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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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Genealogical Trick or Treat

For all the big kids who are dressing up as family history buffs for Halloween, here are a few tasty morsels.

First, we have an interesting piece at Atlas Obscura about the Mormon Genealogical Archives.  I was interested to learn that I'm not the only one worried about water leaking into the basement! Atlas Obscura found this story in a Long Now blogpost by Alexander Rose titled The Mormon Vault. There are no public tours of the archives, but Rose and environmentalist Stewart Brand were given a private tour. (People of my g-g-generation will recognize the name Steward Brand; he was the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog.) Blue jean lint... who knew?

Second, in the course of transcribing some of my old journals, I ran across mention of a novel I'd read some years ago by British author Penelope Lively. I didn't remember anything about the book, so I looked it up online and found that Ms. Lively has authored quite a few books, both fiction and nonfiction. There are two that I think will be of interest to family historians. One is called Dancing Fish and Ammonites (first published in Great Britain in 2013 as Ammonites and Leaping Fish). Ms. Lively, at the age of 80, begins the Preface by saying, "This is not quite a memoir. Rather, it is the view from old age."  Chapter titles are Old Age, Life and Times, Memory, Reading and Writing, and Six Things. Ms. Lively weaves the past and present together masterfully. One of my first thoughts upon reading this book was that I had already planned to write about these things myself one o' these days, but she's done a much better job of it than I will (which is not to say that I won't do it now, but maybe I'll do it better than I would have without such a good role model).

The other is called A House Unlocked. It's about a home owned by her family for seventy years. In the Preface, she writes: "The house as I knew it exists now only in the mind. In my head, I can still move easily and vividly around it. The furnishings are precise and clear, the sounds and smells are as they ever were... I can move around my memory house and focus upon different objects. The house itself becomes a prompt--a system of reference, an assemblage of coded signs. Its contents conjure up a story..." For those of us who enjoy writing about our family history, both of these books are well worth reading. They're certain to broaden the way you think about the topic.

The third and final morsel in my trick-or-treat bowl is available only to a select few, my direct-line descendants who are old enough to read, of whom there are seven. Each one of these seven is eligible to claim a five-dollar bill, or possibly more, by following the directive steps below:

1) Leave a comment on this post telling me how you happened upon it.

2) There is a private Contact form below the Before My Time header. Use it to advise me of your current address so I can mail the fiver to you.

3) There is a total of $35 in the bowl. It will be divided among only those of my direct descendants who follow steps 1 & 2 above. Therefore, your treat will be larger or smaller, depending upon how many sticky fingers reach into the bowl. Your interest is best served, then, by keeping this offer to yourself.

4) Deadline: Midnight, October 31, 2014.

Trick or treat!


Nancy said...

There's a video tour of the vaults if you'd like to see inside. I wrote a blog post about it ages ago at (I didn't take the time to look up the direct link.)

I'll be one of your "adoptive" descendants if your real descendants don't respond, TK. But, of course, I hope they do!

TK said...

Nancy, I'll be surprised if I lose my shirt on this trick or treat, hahaha! Thanks for the video suggestion. It seems the links on your blogpost are broken, but the videos are still on YouTube.

Nancy said...

Thanks for letting me know about the broken link, TK. I've fixed them and republished for anyone who might like to "tour" the vault.

TK said...

Good to know, Nancy. Those videos were so worth watching!

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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