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.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010: The Year of Getting Stuff Organized

Goodbye to 2009, The Year of the Cross-Country Move and Consequent Ultimate Disorder! It only seems proper, now that I have a more-or-less permanent home with plenty of space, and probably more available time than any one person has a right to, that 2010 should be The Year of Getting Stuff Organized. I resolve, therefore, to make that my priority for the coming 365 days, with regard specifically to the chaos that I fondly refer to as my genealogy research.

In the past, I've tried tidying by the numbers. For example:
  • file 10 documents or papers a day
  • enter 3 sources per day into my Legacy database
Sad to say, this method has not worked for me. Most often, I end up with a box of papers emptied out, spread in small piles across the bed and floor, supposedly sorted and almost ready to file but then stacked and put back into the box because it's bedtime. Or some such! You know what I mean!

This time, I'm lowering my expectations to something doable. Motivated by Lee Drew's Sweet Sixteen (Generations) post, I'm going to focus only on my direct-line ancestors, one per day. I'll be checking my data entry to verify dates and places for each ancestor's big three: birth, marriage, and death. I'll be sourcing those items properly as needed and adding document images to my database. When I've done that to the best of my ability, I plan to reward myself with a fabulous One-Page Genealogy chart like Lee's. My goal is to order it by the end of June.

I've already printed out my pedigree charts and plotted my ancestor names on the calendar, and I've given the process a few days' test run. And already I'm a bit behind, but I've started with the grandparents, for whom I have lots of documentation. As I get further out, I expect there will be less to do and some sources will already be entered, so I should be able to catch up on those days, and maybe even work ahead a little.

I have three other quarterly rewards in mind as well:
  • an ancestor photo album made with Blurb, MyPublisher, UBuildABook, Picaboo, MyCanvas, or one of the other online book-printing companies (Readers, if you have used any of these services, I'd like to know whether you were satisfied with your results.)
  • a blog book from Blog2Print (Again, if you've ordered one of these, please comment about it.)
  • a short-term Ancestry membership
Simply planning the photo album is sufficient to merit rewarding myself with it (and yes, I'm sure it will take me a good three months to plan it!). The blog book will be an intermediate reward for carrying on with the organization project which, in addition to the work on my direct-line ancestors, includes sorting and filing the aforementioned boxes full of research papers. The Ancestry membership is last, and I only get to have it after I've beaten the backlog of already-collected documents into submission and made a list of gaps in my research that need to be addressed.


I'm looking forward to reading what my fellow GeneaBloggers have to say about their New Year's Resolutions in the Carnival of Genealogy, 87th Edition, hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene.

The lovely CoG poster above appears here courtesy of footnote Maven, as always.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A 1938 Christmas

My dad was born and raised near Lisbon, North Dakota. He would have been seventeen at the time Ivan Besse shot this silent film in Britton, South Dakota, about 50 miles south of Lisbon. I have no doubt that life would have been much the same in Britton and Lisbon.

This 20-minute film is one of ten shot by Besse in 1938-1939, available for your viewing pleasure at Internet Archive. And a pleasure it is. It's positively mesmerizing.

I chose this one, Part II, in honor of Santa Claus, who puts in an appearance. Watch for the load of Christmas trees arriving in town too, and the street decorations. Other things to watch for:
  • Hats! Men's and women's, quite a variety!
  • Fashions! Huge fur collars on women's coats!
  • A beaver!
  • An awful lot of smoking!
  • Don't miss the exciting "sheriff" segment at the beginning!
  • And there's a funny part that I won't spoil by telling you ahead of time!
You'll notice also some changes of season. These films are not chronological, not in the Part I through Part X sense, and not within segments, either. No matter!

Following are links to the rest of the Ivan Besse Collection, with my brief notes on some of what you'll see in each:
  • Part I: Autumn, what appears to be a homecoming parade; cute kids (19:09)
  • Part II: Featured in this post. (20:11)
  • Part III: Men digging, building; landscape; fish caught; hot dusty summer; diving in the pool; orchestra; boys in bow ties; glee club?; building the church steeple; cocker puppies; American Legion guys dinner; more Santa day; Jack Russell dog tricks. (14:14)
  • Part IV: Blizzard, many shovelling snow into a truck; more husking (see Part IX); ducks; farmland; 2 boys in hats bigger than they are; Memorial Day Parade. (16:45)
  • Part V: White Lake Dam, WPA project; kids' games, baby carriages; plowing with team of horses; Britton Braves field day (guys in really short athletic shorts!); young women in formal dresses. (16:07)
  • Part VI: Parade participants including a recalcitrant goat; people-watching in town; more field day. (19:32)
  • Part VII: Memorial Day parade and program at the cemetery (48-star flag!); dogs at play; dog wearing specs & smoking a pipe; end of school day (looks like clip-clothespins on the hems of girls' skirts??); bonfire; dusty football game with cheerleaders & band. ((17:08)
  • Part VIII: OMG, moving a barn! Moving a huge, huge barn! Will somebody please tell me, how far did they intend to take that barn? Did it ever get where they wanted it to be? Did it end up staying right where it was when Ivan stopped filming? Did anyone get injured in the course of that folly? (14:10) Readers, this is a must-see!
  • Part IX: Still more people-watching in town; husking contest; look at those cars!; a formal affair; pile of dead critters (gophers? prairie dogs?). (16:07)
  • Part X: First half is little kids; and more of the same. (9:13)
In all parts, you'll see a lot of camera-shy townspeople reacting to Ivan's presence: duckers, divers, head-turners, face-hiders, scolders, protestors, blushers (okay, it's black & white so you can't really see that, but trust me, you'll know!), runners. Some are really funny!

Merry Christmas to you!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday: What child is this?

This tiny treasure belonged to my grandmother, Evelyn Kerr. The base of the plated icon is stamped GERMANY. The brass case is a half-inch wide and a quarter-inch thick. I don't believe I ever saw it while Evelyn was still living, as I don't remember any discussion about it. I can't tell you how she came by it or how old it is. Her grandparents immigrated from Germany, so she may have gotten it from one of them.

I doubt that she ever had as good a look at it as we're about to get via the miracle of digital technology:

I'm hoping one of my Catholic readers will be able to tell me this isn't the Virgin Mary with a really bad bowl haircut and the ugliest 48-year-old Jesus midget ever.


A reader has identified this figure as Saint Anthony holding the Christ child. Not only that, she's provided a link to an excellent explanation of the story and symbolism behind it, which my grandmother would certainly have known. My understanding of my grandmother and my pleasure in having this tiny treasure are greatly increased. Thank you so much, Kathi!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Baptism Record of Elijah Sedgwick

My fourth-great grandfather, Elijah Sedgwick, was baptised in Westfield, Massachusetts. His was the second baptism recorded in 1770. The record pictured above says, "Jan. 14, Elijah, son of Sam'l & Deborah Sedgwick."

Elijah's sister Rhoda was baptized in the church at Westfield also, in 1767. Hers was the third baptism on July 28 of that year. Pictured below, the record says simply, "Rhoda, dau of Samuel and Deborah Sedgwick."

These records are from The Publick Records of the Church at Westfield, Mass. 1639-1836 (Salt Lake City Family History Library, call no. 185,468).

You can download a PDF file containing these two Sedgwick baptism records at The Vertical File.


As a result of a previous Sedgwick post, I've been contacted by a descendant of Elijah Sedgwick. She's my fourth cousin, once removed. I'm excited about that! Elijah has many descendants, but I haven't been in contact with any of them until now. So, today's post is a celebration of our common ancestor.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Kids in a Goat Cart

A few months* ago, Carol at iPentimento posted a Kids in a Goat Cart Challenge. You should click over and see the cute old photo which inspired the challenge. Unfortunately, I didn't have any pictures of kids being taken for a ride by a goat.

I have been known, however, to take liberties with a meme on occasion. Thus I bring you, instead of kids going for a ride in a goat cart, a goat going for a ride in the kids' cart.

A goat, three grandchildren, and a strange kid in yellow boots!

Okay, so not exactly wordless. But close.


*Readers, when I first wrote this post, it started out, "A week or so ago... ." For some inexplicable reason, it has been sitting in draft status since then. So, having found it, I'm playing the Better Late Than Never card, and bringing you a seasonally-incorrect spot of sunshine and greenery in what must be the coldest mid-December ever. Or so it seems to me!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday: My Auntie's Voice

Side A:

Remember, dear, the day we wed?
Do you love me now as you did then,
or is your love for me now dead?
We've been through a lot in 26 years,
and faced some very stormy weather.
But I don't mind if you don't, dear.
Shall we try another year together?

Paul, a merry Christmas to you, dear,
and thank you for your kindness during my illness.
With all my love from your wife, Marceline.
Remember, I love you always,
and I'm sorry I had to be sick during this time,
but you understand, I'm sure.
Remember, I love you always.

Side B:

Paul, this is also for you.

Thank you, God, for keeping us together,
helping and loving in dark and clear weather.
May all the future years
be filled with joy and cheers.
May he love me always as he did the day
he held me and whispered, "I love you, dear."
Thank you, God.
May his troubles and sorrows be part of mine,
his love never turning cold on the morrow.
Just love me as he did the day he whispered,
"You're mine, sweetheart, forever,"

Does that bring back any memories to you, darling?
It does to me. Remember, I'll love you always.

I'm pleased to be able to share my Auntie Marceline's 1955 Christmas message to her husband Paul during this holiday season 54 years later. I was so excited a few weeks ago when I found this record in my mom's old 78 rpm collection. I hadn't known it existed. I listened to it using an old record player at my dad's house, but wasn't able to get a good digital recording. My nephew, Demian Krentz, volunteered to do it for me, and I so appreciate the great and timely job he did.

I was only seven years old in 1955, so I'm not sure what illness Auntie referred to. I think she may have had a stroke. (She was only 57 when she died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1962.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Madness Monday: Mad Doctor vs. Insane Christian Scientist

In the course of doing a Sedgwick search at The Library of Congress database Chronicling America, I happened upon this news story, published 5 July 1900 in The Norfolk [Nebraska] News:
According to the Omaha World Herald of yesterday "the insanity commission of Douglas county has decided that an individual can refuse the assistance of a physician in case of an accident can be a Christian Scientist and at the same time be perfectly sane. This decision was handed down by the members of the insanity commission in the case wherein Dr. Robert M. Stone filed a complaint against Mrs. Josephine Sedgwick, a Christian Science woman whom he charged with being insane and a dangerous person to be at large. Mrs. Josephine L. Sedgwick is the wife of Jerry Sedgwick. Jerry Sedgwick is the man who, on June 7, was thrown from a buggy and by reason of his head striking a tree was seriously injured, but has since recovered, and that without medical aid or assistance.

"Dr. Robert M. Stone had his attention called to the accident that befell Sedgwick and hurried to his side. There he met Mrs. Sedgwick. She informed the doctor that her husband was a believer in the Christian Science faith and did not need the services of a physician, requesting that the injured man "be left alone with his God."

"Dr. Stone went away from the scene and at once appeared before the insanity commission of Douglas county where he filed a complaint alleging that Mrs. Sedgwick was insane at the time and was not a safe person to be circulating about the community."
I didn't know who Jerry Sedgwick was, but because I knew of other Sedgwick relatives in the area, I was curious to find out whether he was related to them. My first stop was WorldConnect, where I found a Jermaine Berosus Sedgwick whose wife's name was Josephine, in Mike Graham's Sedgwick2Graham Family Tree. Mike's data includes a timeline of locations for Jermaine which indicates that he did live in Nebraska at the time the above article was written. Mike also has a beautifully done website, Sedgwick2Graham, and a blog called Sedgwick2Graham: Notes from the Curator.

Really rabid geneaphiles may have noticed Jerry Sedgwick's name in the book pertaining to yesterday's post about Theron Emmons Sedgwick. In 1895, Jerry was serving the Nebraska Senate as an appointed Messenger to Secretary Sedgwick (see p. 296). Theron and Jerry, it appears, were second cousins, once removed.

You can download a PDF of The Norfolk News' Christian Science article at The Vertical File.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The author doth disclaim too much, methinks!

I happened to find a biographical sketch of Theron Emmons Sedgwick in an 1895 book called Biographical Sketches of the Nebraska Legislature. Theron was Secretary of the Nebraska Senate at the time. Oddly, however, the sketch was entitled, in all-caps format, "HON. TIMOTHY E. SEDGWICK." At first I thought I'd discovered another Sedgwick cousin, but upon reading the bio, I recognized certain facts that, without a doubt, belonged to Theron--his wife Adelaide Thurston, for example.

Who on earth, I wondered, authors a book called Biographical Sketches of the Nebraska Legislature but doesn't know the name of the Secretary of the Senate? Quickly I turned to the title page but it didn't satisfy my curiosity, so I went on to the Preface, which began with a few interesting chatty comments about the history of the state. It concluded this way:
It is the object of this undertaking to give correct sketches of the prominent citizens of Nebraska, contained herein, and, while we do not arrogate to ourselves a degree of accuracy beyond criticism, we hope to have attained a large measure of accuracy in the compilation of the sketches and other matters contained in this history. No expense has been spared in making this volume complete in every detail, although information from some directions was extremely hard to secure, and some who are represented herein caused delay by unintentional carelessness on their part. To all those who favored us we tender our grateful acknowledgments; without their aid this history would have been left buried beneath the debris of time, unwritten and unpreserved. Respectfully,

W. A. HOWARD. Lincoln, Neb., February, 1895.

Oh, dear reader! You don't suppose Theron "caused delay by unintentional carelessness," do you? Could it have been his direction from which information "was extremely hard to secure?" Tsk, tsk! It seems to have resulted in, shall we say, unintentional misnaming on the author's part!

The name is Theron . . . not Timothy!

You can read the misnamed biographical sketch directly from the book at My Ancestors in Books, or download a copy of "HON. TIMOTHY E. SEDGWICK" at The Vertical File.

Howard, W. A. Biographical Sketches of the Nebraska Legislature; and National and State Officers of Nebraska. Lincoln, Neb: Press of Jacob North and Co, 1895.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

120 Years Ago Today: Kate Pettis, Artist, in the News

From The Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Neb., Sunday, 1 December 1889, Part I, p. 4, col. 7:

Lounging in the Studios: Why Home Artists Should Pay Attention to Drawing

On Friday evening the Western Art association closed its fall exhibit. This display proved so great a success in the matter of attendance that the time of closing was extended until Friday evening.

A few of the pictures shown found purchasers at fair prices. The sale generally was not as large as it would have been had the artists not been quite so prolific, and the work had been better in drawing.

The medal for the best work in oils was not awarded for the reason that the judges, while commending much of the work, found it deficient in drawing. This decision has startled some of the artists not a little, as many of them have conceived the idea, goodness knows why, that as long as their color was fairly good, good drawing was not requisite. This is the great fault with young artists everywhere, who, in many cases, are self taught, or have incompetent teachers. A brush is in their hand before they have made even a passing acquaintance with a stick of charcoal or a pencil. Poor drawing on canvas invariably results in such cases, and the artist is loth to drop his brush and take up the hard grind of a thorough course of drawing. At the Cooper institute and other good art schools the student is not allowed to touch a palette until he has demonstrated his ability to draw well, and the result is shown in the splendid magazine and book illustration from the presses of this country.

The withholding by the judges of the first medal is a lesson from which the artists will, no doubt, derive some benefit. One of the artists, whose work was generally commended, deplored the lack of interest taken in drawing, and predicted that the coming spring exhibition would not be quite so large but would show better work.

It has been suggested that the association place itself more on a footing with others of its kind by hiring rooms for itself and making them a rendezvous for its members. Here, a sketch-club could work, the members posing for one another, thus enabling the workers to make rapid charcoal and pencil sketches. Competitive studies, from previously given subjects, to train and develop the imaginative side of the artists, could be brought to each meeting, the studies to hang on the walls from one meeting to another. This idea was very successfully carried out by the Salmagundi club of New York, which includes among its members the first artists of America. These meetings were held at regular intervals, and came to be looked forward to with great pleasure. A subject would be given, for instance “Death,” and each artist’s idea of the subject was expressed in whatever method he chose for the purpose, in pen and ink, clay, oils or water color. The humorist often found his best opportunities to show his distorted ideas of sentimental subjects, and the sentimentalist fairly reveled in ideas. This plan has been found to stimulate the artistic imagination, as well as productive of much healthy emulation among members of the club.

The colony in the Paxton building is busy as bees working on Christmas gifts. Mrs. Mumaugh, besides attending to her large classes, finds time to work on several good Christmas orders. One of them is a four panel screen, on one of which is a realistic stalk of withered corn, very autumnal in effect. The other panels will have flowers, etc., on.

Miss Teana McLennan on Monday will move her studio to room 906, New York Life building. A. Hospe has secured one of her paintings, a study of peaches, which was numbered 100, at the exhibit. Miss McLennan has, on her easel, another study of peaches ordered by Mrs. W. A. Paxton. She has also a number of other Christmas orders.

Miss Melona Butterfield is busy decorating china bonbon boxes, which are very pretty and becoming quite the rage. She also has under way a set of after-dinner coffees and a salad set, the decoration of the latter being shells and sea week painted on dainty china of new shape, called the “Surprise.”

Miss Kate Pettis has a portrait in water color wash, and some black-and-whites in air brush, which are intended for Christmas gifts.

All the other artists have received orders for holiday gifts, which are not only very pretty, but very appropriate.

Click here to view or download the original newspaper page.

Click here to see The Artworks of Kate Pettis Kerr.

Readers, if you have access to any artwork by Kate Pettis (aka Kate E. Kerr), I'd be most happy to hear from you. Use the Comments feature to contact me. Please include your email address or another way for me to contact you. None of your personal contact information will be published online. It will remain private and will be used for this purpose only.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Elijah Sedgwick Jr. and the Anti-Masonic Scandal of 1826

I've been poking around in Google Books, looking for whatever might be found pertaining to my fourth great-grandfather, Elijah Sedgwick. I believe what I found this morning, however, pertains not to him but to his second-born child, Elijah Sedgwick, Jr., who lived for a time at Victor, Ontario County, New York. First, here's why I think so.

Elijah Sedgwick, Jr., graduated in 1826 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Western District at Fairfield, New York, and filed a copy of his diploma with the Ontario County clerk. [See Hoolihan, Christopher. An Annotated Catalogue of the Edward C. Atwater Collection of American Popular Medicine and Health Reform. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2001.]

Later, his name appeared in a list published in History of Ontario County, New York. Papers of the Ontario County Medical Society dating from their organization in 1806 until 1842 were destroyed by fire, and the list was described this way: "...a stray leaf from an old record is found, from which we learn the names of the early physicians of the county, but there is nothing by which can be determined the date of the entry." The name Elijah Sedgwick appears in the list, and this was certainly Elijah Jr., as there is no evidence that Elijah Sr. was ever a doctor.

According to information posted at, Elijah Jr. and his wife, Esther P. Bement, were known to have lived in Victor, and Esther is said to have died there in 1842. I don't have any evidence that Elijah Sr. ever lived in Victor.

Thus I'm convinced that it's Elijah Jr. whose name appears with others from Victor as one of several locality-based committees which together formed a larger committee whose anti-Masonic activities were a response to the disappearance and possible murder of William Morgan by Freemasons.

The Wikipedia summary of the William Morgan story will surely whet your appetite for more on this interesting case, which is still unsolved. Much has been written about it by both sides. I've collected some resources on the subject at my companion blog, My Ancestors in Books. Included there are the two books in which Elijah Sedgwick's name appears, followed by seven other books which are, in whole or in part, about Freemasonry and the William Morgan affair.

Considering the widespread upheaval and political ramifications that followed the disappearance of Morgan, I'm surprised I'd never heard of this before. No wonder I thought high school history was dull. They left out the really interesting stuff. William Morgan is not so much as a leaf on my family tree, but his events of 1826 were surely a topic of conversation among my kin--so much so that at least one of them, Elijah Sedgwick, Jr., took an anti-Masonic stand.

In another branch of the family, a son born in 1832 was named after Andrew Jackson, a Mason. Previously I thought this name was simply a statement of support for a president and his party, but considering the timing in conjunction with the controversy stirred up by the Morgan affair, I have to wonder whether it may have been a pro-Masonic statement as well.

Putting a Spin on It, 19th Century Style

One more thing before you go off to read about Morgan. It seems to me there are two kinds of books about this subject: those written by Masonic authors and those written by anti-Masonic authors. You'll notice the difference yourself, even in the pictures.

William Morgan
The portrait above appears in the first of the books you'll find at My Ancestors in Books, Bernard's anti-Masonic Light on Masonry, where it's identified as William Morgan. The Historical Association of Lewiston uses a very different portrait in their informative one-page PDF about William Morgan. At the website of the Masonic Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, a page entitled William Morgan notes displays the latter image and, in note number 20, has this to say about the two portraits:
"A posthumous portrait of Morgan first appeared as a frontispiece to David Bernard’s Light on Masonry, printed by William Williams, Utica. Claiming to be from a painting by A. Cooley, the caption gives credit to V. Balch as sculptor, original copyright by Cooley in New York, April 1829. With this picture and a meticulously worded legal description, artist Noel Holmes was directed by William G. Vorpe, one of the editors of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, to draw the picture of Morgan found at the top left of this page."
A third portrait, clearly based on the Holmes portrait, appeared in an 1883 book by Robert Morris (included in the post at My Ancestors in Books):

Labeled as "Fictitious Portrait No. 1," it was followed by "Fictitious Portrait No. 2," a crude copy of the one which appeared in Bernard's book.


Monday, November 23, 2009

A Rude Copy of Verses on the History of Woburne Towne

Records for the Towne of Woburne
ffrom the year 1640 the 8 day of th 10 month

Paulisper Fui

In peniles age I woburne Towne began
Charls Towne first moved the Court my lins to span
To vewe my land place compild body Reare
Nowell Sims Sedgwick thes my paterons were
Sum fearing He grow great upon these grownds
Poor I wase putt to nurs among the Clownes
Who being taken with such mighty things
As had bin work of Noble Qeeins and Kings
Till Babe gan crye and great disturbance make
Nurses Repent they did har undertake
One leaves her quite an other hee doth hie
To foren lands free from the Babys Crye
To more of seaven seing nursing provd soe thwarte
Thought it more ease in following of the Carte.
A naighbour by hopeing the Babe wold bee
A pritty Girle to Rocking har went hee
Too nurses less undanted then the rest
ffirst howses ffinish thus the Girle gane drest
Its Rare to see how this poore Towne did rise
By weakest means two weake in great ons eys
And sure it is that mettells cleere exstraction
Had never share in this Poore Towns erextion
Without which metall and sum fresh suplys
Patrons conclud she never upp wold rise
If ever she mongst ladys have a station
Say twas ffrom Parentes not har education
And now conclud the lords owne hand it wase
That with weak means did bring this work to pass
Not only Towne but Sistor church to ade
Which out of dust and Ashes now is had
Then all Inhabit woburne Towne stay make
The lord not means of all you undertake
The verse above was handwritten into the first record book of Woburn not by the author, Captain Edward Johnson, but by his son, Major William Johnson. (Click on the image above to enlarge it.) It's about the difficulties encountered by Captain Johnson and his fellow Commissioners for the Settlement of Woburn. Major Johnson didn't waste any ink on punctuation--you probably noticed!--as if the spelling and syntax weren't going to be challenging enough for some of us who might be reading it four centuries later.

See what you can make of this punctuated version:
Paulisper Fui

In peniles age I woburne Towne began;
Charls Towne first moved the Court my lins to span.
To vewe my land place, compild body Reare,
Nowell, Sims, Sedgwick, thes my paterons were.
Sum fearing He grow great upon these grownds,
Poor I wase putt to nurs among the Clownes,
Who being taken with such mighty things
As had bin work of Noble Qeeins and Kings,
Till Babe gan crye and great disturbance make;
Nurses Repent they did har undertake.
One leaves her quite; an other hee doth hie
To foren lands, free from the Babys Crye;
To [two] more of seaven, seing nursing provd soe thwarte,
Thought it more ease in following of the Carte.
A naighbour by, hopeing the Babe wold bee
A pritty Girle, to Rocking har went hee.
Too [two] nurses less undanted [danted ?] then [than] the rest,
ffirst howses ffinish; thus the Girle gane drest.
Its Rare to see how this poore Towne did rise
By weakest means, two [too] weake in great ons [ones'] eys.
And sure it is that mettells cleere exstraction
Had never share in this Poore Towns erextion;
Without which metall and sum fresh suplys
Patrons conclud she never upp wold rise.
If ever she mongst ladys have a station,
Say twas ffrom Parentes, not har education,
And now conclud the lords owne hand it wase
That with weak means did bring this work to pass,
Not only Towne but Sistor church to ade
Which out of dust and Ashes now is had.
Then all Inhabit woburne Towne, stay make
The lord, not means, of all you undertake.
Call me a sissy if you will, but I think it's still pretty beastly. Fortunately, between 1640 and now, there've been others who foresaw the potential for "Huh?" and offered some explication and modernization. So, while the purist in me feels the need to honor the original, the sissy is pleased to have found the modernized version below:
Paulisper Fui

In penniless age, I, Woburn town, began;
Charlestown first moved the Court my lines to span.
To view my land place, compiled body rear,
Nowell, Symmes, Sedgwick, these my patrons were.
Some fearing I'll grow great upon these grounds,
Poor, I was put to nurse among the clowns,
Who being taken with such mighty things
As had been work of noble queens and kings--
Till babe 'gan cry and great disturbance make--
Nurses repent they did her undertake.
One leaves her quite; another he doth hie
To foreign lands, free from the baby's cry;
Two more of seven, seeing nursing proved so thwart,
Thought it more ease in following of the cart.
A neighbor by, hoping the babe would be
A pretty girl, to rocking her went he.
Two nurses less undaunted than the rest,
First houses finish; thus the girl 'gan dressed.
It's rare to see how this poor town did rise
By weakest means; --too weak in great ones' eyes.
And sure it is, that metal's clear extraction
Had never share in this poor town's erection;
Without which metal, and some fresh supplies
Patrons conclude she never up would rise.
If ever she 'mongst ladies have a station,
Say 'twas from parents, not her education.
And now conclude the Lord's own hand it was
That with weak means did bring this work to pass.
Not only town but sister church too add
Which out of dust and ashes now is had.
Then all inhabit Woburn town, stay, make
The Lord, not means, of all you undertake.
That's better, eh? But if you're anything like me, you're still mumbling something about not "getting it." As the saying goes, you had to have been there, and we weren't. In the interest of resolving some of the remaining befuddlement, I've annotated this one with whatever explanatory material I've found. See if this helps:

In penniless age, I, Woburn town, began;
Dear reader, it is the town of Woburn, Massachusetts, that speaks to us from the dais of this verse.
Charlestown first moved the Court my lines to span.
The General Court, May 13, 1640, on the petition of Charlestown, made a grant of two square miles of land on Charlestown's head line for a new town, later enlarging the tract to four miles square. Prior to its incorporation, it was called Charlestown Village.
To view my land place, compiled body rear,
Frothingham interprets the phrase "compild body reare" as meaning "my compact body to rear." To me, that doesn't make a lot of sense. In fact, I'm not even sure the added punctuation is right. Could place be a verb? What about compild? My dictionary offers 1) gathered together, or 2) put together out of existing material, either of which makes more sense to me than compact. I'm no scholar, but consider this possibility:
To view my land, a gathered group of settlers followed
Nowell, Symmes, Sedgwick. These my patrons were.
Nowell, Symmes, Sedgwick, these my patrons were.
Within a few days after the court granted the land, "Mr. Increase Nowell [magistrate], Mr. Zachariah Sims [minister], Edward Johnson, Edward Conuars, Ezekill Richison, Samuwel Richison, and Robert Halle, together with Mr. Hubard, artist, searched the land lying within the two miles square." Captain Robert Sedgwick was a friend and neighbor of Captain Johnson, a member of Charlestown's committee for the survey and, like Nowell and Symmes, had invested in the creation of the new town. It was named Woburn in compliment to him, as he'd been born in Woburn, Bedfordshire, England. (Later, Sedgwick would rise in rank, eventually to that of major-general under Cromwell. And much, much later, he would become my ninth great-grandfather, which is why we are here today beating this verse to a pulp.)
Some fearing I'll grow great upon these grounds,
Actually, it seems quite a few were worried about the growth of Woburn. First there was the issue of the boundary between Woburn and Linne Village. This interesting story was noted by Johnson: "Noble Captain Sedgwicke, Ensigne Palmer, Thomas Lins, Edward Johnson, Edward Conuars, John Mousall, and others, went to view the bounds between Linne Village and this town, like Jacobites, laying them down to rest when night drew on, now preserved by the good hand of God with cheerful spirits, though the heavens poured down rain all night incessantly. One remarkable Providence, never to be forgotten. Some of the company lay under the body of a great tree, it lying some distance from the earth. When the daylight appeared, no sooner was the last man come from under it, but it fell down to their amazement, [they] being forced to dig out their food that was caught under it, it being so ponderous that all the strength they had could not remove it." A few weeks later, "the parties aforesaid met at Linne, and lay there all night. Next day, drew Linne men to the confines of their bounds, endeavoring to point the divisional line between their new town and this." Later, the Church of Charlestown met "to consider of those that should go up to this town [Woburn]; and, seeing many appear, fearing the depopulation of Charlestown, from that day forward had a suspicious eye over them."
Poor, I was put to nurse among the clowns,
"Clowns" refers to the ordinary people who actually settled the town, as opposed to the investors ("patrons").
Who being taken with such mighty things
As had been work of noble queens and kings--
Till babe 'gan cry and great disturbance make--
Woburn herself is the "babe." All that crying and disturbance refers to the many problems that were encountered in trying to raise her.
Nurses repent they did her undertake.
Jameson suggests that the designation of "nurses" is an allusion to the seven members of the managing committee: Edward Convers, Edward Johnson, Ezekiel Richardson, John Mousall, Thomas Graves, Samuel Richardson, and Thomas Richardson. Because Robert Sedgwick is not among that particular seven, Jameson's suggestion doesn't quite jibe with Poole's explanation of the following two lines.
One leaves her quite; another he doth hie
To foreign lands, free from the baby's cry;
Poole says, "It is a noticeable coincidence that the two most eminent and active associates of Captain Johnson in the early proceedings for the settlement of the Town of Woburn — General Sedgwick and Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves — left the enterprise before its consummation; and, returning to England, were appointed to high military and naval positions in the forces of Cromwell. Perhaps Captain Johnson alludes to them" in these lines.
Two more of seven, seeing nursing proved so thwart,
Thought it more ease in following of the cart.
Hurd suggests these two were the brothers Samuel and Thomas Richardson. He also suggests the one who "left her quite" in the previous couplet was a reference to Ezekiel Richardson, rather than Sedgwick.
A neighbor by, hoping the babe would be
A pretty girl, to rocking her went he.
The neighbor, says Hurd, was Edward Johnson himself.
Two nurses less undaunted than the rest,
Johnson clearly meant "daunted" here, not "undaunted."
First houses finish; thus the girl 'gan dressed.
The first house finished was that of Edward Convers, the next that of John Mousall.
It's rare to see how this poor town did rise
By weakest means; --too weak in great ones' eyes.
From the humblest circumstances imaginable.
And sure it is, that metal's clear extraction
Hurd says that metal refers to gold or silver money. Robert Sedgwick, however, was one of the proprietors of Lynn Iron Works. His financial backing for the founding of Woburn might well have come from that enterprise. See Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, p. 160+, for more about Sedgwick. Also see Comments below.
Had never share in this poor town's erection;
Without which metal, and some fresh supplies
Patrons conclude she never up would rise.
Some of the source materials listed below have the chronology of events in the formation of Woburn. It's interesting to read about the many problems that arose. For awhile there, it didn't look too promising.
If ever she 'mongst ladies have a station,
Say 'twas from parents, not her education.
Round explains that Johnson wants to emphasize the work of Woburn's inhabitants (her parents) rather than the money and fresh supplies of patronage (her education).
And now conclude the Lord's own hand it was
That with weak means did bring this work to pass.
Not only town but sister church too add
Which out of dust and ashes now is had.
Then all inhabit Woburn town, stay, make
The Lord, not means, of all you undertake.
The meaning is, "Then all who inhabit Woburn town, make the Lord, not the mere means or instrumentalities, the chief stay of all that you undertake."
As for the title, the literal translation of the Latin phrase paulisper fui is "for a little while I have existed." Google it and you will quickly find these lines from Pseudolus, a comedy by the Roman playwright Plautus (ca. 254BC-184BC):
Quasi solstitialis herba paulisper fui:
Repente exortus sum, repentino occidi.

Like a summer plant, I lived a short time:
I sprang up suddenly, and suddenly fell.
This same thought can be found in the Bible--see Psalms 90:5-6, Psalms 103:15-16, Job 14:2--and other literature as well.

Interestingly, Paulisper Fui is included in the 584-page An Anthology of American Humor by Brom Weber (New York: Crowell, 1962), and I had to be bopped on the head with that bit of info before I realized that Johnson probably had a merry old time writing it. So next time you read it, remember to have a lot more fun!


Source materials are listed below. I've collected them in a post entitled Paulisper Fui at my companion blog, My Ancestors in Books.

Johnson, Edward, and William Frederick Poole. Wonder-Working Providence of Sions Saviour in New England. Andover [Mass.]: W.F. Draper, 1867.

Hurd, D. Hamilton. History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1890.

Johnson, Edward; J. Franklin Jameson, ed. Johnson's Wonder-Working Providence, 1628-1651. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910.

Sewall, Samuel, Charles Chauncy Sewall, and Samuel Thompson. The History of Woburn, Middlesex County, Mass. from the Grant of Its Territory to Charlestown, in 1640, to the Year 1860. Boston: Wiggin and Lunt, 1868.

Colonial Society of Massachusetts. Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts. Boston: The Society, 1895.

Converse, Charles Allen. Some of the Ancestors and Descendants of Samuel Converse, Jr., Of Thompson Parish, Killingly, Conn.; Major James Convers, of Woburn, Mass.; Hon. Heman Allen, M. C., of Milton and Burlington, Vermont; Captain Jonathan Bixby, Sr. of Killingly, Conn. Boston, Mass: E. Putnam, 1905.

Newhall, Charles Lyman. The Record of My Ancestry. Southbridge: Herald power print, 1899.

Round, Phillip H. By Nature and by Custom Cursed: Transatlantic Civil Discourse and New England Cultural Production, 1620-1660. Civil society (Hanover, N.H.). Hanover, N.H.: Tufts University published by University Press of New England, 1999.

Lewis, Charlton Thomas. A Latin Dictionary for Schools. New York: American Book Company, 1916.


Bill West, of West in New England, has posted Waxing Poetic About Genealogy: The Great American Local Poem Genealogy Challenge, a blog carnival which has resulted in an anthology of poetry of special interest to geneabloggers. I've read several of the entries already, and am really enjoying the amazing variety of poems that were chosen. Don't miss it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Smokin' Anecdote from the 1600s

In England in 1630, it seems a Spiritual Court found Thomas Hooker guilty of nonconformity with the Church of England, and so forbade him to practice his ministry. As he continued to engage in prayer and religious conference with other ministers in Chelmsford, a fifty-pound bond was added to the injunction, and Hooker was ordered to appear before the Court of High Commission. Instead, he... well, I guess you could say he jumped bail, and went to Holland.

Three years later, as his Puritan friends prepared to leave England for New England, they contacted him and asked that he join them as their spiritual guide. Since Mr. Hooker was not conforming comfortably with the churches of Holland either, he was pleased to do so. In preparation for the long journey by sea, he snuck back into England, and was laying low at the home of his friend Rev. Samuel Stone, my ninth great-grandfather, who was also preparing for the trip.

Hooker was still being pursued by the authorities, and they soon came looking for him at Stone's house. The story of what happened next was preserved by Cotton Mather:
"Mr. Stone was at that instant" (when the pursuivants knocked at the door of the very chamber in which Mr. Hooker was engaged in conversation,) "smoking of tobacco; for which Mr. Hooker had been reproving him, as being then used by few persons of sobriety. Being also of a sudden and pleasant wit, he (Mr. Stone) stepped to the door, with his pipe in his mouth, and such an air of speech and look as gave him some credit with the officer. The officer demanded whether Mr. Hooker was not there. Mr. Stone replied with a braving sort of confidence, 'What Hooker? Do you mean Hooker that lived once at Chelmsford?' The officer answered, 'Yes, he.' Mr. Stone, with a diversion like that which once helped Athanasius, made this true answer: 'If it be he you look for, I saw him about an hour ago at such a house in the town; you had best hasten thither after him.' The officer took this for a sufficient account and went his way."
Hooker continued to avoid appearing in public until he and Rev. Stone were well out to sea aboard the Griffin, on their way to New England, where they would become keystones of Connecticut colonization.


Having collected so golden a nugget of family history, I feel like I've just time-traveled back 400 years to spend a moment with my grandfather Stone, although he was not exactly grandfatherly in that summer of 1633, being just 31 years old. I learned a lot about him in that moment. He was bold, and quick-witted! And... he smoked!

A decade later, in mid-1640s Connecticut, I wonder what he thought about this new law:

Fforasmuch as it is observed, that many abuses are crept in, and comitted, by frequent taking of tobacko:

It is ordered by the authority of this Courte, That no person under the age of twenty one years, nor any other, that hath not already accustomed himselfe to the use thereof, shall take any tobacko, untill hee hath brought a certificate under the hands of some who are approved for knowledge and skill in phisick, that it is usefull for him, and allso, that hee hath received a lycense from the courte, for the same.—And for the regulating of those, who either by theire former taking it, have, to theire owne apprehensions, made it necessary to them, or uppon due advice, are persuaded to the use thereof:

It is ordered, That no man within this colonye, after the publication hereof, shall take any tobacko, publiquely, in the streett, highwayes, or any barne yardes, or uppon training dayes, in any open places, under the penalty of six-pence for each offence against this order, in any the perticulars thereof, to bee paid without gainesaying, uppon conviction, by the testimony of one witness, that is without just exception, before any one magistrate. And the constables in the severall townes, are required to make presentment to each perticular courte, of such as they doe understand, and can evict to bee transgressors of this order.
The controversy about smoking has gone on for more than 400 years. I don't know why this would surprise to me, but it does.

This year the Great American Smokeout takes place November 19th. Best wishes to all who participate. I won't be--I smoked my last cigarette in 1988, two years after I moved to Oregon. I'm not proud, I'm grateful. Smoking was less prevalent there than here in the midwest. It was a great help to be able to go to smoke-free restaurants (thank you, Davidson's Casual Dining, for being smoke-free even before it became the law there, as it is now) and to be in a social environment where good health habits were more favored than bad ones.

I appreciated any and every law that was passed to discourage smoking. I viewed it as moral support. My mother, on the other hand, was outraged when anything threatened to impede her smoking habit. She smoked until she was so dependent on her oxygen tank that she could no longer abandon it for the few minutes it took to sneak off to her bedroom for a Parliament. In other words, when she was weakest and least able to face the challenge, she ultimately was forced to endure the quitting anyway. She died a long and miserable death in 2005 from emphysema and COPD. (But if she could hack my blog, she'd be inserting her defense of smoking right here!)

I wonder if Hooker ever convinced Samuel Stone to give up his tobacco habit.


Sprague, William Buell. Annals of the American Pulpit, or, Commemorative Notices of Distinguished American Clergymen of Various Denominations: From the Early Settlement of the Country to the Close of the Year Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-Five : with Historical Introductions. New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1857. (Vol. I, p. 33)

Barber, John Warner. Connecticut Historical Collections, Containing a General Collection of Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, &C., Relating to the History and Antiquities of Every Town in Connecticut, with Geographical Descriptions. New Haven: J.W. Barber: Hartford, A. Willard, 1836. (p. 17-18)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Poem, a Pear Tree, and My Eastham Ancestors

In 1644, some of the most respectable inhabitants of Plymouth became the first settlers of what would become Eastham, Massachusetts. The group included two of my ninth great-grandfathers, Richard Higgins and Josias Cook. Others included John Doane, Nicholas Snow, John Smalley, Edward Bangs, and Thomas Prince.

At his home in Eastham, Prince planted a pear tree that had been brought from England. Two centuries later Heman Doane, a descendant of John Doane, addressed the tree in verse:
Two hundred years have, on the wings of time,
Passed, with their joys and woes, since thou, Old Tree!
Put forth thy first leaves in this foreign clime,
Transplanted from the soil beyond the sea.
Whence did our pious Pilgrim Fathers come,
To found an empire in this western land.
Where they and theirs might find a peaceful home —
A safe retreat from persecution's hand.
That exiled band long since have passed away,
And still, Old Tree, thou standest in the place
Where Prince's hand did plant thee in his day —
An undesigned memorial of his race
And time — of those, our honored fathers, when
They came from Plymouth o'er and settled here —
Doane, Higgins, Snow, and other worthy men,
Whose names their sons remember to revere.
Full many a summer breeze and wintry blast
Through those majestic boughs have waved and sighed
While centuries with their burdens by have passed,
And generations have been born and died.
And many a sister tree has had its birth.
Performed its labors, and fulfilled its day;
And mighty kings and kingdoms of the earth
Have lived and flourished, died and passed away.
There didst thou stand in times of bloody strife.
The youthful days of Boston's famous tree, —
And when our patriot fathers sold their lives
To buy their country's glorious liberty!
Old time has thinned thy boughs, Old Pilgrim Tree!
And bowed thee with the weight of many years;
Yet, mid the frosts of age, thy bloom we see.
And yearly still thy mellow fruit appears.
Venerable emblem of our sires of yore!
Like them thou hast performed life's labors well;
And when, like them, thy days are passed and o'er,
These lines may help thy lengthened stories tell.
Henry David Thoreau quoted part of this poem in Cape Cod, but deigned to use all of it. Some lines, he felt, were not worth quoting. You can read Thoreau's comments and more about the ancient pear tree in Eastham at My Ancestors in Books.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Did your ancestor study at University of Michigan?

In the University of Michigan's General Catalog of Officers and Students 1837-1911, published in 1912, I found Samuel Hopkins Sedgwick and Theron Emmons Sedgwick at the top of p. 865:

Although these two brothers did not graduate from U of M, they both attended law school there in 1871-1872.

A search for "Sedgwick" turns up several other instances of that name.

If any of your ancestors are listed, you'll find some helpful explanatory material here:
  • p. iii - preface, followed by table of contents
  • p. 597 - see footnote at the bottom of the page
  • p. 967 - key to italic abbreviations
University of Michigan. General Catalogue of Officers and Students, 1837-1911. Ann Arbor, Mich: The University, 1912.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

On Lion Gardiner and Reverend Samuel Stone

Yesterday at Tombstone Territory, Stonewalker posted a photo of Lion Gardiner's elegant tomb in East Hampton, New York. Having seen the name recently, I looked up Lion Gardiner in Wikipedia. Mention of the Pequot War led me quickly to my Google Books library, where I found this story about Gardiner and my ninth great-grandfather, Rev. Samuel Stone:
[In 1634] war was declared against the Pequots, Capt. John Mason commanding the little army of ninety men, and Mr. Stone went with the men as their Chaplain. Capt. Mason, in reporting his victory, says:
"It may not be amiss here also to remember Mr. Stone (the famous Teacher of the Church of Hartford), who was sent to preach and pray with those who went out in those Engagements against the Pequots. He lent his best Assistance and Counsel in the Management of those Designs, and the night in which the Engagement was, (in the morning of it), I say that Night he was with the Lord alone, wrestling with Him by Faith and Prayer, and surely his Prayers prevailed for a blessing; and in the very Time when our Israel was ingaging with the bloud-thirsty Pequots, he was in the Top of the Mount, and so held up his Hand, that Israel prevailed."
It seems that when Mason's little army reached Saybrook, Lion Gardiner and Capt. John Underhill, who commanded a detachment of twenty men that the English company had caused to be sent from the Massachusetts colony for the defence and protection of the Saybrook settlement, both opposed the expedition. Each one had seen military service in the Netherlands, and looked upon an attack on the most warlike tribe in New England as a very hazardous undertaking for so small a band. Capt. Mason finally turned to Mr. Stone "and desired him that he would that Night commend their Case and Difficultyes to the Lord." The chaplain did so, and in the morning told Mason "that though he had formerly been against sailing to Naraganset and landing there, yet now he was fully satisfied to attend to it." This appears to have decided the matter, as "they agreed all with one accord" to go on.

Booth, Charles Edwin. One Branch of the Booth Family: Showing the Lines of Connection with One Hundred Massachusetts Bay Colonists. New York: Private Printing, 1910. (p. 215)

You can read detailed contemporary narratives about the Pequot war at my companion blog, My Ancestors in Books.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Now, this is spooky...

Who'da thunk my interest in genealogy would collide with my interest in papertoys on Halloween morning, and the result would be this interesting tour of old graveyards in Boston, Salem, and Marblehead?

Seriously, I did not see that coming.


Read The Witch, the Devil, and the Reverend Mister Stone at my companion blog, My Ancestors in Books.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Puritan Thanksgiving

[from Wonder-working Providence of Sion's Saviour in New England. 1654.]

HERE again the admirable Providence of the Lord is to be noted, that whereas the Country is naturally subject to drought, even to the withering of their summer's fruits, the Lord was pleased, during these years of scarcity, to bless that small quantity of land they planted with seasonable showers, and that many times to the great admiration of the Heathen. For thus it befell: The extreme parching heat of the sun (by reason of a more constant clearness of the air than usually is in England) began to scorch the herbs and fruits, which was the chiefest means of their livelihood. They beholding the Hand of the Lord stretched out against them, like tender-hearted Children, they fell down on their knees, begging mercy of the Lord for their Saviour's sake, urging this as a chief argument, that the malignant adversary would rejoice in their destruction, and blaspheme the pure Ordinances of Christ, trampling down his Kingly Commands with their own inventions; and in uttering these words, their eyes dropped down many tears, their affections prevailing so strong, that they could not refrain in the Church Assembly. Here admire and be strong in the Grace of Christ, all you that hopefully belong unto him, for as they poured out water before the Lord, so at that very instant, the Lord showered down water on their gardens and fields, which with great industry they had planted, and now had not the Lord caused it to rain speedily, their hope of food had been lost; but at this these poor worms were so exceedingly taken, that the Lord should show himself so near unto their prayers, that as the drops from Heaven fell thicker and faster, so the tears from their eyes by reason of the sudden mixture of joy and sorrow. And verily they were exceedingly stirred in their affections, being unable to resolve themselves which mercy was greatest, to have a humble begging heart given them of God, or to have their request so suddenly answered.

The Indians hearing hereof, and seeing the sweet rain that fell, were much taken with Englishmen's God, but the Lord seeing his poor people's hearts were too narrow to beg, his bounties exceeds toward them at this time, as indeed he ever hitherto hath done for this Wilderness People, not only giving the full of their requests, but beyond all their thoughts, as witness his great work in England of late, in which the prayers of God's people in New England have had a great stroke. These people now rising from their knees to receive the rich mercies of Christ, in the refreshed fruits of the Earth; behold the Sea also bringing in whole ship-loads of mercies, more being filled with fresh forces for furthering this wonderful work of Christ. And indeed this year came in many precious ones, whom Christ in his grace hath made much use of in these his Churches and Commonwealth, insomuch that these people were even almost over-balanced with the great income of their present possessed mercies. Yet they address themselves to the sea-shore, where they courteously welcome the famous servant of Christ, grave, godly and judicious Hooker, and the honored servant of Christ, Mr. John Haynes, as also the Reverend and much desired Mr. John Cotton, and the Rhetorical Mr. Stone, with divers others of the sincere servants of Christ, coming with their young, and with their old, and with their whole substance, to do him service in this desert wilderness. Thus this poor people having now tasted liberally of the salvation of the Lord every way, they deem it high time to take up the cup of thankfulness, and pay their vows to the most high God, by whom they were holpen to this purpose of heart, and accordingly set apart the 16th day of October (which they call the eighth month, not out of any peevish humor of singularity, as some are ready to censure them with, but of purpose to prevent the Heathenish and Popish observation of days, months and years, that they may be forgotten among the people of the Lord). This day was solemnly kept by all the seven Churches, rejoicing in the Lord, and rendering thanks for all their benefits.

~Captain Edward Johnson (Born in Kent, England, about 1600. Died at Woburn, Mass,, 1972.)


I believe "the Rhetorical Mr. Stone" is a reference to my ninth great-grandfather, Rev. Samuel Stone (born in Hertford, England 30 July 1602; died at Hartford, Connecticut 20 July 1663).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Grandfather's Sedgwick Line

After the recent spate of posts about my various distant Sedgwick cousins, I finally took a little break from reading about them to make some charts showing my own direct-line Sedgwick ancestors. Above is my maternal grandfather's chart. His great-grandmother was Tryphena Sedgwick, who married Micajah Pettis. The two charts below follow her Sedgwick lineage back to the 1600s.

Joseph Sedgwick was the fourth child of Captain Samuel Sedgwick and his wife Mary Hopkins. Joseph's youngest brother Benjamin was the father of Judge Theodore Sedgwick, whose descendants are the subject of two books I recently wrote about here, In My Blood and Edie: An American Biography.

In future posts, we'll look at my Sedgwick line one generation at a time, using the materials posted at Sedgwick Genealogy Worldwide and whatever else I come up with.


An Important Note About Mrs. Ezekiel T. Efner:

In the first chart above, you'll see Salina Bouck, Ezekiel T. Efner's wife, in the lower right corner. But was her surname Bouck or Burch? As a beginning genealogist many years ago, I found that someone had noted Selina's surname as "Bouck or Burch." (At this point, I can't tell you where I saw that!) I tried to determine which was correct, but to no avail, and I suspect that better researchers than I have also found a brick wall here.

Richard Efnor, in his extensive research, cites William B. Efner (Efner Family - Eugene Bouton Papers): Ezekiel T. Efner "married Selina Burch February 03, 1831." I haven't seen the Bouton papers. However, I found that Bouck was a common surname in Schoharie County, New York, where Ezekiel lived. I did some searching under both names, but I found no mention of anyone who might be Ezekiel Efner's wife. Consequently, although she is listed as Salina Bouck in the pedigree chart appearing here, I do have her listed both ways in my database, until some kind of documentation comes into my hands to show which is correct.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pedigree Collapse: A Worst-Case Scenario

Pedigree collapse is most often discovered several generations back, but...

(click to enlarge)


Aw, just having a little Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with fellow geneabloggers Randy, Sheri, Thomas, Diana, Tina, Robert, Taneya, Bill, Ken, Carol, Pam, and many more, thanks to the Trading Card generator at Big Huge Labs!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Last Will and Testament of Ezekiel T. Efner

click to enlarge

The last will and Testament of Ezekiel T. Efner of the Town of Lyndon, County of Sheboygan and State of Wisconsin:

I, Ezekiel T. Efner, considering the uncertainty of this mortal life, and being of sound mind and memory do make and publish this my last wil and testament in manner and form following: First, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Catharine E. Pettis the wife of D.J. Pettis, the sum of one hundred Dollars to be paid to her at any time within Two years from my death at the option of my wife Eliza Efner, such sum of money to be paid out of my estate.
And Second: I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Eliza Efner and my youngest son William A. Efner all my real and personal property lying and being situate in the County of Sheboygan and State of Wisconsin, and also all other property of whatever kind that I may hereafter become possessed of, all such property to be divided equally between them, when the said William A. Efner shall become Twenty-one years of age, and I further proclaim that my said wife shall have full control of all of my property, both real and personal, during the minority of the said William A. Efner, and I hereby appoint my said wife sole executrix of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me made. In witness whereof I have hereunto set myh hand and seal this 3rd day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six.
E.T. Efner

Ezekiel T. Efner died on or about the 12th day of March, 1868, at his residence in Lyndon. His personal estate was valued at about fifty dollars, and real estate about fifteen hundred dollars. He had no unpaid debts.

Ezekiel Taylor Efner was my third great-grandfather.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Efner Tombstones at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery (aka Abers Cemetery)
Mitchell, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
(click to enlarge any photo in this post)

I visited Mt. Pleasant Cemetery several years ago to locate the gravesite of my third great-grandfather, Ezekiel Efner. The cemetery is located at the northwest corner of High View Road and Parnell Road, Mitchell, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. From Cascade Village, you take Hwy. 28 south to County Trunk F; go west on F about a mile to High View, then north on High View about half a mile. [T14N, R20E, SE quarter of SE quarter Sec 24]

My notes are as vague as my memory on this fine point, but in the photo above, I believe you can just make out the two white stones of Ezekiel and Eliza Efner between the two shadowed stones framed by the cemetery sign. A closer view appears below:

Tombstones of Ezekiel Efner and his second wife, Eliza A. Davis

Ezekiel Efner died March 12, 1868. There's a Masonic insignia on his gravestone. If I understand correctly, both his stone and Eliza's were broken at some point, and were subsequently set into the ground such that the lower parts of the stones are not now visible. Ezekiel's stone once showed that his age at the time of his death was 67 years old.

Tombstone of Ezekiel Efner

Ezekiel's second wife, Eliza A. Davis, is buried next to him. The clasped-hands symbol on her stone is said to mean "farewell to this earth." From a cemetery transcription, I understand that the stone gave her age at the time of her death as 55 years, 3 months, and 11 days.

Tombstone of Eliza A. (Davis) Efner

Monday, September 07, 2009

Madness and Desire

The second book in my little stack of Sedgwick histories is called In My Blood: Madness and Desire in an American Family (HarperCollins, c. 2007). Written by John Sedgwick, another descendant of Judge Theodore Sedgwick and a cousin of Edie, this book is a study of what seems to be a genetic predisposition to manic depression in the Sedgwick family. But it's much more than that. It's a personal history, a family history and, in the telling of Theodore's story, a history of the early days of this country. However, it's quite unlike any dry, boring history book you might have had to choke down in school. Dare I call it a page-turner?

Yeah, why not? I turned every page, and as you may already know, I am not usually much of a reader, most especially of anything one might read about in a history class. But where your history textbook might tell you about what happened to an army, this book tells you about what happened to a guy. One particular guy. And history textbook readers may find this hard to believe, but the guy had a wife (or three!) and a mess o' kids! And personal drama! Yes, Virginia, there were real people involved in the American Revolution! Who knew?

The story of Theodore Sedgwick (1746-1813), his marriages, and his children fills the first half of this 400-page book, and their story is laid upon a framework of American nation-building that the patriarch of this family took part in. The remainder of the book follows succeeding generations and the legacy of ambition and madness handed down until it reached the author himself. A descendancy chart at the front of the book helps the reader keep track of who's who.

Due in part to the historical prominence of the Sedgwick family, great huge volumes of paperwork--documents, letters, published materials--have been preserved. John Sedgwick did an enormous amount of research for this work, and then somehow managed to make it read like a novel.

Despite the theme of manic depression which unifies the two-and-a-half-century timespan of individual histories in this book, I enjoyed reading it much more than the book I wrote about last week. My only wish is that there had been more than the fourteen photographs which were included. I was glad I hadn't returned Edie: An American Biography to the library yet, as there were about three dozen relevant family photographs in the first third of that book.

I enthusiastically recommend In My Blood not only to Sedgwick descendants but to anyone interested in an up-close, personal view of the American Revolution era, to genealogists and family historians who hope to write a family history of their own, and to anyone interested in mental health issues that have a genetic component.

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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