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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Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania

Volume I

I've taken World Vital Records for a test run the past couple days and, although I haven't added anyone new to the family tree, I did turn up a thing or two of interest about the people and places that are already there. All of the items I've found so far are in book form.

A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania by John G. White came up in one search. This is a two-volume set available at Google Books. I think it was all one book when it was published in 1909, because the pages are numbered sequentially. Volume I begins with the Table of Contents, followed immediately by a 14-page index and then the first half of the book. Volume II begins at page 561 and ends with the pictures following page 1088. It appears there may have been more pages, because the text ends mid-sentence, and in fact it is listed as having 1111 pages in total. Google Books offers a simple Feedback link just above the book images, so you can easily report pages that are missing or unreadable.

The beauty of finding a book like this at Google Books is the search tool, and I looked for my Mercer surnames: Alcorn, Carroll, Howe, Wright, Zahniser, and of course Kerr. There wasn't too much of use to me, but one of the Kerr references appeared in an interesting poem. Because I enjoyed it so much and think it was a great idea for a way to give an account of the family history at a reunion, I am sharing it here:

The following metrical account of the Rodgers family history was written by Nannie J. Rodgers and read at the Rodgers' Centennial, June, 1899.

Should you ask me of this people,
Of this gathering here of people,
Straight I'd answer, quick I'd tell you
Everything I know about them.

Should you ask me whence this people
Whence this vast concourse of people ?
I would answer, I would tell you,
They have come from all around us,
They are here from hill and valley,
They are here from town and country,
Here from Jamestown and from Greenville,
From the distant town of Mercer,
From the village of Fredonia,
From the country near the village,
From the city of New Castle,
From the hill beyond the city,
From Kennard and from Grove City.
They have come from Erie, Rose Point,
Hartstown, Colebrook, Clarksville,
And from all along Shenango River.

Should you ask me why this gathering?
I would answer, I would tell you,
We have come to celebrate
The coming of the Rodgers family.
Just a century they have lived here,
Just a hundred years ago
This farm was settled by a man
And woman, by the name of Rodgcrs.

Should you ask me of their history,
What their nation, what their language,
Where they came from, how they came here?
I would answer, I would tell you,
Long ago across the waters,
In the land beyond the ocean,
In the land where all are Irish,
Lived a man whose name was Rodgers,
Dwelt there with his wife and children.
In the north of Ireland lived they,
Had their home and habitation,
Near an inlet of the ocean,
Near the mountains and the peat bogs,
Near the present town of Milford.

On the 29th of June, 1792,
A son was born into the family,
They called him by the name of Samuel,
In that home he spent his childhood;
When he reached the age of manhood
He longed for wider fields of action,
Thought the place too little for him.
Thought the Isle too crowded for him,
Thought he'd better cross the ocean,
Make a home amid the forest.

So he took a passage on a sailing vessel
Took a steerage passage on a sailing vessel,
On the broad Atlantic Ocean,
Three long weary months he sailed there,
Home-sick, sea-sick, heavy-hearted,
Sailed he on the briny ocean ;
In the month of August started.
And on Hallowe'en he landed,
On the Delaware shore he landed.

In the state of Delaware he labored,
Three years he lived and labored there;
Then he took his journey westward,
Westward through the Quaker country,
Crossed the Allegheny mountains,
To the county Fayette came he.
Found a lodging with his cousin,
With his cousin Andy Brown;
Lived and labored there four seasons.

There he met a youthful maiden.
Maiden of the house of Henry,
By the name of Mary Henry,
Met her, loved her, wooed her, won her,
Wooed her from her home and people,
Won her to his heart and hearthstone.

In the autumn they were married,
When September's golden glories,
Covered hill and dale and forest.
Took their nuptial vows upon them,
Vowed to share their joys and sorrows,
Vowed to live and love and labor,
All their coming years together.

There they spent the foll'wing winter
Getting ready for their journey,
Making preparation for their
Chosen home amid the forest;
They prepared some goods of linen.
Goods of woolen and of linen;
Mary made them maple sugar
From the sap of trees she made it,
Made a keg of maple sugar.
Samuel made their rowing vessels,
From the trunks of trees he made them,
Scooped them out and made them hollow,
Two great long canoes he made them;
These canoes he pinned together,
Wooden pins he used for pinning;
Then he made a set of paddles
To be used upon the river.

When the preparation for their journey
For their journey were completed,
They loaded the canoes with cargo,
With their clothing and provisions,
With their meat and flour and cornmeal,
With their sugar and potatoes,
With their chest of books and clothing.
And their implements for fanning.
Which were chiefly axe and mattock.

Then they started on their journey,
For the land they had selected
For their home amid the forest;
Started on their river journey,
Down the Monongahela river
Down the broad Ohio river,
Up the little Beaver river,
Up the big Shenango river.
Up Shenango's little river.
Up the little crooked river,
Up to where the Bessemer station
Stands today in Adamsville.

Then they took their journey westward,
With their axes on their shoulders.
Walked thro' groves of beech and chestnut,
To the place they had selected
To the tract of land around vou:
There they built a house to live in,
Just a little north and east of here
There they built a house to live in,
On that very day they built it,
Walls of round logs, roof of clapboard,
Floor of puncheon, wooden chimney.
Their bed was made of fern leaves,
Fern leaves dried and crushed together,
And their table was the chest lid.
Blocks of wood they had to sit on.
For their neighbors they had bears,
Wolves and deer and Indians
And two miles off some white folks.

Soon they built a larger dwelling,
On another site they built it,
Built a larger home to dwell in,
And for many years they dwelt there,
Then their children came to bless them,
Nine small children came to bless them,
There was Betsy, Nancy, Sally,
William, Polly, Jane and Peggy,
Next came Robert, James was youngest.
Then they built a larger dwelling,
Built a larger house to live in,
There the boys grew up to manhood,
There the girls grew up to women,
All except the little Peggy,
She was early taken from them;
This their home till all were scattered.

Should you ask of their descendants,
What their names are; what they have been ?
I would answer, I would tell you,
Mathers, Love, and Weir and Porter,
Pattison and Boyd and Warmick,
Young and Maxwell, Orr and Cannon,
Callahan and Bell and Ramsey,
Kennedy and Fox and Moreland,
Amberson and Wright and Spaulding,
Kerr and Moore, McCleery, Davis,
Hollenbauk and Gault and Stinson,
Wellar, Webber, Paul and Hulick,
They are scattered o'er this nation,
You will find them in Wyoming,
Pennsylvania and Montana,
In Dakota and Nebraska,
Michigan and Oklahoma,
Massachusetts and in Kansas,
And in Colorado you will find them.
They're in all trades and all professions,
They arc farmers, they are teachers,

Painters, carpenters and millers,
They are doctors, lawyers, preachers,
They are artists and musicians,
They are ordinary people.

Volume II


Jasia said...

This is such a cool poem, T.K.! I wish I could write a beautiful and succinct family history like this!!! Heck, I wish I could just get a gosh darn family history written in any fashion, LOL!

Thanks for sharing!

Nancy said...

I didn't know you had Mercer County family! Last night I found my family in vol. 2 of the History of Mercer County. This morning, instead of going back to the original site, I searched for it - and found your post. I couldn't tell the years your family was there.... My family (known) was there from about the 1860s, in Stoneboro and West Salem Township. My family names are Doyle, Froman (or Frohman or other variations), and Saylor. I recognized your Zahniser name, but don't remember any specific associations with my families.

T.K. said...

Nancy, I don't think I've run across your surnames connected to mine in anything I've read. Surprising, considering the prolific nature of the Kerrs!

I haven't searched any old newspapers of that area, have you? What about documents? Have you been able to obtain documentation for your lines there in the 1800s? I've visited Mercer once, early in my research experience, but really need to reassess what I have and what I should be looking for there.

Nancy said...

I haven't searched newspapers yet. Mercer County seems to be one of those lagging behind as far as putting things online. I have Butler Co. people and they have an obituary index, but as far as I can tell, there's nothing like that for Mercer County. It would help.

My only documents so far are birth and death certificates. PA seems to be a very "private" state and makes it hard to obtain documents, even the birth and death records (my experience, anyway).

The Mercer County Courthouse is very laid back which translates to unhelpful for a family historian. They don't respond to letters at all. My brother and sister have gone to the courthouse to search and she's commented about how difficult it is to obtain anything there.

When you go, I hope you have success!

T.K. said...

Nancy, my only visit to Mercer County was so long ago (20 years?), and so early in my genealogy research experience, that I had little to compare it to. I have read, though, that PA has a tight hold on their documents, as you found. I think I did go to Mercer Co. Courthouse, because I was able to find and get copies of some wills and such--in person, though--and I have vague recollections of sitting at a table looking through a file box containing envelopes with folded papers pertaining to various legal cases, and choosing which to get copies of. Whether this is an accurate memory, I don't know, but I do have more court documents from Mercer than I've ever found anywhere else for any of my other lines.

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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