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, September 30, 2008

Welcome to the commencement exercises.... whoa, déjà vu!

Remember the previous post, "Welcome to the commencement exercises...?" Yah, you do, and hey, when it comes to programmes, if one's good, two's better, right? But, having blown my skillfully created illusion that We Were There at the end of that story, I'll dispense with the time travel for the current experience, and just quote The Winona Daily Republican verbatim, with all of its spelling, punctuation, and grammatical quirkiness intact.

You didn't want to sit through a three and a half hour programme anyway, did you? I thought not! Oddly, however, despite the elaborate minute-by-minute detail in this article, in the end I actually wished for a bit more... like the full text of the interesting student speeches, and a sound file of the galop that had the audience dancing in the aisles...






The commencement exercises of the State Normal school were held in the hall of that institution this morning. According to programme the opening hour was 9:30 o’clock, but long before that hour arrived the spacious room was well filled with a well-dressed, boquet-equipped, expectant throng, and before the specified half-past had fully come there was no available space unoccupied. Considerable attention had been paid to the decoration of the hall. The music was well arranged and as well distributed. The Germania orchestra, under direction of Prof. Rohweder, was placed in front of the stage on the extreme north of the hall. Immediately behind them, on seats rising from the floor of the stage, obliquely towards the audience, were seats for one wing of the chorus and below them on the stage seats were placed for the invited guests, among whom were Rev. F.W. Flint, Prof. Sanford Niles, Gen. C.H. Berry, Hon. C.F. Buck, Supt. Helden of Mower county, Supt. Cook of Olmsted county, Supt. Lord of Winona county, Mayor Ludwig, Supt. McNaughton, Hon. O.B. Gould and Hon. E.B. Drew.

Directly across the stage, on the extreme south of the hall, on seats corresponding to those above the invited guests, was the other wing of the Normal chorus, the instruments for chorus accompaniment standing just in front of the center of the stage on the main floor of the hall. The faculty of the Normal occupied the front row of seats on the stage, and immediately behind them were the members of the graduating class.

The decorations of the hall were really artistic. Above the stage was an arch of evergreens bearing the motto, on a white center, Palma non sine pulvere. Displayed in the concave of the arch was the monogram, “S.N.S.” Surrounding this device was an evergreen circle, the date 1883 disposed on both sides of the arch. The ceiling and chandeliers were gracefully festooned with evergreens, and massive lines of the same dark green crossed the hall in well formed curves and were caught up in loops at the central chandelier. The stage was literally smothered in fragrance, and the display of cut flowers and potted plants on stands was most elaborate. Precisely at ten the orchestra, members of the faculty, guest’s chorus, pianists, and the graduating class took their places, and the Germania orchestra rendered an overture, Mozart’s Die Entefuhrung, in a very inspiring manner.

The overture rendered, prayer was offered by the Rev. F.W. Flint of the Presbyterian church. This expression of devotional feeling was most appropriate to the occasion, and expressive of thanksgiving for the past and hope for the future.

Prayer was followed by music—The Dawning of the Day—rendered by the Normal School chorus, under direction of the efficient musical head of the Normal, Mrs. H.E. Gilbert, whose name is a sufficient guarantee of the artistic quality of the execution. The pianists were Misses Jessie Johns and Mary Buck.

Miss Hattie A. Keith was then announced as the salutatorian. The slow growth of nature and the necessity of all past to the existence of present, were noted as illustrative of the life of the class. The figure of the voyager was introduced, and the divergence of the course each will take, and the different cargoes each will collect, were adverted to. The address closed with a hearty welcome to each to make most of life’s voyage just opening. The enunciation was clear and the delivery slow and expressive.

“The Education of Women” was presented by Lizette A. Anding. The essayist affirmed the parallelism between the degradation of the women of any given age and the debasement of that age. In illustration certain historical examples were cited and a review made of the progress of Europe in affording women the privileges of the most liberal culture. The historical statement of the educational work of women in America was well prepared.

Ida I. Alleman presented the theme of map sketching, and the illustrations were by Frances Hopkins. This was a new departure from the old-time exercises, and a most commendable one. The idea was to illustrate the new method of teaching geography, and to show how the old methods failed, because there was so little to fix the memory. In this new method, illustrated as it was by the crayon and board upon the platform, it was shown that the memory of the outline was easily retained. The subject of illustration was Minnesota, and it was a first class specimen of free hand sketching, done “as fast as a horse would trot.” Boundaries, streams, and lakes were jotted down by the illustrator as fast as the crayon could move. South America, New York State, etc., were also delineated, showing the power of the memory to grasp marked features of mountain, plain and river, and so furnish correct bases for all future research. The work was excellently done and elicited marked commendation.

The Germania orchestra then enlivened the scene with “Wedding Wreath waltz,” by Resener, and at its conclusion the first hour of the exercises had passed.

The essay of Anna P. Fockens, “The Old is New,” was, in terms, a declaration that our most modern ideas of teaching are in fact very ancient; that as far back as the times of the Egyptians the methods so recently discovered were in vogue. It was really a thoughtful, well-worded paper.

Hattie E. Hayes’s theme on Nature’s Geometry was another new departure most acceptable to the audience. In this the illustrations were previously put upon the board, and were most elaborate. The name of the essay fully designates its character. It was an illustration showing how all nature’s multiform creations result from combinations of the most simple geometrical forms. The theme was unique, its treatment clear and concise, and the work of illustrative preparation (in which the essayist was assisted by Miss Flemming) was complete. The theme as presented was listened to and studied with breathless attention.

Ella Donaldson’s essay “Workshops” followed. Under this simile, the work of building character was presented as carried on in the Port Royal shop, Versailles, France, in which Fletcher, Racine and others were master workmen. From this opening the transfer to the Swiss workman Pestalozzi was easy and the moral pointed, that those teach much who love much. The essay was given with pleasing voice and well received.

The Normal school chorus then rendered Abt’s “Home.” The effect of the exquisite selection was most impressive and tender.

The “theory” of the “Kindergarten” was presented in an essay by Kate J. Pettis. The human trinity of the body, mind and soul, brought to the high unity of a perfect humanity, was declared the end sought in this garden of the children. The “practice” of the Kindergarten was presented by Emma M. Whitney, and was a statement of the multiform uses of the globe, the cube and the cylinder, in inducting the youngest intellect into the mystery of form.

Josie H. Hegman gave “The Rise of the English Novel.” Daniel Defoe was set forth as its father, and the wonderful hold Robinson Crusoe has taken on the human imagination was pleasantly portrayed. England was naturally claimed as the home of the English novel, and in the further pursuit of the theme the Atlantic was crossed ad a tribute paid to America’s novelists.

Elocution—(with illustrations)—a medley, was the theme of Ada B. Sailsbury. After setting forth the ability of all to cultivate the use of the vocal organs, and the marvelous power of the human voice, artistically managed, the theme was illustrated in person. Various passions were expressed, and the changes rung through all the possibilities of human utterance at the command of the speaker. The effect at times was quite startling, and the transitions peculiarly made.

The audience then rose to rest themselves, and listened to the strains of the orchestra in “Mit Sturmeseile,” (a galop) Frauke—and to judge from the bodies in motion there were not a few whose spirits moved responsive to the strain.

A phase of insect life was then presented by Fannie G. French; illustration by the giver of the theme. The destructive insects that ravage the Northwestern grain fields were artistically drawn and a full description, in brief, given of their introduction into this country, means of destruction and migrating habits. It was one of the most concrete presentations of a very interesting subject we have listened to in a decade.

The New Education, by Fred. D. Parsons, was the only “oration” of the hour, and with this the exercises of the class were brought down to the valedictory. The oration was a plea, quite effectively delivered.

Valedictorian, Ella J. Williams, closed the list for the graduating class. The words she uttered were an appreciative acknowledgement of the services of the officers and teachers of the Normal school. The farewell to classmates was tender, and to all, affecting.

The Normal School chorus gave Gounod’s “Sing Praises Unto the Lord” with jubilant expression, Miss Jessie Johns presiding at the organ, and Miss McCutchen assisting Miss Buck at the piano.

President Shepard then presented the graduating class to the President of the State Normal Board, Hon. Thos. Simpson, and recommended the conferring of the usual diplomas.

Mr. Simpson responded—regretting the absence of the State Governor who, down to a very late hour, was confidently relied upon to confer the diplomas. The address to the class of graduates, which followed, was replete with practical suggestions to them as teachers standing upon the threshold of their professional life. The speaker asserted that the later time had created a fourth profession, that of teaching, and tat this now profession was not second in its importance to its older sisters of law, medicine and theology. Some valuable statistics of the educational progress of the State were given, and an earnest appeal made to the candidates for graduation to fit themselves for the high work of meeting their responsibilities with faithfulness. The authorization of the board was then given in the delivery of the parchments which were then duly presented, the benediction pronounced and the exercises closed.

An interesting feature of the hour was the presentation of the diplomas of the Frœbel Union, upon the authority of Mrs. S.E. Eccleston, directress of the kindergarten of the State Normal. These diplomas are not authorized by the State Normal Board, nor has the board the power to confer them.

The names of the graduating class are as follows:


Advanced Course:

Anna Catherine Fockens, Winona, Minn.

Josephine Helen Hegman, Faribault, Minn.

Anna Catharine Killian, Winona, Minn.

Alice Amelia May, Witoka, Minn.

Frederic Dewitt Parson, Detroit, Mich.

Ada Blanche Sailsbury, Winona, Minn.

Lucy Anna Stewart, Minnesota City, Minn.

Ella Josephine Taylor, Ludlow, Vt.

Elementary Course—Junior Class.

Ida Iona Alleman, Taopi, Minn.

Lizette Augusta Anding, Reads Landing, Minn.

Adela May Crane, Winona, Minn.

Rachel Ella Donaldson, Dundas, Minn.

Fanny Gertrude French, Plainview, Minn.

Nancy Eveline Grover, Zumbrota, Minn.

Hattie Eliza Hayes, LeRoy, Minn.

Hattie Asenath Keith, Burre, Vt.

Ada Maude Stella Melville, Winona, Minn.

Alfred Nelson, White Rock, Minn.

Ella Jane Williams, Sparta, Wis.

“A” Class

Charles Arneson, Riceford, Minn.

Jane Marinda Beebe, Winona, Minn.

Annie Maude Craik, Hawley, Minn.

Frances Annette Cram, Winona, Minn.

Emma Louise Dick, Dakota, Minn.

James Meddick Drew, Minnesota City, Minn.

Mary Cecelia Flannery, Winona, Minn.

Edith Helen Flemming, Winona, Minn.

Otis Carsley Gross, Pickwick, Minn.

Elna Frances Hopkins, Crookston, Minn.

Mary Jane Lyman, Stillwater, Minn.

Emma Minnie Rose, Winona, Minn.

Kindergarten Course.

Mary Burns, Homer, Minn.

Antoinette Choate, Minneapolis, Minn.

Kate Efner Pettis, Winona, Minn.

Emeline Morgan Whitney, Winona, Minn.

There was nothing to mar the harmony of the occasion. The vast audience sat out to the close through more than three and a half hours of waiting, with no signs of impatience notwithstanding the afternoon services of decorating the soldiers’ graves were to follow. Thus closed the 25th commencement of the State Normal School at Winona.


Prized Parchment, The Winona Daily Republican, 30 May 1883, page 3.

As in the previous post, the original article appears at Winona Newspaper Project., one of 1270 genealogically useful websites you'll find bookmarked at Diigo's Genealogy Research Resources group.

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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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