Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Content at Before My Time is protected by copyright and may not be copied for publication elsewhere without permission. © T. K. Sand.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

I found my great-great grandmother at the Library of Michigan.

Okay, strictly speaking, neither of us was actually at the Library of Michigan when I found her, but you knew that, didn't you?

Death Certificate of Theresa (Wolfschlager) Hauer
The line above is a link to a printable version of the document.
Detroit, Michigan - 25 April 1914

Theresa Hauer, a widow, lived at 671 Pennsylvania in Detroit, as did her son Anthony, who was the informant named on her death certificate. She died at home from cancer of the stomach. She was buried at Mt. Elliott Cemetery. According to the record, her birthdate was 16 August 1833, so her age was 71 years, 8 months and 9 days at the time of her death.

Anthony listed Germany as the birthplace of Theresa and both her parents. He didn't give her mother's name, but named John Wolfschlager as her father. In the record, the spelling appears to be Walflehayer, by far the most imaginative misspelling of this surname that I have ever seen.

The 1897-1920 Michigan death records have been digitized and made available online by the Library of Michigan. You can search these records at Seeking Michigan.

Unfortunately, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is attempting to close the Library of Michigan as a cost-saving measure. You can find out more, including what actions you can take right now to stop the closure of this magnificent resource, at the Michigan Genealogical Council website. Please help!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Passive RAK & Research in Five Minutes a Week

Have you ever asked yourself:
  • How can I help other genealogists without doing anything beyond whatever I happen to be doing for myself?
  • How can I get help from other genealogists on a regular basis at no cost to me and no inconvenience to them, especially help I don't even know I need?
There's a one-word answer to these questions: Diigo. It's my favorite research tool. With the right settings, Diigo has handed me a number of documents on a virtual silver platter. And with very little effort on my part, I've probably made it possible for other Diigo users to enjoy the same kind of good luck.

The first key to what I call passive RAK and research is to join and participate in an active Diigo group. Moultrie Creek (of Family Matters fame) created the Genealogy Research Resources group in February 2007. As of today, the group has grown to 134 members, and they have shared 1890 bookmarks with the group.

The second key is to download and install the Diigo toolbar, which enables your passive RAK (Random Acts of Kindness). As you do your own genealogical internet surfing, you'll find websites that may be of interest to another researcher, and using the toolbar, you can quickly bookmark and share them to the group in just a couple clicks. When I bookmark a site, I often copy and paste into the bookmark a little of the introductory material from the page. If none is available and the title of the page doesn't provide enough of an explanation of the site's content, I write a very brief explanation of my own.

The third key, which provides your passive research, is to enable a daily or weekly email digest of websites your group members have shared. You can do this when you join a group, and if necessary, you can change your setting later on the My Groups page. I choose to receive a daily digest. The digest, delivered to your email inbox, has clickable links to all websites shared to the group that day, along with any descriptive material the bookmarker added. I can easily ignore any site that clearly is of no use to my own research, but I click on any link that may interest me.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I've found items I didn't know existed. On one memorable occasion, a group member shared a newspaper website to the group and before the day was over, I had unearthed dozens of newspaper articles and one-liners about my great-grandmother, including minute-by-minute descriptions of her graduations from both high school and, the following year, normal school.

There's no need to worry that you'll be overwhelmed with email. After all, 1890 websites have already been shared to the group. You'll have to go looking for those. At Family Matters, Digital Archives Exploding Online explains how. And for more help, visit my Diigo list entitled Diigo Tips for Genea-Bloggers, which has links to additional helpful articles at Family Matters and elsewhere.

Am I preaching to the choir here? If you're not already singing Diigo's praises, you might be missing out on just the help you don't know you need. Join us!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Memory of My Mom

At the dollar store the other day, there was a display of overstocked hard-cover books. I was compelled to part company with a buck for one by British author Lynne Truss. It's called Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. I'd guess most readers of this blog are old enough to imagine the content and align with the sentiment of this little volume.

As for me, it made me think of my upbringing. My parents were all about courtesy and the maintaining of good relations with others through politeness and respect. I recall one particular occasion on which I got to see how my mother practiced what she preached. Let me tell you about it.

My mother was a working woman throughout her life. All of her jobs--whether in sales, personnel, or secretarial capacity--required courtesy, grace under fire, tactfulness, diplomacy and self-control. People skills! And she had them. To her dying day, her public knew her as a gracious, tactful, thoughtful, kind person.

"Honey draws more flies than vinegar" was her philosophy, and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" was her mantra. I heard these phrases over and over, throughout my childhood and beyond.

In the heat of daily life, sometimes it's hard to apply the Golden Rule, but I remember the day that I found out how to do it. We were sitting at the kitchen table when the phone, which hung on the wall in this central location of our home, rang. My mother answered it.

On the other end of the line was an angry neighbor, a man obsessed with his shrubbery, apparently. His issue was with our dog, my beloved Speedy, who habitually climbed the chainlink fence to freedom despite the trip-wire my dad had affixed at the top in an effort to contain him. It seems that, whilst on the loose in the neighborhood, Speedy had peed on this man's bush.

My mother, ever the diplomat, remained calm and courteous with the neighbor as he let his temper flare. I really had no idea how she was feeling until the call ended. At that point her public face and pleasant demeanor vanished, and she exclaimed at the hung-up phone, "Oh, pee on your old bald head!"

Although this incident took place almost half a century ago, it remains a crystal-clear moment in my memory, and it still makes me laugh out loud. Moreover, I learned a lot from the incident:
  • You can 'do unto others' and say what you really think, but not necessarily at the same time or in the same place.
  • Sarcasm is more appropriate among your intimates than with the general public. You don't have to say everything you think to everyone you know.
  • You can use humor to defuse your own anger.
  • You maintain good relationships with people by considering how they will feel about how you behave, not how you feel about how they behave.
The "old bald head" was a member of our community, which consisted of the ten families on our block. When we moved there, it was a brand new development, and these ten families were the first occupants of their respective homes and our new neighborhood. The community they formed was a strong and active one. In the winters, the adults had a Sunday night bowling league. During the summers, neighbors gathered almost every evening for a swim in one family's in-ground swimming pool. Being the oldest children, my best friend and I made a good bit of pocket money by babysitting the other kids on the block when the adults had their costume parties, New Year's Eve parties, and bowling nights.

Mom was a wise woman. She understood how important it was to keep peace within the community. Bad blood between her and the old bald head, or between any two members of the community for that matter, would have made social occasions uncomfortable, not only for the two but for everyone. Opinions would have been formed, sides taken, the fabric of community torn to some degree, and in the end everyone would have lost a little something--comfort, trust, goodwill, friendships, or maybe just some fun.

I'm sure I didn't understand all that at the time, but I get it now. And if you're among my intimates, it's possible you've heard me mumble on occasion, "Oh, pee on your old bald head!"... and then laugh out loud.

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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