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, February 28, 2016

The Winter of My Genealogical Content

So, here's what happened...

I've been working on a book pertaining to one of my old New England lines. The family was voluminous, and I must have about 100,000 cousins in that line, counting the dead ones. They're a source of endless fascination, many of them having lived quite public lives, leaving behind a huge paper trail which includes not only the usual and fairly humdrum birth, marriage, and death documents, but also newspapers, magazines, and books written by, for, and about them. Well, because I just don't know when to stop, my book had to be broken into two books... no, wait, three... three books, yes, that should do it... or maybe four? Well, in truth, the collected materials in this line could fill a whole set of encyclopediae or possibly a medium-sized library if winter goes on much longer.

Anyhow, today's little topic begins with what I found a week or so ago. I was looking online for a photograph of one of these particular cousins. He was a well-known magazine editor, so I was sure there'd be a photo of him somewhere. And in the course of my Google-search, I happened to find his full name used as a first and middle name for someone who had an entirely different surname, one I hadn't come upon before. Surely a cousin!, my genealogical experience cried out. I must digress and research this person! (...because around here, that's how we roll.)

Well, yes, of course, he was a cousin on his mother's side, she being a direct descendant of the encyclopedia family. But wait, what about his wife? Her surname slipped into my gray matter like a greased pig, and synapses started firing, and before long, I realized where I'd come upon her unusual surname before. Here, let me explain.

The encyclopedia surname comes to me through my maternal grandfather, who was of English descent. He married (perhaps to his mother's consternation?) a woman of European descent whose ancestry in this country goes back only a couple of generations, her grandparents all having come over in the mid-1800s on various ships.

And it was one of those ships that was sailing around in my gray matter which now called out to me, as it bore the same unusual surname as this new cousin's wife. Could they be related, I wondered, the cousin's wife and the man whose name was immortalized on a ship that carried some immigrants to the New World in the 1800s? I must digress and research this person! (...because around here, as I mentioned, that's how we roll.)

Well, dear reader, would you be reading this story now if they weren't related? No! No, you would not! Of course they were related, she being a direct descendant of the man for whom the ship was named.

Now, I must admit and you probably already surmise, I'd researched this man a year or two ago when I found the record of my maternal grandmother's ancestors arriving upon the ship bearing his name. What did he do, I'd wondered, to have a ship named after him? Of course, I did digress at that time to search for the answer to that question. And although I did not find any specific answer--as in, "A ship was named for him because..."--I did find that he'd built something huge which was extremely useful to the world in its time, and I felt justified in jumping to the reasonable conclusion that someone thought to honor him in a shippy way, and I'd thought the story interesting enough that I put together at least four pages about it for the book I'm making about my grandmother's European lineage.

Thus it was that I had a little jump-start on the research of this new cousin's wife's ancestry, and plenty more help came in the form of a genealogy book pertaining to her family which was conveniently digitized (the book, not the family) and placed online for my quick edification. Glory, hallelujah! It was not this easy in the olden days! You know, back in '92.

For awhile, I thought it odd that the family genealogy book did not mention that a family member had had a ship named after him, which seems quite a big deal to a non-ship-connected person such as myself. After awhile, though, and upon learning more about the family, it occurred to me that perhaps it wasn't such a big deal if this were a ship-connected family, and that possibly it was a family-connected ship. If that were the case, I suppose it would be unnecessary, and probably even a bit gauche, to mention it in the family genealogy book. I guess I could research it more, but that might be a bigger digression than I'm willing to embark upon, having been quite spoiled by Google at this point despite not finding this particular answer there.

Anyhow, with information practically throwing itself at me (much faster than I could have taken notes with a pencil back in '92, I must say), I quickly learned that the movers and shakers of the New World spent a lot of time watching each other and writing about each other and engaging each other in projects large and small. My new-found cousin, for example, had a well-known architect build a summer mansion--um, I mean, a summer cottage, on oceanfront property (where else?)--for him and his ship-connected wife. It had a charming name, of course, and I had to digress and research this mans-... I mean, cottage (...because--well, you know why).

It was quite a grand cottage. To give you some idea how grand a cottage it was, I can tell you one of the things I found out about it: Mrs. John Jacob Astor rented it one season and made it the venue of her daughter's wedding. So, on the scale of How-Grand-Was-It?, you'd have to say its score was Astor-nomical.

This was not the kind of cottage that falls into disrepair over the decades. In fact, it was repair which sparked its unfortunate multi-million-dollar demise a short time ago. Yes, it's toast now. No loss to the family of my research though, having been sold long ago...

...unless, perhaps, the owner at the time of the fire happens to be one of my 100,000 cousins. Maybe I should digress and research that?


Cheryl said...

Maybe you should digress and research it because....that's the way you roll!

TK said...

Hmmm... well, technically, Cheryl, in this particular instance, it might be more useful if I were to rock...

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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