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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Friday, August 28, 2009

So... just exactly what is an Effenaar anyhow?

I thought to search for my "Effenaar" surname at Google Books this morning, and came upon this Dutch and English dictionary published in 1766. I was charmed by the title page--it just doesn't hold anything back, does it?

Even better, though, was what I found on page 210:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Music To Do Efner Genealogy By

Venice - The Family Tree

I was reading a few genealogy blogs today and came upon this video at You Are Where You Came From. Aside from being first up and a lovely piece of music, it also figures prominently in today's topic, my Efner ancestry.

Several years ago while searching online for information about the lineage of my third great-grandfather, Ezekiel T. Efner, I came upon Richard Efnor's extensive research on the Efner family in America. I'd already collected a few things myself, the most genealogically significant being the christening record of Ezekiel's father. I ran across my copy just yesterday while thumbing through my Pettis & Efner binder.

Christening record of Valentyne Effenaar
son of Henderick Effenaar and Maragieta Teator
22 December 1776

Dutch Reformed Church, Schaghticoke, New York

(That's pronounced "SCAT-uh-cook" - I know you were wondering!)

As far as I know, no European records have been found pertaining to the roots of the Efner family. Revolutionary War records list Germany as the birthplace of Henderick (Henry), and I've read that the family may have Palatine or Bavarian roots. And then we have the record shown here, from the Dutch Reformed Church, which says "Dutch" to me.

Three-fourths of my lines are German, so I've scrutinized quite a few reels of German microfilm. I've never noticed the Efner surname or any of its spelling variants in any of the German records I've studied. That, of course, doesn't mean it isn't German in origin. It certainly could have been concentrated in areas other than those I've looked at. I'm just sayin'...

Anyhow, I was listening to this lovely piece of music when it occured to me to view the video directly on YouTube to see what I might find out about it. One of the things I found out was that there are other versions of the song, some of them taped in concert by amateur videographers, and thus with relatively poor sound quality, like this one:

Venice - The family Tree @ de Effenaar, Eindhoven:
Kerstshow Venice in de Effenaar in Eindhoven op dinsdag 11 dec 2007

What?? Wait a minute... what? What is "de Effenaar in Eindhoven," I must know! So, of course, I Googled it. (Really, how did the world ever get by before Google?) Here is what I found:

click to enlarge
Effenaar - [ Translate this page ]
Effenaar, Eindhoven, The Netherlands za 05 sep, Indie Disco ... Effenaar, Eindhoven, The Netherlands zo 13 sep, Dommelsch Clash of the Coverbands: 1e...

Jeepers, that certainly says "Dutch" to me!

Not that I'm about to run out and comb through Dutch records looking for Effenaar ancestors, at least not right this minute. I have plenty to do already, genealogically speaking, and I'm still not finished settling in at my new home either. But I'm willing to entertain the possibility that some Revolutionary War clerk somewhere may have heard "Dutch" and thought "Deutsch." And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all the Dutch records I need will be indexed by the time I'm free to pursue this!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mumbet and Sedgwick Pie

This morning, fellow geneablogger M. Diane Rogers suggested writing about a woman today in honor of Women's Equality Day. I liked the idea, but in truth I wasn't feeling too inspired and was going to indulge my Inner Slacker instead.

Funny, though, how something comes along at just the opportune moment. I was reading a review of a book I ordered the other day. The book should arrive this week, and I'm looking forward to it with great anticipation.

Anyway, the book review mentioned "Sedgwick Pie." In Googling that, I came upon a website about Elizabeth "Mumbet" Freeman, a Massachusetts black woman who filed suit to obtain her freedom from slavery. It was attorney Theodore Sedgwick who represented her. From there, her life story became interwoven with the Sedgwick family until her death in 1829. She was buried in the Sedgwick family plot, a part of the Stockbridge Cemetery known as the Sedgwick pie.

You can read The Story of Mumbet from "Sheffield, Frontier Town" by Lillian E. Preiss. The Massachusetts Historical Society shares the story of her case in The Legal End of Slavery in Massachusetts. And you can view a handwritten manuscript draft of Catharine Maria Sedgwick's article, "Mumbett," which was published under the title "Slavery in New England," in Bentley's Miscellany in 1853 (p. 417-424, Google Books).

So, as it turned out, my Inner Slacker had an unexpectedly good time today, and was inspired to share it with you in honor of Women's Equality Day. Enjoy!

Wordless Wednesday: I'm just gonna put my feet up and...

Thanks, Lisa Louise Cook! Good to know!

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.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Some Moustache!

Johnson & Hegg
~ Artists ~
Cumberland, Wis.

(click to enlarge)

Among the unidentified photos which once belonged to my grandparents Kerr is the cabinet card shown here. I estimate it to be from the 1880s based on photo dating techniques from City Gallery and other sources. Too bad my grandpa didn't have City Gallery's free downloadable PDF Family Photograph Sheet, because I'm sure he would have known who this was!

Profile portraits seem to be relatively unusual, so of course this one immediately linked up in my mind with the identified portrait of Theron Emmons Sedgwick. Although the shape of the two heads appears to be slightly different, I suppose that could be due to the slight difference between the poses. The prominent chins are similar, and it appears to me the contour from chin to neck may be the same in both cases, although it's hard to tell for sure due to the darkness of the photo on the left. The hairlines seem similar enough to be an evolution from one to the other.

I once read that ears are a lot like fingerprints in their individuality, and I think I could make a pretty good case for this to be two pictures of the same ear separated by a quarter century.

Those noses don't look like a match to me. On the other hand, I've heard the myth that your nose never stops growing, but the cartilage does tend to droop with age. I don't know what to say about the eyes, except that the identified photo comes from a screen capture of a scan of a picture that was published in a book over a hundred years ago, so I don't know what color those eyes were, but in the unidentified photo, they are obviously very light in color, and the same is true of yesterday's set of photos. I think my two unidentified gentlemen could very well be brothers, both having light eyes and male pattern baldness.

I have no reason to believe Theron Sedgwick ever lived in Cumberland, Wisconsin. He did live in DePere and Brown County for a few years, all the way across the state, until early 1878, when he moved to York County, Nebraska. That doesn't rule out the possibility that he may have traveled to Cumberland at some point.

His brother Samuel also moved to York in 1878, and their brother, Dr. David Ernest Sedgwick, joined them in 1880. A quick check at Family Search Pilot didn't turn up any Sedgwicks at all in Barron County, Wisconsin, where Cumberland is located, during the period of 1860-1885. I don't know of any Pettis family members living there either, so the locality of this cabinet card is not helping me much.

A Barron County historian might be able to pinpoint the date of the photo more accurately based on the photographer's imprint. The "Hegg" in Johnson & Hegg may have been Eric A. Hegg, later noted for his photographs of the Alaskan gold rush and Copper River Railway construction. Eric began his photographic career in Wisconsin, opening his first studio at Washburn in 1882 when he was just 15. Was Johnson his mentor prior to that? I wasn't able to find the answer to that question online.

As with yesterday's photo, it's possible that another Sedgwick descendant will recognize who this is. If so, please use the Comments feature to contact me. If you include your email address or another way for me to respond, I will keep the comment private. Your contact information will not be published.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Could this tintype be Samuel Hopkins Sedgwick?

My grandpa Rosmer died 9 February 1969 in Port Huron, Michigan. He was 76 at the time and by several years the first of my grandparents to pass away. He surely could have told me who it is in this photograph if I'd ever seen it, but I hadn't. No matter, I suppose, since I would surely have forgotten anyhow by the time I became interested in dead relatives.

Last week when I found identified photographs of Samuel Hopkins Sedgwick and Theron Emmons Sedgwick, I was hoping a family resemblance might lead me to identify one of my unidentified photos as Elijah Sedgwick, my fourth great-grandfather, so I took them out to make some comparisons.

To me, the resemblance here is striking. I don't doubt for a minute that this is a Sedgwick, but is it Elijah?

Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs, by Karen Frisch-Ripley, is my go-to reference for pinning down the type of photo and the range of years during which it was prevalent. Tintypes, like the photo above, were widely produced from 1856 into the 1920s. Elijah died in December 1861, so he was still around when tintypes were made. But he was 92 years old at the time of his death, and this man is nowhere near that.

Beards, according to that most dependable of all resources, Wikipedia, were rare in the United States in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. However, they had become prevalent by the mid-nineteenth century. Consequently, I'd have to guess that even Elijah's four sons would have been older than the man in this picture. My guess is that this is one of his grandsons.

I'd guess this man was in his 20s or 30s when the tintype was made. Samuel Hopkins Sedgwick was born in 1848, which puts him in the right timeframe.

Sometimes you can rule out an identification by creating a split-face image in Paint Shop Pro. Taking one side of the face from the known image and the other side from the unidentified image, you fiddle around a bit with the size and placement to see if the facial features line up proportionately. A match doesn't guarantee the correct identity, but a noticeable mismatch rules out a possibility. I tried this technique with the two images above, and the facial features line up very well.

A study of the eyes and eyebrows, hairline, and shape of the head leads me to think my tintype is an early photo of Samuel H. Sedgwick. Maybe there's a Sedgwick descendant who can shed some light on this topic? If so, please leave a comment (if you include your email address or another way for me to contact you, I will not publish the comment for all the world to see!).

Tomorrow, another photo... another Sedgwick?

A Lawyer and Two Capitalists

Samuel H. Sedgwick, age 52, was enumerated in the 1900 census of York, York County, Nebraska. Listed in his household at that time were his wife, Clara M., and their two daughters, Catharine and Myrna P. They lived on Tenth Street.

Listed immediately before them, on Beaver Avenue, was the family of Samuel's widowed sister, Emma Brown. She had two sons, Merle S. and Ernest J., and two daughters, Faith and Hermoine (the youngest, age 18), all living in her household.

Listed immediately after Samuel's family was another widowed sister, Clara Carscadden, and her three adult children, Pearl E., Edna B., and Richard S. They resided on Platt Avenue. In the Occupation column, both widows were listed as Capitalists. I've never seen that before, and I'm not sure what was meant by it. It's interesting to note, however, that Emma's son Ernest, age 22, was the census taker, so maybe it was an inside joke. I know it made me laugh!

click to enlarge

For this little census digression which I handily wove into the current Sedgwick extravaganza, I must thank Randy at Genea-Musings, who suggested that the census might be a good place to have a little Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. He was right.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Theron Emmons Sedgwick

Executive Mansion, March 17, 1898.

To the Senate of the United States :

I nominate Theron E. Sedgwick to be postmaster at York, in the county of York and State of Nebraska, in the place of Robert J. Coles, whose commission expires April 11, 1898.

William McKINLEY.
Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America, Fifty-Fifth Congress, from March 15, 1897, to March 3, 1899. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909 (Part I, p. 655 et al).

The Senate confirmed President McKinley's appointment and Theron E. Sedgwick served as postmaster at York from 1898 until 1907. He'd had quite a varied resume already, including law practice, several public service positions, and newspaper publisher and editor. He was also the supervising editor of the two-volume York County, Nebraska and Its People, Together with a Condensed History of the State.

Theron was a son of Parker Sedgwick and his second wife, Hepsibah Goodwin. He is not to be confused with his uncle, also Theron E. Sedgwick, who was a son of Elijah Sedgwick and Tryphena Parker, my fourth great-grandparents. You can read a little more about Theron and his brother, Samuel Hopkins, Sedgwick at Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska. (When you click on this link, just scroll down a bit from the red print. The Sedgwicks are the first two entries.)

The portrait above, like yesterday's portrait of Samuel H. Sedgwick, appeared in Watkins' History of Nebraska. To read the biographical material which was included in that book, click on the images below to enlarge them:

Samuel Hopkins Sedgwick

Theron Emmons Sedgwick

Hey, Kids! Collect 'Em All!

Are you related to the Sedgwick family? As with many of the images that appear in Before My Time, the two images above are designed to be added to your family history slideshow. Here's how:
  1. Click on a photo to enlarge it.
  2. Right-click on the enlarged photo and choose Save Image As.
  3. Navigate to the folder on your hard drive where you want to save it. (You may want to create a new folder called Family History Slideshow.)
  4. Click Save.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Judge Samuel Hopkins Sedgwick

Yesterday I promised you more about Samuel Hopkins Sedgwick, and you shall have it in abundance. Reproduced below are some impressive tributes to Judge Sedgwick which were entered into the court records shortly after his death on 25 December 1919. This is the stuff that makes genealogy interesting. Lots of biographical and family history in these remembrances.

I spent quite awhile looking for a photo of Judge Sedgwick. I thought surely there would be one, but I had no luck searching Google Images. If there's a picture of him at Sedgwick Genealogy Worldwide, I couldn't find it. Back to my new best friend, Google Books. In addition to the portrait above, I found... well, suffice it to say, tomorrow's post!




Copyright, A. D. 1921

December 25, 1919, Associate Justice Sedgwick died.
April 18, 1920, Associate Justice Cornish died.


At the session of the Supreme Court of the State of Nebraska, March 1, 1920, there being present Honorable Andrew M. Morrissey, Chief Justice, Honorable Charles B. Letton, Honorable William B. Rose, Honorable Albert J. Cornish, Honorable James R. Dean, Honorable Chester H. Aldrich, and Honorable George A. Day, Associate Justices, the following proceedings were had:

In these commemorative proceedings, the committee have sought to avoid altogether merely conventional eulogy, and, in its stead, to place of record here a just and accurate estimate of the character and worth of Honorable Samuel H. Sedgwick, whose earthly career was brought to a close at his home in this city on December 25, 1919.

Judge Sedgwick was born at Bloomingdale, Illinois, in the year 1848. He was a law student at the University of Michigan from 1871 to 1872, and held a master's degree from Wheaton College, Illinois. In 1878 he went to York, Nebraska, where he practiced law until elected judge of the fifth judicial district in 1895, taking his seat January 4, 1896. He held this office for four years. In 1901 he was appointed a supreme court commissioner and served in that capacity about two years, when he was elected to the office which he held at the time of his death. He served as a member of this court continuously, with the exception of two years, for a period of fifteen years.

He was widely recognized as an able lawyer, entirely trustworthy and reliable in the business and affairs of his clients, and was ever honorable and just in his dealings with them and with his adversaries.

As a trial judge, he was industrious, prompt and unusually accurate in his conclusions, whether of law or fact. He had a frank, open way about him, and, because of his strength of mind and evident fairness, he was a power for right and justice, easily dominating the court in which he presided, and holding always the respect and confidence of both counsel and jury.

The reports of this court tell best of his worth as a judge; they tell of his industry and painstaking research. They are rich in demonstrative proof of his ability, sound judgment and accurate reasoning; of his lucid exposition, and of his admirable directness in reaching and stating conclusions.

As a citizen, the simplicity of his life, his sobriety of thought and conduct, the fairness of his dealings in all matters, his insistence upon integrity in private and public life, prove him a citizen of the highest and best type. His life was an inspiration to others, and his death, un- foreshadowed, so calm, so devoid of pain, seemed but like the passing of a great soul from one tranquil state to another. His death was the end of a full and well spent life; he had kept good company; he communed much with the best philosophers and jurists of the present and past. He cherished no resentments; he was in harmony with the world. "His ways were ways of pleasantness; his paths were paths of peace." He drained life's goblet to the dregs and knew naught of its bitterness. And, now that he is gone, that he has passed beyond the bourne that divides the finite from the infinite, it is to us and to this court and to his bereaved family a source of deep consolation to know that he leaves behind him a judicial record unclouded and a character unstained.

We deplore the loss this court, this community, and the state have sustained in the death of Judge Sedgwick; and, to his family, in their sorrow, we tender our sincere sympathy.

We ask that this memorial be preserved in the permanent records of this court and that a copy of it be furnished to Mrs. Sedgwick and her daughters.



May It Please The Court: The report of the committee fairly and accurately outlines the life and work of our departed brother, Judge Sedgwick, but I feel I do not want to let this occasion pass without adding a word of personal tribute to this splendid man and judge.

In November, 1895, Judge Sedgwick and I were elected as district judges in our respective districts. At that time we were not acquainted. In 1897 I was called away from home to be gone a week, and Judge Sedgwick kindly consented to take charge of my docket during my absence. I met him for the first time on my return home. The members of the Omaha bar who had tried cases before him during the week of my absence all expressed themselves in unmeasured terms of commendation of the ability, fairness and promptness of Judge Sedgwick during the week he had been representing me.

In 1903 Judge Sedgwick was elected a member of this court, taking his seat in January, 1904. At the same time I became one of the supreme court commissioners to fill out the term for which Judge Barnes had been appointed. During that short term I became well acquainted with Judge Sedgwick. A warm friendship sprang up between us, which continued to the moment of his death. He retired from the court in January, 1908, and returned in January, 1910. For the six years following that day I was associated with him on this court. During those six years our friendship strengthened, and I came to know perfectly his devotion to his work, the care with which he examined, not only the cases assigned to him, but all cases submitted to the court. He was fearless and firm in his convictions. His associates sometimes thought that he was a little more than firm. We at times chided him with being so, but this did not anger him. With a weak man it is a dangerous thing to be positive in his convictions, but with Judge Sedgwick the redeeming feature was that, while he reached positive convictions which it was sometimes difficult to get him to change, he was usually right. He was not alone, however, in his characteristic of firmness. Similar charges were sometimes made against other members of the court, myself included. I speak of this characteristic for the purpose of calling attention to the fact that firmness is not a fault in a supreme judge. It is far better to be firm, and occasionally be wrong, then it is to be vacillating and never sure of whether you are right or not.

The Judge was an honest man, of broad education, a good lawyer, an able judge, and a splendid citizen. His honesty was never questioned. What more can be said of a judge? He was an untiring worker. He desired to get at the bottom of every case that came before the court. He felt the responsibility resting upon judges of the court of last resort; a court from which there is no appeal, except in the very few cases coming before it in which a federal question might be involved. He realized fully the importance of being right in order that litigants in the last stages of their litigation might be sure of obtaining a careful examination of their cases and a correct application of the law thereto.

Judge Sedgwick was not only my associate for the years mentioned, but he was my personal friend. I honored and respected him in life. I shall ever cherish his memory in the years to come.


May It Please The Court: May I ask the indulgence of the Court to add to the formal tribute of your committee my personal offering in affectionate memory of our brother, Samuel H. Sedgwick.

I first knew him at Wheaton College, when I was seventeen and he twenty years old, and from then for four years was intimate with him and his family, and am indebted to him for many acts of friendly assistance in student days. The venerable father, Samuel Parker Sedgwick, and his estimable wife, two daughters, then graduates of the college, Miss Clara, later Carscadden, and Miss Emma, later Brown, and two brothers, David E., afterward a well known physician at York, and Theron E. Sedgwick ("Tim"), long editor of the Daily York Times, were the other members of the family still at home. The father, Dr. Sedgwick, was a man of unusual character and marked ability in his profession. He was author of a work upon family medicine, a copy of which, in my family, has been, by forty-eight years of use, greatly worn, and is still highly valued.

Born of such ancestors, and in such surroundings, it was foreordained that Samuel H. Sedgwick should be of note in the world and that the world would be better for his life in it. I think I can say with assurance that there was never a time from his sophomore year when he had other purpose than the study of the law, and, with his usual capacity for successful achievement, he made his studies and activities converge to that purpose. I was with him in visiting different law schools. We cut classes to hear cases of special interest in the circuit court in Dupage county. We went to the moot court in the old schoolhouse where "Elbert" Gary, now the head of the American Steel Corporation, was then preparing for his career. Consistently with this fixed purpose Sedgwick took his college degrees, and the law course at Ann Arbor, and, fully equipped, began his work, practicing for a short time in Illinois, and later in Depere, Wisconsin, and then, in 1878, is my recollection, came to Harvard, and almost decided to locate there with me, but, before deciding, he visited York, which was a dry town, while Harvard was wet, and, while at York, some lawyer intimated to him "that there was no room for another lawyer at York." I believe Sedgwick took that as a challenge. At any rate, he said, after some time given to consideration of the matter, "he believed he would make room there." and he did.

Resulting from that decision came with him to Nebraska a most estimable lady, his wife, and two sisters, efficient social workers, and their husbands, a physician one, the other, a minister of the gospel, and the two brothers before mentioned, every one a gain for the new state of Nebraska.

As a lawyer, none gave a client better service, and never was a client of his led into needless litigation that his counsel might gain thereby.

As a trial judge, the law was his guide, and no consideration but just and impartial administration thereof moved him. His court impressed all coming therein as a Temple of Justice. And his quick and accurate comprehension of the facts and the law applicable thereto made easy the labors of counsel appearing' before him. I cannot recall his using the phrase "Substantial Justice," but his decisions proclaimed as his aim "Justice to All and Equality before the Law," and write him down a just and fearless judge.

As a justice of the supreme court, his colleagues upon the bench are more entitled to speak than I, but, can we not all of us recall opinions, especially dissenting opinions, that "made our hearts burn within us?" Can we doubt that the wonderful interpretation of the facts shown in his opinions in many cases will make them of lasting service? and his accurate analysis of the law be a guiding star over the sea of jurisprudence in years to come?

"That the good we do is buried with us" is not written of justices of the supreme court; as to them, the good is written on the tables of the law and shall ever be read of men.

Personally the members of the bar, and collectively the profession of the law, have suffered a loss. The memory of such a man is a gain to be cherished and preserved. To me, a comforting thought is that he boldly stepped across the dark river with no lingering pains and with his mental vigor at his zenith. Truly a good and useful life well finished, which may well be an inspiration to all men.


May It Please The Court: It was my good fortune to have had an extended acquaintance with the late Judge Sedgwick. Our acquaintance began nearly thirty years ago, and soon ripened into a close friendship that endured until he put aside the mantle of mortality. Our frequent meetings and intimate associations afforded an opportunity to form an accurate estimate of his qualities of heart and mind, and to know his real character and worth. I knew and observed him as citizen and friend, as lawyer and jurist.

Judge Sedgwick was endowed by nature with a superior intellect, which he cultivated by persistent, continuous study and serious reflection. He seldom, if ever, indulged in light or frivolous conduct or conversation. He did not know the language of those who indulged in small talk. His mind was always occupied by serious and weighty matters. To those who knew him but slightly he may have seemed cold, unsympathetic and austere, but not so to those who knew him well. While he was modest and unassuming, he was, to his intimate friends, a genial, whole-souled man; a veritable wellspring of helpful information and kindly suggestions, and was an inspiration to high ideals and right living.

As a citizen he had no divided allegiance. He knew but one flag and one country, and was ever foremost in supporting men and measures for the welfare of his country, state and community. He never indulged in any questionable or underhanded conduct, and, while he was charitable to the faults of others, he was intolerant of cant, hypocrisy and chicanery.

As a friend he was true and loyal, sympathetic and helpful. He never betrayed a confidence, and his word or promise needed no indorsement or guaranty. To those who knew him his simple word was all sufficient.

Early in life he adopted the law as a profession. He made the law his mistress and was ever devoted to her. By his tireless and energetic study of the law he came to possess a profound knowledge of it. His great knowledge of the law and his rugged honesty and high sense of honor made him a valuable counselor and one in whom a client could entrust his legal affairs and feel secure that his rights would be protected and safeguarded, and also feel an abiding faith that he would not be involved in useless or fruitless litigation.

The lawyers who practiced before Judge Sedgwick while he was on the district bench admired him for his wide knowledge of the law and his fearless and correct application of its principles. He presided with great dignity, and his absolute fairness and candor won the esteem of all. So highly did he stand in the estimation of lawyers and litigants that few appeals were taken from his decisions, and a reversal of his decision on appeal was indeed rare.

When he was called to the supreme court he came with a rich store of knowledge and ripe experience. As a justice of this Honorable Court he labored unceasingly; he never shirked a responsibility that was rightfully his; he was not content to dispose of any case along the lines of least resistance, but believed in going to the bottom of every case, and was satisfied only when he had mastered the case and found the very right of the controversy.

In my opinion no greater jurist has ever adorned the bench of this Honorable court than Samuel H. Sedgwick. 'No one has ever wielded a greater influence in this court while a member of it than he; none have made a deeper and more enduring impress on the jurisprudence of the state.

He was a kind and generous friend; an able, conscientious lawyer; an honest, fearless, upright judge. He is gone, but his influence for good will live for generations to come.


The court is convened this morning to pay a last tribute to the memory of our late associate; but how vain it is to attempt to portray the worth of this man, who gave the major part of his mature manhood to the development of the jurisprudence of our state.

Though a prominent figure—a leader—for nearly two score years, his finest and best qualities were known only to those who were privileged to be closely associated with him. To the lawyers he was known as a profound jurist; to the people generally as a just and fearless judge; but the power of his intellect was known only to those who sat with him at the consultation table. Many are the opinions that bear his name, and they will help to light the judicial pathway so long as our jurisprudence endures. But they give no adequate account of the prodigious labor he performed. The lawyer of the future who turns the pages of the Nebraska Reports will little know how much of the very spirit of Judge Sedgwick is written into them. To every case that came to the court he gave the same painstaking care he bestowed upon the record when he wrote the opinion himself. He held himself responsible for the result of every decision, even to the phraseology in which rules of law for future guidance were announced. Nor were his wonderful powers of analysis, his compelling logic, and his high character, his only contributions to the court. He would be just; but justice he would administer with mercy. Quiet and reserved, almost to the point of austerity, the gentleness of his nature and the warmth of his friendship were known only to the few whose good fortune it was to know him in those intimate relations of life where the ermine was laid aside, and the man whom God made was permitted to function in his own way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cousins in High Places, or Don't Be Messin' with My Great-Great-Grandma.

Long-time readers may recall that the two Kates E. Pettis (Mrs. and Miss, mother and daughter) lived in Omaha, Nebraska, in the late 1880s. Thus, although I was surprised, I was not disbelieving when a Google Books search for "Kate E. Pettis" turned up the record of a case that was heard by the Nebraska Supreme Court in 1907, a case in which Mrs. Kate E. Pettis was the appellant.

The case was about a mortgage debt that was owed to Mrs. Pettis. A lower court had ruled that a statute of limitations prevented her from collecting on it. The Nebraska Supreme Court reversed that decision.

I'll reproduce the report at the end of this post for the curious, but the truth is, it's a little tedious. And if I had not scrolled up to the beginning of the publication to cite the source properly, I might have missed the most interesting thing about this case.

The report appeared on p. 631-635 of Reports of Cases in the Supreme Court of Nebraska, January Term, 1907. Following the title and copyright pages, I discovered a listing of who was sitting on the Supreme Court during the period of the reports in this volume. What caught my attention was the name of the Chief Justice, Samuel H. Sedgwick.

A quick check at Sedgwick Genealogy Worldwide told me exactly who Samuel was: a son of Dr. Parker Sedgwick by his second wife, Hepsibah Goodwin and, consequently, a first cousin of Darius J. Pettis, Kate's late husband.

Was the decision in this case affected by the relationship between the appellant and the Chief Justice? I'm sure they knew each other. But here's why I think the decision was good. A recommendation was presented to the court by Court Commissioners Albert, Duffie, and Jackson, who all concurred that the previous judgment should be overturned. In addition to Sedgwick, there were two other Justices who would also have had a hand in the ruling, so he was not alone in deciding this case.

Further explanation of the reason behind the judgment appears in the report, below. And in tomorrow's post, we'll find out what other Justices had to say about Samuel H. Sedgwick's character.


Reports of Cases in the Supreme Court of Nebraska.

January term, 1907.

Volume LXXVIII (Vol. 78)

Harry C. Lindsay, official reporter

Prepared and edited by Henry P. Stoddart, deputy reporter

Lincoln, Neb.: State Journal Company, Law Publishers. 1908.

Justices of the Supreme Court during the period of these reports:

Samuel H. Sedgwick, chief justice

John B. Barnes, associate justice

Charles B. Letton, associate justice


Department No. 1.


Department No. 2.


P. 631-635:

Edward J. Mclaughlin, Appellee, v. Solomon Senne Et Al., Appellees; Kate E. Pettis, Appellant.

Filed March 21, 1907. No. 14,726.

1. Limitation of Actions: Partial Payments. Part payment on a debt secured by real estate mortgage, when made by one having authority to bind the property, tolls the statute limiting the time within which suit for foreclosure of the mortgage may be brought.

2. ------: Mortgages. Ordinarily the owner of the equity of redemption has authority to bind the property by such payment, and a payment by him on the mortgage debt before the statute has run Is binding on the property, and tolls the statute as against a subsequent mortgagee with notice of the prior mortgage.

3. Mortgages: Priorities. Findings examined, and held insufficient to sustain a decree giving plaintiff's mortgage priority.

Appeal from the district court for Douglas county: Abraham L. Sutton, Judge. Reversed with directions.

Fawcett & Abbott, for appellant.

Walsh Bros.., Baldrige & De Bord and Charles H. von Mansfelde, contra.

Albert, C.

In a suit brought by Edward J. McLaughlin for the foreclosure of a real estate mortgage, there was a contest between him and Mrs. Kate E. Pettis as to the priority of the mortgages respectively held by them. The Pettis mortgage is prior in point of time, but the trial court held that, as to McLaughlin, it was barred by the statute of limitations, and gave priority to the McLaughlin mortgage. Mrs. Pettis appeals.

No bill of exceptions was preserved, the appellant's theory being that on the facts found by the trial court her mortgage is entitled to priority. The findings are unnecessarily voluminous, and not restricted to the ultimate facts upon which the rights of the parties depend, but include much that is purely evidentiary. So far as seems necessary to an understanding of the grounds upon which our conclusion rests, the findings are, in effect, as follows:

(1) On the first day of October, 1888, one Walker executed and delivered to the appellant, Mrs. Pettis, a certain note, due and payable three years after date, and to secure the payment thereof executed and delivered to her a certain mortgage (The Pettis mortgage) on the premises in question, which on the same day was duly filed for record.

(2) On the 6th day of December, 1889, Walker conveyed the premises to Tukey and Allen by quitclaim deed, which was duly recorded on the 14th day of that month. (3) On the second day of October, 1890, Tukey and Allen conveyed the property to one Senne, who on the same day executed and delivered to Tukey and Allen a mortgage thereon to secure a note given for a part of the purchase price. (It stands admitted that this mortgage was duly recorded on the 18th day of October, 1890, and on the following day was duly assigned to one Thompson, who in January, 1891, duly assigned the same to the plaintiff in this case.) (4) On the 3d day of July, 1896, Senne reconveyed the premises to Tukey and Allen by warranty deed, wherein the grantees assumed and agreed to pay the McLaughlin mortgage, which deed was recorded on the 14th day of March, 1898. (5) On the 1st day of April, 1899, Tukey and Allen conveyed the property to John P. Lampman by warranty deed, which was recorded April 3, l899. (6) In 1896, and subsequently to June 3, of said year, Tukey and Allen paid Mrs. Pettis the interest on her mortgage debt to October 1, 1897. In the year 1897 they paid her the instalment of interest due thereon on the 1st day of April of that year. In 1898 they paid her the instalment of interest due on the 1st days of April and of October of that year.

From the foregoing facts found it will be seen that the right to enforce the Pettis mortgage debt against the property became barred on the 1st day of October, 1901, unless it was interrupted by the payments, or some of the payments, made by Tukey and Allen. It is contended that such payments were ineffective to prevent the running of the statute in favor of the holder of the McLaughlin mortgage, and that contention presents what we regard as the decisive question in this case. That question, we think, must be resolved in favor of Mrs. Pettis. Our statute of limitations makes a distinction between an action in personam and one in rem for the enforcement of a debt secured by mortgage. The former, if founded on a written instrument, must be brought within five years (code, sec. 10), otherwise in four years after its accrual; the latter within ten years (code, sec. 6). Section 22 of the code provides: "In any cause founded on contract, when any part of the principal or interest shall have been paid, or an acknowledgment of an existing liability, debt or claim, or any promise to pay the same, shall have been made in writing, an action may be brought in such case within the period prescribed for the same, after such payment, acknowledgment or promise." The effect of part payment is to toll the statute, not only with respect to an action in personam for the enforcement of the debt, hut also with respect to a proceeding in rem for that purpose. Teegarden v. Burton, 62 Neb. 639. Where the action is in personam, it is quite clear, both on reason and authority, that to toll the statute the payment must have been made by the debtor himself, or by some one acting by his authority. Mizer v. Emigh, 63 Neb. 245; Moffitt v. Carr: 48 Neb. 403; Whitney, Clark & Co. v. Chambers, 17 Neb. 90; Stevenson v. Craig, 12 Neb. 464.

But that rule has no application where the proceeding is in rem, as it is in this case so far as the mortgages contesting for priority are concerned. In such case, the question is not whether the payment was made by some one having authority to bind another, but whether it was made by some one having power or authority to bind the property. One of the legal incidents of a mortgage is the right of the holder of the legal title to redeem from the mortgage, and this carries with it the right to make payments on the mortgage debt from time to time to protect the equity of redemption. This right of itself is authority to bind the property by payments on the debt. The notice imparted by the record of a mortgage carries with it notice of this right, and, ordinarily, subsequent mortgagees take subject to it, when thus charged with notice. The role is thus stated in Hollister v. York, 9 Atl. 2, 59 Vt. 1: "A payment upon a mortgage debt of interest, or any portion of the principal, by any person interested in the equity of redemption, and having constructive notice of the mortgage, repels the presumption that the mortgage has been paid, and takes the case out of the operation of the statute of limitations, not only as to the payer, but as to all the owners of the equity." See, also, 2 Jones. Mortgages (6th ed.), sec. 1198; Richmond v. Aiken, 25 Vt. 324; Kerndt v. Porterfield, 56 Ia. 412; Hughes v. Edwards, 9 Wheat. (U. S.) 489; Waterson v. Kirkwood, 17 Kan. 9. Whether a payment on a mortgage debt after its enforcement in rem has become barred would revive it as against a subsequent mortgage in existence at any time after the statute had run and before such payment was made, is a question not necessarily involved in this case and not decided. Neither do we undertake to enumerate the exceptions to the general rule, founded on estoppel and other equitable grounds, because the facts in this case do not bring it within any such exceptions.

Tukey and Allen, by Senne's conveyance to them in 1896, were reinvested with the legal title to the premises, and consequently the right to redeem from the Pettis mortgage. They held the title from that date to April 1, 1899, during which time they made several payments on the mortgage debt, all of which were made while the mortgage was in full force and effect as a charge against the premises. As holders of the equity of redemption, they had power to bind the property by such payments, and thereby interrupt the running of the statute in favor of the McLaughlin mortgage. The statute would run against proceedings in rem to enforce the Pettis mortgage ten years from the date of the last of such payments, and beyond the date of the commencement of the present proceedings.

It follows that the decree of the district court giving priority of the McLaughlin mortgage is erroneous, and we recommend that it be reversed and the cause remanded with directions to enter a decree in accordance with this opinion.

Duffie and Jackson, CC., concur.

By the Court: For the reasons stated in the foregoing opinion, the decree of the district court is reversed and the cause remanded, with directions to enter a decree in accordance with this opinion.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Doctors Sedgwick

Dr. Parker Sedgwick

While searching the surname "Sedgwick" at World Vital Records and Google Books the other day, I found reference to a couple of interesting books not about Sedgwicks, but rather by Sedgwicks.

My fourth great-grandfather, Elijah Sedgwick, was the father of Tryphena Sedgwick, who married Micajah Petit Pettis. Tryphena's brother, Elijah Jr., was the author of one of these books, which is listed in Volume II (M-Z) of A Catalogue of the Atwater Collection of American Popular Medicine and Health Reform by Christopher Hoolihan (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press 2001-2008) on p. 317:
3134. SEDGWICK, Elijah.
The plain physician, giving directions for the preservation of health, and the cure of disease . . . Rochester [N.Y.]: Printed by E.F. Marshall, 1827...

After a brief introduction on the preservation of health, the author provides equally brief directions for the treatment of fifty disorders common to the human frame. Elijah Sedgwick, junior, was an 1826 graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Western District (Fairfield, N.Y.). On 15 June 1826, a copy of his diploma was filed with the Ontario County (New York) clerk...
At the time of publication, the author would have been about thirty years old.

The Plain Physician is a rare book just 48 pages long. I don't believe it's been digitized. A search at WorldCat lists only four copies, three of them in Rochester and one in Bethesda, Md.

Also part of the Atwater Collection and listed immediately following Elijah's book is one by his brother, Dr. Parker Sedgwick, and Parker's son, Dr. Sherman Parker Sedgwick:
3135. SEDGWICK, Parker.
The house we live in: how to keep it in order; or, the experience of seventy years' successful practice of the medical profession, east and west, in plain English for the people. By Drs. Parker Sedgwick and S.P. Sedgwick . . . Fifth edition, revised and enlarged. Chicago: J.N. Clarke, publisher, 1869...

The first edition of The house we live in also appears to have been published at Chicago in 1869 (c1868). In the introductory chapter the Sedgwicks describe their domestic medicine as "a perfect family physician," proclaiming that "excepting the Bible, [it is] of more value to any family than any other book published" (p. 20). In its pages the doctors Sedgwick inform their readers "how to distinguish one disease from another" and "how to cure all curable diseases, in so plain a manner that you will have perfect confidence in your ability to manage all ordinary diseases yourself" (p. 19).

Parker Sedgwick appears to have begun his career in Oneida County, N.Y. in the mid-1820s. Some time thereafter he moved to Illinois, where father and son lived and practiced in Wheaton, twenty-five miles west of Chicago. The younger Sedgwick is still listed in Wheaton in the first edition of Polk's Medical and surgical directory of the United States (1886), although no data are provided regarding his medical training. In an obituary of Louise Sedgwick (1864?-1891), a graduate of the Woman's Medical College of Chicago, published in the Chicago medical recorder (1891, 1:485), it is stated that her father, S.P. Sedgwick, of Wheaton, died in July 1890.
In this case, you can have the benefit of the Sedgwick medical expertise at Google Books, where you will find the full text of The House We Live In online. It's worth a scroll, or you can download the 11.6MB PDF for later browsing. There are some interesting case stories, and instructions for making up lots of eye-popping old-time remedies, like this one:
Dover's Powder, Or Fever Powder.
Opium, finely pulverized, one drachm; ipecac, one drachm; nitrate potash (saltpetre pure), four drachms; pulverize and mix. This forms the regular " Dover's powder." But to make the Dover's powder, or fever powder, described in this work, take four drachms of gum camphor, pour upon it sufficient ether to completely saturate it, holding it in your hand; pulverize this finely and mix thoroughly with the three first articles. It should be kept in a close bottle.
Kids, don't try this at home!


For more on the Sedgwick family, visit Sedgwick Genealogy Worldwide. It's a spectacular surname website. I'm grateful for all the amazing materials made available to me there, including the original photo of Dr. Parker Sedgwick from which I made the image used in today's post.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Branching Out of Zachary Taylor's Tree

My grandpa Rosmer always said we're related somehow to Zachary Taylor, the twelfth U.S. president. After I'd been doing genealogy for some time, my mother asked me whether I'd found out exactly what that relationship is. I hadn't, but I went on a hunt to see if I could. Not a mad, obsessive-compulsive hunt, you understand. Just a gentle, low-impact, moseying hunt.

I was able to determine quite handily that we're not direct descendants of President Taylor. (If we had been, I'm sure that information would have come down to us as a much stronger message anyhow, don't you think?) To my surprise, though, I did find a few other presidents perched in the distal branches of our family tree. If I wasn't such a devotee of the Chaos System of Filing, I'd be able to tell you which ones. I'm pretty sure Millard Fillmore was among them. That did not impress my mom, though. She had her heart set on Zachary Taylor.

Finding some other connection to him, as it turns out, could be a whole 'nuther lifetime hobby unto itself, and moseying may not be the way to go. Or maybe it is. The other day, as a result of moseying around at World Vital Records and then Google Books, a search for one of Rosmer's surnames, "Effner," turned up this passage in a biographical article about George Albert Whiting, of whom I've never heard:
"One of the most prominent and highly esteemed residents of Winnebago county, is George A. Whiting of Neenah. He was born in Gilboa, Schoharie county, New York, on the 6th of June, 1849, a son of Charles and Catherine (Effner) Whiting, both of whom were born in Schoharie county. The Whitings are of Scotch and English stock and the Effners of Holland. The maternal grandfather, Colonel Valentine Effner, married a cousin of Zachariah Taylor and commanded a regiment in the War of 1812..."

Quaife, Milo Milton. Wisconsin: Its History and Its People 1634-1924. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co, 1924. (Vol. 4, p. 5)
Okay, I've never heard the President referred to as Zachariah. Still, if this were a reference to some Zach Taylor of lesser renown, why even mention it? And anyway, now I know exactly where I should be moseying.

Through Richard Efnor's extensive research, I was quickly able to determine that Catherine Effner was a sister of Ezekiel Taylor Efner, Rosmer's great-grandfather on his mother's side. Now we're getting somewhere!

I'll be following up (moseying, probably!) in later posts which will be, like this one, wearing the "efner" label. For today, though... funny story. In the process of Googling for information about Zachary Taylor's family tree, I came upon this interesting Zachary Taylor post at Lori Thornton's blog, Smoky Mountain Family Historian. It makes me wonder... has everyone been told they're related to Old Rough and Ready?

At Google Books, I found a partial Taylor descendancy in the 1893 Genealogy of the Lewis Family in America by William Terrell Lewis, and I decided to turn it into a Legacy database where I can begin collecting these bits and pieces in a more organized and searchable way, and sourcing it all as I enter it. Yes, I know this is method is not part of the Chaos System of Filing, at which I am so... is 'skilled' the right word here? Never mind, as proof of my effort to master a new system, I've uploaded yesterday's GEDCOM, President Zachary Taylor's Family as researched by W.T. Lewis, at WorldConnect. There are 78 names in the database.

And... hey, Lori? One of them is a Thornton.

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.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Milton E. Kerr at Oberlin College, 1881-1884

click to enlarge

My great-grandfather, Milton E. Kerr, attended Oberlin College between 1881 and 1884. I discovered this in a search for "milton e kerr" at Google Books. His name and hometown are listed in the Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Oberlin College in both the 1881-1882 edition and the 1883-1884 edition. Both catalogues are included in the volume you reach using the link above. During that time period, Milton would have been about 18-21 years old.

The list of students in the Department of Preparatory Instruction, Classical School, begins on page 24 in the 1881-1882 catalogue. "Milton E. Kerr...Mercer, Pa." appears on page 25, under the Senior Class heading. In this particular division of study, there were 306 students: 80 Seniors, 107 Middles, and 119 Juniors. Only 16 of them were women. But that is not to suggest that the entire student population of Oberlin was equally out of balance. The total student body actually included more "Ladies" (790) than "Gentlemen" (703).

The Department of Preparatory Instruction includes both the Classical School and the English School. A description of both courses of study begins on page 68. But far more interesting is the section entitled General Information, pages 73-79. For a glimpse at what Oberlin life was like for Milton and his fellow students, don't miss it!

Immediately following the 1881-1882 catalogue is the 1883-1884 catalogue. Once again, "Milton E. Kerr...Mercer, Pa." is listed (page 26) as a Senior in the Classical School, Department of Preparatory Instruction. I'm at a loss to explain why he was listed as a Senior from 1881-1884. Also, be aware that this is the second "page 26" in this Google volume, since each catalogue has its own set of page numbers. Additional catalogues follow, the last one being dated 1889-1890.

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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