Many people have disappeared over the years…some were kidnapped and likely murdered, some were lost on a trip and no one knew where they ended up. Some even fell into a sinkhole or crevasse on a glacier, but while many of these were seen by someone one last time, none that I have ever heard of simply vanished into thin air in front of witnesses…at least not until I read about Orion Williamson.
Orion Williamson was a farmer who lived with his wife and son in his farmhouse in Selma, Alabama in 1854. One sunny July afternoon, he was sitting on his front porch with his family. His neighbors, Armour Wren and his son, James were passing by. Orion stood up to move his grazing horses to the shade. He briefly stopped to pick up a small stick, which he absently swished back and forth as he walked in the ankle-deep grass. Orion waved to his neighbors, took one more step, and vanished into thin air. Had one witness seen this event, it could be easily disputed as a way to explain a man who had abandoned his family, but four witnesses…well, that was much harder to dispute.
Hardly able to believe their eyes, the Williamsons and the Wrens ran to the spot Orion disappeared in and searched for any sign of him. They found none. Most of the grass in the spot was gone too. There was no hole that he could have fallen into, no cliff he could have fallen down, and no burned area that might have suggested spontaneous combustion…just thin air, and missing grass. After hours of futile searching, Orion’s shocked family and neighbors went for help. A search party of three hundred men was formed, and they carefully and repeatedly combed every inch of the field. Later, bloodhounds joined the search. No sign of Orion materialized, even though the effort continued well into the night.
As news of the inexplicable vanishment spread, more volunteers and a team of geologists arrived. They dug up the field, looking for signs of instability. They reached solid rock a few feet below the surface. No holes, crevices, or cave-ins, nothing that could explain the event. Mrs Williamson and her son reported that they could hear Orion’s voice calling for help for weeks afterwards, ever growing fainter and fainter. Each time they would rush out onto the field, only to find nothing. Gradually, Orion’s voice faded into a mere whisper, then disappeared forever. It was almost as if he had moved into an alternate dimension, like a time warp or something. After massive searching turned up no signs of Williamson, the judge declared Orion dead. The following spring, it is said, a circle of dead grass appeared to mark the spot of the unlucky farmer’s disappearance.
The German scientist, Maximilian Hern, author of the book Disappearance and Theory Thereof, speculated that Orion walked into a spot of “universal ether,” because he believed these places lasted a few seconds and could completely destroy all matter within them. Still, that does not explain his family hearing his voice, assuming it was not imagined. Another scientist theorized a magnetic field had disintegrated Orion’s atomic structure and sent him into another dimension. That might explain the alternate dimension theory, because I would never buy into the theory that “goblins did it,” since I don’t believe in goblins.
Years later, a traveling salesman named McHatten rewrote the Williamson disappearance. In his version of the story, Orion’s name became David Lang, the place changed to Gallatin and the date was moved to 1880. Even though the Lang story was a fictional account, apart from the basic facts, Newspapers began to present it as truth in newspaper articles and books…by authors who didn’t do their homework anyway. Consequently, the fictional story is better known than the real vanishment behind it.
Emma Gatewood was a survivor. When I read the first few lines about her, I thought her story was remarkable, but as I read the whole story, I realized just how remarkable she really was. Emma’s married life was pure torture, with the exception of her children, whom she dearly loved. Emma married her husband, Perry Clayton Gatewood, a 26 year old school teacher, turned farmer, when she was just 19 years old. He was a horrible man, who immediately put her to work building fences, burning tobacco beds, and mixing cement, in addition to her household chores. Three months after their wedding, he started to beat her, a practice he continued until, one day in 1939, he broke her teeth, cracked one of her ribs and bloodied her face. Women didn’t have as many options back then, so Emma was stuck. Because Emma threw a sack of flour at him, the police came and arrested her, not him, and put her in jail. The next day, when the mayor saw her battered face, he took her to his own home, where she remained under his protection until she got back on her feet.
Emma and Perry had 11 children, and unfortunately, the treatment of their mother was not hidden from them. Nevertheless, the story of Emma’s abuse at the hands of her husband went untold for more than a 50 years. In 2014, a newspaper reporter named Ben Montgomery, Emma’s great grand nephew, told her story in his book, “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk.” Emma Rowena (Caldwell) Gatewood passed away on June 04, 1973 in Gallipolis, Ohio, of an apparent heart attack, at the grand old age of 85, having accomplished much since her birth on October 25, 1887, in Gallia County, Ohio. Her father, Hugh Caldwell, a farmer, had lost a leg after being wounded in the Civil War and in his depression, turned to a life of drinking and gambling. Her mother, Evelyn (Trowbridge) Caldwell, raised the couple’s 15 children, who slept four to a bed in the family’s log cabin.
In an interview with her children, Montgomery, who worked for The Tampa Bay Times in Florida. In his research for the book, her surviving children spoke with him and entrusted him with her journals, letters, and scrapbooks. In that material he found stark references to what she had withheld from news interviewers: that her husband had nearly pummeled her to death several times. During one beating, she wrote, he broke a broom over her head. Her children told Montgomery that their father’s sexual hunger had been insatiable and that he forced himself on their mother several times a day. He made their lives a nightmare for years.
The woods became a place of solace and safety for Emma, who would often escape to them amid her husband’s rants. She came to view the wilderness as protective and restorative. In 1937 she left him and moved in with relatives in California. She was forced to leave behind two daughters, ages 9 and 11, who were still at home. Emma knew her husband would not beat the girls, and she could not afford to take them with her. She wrote to the girls to explain it to them, making sure not to leave a return address. In the letter, she wrote, “I have suffered enough at his hands to last me for the next hundred years.” Nevertheless, Emma couldn’t stand to be away from her girls any longer, so she returned after a few months. Her life became a prison after that. Her husband would not let her out of his sight. She later wrote that in 1938, he beat her “beyond recognition” 10 times. “For a lot of people the trail is a refuge,” Brian B. King, a publisher of guidebooks and maps for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, said in a telephone interview. “But seldom is it a refuge for something as bad as that.” A short time later, her husband left for good, filed for divorce, which was granted in 1941, and he was out of her life.
Emma’s hiking became a saving grace for her…she loved it. In 1949, she came across a National Geographic magazine article about the Appalachian Trail and became intrigued to learn in reading it that no woman had ever hiked it solo. In 1954, in her first attempt at hiking the Appalachian Trail, she started out in Maine, but broke her glasses, got lost, and was rescued by rangers, who told her to go home. Undaunted, she tried again in 1955, starting from Georgia this time. She was 67 years old, a mother of 11, a grandmother and even a great-grandmother when she became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail by herself in one season. She would go on to repeat the feat 2 more times. Soon everyone was calling her “America’s most celebrated pedestrian.” In 1959, Emma went on to conquer the 2,000 miles of the Oregon Trail, trekking alone from Independence, Missouri to Portland, Oregon.
My nephew, Shannon Moore has had an interesting year. Shannon had been the special teams coach for Eastern Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, but at the end of last year, he accepted a position at the University Of Wyoming as their new assistant coach. He is also their tight ends coach and helps with special teams too. The really cool thing about that is that it puts them back in Wyoming, which is where my niece and his wife, Lindsay Moore was born and when her family all live. My sister and brother-in-law, and Lindsay’s parents, Allyn and Chris Hadlock have really missed being able to be closer to Lindsay and Shannon, especially since their daughter, Mackenzie was born on September 13, 2017. They are a close-knit family, and it was hard not being able to get to know Mackenzie better. Nevertheless, it was the best thing for Shannon and his little family at the time. Shannon’s coaching jobs have taken the family to several places, and each move was to a better position, so that was wonderful.
Since becoming “Daddy” to Mackenzie, Shannon is a new man. His daughter is the apple of his eye, and the fulfillment of his dreams!! They have such a wonderful bond. Mackenzie loves her daddy so much. Shannon is a great dad, so patient and loving! He loves to dote on her and play with her! He doesn’t care if she wants to play girly games, he is all in, and Mackenzie is her daddy’s littlest…in size only…cheerleader. She goes with her mommy to every game they can, and she knows to drill, “Put on your game face!!” Mackenzie is all about her daddy! She calls him and screams with delight when he answers. She waits for him to come home from work and when he comes in the door, she repeatedly screams, “Daddy!” Shannon is on cloud nine every time he hers his girl calling to him.
Lindsay and Shannon are very athletic, being back in Wyoming gives them the opportunity to do some hiking and exploring of the area. Of course, other than his family, football is Shannon’s passion, and he is always ready for the next season to begin…whether its his team, or the pros, Shannon loves the game. In fact, had it not been for football, Lindsay and Shannon might not have met. It was at a Wyoming Cavalry indoor football game that they first laid eyes on each other, and the rest…as they say, is history. They were perfect for each other and everyone could see it…right from the start. Now, they have come full circle, landing back in Wyoming again…where it all started, and we are all very happy about that. Today is Shannon’s birthday, Happy birthday Shannon!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Rain…it waters the earth, and as we all know, without it, we could not survive. Nevertheless, as vital as water is to life on this planet, too much of it can be deadly. People can drink too much water, we can over-water our plants, and too much rain can bring flooding. Such was the case on July 13, 1951. Above-average rainfall began in June and continued through July 13th, dumping well over 25 inches on some areas in eastern Kansas. From July 9th to 13th, nearly 6 inches of rain fell. The Kansas, Neosho, and Verdigris rivers began taking on more water than their normal carrying capacity a couple of days into the storm, but as the rain persisted, flooding began all over the region.
The major towns of Manhattan, Topeka and Lawrence took the biggest hit. As is the case in any area where absorption is hampered by cement and asphalt, the rain could not soak in, and the ground was are already saturated anyway. The rain had nowhere to go, and the area was in trouble. Prior to the July 13 river crest, previous highs were dwarfed by four to nine feet. Two million acres of farmland were lost to the flood, which would trigger a crisis of its own, by a shortage of food. The flooding also caused fires and explosions in refinery oil tanks on the banks of the Kansas River. Passenger trains traveling through the area were stuck for nearly four days. In all, $760 million in damages were caused by the flood, and 500,000 people were left homeless, while 24 people died in the disaster. It was the greatest destruction from flooding in the Midwestern United States up to that time.
A often happen, tragedy brings change. Following the great 1951 flood, a series of reservoirs and levees were constructed all over the area. In 1993, these were credited with minimizing the damage from another record flood. Water is an element that is necessary for life, but lest we forget, water in an overabundance can kill and destroy. People need to pay attention to evacuation warnings, and get out of an area where a flood is eminent. You may lose some things, but if you leave the area, you will most likely to walk away unscathed, and as we know, things can be predicted, and those who head out of unsafe areas will most likely live to tell the tale.
In a war, there are many heroes…some whose acts of courage and selflessness were so amazing that many felt they needed to receive a different medal…one that paid homage to the incredible things they did. Often these medals were even given posthumously because the brave act of the hero, cost the recipients their lives. Before 1861, no such medal existed. President Abraham Lincoln didn’t think that was right. There were many brave soldiers, and while not all brave acts would qualify for the medal of honor, the most self sacrificing of them would…the ones who set aside their own safety to protect the lives of others.
For that reason, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a measure calling for the awarding of a US Army Medal of Honor, in the name of Congress, “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” The previous December, Lincoln had approved a provision creating a US Navy Medal of Valor, which was the basis of the Army Medal of Honor created by Congress on July 12, 1862. War puts men and women into situations whereby the only choices are kill or be killed. That can be a scary proposition. These soldiers do not do what they do in order to receive a medal. In fact, a medal rarely crosses their minds at all. The first US Army soldiers to receive what would become the nation’s highest military honor were six members of a Union raiding party who in 1862 penetrated deep into Confederate territory to destroy bridges and railroad tracks between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1863, the Medal of Honor was made a permanent military decoration available to all members, including commissioned officers, of the US military. It is conferred upon those who have distinguished themselves in actual combat at risk of life beyond the call of duty. Since its creation, during the Civil War, more than 3,400 men and one woman, Dr Mary Walker, have received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions in US military conflict. These people gave whatever it took to perform their duties. They were the best of the best, and the medal of honor was the best honor we could bestow on them. Of course, in Lincoln’s time, there was no air force, so that medal came later, as did the medals from the other branches of service, including the Coast Guard.
The Dog Soldiers were an elite group Indian warriors. Originally, they fought against other Indian tribes, but in the 1860s they increasingly became one of the biggest enemies of the United States Government in what became the bloody Plains Indian Wars. Tall Bull was a prominent leader of the Cheyenne Dog Soldier Warrior Society. He was the most distinguished of several Cheyenne warriors who bore the hereditary name over the years. Because it was an honorable name to inherit, the name was passed down many times, to many warriors over the years.
In October 1868, Tall Bull and his Dog Soldiers viciously attacked an American cavalry force in Colorado. The following winter in Oklahoma, they confronted General Philip Sheridan’s forces. Near the Washita River, Sheridan’s Lieutenant Colonel George Custer attacked a peaceful Cheyenne village under Chief Black Kettle. More than 100 Cheyenne Indians were killed, and Custer’s soldiers brutally butchered more than 800 of their horses. However, Custer was forced to flee when Tall Bull and other chiefs camped in nearby villages began to mass for attack. Custer’s attack had badly weakened the Cheyenne, but Tall Bull refused to surrender to the White Man, under any circumstances. He was a warrior and he would fight to the bitter end.
In the spring of 1869, Tall Bull and his Dog Soldiers took their revenge by staging a series of very successful attacks against the soldiers, who were searching for him. Determined to destroy the chief, the US Army formed a special expeditionary force under the command of General Eugene Carr. On July 11, 1869, Carr surprised Tall Bull and his warriors in their camp at Summit Springs, Colorado. In the battle that followed, Tall Bull was killed and the Dog Soldiers were overwhelmed. Without the dynamic leadership of their chief, the surviving Dog Soldiers’ resistance was broken. Although others in the Cheyenne nation continued to fight the US Army for another decade, they did so without the aid of their greatest warrior society and its leader…Tall Bull.
My aunt, Jeanette Byer is a sweet, loving person, who is also very strong and independent. She and my uncle, Larry Byer married on February 11, 1956, just 2½ months before I was born, so she has been my aunt for my entire life. She has always been a blessing in our lives. She never says an unkind word, and she is always very encouraging to everyone around her. Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry raised two children, Larry Byer and Tina Grosvenor. Then their lives were blessed with grandchildren…(Twins) Melissa and Melinda Grosvenor, Adam Byer, Matthew Grosvenor, Travis Byer, and Melodie Grosvenor. Their lives were further blessed with several great grandchildren. Uncle Larry passed away on December 22, 2011, after 55 years of marriage. Aunt Jeanette carries on in good health and enjoys her ever growing family, but always missing Uncle Larry.
Years ago, Uncle Larry and Aunt Jeanette set up a mobile home on their land east of Casper, and inside it she had a family ceramic shop. She didn’t sell ceramics or anything, but it was a place where that family could go and make ceramics for gifts, to sell, or just for themselves. My grandparents, George and Harriet Byer were some of the main visitors at the little ceramic shop, and the things they made were beautiful. They blessed many people in the family with the ceramics they were able to make at Aunt Jeanette’s shop. I can picture it now. The good times they all head there…working on ceramics, while talking and laughing…just enjoying each other’s company. I’m sure Aunt Jeanette misses that a lot. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 83rd birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When you have been given a miracle in the form of a second chance in life, you don’t want to waste it. Just under nine months ago, on October 14, 2018, I received a second chance miracle. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate what I had or anything like that, but rather it was that I could have lost my husband, but by a miracle of God, I didn’t. That second chance miracle makes this particular birthday…my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s 65th, even more special than it would have otherwise been. A landmark birthday, like the 65th is always special, but we almost didn’t see it for Bob, so this birthday is almost like a re-birth. I find myself feeling a little more emotional than I might have otherwise been, because he is still here, and I realize how very blessed I am.
I think a second chance miracle tends to bring with it some added responsibilities, however. When you are given a second chance, you need to spend the time wisely. Things like working out and eating right come to mind. A heart attack can make people quit, but not Bob. I have been very proud of Bob’s determination to stay healthy and to make the most out of his second chance miracle. I have seen many people who didn’t want to do the rehab that was prescribed for them. I’ve heard all the possible excuses. It hurts!! It’s hard work!! I have other things to do!! All of these excuses simply say that the person speaking them doesn’t appreciate the second chance they have been given. Bob has never once said anything like that, but rather went faithfully to his cardiac rehab, and when he had completed the course, he decided to continue in the maintenance program and his own expense. Its not required, but Bob wanted his full life back, not just a much slower version of existence that he would have to settle for.
Bob and I love to hike, and we have plans to continue hiking for years to come…especially now that we are both retired, and we have more time and the freedom to go and hike when and where we want to. That is a very liberating thing for us, and we are very excited about it. Bob and I have decided that we aren’t going to let anything slow us down. The road ahead will not be an easy one, because hiking, being in good shape, and preparing for hikes is not easy. It’s a lot of work, but when you reach the top of that mountain trail, and you look out on the view from the top, you know that you don’t ever want to be stuck at the bottom of that hill. Today is Bob’s 65th birthday. Happy birthday Sweetie!! I love you!!
My uncle, Elmer Johnson worked a number of places, mostly as a truck driver of one type or another. He moved furniture for Burke Moving and Storage and for United Van Lines, working for Tom Aurelius, and often taking his oldest son, Elmer along with him for a couple of weeks in the summertime. When his son, Elmer was older, they had the opportunity to work together at Dalgarno Transportation. Uncle Elmer was also a certified welder working on pipeline, and later worked in the Uranium mines at Shirley Basin. While Uncle Elmer worked hard to support his family, his job was never where his heart was. His heart was with his family, and showing them the great outdoors.
Uncle Elmer was raised loving the outdoors, and fishing was always a family fun time. Time spent at the lake, swimming, or just clowning around with his brothers was the way to have fun in the summer. For my cousin, Elmer, those are the times he remembers as the very best part of life. Camping, fishing the most of the lakes and quite a few of the creeks throughout the state of Wyoming. They camped out and rented cabins in places like Louis Lake and Meadowlark Lake. Elmer remembers that his dad was always happiest with a fishing pole in one hand and a beer in the other. It’s no wonder that Elmer has a boat and spends as much time at the lake as he can, often taking his niece, JeanAnn and her kids, Mykenzie and Ethan along so he can show them the great times he had as a kid.
Since Uncle Elmer passed away in 1981, when my cousin, Elmer was just 25 years old, those great family times have become more and more precious. His mom, Deloris Johnson’s passing in 1996 made that family time even more precious. Elmer has worked very hard to keep his dad’s dream lifestyle alive. In many ways, Elmer is carrying on his dad’s legacy, and I know that Uncle Elmer would be very pleased and very proud of Elmer. Today would have been Uncle Elmer’s 86th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Elmer. We love and miss you very much.
I have four sisters, and three brothers-in-law. My husband Bob had four sisters and one brother. He still has three sisters, his brother, a sister-in-law, and two brothers-in-law. We are missing his sister, Marlyce, who died of cancer on August 13, 1989 at just 39 years old. Marlyce was the first sibling death any of us had experienced, and it left a large hole in our lives. It just seemed impossible, like a horrible nightmare. How could our sweet Marlyce be gone? I suppose that disbelief at her passing, showed the innocence we all had about life, even though we weren’t seriously young. There are just people you don’t expect to lose…at least not until much later in life, and siblings definitely fall into that category. When Marlyce passed away, she took with her a portion of the joy the family had always had. She was always so sweet, and filled with a desire to help others, and make people happy.
One of the greatest events in Marlyce’s life was the day she became an aunt. She always loved babies, and each new niece or nephew was a treasure. Of all the nieces and nephews, there was only one she did not get to meet, Eric Parmely. And of course, she never got to meet all the grand nieces and grand nephews, or her great grand niece…sadly, because she would have loved every one of them. Marlyce’s developmental disabilities didn’t keep her from being able to hold the babies, and play with the little ones. She loved them as if they were her own babies. I suppose that if her circumstances had been different, maybe she could have been a mom, but that was not to be.
Marlyce went to Wood’s School as a child. Wood’s was a school for the developmentally disabled back then. These days the school district tries to incorporate these students into the public school system. I like that, whenever it is possible, but Marlyce had a great education anyway, and then they helped her to find a job. Marlyce worked several places, and always liked going to work. She never wanted to miss work…not for illness, holidays, or vacations…except maybe Christmas. Marlyce loved being needed. Baking cookies, holding babies, working, and knitting were things that made her feel useful. What she never knew was that she was so much more than those things to us. We would have loved her even if she couldn’t make things, work, or even hold the babies. Marlyce holds a special place in our hearts, and she always will. Today would have been Marlyce’s 69th birthday. I can’t believe that she has been gone almost 30 years now, but I miss her like it was yesterday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Marlyce. We love and miss you.