Monthly Archives: September 2014

Group of six Knox brothersAfter seeing some old pictures of the Knox family a while back, I have wondered about one picture in particular. I’m never sure exactly why one picture stands out in my mind above all the others I have, but it does happen. This one is a picture of six Knox brothers, John, William, RM, Dr Nicholas, James, and SYT Knox. These men looked so strong and stern. I know that my husband, Bob’s Knox ancestors were both politicians and ministers, but that didn’t mean this picture had anything to do with either of those things. Then I came across a book about Hattie Goodman’s family history search, and found that these brothers were a missing link.

It seems that Bob’s 6th great grandparents John and Jean Gracy Knox, had seven children. They were Allison, John, Thomas, Delia, Mary, Squire, Joseph, and Benjamin. The only descendants that had been found belonged to John and Benjamin. I find it amazing that these family members didn’t know other family members within the family. I suppose that it is because of the fact that communications were no as easy in those days. Families lost touch, and the younger generations got to the point that they did not even know of the existence of great aunts and uncles that they had…especially if their parents and grandparents didn’t talk about them much.

That is probably one of the reasons people finally start looking for their ancestors. Pure curiosity. We know that family members are missing, and we want to know more about them. I think that is the reason most of us look for our ancestors. These brothers were at the Nashville Exposition in the summer of 1897, when they saw a copy of the Knox Tree, and realized that they belonged on it, since they were descendants of John and Jean Gracey Knox’s son, Joseph. They sent in not only their own names, but a number of others who also belonged on it, and ordered copies of the tree. It was at this point that the tree took on new life.

Whenever a new branch can be added to a family tree, it takes on new life. I have seen many parts of my own family history take on new life when, after months, or even years, of searching, someone connects something in their tree to something in someone else’s tree, and suddenly a link is formed. Of course, it is much easier to find those links these days, because of computers and the internet. I seriously doubt that I would be where I am in my family history were it not for those two tools. If people had to travel to all the different locations, or send out requests to all the different locations to get information, it would take forever to get anything accomplished. I’m glad the Knox brothers were at the Nashville Exhibition in 1897, because is made the process that much easier for everyone researching that line from that day forward, but it would have been a lot easier had computers been around. I suppose that I feel that way because of my own curiosity about my own missing links. I am quite impatient when it comes to that research. I want the information to be available, and when it is not, I am annoyed. Patience is a virtue, but I don’t want to have patience when I want information…do you?

Josh -DLWhen your youngest child reaches driving age, you most likely find yourself breathing a sigh of relief, because they can get themselves to their own functions, to school, and home again. You are also feeling a little bit apprehensive, because they are driving now. Nevertheless, you have trained them well, and you know they will be alright. When your youngest grandchild reaches driving age, you might breathe a sign of relief too, but you also suddenly feel like the years are racing by…whether you like it or not. That is exactly how I am feeling today, as my youngest grandchild, Josh Petersen turns sixteen.

I remember the day that he was born…five weeks early…the same day that he was flown to Denver, because his lungs were not quite fully developed. He would spend two weeks there, and then come home to begin the race to catch up…and it didn’t take him very long at all. I don’t think I have ever seen such a hungry kid…nor one who loved sweets as much as Josh did. His cute little “treat Grandma” was always the first thing out of his mouth when he arrived at my house. Like I could forget that he was hungry. With the way he ate, I think I expected him to be a chubby little kid, but that was not the case. Josh is tall and slender, a runner with great lung capacity, and 100% healthy. I couldn’t have asked for more for him.

Somehow in my mind, I have always seen Josh as a lot younger than the other grandkids. He isn’t, and he doesn’t act any different. It’s just my mind’s defense system, I think, making me feel like there are so many more years left that he will be the baby of the bunch, but the reality is that he is not a baby anymore. He is a young man, who is ready to set out by himself…at least in the area of transportation, because as of today, he is legal to drive by himself. No more will he need to have us come to take him places or pick him up on a regular basis. Those things will now be relegated to times when his pickup breaks down or something. Oh, he may need to have someone run home to get something he’s forgotten and bring it to him, but I suspect that those Josh in trucktimes will get fewer and further in between as time goes on.

As Josh turns sixteen, many things in the Petersen family will change again. It is how life goes, and nothing we do can change it. Kids grow up and become adults, and before you know it they are married with families of their own, and you find out that you have become the grandparent. There is no way to stop time, and for me that means that my youngest grandchild is growing up. Look out folks, Josh Petersen in a legal driver and on the road. I’d tell you to clear the sidewalks, but I think he will do alright. Today is Josh’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Remember that I have confidence on you, so stay off the sidewalks…with your truck anyway. Have a great day!! We love you!!

1024px-Seeking_valuables_in_the_wreckage,_Galveston,_Texas 1024px-A_big_tip_in_Galveston2Eight years ago, Bob and I took a trip to Texas, during which we visited Galveston. Like my Dad, who visited Galveston during his Rest and Relaxation period during World War II, I found that I absolutely loved Galveston. For Dad and for me, the Galveston area was like taking a step back in time, to when life was much less hurried. People fished before going to work, and it almost seemed like the time to get to work was even a little flexible. That is almost like the old west…basically unheard of for the most part, these days. And, maybe it wasn’t really like that, but nobody seemed stressed!! How could that be? For whatever reason, they all seemed to have an attitude of gratitude that they were still here on this earth. It was amazing.

I don’t imagine that Galveston was always that way, but maybe it was. Nevertheless, I have to wonder if that attitude of gratitude came to Galveston after the 1900 hurricane that practically destroyed the city and killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people, with most official reports listing it at 8,000. The hurricane made landfall in Galveston on September 8, 1900 with winds estimated at 145 miles per hour…a Category 4 hurricane. It was the deadliest hurricane in US history and second only to Hurricane Katrina in total cost. The city of Galveston was all but destroyed by this hurricane, which occurred before names were assigned to hurricanes.

It was after the 1900 hurricane that it was decided that Galveston must have a seawall to better protect it from these devastating hurricanes. At the time of that hurricane, the highest point in the city of Galveston was only 8.7 feet above sea level. The storm surge was 15 feet, and it washed over the entire island. Over 3,600 homes were destroyed. Only a few buildings survived…mostly the solidly build mansion and houses along the Strand District. Those are tourist attractions today, and I am here to say that they are beautiful.

The story of the 1900 hurricane has left me in a bit of a state of wonder, especially when I think of the seawall that I saw. It didn’t look like something that could stop the surge of a hurricane, but over the years, Galveston Picture 498Picture 500has been mostly protected from the hurricanes that have come through. I have thought of the people of Galveston, and what a virtually stress free place it is, and it occurs to me that when so many of the people a town housed are gone in an instant, it would leave you with a different perspective on what is important and what isn’t. You would also think twice about getting upset about things that really don’t make any difference in the long run. Maybe that is what gives the people of Galveston an attitude if gratitude, and maybe it is what makes it such a peaceful place to visit.

Allen Luther SpencerAllen Luther Spencer graveWhile in Wisconsin to visit relatives, we stopped at the graves of my grandparents, my dad’s parents. It was very strange to be standing in the very spot where they lie resting…to be so close to their physical beings. I never knew my grandparents. Grandpa died before my parents were married, and Grandma when I was six months old. I always had only one set of grandparents, and I always felt like something was missing. My friends had two sets of grandparents, or at least they had known their grandparents, before they had passed away. But I didn’t. That always felt strange to me, and maybe a little bit lonely. I only had a picture or two, and the memory of seeing my grandmother in old home movies.

In studying the family history my Uncle Bill put together, as well as the pictures taken by my grandparents and their families, I am starting to put together a picture of what they might have been like. While they had the chance to experience some of the more modern things, like cars and television, they also knew of times when the only mode of transportation was horse and buggy, and radio was the entertainment of the day. They were pioneers of sorts, traveling to places around the nation to follow their dreams. They lived in the freezing Northwoods of Minnesota, and the sweltering heat of Texas, but Superior, Wisconsin was, I think, the place where their hearts lived. I believe it was for them, the place they would always call home.

It’s hard for me to picture my grandfather and my Great Uncle Albert setting off to the Northwoods area of Minnesota to make their fortune trapping for the winter. Of course, like most of this type of adventure, while they had success in trapping, they also almost froze to death. My mind can picture these two young men huddled in their blankets near a dwindling fire, trying to look tough to their partner, but finally both had to give up and say, “I quit!!” They would head in to town to find jobs elsewhere, finally settling on the lumber industry. While the work might have been harder and still very cold, it was very likely much warmer at night.

As to my grandmother, who always seemed so tough and capable. She ran a farm and raised four children…often alone, because my grandfather worked for the railroad all week. She made hay, planted a garden, purchased groceries and other supplies for her family and managed to keep her kids out of any real trouble. She lived in the woods, on a farm, and even ran a hotel. She traveled to several areas of the country with her husband and kids, and yet I can see in her face, the gentle and loving mother that she was to her children. I know that she was, because her children always loved and respected her so much. They would rush home from out of town jobs at the end of the summer to help with the haying, and when my dad was in the war, he would do whatever it took to protect the feelings of his mother. He did his level best to keep her from worrying, whether that was possible or not.

My grandparents on my mom’s side were always known to me and I felt the love they had for me. They were sweet, kind, and always glad to see us, but the grandparents on my dad’s side always seemed sort of larger than life. My mom’s parents lived in the same times as my dad’s parents, but since they also lived in modern Anna Spencer graveAnna L Spencertimes, I could see what modern conveniences they had. So it really didn’t seem like they had lived it the old western times, like my dad’s parents had. It didn’t really seem like my mom’s parents could have understood what it was like, but they did. I guess it’s similar to a teenager thinking that their parents can’t possibly know what they are going through…like they were never teenagers. I have discovered that both sets of my grandparents were multi-talented people, who lived in several eras of history, and I believe that in reality, they are all larger than life…or maybe they just lived to the best of their ability.

Holding MollyMollyWhen we think of family, we don’t always think of pets, but to pet owners, their pets are as much family as their siblings, parents, or kids. My daughter, Corrie Petersen and her family have two dogs and two cats. With four people in the family, it would seem that each one would have a pet that was their own, and in most ways that is exactly what happened. Molly is totally my grandson, Josh’s dog. If Josh isn’t there, Molly isn’t happy. Missy is my grandson, Chris’ cat…period!! Zoe, the cat, is the most flexible of all the pets. She likes my daughter, Corrie and son-in-law, Kevin, and Katie is totally Kevin’s dog. For the most part, Katie and Zoe do pretty well if Corrie and Kevin are there or not, but Molly and Missy are two very different stories.

Basically, Molly thinks she should never have to walk anywhere…at least not if Josh is around. Josh is pretty much the “she needs me to carry her” type of kid. He loves his dog and packs her around everywhere. She sleeps on his bed, and even goes to visit family with him. And if Josh goes somewhere, like camping and doesn’t take Molly, you had better believe that Molly is mad at him for a while when he gets back. There are rules to this whole game you know, and Molly can’t seem to figure out why we don’t understand that Josh is missing, and we should find him. Then when he comes home, she figures he had deserted her for a while, so maybe he just needs the cold shoulder treatment for a while so he learns not to do this again. Molly even gets a birthday gift, because she is…special, after all!! And by the way…today is Molly’s designated birthday. They weren’t sure of the exact date, so they picked the 6th of September, because it falls half way between Kevin’s and Josh’s birthdays. So Josh made sure I knew that this was Molly’s day.

Missy…my grandson, Chris’ cat…is having a very difficult time right now. She is suffering from depression and grief, and quite frankly, she is just a little bit stunned that no one else in the family seems to realize that Chris is missing. Missy knew something was going on in the days preceding Chris’ move to Sheridan for college. She was confused about all the boxes, and tried to pack herself up to go too. Unfortunately, Chris couldn’t take her. Their goodbye was hard on everyone. At one point Missy put both of her paws on Chris’ chin as if to say, “I love you so much!! Please don’t leave me!!” Nevertheless, he had to go. After Chris left, the whole family was quite Saying goodbyeTake me with you sad, but Missy went and hid to suffer through her grief…alone. When she finally came out early yesterday morning, Kevin tried to pet her, but she kept backing away. He tried again, and she backed away again. In the end, she led him to Chris’ room and got on the bed. She looked at him as if to say, “Don’t you know he isn’t here?” I think she somehow thought that they had not even noticed that her person was missing, and that they needed to go find him. She misses Chris so much. I never really saw a pet in grief before, but Missy is definitely there, and that breaks my heart. Yes, Missy…believe me we know he is missing, and we are sad too.

Angie Schumacher-BardenWith every step I take in the family history journey, I find as much mystery as I do revelation. It seems that for every door opened, comes a multitude of questions. Recently my sister, Cheryl Masterson, my mom, Collene Spencer, and took a trip to Wisconsin, during which we met quite a few family members within the Schumacher side of our family. With every new family member I meet, in person or online, comes increased curiosity about our connection, as well as our differences and similarities. After all, while we are related, each family has a slightly different background. Even though we share the same set of grandparents, we also have a set of grandparents and ancestors that is different from our relatives. I love to see the new paths the extended family can take as those new links are connected.

Recently, after our trip to Wisconsin, I was contacted by Angie Schumacher Barden, who is my second cousin once removed, the daughter of Brian Schumacher, and granddaughter of Les and Bev Schumacher. She had seen some information on the Schumacher family indicating an Albert Schumacher who was born in Germany and came to America in 1864. About the same time as his wife…or future wife…who was named Henrietta. The indication was that they were married about the time they came to America in 1864. As I recall, our grandfather, Carl Schumacher who was married to Henrietta Hensel in 1886 in Wisconsin, did have family members that lived in the area. It is entirely possible that one of them was a brother named Albert, since Carl did name a son Albert. And I suppose that Carl’s brother Albert could have married a woman named Henrietta, just as Carl did. Spencer Schumacher Family cover photo2There is a number of years between the two marriages, so it could also be an uncle of Carl’s who came over. All this is hard to prove at this point, and will most lkely be a story down the road, if I can connect all these theories to some kind of reality.

For now, however, this will remain a mystery that was opened up by another curious family member who saw something, and decided to see what she could find out. As for me, Angie, I will be doing whatever I can to find out more about these, for now at least, mysterious Schumachers who may or may not be related to our family. I love a good mystery, and with the possibility of connecting with more and more of our family’s past, I will be searching in earnest for the answers to the questions you have asked. And so…the Family History Journey continues.

Orange Rose Theme Header AWhen problems occurred with my blog site over the last few days, creating the need to change my theme, I found myself feeling a little out of sorts about the whole thing. I have always liked my blog theme, and even after considering a change now and then, I have not done it. Suddenly, I was faced with the requirement I had been dreading. I was going to have to change my theme, because it would not work with the latest program changes for the underlying program my blog uses. Ugh!! I quickly picked something, because the generic one that had been placed on my blog to get it back up, was…well, beyond hideous!! My daughter, Corrie Petersen put the new one in, and my blog went forward…with me feeling like I had an upset stomach, and her laughingly telling me that I was the only person she had ever heard of who kept the same theme year after year.

Ok, I know it, I am a creature of habit. I have never really liked change very much…unless it was in the area of technology, of course…I mean I would never prefer the stone age, for Pete’s sake. And while I suppose you could say that my theme is something in the area of technology, it is not like it is a computer or anything, so the creature of habit in me came out again. Corrie thinks it’s because the new one isn’t purple, and maybe that is part of it, but I like my big purple rose. I don’t know if color, style, or a certain flower could affect my creativity, but for some reason, it affects my sense of rightness in the world surrounding me, so it gives me an uneasy feeling. Is that maybe a bit of eccentricity, or is it just an artists prerogative? I can’t say for sure, but I know that when my blog doesn’t have the look of my blog, it just doesn’t look like Caryn’s Thoughts…at all!!

Since I knew I couldn’t find anything that would be similar enough to my favorite theme, I had to take action. I had to become a theme designer for myself. That way, no one could take my theme away from me, because the underlying updates would happen too. It was the only way to make this creature of habit feel comfortable in her own little world again. And with the right software, I found that it was easy and fun. I suppose that is just the technical side of me coming out. I have a lot of fun playing around with some of these programs. This program built beautiful website themes, and I found that I can easily change the background a little, to add variety, and yet still keep my logo and my favorite purple, so I have been experimenting with that for two nights. The funny thing about that is that I even with the changes, I still did not venture too far from my old theme. Oh well, I feel like all is right in my world, and that is the most important thing. I know that I am a creature of Moms-Purple-Rose-Header-Revised-Bhabit, and that I don’t like change. And I know that my daughter, Corrie finds that pretty funny, but I’m quite comfortable with who I am, and I don’t see much sense in worrying about changing me now. In the end, there were a few glitches with the themes I created…mostly because I am a novice web designer, and didn’t know what things meant. We are still working on fine tuning it, but I’m quite happy with the way it looks, because it is me. When we work out the bugs, I think all will be right in my blogging world. Thanks Corrie!! I love you!!

Kevin 5Of all the birthdays my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen has had, I have a feeling that this one will be the most bittersweet. This will be the first birthday in eighteen years that has passed without seeing his son, Chris, in person. I’m sure he knew that was going to happen at some point, but when you have children, you don’t think of them moving out until it happens, and then you wish it wouldn’t. Of course Kevin and my daughter, Corrie want their son to succeed in college, but it is on the special days that you find that you feel just a little bit…no, a whole lot lonely. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Kevin and Chris have worked side by side for some time now. That is going to make work very lonely for Kevin. Kevin and Chris also loved to work on their cars together, and on the boat that they bought this summer. Doing all those things together tends to make two people very close, and that is how it was with Kevin and Chris. It is going to take some getting used to for them to feel ok with this new arrangement, and that will take Kevin 2time. I wish there was an easier fix for them, but there is simply no easy solution. You just have to wait it out.

Kevin is such a family man. I have watched him and Corrie raising their boys to be good men, and I am so proud of the training they have given the boys. Part of raising a child is to help them become independent, and that is the point that Chris is at now. Because of his good upbringing, I know that he will do well. Of course, they still have Josh at home, and it seems that there are seasons for all things. I know that during this time, Kevin and Josh will become even closer than they were before, as they all struggle to adjust to the new living arrangements their family has taken on. That’s what life is all about…adjusting to the constant changes that happen. Nothing ever stays the same, and while we don’t like some of them, changes are important too. And in reality, we could not see what great people we have raised if they never grow up and go out in the world to make their own way, Kevin 3and live their own life. Nevertheless, as a mom, I know exactly how Kevin’s heart is feeling…broken and lonely.

Everything will work out for everyone in the Petersen family, and in the days to come, their joy will return…even if they are changed because of the changes in their family’s life. Chris will finish school for the year and come back home and they will have the summer months and he will come home on weekends too, and they will rejoice. For Kevin, I just hope that he will find a little bit of joy today, on his birthday, and that is ends up being a good day. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! Have a good day!! We love you!!

Bill, Maureen, and KristinMike, Pam, and Aunt DorisCody and EmmaOur trip back to Superior, Wisconsin was to reconnect with our Spencer cousins, Pam and her husband, Mike Wendling, Bill, wife, Maureen and daughter, Kristin Spencer, our cousin Jim’s son, Cody Spencer and his girlfriend, Emma Rainey, Uncle Bill Spencer, Aunt Doris Spencer. We did that and had a wonderful time with them. They also took us to some of the old places our family had lived, and especially the old places that my dad and his siblings had lived as children. It was a way of walking where my dad had walked, and it made me feel closer to him again. It also reiterated to me, just how much I miss him. I am so glad we made that trip, because we don’t know how long we will have Uncle Bill and Aunt Doris with us, so we wanted to see them again. That was cherished time for us.

We also went out there to meet our cousins on the Schumacher side…some of whom we had never met before, and some to Cheryl, Caryn, Uncle Bill, Collenereconnect with. They were so gracious to us and we had such a good time with them too. We met Carol Schumacher Carlson and her kids, Don and Judy Carlson, Steve and Nancy Carlson, Laurie and Rick Stepp, Dave and Michelle Carlson, Jim and Kari Carlson, Julie and Marty Soukup, and Jeanne and Creston Dorothy; Les and Bev Schumacher and daughter Cathy Schumacher La Porte, and Bernice Schumacher Hutchison. There was just not enough time in the short visit we had to spend all the time we wanted to spend with everyone. The great visit with our cousins, the Schumacher family left us wanting more time together. My only regret is that we didn’t have the chance to meet all of the Schumacher family members that we have met online. Some were unable to make it because of prior engagements, and we were sure sorry to have missed them. Maybe next time.

Our final family get together took place in Madison, Wisconsin, with Tracey Schumacher-Inglimo. It was Tracey who first connected with me through Ancestry.com and then Facebook, and basically got this entire trek started. She was unable to come to Superior to see us because of school for her kids, and we could not imagine going all that way without meeting her, so in the end, we met for dinner in Madison at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italianio. The food was wonderful, but the company far more so. As with the rest of the Schumacher cousins, we found Tracey to be our kind of people. I have to think that’s because we are all cut from the same cloth. When you have a past that is much the same as someone else’s, you find similarities that can be surprising. Party at Soukup's 1Party at Soukup's 2Cheryl, Tracey, Caryn, and CollenePersonality traits, voices, and even looks can be very similar. That seems strange when you have never even met before, but it still happens. That’s what being cut from the same cloth is all about. We are all family. We are all connected, and that is very cool!!

Corrie with ChristopherKevin, & ChristopherThings have a way of coming full circle in life. I remember, so well, the point when my daughter, Corrie and her then new husband, Kevin Petersen left their wedding reception. All of the planning, the ceremony, and now the beautiful reception were over, and the kids were on their way to their honeymoon, and then their own lives. I had held up so well, and yet, after I kissed them goodbye, and they left, I turned and said to my sister, “Well, they’re gone.” Suddenly, and without any notice, the tears welled up in my eyes. My baby was leaving home. My world was mixed up, and…well, wrong, but they were so happy. This was so right for them.

A few very short years later, my daughter, Corrie was dropping their oldest son, Christopher at my house for me to take to her sister, Amy Royce who was going to babysit him, along with her daughter, Shai. Christopher was just six weeks old, and Corrie’s maternity leave was over. As Corrie came in my door, she was already crying, and I knew just how she felt. Everything felt so mixed up, and wrong for her too. Christopher had not been away from her since his conception, and now he would be on the other side of town with her sister. While she knew he was not so far away, and she would see him at lunch, so she could nurse him and spend that precious time with him, he was, nevertheless, not with her. We normally think of this separation as only happening to the mother of the baby, but that isn’t really so. I think it’s just as hard to leave your baby, when you are the dad too.

Every milestone along the way has been rather bittersweet for Corrie, and for Kevin too. Kevin always tried to hold it together for Corrie, but this change is different, and it has hit both of them and both of their sons Chris and Josh very hard. On the 29th of this month, Corrie and Kevin took their boys on a camping trip that will always be different than any other camping trip. They went to move Chris to his college dorm in Sheridan, Wyoming. Both Corrie and Kevin are struggling with this drastic change in their lives, and Chris PetersenBrothers Foreverit would not surprise me to hear that there were tears all around. I know it would that way for me.

It is so hard to take your baby to a different town to live…even if that baby is now eighteen years old. Everything about that feels so mixed up, and seriously wrong. It’s not that it is so very far away, but rather that Chris won’t be living with them anymore…at least not for a while…like three years…other that holidays and summers. After that, it’s hard to say. Lots of kids never move back home after college, even if they move back to the same city. Things may never really be the same for them again, and that is what makes it all so terribly hard. That is what makes this so mixed up…and wrong, and yet, so right for Chris, and so necessary.