Monday 30 May 2016

Out Of His Tree: International Mr. Leather

This past weekend saw the grand final of the International Mr Leather (IML) 2016 contest, and go congratulations to all the finalists and the new International Mr. Leather, David “Trigger” Bailey of New Jersey. As a way of celebration we are looking today at the ancestry of the very first winner of the International Mr Leather title in 1979, David Kloss, who by a strange fluke, has a lot of New Jersey ancestry.

David Shelley Kloss IV (b.1949) is an amateur genealogist himself and has traced much of his own family and that of his husband Remi Collette, a fellow Leather title holder. Much of the information given here will be gleaned from David’s own research.

The majority of David’s ancestry comes from Pennsylvania and New Jersey with European roots in Germany, England and Scotland.

The Kloss family originate from Saxony in Germany. The family name was written with several spellings in the early days in America and today there are descendants who spell their surname Closs, Klose and Close (there’s no link to Glenn Close, unfortunately, or the supermodel Karlie Kloss as they are different families – Glenn English, Karlie Danish).

Melchior Kloss, with his wife Margaretha and baby son Ernst, arrived in the American Colonies in 1738 on the ship “Glasgow”. They settled in Pennsylvania. Ernst grew up and in 1760 married Catharina Suter, another German immigrant, and died in 1805. In 1776 he enlisted in the Revolutionary Army with his 70-year-old father.

Ernst’s great-grandson Daniel Kloss (1832-1910) married Margaret Shelley (1843-1933), thereby bringing that family name into their descendant’s. Their eldest child was baptised David Shelley Kloss and is the first of four successive generations to bear that name, right down to the first International Mr Leather himself.

This first David Shelley Kloss (1860-1950) was a banker and he is credited with providing trusted banking for the businesses of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, which enabled that town to prosper and grow. His second wife was a half-Dutch school teacher called Jenny Burley. Her ancestry goes back to 1766 when her ancestor Isaac Burley arrived in Pennsylvania from New Jersey. Family legend says that the Burleys were descended from the Elizabethan statesman Lord Burghley. No proof has been found for this, and personally I think it’s very unlikely.

However, Burley by name and burly by nature, apparently. Several generations of the family, all of them direct ancestors of IML David Kloss, were quite tall and well-built, something like rugby players or American football players I suppose. Jenny’s grandfather, for instance, is documented as being 6 feet 6 inches (2 metres) tall and weighing 245 pounds (17 and a half stones; 111kg). IML David Kloss no doubt inherited his physique from the Burleys.

David Shelley Kloss jr. (1898-1971) worked in the oil industry. He married Helen Pearson (1910-1972). The research put online by IML David Kloss has little on her ancestry so I did a bit of digging around myself. I found that Helen’s grandfather William emigrated to the USA in 1863 from England. He married a Scottish girl called Jennie Mclaren and lived in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Helen’s mother, Goretta Davis (1876-1955) was the daughter of David L. Davis, a farmer of Readington, New Jersey. The Davis’s had owned the farm there since before the 1840 US census.

David Shelley Kloss III (1924-1998) was a US Merchant marine and Coast Guard. He served on USS Algol and USS Cavalier in the 1940s after the war. He married twice. His second wife was Gaile Killian, a grand-daughter of British-born Pennsylvania State Senator George Gray. David’s first wife was Marion Morris Smith (1922-1973). The first International Mr. Leather, David Kloss IV, is their son.

Mrs. Marion Kloss’s mother was a Woodward. Her ancestry can be traced back to John and Lydia Woodward of Chester County, Pennsylvania, who were found guilty of “fornication before marriage” by their Quaker church. This is actually not all that uncommon when you look at records of other towns in that period. Just about every county had such a couple in the late 1600s because the church was very strict, much more strict than they were in England. John Woodward later served as a Revolutionary soldier.

We now come to one of those cases where online genealogies can be deceptive and you have to double-check everything. Some family historians (not including David Kloss) have John and Lydia Woodward’s son marrying Elizabeth Piles Drane. Digging deeper I found that the Elizabeth in question was actually one of his cousins called Elizabeth Woodward. It’s a double-edged sword, though, because by establishing the real identity of Elizabeth we rid David Kloss of a descent from King Edward I of England through the Drane family. He may still have one through one of the family lines that hasn’t been traced yet.

However, I can add to David’s family tree by revealing that his mother is descended from a Nottinghamshire family with presidential connections (though he might want to keep it quiet when I tell him which president!). David’s 8 times great-grandfather was Robert Pennell (1640-1727) of Balderton, a village about 20 miles from Nottingham near the River Trent. Robert was a Quaker who emigrated to America and left many descendants. Perhaps the most famous/infamous of David Kloss’s distant cousins who descend from Pennell is President Richard Nixon.

That’s it for now. Again, congratulations to David “Trigger” Bailey and all the finalists of the International Mr Leather contest over the weekend, and best wishes to the very first, David Shelley Kloss IV.

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