First a hearty thank you to all that replied to my conundrum.

Here is how I got past the problem of my (FreeBSD 5.3 Release)
OpenSSH's "sshd" key errors, not loading at startup:

1) I had an incorrect line in /etc/rc.conf. One problem for me was
an incorrect path to the program. The correct lines that mattered


2) I also did not have correct keys generated for the sshd
aplication. Based upon your helpful e-mails and the man pages I found
the following worked just fine to create the SSHV2 dsa host key:

ssh-keygen -t dsa -f /etc/ssh/ssh_host_dsa_key

3) Also, based upon recommendations I turned off DNS lookup by my sshd
server in the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file.

UseDNS no

All is well here and my adventure helps someone else some day.

Correcting these problems got my Putty and WinSCP connections down to
around 2-3 seconds (from around 80-90 seconds).

Thanks again for the excellent advice,

Joel Desrochers