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, December 31, 2009

2010: The Year of Getting Stuff Organized

Goodbye to 2009, The Year of the Cross-Country Move and Consequent Ultimate Disorder! It only seems proper, now that I have a more-or-less permanent home with plenty of space, and probably more available time than any one person has a right to, that 2010 should be The Year of Getting Stuff Organized. I resolve, therefore, to make that my priority for the coming 365 days, with regard specifically to the chaos that I fondly refer to as my genealogy research.

In the past, I've tried tidying by the numbers. For example:
  • file 10 documents or papers a day
  • enter 3 sources per day into my Legacy database
Sad to say, this method has not worked for me. Most often, I end up with a box of papers emptied out, spread in small piles across the bed and floor, supposedly sorted and almost ready to file but then stacked and put back into the box because it's bedtime. Or some such! You know what I mean!

This time, I'm lowering my expectations to something doable. Motivated by Lee Drew's Sweet Sixteen (Generations) post, I'm going to focus only on my direct-line ancestors, one per day. I'll be checking my data entry to verify dates and places for each ancestor's big three: birth, marriage, and death. I'll be sourcing those items properly as needed and adding document images to my database. When I've done that to the best of my ability, I plan to reward myself with a fabulous One-Page Genealogy chart like Lee's. My goal is to order it by the end of June.

I've already printed out my pedigree charts and plotted my ancestor names on the calendar, and I've given the process a few days' test run. And already I'm a bit behind, but I've started with the grandparents, for whom I have lots of documentation. As I get further out, I expect there will be less to do and some sources will already be entered, so I should be able to catch up on those days, and maybe even work ahead a little.

I have three other quarterly rewards in mind as well:
  • an ancestor photo album made with Blurb, MyPublisher, UBuildABook, Picaboo, MyCanvas, or one of the other online book-printing companies (Readers, if you have used any of these services, I'd like to know whether you were satisfied with your results.)
  • a blog book from Blog2Print (Again, if you've ordered one of these, please comment about it.)
  • a short-term Ancestry membership
Simply planning the photo album is sufficient to merit rewarding myself with it (and yes, I'm sure it will take me a good three months to plan it!). The blog book will be an intermediate reward for carrying on with the organization project which, in addition to the work on my direct-line ancestors, includes sorting and filing the aforementioned boxes full of research papers. The Ancestry membership is last, and I only get to have it after I've beaten the backlog of already-collected documents into submission and made a list of gaps in my research that need to be addressed.


I'm looking forward to reading what my fellow GeneaBloggers have to say about their New Year's Resolutions in the Carnival of Genealogy, 87th Edition, hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene.

The lovely CoG poster above appears here courtesy of footnote Maven, as always.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A 1938 Christmas

My dad was born and raised near Lisbon, North Dakota. He would have been seventeen at the time Ivan Besse shot this silent film in Britton, South Dakota, about 50 miles south of Lisbon. I have no doubt that life would have been much the same in Britton and Lisbon.

This 20-minute film is one of ten shot by Besse in 1938-1939, available for your viewing pleasure at Internet Archive. And a pleasure it is. It's positively mesmerizing.

I chose this one, Part II, in honor of Santa Claus, who puts in an appearance. Watch for the load of Christmas trees arriving in town too, and the street decorations. Other things to watch for:
  • Hats! Men's and women's, quite a variety!
  • Fashions! Huge fur collars on women's coats!
  • A beaver!
  • An awful lot of smoking!
  • Don't miss the exciting "sheriff" segment at the beginning!
  • And there's a funny part that I won't spoil by telling you ahead of time!
You'll notice also some changes of season. These films are not chronological, not in the Part I through Part X sense, and not within segments, either. No matter!

Following are links to the rest of the Ivan Besse Collection, with my brief notes on some of what you'll see in each:
  • Part I: Autumn, what appears to be a homecoming parade; cute kids (19:09)
  • Part II: Featured in this post. (20:11)
  • Part III: Men digging, building; landscape; fish caught; hot dusty summer; diving in the pool; orchestra; boys in bow ties; glee club?; building the church steeple; cocker puppies; American Legion guys dinner; more Santa day; Jack Russell dog tricks. (14:14)
  • Part IV: Blizzard, many shovelling snow into a truck; more husking (see Part IX); ducks; farmland; 2 boys in hats bigger than they are; Memorial Day Parade. (16:45)
  • Part V: White Lake Dam, WPA project; kids' games, baby carriages; plowing with team of horses; Britton Braves field day (guys in really short athletic shorts!); young women in formal dresses. (16:07)
  • Part VI: Parade participants including a recalcitrant goat; people-watching in town; more field day. (19:32)
  • Part VII: Memorial Day parade and program at the cemetery (48-star flag!); dogs at play; dog wearing specs & smoking a pipe; end of school day (looks like clip-clothespins on the hems of girls' skirts??); bonfire; dusty football game with cheerleaders & band. ((17:08)
  • Part VIII: OMG, moving a barn! Moving a huge, huge barn! Will somebody please tell me, how far did they intend to take that barn? Did it ever get where they wanted it to be? Did it end up staying right where it was when Ivan stopped filming? Did anyone get injured in the course of that folly? (14:10) Readers, this is a must-see!
  • Part IX: Still more people-watching in town; husking contest; look at those cars!; a formal affair; pile of dead critters (gophers? prairie dogs?). (16:07)
  • Part X: First half is little kids; and more of the same. (9:13)
In all parts, you'll see a lot of camera-shy townspeople reacting to Ivan's presence: duckers, divers, head-turners, face-hiders, scolders, protestors, blushers (okay, it's black & white so you can't really see that, but trust me, you'll know!), runners. Some are really funny!

Merry Christmas to you!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday: What child is this?

This tiny treasure belonged to my grandmother, Evelyn Kerr. The base of the plated icon is stamped GERMANY. The brass case is a half-inch wide and a quarter-inch thick. I don't believe I ever saw it while Evelyn was still living, as I don't remember any discussion about it. I can't tell you how she came by it or how old it is. Her grandparents immigrated from Germany, so she may have gotten it from one of them.

I doubt that she ever had as good a look at it as we're about to get via the miracle of digital technology:

I'm hoping one of my Catholic readers will be able to tell me this isn't the Virgin Mary with a really bad bowl haircut and the ugliest 48-year-old Jesus midget ever.


A reader has identified this figure as Saint Anthony holding the Christ child. Not only that, she's provided a link to an excellent explanation of the story and symbolism behind it, which my grandmother would certainly have known. My understanding of my grandmother and my pleasure in having this tiny treasure are greatly increased. Thank you so much, Kathi!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Baptism Record of Elijah Sedgwick

My fourth-great grandfather, Elijah Sedgwick, was baptised in Westfield, Massachusetts. His was the second baptism recorded in 1770. The record pictured above says, "Jan. 14, Elijah, son of Sam'l & Deborah Sedgwick."

Elijah's sister Rhoda was baptized in the church at Westfield also, in 1767. Hers was the third baptism on July 28 of that year. Pictured below, the record says simply, "Rhoda, dau of Samuel and Deborah Sedgwick."

These records are from The Publick Records of the Church at Westfield, Mass. 1639-1836 (Salt Lake City Family History Library, call no. 185,468).

You can download a PDF file containing these two Sedgwick baptism records at The Vertical File.


As a result of a previous Sedgwick post, I've been contacted by a descendant of Elijah Sedgwick. She's my fourth cousin, once removed. I'm excited about that! Elijah has many descendants, but I haven't been in contact with any of them until now. So, today's post is a celebration of our common ancestor.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Kids in a Goat Cart

A few months* ago, Carol at iPentimento posted a Kids in a Goat Cart Challenge. You should click over and see the cute old photo which inspired the challenge. Unfortunately, I didn't have any pictures of kids being taken for a ride by a goat.

I have been known, however, to take liberties with a meme on occasion. Thus I bring you, instead of kids going for a ride in a goat cart, a goat going for a ride in the kids' cart.

A goat, three grandchildren, and a strange kid in yellow boots!

Okay, so not exactly wordless. But close.


*Readers, when I first wrote this post, it started out, "A week or so ago... ." For some inexplicable reason, it has been sitting in draft status since then. So, having found it, I'm playing the Better Late Than Never card, and bringing you a seasonally-incorrect spot of sunshine and greenery in what must be the coldest mid-December ever. Or so it seems to me!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday: My Auntie's Voice

Side A:

Remember, dear, the day we wed?
Do you love me now as you did then,
or is your love for me now dead?
We've been through a lot in 26 years,
and faced some very stormy weather.
But I don't mind if you don't, dear.
Shall we try another year together?

Paul, a merry Christmas to you, dear,
and thank you for your kindness during my illness.
With all my love from your wife, Marceline.
Remember, I love you always,
and I'm sorry I had to be sick during this time,
but you understand, I'm sure.
Remember, I love you always.

Side B:

Paul, this is also for you.

Thank you, God, for keeping us together,
helping and loving in dark and clear weather.
May all the future years
be filled with joy and cheers.
May he love me always as he did the day
he held me and whispered, "I love you, dear."
Thank you, God.
May his troubles and sorrows be part of mine,
his love never turning cold on the morrow.
Just love me as he did the day he whispered,
"You're mine, sweetheart, forever,"

Does that bring back any memories to you, darling?
It does to me. Remember, I'll love you always.

I'm pleased to be able to share my Auntie Marceline's 1955 Christmas message to her husband Paul during this holiday season 54 years later. I was so excited a few weeks ago when I found this record in my mom's old 78 rpm collection. I hadn't known it existed. I listened to it using an old record player at my dad's house, but wasn't able to get a good digital recording. My nephew, Demian Krentz, volunteered to do it for me, and I so appreciate the great and timely job he did.

I was only seven years old in 1955, so I'm not sure what illness Auntie referred to. I think she may have had a stroke. (She was only 57 when she died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1962.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Madness Monday: Mad Doctor vs. Insane Christian Scientist

In the course of doing a Sedgwick search at The Library of Congress database Chronicling America, I happened upon this news story, published 5 July 1900 in The Norfolk [Nebraska] News:
According to the Omaha World Herald of yesterday "the insanity commission of Douglas county has decided that an individual can refuse the assistance of a physician in case of an accident can be a Christian Scientist and at the same time be perfectly sane. This decision was handed down by the members of the insanity commission in the case wherein Dr. Robert M. Stone filed a complaint against Mrs. Josephine Sedgwick, a Christian Science woman whom he charged with being insane and a dangerous person to be at large. Mrs. Josephine L. Sedgwick is the wife of Jerry Sedgwick. Jerry Sedgwick is the man who, on June 7, was thrown from a buggy and by reason of his head striking a tree was seriously injured, but has since recovered, and that without medical aid or assistance.

"Dr. Robert M. Stone had his attention called to the accident that befell Sedgwick and hurried to his side. There he met Mrs. Sedgwick. She informed the doctor that her husband was a believer in the Christian Science faith and did not need the services of a physician, requesting that the injured man "be left alone with his God."

"Dr. Stone went away from the scene and at once appeared before the insanity commission of Douglas county where he filed a complaint alleging that Mrs. Sedgwick was insane at the time and was not a safe person to be circulating about the community."
I didn't know who Jerry Sedgwick was, but because I knew of other Sedgwick relatives in the area, I was curious to find out whether he was related to them. My first stop was WorldConnect, where I found a Jermaine Berosus Sedgwick whose wife's name was Josephine, in Mike Graham's Sedgwick2Graham Family Tree. Mike's data includes a timeline of locations for Jermaine which indicates that he did live in Nebraska at the time the above article was written. Mike also has a beautifully done website, Sedgwick2Graham, and a blog called Sedgwick2Graham: Notes from the Curator.

Really rabid geneaphiles may have noticed Jerry Sedgwick's name in the book pertaining to yesterday's post about Theron Emmons Sedgwick. In 1895, Jerry was serving the Nebraska Senate as an appointed Messenger to Secretary Sedgwick (see p. 296). Theron and Jerry, it appears, were second cousins, once removed.

You can download a PDF of The Norfolk News' Christian Science article at The Vertical File.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The author doth disclaim too much, methinks!

I happened to find a biographical sketch of Theron Emmons Sedgwick in an 1895 book called Biographical Sketches of the Nebraska Legislature. Theron was Secretary of the Nebraska Senate at the time. Oddly, however, the sketch was entitled, in all-caps format, "HON. TIMOTHY E. SEDGWICK." At first I thought I'd discovered another Sedgwick cousin, but upon reading the bio, I recognized certain facts that, without a doubt, belonged to Theron--his wife Adelaide Thurston, for example.

Who on earth, I wondered, authors a book called Biographical Sketches of the Nebraska Legislature but doesn't know the name of the Secretary of the Senate? Quickly I turned to the title page but it didn't satisfy my curiosity, so I went on to the Preface, which began with a few interesting chatty comments about the history of the state. It concluded this way:
It is the object of this undertaking to give correct sketches of the prominent citizens of Nebraska, contained herein, and, while we do not arrogate to ourselves a degree of accuracy beyond criticism, we hope to have attained a large measure of accuracy in the compilation of the sketches and other matters contained in this history. No expense has been spared in making this volume complete in every detail, although information from some directions was extremely hard to secure, and some who are represented herein caused delay by unintentional carelessness on their part. To all those who favored us we tender our grateful acknowledgments; without their aid this history would have been left buried beneath the debris of time, unwritten and unpreserved. Respectfully,

W. A. HOWARD. Lincoln, Neb., February, 1895.

Oh, dear reader! You don't suppose Theron "caused delay by unintentional carelessness," do you? Could it have been his direction from which information "was extremely hard to secure?" Tsk, tsk! It seems to have resulted in, shall we say, unintentional misnaming on the author's part!

The name is Theron . . . not Timothy!

You can read the misnamed biographical sketch directly from the book at My Ancestors in Books, or download a copy of "HON. TIMOTHY E. SEDGWICK" at The Vertical File.

Howard, W. A. Biographical Sketches of the Nebraska Legislature; and National and State Officers of Nebraska. Lincoln, Neb: Press of Jacob North and Co, 1895.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

120 Years Ago Today: Kate Pettis, Artist, in the News

From The Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Neb., Sunday, 1 December 1889, Part I, p. 4, col. 7:

Lounging in the Studios: Why Home Artists Should Pay Attention to Drawing

On Friday evening the Western Art association closed its fall exhibit. This display proved so great a success in the matter of attendance that the time of closing was extended until Friday evening.

A few of the pictures shown found purchasers at fair prices. The sale generally was not as large as it would have been had the artists not been quite so prolific, and the work had been better in drawing.

The medal for the best work in oils was not awarded for the reason that the judges, while commending much of the work, found it deficient in drawing. This decision has startled some of the artists not a little, as many of them have conceived the idea, goodness knows why, that as long as their color was fairly good, good drawing was not requisite. This is the great fault with young artists everywhere, who, in many cases, are self taught, or have incompetent teachers. A brush is in their hand before they have made even a passing acquaintance with a stick of charcoal or a pencil. Poor drawing on canvas invariably results in such cases, and the artist is loth to drop his brush and take up the hard grind of a thorough course of drawing. At the Cooper institute and other good art schools the student is not allowed to touch a palette until he has demonstrated his ability to draw well, and the result is shown in the splendid magazine and book illustration from the presses of this country.

The withholding by the judges of the first medal is a lesson from which the artists will, no doubt, derive some benefit. One of the artists, whose work was generally commended, deplored the lack of interest taken in drawing, and predicted that the coming spring exhibition would not be quite so large but would show better work.

It has been suggested that the association place itself more on a footing with others of its kind by hiring rooms for itself and making them a rendezvous for its members. Here, a sketch-club could work, the members posing for one another, thus enabling the workers to make rapid charcoal and pencil sketches. Competitive studies, from previously given subjects, to train and develop the imaginative side of the artists, could be brought to each meeting, the studies to hang on the walls from one meeting to another. This idea was very successfully carried out by the Salmagundi club of New York, which includes among its members the first artists of America. These meetings were held at regular intervals, and came to be looked forward to with great pleasure. A subject would be given, for instance “Death,” and each artist’s idea of the subject was expressed in whatever method he chose for the purpose, in pen and ink, clay, oils or water color. The humorist often found his best opportunities to show his distorted ideas of sentimental subjects, and the sentimentalist fairly reveled in ideas. This plan has been found to stimulate the artistic imagination, as well as productive of much healthy emulation among members of the club.

The colony in the Paxton building is busy as bees working on Christmas gifts. Mrs. Mumaugh, besides attending to her large classes, finds time to work on several good Christmas orders. One of them is a four panel screen, on one of which is a realistic stalk of withered corn, very autumnal in effect. The other panels will have flowers, etc., on.

Miss Teana McLennan on Monday will move her studio to room 906, New York Life building. A. Hospe has secured one of her paintings, a study of peaches, which was numbered 100, at the exhibit. Miss McLennan has, on her easel, another study of peaches ordered by Mrs. W. A. Paxton. She has also a number of other Christmas orders.

Miss Melona Butterfield is busy decorating china bonbon boxes, which are very pretty and becoming quite the rage. She also has under way a set of after-dinner coffees and a salad set, the decoration of the latter being shells and sea week painted on dainty china of new shape, called the “Surprise.”

Miss Kate Pettis has a portrait in water color wash, and some black-and-whites in air brush, which are intended for Christmas gifts.

All the other artists have received orders for holiday gifts, which are not only very pretty, but very appropriate.

Click here to view or download the original newspaper page.

Click here to see The Artworks of Kate Pettis Kerr.

Readers, if you have access to any artwork by Kate Pettis (aka Kate E. Kerr), I'd be most happy to hear from you. Use the Comments feature to contact me. Please include your email address or another way for me to contact you. None of your personal contact information will be published online. It will remain private and will be used for this purpose only.

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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