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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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Tombstone Tale

Tombstone of Dr. Parker Sedgwick

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I was known to get pretty good grades in school. I'm not saying I was a good student. I wasn't, really. But I did know how to get good grades.

History was, by far, my worst subject. And why not? It was about wars and old men who'd been dead so long they didn't even stink anymore. I was a teen-aged girl, fer Pete's sake. I was interested in guys who were young, alive, friendly, and smelled like Brut. Nevertheless, using my fine-tuned technique for securing grades that would pass muster at home, I managed to do reasonably well even on history tests.

Miss Ryan wasn't fooled though, and good test scores were not her only priority. She was the only teacher who ever sent a "D" home with me on my report card.

My mother went to ask her why I'd gotten so low a grade when I'd done acceptably well on all the quizzes and tests. Miss Ryan replied that it was because I didn't take notes in class. Mom thought that was ridiculous since my test scores were good, so she told me to appear to be taking notes in class. I did, and my history grade improved.

The truth is, by that time, it was already clear to me that my note-taking left a lot to be desired. I'm bad at it. Always was. Always will be. If I ever take a good note, I assure you it will be a complete anomaly in my note-taking life.

Tombstone of Dr. Sherman Parker Sedgwick

That anomaly did not happen when I took photos of some Sedgwick tombstones many years ago. I can't even tell you how many years ago, as I did not make note of the date. Apparently I did not even record the name of the cemetery. The photos are the old-fashioned kind, from a film camera, and there is absolutely nothing written or imprinted on their backs. I did find a notebook of jottings from that trip, but there is no mention in it pertaining to the Sedgwick gravestone photos.

But fortunately, The Sedgwick Collection at the New Haven Colony Historical Society houses boxes and boxes of notes taken by some excellent Sedgwick note-takers of days gone by. I was able to determine from them that I took these photos at Greenwood Cemetery which, according to the notes, is one-half mile east of Bloomingdale, Illinois.

Grave markers of Dr. John A. Sedgwick and family
(click to enlarge)

My fourth great-grandfather is said to be buried with the Sedgwicks whose tombstones I photographed, but I was unable to find a stone with Elijah's name on it. I'm sure he must have had a stone at some point. From the photos, it appears some of the older stones may have been broken and repaired. Possibly Elijah's was broken beyond repair, or maybe it was there and I just didn't look in the right place.

Tombstone of Dr. Louise Sedgwick,
daughter of Dr. S.P. Sedgwick

Tombstone of Etherlinda Sedgwick,
first wife of Dr. S.P. Sedgwick

I'd like to wrap this up by telling you my note-taking has improved over the years but, dear reader, I'm all about keepin' it real.



I was browsing through my old Sedgwick binder the other day and found a great number of photocopied items sent to me many years ago by the late Leona Hilton of Seattle. One was a list entitled Bloomingdale Cemetery Record of Burials.* The pages she sent me covered some (not all) years from 1859-1879. Several Sedgwick entries are included, and I'm sure this record is how I knew Elijah Sedgwick was buried here, despite the lack of a gravestone. The Sedgwick entries are:

Lot 42:
  • 19 May 1859 - Huldah, wife [second] of Doct. S.P. Sedgwick, of Bloomingdale, age 33
Lot 70:
  • July 1870 - Infant son of Geo. and Ebba [sic] Vastine
Lot 108:
  • 18 Dec 1861 - Elijah Sedgwick of Bloomingdale, age 98
  • 4 Dec 1870 - Dr. Parker Sedgwick, Wheaton, age 74 yrs 3 mo
Lot 128:
  • 23 Sep 1863 - Emily E., infant daughter of E. and H. Sedgwick
  • 12 Dec 1863 - Infant son of C.J. and E. Schultz of Bloomingdale
  • July 1870 - Elijah, infant child of E. and H. Sedgwick
  • 22 Aug 1870 - Infant son of C.J. and Emma Schultz
  • 26 Oct 1874 - Joseph D., infant son of Harriet and Erastus Sedgwick
  • 9 Apr 1876 - William, infant son of Harriet and Erastus Sedgwick
  • 16 Oct 1878 - Daughter of E.R. and H.M. Sedgwick, 6 days old
George Boone Vastine was married to Effie D. Sedgwick, a great-granddaughter of Elijah Sedgwick. You can see the Vastine Family Group Sheet at They had a son named Lewis who died young, but from the materials I have in hand, it's unclear whether he is the child who was buried in 1870. I don't have the list of burials for early 1868, and the Vastine family group sheet does not list an infant born in 1870. However, in at least one other case in the list of burials, the term "infant" is used in reference to a child eighteen months old, not a newborn baby. What I'm trying to say, dear reader, is that I'm leaping to the conclusion that "Ebba" Vastine is actually Effie Sedgwick Vastine, and that her son Lewis is probably the infant referred to in the burial list. Feel free to prove me right or wrong at your convenience, as I don't expect to be in Bloomingdale anytime soon!

Charles J. Schultz was married to Emma Elizabeth Sedgwick, a granddaughter of Elijah Sedgwick. You can see the Schultz Family Group Sheet at

Erastus R. Sedgwick, a grandson of Elijah Sedgwick, was married to Harriet Hatch. There are currently no children listed on Erastus Sedgwick's Family Group Sheet at

*From the photocopy, it's apparent this list of burials was part of a Pamphlet File, the subject of which was "Bloomingdale, History of." The photocopies were sent to Leona by the reference librarian at Bloomingdale Public Library in Bloomingdale, Illinois.


CMPointer said...

" dead they didn't stink anymore..." ~ now that is hilarious! I wasn't a big history student either. It seemed like all the tests were multiple choice questions about names and dates, and me? I'm SO all about the stories. I'd rather read, hear, and write about what they did, how they did it, and why they did it. Now that I look at it that way, I love history. Good post!

Family Stories

T.K. said...

Thanks, Caroline. I think history is a lot more interesting when it's up close & personal. It seemed like a whole different subject after I started doing genealogy and found a personal way to connect to it.

Jasia said...

I liked the lively guys in English Leather too! Oh, and let's not forget Brut. That was a good one too. ;-)

T.K. said...

I forgot about Brut! I should change it to Brut... it reads better! :-D

T.K. said...

Hah, I had to do it! Brut it is!

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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