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.

Archives, Labels (tags), and other links appear at the bottom of the page.

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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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Steve Faller

1954 - 2006

My cousin, Steven A. Faller, passed away yesterday afternoon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He was 52.


The Ransom County Gazette, December 11, 2006:

Steven Faller

Funeral services for Steven A. Faller, 52, Lisbon, were held on Monday, Dec. 4, 2006 at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Lisbon. Rev. Kirk Douglas officiated. Mr. Faller died Friday, Nov. 29 at St. Mary’s Hospital, Rochester, MN.

Steven A. Faller, son of Ernest A. and Marlys (Krentz) Faller, was born on June 21, 1954 at Lisbon. He graduated from Lisbon High School in 1972. Steven farmed near Lisbon. He was a member of the Lisbon Eagles, and attended Redeemer Lutheran Church, Lisbon.

He is survived by his mother, Marlys Faller, Lisbon; sister, Connie (Gary) Martin, Lisbon, and four brothers, Keith, Kevin, Terry, and Randy Faller, all of Lisbon. He was preceded in death by his father, Ernest Faller.

Pallbearers for the funeral were Jim Krentz, John Krentz, Jerry Hieggelke, Rick Mairs, Terry Thompson, Terry Loomis, Don Eppler, and Dick Elijah. Honorary pallbearers were Jeff Peterson, George Thompson, and all Steven’s friends. Music was provided by organist Jan Hansen and soloist Brad Lambrecht. Interment at Oakwood Cemetery, Lisbon. Armstrong Funeral Home, Lisbon, was in charge of arrangements.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Joseph Meyer Schulte

Joseph Meyer Schulte with my great grandmother Lizzie,
in the middle his son Rudolph, and on the right his wife
Alvina Tobien Schulte holding daughter Ida, about 1875

"He came here with fifty cents and died with $100,000," my grandmother Evelyn once told me about her grandfather, Joseph Meyer Schulte. I don't know how true that is, but it's said that when he died, he left $20,000 to each of his children and $2,000 to each of his grandchildren. If one were curious enough, one could probably find a copy of the will on file in Wayne County, Michigan. In his lifetime, he worked as a blacksmith, moneylender, insurance agent, and real estate agent, according to various documents.

Another thing I've heard about him is that after his wife died, he liked to chase women into the chicken coop! I don't know how the curious would verify that, but it certainly adds a bit of color to his story.

Joseph Meyer Schulte's German ancestry can be found at Schulte & Others in Beckum, Westfalen, Germany.



Husband: Joseph Meyer SCHULTE
Born: 7 February 1843 in Beckum, Westphalia, Germany
Father: Johann Hermann SCHULTE
Mother: Maria Gertrud HAGEDORN
Married: About 1866 in Germany
Died: 16 October 1921 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Burial: 18 October 1921 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan

Wife: Elvina TOBIEN
Born: 23 March 1848 in Germany
Father: Ferdinand TOBIAN
Mother: Johanna ---
Died: 8 June 1902 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Burial: in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan

1 Name: Rudolph Meyer SCHULTE
Born: 24 October 1867 in Westphalia, Germany
Married: 7 October 1891 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Spouse: Christine Katharine Juliane FEUCHT
Married: February 1907 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Spouse: Elizabeth FEUCHT
Married: date unknown
Spouse: Mary BENDER
Died: 1 April 1940 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Burial: Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan (Bender plot)

2 Name: Elizabeth Louise SCHULTE
Born: 28 June 1872 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Married: 21 June 1893 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Spouse: Felix J. HAUER
Married: 1902 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Spouse: George T. CORNEILSON
Died: 25 June 1930 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Burial: 28 June 1930 in Mt. Elliott Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan

3 Name: Ida SCHULTE
Born : 1874 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Married: 29 November 1898
Spouse: August VARSBOTTER
Married: About 1905
Spouse: Frank GREGORI
Died: 26 April 1923 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Burial: Mt. Elliott Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan

4 Name: Joseph SCHULTE
Born: About January 1878 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Died: 6 July 1883 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan

5 Name: Theodore SCHULTE
Born: July 1886 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Married: date unknown
Spouse: Bessie ---
Married: About 1909
Spouse: Bertha EMIG
Died: 20 January 1951 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Notes from The White County Democrat, 1902

Friday, December 12:
In our court notes will be noted among the new suits begun, one entitled state on relation of Fred Krinning against B.F. Ross etal. This is an action brought at the instigation of young Krinning to recover damages for arrest and imprisonment without due process of law, and on a charge of which he appears to be innocent. The developments are awaited with much interest by many, and with some anxiety by those most directly interested.

State on relation of Fred Krinning vs. B.F. Ross and sureties on bond. Demand $1000 damages for false imprisonment.

Sitka: The box supper here last week was a success financially. Otherwise it was a disgrace to a civilised community. Such things as drunkenness, theft and ill manners there was no end. It was the teacher's first and probably the last entertainment given at his school. We were told it was like others held around here, and if so the sooner such things are stopped the better. The proceeds were spent for an organ.

This is the first of a series. Some time ago, I spent the better part of a year collecting snippets of family history from old newspapers on microfilm, two in particular:

  • The White County Democrat, published weekly on Friday at Monticello, White County, Indiana (correspondents from Reynolds, Chalmers, Sitka, Brookston and other nearby localities)
  • The Sheldon Progress and Sheldon Enterprise, published weekly on Thursday at Sheldon, Ransom County, North Dakota (correspondents from Pleasant Prairie, Sand Hill, Owego, and other nearby localities)
My handwritten notes filled three legal pads and included snippets pertaining not only to my direct lineage surnames but also to many other surnames as well, extended family related by marriage in many cases. Sometimes I noted something just because it was interesting or perhaps a sign of the times. It's wise to remember that most of these snippets come from what were essentially local gossip columns. The margin of error is wide, wide, wide! Still, there are nuggets of history to be had, and they bring some life to the dry data of genealogy. Enjoy!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Putting the Gene in Genealogy: Rosmer's Kin

click the image for a closer look
at the men in Rosmer Kerr's family tree

This chart shows how each of these men are related to Rosmer.

My great grandmother, Kate Pettis Kerr, had a lot of photographs from her side of the family. When my grandfather took possession of them, he and my grandmother made a little project of trying to attach identification to them, either writing on the back or, with the daguerrotypes in little cases, tucking in a bit of paper with a name on it. Not all were identified, and sometimes the identification was a little ambiguous (for example, "Grandma Efner"--whose grandma? and would that be the first wife or the second?).

A few photos have identifications which seem perfectly clear but can't be explained. For example, in the image above, the man in the bottom row, second from left, was identified as Lemuel Efner. However, to date I haven't seen the name Lemuel in any Efner record anywhere. In another example, I have a photo identified as "Chick Kerr" but this may be a nickname and, so far, I've been unable to determine her real name. I know only that she had a daughter named Betty (this from yet another photo).

In an attempt to identify the photo in the lower right corner of the image above, I discovered that I have not one but two copies of the same photo, one a tintype attached to an embossed paper mat, and the other in embossed metal under glass. What surprised me is that they are mirror images of each other. I found this disconcerting, because I often study facial features with a magnifying glass to match the face in an unidentified photo with a known photo, looking for little anomalies in eye or brow shape, or which side the hair is parted on.

Several years ago I took a few daguerrotypes to a photo restoration specialist to get prints made. One of them, a 1/6 plate (2.75" x 3.25") in a hinged case, was unidentified--the one in the lower left corner in the image above, the man now identified as Ezekiel Taylor Efner. Compare him with the photo of Rosmer diagonally above. Quite a resemblance, no?

The astute reader may have noticed something else about this photo of Ezekiel, something I never realized until this morning. This daguerrotype image is identical to the image on the carte-de-visite featured in yesterday's post, right down to the whiskers and stray hairs. (He looks much older in the darker image. Once again, I studied with a magnifying glass to be sure.) This, too, was disconcerting. I'd read a couple books about dating old photographs, one of which had a long and detailed discussion of when the various methods were used. Daguerrotypes were falling out of favor in 1860, around the same time albumen prints became popular. It would have been helpful to know that I had one of each from the same photo shoot.

The charts below show how the men in the above image are related. (To simplify for that purpose, I've omitted many other descendants from the charts, so these are not comprehensive Efner and Pettis descendancies.)

If you can provide any additional information about the people mentioned here, please use the Comments feature to contact me. All comments must be approved by me before being published, and those which include an email address or other way for me to contact you will remain private. Your personal contact information will not be published to this blog.


Some Descendants of Ezekiel Taylor EFNER

1 Ezekiel Taylor EFNER 1801 - 1868
. +Salina BOUCK
........ 2 Kate EFFNER 1841 - 1914
............ +Darius J. PETTIS 1837 - 1883
................... 3 Frankie PETTIS 1862 - 1867
................... 3 Katharine E. PETTIS 1864 - 1937
....................... +Milton E. KERR 1863 - 1895
.............................. 4 Milton E. KERR 1891 - 1961
.................................. +Marie Clara LETTERER 1894 - 1958
.............................. 4 Rosmer Pettis KERR 1892 - 1969
.................................. +Evelyn Elvina HAUER 1894 - 1988
*2nd Wife of Ezekiel Taylor EFNER:
. +Eliza Ann DAVIS 1824 - 1879
........ 2 William A. EFNER 1853 - 1903


Some Descendants of William M. PETTIS

1 William M. PETTIS 1770 - 1821
. +Ruth CRANDALL 1771 - 1837
........ 2 Zina Hitchcock PETTIS 1804 - 1869
............ +Amanda SEDGWICK
................... 3 Sedgwick W. PETTIS 1844 - 1894
........ 2 Micajah Petit PETTIS 1806 - 1881
............ +Tryphena SEDGWICK 1803 - 1842
................... 3 Irving Sedgwick PETTIS 1831 - 1903
....................... +Martha Ophelia TREAT 1834 -
................... 3 Lewis M. PETTIS 1833 - 1919
....................... +Sarah Jane MANDEVILLE 1830 -
................... 3 Tryphena Angeline PETTIS 1836 - 1924
....................... +George WILCOX 1834 - 1920
................... 3 Darius J. PETTIS 1837 - 1883
....................... +Kate EFFNER 1841 - 1914
.............................. 4 Frankie PETTIS 1862 - 1867
.............................. 4 Katharine E. PETTIS 1864 - 1937
.................................. +Milton E. KERR 1863 - 1895
......................................... 5 Milton E. KERR 1891 - 1961
............................................. +Marie Clara LETTERER 1894 - 1958
......................................... 5 Rosmer Pettis KERR 1892 - 1969
............................................. +Evelyn Elvina HAUER 1894 - 1988
........ *2nd Wife of Micajah Petit PETTIS:
............ +Mary Margaret MAXFIELD 1820 - 1895

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ezekiel Taylor Efner

Ezekiel Taylor Efner, ca. 1864-1868

I was working on a photo identification problem and became curious about the photographer's attribution on this one: H.C. Tandy's Gallery, opposite War Eagle Hotel, Washington St., Silver City, I.T.

The photo was among the possessions of my grandfather, Rosmer Kerr. Penciled on the back in handwriting that looks like my grandmother's, it says "Grandpa Efner." That would be Ezekiel Taylor Efner, Rosmer's great-grandfather. Ezekiel was born in New York and later moved to Wisconsin.

So, Silver City? There's no Silver City in New York or Wisconsin. And what does I.T. stand for? A minute with Google was all it took to find the answer. Silver City was in Idaho Territory. You gotta love the internet.

In 1863, silver deposits were discovered at War Eagle Mountain in the Owyhee range, located in the southwest corner of what is now the state of Idaho. Silver City was founded in 1864 when thousands came to seek their fortunes. The population peaked at about 2,500 in the 1880s, and began to decline around 1890 when the mines were played out.

I don't recall ever hearing any stories about Grandpa Efner going off to do any silver mining, and yet here is the proof. This photo must have been taken between 1864 and Ezekiel's death in 1868.

Ezekiel was married to Eliza Ann Davis at that time, and their son Billy was in his early teens. I don't know whether they accompanied Ezekiel on the trip. There is no photo of either of them with the H.C. Tandy attribution. We do know that Billy moved to Union, Oregon, 175 miles further along the Oregon Trail, in the early to mid-1870s, and that he may have done some gold-mining in Jackson, Oregon, around 1890. Maybe Ezekiel's trip stirred Billy's interest in that part of the country, whether he went along or not.



Husband: Ezekiel Taylor EFNER
Born: 24 March 1801 in Middleburgh, Schoharie County, New York
Father: Valentine EFNER
Mother: Elizabeth MARTIN
Married: 29 December 1852 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Died: 12 March 1868 in Lyndon, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
Burial: Mitchell, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Other Spouses: Salina BOUCK/BURCH

Wife: Eliza Ann DAVIS
Born: About 1824 in Gustavus, Ohio
Father: Gardner DAVIS
Mother: Prudence MARKHAM
Died: 27 February 1879 in Lyndon, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
Burial: Mitchell, Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Name: William A. EFNER
Born: 21 November 1853 in Wisconsin
Died: 1 December 1903 in Union, Union County, Oregon
Burial: 2 December 1903 in Union, Union County, Oregon

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Alfons Koenig on the S.S. Cleveland

Alfons Koenig, my Uncle Paul's brother, boarded the S.S. Cleveland at Hamburg, Germany on February 21, 1929, bound for the Port of New York. Like his brother before him, his ultimate destination was the home of Elisabeth and Fred Hebert, his aunt and uncle, at 4640 Canton Avenue, Detroit, Michigan, and his passage also had been paid by the Heberts. He arrived with $30 in his possession. He had never been to the U.S. before, but he planned to stay and become a citizen.
When he arrived in the U.S. on March 5, 1929, Alfons was 25 years old and single. He had worked as a clerk in Germany. He was 6' tall and fair-complected, with blonde hair and green eyes.

Alfons Koenig, line 29 on this S.S. Cleveland passenger list

line 29, continued

statement of ship's officer

Friday, November 24, 2006

Marceline and Paul Koenig

Marceline and Paul Koenig, 1929

According to Evelyn Kerr's Corneilson family notes, her half-sister Marceline married Paul Koenig on June 12, 1929, Paul's 26th birthday. They were probably married in Detroit. I have no additional information about their courtship or wedding.

If you can provide any information about how Paul and Marceline met, where they were married, or what church they belonged to, please use the Comments feature to contact me. All comments must be approved by me before being published, and those which include an email address or other way for me to contact you will remain private. Your personal contact information will not be published to this blog.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Doris Halliday Krentz

My aunt, Doris Halliday Krentz, passed away early this morning at the Parkside Lutheran Home in Lisbon, North Dakota, on what would have been the 67th anniversary of her marriage to Melvin Herman Krentz.

The daughter of Elizabeth Hanna and Charles Halliday, Doris was born December 15, 1915 in Lisbon , North Dakota. She and Melvin were married in 1939 at home, the same Lisbon home in which Doris lived almost her entire life. They had five children (their firstborn son lived only two days). Melvin died in 2001.


The Ransom County Gazette Online, December 4, 2006:

Doris H. Krentz

Funeral services for Doris H. Krentz, 90, Lisbon, were held on Monday, Nov. 27, 2006 at the United Methodist Church, Lisbon. Mrs. Krentz died Thursday, Nov. 23 at Parkside Lutheran Home, Lisbon.

Doris H. Halliday, daughter of Charles and Elizabeth (Hanna) Halliday, was born December 15, 1915 at Lisbon. She graduated from Lisbon High School and attended the University of North Dakota and Minnesota State University.

On November 23, 1939, she married Melvin Krentz at rural Lisbon. Doris taught school in rural Ransom County. She worked part-time at the Ransom County treasurer’s and auditor’s offices. She was also appointed superintendent of schools for three years. She was organist for the United Methodist Church for many years.

She is survived by two daughters, Mary Beth (Larry) Lee, Stacy, MN, and Deborah (LeMont) Kempel, Wyoming, MN; two sons, James Krentz and John Krentz, both of Lisbon; six grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Melvin; infant son, Melvin Charles; one sister, and one brother.

Pallbearers for the funeral were Randy Faller, Kevin Faller, Leon Shank, Gary Martin, Argil Krentz, and Don Smith. Honorary pallbearers were all her nephews and nieces. Music was provided by organist Mary Jo Smith and soloist Joan Montgomery. Interment at Oakwood Cemetery, Lisbon. Armstrong Funeral Home, Lisbon, was in charge of arrangements.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Paul Koenig on the S.S. Veendam

The S.S. Veendam departed from Rotterdam, South Holland, The Netherlands on April 18, 1923. Aboard was Paul Koenig. He'd never been to the United States before. In his pocket he carried $39. His passage had been paid by his aunt's husband, Fred Hebert of 4640 Canton Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. The Hebert home was Paul's destination in the U.S., but he hadn't yet decided whether he would remain permanently or return to Germany.
Paul was the son of Hermann K├Ânig of Hagenstrasse 29, Buer, Germany, the town where Paul was born. Arriving at the Port of New York on April 28, 1923, about six weeks before his 20th birthday, he stood 5'10"tall. He was fair-complected with blonde hair and grey eyes. He was in good health, with no physical deformities and no identifying marks.

Paul Koenig, line 11 on this S.S. Veendam passenger list
line 11, continued

affidavit of ship's officer

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Page from the Bible of Gertie Buss Krentz

Gertie Buss Krentz
1896 - 1979

My grandmother, Gertie Buss Krentz, was born 13 April 1896 in Shenford Township, Ransom County, North Dakota. She was baptized in the German Lutheran church at Anselm. I don't know whether there exist any photos of her as a young girl. I've never seen any.

Information about her birth and baptism were written in a Bible which I photographed several years ago at the home of Melvin and Doris Krentz. The record appeared to have been written in pencil and later traced over. I know neither when the entry was written nor by whom.

birth & baptism record of Margreta Tjode Hedwig Buss,
commonly known as Gertie or Gertrude

If you can share any photos of Gertie as a young girl, please use the Comments feature to contact me. All comments must be approved by me before being published, and those which include an email address or other way for me to contact you will remain private. Your personal contact information will not be published to this blog.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

John S. Krentz: A Childhood Photo

My grandfather, John Samuel Krentz, was the youngest of eight children born to his father's second wife. John grew up in Reynolds, White County, Indiana, where he attended the German Lutheran school.

John's daughter Marlys has possession of his old German Bible. John was still in his teens when he left Indiana and began his life in North Dakota. He brought this Bible with him. Due to its age, it's in very poor condition now.

A page from this Bible is part of the montage at the top of this post, as is John's class picture from 1903.

German Lutheran School, Reynolds, Indiana - 1903
(click to enlarge)

This class photograph was included (see p. 62-63) in History of St. James Lutheran Church, a book by Harold B. Dodge which was published in Reynolds in 2002. In the rows of boys standing at the back, John is the second child in front of the window on the left. Mr. Dodge identified everyone in the picture:

Front row, left to right: Andrew Rieken, William Werner, John Kilgas, William Quade, Robert Ruemler, Walter Kilgas, Edward Werner, John Ruemler, Clemens Heimlich, Fred Heimlich, Edwin Heimlich.

Second row: Carl Dahling, Clara Schroeder Buss, Ida Dahlenburg Cravens, Carrie Heimlich, Ruth Werner Fritch, Lena Schroeder Hague, Louise Buss Ruemler, Frieda Heimlich, Helen Kraud Spencer, Louise Krueger, Clara Schroeder Dodge Bowen, Elsie Wandrei.

Third row: Dora Hintzman Lemon, Emma Werner, Minnie Schroeder Williams, Sadie Rieken Huge, Erna Lange Westfall, Henrietta Westfall, Hilda Heimlich, Pauline Wiese, Minnie Buss, Emma Straub, Herman Quade.

Fourth row: Walter Heimlich, John Krintz, Emil Zarse, Fred Fastnow, John Quade, Carl Dahlenburg, Herbert Buss, John Fastnow, Louis Heimlich, Albert Werner, Carl Ruemler.

Fifth row: Herman Zarse, Robert Zarse, Albert Westfall, Robert Wiese, Ben Wiese, George Dahlenburg, Fred Erdmann, Herbert Straub.

Teacher: Albert L. R. Sieving. (Mr. Sieving, a graduate of Concordia Teachers College, taught from September 1900 until the summer of 1905.)

(As a point of interest, several of the surnames above appear in our extended family tree.)

My copy of this photo is not the best, as it was made from a scan of the image as it appears in Mr. Dodge's book. I haven't had access to the original photograph. Still, I'm glad to have it. I don't know of any other childhood photos of John.

You're welcome to download a copy of this or any photo appearing in Before My Time. Instructions for downloading appear at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Marceline's First Marriage

Rosmer & Evelyn Kerr with Marceline Corneilson and her first husband Vic Lindsay

Marceline and Victor Lindsay were married about December 1926. I believe they were married in Detroit. Based on the photo above, it appears that the attendants at their wedding were Marceline's older sister, Evelyn Kerr, and Evelyn's husband Rosmer. The Lindsay marriage was short-lived, ending in divorce about March 1928. I have no official documentation, just the handwritten notes below, which I found among Evelyn's personal effects. The handwriting is unmistakably hers. A transcription with my interpretive notes follows.

"Mother had sugar di-[abetes] and her leg taken off--stayed in hospital 13 weeks in 1926--came home for Xmas--Marseline married when Mom got home--she was married about 1 yr. 3 mo.--then divorced from Vic Lindsay. Dad took sick after Mom came home--Mars & husband stayed with them--till Dad died in July 1927--he was 69. Mom had a stroke some time in May 1930--Died n June 25, 1930--My wedding anniversary (14 yrs) was June 12--Paul's & Mars " " [meaning unclear, probably wedding anniversary] " [meaning unclear, seems to indicate June 12] (1 yr)-- " [meaning Paul's?] birthday " " [meaning unclear, this also seems to indicate June 12] all in 1930."

These notes were made decades after the actual events. Evelyn wrote several such notes in her later years. I believe she wrote them so the information wouldn't be lost as her memory began to fail.

Mary Kerr, Marceline's niece, with Vic Lindsay

If you can provide any additional information about Vic Lindsay, please use the Comments feature to contact me. All comments must be approved by me before being published, and those which include an email address or other way for me to contact you will remain private. Your personal contact information will not be published to this blog.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Evelyn and Rosmer: A Scrapbook

One of my favorite pastimes is digital scrapbooking. Click on the image above to see an album about my grandparents, Rosmer and Evelyn Kerr. I still have many pages to create and add to this album and will do so as time permits. Meanwhile, enjoy...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Portrait of Grace Pettis

Grace Pettis
(click to enlarge)

Among the effects of my grandfather, Rosmer Pettis Kerr, were these two photographs. The portrait above was identified as Grace Pettis. There is no additional information on the front of the photo except the name of the photographer, Armstrong of Rockford, Illinois. On the back, "Grace Pettis, cousin of Kate Kerr" is written in pencil at the top. In the lower left corner, barely visible, is the pencilled notation "Aunt Kate." This doesn't indicate any inconsistency, as Kate (nee Pettis) Kerr is the daughter of Kate (nee Efner) Pettis. I believe "Aunt Kate" may have been written by Grace herself, or perhaps her parent, to designate who was to receive this copy of the photo.

Grace was the daughter of Irving Sedgwick Pettis and his wife, Martha Ophelia Treat. Irving and Martha had four children: Edith Arabelle, Anna Grace (born about 1863), Howard Irving and Pearl.

Irving was a son of Micajah Pettis. Another son, Darius, was Rosmer's grandfather.

Irving lived in New York at the time of Grace's birth but moved to Geneseo, Henry County, Illinois before 1870 (Source: 1870 and 1880 census).

The photo below was identified this way: "Rufus and Grace at Highland Park, Ill. under trees in Edith and Henrik's yard. June 16, 1931." I assume this is Grace Pettis at the home of her sister, but I have no knowledge of anyone named Rufus. I have reason to believe Henrik was Edith's second husband, whose surname was Matthews, but haven't confirmed that yet. 

Update:  Rufus James Haight (About 1857-18 Feb 1940), son of Rufus Haight and Rosalie C. Murdock, was Grace's husband.

If you can provide any additional information about the people mentioned here, please use the Comments feature to contact me. All comments must be approved by me before being published, and those which include an email address or other way for me to contact you will remain private. Your personal contact information will not be published to this blog.

Rufus and Grace
(click to enlarge)

Some Descendants of William M. PETTIS

1 William M. PETTIS 1770 - 1821
. +Ruth CRANDALL 1771 - 1837
........ 2 Nathan Crandall PETTIS 1799 - 1849
........ 2 Bathsheba PETTIS 1800 -
........ 2 Abigail PETTIS 1802 - 1849
........ 2 Zina Hitchcock PETTIS 1804 -
........ 2 Micajah Petit PETTIS 1806 - 1881
............ +Tryphena SEDGWICK 1803 - 1842
................... 3 Irving Sedgwick PETTIS 1831 - 1903
....................... +Martha Ophelia TREAT 1834 -
.............................. 4 Edith Arabelle PETTIS 1857 - 1932
.................................. +Arthur Darwin JENKINS
.............................. 4 Anna Grace PETTIS 1862 - 1949
.............................. 4 Howard Irving PETTIS 1866 - 1932
.............................. 4 Pearl PETTIS 1871 - 1905
................... 3 Lewis M. PETTIS 1833 - 1917
....................... +Sarah Jane MANDEVILLE 1830 -
.............................. 4 Katherine M. PETTIS 1872 -
................... 3 Tryphena Angeline PETTIS 1836 - 1924
....................... +George WILCOX 1834 - 1920
.............................. 4 Howard P. WILCOX 1877 -
.............................. 4 May F. WILCOX 1868 -
................... 3 Darius J. PETTIS 1837 - 1883
....................... +Kate EFFNER 1841 - 1914
.............................. 4 Frankie PETTIS 1862 - 1867
.............................. 4 Katharine E. PETTIS 1864 - 1937
.................................. +Milton E. KERR 1863 - 1895
......................................... 5 Milton E. KERR 1891 - 1961
............................................. +Marie Clara LETTERER 1894 - 1958
......................................... 5 Rosmer Pettis KERR 1892 - 1969
............................................. +Evelyn Elvina HAUER 1894 - 1988
........ 2 David W. PETTIS 1808 -
........ 2 Sophia PETTIS 1810 -
........ 2 Desire PETTIS 1812 -
........ 2 Angeline B. PETTIS 1815 - 1893
............ +Francis Celey VOORHEES

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Baptism of Lizzie Schulte

Lizzie Schulte's Certificate of Baptism
(click to enlarge)

My great-grandmother Lizzie, born 28 June 1872, was christened at Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit, Michigan on 11 August 1872.

Her father, Joseph Meier Schulte, had left the Catholic church to marry her mother, Alvina Tobien. Lizzie was raised Lutheran, but she joined the Catholic church when she married Felix Hauer, who was Catholic. (Source: Evelyn Hauer)

"The minister at the time of the Schulte and Feucht baptisms was Rev. J.A. Huegli and then he was followed first by Pastor H.C.F. Otte and then later by Pastor Otte's son, another Pastor Otte (Gilbert). Pastor Gilbert Otte had a great love for genealogy and he allowed the Mormon church to come in and microfilm all the vital records going back to the 1850’s." (Source: Cheryl Schulte)

This baptism certificate appears to have been signed by Pastor Gilbert T. Otte, who served from 1927 until 1981. Thus it would have been created late in Lizzie's life, or possibly after her death. Her daughter Evelyn seemed to have an interest in genealogy, so perhaps it was she who had the document made. I can think of no explanation for the misspelling, Otto rather than Otte, on the certificate.

The certificate is in rather poor condition.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Uncle Billy Efner

William A. Efner
1853 - 1903

Whose uncle was this?, I wondered, when I saw the photograph identified as "Uncle Billy Efner" among the effects of Rosmer P. Kerr. The photograph was a 4.25" x 6.5" cabinet card, taken by Jones Brothers Photographers in Union, Oregon. I was surprised to find that I wasn't the first one in the family to come to Oregon.

At the
Seattle branch of the National Archives, I found Billy Efner listed in the 1900 census of Union, Oregon as a 46-year-old single man who worked as a fruit grower and owned his own farm. In the spring of 1992, I went to Union County to see what else I might learn about him.

The town of Union lies nestled in the Grand Ronde river valley between the Wallowa Mountains and the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon where, 150 years ago, pioneers wore the Oregon Trail into the earth, leaving ruts which are still visible today. The first white settlers in what would become the town of Union came in 1862, and by the time William A. Efner arrived Union was a bustling town of several hundred people.

The county of Union was formed in 1864 with the town of LaGrande, 15 miles northwest of Union town, as the temporary county seat. Union town won the honor in an 1874 election after one of its citizens, Samuel Hannah of the Northwest Stage Company, promised a change in the stage route to include Summerville and Cove, thus garnering votes from their citizens in favor of Union over LaGrande. He did make the change, but it only lasted until deep snow on the Summerville and Walla Walla Road made it impassable. LaGrande fought bitterly for many years to regain, and indeed is now, the county seat, but during Billy Efner's life there Union had that distinction, making it a hub of activity.

Wisconsin Childhood

William A. Efner was born in the town of Lyndon, Wisconsin on or about 21 November 1853 to Ezekiel Efner and his second wife Eliza A. Davis. Billy was the only child of this marriage, although it was Eliza's first. Ezekiel was about 23 years older than Eliza, and his daughter Kate, from his first marriage, was about 12 years old at the time of her half-brother's birth.

When Billy was 6, his sister Kate married Darius J. Pettis. She moved to Winona, Minnesota with her husband, and so Billy lived then with just his parents and his maternal grandmother, Prudence Markham Davis. His sister returned a few years later with her two daughters, three-year-old Frankie and Kate, an infant. To these two children, the ten-year-old boy was Uncle Billy. They stayed with the Efners for a time while Darius served in the Eleventh Regiment of Minnesota Volunteers during the last year of the Civil War.

Billy was 14 when his father died on 12 March 1868. Ezekiel, 67 years old, was buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Mitchell, Wisconsin. In his last will, he left $100 to his daughter Kate, and the remainder of his property in Sheboygan county was to be divided equally between his beloved wife Eliza and his son Billy, when he came of age.

The following year, Eliza bought some additional property in Sheboygan county. In 1873 and 1874, she sold three lots in the town of Cascade, and perhaps the proceeds from the sale of those lots funded Billy's move west.

Oregon Beginnings

Billy's name first appeared in the records of Union County, Oregon when he bought land from E.H. Lewis on 22 December 1876. His uncle, Jarvis Elliott Davis, had moved to Union the previous year, accompanied by his daughter Mary. The rest of the family followed in 1876 via the Union Pacific railroad to Kelton, Utah. J.E. Davis met them there with horses and covered wagons. Their caravan consisted of five prairie schooners and 21 people, including J.E.'s own family, his mother Prudence Markham Davis, his brother Wilber Froman Davis and family, a family named Beidelman, Billy Efner, and Blade Ashby, the teamster-guide. They traveled the Old Oregon Trail to Union, arriving 17 June 1876.1 Billy was 22.

Lewis' Addition was at the north end of Union town. Billy bought adjoining blocks 8 and 13, each of which consisted of eight lots measuring 50' by 100', a total of just under two acres for $200.

Fruit trees were first brought to this fertile, untamed valley in 1862 by Conrad Miller of Vancouver. At that time, according to pioneer Fred Nodine, "the whole valley was covered with a dense, luxuriant growth of rye and bunch grass, sometimes as high as a man's head, and always so thick and tall that it was impossible for a man to see more than a few feet in front of him. Stock could not be seen at all, but had to be tracked around through the vast ocean of grass...."2 But before the decade was over, the valley was tamed, surveyed, and settled.

Wheat flourished here in the black, sandy loam, along with oats, barley, and some rye. Orchards were important too, and ranged in size from W.T. Wright's 160 acres down to the very small size of Billy's. It was probably Billy himself who planted the apple trees that would grow on this place for decades to come. Today several modest homes stand where his orchard once grew, but here and there an old apple tree can still be found. Were these a part of Billy's orchard? The productive life of a standard apple tree is 50-75 years, after which the yield diminishes. But the tree may live on, or it may be cut back and new growth allowed to spring from the root. I don't know whether these are Billy's apple trees, but I like to think so.

When Billy and the Davises came to Union, all the main roads were toll roads. Crops were transported from the valley over these toll roads and then shipped further by the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, which took merciless advantage of the valley people. This costly and inconvenient process prompted them to petition the state for a road from Baker up to the Columbia River in the fall of 1876 (with no result) and then to press for the railroad. The town experienced a growth spurt in 1881-82 in anticipation of the railroad's completion, which was finally accomplished in 1884. There was considerable disappointment that the tracks were laid two miles east of the town, but they added a short line to bridge the gap.

Community Service

As members of their community, Billy and the Davises were well-known and respected. Wilber F. Davis was the mayor of Union in 1879 and 1880. His older son Marion Francis Davis was appointed postmaster of the town on 16 March 1899. His younger son Wilber B. Davis was assistant postmaster. By 1902 Edward W. Davis, son of J.E. Davis, was serving as mayor.

Billy was appointed by the Union County Court to act as one of two constables for Union Precinct Not to be confused with the job of sheriff or marshal of the wild west, the job of a constable was to collect taxes from the citizens and turn the funds over to the proper authorities. In addition to his oath of office, a constable was required to post a $1000 bond to assure that the monies would be properly handled. The appointment was made 5 Jan 1883. On November 8 of that year, the county paid him constable fees totaling $13.75 and a witness fee of $1.70. He was paid another $1.70 witness fee on 16 January 1884. Those being the only disbursements I found in Billy's name, perhaps he didn't hold the office more than that one year, his thirtieth.

Indian Scares

In 1877 the valley community had a confrontation with the Nez Perce tribe, led by Chief Joseph. A member of the tribe had been shot in a dispute over horses. Further violence was averted when an agreement was reached with Chief Joseph. The settlers would not bother the Indians if they remained in the Wallowa valley, and the Indians could come to the Grand Ronde valley in small numbers to do business.

That was the same year the first public telephone appeared in the U.S., but not in Union. Still in its infancy, the telephone would not appear in Union until November 1885. Thus it was a Paul Revere-style messenger who rode into Union during the Fourth of July celebration in 1878 and set off a panic among the townspeople when he announced that Indians, lots of them, were headed toward the town on a rampage. A violent uprising inspired by the Bannocks and Piutes did begin in Idaho and move westward that year. But on the Fourth of July, when some children reported that they had heard Indians coming and a messenger hastily rode through the valley with the warning, no Indian attack followed. Upon further examination, it was discovered that the children had heard not Indians but rather a herd of cattle.

Billy lost two young cousins that summer. Three-year-old Lottie, the youngest of J.E. Davis' eight living children, died July 20, and Emma, the nine-year-old daughter of Wilber and Francelia Davis, died August 27.

Six months later, back in Wisconsin, Billy's mother died at just over 55 years of age. Her remaining land was deeded to Billy, and he sold it before the year was over.

Life in Union

Winters in this area are usually short, from December to about mid-February. It rarely gets below -12°. Summer temperatures sometimes go over 100°, but it's fairly dry heat. Thunderstorms are rare, but it rains in spring, and strong winds blow anytime.

The winter of 1880-81 was especially severe, and 70 of the cattle perished from the cold. The following winter on November 5, a heavy windstorm tore the roof off the courthouse. That was also the year that the Presbyterian society, organized in 1879, built its church.

The mid-1880's were a time of prosperity. In 1885, the town of Union had 845 citizens. LaGrande had 1,213. The population of the county was 9,588. (It was noted that 500 were Chinamen.) Though the winter of 1886-87 was again severe, healthy growth continued and the county population quickly increased to 12,688.

There were some losses in Billy's family, however. On 30 March, 1885, J.E. Davis died. The service was held at the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was buried with Masonic honors "amid the largest concourse of people we have seen yet paying their last respects at the grave of a Union citizen," according to The Mountain Sentinel of April 4, 1885.3 The following year Billy's elderly grandmother, Prudence Markham Davis, died.

On Decoration Day 1887, a disastrous fire destroyed several buildings in Union, including John T. Wright's drug store, the Pacific Express Company office, a tinshop, the hardware store of Joseph Wright, and some adjoining smaller buildings. Firemen and citizens fought together to prevent the fire from spreading to the band hall, theatre, and buildings across the street. At one point panic ensued when a rumor spread that a large amount of powder was stored in the cellar of a burning building, but in fact it was no more than a few boxes of cartridges. Uninsured losses amounted to $15,000.

Heavy snowfall in the winter of 1889-90 resulted in a prosperous 1890. Crops were excellent and prices were good. In spring, the Union Electric Power and Light Company was formed, and within a few months there were lightbulbs in homes and street lamps.

It was about this time that Billy went down to Jackson County, in the southwestern part of Oregon, where his name appeared on the 1890 assessment rolls. He may have gone there to do some gold-mining. He was taxed in Eden precinct, near Phoenix. His taxable property there included merchandise and implements valued at $30, upon which he paid a tax of $1. He owned no real property there, but still owned his orchard in Union, along with block 3 of Hannah's Addition which he had purchased in 1882 for $175.

Times were hard in the 1890s. There was financial panic throughout the United States in 1893. Many banks failed. Farmers couldn't pay their bills, but creditors were lenient. In Union, the winter of 1893-94 had one of the heaviest snowfalls in the memory of white settlers, blockading travel by road or rail. A long dry spell followed. In the 12 months beginning 15 August 1894, rainfall was 12" less than average. As a result, crops were short in 1895, though fruit was abundant. Despite their own troubles, the people of Union shipped over five carloads of grain and provisions and one carload of lumber to drought-stricken Nebraska. And hard times continued.

Nevertheless, someone prospered, because it was during this period that a large Victorian home was built on property adjacent to Billy's and facing his orchard. This beautiful home is still standing, and in recent years was opened as a bed-and-breakfast inn.

In 1892 and 1894, Billy mortgaged block 13 of Lewis' Addition for a total of $275. Those mortgages would not be satisfied until 1908, several years after his death. In 1897, he mortgaged block 8 for $125. Five years later, on 15 August 1902, he satisfied that mortgage the day after he sold block 3 of Hannah's Addition for $125.

Billy frequently made purchases from the general merchandise store of Townley, Gale & Company, as well as that of Joseph Wright, rebuilt since the fire of 1887. He often bought ten cents' worth of tobacco, and occasionally cigars. On 2 January 1900, he bought a suit for $9 and a pair of shoes for $2.75 at Townley, Gale. On 30 September 1902, he bought two suits of underwear for $6 and two pair of socks for $.70 from Wright's.

By 1902, Billy was raising poultry as well as fruit. His large, flowing script appears in the 1902 Official Register of Electors for Union county. The elegance of his signature and the apparent ease with which he wrote it suggests he had practiced his penmanship conscientiously.

That year, Billy lost another cousin who had shared the journey west. Edward W., son of J.E. Davis, died March 20 at the age of 40, leaving three young children.

Kate Comes to Oregon

The Eastern Oregon Republican, a weekly newspaper, printed the following item on 15 August 1903: "Mrs. Pettis, of Iowa, sister of William Effner, arrived this week on a visit and may remain permanently." In the next column, an advertisement announced the arrival of a circus: "August 31 CAMPBELL BROS.' STEAM CALLIOPE plays ahead of the big parade that takes place at 10 a.m., followed by three brass bands, a drum corps and a line of elegantly designed wagons and cages of wild animals rarely exhibited. The parade will be a swell affair, free to the vast crowd of people that throng our streets—an interesting sight never before witnessed in this city."

Kate Efner Pettis was 62 years old when she arrived in Union. I imagine she traveled from the midwest by train, surely a hot and dusty trip at that time of year.

Kate's half-brother Billy would turn 50 in late November. I don't know the state of his health when Kate arrived, or whether they were able to attend the parade and circus. But by the time of his birthday, he was ill with diabetes and under the care of Dr. C. E. Saunders, M.D. Dr. Saunders examined Billy on November 21 and did a urinalysis that day and each of the next three days. He made two house calls to see Billy on Saturday, November 28, two more Sunday, and three Monday, but to no avail. The use of insulin to treat diabetes was almost 20 years away.

On Tuesday, 1 December 1903, Billy died. The funeral took place from his home the following afternoon. The service was performed by Reverend Barton of the Presbyterian church. He was buried in Union Cemetery at the southeast edge of town. The cemetery lies at the bottom of a hill. It is still well-kept.

Kate was Billy's only heir and was appointed administratrix of his estate, valued at $1,581.75. In addition to the real property, there were tools and supplies, cordwood, household furniture and stoves, and 18 dozen chickens. Billy had $45 in his account at First National Bank in Union, and he was due $186 from J.H. Eirath for his apple crop that year. Kate sold eggs and several dozen hens and roosters to pay the funeral expenses and claims against the estate. The cost of the casket was $40; hearse and carriages, $14; two teams for the funeral, $4; and grave digging, $6.

It appears that Kate remained in Union until the spring of 1908, when she sold blocks 8 and 13 of Lewis' Addition and satisfied Billy's mortgages of 1892 and 1894.

Billy's gravestone was erected in late October 1907, not long before Kate left. It is a tall obelisk, engraved thus:

DEC. 1, 1903

I talked for awhile with Marvin Gilkison, the clerk at Union Cemetery. He looked up the location of Billy's grave and walked me to block 18, lot 9, pointing out other interesting gravestones as we walked. When I wondered aloud about locating records to see whether Billy had been a Mason, Marvin suggested I see postmaster Ralph Patterson.

It took about two minutes to get from cemetery to post office. When I walked in, the postmaster looked up and said, "Well, you must be T.K." So it is in the small town of
Union, Oregon.

While no journal has been found detailing Billy's life, nor any personal correspondence, we can assume that the life of the town was his life to a great extent. We are all inextricably involved with the place we live in: climate, politics, economy, social events, the lay of the land. These are the things we can know about Billy's life. The rest we can only imagine.


1 Davis, Lewis J., Our Kinsmen: A Family History (Portland, OR, 1936), p. 25. (Note: Lewis J. Davis, another son of J.E. Davis, was almost 11 years old on that westward journey in 1876.)

2 An Illustrated History of Union and Wallowa Counties (Western Historical Publishing Co., 1902), p. 142.

3 Davis, p. 27.

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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