Monthly Archives: March 2016
I saw an older woman standing at the bus stop today, waiting for the bus to arrive. That isn’t anything unusual, except that this woman was wearing a cowboy hat. I’m sure that many people wouldn’t think that was unusual either, given that I live in Wyoming, and in reality it was not that I thought it was unusual either, because I didn’t. What came to my mind was my mother, Collene Byer Spencer. Mom and my dad, Allen Spencer, embraced Wyoming, and the West in general, all their lives. They loved the history of the West, cowboy boots and cowboy hats, and they wore their western gear often, especially when they traveled.
I know that there are lots of people who wear cowboy hats, as was proven by the older woman waiting for the bus, but what struck me at the time was that it brought back the memories of my mom wearing her cowboy hat. Mom especially loved wearing her hat at the parade, as did my dad. They especially loved when the military people went by. Dad was a World War II veteran, and he was very proud of our soldiers. Mom loved it all. She would whoop and holler for every entry. I think she just didn’t want anyone to feel bad about their entry, and sometimes people would just sit there without clapping for anyone. Mom liked to make sure that everyone felt happy, parade or otherwise.
Mom and Dad had a number of cowboy hats, and the wore them all. They never went on vacation without a cowboy hat. I think they probably even took one on their 50th Anniversary cruise to Alaska. So many of my best camping memories include a cowboy hat. Dad never blew on a fire to get it going, he used his cowboy hat. Smart man, it would save a lot of work on the lungs…and the fire always started faster for him than for us. So many cowboy hat memories.
As I drove past the older woman wearing the cowboy hat, I had a smile on my face, because just seeing her standing there reminded me so much of so many good times from my past. As a kid, I would never have thought of myself as a cowgirl…at that time in my life a cowgirl or country music just weren’t cool. These days I love country music, but I guess I’m still not a cowgirl. Nevertheless, my parents were, and they were proud of it. It doesn’t matter to me what they identified themselves with…I just know that I am very proud of them. And I love and miss them very much.
A while back, I wrote a story about a house in Massachusetts that was built by our ancestor, James Noyes, who is my husband, Bob’s 7th great grandfather. Almost immediately, a cousin of ours, Paul Noyes told me that he had been there many times, and yet another cousin, David Noyes had been invited inside and had pictures. Of course, this was exactly what I was hoping for, because I wanted to talk about the interior of the home, but could not find any pictures online. So, I want to thank David for these beautiful pictures, and Paul for forwarding them to me, so that I can tell a little about the inside of this grand old house. My husband, Bob was sure that the interior had probably been renovated several times since the 1646 date that the house was built, but other than what has been documented, there is no indication of a massive remodel.
James Noyes, moved to and was co-founder of Newberry, Massachusetts in 1635, bringing with him, his wife Sarah Brown Noyes. Little was documented about where in Newbury they lived before the Noyes home was built in 1646, but the family grew by five children…Joseph, James, Sarah (who died at an unknown young age), Moses, and John. I would assume that their growing family was the reason for the large home to be built. Even with that, the home was not what we would consider large these days. The current home has five bedrooms, but it is my guess that the original probably had only three, a master bedroom for the parents, a bedroom for the boys, and a bedroom for the girls. The house was only one room deep in those years, and while it might have been somewhat small, I can only imagine what stories those walls would tell, if they could talk. My guess is that there would be stories of laughter, sadness, and crying as new babies joined the family. The family grew, with the additions of Thomas, Rebecca, William, and a second daughter named Sarah, after her mother and the first Sarah, who had passed away.
James and Sarah lived in the house for the remainder of their days, during which time the house saw children come into the family, and children marry and move away, returning now and again to share their children with their parents. Then on October 22, 1656, just seven months after his second daughter named Sarah, was born, James passed away. The house saw the sadness of a family in mourning for its patriarch. Sarah became the head of the family then, and so it remained until her passing on September 13, 1691. James and Sarah were blessed with at least 47 grandchildren…not all of whom lived very long unfortunately. Not much is said about what the children did with the home after their mother’s passing, but while it has been home to a number of families over the many years since it was built, it remains an important historical home and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. There were some changes, which added size to the home making it a five bedroom home at this present time. The last time the home was sold was in 2010, and it is my assumption that it was the current owners who allowed our cousin David Noyes to have a tour and take the pictures I now have of this beautiful home.
In most families, the siblings tend to look at least a little bit alike, but sometimes, two or more of the siblings really look alike, and they aren’t even twins. It isn’t that they look exactly alike all the time, but sometimes you see a picture of them or the have a certain look on their face, that reminds you so much of one of their siblings that you are sure it could be the sibling and not the person. That is the case with my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels, my Aunt Evelyn Hushman, and my mom, Collene Spencer. Of course, every time I saw a look on the face of one of them that so closely resembled the others, I didn’t manage to get the picture. Nevertheless, I think that if you look closely, you can tell that these three sisters looked a lot alike.
I have noticed a resemblance to these three and their mother, my grandma, Hattie Byer too. I think they took after her, much more than they did, their dad, my grandpa, George Byer…other than in the area of height. Grandma was very short, only five foot, in her tall days, while Grandpa was over six feet tall. The girls fell in around five foot six or so. Some of the kids did look more like Grandpa, but these three girls more like their mom. I always loved to see them all three together, because then you could really get to see the looks they would get that were the same, or hear their laughter, which was quite similar too. It was just a fun thing to see, and something I miss very much now.
With Aunt Evelyn and my mom living in Heaven now, Aunt Bonnie is the last of the sister look alikes. The bad thing about that is how much we miss the other two, but the good things is that when you see Aunt Bonnie, there is a good possibility that you will see a look, a smile, or hear a laugh that sounds just like Aunt Evelyn and Mom. It makes them feel a little closer. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I think that were it not for the danger involved, I could be a storm chaser. I love to watch the shows about storm chasers and about tornadoes themselves. I suppose the main reason I like those shows is that you can watch the awesomeness of nature’s storms, but you don’t really have to deal with the reality of the loss of life and damage to property. It seems more like a scene from a movie. Nevertheless, the reality is that in a real storm situation, tornadoes kill and they damage property. The first recognized storm chaser was David Hoadley, who began chasing North Dakota storms in 1956. Hoadley used data from area weather offices and airports to calculate the possible areas for tornadic activity. Hoadley is considered the pioneer storm chaser and was the founder of Storm Track magazine. With storms such as the Tri-State Tornado which occurred on this day, March 18, 1925, and many others that followed, I’m sure that Hoadley could see that there was a need for someone to find a way to predict the path of these deadly storms.
The March 18, 1925 tornado traveled across the tri-state area of eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and southern Indiana, killing 695 people, injuring some 13,000 people, and causing $17 million in property damage. It became known as the Tri-State Tornado, and it shocked the nation. The tornado first touched down in Ellington, Missouri at about 1:00pm, but the worst hit area was southern Illinois. More than 500 of the 695 people lost dies in Illinois, including 234 in the city of Murphysboro and 127 in West Frankfort.
In all, the Tri-State Tornado traveled 219 miles in it’s path of destruction, and was on the ground more than three hours. It ripped through 164 square miles and was more than a mile wide. It traveled at speeds of more than 70 miles per hour. There has never been a worse tornado in the history of the United States. Years after the Tri-State Tornado, scientists discovered the cyclic nature of tornado-producing thunderstorms. These storms are able to produce one tornado after another, in a seemingly continuous damage path, that could easily be mistaken for a single tornado, when they were actually a family of tornadoes. Of course, with all the time that had passed, and the lack of things like Doppler Radar to see what the storm really was, it is nearly impossible to determine 91 years later whether or not the Tri-State tornado was one or a family of tornadoes, it remains in the history books as the longest-tracked and deadliest single tornado in recorded history. I have to wonder if David Hoadley, or someone like him had been able to predict these storms, maybe the loss of life would have been much lower.
Once a year, on March 17th, the world takes a day to celebrate the wearin’ o’ the green. Saint Patrick’s Day, is really just one of the more fun holidays, that for most of us means nothing more than pinching ayone caught not wearing green, eating corned beef and cabbage, or drinking green beer and celebrating with our friends.
If we lived in Ireland, the day would be very different. That is because in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate Saint Patrick, who was the patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick lived in Ireland in the late fourth and early fifth centuries, but he wasn’t Irish. He was was a Romano-Briton who was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave. Saint Patrick was the kind of man who, made lemonaid out of the lemons he found himself with. While he was enslaved in Ireland, he made it his goal to become a missionary there, and he is credited with bringing Christianity to the country, as a result. In Ireland, that makes the holiday a religious holiday, similar to Christmas and Easter. These days you can find Saint Patrick’s Day parades, shamrocks, and green Guinness beer in Ireland, but it’s mostly there for the tourists who think that is the right way to celebrate the day. For most of the Irish, however it would not be that way, and in fact, up until 1970 Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on Saint Patrick’s Day. That is a stark contrast to the way the day is celebrated here, but it doesn’t mean the same thing to Americans.
Like many people, I like to eat corned beef and cabbage and pinch those unsuspecting people who have forgotten their green, and while I don’t drink beer…green or otherwise, I like to have fun with the day. But, I also like to reflect a little bit on my Irish roots. I have several parts of my family who came from Ireland, including my Grandma Byer’s family. She wanted to get in touch with her Irish roots too, and so she and her siblings took a trip back to the old country, where they saw the castles, and cemeteries, kissed the Blarney Stone, and visited all the other sites, and I believe they met some of the family who still lives there too. It wasn’t Saint Patrick’s Day when she went, but they really had a good time.
With the decline of the oil business, comes the inevitable change of the face of oil companies. In Wyoming, that decline means layoffs and transfers to many of the people who worked for the oil companies. I really don’t know of a family that hasn’t been affected by the decline. Our family has experienced layoffs, and as in the case of my nephew, Eric Parmely, a job that is saved, by way of Texas. Eric and his wife, Ashley aren’t moving to Texas, but his job will take him to Texas for two weeks and then home for a week. I think the week at home will be really nice, but it comes at the expense of the two weeks in Texas. I know that this has been a hard change to swallow for Eric, his wife, Ashley, and their girls, Reagan and Hattie.
Eric and Ashley live in the country, where they have chickens, goats, rabbits, and next door, at her parents house, horses. They are all totally in their element there. Of course, Ashley was raised there, so being around the animals is second nature to her. The girls also take to it like little pros, and the animals love them all. Eric and Ashley’s parents, Albert and Kari Eighmy did all the remodeling of their fixer upper home. They wouldn’t let Ashley be there, because she was pregnant, but Eric’s mom, Jennifer Parmely, who loves to clean, came and cleaned up all the construction dust, and they have a beautiful home now…all the more reason not to move to Texas. Eric has become quite handy with the things he makes. If Ashley shows him something she wants, he can probably pull it off. A good example of that is the bedroom set he made for his girls. It is the perfect setup for two little girls, and I know that they will love it for a long time. Eric is getting…or maybe he always was…very handy at building things. His work is beautiful and solid. The workmanship of the things he makes is amazing. I think that if he wanted to, he could sell his work and make money at it…but that is another story.
Eric is a family man. His wife and daughters mean the world to him. Eric wants nothing more than to be at home with them, or spend time with them doing just about anything they want to do. They love being outdoors, and it doesn’t matter what season it is. Eric will make things fun for his girls. That is the sign of a good husband and dad. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When I think of people who are always happy, the first person who comes to mind is my niece, Kellie Hadlock. I really can’t think of a greater tribute to a person than to be known as the happiest person I know. That is the kind of person everyone wants to be around, because she lifts your spirits when you are feeling down. She makes you laugh in spite of your own sour mood. She leaves you feeling better that when she entered the room. Those comments don’t just come out of some misguided sense of obligation, but they are spoken about Kellie, because that is just how everyone feels about Kellie. Kellie finds life to be delightful, and even when she might have the opportunity to be sad, she just thinks herself happy.
Kellie is an insurance agent in Casper, Wyoming, following the example of her aunt…me!! Of course, her mom was an agent for a time too, and a very good one, but since I was the one who got her mom into it, I will take the credit for insurance being in Kellie’s blood. Kellie was nervous when she first decided to go into insurance, and I can hardly blame her for that. Taking the insurance examination is a daunting task, and studying for it is no picnic either. Nevertheless, Kellie persevered, and before long she was licensed, and is doing quite well as an insurance agent, and I know that her clients love seeing her smiling face every time they see her.
Kellie is the youngest of my sister, Allyn and her husband Chris Hadlock’s four children. Her and her siblings have a unique relationship. They tease each other, and even call each other names, but it’s all in fun. I suppose that if people listen to them, who really don’t know them, they might think them rude, but they are anything but rude. They love each other very much, but they are also some of the funniest people I know. Kellie and her family thrive on teasing and making jokes. How cool is that? Just think…every day of your life is filled with random laughter, jokes, and silliness. It’s almost like being in a comedy show 24/7. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As kids, one of the first things we like to do is swing. I suppose it has to do with being rocked as babies or being in a baby swing. Whatever the reason, swinging is a favorite recess pastime…if you can get on one at recess that is. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take very long for kids get bored with regular swinging, and decide that it’s time to change it up a bit.
The first thought is to go higher and higher. That provides a thrill for a little while, but sooner or later, every kid decides that they are brave enough to jump out of the swing. The first few attempts might not go do well, but with lots of practice, they soon become an expert at it. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be any more skinned knees or broken bones, but they might be fewer…and maybe further between.
I remember my elementary school days well, and while I didn’t get to the swings first very often, I did learn how to jump out of the swings at some point. I also remember the gravel on the playground, and the times I felt said gravel dig into my knees. It was no picnic. I never broke a bone jumping out of those swings, in fact, I reserved my first broken bone for my 59th year of life…not a great move, if you ask me, but there it is.
While I don’t exactly recall how many times I fell trying to jump out of the swing, I can tell you that it didn’t stop me from trying. The key is in the timing. If you jump too early, you fall, and if you jump too late, you fall. I’m sure you have a little wiggle room, but not very much. Still, with all the falling that happens when kids try to jump out of the swing, you won’t see kids in general quit trying. It’s all part of what makes the swings fun. And seriously, you only live once, so you might as well try the things that look like fun. And to kids, jumping out of the swings is where it’s at…until the next new challenge comes along, anyway.
When my grandfather, Allen Spencer and my Great Uncle Albert Schumacher were young men, they were best friends. They did a lot together, including a trapping adventure, or should I say misadventure, which threatened to freeze them to death, causing them to decide that maybe the lumber business suited them better. I think maybe it did serve them better, but it wasn’t their occupations that really impressed me.
In his family history, my Uncle Bill Spencer, Allen’s oldest son, it was mentioned that Grandpa and Albert used to play the violin and the accordion at dances in the area. Then, Uncle Bill mentioned that he did to. I knew that music ran in the family, and while the ability to play an instrument passed me by, I do sing as a backup singer at my church. There are those in my family, however, who play quite well. My grandfather made sure that each of his children could play the violin, even though not all of them enjoyed it. I have to wonder if Grandpa wanted them to play because he loved it so much. I suppose that the excitement of playing in front of people and seeing them all having so much fun, was all Grandpa and Great Uncle Albert needed to be addicted…so to speak. Uncle Bill said that he played for dances too.
My girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, like many school children, played an instrument, but they continued on through high school. Neither one plays anymore, but I think the still could if they chose to. It’s one of those thing that you don’t forget, you just get a bit rusty. Still, if you continue to play, you could become quite good. My daughter, Amy’s husband, Travis and her son, Caalab both play the guitar. I don’t know how they feel about their ability to play, but I think they are both very good. They haven’t played at dances, but they have played at events where artists can go and play for others. I guess it doesn’t matter if you play at dances, for family, or for other events, being in the band is all that and more for a musician.
As an insurance agent and living in Wyoming, which does not have the history that some of my ancestors built in the east, when I think of an old house, something in the 1910s comes to mind, but in reality, that is not an old house at all. In fact, by comparison to Bob’s 7th great grandfather, Reverend James Noyes’ house, a home built in 1910 would be considered brand new. The house James Noyes built was, and still is located at 7 Parker Street in Newberry, Massachusetts…a small town of about 7,000 people located in Essex County. It is really a suburb of Newburyport, which has a population of about 18,000. Newbury is situated in the Northeast corner of Massachusetts, near the coast. Newbury was founded by Reverend James Noyes and his cousin Reverend Thomas Parker, who were English clergymen who immigrated to the United States. James Noyes was educated at Oxford, before relocating to Massachusetts in 1634. He spent a short time in Medford, before moving to Newbury to pastor a church there from 1635 until his death. He sailed aboard the Mary and John of London, accompanied by the Hercules on March 23, 1634 with his wife Sarah Noyes, brother Reverend Nicholas Noyes and cousin Reverend Thomas Parker. Newbury was originally named Newbury Plantation, and was incorporated in 1635.
The house that Reverend James Noyes built in 1646, is a historic First Period house, and was added to the National Historic Register of Historic Places in 1990. First Period houses have a steeply pitched roof, a slightly asymmetrical plan, and a central chimney. The first period house is distinguished from later houses by its exposed…often decorated or beveled frame in the interior. Some early windows in modest houses may have had no glazing, but the standard first period window, until at least 1700, was the diamond-paned casement. The main block of the James Noyes house is a 2½ story wood frame structure, five bays wide, with a large central chimney. When the house was first built, it was only a single room deep. Then, around 1800 a 2½ story cross gabled addition was added to the rear, which was further extended by a 1½ story addition later in the 19th century. The interior rooms of the main block have Federal period styling, probably dating to the time of the first addition.
I’m sure that to many people the idea of a house built in 1646 that is still standing is, at best a novelty, but when you couple that with the fact that it was built by one of your ancestors, it becomes a little bit more interesting. My mind wanders back to what life might have been like for them in that home in the mid 1600s. Of course, there were no modern amenities, such as a bathroom, dishwasher, refrigerator, modern stove, and other such conveniences, but it was still a pretty house for the era, I’m sure. While it was originally quite a bit smaller, but with the additions, it is now 4200 square feet and has six bedrooms. I have looked around online to see if there are any pictures of the interior of the home, but found none to date. Maybe we will have to visit there sometime, but until then, I will just have to be happy knowing that a home built by our ancestor, and a founder of Newbury, Massachusetts is still stand, still in good condition, and still being occupied by a family, who is making memories of their own there.