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.

To follow by email, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Welcome to the commencement exercises. You'll be wanting a fan... uh, I mean a programme...

My great-grandmother, Kate Efner Pettis,
seated 2nd from left, the one with a bodiceful of buttons
(click to enlarge)

Remember the 1950s TV show You Are There, hosted by Walter Cronkite? He is, and will surely remain, my favorite newsman of all time. But today I'm here to tell you, he ain't got nothin' on The Winona Daily Republican. Step back with me now in time to Friday evening, June 23, 1882 and take a seat in Normal Hall. My great-grandmother is graduating and, people, We Are There. (You'll be needing that programme--it's mighty stuffy in here!)
The fact that the mercury is vibrating in the eighties has had no tendency to lessen the interest of the parents and many friends of the twelfth graduating class of the High School in the exercises being held at Normal Hall this evening.
We'd be a lot cooler right now if we were wearing our 21st century clothes, wouldn't we? Have you spotted my great-great granny? She must be here somewhere--her only child is graduating from high school. Don't bother looking for my great-great grandpappy--he went off to Montana seven years ago and hasn't come back.
The rostrum is properly decorated with choice cut flowers and potted plants, arranged in pyramidal and other attractive designs. Festoons of evergreen and roses arranged over and about the stage lend additional beauty to the scene. On the wall in the rear is the class motto in Latin and German--"Post Proelia Praemia," "Ohna Kampf Kaena Krona," the dates 1878 and 1882, and the monogram W.H.S.

The members of the Winona Board of Education, State Superintendent D.L. Kiehl, of St. Paul; Dr. C.N. Hewitt of Red Wing; Prof. C.H. Gilbert, formerly of the High school here, County Superintendent O.M. Lord, Prof. Irwin Shepard, Rev. F.W. Flint and C.H. Berry, Esq., ex-President of the Board of Education, occupy seats to the left on the rostrum, while Rev. J.J. Hillmer, Miss F.A. Caldwell, Miss Jeanette A. Mitchell, Miss Frances A. Elmer and Miss Kate M. Ball, of the high school faculty, and the graduates are seated on the right.

On either side of the rostrum temporary staging has been erected, which is occupied, on the right, by the members of the junior class, and on the left by the Germania orchestra.

Messrs. Seymore Brown, Frank Roe, Harry Cole, Herbert Averill, Frank Doud, Louis Doud, Charles Purdy, Bert Merigold, Fred Smith ad William Frey are acting as ushers.
Psst! Are you as worried as I am about those temporary stages? Look, the orchestra is getting ready to play, and isn't that stage wavering a bit?
The programme of exercises is admirably carried out under the direction of Superintendent McNaughton. While the orchestra plays Krieger's Vereins march, the ushers are distributing programmes, and when the music ceases Rev. Mr. Flint leads in prayer.
Dear God, let the temporary stage hold up!
Mr. Allison W. Laird, to whom has been entrusted the duty of delivering the salutatory, extends the thanks of the class to the members of the Board of Education for the interest they have manifested in them, and to the teachers of the High School who have ever had their welfare at heart. The latter, he says, might be compared to horticulturists; they have pruned, trained and cared for them since childhood. Four years have rolled away--years which have been too short--and the time has come when they must part. Concluding his salutatory, Mr. Laird turns to the audience and extends in behalf of the class a cordial welcome. He then delivers an able oration on "Labor and Pay."

"Traces," an original poem read by Miss Lucy A. Stewart shows that the young lady's studies in versification have been pursued with marked efficiency.

After music by the orchestra Miss Anna C. Killian reads an essay entitled, "Masterkey," and then delivers the Valedictory. She addresses in turn the members of the Board of Education, the High school faculty, the members of the junior class and bids them an affectionate farewell. Then, turning to her classmates, she addresses them in touching words, saying that the long-looked-for, though dreaded hour has come. She hopes that they will carry with them as they go out into the world pleasant recollections of their school life, and that the lessons they have sought will not have been sought in vain.

The parting song, written by Miss Helen Bradley and set to music by Mr. Warren H. Peirce, is sung by the members of the class.

While the class remains standing, Superintendent McNaughton presents them to Dr. McGaughey, President of the Board of Education, for the bestowal of appropriate honors. Dr. McGaughey congratulates the young ladies and gentlemen on the completion of their studies. The reputation of a school is entrusted to its Alumni, and through their exertions the honor of the High school must be maintained. Diplomas are then presented to the following graduates:

Helen Bradley
Anna Catherine Fockens
M. Adelaide Harter
John Horace Johnson
Anna Catherine Killian
Allison White Laird
Robert Hayes Laird
Clara Vesta Nichols
Edith Simpson Norten [Norton?]
Look, she's next! My great-grandmother... although she doesn't know that yet... well, I guess she never will, since she'll be eleven years gone before I'm even born...
Kate Efner Pettis
Warren Huntington Peirce
Ada Blanche Sailsbury
Emma Gertrude Staples
Lucy Anna Stewart
Chauncey F. Waterman
Emeline M. Whitney

While the orchestra plays, handsome bouquets and baskets of flowers, whose fragrance fairly fills the hall, are presented to the members of the class as the compliments of various friends. Miss Carrie Bohn, assisted by Masters Joy Lombard and Frank Terrill, acting as bearer of red roses, and Prof. Hillmer as flower distributor.

Hon. D.L. Kiehle, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, next speaks of the duties and responsibilities of life, and bids the class adieu with best wishes for their success. Music by the orchestra follows.
Oh, my! I think I may have just nodded off there for a minute! Do you think we could slip out whilst the orchestra is still pl... uh-oh, too late...
Dr. C.N. Hewitt, of Red Wing, is introduced and makes an address on Physical Education--the importance of the physical training of the body. He says this subject is greatly neglected in our schools. Instructors should insist upon it that a rigid system of physical education should be enforced. He then turns to the members of the graduating class and speaks to them of the necessity of physical as well as mental culture.

Music by the Orchestra concludes the evening's exercises.

Superintendent McNaughton and the additional members of the High school faculty have reason to feel proud over the efficiency of their work, and the happy manner in which the programme has been carried out.
Heh, if you think this was a long programme, just wait until next year's Normal School commencement exercises...


Okay, readers, I admit it, I did take the liberty of changing Saturday's news story from past tense to present, so that we could enjoy the programme as we fanned our perspiring selves with the, uh, programme. Other than that, it's a faithful transcription which includes all errors and inconsistencies except for one, which I just could not leave alone. "Post Proelia Praemia" ("after struggles come rewards") appeared in the newspaper this way: "Post Praelia Praemia." And, at the risk of spoiling the illusion that We Were There, which I worked so hard to create, I must now admit that We Weren't Really There, so I do not know whether the spelling error originated with The Winona Daily Republican or the Class of '82 poster-makers. Either way, I didn't want all my fluent Latin-speaking readers to be distracted by the heinous error. Yah, you're welcome.

If you so desire, you can click here to read the original article at Winona Newspaper Project.

Can you help? Readers who recognize their own ancestor in the class photo above are invited to use the Comment feature to let us know which name goes with which face. If you wish to request a high-resolution copy of the photo, please do so in a separate comment which includes your email address. Any comment with an email address in it will not be published.


Sandusky Library said...

What a delightful article!

T.K. said...

Thanks, Sandusky! I really got a kick out of both of Kate's commencements. Such detail!

Judith Richards Shubert said...

What a great idea you had ~ pretending you were there. I like it. The picture is wonderful, too - the clothes, the poses, the faces.

Thanks, T.K., for commenting on my post at Genealogy Traces. I was actually standing in the road taking pictures of a little cabin that was down in a gully to the left in that picture! So, yes, I did have my camera ready. I've had those moments like yours, too. A Conestoga Volkswagen van - how unique! Your trip to the midwest must have been a lot of fun.

T.K. said...

Thanks for stopping by, Judy. You know, I was so excited when I realized this great photo and the graduation article in the newspaper belonged together!

Bob Kramp said...

I like the way you presented this entry of an 1882 commencement- changing to the present tense. Makes me feel I'm right there. Wonderful picture too- so clear- a real treasure.

T.K. said...

Welcome, Bob, and thanks! I don't think we missed much by not really being there, huh? ;-)

Anonymous said...

I found this site using [url=][/url] And i want to thank you for your work. You have done really very good site. Great work, great site! Thank you!

Sorry for offtopic

T.K. said...

Well, thank you so much, Anonymous! No need to apologize--I can't think of a better way to go off-topic! ;-)

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.

Followers, Friends, Family, and Fellow GeneaBloggers:

Follow by Email

Where are you?