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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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.

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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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