think Major Ziegler’s story was so interesting…all those different areas he worked in throughout his life and he did so well given his lack of education. Really inspiring. Just like you!

    1. It does eat up April, but I am already planning people for next years challenge. Maybe digging deeper into some of the people who appeared on the sidelines of the main people during my first four challenges.

  7. I amazed you have done 4 A to Z challenges. This is my second and I found it harder to find subjects for the letters even though I thought them out before I signed up to the challenge. I’ve found it hard to read as many blogs as I would have liked to so I’m going to be catching up now the challenge is finished.
    Thank you for your efforts.

  8. See, you know more than the obituary writers. You told us that Mr. Ziegler was born in Virginia, but his obit said North Carolina! One question I had–what happened to the house they owned free and clear after his wife Ella died? Strange for the owner of a real estate firm to be living in a boarding house.
    Congratulations and thank you for completing the Challenge with another project worthy of publication! (Not that this isn’t publication–it is.) Such a rich theme. Josna

    1. I noticed that too. The reason I had Virginia is because all but one of the census records in which he appeared said “Virginia” or “Old Virginia”. His parents were born in NC (according to the census records) One of the later ones said North Carolina.

      Perhaps he didn’t want to live alone. He was in his 80s by then. From reading many books from the early 1900s, there were vast differences between boarding houses. I would think this was one of the better kinds. Hmmm, I guess for next year I could google the head of the house and try and find out what’s what. Keeping my eyes open this year for potentials for next year. 🙂

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