Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Content at Before My Time is protected by copyright and may not be copied for publication elsewhere without permission. © T. K. Sand.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

How Detroit Got Laid

Out, okay? How Detroit Got Laid Out. Doin' my best to spice up history and bring your attention to what is quite possibly the best explanation you will ever get about why Detroit is laid out the way it is. Where has this movie been all my life?

You will have a full minute of beginning credits--plenty of time to go hot up your cup of coffee or clear enough room on your desk so you can lean back and put your feet up.

I know, I know... 15 minutes is a huge time commitment. Just do it.




Detroiters will be amused by the narrator's pronounciation of one of the main drags, Gratiot. For those of you who don't live here, the rest of us do not say Grah-zhit. In fact, I'd venture to say that no one in the known universe ever said Grah-zhit except the narrator of this movie.  Say Grass-shit. Go ahead, say it. Run it together and don't worry about those esses. It's Grass-shit. And there is no Warrant Avenue. Apparently the narrator of this movie was nearsighted and misread Warren. Just sayin'.

For quick reference on other detroit street topics, here are some links:

Steve Morse's list of street name changes

City of Detroit Old and New House Numbers - the 197-page PDF you can't live without

List of Detroit Street Names Linked to Map & Street View - very useful!

 The Streets of Detroit  - a work in progress

The Detroit 10 Street Names - how they were named

Metro Detroit Mile Roads - The movie only goes up to 8 Mile Road but, people, there is life beyond the city limits. This is a handy printable list of what the rest of the mile roads are called in suburbs where "Mile Road" just doesn't seem good enough. Personally, I find the number designation quite useful. I took my 94-year-old dad on a little joy-ride out Grass-shit to Richmond yesterday, and the numbered mile-road signs were very nice for noting our progress.

Boulevard, Avenue, Road and Street in Detroit - interesting article with overview maps

Monday, January 18, 2016

An Excellent Detroit Research Tool

If you have Catholic ancestors who lived in Detroit, you'll find this map very useful. Ceil Wendt Jensen says the map was created by Dr. Hal Learman from a map donated to PARI by Tim Westfall. I'm very grateful to them for sharing it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Stalking the Sedgwick Line

Lately my research (if you can call it that) has been focused on my Sedgwick lineage. Or, more specifically, other people's Sedgwick lineage. You see, the line goes all the way back to the 1600s when Cromwell's Major General Robert Sedgwick came over. Long story short: babies were made, and I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that the Major General's descendants, when you include the dear departed, number in the thousands.

Of those thousands, a goodly number have led their lives in the public eye, and of course some of the live ones still do. You surely know of some of them. For example, my 6th-cousin-twice-removed, Tod Sedgwick, was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia in 2010. While there, he was also the keyboard player for the Philanthropy Band. Sedgwick fans will want to see at least the first three videos in the Philanthropy Band playlist I've put together on YouTube, as Tod speaks a bit in the first two (the second is just a short Christmas greeting), and he rocks a great keyboard boogie in the third. You'll meet his spouse too, a nice point for the genealogically inclined Sedgwick fan.



Okay, I was just kidding about you knowing who the Ambassador to Slovakia was. You didn't, did you? No, I thought not. But you'd have to be living under a rock not to know my 7th-cousin-once-removed, Kyra Sedgwick. And of course you know her spouse, my 7th-cousin-once-removed-in-law, Kevin Bacon. Did you know the two of them are cousins? Here, I'll let Henry Louis Gates explain that one:



Actually, even without my direct Sedgwick cousin connection to Kevin Bacon, he and I are pretty tight. My Bacon Number is 2:
  1. I was in "The Last Innocent Man" with Ed Harris.
  2. Ed Harris was in "Apollo 13" with Kevin Bacon. 
Okay, I was only an extra, but still. I know you're as disappointed as I am that my scene does not appear in any of the clips featured in this report:



But I digress. We're talking about the Sedgwick line. The most recent Sedgwick in my own lineage was my 3rd-great-grandmother, Tryphena Sedgwick, who married Micajah Pettis. Now, I've noticed in my stalking of the Sedgwick line that it's been a fairly consistent practice over the centuries to use Sedgwick as a middle name when it's been lost as the surname. Such was the case when Micajah and Tryphena named their firstborn son Irving Sedgwick Pettis.

However, Irving was not my ancestor; his brother Darius J. Pettis was. I don't know what the J stands for, but clearly it does not stand for Sedgwick. Darius and his wife Kate Efner were the parents of my great-grandmother Kate E. Pettis, and I think her E stands for Efner.

Kate E. Pettis married Milton E. Kerr, and it was often said that his E stood for Efner, but that's highly unlikely, isn't it? He had no Efner ancestor, and was born and named a full quarter of a century before he married Kate Efner Pettis. Together, however, they named their firstborn son Milton E. Kerr, and I believe that E does, in fact, stand for Efner. However, it was not Milton who was my grandfather. It was the second Pettis son.

My grandma used to call my grandpa R.P. for short. His name was Rosmer Pettis Kerr so, you see, he didn't get the Sedgwick middle name either. He and my grandma had daughters only, so the Sedgwick middle name did not go to them, nor did it go to any of their children.

Now, the fact is that I did have a son to name, but that was long before my interest in family history became a thing. I would no more have thought to name him Something Sedgwick Something than to name him Moon Unit Something. Oh, wait, Moon Unit is a girl's name, isn't it? Well, I guess that proves my point anyhow.

I have five grandchildren, none of whom have the Sedgwick middle name, nor does my great-grandchild have it. At some point there may be other great-grandchildren, but it would probably be unrealistic of me to think that, of all the names in their family trees, Sedgwick would come up as a first choice for a middle name. But who knows? It could happen.

Anyway, as you may know, it's my habit to store pretty much everything I know and some of what I don't know in print-on-demand books that nobody will ever read. To date, I've made more than two dozen titles, at least two of which my children have been instructed to burn without reading in the event that I die without already having burned them as my last final act on earth. I'm sure they'll do that. They don't find me very interesting!

I have at least another dozen titles in progress, one of which has turned out to be a motley collection of Sedgwick stuff that I've happened upon thanks to the wonders of the interwebs and Google Search because, as I said several pointless paragraphs ago, quite a few of the Sedgwicks have led rather public lives of one variety or another, and consequently, there has been much to find--so much, in fact, that I set up an account at Pinterest, which I hate, just so I could make a Sedgwick board to pin all my findings upon. Currently it has 290 pins, and I can assure you, there will be more. I don't know why there's no way to search a Pinterest board, though--that's just stupid! And I'm not crazy about the idea that total strangers can "follow" me. It just seems a lot like... uh... stalking. Public stalking. So I've made the Sedgwick board private... because that's how I do my stalking... in private!

But I have discovered one interesting thing about Pinterest. When I pin a newspaper article I've found at newspapers.com, the people with whom I've shared the Pinterest board (Sedgwick co-stalkers, you might call them) are able to see it even if they don't have a membership at newspapers.com. That's useful! I also like being able to pin a particular page from the historical books I find online at Google or Internet Archive.

And there have been many of those penned by various Sedgwicks through the centuries. For example, there have been a number of Sedgwick doctors, and I'm sure you'll be surprised to know that not just one but two medical advice books were written by Sedgwick doctors, one published in 1827 and one in 1869. They are now not only pinned to my Sedgwick board but also included (in full or in part) in my own book of collected Sedgwick stuff. And, reader, because I am concerned about the health and welfare of yourself and your children, I'll leave you with a steamy paragraph of advice from Chapter XV of Dr. Sherman Parker Sedgwick's 1869 book, The House We Live In:
HINTS TO PARENTS.
     Parents are responsible, in a large degree, for the future of their children. How important, then, that they should teach them the truth. Twenty years ago, you would not find one child out of twenty fifteen years old who knew any more about their existence, only that God made them, and that some of the neighboring ladies or the doctor brought their baby brother or sister. How many thousands of thousands of young persons have been ruined and brought to a premature and dishonored grave on account of the failure of their parents to give them proper instructions in reference to themselves and secret evil habits. They will take special care to keep them from the society of those they think will lead them into these habits, but never give them one word of warning. Far better would it be to point them to the Bible history and curse pronounced upon the sin of onanism, and inform them what it is, than to hope they may never learn these evil habits. You see your child becoming fretful, feverish, pale, avoiding society, becoming sallow, emaciated, loses memory, verging towards the grave, before you understand the cause, and too late you have learned that by your neglect to do a solemn duty you allowed your child to form habits that soon will end in death.
     Find some way of teaching your children the terrible consequences of secret, disgusting habits. Learn them that of all sins, licentiousness and lewdness are, at least, as necessary to be avoided as murder and suicide.
There, now. I think we're done here.



Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A Few Lines of History

Quite awhile ago, I heard about the biography-generating website HistoryLines.com. New users were permitted a free test-drive, so I gave it a try. I uploaded a small GEDCOM and generated a biography for my great-great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Kerr. It was pretty nice, but I'm on a budget so I didn't become a HistoryLines subscriber, and I pretty much forgot about it.

In the meantime, the new iteration of Ancestry has been forced upon its members despite unbridled and voluminous dissatisfaction, and the new Ancestry includes a "Lifestory" view which also met with much disapproval.

This morning, I received an email from HistoryLines informing me that the biography I'd generated has been expanded with a new paragraph about the introduction of the telephone, so I went to have a look.

I have to admit, HistoryLines has quite an impressive product there, and what little I know about my ancestor has been well placed into a story about the history that went on around him. He's called into each paragraph of the story via a mention of how old he was when the various historic events happened. In addition to national events, the narrative includes several local events specific to the place he lived.

In a side-by-side comparison of the story generated by HistoryLines versus Ancestry's Lifestory view, well, really, there is no comparison. HistoryLines has got it all over Ancestry. Check out the biography of Andrew Jackson Kerr at HistoryLines and you'll see what I mean.

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Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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