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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Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Sorted Past, Week 1: Commencement Program

In my last post, I promised you another fun document I found while sorting through a box of unfiled papers. I was referring to this one, a program from the First Annual Commencement of the Model High School. It was held June 15, 1906.

The location of the Model School was not given anywhere on the program, but it did say the Commencement was held in the Normal Chapel.

Milton E. Kerr, my grandfather's older brother, was one of the graduates. He had just turned 15 a month before graduation. At the Commencement, he delivered a recitation on Christian citizenship.

(click on these images to enlarge them for reading)

The thirteen members of the Model High School Class of 1906 were:
  • Harriet Mae McQuistion
  • Helen Griffith
  • Sylvia Eleanor Cooper
  • Martha Eva McCoy
  • Frank Dickson Campbell
  • John Henry Bingham
  • Milton Efner Kerr
  • Jessie Elizabeth Kissick
  • Gertrude Maude Lindsey
  • Jean Irene Moorhead
  • Thomas Dewitt Reed
  • Mary Jane Rodgers
  • Bessie Ida Clark
Also listed on the program were Arthur C. Fleshman, Principal, and Wm. M Stewart, Assistant.

Milton Efner Kerr ca. 1906
(click to enlarge)

Milton Efner Kerr was the son of Kate (Katharine) Pettis Kerr. His father, also named Milton E. Kerr, had died in 1895 when Milton was four years old. In 1902 Kate went to work as a teacher at Slippery Rock Normal School in Butler County, Pennsylvania.

I believe the Model School pictured above, located in Slippery Rock, is the one from which Milton graduated.

Prior to rediscovering this commencement program, I had thought Milton and Rosmer attended school in Mercer. For some time after their father's death, they lived in Mercer with their mother and maternal grandmother, in a home adjacent to that of their paternal grandparents. I didn't know whether Kate was commuting to work in Slippery Rock every day or whether she had moved there, and I don't recall ever hearing that Milton and Rosmer had lived in Slippery Rock. Consideration of the new information on this commencement program led me to take another look at the unidentified photo below.

(click to enlarge)

The only thing written on the back of the photo is "This is where we live, upstairs." There's not a clue as to the location of this house, but I've always thought it was from Rosmer's side of the family. Now I am convinced of that. I compared the handwriting with the few samples I have of Kate Pettis Kerr's handwriting. The letters s and t are particularly telling. Kate tended to high-cross the letter t, and she often finished the letter s with a tail similar to that of a Q. I feel certain the handwriting on this photo is hers.

I suspect this house stood in Slippery Rock a hundred years ago. Maybe it's still standing. My hope is that someone from Slippery Rock will recognize the house and let me know so I can rule out these other possibilities:
  • Winona MN
  • Chicago IL
  • Omaha NE
  • Mercer PA
  • Detroit MI
In any case, I now think both Kate and her children lived in Slippery Rock during the years she taught at the Normal School there. She may have sent this photo to her mother, Kate Efner Pettis who, in the summer of 1903, went to Union, Oregon, where her half-brother Billy Efner lived. (I believe she remained in Union until 1908.)


I plan to post the most interesting items from my sorting project each week on Sunday for the duration of the sorting project.

What about you? Have you rediscovered anything interesting while sorting?


Anonymous said...

I think I can ID the graduate "FRANK DICKSON CAMPBELL" and have passed this on to his grandson. MRB.

T.K. said...

Thanks, MRB. At present I am in the process of moving back to MI after 22 years in OR, so my Internet access is limited. I hope to hear from the grandson but my own reply may be less than speedy. I appreciate your passing that along to him. Best wishes.

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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