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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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Short-Lived Marriages of Milton Efner Kerr

My great-grandfather, Milton E. Kerr, was married twice.

His first wife was Bessie K. Zahniser, daughter of William and Elizabeth C. Zahniser. Bessie was born about 1863. Her brother James, a few years older, died in 1865, the same year her sister Mary was born. Their mother died four years later at the age of 41. With two young daughters to care for, William moved in with W.L. and Hannah R. Fleming. I believe Hannah was William's sister.

Zahniser family in 1870
(click to enlarge)

Bessie was again enumerated at the Fleming home when the 1880 census was taken.

Bessie Zahniser in 1880
(click to enlarge)

Milton and Bess were about 23 when they were pronounced husband and wife by the Reverend George W. Zahniser on September 16, 1886. But they would enjoy less than a year of marriage. Bess died on September 4, 1887, just eight weeks after the birth of their daughter.

In December 1889, Milton married Kate E. Pettis. Together they had two sons: Milton, born in Chicago in 1891, and my grandfather Rosmer, born in Mercer, Pennsylvania, in 1892.

This marriage too was doomed to brevity. Milton died in 1895, just days before Rosmer's third birthday. He was laid to rest in Mercer Citizens Cemetery beside his first wife.



Husband: Milton E. KERR
Born: 15 July 1863 in Oil City, Venango County, Pennsylvania
Father: Andrew Jackson KERR
Mother: Esther Alice CARROLL
Died: 27 or 28 September 1895
Burial: Mercer, Mercer County, Pennsylvania

First Wife: Bess K. ZAHNISER
Born: About 1863
Father: William ZAHNISER
Mother: Elizabeth C. ---
Married: 16 September 1886 in Mercer, Mercer County, Pennsylvania by Rev. Geo. W. Zahniser
Died: 4 September 1887
Burial: Mercer, Mercer County, Pennsylvania


1 Name: Bessie KERR
Born: 12 July 1887 in Nebraska
Spouse: Walter R. MARSHALL
Died: 13 July 1966


Second Wife: Katharine E. PETTIS
Born: 2 Oct 1864 in Winona, Winona County, Minnesota
Father: Darius J. PETTIS
Mother: Kate EFFNER
Married: 15 December 1889
Died: 11 June 1937 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Burial: 14 June 1937 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan


1 Name: Milton E. KERR
Born: 19 May 1891 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
Married: 15 August 1914 in Lake County, Indiana
Spouse: Marie Clara LETTERER
Died: 3 April 1961 in Magnolia Springs, Alabama
Burial: 7 April 1961 in Maplewood Cemetery, Crown Point, Lake County, Indiana

2 Name: Rosmer Pettis KERR
Born: 30 September 1892 in Mercer, Mercer County, Pennsylvania
Married: 12 June 1916 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Spouse: Evelyn Elvina HAUER
Died: 9 February 1969 in Port Huron, St Clair County, Michigan
Burial: 11 February 1969 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan

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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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