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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Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Artworks of Kate Pettis Kerr

(To pause on a particular slide, mouse over the lower edge to make control arrows appear.)

From about 1888-1891, Kate Pettis Kerr lived in Omaha, Nebraska, where she worked as an artist. She was listed in the 1888 city directory as an airbrush artist, while later editions listed her simply as artist. Still single in 1888 and 1889, she was listed as Miss Kate E. Pettis. Her mother, who was living there with her in 1889, was listed as Mrs. Kate E. Pettis. They lived at 706 N. 16th.

Omaha, Nebraska City Directory - 1889
(click to enlarge)

In 1889, Kate was also listed under Art Schools, located at 520 Paxton Block with another artist, Miss Mellona Butterfield.

Listed again under the Artists heading in 1890, Miss Butterfield now had the designation "(china)" after her name, and she had moved to 421 Paxton Block. Kate's business remained at 520 Paxton Block but she had married and was now listed as Mrs. K.E. Kerr. She was boarding at the Esmond Hotel, where she was listed again in 1891.

Rosmer Pettis Kerr ca. 1895 (cabinet card)

I'm sure there must be other examples of Kate's art still in existence. They may or may not be signed. Possible signatures include K.E. Pettis and K.E. Kerr. I think much of her work was airbrushed, but she also worked in oils and may have done sketches as well. I know she sometimes worked from a photograph of her subject, as she did with the oil painting of her son shown above in the slideshow.

If you are able to share any information about her art, or photographs of her work, please use the Comments feature below to contact me. Please include your email address for a personal response. Any comment containing an email address or other personal contact information will not be published to the blog.

But where was her husband?

While the women in my grandfather's family share the creative gene, the men seem to have something entirely different in common: they disappear to the oddest of places, where you'd never think to look for them... well, okay, where I would never think to look for them.

Rosmer himself and Milton E. Kerr, his brother, are a good case in point. I recently found them--despite Rosmer being indexed as "Rosiner"--in the 1910 census. Where were they? In Topeka, Kansas, of all places, working in a hotel at 335 Kansas Avenue, Rosmer as a clerk and Milton as a steward.*

Rosmer & Milton Kerr in Topeka, Kansas - 1910
(click to enlarge)

Their ages were given as 19 and 21, respectively (an ink blot makes the "21" an educated guess on my part, as I don't think Milton would have passed for 29). Rosmer was born on September 30, 1892, however, and the census was taken April 26, 1910, so he actually would have been just 17, not 19. And Milton would have been only 18, since he was born the 19th of May, 1891.

But we are not here to talk about them. We are here to talk about May, 1891, the ninth month of Kate Pettis Kerr's first pregnancy, and the mysterious absence (on paper, at least) of her husband, Milton E. Kerr, after whom her first child was named.

Milton (the elder) is another one of those men who disappeared to the oddest of places. Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, he was still at home with his parents in Mercer when the 1880 census was taken. He was 17.

I was more than a little surprised when I found him living in Omaha in 1886. According to the city directory that year, he was living at 1510 Douglas with an Arthur J. Howe. Both of them, and a third man named Martin M. Marshall, had the designation "(Howe, Kerr & Marshall)" after their names. Marshall's personal listing also said "pres. Omaha Barb Wire Co., res 310 N. 17th."

There was a separate listing that said, "Howe, Kerr & Marshall (Arthur J. Howe, Milton E. Kerr, Martin M. Marshall), furniture 1510 Douglas" (p. 278). Oddly, in the business section under the Furniture heading, the listing said, "Howe & Kerr, 1510 Douglas" with no mention of Marshall (p. 587).

Howe had been in the furniture business in Omaha for awhile already. He was listed in the 1884 city directory this way: "Howe, Arthur J. (Chamberlain & Howe) r 1715 Cass" (p. 221). A separate listing said, "Chamberlain & Howe (Harry L. Chamberlain, Arthur J. Howe), furniture, 310, 312 N. 16th" (p. 122). Milton was not listed before 1886.

The plot thickened with the 1887 listings:
  • Howe, Arthur J. (Howe & Kerr), r 2520 Harney (p. 314)
  • Howe & Kerr (Arthur J. Howe, Milton E. Kerr), furniture and bedding, 1510 Douglas (p. 315)
  • Kerr, Milton E. (Howe & Kerr), res 2520 Harney (p. 362)
  • and in the business section under Furniture: Howe & Kerr, 1510 Douglas (p. 798)
Interesting! Now we have Howe and Kerr working together at 1510 Douglas and both moving their residence to 2520 Harney. More than a business relationship, it would seem. Who is this Arthur J. Howe?, I wondered, and did he have anything to do with Milton going to Nebraska in the first place? Could he be related to Charles L. Howe, who would marry Milton's sister Alice in 1896?

At this point, though, there are much more interesting questions to be asked. On September 16, 1886, Milton was in Mercer, Pennsylvania, marrying Bessie Zahniser (Book 1, License 322), daughter of William and Elizabeth C. Zahniser of Mercer.

The Omaha city directory didn't list spouse names. Did Bessie go to Omaha with Milton and live at the Harney address also? I assume she did, because she was, in fact, in Nebraska when she gave birth to their daughter, Bessie Kerr, on July 12, 1887.

Sadly, this young wife and mother died only eight weeks later. She was buried at Mercer Citizens Cemetery in Pennsylvania.

Bessie, Wife of M.E. Kerr, Died Sept. 4, 1887, Age 25 Years

Milton returned to his furniture business in Omaha. And the baby Bessie? I don't know for sure, but I believe she was left in the care of her grandparents Kerr in Mercer.

Bessie Z. Kerr, daughter of Milton E. Kerr and Bess K. Zahniser Kerr
(click to enlarge)

Readers, our work with the Omaha city directories has only just begun. In 1888, two new players burst onto the scene:
  • Howe, Andrew J. (Howe, Kerr & Co.) r 1510 Douglas (p. 397)
  • Howe, Arthur J. (Howe, Kerr & Co.) r 1510 Douglas (p. 397)
  • Kerr, Milton E. (Howe, Kerr & Co.) r 1510 Douglas (p. 459)
  • Pettis, Kate E. Miss, air brush artist, r 612-613 Paxton Bldg, res 2205 Douglas (p. 688)
  • business section under Artists: Pettis, Kate E. Miss, r 612-613 Paxton Bldg (p. 1021)
  • business section under Furniture: Howe, Kerr & Co., 1510 Douglas (p. 1038)
Ah, two Howes under the same roof! Now, there's something to work with. In short order, I had a very interesting census record in hand. (Thank you, Cheryl!)

Meadville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania - 1880 - page 8
(click to enlarge)

In Meadville, Pennsylvania in 1880, there lived a furniture dealer named A.J. Howe, age 45. Boarding under his roof was a cabinet maker named Arthur J. Howe, age 24. With Meadville just 48 miles from Mercer, I was feeling pretty confident, but there was no Charles L. Howe in the household to seal the deal. With Arthur listed as a boarder, not a son or nephew, there was still some doubt in my mind.

Luckily, I didn't have to look too far. The very next page of the census had just what I needed.

Meadville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania - 1880 - page 9
(click to enlarge)

I was surprised to see I hadn't reached the end of A.J. Howe's listing. The last member of his household, another boarder, was none other than H.L. Chamberlain, furniture store clerk who would later be listed with Arthur in the 1884 Omaha city directory.

And if that wasn't enough to convince me I'd found the right people (which it was, of course!), further down the page, I found another Howe household, that of J.W. Howe, yet another clerk in the furniture business, and with him, his son Charles L., age 14, who would one day marry Alice Kerr. I don't have all the Howe family relationships figured out but, for now, this is enough to satisfy my curiosity about this group of Pennsylvanians who went to Omaha to sell furniture.

And what about our other new player in 1888 Omaha, Miss Kate E. Pettis, airbrush artist? What brought her to Omaha? And was she there alone? The next city directory had some interesting information.

Omaha City Directory - 1889
(click to enlarge)

Kate's mother, Mrs. Kate E. Pettis, was residing with her at 706 N. 16th. But another Pettis caught my eye. Orange S. Pettis, vice-president of Western Casket Company, was the younger Kate's third cousin, once removed. Did they know each other? Were they aware of their relationship? I don't know, but Orange did spend most of his life in Le Sueur County, Minnesota, about 150 miles west of Winona, where Kate was born and raised. He worked as a teacher there. He was older than Kate by ten years or so.

In 1889 the Howes were no longer listed as being in business with Milton. They were indexed only as residents of 1510 Douglas. Milton was also listed back at 1510 Douglas, but now the business was listed thus: "Kerr & Manington (M.E. Kerr and H.M. Manington), furniture 1510 Douglas." I have no idea who H.M. Manington was and, readers, we are not goin' there!

Omaha City Directory - 1890
(click to enlarge)

Instead, we're going straight to the 1890 city directory, where we happily discover that Milton and Kate have not only met but married, thus assuring my eventual existence. In the business section under Artists, Mrs. K.E. Kerr is still listed at 520 Paxton Block. But there are strange doings in the alphabetical listings, where we find this: "Kerr, Mrs. K.E., artist, bds Hotel Esmond." Not only is the Kerr & Manington furniture business missing, Milton himself doesn't even have a residential listing. And the same is true of the 1891 directory.

Omaha City Directory - 1891
(click to enlarge)

So... are you still waiting for me to answer the title question: where was Kate's new husband? Here's the thing. I don't know. I do know that Kate gave birth to their first son, who was named after his father, on May 19, 1891. The baby Milton was born not in Omaha but in Chicago and, readers, I can't explain that either!


*How did the Kerr boys end up working in a hotel in Topeka? I don't recognize the name of the hotel manager, Frank Root Cargill, nor his wife, Zella Starks Cargill. The Kerrs do have Root ancestors, but there is no Frank Root Cargill in the index of The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut, so I have not found any relationship that would have sparked a job offer for two young Kerr boys from Pennsylvania. Robert Wood Blair, a lodger at the hotel, was born in Pennsylvania, but I know of no further connection there either.


In case you read beyond the highlighting in the city directory, you might need to know:

pesthouse n (1611): a shelter or hospital for those infected with a pestilential or contagious disease

Got Idea?

Detroit genealogy blogger Jasia, of Creative Gene fame, has a new resource for you. If you're looking for interesting new ways to work with or present your family history, her new blog, Creative Genealogy, is sure to bring you some fresh ideas. Go see!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Karl Franklin Parker, WWII Veteran

Sgt. Karl F. Parker, 112th Cavalry
(click to enlarge)

My Uncle Karl was warm and funny and great with kids. My sister and I always had a good time when he came to visit. He teased us and made us laugh, but he never talked down to us. He made us feel like real people, as if he had come as much to see us as our parents.

Karl was born September 8, 1917 in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, the third child of DeWitt Delwin Parker and his wife Hazel Helen Galloway. In 1920, this family of five lived on Howard Street in Algonac, Michigan, where DeWitt worked as a tailor in a tailor shop.

By 1930, in addition to his two older sisters, Karl had a younger sister as well, and the family had moved to 45 Washington Avenue in Mt. Clemens. There DeWitt worked as a typewriter salesman. Later they moved to Los Angeles, California.

In his 21st year, Karl applied for a Social Security number.
(click to enlarge)

Karl was 23 when he married my Aunt Bonnie, daughter of Rosmer and Evelyn Kerr, on June 23, 1941. He was a much-loved father to two children, one Bonnie's daughter from her first marriage, whom Karl adopted, and the other born in 1964. Even after their divorce in 1965, Karl remained devoted to Bonnie and the children.

Karl and daughter Judy

My grandparents couldn't have loved Karl more if he'd been their own son, and he felt the same way about them. My grandmother kept a letter she'd received from him during World War II. He must have felt very close to Evelyn to share these thoughts with her.

(click to enlarge)

[Context: A few months before Karl wrote this letter, my mother had turned 21. The day after her birthday, she left Detroit and went to join some friends in Los Angeles, where she took a job at Lockheed. Evelyn missed her and was hoping to make a trip out there to visit her.]

Karl died January 30, 1969, while hospitalized. A Christian Scientist, maybe he refused treatment that might have prolonged his life. He was only 51.

Forest Lawn - Lot 41, Section 33

He was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Detroit, in a lot owned by my grandparents.* My grandfather would join him there just two weeks later. It was a terribly sad time for our family.

Karl is still loved and missed by everyone who knew him.

I can't help but smile when I think of him.

Uncle Karl & Me, Thanksgiving 1963


*Note: I believe this lot was purchased in 1937, when Rosmer's mother, Kate Pettis Kerr, died. She is buried there also.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Irving and Tryphena Pettis, Civil War Veterans

(click any image in this post to enlarge for reading)

Irving Sedgwick Pettis and Tryphena Angeline Pettis, brother and sister of my great-great grandfather Darius, both served in the Civil War also.

Irving enlisted August 21, 1862 in the 147th Infantry of New York and served in Company D, mustering in on September 22 or 23, a month before his 31st birthday. He left behind his wife of six and a half years, Martha Ophelia Treat, daughter Edith Arabelle (known as Belle, age 5) and infant Anna Grace, who was born August 9. He served until May 19, 1865, when he received a disability discharge shortly before the rest of the regiment mustered out on June 7.

Battles of the 147th Infantry of New York

Irving died August 7, 1903 at the age of 71. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Henry County, Illinois.

Tryphena Pettis was 27 when she enlisted as an Army Nurse on April 12, 1864. She served first at General Hospital No. 11 in Nashville, Tennessee, also called Small Pox Hospital (talk about doom!), and next at Sherman General Hospital, or Field Hospital, also in Nashville. She then went to Point of Rocks Hospital in Virginia, where she served until she was honorably released on June 1, 1865. She returned to Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, and was married to George W. Wilcox the next month.

Claimant's Affidavit written and signed by Tryphena Pettis Wilcox

General Affidavit of Hiram H. Waldo and Mrs. Mary J. Ashton
attesting to the
fact that Tryphena Wilcox
was indeed the former Tryphena Pettis

General Affidavit of Margaret Haffers (or Hapfers) Beacom,
who worked with Tryphena at Point of Rocks Hospital

Documentation that Tryphena Pettis was on the muster rolls

Left, the affidavit of Tryphena Pettis' personal physician
Right, Tryphena Pettis' sworn statement of her disability claim
("head trouble, sore eyes, weak back,
rheumatism, catarrh, and general disability")

Pension Approvals

I've saved the best for last. By far, the most interesting documents in the file were the two below. On the left, Tryphena and George's marriage certificate. Any genealogist would be happy to have that, but I was particularly surprised and delighted to find that the marriage ceremony was performed by my great-great-great grandfather, Ezekiel T. Efner, Darius' father-in-law.

Marriage Certificate and Drop Report

And on the right, the delicately-named "Drop Report" stating rather bluntly that the pensioner had been "dropped from the roll because of Death."

Coming soon: the considerably more interesting
Civil War pension file pertaining to Darius Pettis

A Schulte Memorial Day Tribute

Read a 1918 letter from Elmer Meyer Schulte
at Two Sides of the Ocean.

In honor of Memorial Day, Two Sides of the Ocean features a great account of our Schulte men in the armed forces. Personal stories and memorabilia are included in Three Generations Serve Their Country, followed by Part II, where you can find links to additional information about the units with which they served. Cheryl always integrates a lot of interesting material into her posts, and these two are no exception.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sedgwick W. Pettis, Civil War Veteran

Mrs. Pettis appears to be pregnant in this photo.
If that's the case, it was taken in late summer or fall of 1883.
(click to enlarge)

Sedgwick Warren Pettis is the second of four Civil War veterans I'm acknowledging this Memorial Day weekend. All four are grandchildren of William M. Pettis and his wife, Ruth Crandall, of Rhode Island (and later New York). Sedgwick was a cousin of my great-great grandfather, Darius J. Pettis (see yesterday's post).

Readers who would like to know more about the participation of Sedgwick's regiment (or any other regiment) in the war can find that information summarized at Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. If you don't know your ancestor's regiment, you may be able to learn that at the same website by searching first under your ancestor's name. (If at first you don't find your ancestor, try a different spelling. I found Darius J. Pettis listed as Darias J. Pettus.)

For more details about the specific battles a regiment fought in, you'll find the battles described at The Civil War.

Sedgwick's regiment, the 27th Infantry of Wisconsin, saw considerably more action than Darius'. As a result, his service had a dramatic impact on the rest of his life. Read about it in the article below, from Memorial and Biographical Record: Butler, Polk, Seward, York and Fillmore Counties (Chicago: Geo. A. Ogle & Co., 1899), Part II: Compendium of Local Biography, p. 702-705. I was so pleased to find that this great Nebraska resource, and many more, have been made available online by the NEGenWeb Project.


SEDGWICK W. PETTIS, deceased.--It is an important public duty to honor and perpetuate, as far as is possible, the memory of an eminent citizen--one who by his blameless and honorable life reflects credit, not only upon his community, but also upon the county and state. In Mr. Pettis, who is now deceased, we find not only one of the highly respected citizens of York county, and one of its honored pioneers, but also a veteran of the Civil war, who devoted the opening years of his manhood to the defense of his country from the internal foes, and whose death resulted from his arduous service. His portrait is shown on another page.

He was born July 3, 1844, in Wyoming county, New York, a son of Zina H. and Amanda (Sedgwick) Pettis, also natives of the Empire state, where the mother passed away. In the latter part of the fifties the father removed to Sheboygan county, Wisconsin, and passed his last days upon a farm there. Our subject was about fourteen years of age when he accompanied his father to Wisconsin, having previously acquired the greater part of his education in the public schools of New York. In September, 1862, at the early age of eighteen years, he joined the boys in blue as a member of Company F, Twenty-seventh Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. His company was the second of the regiment to arrive at Camp Washburn, Milwaukee, where they were afterward mustered into the United States service, but were not ordered south until the 30th of the following March, going first to Columbus, Kentucky. From that time on Mr. Pettis was in active service until the close of the war, and while on the Camden expedition in Arkansas, April 10, 1864, he received a wound in the left leg, which at the time was not considered serious, but it so affected his nerves as to give him almost constant pain and finally caused his death December 27, 1894.

After the war Mr. Pettis returned to Wisconsin, and in that state married Miss Amanda Townsend, who was born in Monroe county, New York, January 29, 1845. In the spring of 1871 they came to York county, Nebraska, and for their homestead secured the northeast quarter of section 22*, Leroy township, at which time the present city of York contained but two frame houses and one sod shanty. They had one child at that time--Martin, then ten months old. Their first year here was spent in a dug-out and they experienced all the hardships and privations of pioneer life, their stock consisting of only one team, a cow and a pig, and their cash capital fifty cents on their arrival at their new home. Their neighbors were few and far between, but quite a number of other settlers arrived during the following summer and fall. Aided by his good wife, Mr. Pettis succeeded in making a good home and finally was able to surround his family with all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life.

After coming to York county the wound he had received during the war began to give him a great deal of trouble, and for many years he suffered with the same. Hoping to get relief he underwent three surgical operations, first cutting out some of the nerves and then amputating the leg above the knee, but these only afforded temporary relief. About two years before his death it was thought best to amputate the leg the second time, and from that time on he was confined to his bed, a constant sufferer until relieved by death. Every thing that kind friends and a loving, devoted wife could do to relieve his suffering was done. He was a prominent member of the Grand Army Post at York, and he and his wife assisted in organizing the Methodist Episcopal church at that place, of which he was ever afterward a consistent and active member.

Mrs. Pettis, who is a most estimable lady, honored and respected by all who know her, still resides on the old homestead in Leroy township. She has two children--Eliza Hart, now a resident of Columbus, Nebraska, and Ruth, at home. Her parents were Hiram and Eliza (Baldwin) Townsend. The father died August 6, 1898, aged eighty-two years. The mother, now seventy-five years old, is a highly esteemed citizen of Sheboygan county, Wisconsin. The father was a native of Vermont, where his mother died, and later during his boyhood he removed to Monroe county, New York, where he was reared and educated. In 1841 he married Eliza Baldwin, a native of that county.

*Note: The 1889 Atlas of Plat Maps indicates T10N, R2W.


Sedgwick Pettis was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, Post No. 32, York, Nebraska. He died December 27, 1894, and was buried in the Vernon (aka Pettis) Cemetery southeast of York.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Darius J. Pettis, Civil War Veteran

(click to enlarge)

On August 16, 1864, at the age of 26, my great-great grandfather, Darius J. Pettis, left his job as a clerk in the city of Winona and enlisted as a Private in the 11th Regiment of the Minnesota Infantry. At the time of his enlistment, his wife was less than two months away from giving birth to their second child. While Darius served, Katharine and the children stayed with her father, Ezekiel Efner, in Lyndon, Wisconsin.

(click to enlarge)

Darius served in Company I. He was promoted to Sergeant on September 6, three weeks after mustering in. He served in that capacity until mustering out the following June 26, 1865.

Rufus Davenport's Narrative of the Eleventh Regiment, below, is a very readable account of the experiences Darius shared during his service.

Wondering about copyright issues?

Family historians sharing their research online will find Michael Patrick Goad's Copyright Fundamentals for Genealogy very informative.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Tragedy of Unidentified Photos

(To pause on a particular slide, mouse over the lower edge to make control arrows appear.)

Because of my interest in family history, a lot of old family photos have come into my possession. Some have identifications written on them, but there are many with no clue at all. About some, I have my suspicions. I study them, searching for clues or family resemblances. I ask around, but most of the people who would know for sure are gone now. Once in awhile I get lucky.

I hope to get lucky with the posting of The Unidentified!, a slideshow of old family photos I haven't been able to identify. It's possible someone else has pictures of these same people or places, and maybe theirs are identified. I'll add more images to this slideshow as time permits.

Localities which may be affiliated with these photos include, but are not limited to, western Pennsylvania (Mercer, Slippery Rock), Detroit, Minnesota (Winona), Wisconsin (Sheboygan County et al), Illinois (Chicago, Winnebago, et al), and Omaha.

Surnames which may be affiliated with these photos include, but are not limited to, Efner (Effner, Efnor), Pettis, Sedgwick, Kerr, Carroll, Schulte, Hauer, and Wolfschlager (Wolfschlaeger, Wolfslayer).

If you can help identify any of these photos, please use the Comments feature at the bottom of this post to contact me. Include your email address for a personal response. Any comment containing an email address or other personal contact information will not be published to the blog.

Embed a Slideshow in Your Genealogy Blog

Those smart kids at Google have done it again. This time they've found a way to indulge my every passion all at once, and it's just too easy! Photography, family history, scrapbooking, playing around with Paint Shop Pro, blogging--it all comes together in the creation of a digitally scrapbooked slideshow to embed in my blog.

The basic steps are easy:
  1. Decide what images you want to include in your slideshow.
  2. If you enjoy digital scrapbooking, create layouts for your images using Paint Shop Pro or other image-editing software.
  3. Upload the images to a Picasa Web Album.
  4. On your album's page at Picasa, click Embed Slideshow. Choose the appropriate size, then copy the HTML code.
  5. Go to your blog and paste the code into a post or HTML sidebar module.
To control the slideshow manually, mouse over the lower edge of the image so the controls appear. You can also use the right and left arrows to move through the slides or click the button between them to pause on an image.

If you add more images to the Picasa Web Album, they will automatically be included in the slideshow.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Photos from Slippery Rock

Slippery Rock State Normal School Chapel, 1912
(click to enlarge)

Kate Pettis Kerr does not appear in the photo above. Surely it was she who wrote identifications on the back, though. Written in pencil on gray cardboard, they're very hard to read. I've tweaked the image a bit to make them more legible. To the best of my ability, then:

Back row, standing: Marie Newmarker, A--- McCoy, Mary Miller (or Sutter?), Everett Glasgow, Carrie Ethel Hamilton, ---- Edmond, Walter Hart, Jennie McDonel, John Galloway, Claire Anderson, Freda Foulke.

Front row, seated: Howard ----, Lindley ----, Jean Morrison, Alice Taylor, Jeannette Pattison, Agnes Garvey, Anna Sutter, Lucy ----, Ella Hoagland, Edward Walters, Thomas M. Tate.

Child, center stage: Morrison Smith

Standing in front of stage: Nylda Willison, Mrs. Hulm

(click to enlarge)


Claim These Photos:

The two photos below were taken by Seavy of New Castle, Pa. In the upper left corner of the top photo, you see "SR '06" (indicating Slippery Rock 1906) on a small flag. Although the other photo is not marked the same way, the two photos have apparently traveled together for a hundred years, so I'm guessing both have Slippery Rock affiliations.

If you happened upon this website via a search for William Dickey or Gus West, you may be interested in these photos which were identified thus on the back. Although these were found with photos kept by Rosmer and Evelyn Kerr, to my knowledge William and Gus are not related to my family. I'd be happy to send the photos to their properly identified descendants. Use the Comments feature at the bottom of the post to contact me. Please include your email address for a personal response. Any comment containing an email address or other personal contact information will not be published to the blog.

William Dickey, Slippery Rock 1906
(click to enlarge)

Gus West
(click to enlarge)


Can you identify these photos?

Below are two images which I believe were both taken at Billingsley Art Studio in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, although only one was marked as such. Although the photo of the woman is slightly larger than the photo of the man, the background appears to be the same in both photos. I'm guessing they may have been taken in different years, probably between 1902-1913. Neither photograph is identified. If you recognize either of these people, please contact me via the Comments feature at the bottom of this post.

(click to enlarge)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Notes from The Sheldon Progress, 1912

B.L. Buss advertised his auction in The Sheldon Progress, but when the ad ran,
it appeared with an incorrect auction date. It was printed again with the correct date.

The corrected ad ran directly above an ad for L.A. Froemke's auction.

No telling how auctioneer J.W. Doty planned to be in two places at once!

January 5:
Pleasant Prairie: A.R. Nohr went to Owego Wednesday to visit Ed and Joe Wall.

Pleasant Prairie: Phillip Nohr, Walter Jaster and Herman Scheel departed last Thursday on a trip to Wisconsin. They will visit at Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Green Bay, and Wayside before returning home.
January 19:
Pleasant Prairie: Miss Clara Nohr, who has been spending several days with her aunt, Mrs. Gust Jaster, returned home Thursday.

In 1911, Ransom County issued 160 auto licenses. Fees totalled $480.

Seventy-four marriage licenses were issued in Ransom County in 1911, down from 100 in 1910, possibly as a result of the lack of prosperity due to short crops.

Ed Buss went to Fargo for the Grain Growers Convention.
February 2:
Owego: Mrs. Ed Wall returned from Lisbon last Saturday evening.

Pleasant Prairie: Miss Annie Buss has been visiting her sister Mrs. Ed Wall at Owego this week.

Pleasant Prairie: Mrs. Herman Froemke and daughter, Mrs. Lewis Schmidtke, departed last Friday for Milwaukee, having been called there by the serious illness of Mrs. Froemke's eldest daughter, Mrs. Adams. [They stayed two weeks. Mrs. Adams recovered.]
February 9:
Phillip Nohr and Walter Jaster returned from Wisconsin.

Mr. and Mrs. B.L. Buss of Shenford township went to Leonard Wednesday evening to visit relatives.
February 16:
Pleasant Prairie: Several from Pleasant Prairie were visitors at the county seat this week. Among them were Reuben Nohr and Mr. and Mrs. John T. Reis.

Owego: Mrs. Ed Wall, who has been sick, is reported to be getting along nicely.

Pleasant Prairie: Mrs. A.R. Nohr and baby have been visiting Lisbon friends this week.

Pleasant Prairie: Miss Myrtle Nohr has been spending the week with her cousin, Miss Clara Nohr.
March 8:
John Krentz and lady were callers at the Behrend home Tuesday evening.
March 22:
Coburn: John Krentz and Miss Nellie Hoy spent Monday evening with [siblings] Harry and Miss Blanche Behrend.
April 5:
Pleasant Prairie: The Lutheran Ladies Aid met Wednesday afternoon with Mrs. John T. Reis. A large crowd attended and all enjoyed both a social good time and the elegant repast served by Mrs. Reis.
April 19:
A baby girl was born to Mr. and Mrs. Anton Altman on April 9.

Phillip Nohr has been working this week at the Farmers elevator at Anselm. The heavy rain of Friday night and Saturday filled the pit with water so that they were unable to run the machinery. The moisture has been pumped out and the elevator is in running order again.
June 14:
Pleasant Prairie: The German Lutheran Ladies Aid which was to have met on June 26 will meet on June 25 at the home of F. Buss. The primary election coming on that day necessitated the change.
August 30:
Mrs. John Reis has been enjoying a visit from her brother from Illinois the last two weeks. [sic]
September 20:
Mrs. Jake Muth from Kidder, South Dakota, is the guest of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. Buss this week.
October 4:
Ferdinand Buss was quite seriously ill last week and needed the services of a doctor. His ailment seems to be a sort of stomach trouble and for a time he suffered much pain, but at this writing is on the road to recovery.
October 18:
Oscar Wieg has decided to quit farming and is advertising all his horses, farm machinery and some household goods at auction, on Thursday, October 31, at his place three miles west of Sheldon. He has twelve head of good work horses, some of the best in this section, that are well broken and are sure to bring top notch prices. He also has three milch cows, three head of young stock and something over thirty head of hogs. Oscar has several positions offered him and will probably accept one of them as he believes he can make more money working on a salary than he can by farming rented land and paying out so much for hired help.

Mrs. F.W. Froemke had as her guests Monday Mrs. George A. Bowe, of Fargo, and Mrs. George H. Wilson, of Minneapolis. The ladies went to Lisbon Tuesday for a visit with friends.

The Farmers State Bank installed a new lighting system this week. It is one of the latest inventions in illumination, and is said to be the coming system. The plant is similar to the lighting systems on the late model automobiles, though on a larger scale. Two lamps have been places inside the fixture, a desk lamp and one at the counter, lighting up the place nicely.

A crew of painters arrived last week Friday and have been engaged most of the week in giving the Great Western elevator a coat of paint. The paint shows off the elevator to a nicety with the name of the house printed in large white letters on the east and northside of the building. Manager Fisk feels quite chesty and expects to receive the remainder of the grain marketed in Sheldon this fall.

A wild deer is reported to have been seen by residents near McLeod on two different occasions during the past week. The animal was seen at considerable distance the first time and was not distinctive enough to tell just what it was. It was later seen in George Sour's corn field at close range and is said to be about half grown. Just how the animal wandered away from its usual haunts seems a mystery, but it is believed by local parties that there are several more in the sand hills. In the early days it was a common sight to see large herds wandering over the prairies browsing on the grass. They are becoming more extinct now, and the only place they are found in this state is in the timber along the Missouri river south of Williston.

Ed Buss met with a peculiar misfortune one day last week when he tipped a frying pan half full of hot grease over on one of his feet, burning three of his toes badly. He did not attend to the burns immediately, but went about his usual work, and as the result was in town Monday with a very bad foot. Dr. Weyrens dressed the burn which showed signs of blood poisoning.
November 8:
Anton Altman, John Ries [sic], and Fred Krantz left Wednesday evening for Brainard, Minn. [sic] to look over the country around there. If they find it to their liking they may invest in some land before they return. [In fact, it wasn't Brainerd that they went to, but rather Bemidji.]
November 15:
Mrs. Froemke, of Anselm, is moving onto the Krantz farm which she bought this fall.
November 29:
Fred Krantz had an accident happened to him Wednesday night that might have cost him his life, but as it is he escaped with a broken shoulder. He was on his way from his home over to Anton Altman's and while driving along the team became frightened and the rig was over turned. Mr. Krantz was either caught orclung to the lines and was draged a considerable distance over the hard frozen ground before the team was finally stopped. Besides a broken shoulder he received a badly scratched face. He was brought to Dr. Weyren's office Wednesday evening who set the shoulder. (sic)

Pleasant Prairie: A.R. Nohr is digging a new well this week.

Pleasant Prairie: Mrs. Gust Jaster was a Lisbon visitor Wednesday.

Pleasant Prairie: George Nohr returned to his home at Marion, Wis., this week, after spending the summer at Lew Altman's.

The Progress published a long letter from F.W. Froemke in Florida. It said, in part:
We are located 300 miles south of the north line of the state... this is the home of the citrus industry. Our county of Polk is said to have 10,000 acres of orange, grape fruit and kindred groves, and leads the state in these products.

In a five-mile drive yesterday, I saw thousands of acres that, are said, will average ten boxes to the tree, at seventy trees to the acre, and $2.00 a box. An acre of grove will pay $1400.00.

We are more than delighted with our beautiful little city of Fargo, Florida, not because it is our home, for a time at least, but of its fine location between seven large lakes, its hight altitude, and balmy atmosphere.

Two gangs of carpenters have been busy all summer constructing homes, teams and laborers building roads.

The altitude is one of the essentials in locating a home in Florida. Ninety per cent of the state is what is called "flatwood." It is much the same as the country between Venlo and Milnor, in Ransom county. Imagine, then, getting up on high ground such as between Anselm and Sheldon, and you have a bird's eye view of our coming city.

Mr. Gardner of our company planted rough lemon seed a year ago; last March he then grafted grape-fruit buds on this stock. After only seven months growth, it is six feet tall. Everything grows twelve months in the year, as against six months at home...

We are keeping posted on home news through The Progress, which reaches us on Tuesday, and are glad to note that the weather is very mild, but we know, from the experience of forty winters, that you are sure to get it before long.

Our school here has ten pupils, with Miss Diesem, of LaMoure, as teacher. School begins at 7:30 a.m., and closes its session for the day at 12:oo m. Afternoons are holidays, and yesterday Maynard caught a fine string of bass trolling in Lake Swoope.

We are getting nicely settled in our new home, and would like to see many of our northern friends come and visit us this winter.
F. W. Froemke
December 12:
Fred and Charlie Wall, Jacob Kaspari, William Hanelt, H.A. Froemke and Herman Buss started Monday evening from Anselm on their Florida trip. They expect to be gone for several weeks and will take in Washington, D.C. on their return trip.
December 19:
John Reis received the sad news on Friday last of the death of his mother at the old home in Indiana. He received the news too late to arrive there in time to be present at the funeral which was held Sunday. Mr. Reis has the sympathy of everyone in his sad hour.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Milton E. Kerr (1863-1895) at Chautauqua, 1879

On Sunday, August 17, 1879, sixteen-year-old Milton E. Kerr arrived at Chautauqua Lake in the westernmost corner of New York, where he would spend a week enjoying an educational summer camp experience. The experience itself had already come to be known as Chautauqua. For a great description and some photos, read The Endless Summers of Chautauqua by Marilyn Mathews Bendikson.

The first Chautauqua had been held earlier in the decade. It began as a way to educate Sunday School teachers, but quickly expanded in response to public enthusiasm, achieving the status of a Movement which continued to flourish into the 20th century. For those who couldn't attend in New York, the traveling Chautauqua came into being. In addition to religion, subjects included literature, science, and more. It became a forum for new ideas. Speakers included the likes of Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, and a number of U.S. presidents. Although its popularity peaked in the early part of the 20th century, Chautauqua continues to the present day.

Milton took a small autograph book with him to Chautauqua. It was signed by many friends during his week at camp, and additional entries were made later. Many entries are dated. Those dated between August 17-23, 1879 would have been signed at Chautauqua. Some entries also have a short message or verse. Signers often included their city and state:
  • Agnes S. Campbell, Greenville, Penna.
  • Job Fish Jr., Berlin Hts., Ohio
  • Claire A. Orr, Kankakee, Ill.
  • A.E. Brainerd, Boscobel, Wisc.
  • Ellis E. Moore, Franklin, Penna.
  • W.J. Preston, Detroit, Mich.
  • Fred Evans, Franklin, Pa.
  • Al Hughes, Franklin, Penna.
  • Thos. Scanlan, Mercer, Pa.
  • C.R. Henderson, Titusville, Pa.
  • May H. Page, Mercer, Penna.
  • Rafe Conover
  • William Butler, Olean, N.Y.
  • Inez C. Smith, Bradford, Pa.
  • J.A. Moore, SOS Cobbler Shop, Mercer, Pa.
  • Will Bignell, Greenville, Pa.
  • Elmer Houghton, Wellington, O.
  • Minnie Montgomery, Mercer, Pa.
  • John C. Orr, Mercer, Penna.
  • Emma Smith, Mercer, Pa.
  • Harry T. Williamson, Mercer Co., Penna.
  • Miss Susie Willse, Panama, N.Y.
  • Mary Love, Mountunion, Pa.
  • Anna Montgomery, Mountunion, Pa.
  • Minnie M. Brown, Randolph, N.Y.
  • Belle Jack, Mercer
  • Em McKee
  • Charley McCandless
  • Cora Black, Mercer, Pa.
  • T.J. Scanlan, Mercer, Pa.
  • Charley Kline
  • Geo. B. Hoag, Mercer, Pa.
  • Charlie Wing, Olean, N.Y.
  • Frances McKean
  • E.S. Wilson, Corry, Pa.
  • Z. Weir
  • Bella Hosack
  • Ella Seaton
  • Emma Montgomery
  • A.B. Carter
  • Harvey Seaton, Bristol, Pa.
If you recognize your ancestor's name, you might like to view the pages of the autograph book at Picasa Web Albums by clicking on the album cover below.

Autograph Book

Friday, May 04, 2007

Census: Schulte & Related Lines

Census: Schulte & Related Lines

Readers who would like to view original census images which were the source material for the Schulte & Related Lines Census Tracker spreadsheet can do so now at Picasa Web Albums. Simply click on the album cover above. The image files are large and take some time to load even with a high-speed connection. Users on dial-up will have to be very patient indeed!

Each census image is captioned with the head of household name and census year. Click on the image you wish to see. Then look for the magnifying glass at the upper right corner of the viewing window and click that to enlarge the image. Click on the enlarged image and drag it to find the highlighted entry.

School Days at the Carnival of Genealogy

Detroit genealogist & historian Jasia is hosting the Carnival of Genealogy, 23rd Edition, at Creative Gene. Readers will find links to a wide variety of interesting posts on the subject of School Days, written by family history bloggers in various far corners of the world. Poke around a bit at Creative Gene while you're there. Jasia has much to offer. I particularly enjoy her posts pertaining to Detroit history, but you'll find lots more.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Kate Pettis Kerr at Slippery Rock

Slippery Rock State Normal School Faculty, 1906
Kate Pettis Kerr - bottom row, third from left
(click to enlarge)

At the age of three, my grandpa Rosmer lost his father, Milton E. Kerr. Left on her own with two young sons to support, his mother, Kate Pettis Kerr, became a career woman long before women's suffrage or the feminist movement. She worked as a teacher at Slippery Rock State Normal School in Butler County, Pennsylvania, about fifteen miles southeast of the town of Mercer, where Milton's family lived.

Slippery Rock State Normal School

Kate Pettis was born October 2, 1864, in Winona, Minnesota. She graduated from Winona High School and Winona State Normal School. She attended the Illinois Art Institiute (her artwork will be featured in a future post) and the Columbia College of Expression in Chicago. She graduated with a B.O. degree from King's School of Oratory.

The Omaha City Directory for 1889 lists Miss Kate E. Pettis, artist at 520 Paxton Block. She and Mrs. Kate E. Pettis, her mother, resided at 706 N. 16th. The same directory lists Milton E. Kerr, in the furniture business with H. M. Manington, at 1510 Douglas.

Kate and Milton were married the following year. Their first son, Milton E. Kerr, was born in Chicago in 1891. Rosmer Pettis Kerr, my grandfather, was born in 1892 in Mercer, Pennsylvania, where his father's family lived.

In 1895, Kate's husband died. In 1900, along with her mother and sons, she was still living in a home adjacent to the farm of Milton's father, Andrew Jackson Kerr.

In 1902, Kate began teaching at Slippery Rock State Normal School, about five miles from Mercer, where she taught elocution and orthography until 1913. The courses were described this way in the 1905-1906 catalogue:
Oratorical Training – The work in Elocution and Oratory aim at the highest cultivation and development of the speaking voice the student is led to comprehend. To appreciate and to communicate thought in the most natural and effective manner every effort is made to develop the individual power of each pupil, and to give him knowledge of the natural laws of expression. The object sought is not mere imitation; but each pupil must think for himself, and learn to appreciate and love good literature. Much stress is laid upon voice-drill by means of exercises in pitch, quality, inflection, articulation, enunciation, tone-color, word-painting, cadence, rhythm, and melody. Physical expression is developed by breathing exercises, bodily movements, gestures, attitudes, and pantomimes. Public recitals are given from time to time, and the literary societies and entertainments afford opportunities for practice before audiences. Special arrangements may be made for private lessons in these subjects. (p. 56)

Orthography – The subject of Orthography includes a careful study of the spelling, enunciation, pronunciation, meaning, and use of words. Constant drills in spelling and defining are given to the students, and the importance of correct spelling and understanding of words is emphasized. Word analysis, including the literal meaning of prefixes, suffixes, and roots which compose our most familiar derived words receives proper attention. Diacritical marks and accent are studied so that proficiency in the use of the dictionary may be gained. (p. 48)

Textbook: Orthography by Sheldon Rice (p. 60)
Kate was photographed in the context of some theatrical presentations there which were doubtless part of the elocution curriculum.

I am grateful to Kevin McLatchy of Slippery Rock University, who was able to tell me that this photograph was taken on the stage of Slippery Rock State Normal School Chapel. Sadly, the Chapel was closed in 1958 due to neglect and termite infestation. Funding for renovation was unavailable, so the building was taken down in 1971.

Mr. McLatchy, in fact, provided all the information I have about my great-grandmother's education and her teaching career at Slippery Rock, for which I'm very grateful. It adds so much to her story and that of her family, as her love of words and language is a legacy her descendants share.

For the benefit of Google searchers, I'll do my best to interpret the names written at the bottom of the photo above: Grace Robinson (may or may not be two separate identifications), Killers or Killern, Mary Welch or Welsh, H. Hunt, G. Cooper, E. W---, D---, Glenn, Mrs. Kerr, Mac, H. Cooper, Sharp, Clark, Brunner, Shearer, DeVreise (?), Patton. [Note, May 8: The caption on the slide above has been updated to reflect what I believe is an error in the identifications. I suspect the identifications were written by someone other than Kate. After studying the enlarged photo with a magnifying glass, I believe Kate Pettis Kerr is not seated at the center of the photo, but rather standing at the back, second from the left. In the photo below, she appears to be wearing the same clothing.]

(click to enlarge these photos)

The identifications are harder to make out in the photo above. With some I won't even try. This is what seems clear to me, working left to right: Mrs. Kerr, Sherrill, Vose or Vogt, Wright, McCoy, Graham, Marks, Kenneth Kiester or Keister, Anderson, Gardner, Smith, Patel, H. Cooper, Kate Ving, French, Hunt. Notice that H. Cooper appears in both photographs. Cooper's dates of attendance at Slippery Rock may be the key to a more accurate range of dates for these two photos.

Slippery Rock Normal School Faculty (part), 1912
Kate Pettis Kerr - upper right corner
(click to enlarge)

Among my grandparents' things I found these mother-of-pearl opera glasses, made by Lemaire of Paris. I'm not sure who they belonged to, but because of Kate Pettis Kerr's connection to the theater, I suspect they were hers.

In later years, Kate also taught in Detroit, Michigan, according to the 1928 Detroit City Directory.

She printed her name inside the cover of Hamilton's Essentials of Arithmetic, Higher Grades by Samuel Hamilton, Ph.D, LL.D., Superintendent of Schools, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (Copyright 1919, 1920, American Book Company).

Stuck to page 41, I found a slip of paper with a percentage problem pencilled on the back.

(click to enlarge)

The front of the note is a Detroit Board of Education form which is rubber-stamped "Garfield Evening School."

There are some handwritten notes at the back of the book. I presume this is Kate's handwriting.


Hey, Kids! Collect 'Em All!

Are you related to Kate Pettis Kerr? As with many of the images that appear in Before My Time, the five images of Kate in this post are designed to be added to your family history slideshow. Here's how:
  1. Click on a photo to enlarge it.
  2. Right-click on the enlarged photo and choose Save Image As.
  3. Navigate to the folder on your hard drive where you want to save it. (You may want to create a new folder called Family History Slideshow.)
  4. Click Save.

Claim This Photo: A New Feature at Before My Time

If you happened upon this website via a search for Kenneth Keister, you may be interested in the photo below which was identified thus on the back. Although this was found with photos kept by Rosmer and Evelyn Kerr, Kenneth is not related to my family. I'd be happy to send the photo to a properly identified descendant.

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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