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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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Secret, 1916-Style

"A gentleman, a good friend of ours from Detroit visited us in our New York office in the Hotel Majestic last week. He has received the most beautiful silver cups and other awards of merit in his art of golf. Pointing to something he had been reading while standing by our mantel he said : "No one has ever given me anything like that; I would rather have it than every one of those trophies."

He was reading some lines that our class in Detroit had caused to be engraved on steel ; the tablet itself a thing of much beauty and the lettering was superb in its art. The sentiment expressed, we know was heartfelt and I do not conceive of any way in which the people could have expressed appreciation more appropriately than through this select, original and impressive manner. I am giving below a copy of the words which were engraved in beautiful letters herein reduced ; the fashion of the beautiful plate we cannot but regret omitting:


Dr. Lewis Knapp, Mrs. Lewis Knapp, Mr. J. Meredith, Mamie L. O'Connor, Mrs. Roland R. Allen, O. L. Arntson, Mrs. C. W. Bacon, Miss E. F. Bailey, Inkemann Bailey, Clara Bareis, A. F. Barnes, Miss Marie M. Becker, Dr. Elizabeth Bentele, Mr. J. W. Blakeslee, Marie Broesamle, Manley Burss, Miss Maud B. Cade, Miss Elsie M. Cade, Mrs. Frank Coffinberry, David Cooper, Miss C. F. Church, Miss G. M. Church, Emily Corbeille, Antoine Corbeille, V. Cordess, Mrs. J. E. Couper, Mrs. D. Courlander, Cecil M. Coy, Oswald Deslierres, Miss May Doyle, Mrs. A. K. Dunlap, Mr. F. E. DuPaul, Mrs. M. S. Edwards, Mrs. Etta Emerson, Mr. Miller, Miss Agnes Gillespie, A. Gilmour, Mrs. L. E. Girdler, Mrs. H. Glickstein, S. Goldberg, Mrs. Goodenow, Mrs. Rosa S. Griffith, Dr. Eleanor Harvey, Florence E. Hill, Mrs. Mary E. Hill, Miss Hill, Harry Hopkins, Mrs. Jacobi, Charlotte G. Johr, Mrs. F. A. Kausch, Mr. T. B. Kennedy, Mrs. D. Kinniston, Miss Elizabeth Langell, Mrs. Joseph Lapham, Mrs. Chas. P. Lamed, Jas. H. Leary, Mrs. C. H. Lempke, Mrs. W. A. Lindsay, Mr. W. G. Linis, Mrs. C. H. McClain, W. T. McDonald, William Martin, Mrs. Meredith, Myrtte Meyer, Laura Miller, Florence Munson, J. T. Neal, C. E. Nixon, R. Nathan, Florence Ort, Lydia Ort, Kathleen O'Connor, J. E. Parker, George Pennington, Frank Quinn, Mrs. Frank Quinn, Chester Roe, Ernest Roth, Mrs. E. M. Rothman, Nellie Peck Saunders, Miss Elise Schimmel, Mr. and Mrs. O. C. Schimmel, Anna Schneider, Miss H. Schrimpton, Mrs. W. M. Schrimpton, Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Sellery, Nellie Shaw, August Sherman, Lillian Springer, Mrs. James Stam, C. J. Strohmer, A. E. Stuart, Helen Taylor, Miss E. Tweedy. C. C. Upton, F. B. Wallace, Miss W. C. Wallich, Chas. A. Watkins, George Welz, Mrs. A. E. Wilkes, Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Woolrich, A. D. Mitchell, Mrs. Marietta Daniels, Mrs. Thomas Kening, Mrs. Reece, Miss Catherine Corbeille, Lillian H. Stumm, Cora H. Stumm, J. Hoyt Hill, Kate E. Kerr, A. E. Hamilton, Ida E. Becker, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Mason, Mrs. Margaret Cummer, F. J. Wright."
The material above begins on page 161 in a book called Scientific Man Building Through Thought Force by Arthur Adolphus Lindsay, published in 1916 by Lindsay himself in Detroit. I'm sure only the most stouthearted of my readers will have read through the entire class list--no, don't bother to scroll back up there now!--I'll just tell you why I've reproduced it here. There are two reasons:
  • A general Google search for one of these names did not return the link to this book, as did a search in Google Books. Because Detroit genealogists may find someone of interest to them in this list, I post it here so the book can be found in a general Google search for any of these names.
  • The reason I think someone may be interested to find their ancestor listed here is because a Google Books search for my great-grandmother, Kate E. Kerr*, turned up this book, and from it I've learned something very interesting about her.
Searching for genealogical documents like vital records and census listings is all well and good, but it doesn't usually tell you much about how your ancestor thought about things. I never met my great-grandmother, nor did I hear very much about her from her son Rosmer, my grandpa. I did hear a little from my mom and grandmother, though.

My grandma Evelyn always had a niggling feeling that her mother-in-law thought she "wasn't good enough" for Rosmer, but Evelyn may have been set up for that feeling long before she'd ever even met Rosmer. As a toddler, she'd had tuberculosis of the bone, causing her back to be, as she described it, crippled. She spent the entire remainder of her life unable to straighten her spine, and so was subjected to some taunting in her childhood, the time when her self-image would have been at its most vulnerable. Feeling "good enough" was probably a challenge for her a lot of the time, and likely moreso if her mother-in-law wasn't the "warm and fuzzy" type.

And in fact, my mother's memory of her grandmother Kate was that Kate was not the warm and fuzzy type. Mom remembered her as being a bit standoffish--Kate didn't have much to talk about with my mom. But Mom was just 14 years old when Kate died--still a kid, really--and Kate was 72.

I don't mean to disvalue or distrust these impressions of Kate. She died more than a decade before I came along so, besides these impressions, all I know of her comes from photographs, and from her paintings, and from the things I've been able to learn about her life from family history research. Despite having never met her, or maybe because of it, I've always felt a kinship with her--we were both working women and single parents.

So I was curious to know what kind of class it was that she attended in 1916. What did she and the others learn that resulted in the presentation of the engraved gift described above to their teacher? I started reading the book at page 1 to find out. Well, technically it was page 9:
If wishing should become, in almost anyone's life, aspiration, there would not be such a shortage of attainment. The quality of things realized would be predominantly desirable; down in every one's soul there is a wish for the really worthwhile. To drift with the current seems easier than to even make research into the law of attainment by which that wished for could become possessed or unfolded.
As I read on, I realized I've heard the ideas in this book before. To me it seems a lot like what's being marketed these days as The Secret. A few decades ago it was called The Power of Positive Thinking.

A bit from page 20:
One has occasion to take a mental attitude toward every picture that comes in touch with the life; an attitude toward time, the rising hour or the retiring hour, the working hour and the noon hour; he may regret there are sixty minutes in an hour and sixty seconds in a minute and regret that he has to pass away all the time. He may dislike the vehicles and the people he sees in them in the early morning hours when he has to go to his regretted work. He may hate the noise or the quiet of his place of business or the tones of the wall paper or the kind of pictures on the wall; he may hate the furnishings and draperies and when he looks through disgusting windows he may interpret the weather with horror. Do you not see he is disposing of all these items with a certain mental attitude and do you not see just as plainly that in this spirit with which he is disposing of the experiences he is making impressions upon the plastic self which will presently compel him to interpret in this same manner all things and treat all things iu a manner perfectly consistent with the spirit in which he has disposed of the items of his contact?

....It is reasonably asked, when does one begin to form his disposition? The moment one is born or at least the moment he begins to receive suggestions. In the hour a child is born he is plastic to impressions that may determine him for happy interpretations or the unhappy kind.
Well, I won't go on quoting the book, because you can read it yourself at Google Books if I've tempted you, or download the PDF and read it offline or, much to my surprise, you can buy a spanking new copy in hardcover or paperback (and still find my great-grandmother's name in the class list!).

I'm fascinated to learn that Kate attended this series of lectures. It's a great piece to add to the family puzzle.

By the way, Detroiters and other car people will find some interesting Observations Taken at the Minneapolis Branch of the Ford Motor Co beginning on page 26.


*In searching Google Books for Kate, I tried entering her name in different ways. I usually think of her as Kate Pettis Kerr--I have a book in which she wrote her name that way--and her maiden name was Kate (or Katharine) E. Pettis (the same as her mother's married name), so there were several ways to go. It's worthwhile to try searching every way you can think of. To clarify my point, searching for "kate kerr" did not return this book, but searching for "kate e kerr" did.

1 comment:

Jasia said...

Great article, T.K. And what a great find on Google Books! I've tried searching my surnames before with no luck but I know they keep adding scanned items all the time. Perhaps it's time for me to do some searching again.

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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