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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Thursday, December 07, 2006

What's more strange than a jar of hair?

"My Dear Mother's hair cut
from her head the night
she Died at 11 o'clock on
June 8, 1902 Rememberance
age 53 years May 22, 1902"

This jar and its contents were kept by my grandmother Evelyn Kerr. The explanatory note was written by her mother, Lizzie Schulte, on the back of a Christmas gift tag.

I've often been curious about the color of this lock of hair cut from Alvina Tobien Schulte's head when she was 53 years old. Not a strand of grey! I suspect there may have been some dye involved. If so, in 1902 it would have been henna. You'll find some very interesting information about the history and use of this dye at Henna for Hair.

In the Victorian era, beloved family members were sometimes remembered with mourning jewelry made from the deceased person's hair. Called "hairwork," there are a number of websites where you can learn more about that. I don't know whether Lizzie ever intended to have Alvina's hair made into jewelry. It seems not, though. Hairwork began to fall out of fashion around the time of Alvina's death. I think the lock of hair was keepsake enough for Lizzie.

I found this jar of hair a rather odd bit of family memorabilia. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found another one among my mother's things after she died. Kept in the same kind of jar, this was a lock of her own hair.

"Mary's curls cut
from her hair - at
Crown Point, Ind.-
when she was ill
2 yrs. old. 1925"

The handwriting on this note looks like Evelyn's. It looks like someone tried to change the 2 to a 3. My mother would have turned three years old in October of 1925. The trip to Crown Point was probably taken in the summer, though, when she was still just two.

Perhaps Evelyn cut the lock of hair because she feared her daughter was ill enough to die. She had lost her first daughter, Mary June, at the age of only two days (there may have been a miscarriage or two along the way also--I'm sorry, my memory is foggy on that point). After that, she bargained with God for healthy children.

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Blog Archive


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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