My grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, was a man who lived a hard life. Early in his first marriage, he and his wife, Edna Stanton Spencer, lost their daughter, Dorothy Spencer, who was my half-great aunt. She was just over 5 months old. It was a devastating loss for them, and the beginning of the end of their marriage. They were either pregnant then or got pregnant shortly after Dorothy’s passing, because my half-uncle, Norman Spencer was born just 9 months after Dorothy’s passing. Unfortunately, that was not enough to hold the marriage together, and the couple divorced a short time later. My grandfather married my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer, and they had four wonderful children together, which is, of course, why I exist. My dad was Allen Lewis Spencer, one of those four children. I have always felt sad at what my grandfather went through in his life.
Grandpa struggled with some things in his life, but his children loved him. He was a stern parent, but that was truly a part of the times. Many stern parents came out of that era, and while some of the children didn’t like it, they turned out to be great adults, and I suppose that they would have to say that in part their dad had something to do with that. Their mom, my grandma, was a much more gentle person, but make no mistake, she could be stern too if the situation warranted it. Grandma was a gentle person, but she was also a very strong person…physically and emotionally. She ran the family farm while grandpa was away working on the Great Northern Railway as a carpenter, and she did an excellent job.
I never really knew either of these grandparents, because my grandfather passed away October 19, 1951, about a year and a half before my parents were married, and 4½ years before I was born. My grandmother passed away 6 months after I was born. I will have to get to know them when I go to Heaven, but when I look at their pictures, I see people who lived during hard years in our nation’s history, and came through it successfully to raise the wonderful children I now call my dad, aunts and uncles. Sadly, they too have all gone to Heaven now. I can imagine the happy times they are all having up there…no more sadness, loss, or tears. They can spend time together, getting to know their half-sister too, and there is no distance to cross. Today is the 142nd anniversary of my grandfather’s birth. How could it possibly be that many. Nevertheless, it is, and I know the party is on up there. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa Spencer. We all love you very much, and can’t wait to meet you in Heaven one day.
For many years, I thought my Spencer line came from England, but some things didn’t quite add up. When I started seeing DeSpencer and Le DeSpencer, I suspected that we might have immigrated to England from France, which my DNA proved to be correct. I’m more French than English. Nevertheless, for centuries, my Spencer ancestors did live in England, married English people, and so the line blended into more English blood in the current Spencers.
One Hugh le DeSpencer, who was the 1st Baron le DeSpencer, whose connection to me, while most assuredly there, would have to be researched to determine the level of cousinship, or whatever other relationship it is; was an important ally of Simon de Montfort during the reign of Henry III. He served briefly as Justiciar of England in 1260. In the “Middle Ages in England and Scotland the Chief Justiciar was roughly equivalent to a modern Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as the monarch’s chief minister.” Baron le DeSpencer also served as Constable of the Tower of London. “The Constable of the Tower is the most senior appointment at the Tower of London. In the Middle Ages a constable was the person in charge of a castle when the owner…the king or a nobleman…was not in residence. The Constable of the Tower had a unique importance as the person in charge of the principal fortress defending the capital city of England.”
As chief justiciar of England, Hugh Le DeSpencer, first played an important part in 1258, when he was prominent on the baronial side in the Mad Parliament of Oxford, so called because they apparently argued a lot… and because of a possible misspelling of the word insigne as insane in whatever this says…”Hoc anno fuit illud insane parliamentum apud Oxoniam.” In 1260 the barons chose Le DeSpencer to succeed Hugh Bigod as Justiciar, and in 1263 the king was further compelled to put the Tower of London in his hands. He was the son of Hugh le DeSpencer I, born in about 1223 and was summoned to Parliament by Simon de Montfort. Hugh was summoned as Lord DeSpencer on December 14, 1264 and was Chief Justiciar of England and a leader of the baronial party, and so might be deemed a baron, although that may not have been completely legal.
He remained allied with Montfort to the end, and was present at the Battle of Lewes. He was killed fighting on de Montfort’s side at the Battle of Evesham in August 4, 1265. He was slain by Roger Mortimer, 1st Baron Wigmore. That killing caused a feud to begin between the DeSpencer and the Mortimer families.
My grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer and my aunt, Laura Spencer Fredrick were birthday buddies. That seems to be a much more common thing than I ever knew. My grand-niece, Elliott Stevens also shares this birthday with her 2nd great grandma and her 2nd great aunt. Though they never got to meet her, I know they would have absolutely loved Elliott and sharing their birthday with her. Grandma and Aunt Laura spent a lot of time together in her early years. Aunt Laura was her parents pride and joy, and their only child for 10 years. No one has been able to tell me why they waited 10 years to add to their little family, but add they did, with sons, William and Allen, and daughter Ruth, all in fairly quick succession. Nevertheless, it was Aunt Laura who would spend 10 years doing absolutely everything with her mother. They visited friends and family together. They kept house together, with Grandma teaching her little daughter all the things she would need to know as a grown woman. Those were special bonding years for both of the birthday buddies. I would imagine that those birthdays were cause for an extra special celebration too.
I have looked through my grandmother’s photo album many times, and I have seen some of their outings. Pictures at historic sites with a cannon, a zoo, and the homes of friends and family are displayed in between the covers of Grandma’s book of treasured memories. I wish I could have know her, and it makes me sad that she passed away just 6 short months after I was born. I did get to meet her, of course, but I don’t remember those times, sadly. All I have are old movies with Grandma and me.
Grandma loved to show her daughter, Laura and later her other children, William, Allen, and Ruth as much of the world as she could. I sometimes wonder if it was Grandma or Grandpa who put the wanderlust in the hearts of their children, because they all loved to travel and see the great country we all live in. They all traveled extensively, some to other countries too. There is much to see out there, and they wanted to see it all. They were all adventurous people. Grandma nd Uncle Bill eventually went home to the area they loved most, the area of Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth Minnesota, but the other children would move to other places. Laura ended up in Portland, Oregon; my dad, Allen ended up in Casper, Wyoming; and Aunt Ruth ended up in Newport, Washington…all beautiful areas of the country. All of them have now moved to Heaven, with my Uncle Bill passing away on Christmas Day, 2020. I miss them all, and can’t wait to see them again in Heaven. Today is the anniversary of birthday buddies, Anna and Laura’s birthdays. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandma Spencer and Aunt Laura. We love and miss you both very much.
My husband, Bob Schulenberg’s grandmother, Nettie Knox was not born during the pioneer era, but she did live a life that mirrored that era to a degree. While she was born in the West, in Clydes Park, Montana, she was nevertheless, a kind of pioneer woman. Grandma was born on June 30, 1909 to Orin and Eva (Landis) Noyes, and married Robert Knox on June 14, 1928. She was not born before cars were invented, but sometimes she lived like she was in the Old West. Grandpa was worked on a sheep ranch, and for a time when my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg was a little girl of about 3 years, they lived in a sheep wagon. The shepherd needed to be near the sheep, and Grandma was a homemaker, so she went with him. Plus, the sheep wagon was provided to them free of charge, and you don’t turn down a rent free place to live. Of course, that wasn’t where they lived for very long, because even with just the three of them for the first 15 years of her life, living in a sheep wagon would not really be roomy enough.
Grandma loved tradition, Christmas, birthdays, and celebrations in general, but when my daughter, Corrie Petersen was born on her birthday, and she was her first great grandchild, Grandma was ecstatic!! She considered that to be the greatest git ever, and they always had a strong bond. They always celebrated that birthday together, and new pictures were taken every year to see how much they had both changed. Of course, to me it seemed that it was Corrie did the changing. She was the one that was growing up, and Grandma seemed to have a timelessness about her. In fact, it seemed like she had an innocence about her. Maybe it was her love of tradition and celebration, or maybe she was just blessed with good genes. Whatever it was, Grandma just never seemed to get old…to me at least. Maybe that was why Grandma and Corrie could have such a great relationship too. They could both get excited about the same kinds of things.
When I think of what Corrie is working on becoming, and has already become, I know that Grandma Knox would have been so proud of her. Grandma suffered with arthritis and always whiced that the medical community could find a cure for it. While there is no cure yet, maybe there will be someday. Nevertheless, Corrie tries to comfort people, no matter what the disease is that they have. Her job is is give comfort to her patients, and I know that Grandma would have seen that as a great contribution to the world. Today is the 113 anniversary of Grandma’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma. We love and miss you very much.
John Tyler, the tenth president of the United States, was born on March 29, 1790 in Virginia to John Tyler Sr and Mary Marot (Armistead) Tyler. He had two brothers and five sisters, but his mother died of a stroke in 1797 when John was seven years old. I can’t imagine how hard it was on young John to lose his mother. That wasn’t the only hard part of his youth. John was frail and sickly most his young life. Considering the start he had in life, it would not seem likely that John Tyler’s life would have amounted to much…but those who think that would be wrong.
John Tyler came from a political family, and he was destined for the presidency. Tyler was admitted to the Virginia bar at the age of 19. He was actually too young to be eligible, but the admitting judge neglected to ask his age. By this time, his father was Governor of Virginia (1808–1811), and John Tyler Jr started a legal practice in Richmond, the state capital. In 1811, at just 21 years of age, Tyler was elected to represent Charles City County in the Virginia House of Delegates, an office he held for five successive one-year terms. As a state legislator, Tyler sat on the Courts and Justice Committee. Following the War of 1812, Tyler’s father died in 1813, and Tyler inherited thirteen slaves along with his father’s plantation. In 1816, he resigned his legislative seat to serve on the Governor’s Council of State, a group of eight advisers elected by the General Assembly. He then ran for the US House of Representatives, narrowly winning the election. Later he served in the US Senate, before being elected as Vice-President of the United States under William Henry Harrison. Harrison served from March 4, 1841 to his death on April 4, 1841, after which John Tyler took over serving until March 4, 1845.
You might think that Tyler’s political career was the defining point in his life, but he is actually known for something much more surprising. Tyler fathered more children than any other American president, but it isn’t even that fact that is so surprising. His first wife was Letitia Christian and together they had eight children, Mary (1815–1847), Robert (1816–1877), John (1819–1896), Letitia (1821–1907), Elizabeth (1823–1850), Anne (1825–1825), Alice (1827–1854) and Tazewell (1830–1874).. She died of a stroke while they lived in the White House in September 1842. He married again on June 26, 1844, to Julia Gardiner (July 23, 1820 – July 10, 1889), with whom he had seven children, David (1846–1927), John Alexander (1848–1883), Julia (1849–1871), Lachlan (1851–1902), Lyon (1853–1935), Robert Fitzwalter (1856–1927) and Pearl (1860–1947). Tyler’s son, Lyon was born when Tyler was 63 years, and while he was not his youngest child, it would be Lyon who would bring about the thing that really makes Tyler something special. Lyon would go on to father two sons of his own…one when he was 71 and one when he was 75. One of those sons, Harrison Ruffin Tyler is still alive, meaning that John Tyler, tenth president of the United States, who was born in 1790, has a grandson who is still alive in 2021. His older brother, Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr passed away in September of 2020. The fact that their great grandfather was the tenth president, is unbelievable to the children of Lyon’s sons.
Our aunt, Charlys Schulenberg is a wonderfully sweet person, as anyone who knows her can attest. She is an amazing cook, and even better, it is something she loves to do. She definitely spoils anyone who comes to her house for a visit. Charlys is the kind of person everybody love to be around. She’s friendly and welcoming, and when you leave her home, you know you have been taken care of. Aunt Charlys is the perfect complement to Uncle Butch. He is the teller of stories, and she is the giver of comfort. You may not even have known that you needed a giver of comfort, but when you leave her home, you know that you did. It may not be because you are sad, although I’m sure she would be very comforting then too, but just that we all work hard in life, and it’s nice to sit down and be taken care of sometimes. She works too hard, of course, often refusing your help, in her effort to have you relax, but what she sets out to do, she does very well. Part of her charm is her wonderful comfort food.
Aunt Charlys married our uncle, Butch Schulenberg on June 25, 1966. and their marriage has been blessed with three children Tadd, Andi Kay, and Heath. To that number have been added seven grandchildren, Savanna, Gage, and Sophie Schulenberg; Calen Bell; Christian, Heath, and Ethan Schulenberg, and I probably don’t have them in the correct order. The blessings just keep growing. She and Uncle Butch are soulmates, and as close as they can be. They can almost read each other’s thoughts, and the peace in their home is known to anyone who walks into it.
Aunt Charlys and Uncle Butch love to travel, and spend time in Sheridan, Wyoming where two of their children live, as well as Helena, Montana where the other one lives. They also like to go other places, but their family is the top priority, so they go to see them as often as they can. They have a camper, so they have a place to stay wherever they roam. Bob and I have gone to visit a couple of times, but the Covid-19 virus stopped us from going last year. We are hoping to get back up for a visit very soon. Today is Aunt Charlys birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Charlys!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My aunt, Deloris Johnson was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She has a shy, but sweet smile, and loving way about her. She loved to sing and dance, and to show other how to do so too. My mom, Collene Spencer would always remember learning the hat-dance when her sister was in fifth grade and she in kindergarten. It was a dance Aunt Deloris had learned in school. All her siblings learned the hat-dance, and all were excited about it, because Aunt Deloris was excited about it. Her excitement was contagious. Life was like that for Aunt Deloris, always some new adventure to excite the soul.
Aunt Deloris was never afraid to try something new, and I believe that had she not left us so soon, she may have discovered some very cool things. They may not have been some world-changing discoveries, but they would have been very cool. She was always figuring out a way to make things work better. Things like inventing the first shoe-watch, although she did not get credit for it. She also invented the great flying trench coat, and took my mom for the maiden flight in that “vehicle.” Of course, it didn’t exactly fly, but it made you feel like you were flying, and my mom never forgot that flight.
Mom and Aunt Deloris were just 5 years apart, and as often happens in families, they were best friends, as well as sisters. Their interests were similar, as were their personalities. My cousin, Ellen talks about her mom’s quirky ways, and I can tell you that my mom shared her sister’s quirkiness. They were both known for their silliness. They didn’t care if their special style of creating laughter was a little less than dignified, all they cared about was that it worked. The loved laughter, and they always seemed to be right in the middle of the laughter in a crowd…and I’m here to tell you that their laugh was very contagious, as was their own personal brand of teasing. I am reminded of the time my grandma, Hattie Byer, their mother, was over having her large family of children arguing while the dishes were being done. She yelled at the kids that she didn’t want to “hear another peep” out of any of them. They all knew that was the final say. Grandma always meant business when she yelled at the arguing kids. As silence reigned over the room, I doubt if any of the kids considered saying anything, including Aunt Deloris, but then suddenly and without warning, Aunt Deloris uttered the forbidden, “Peep!!” Now, having been that mischievous child myself, I can tell you that she may not have even realized that she was about to challenge her mom, but there it was, and her siblings assumed that her life was over. Nevertheless, somehow, her life was spared, simply because Grandma could not hold back the laughter over such a ridiculous response. When Grandma laughed, everyone else knew that disaster had been averted, and they laughed too. I can jut picture it, and each time I picture it, I laugh all over again. It was just a typical Aunt Deloris response to the situation, and it was hilarious. That’s just how Aunt Deloris was. Today would have been Aunt Deloris 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Deloris. I know you will have a day filled with laughter. We love and miss you very much.
My husband’s grandfather, Andy Schulenberg became the the Sheriff of Rosebud County, Montana in 1955. His was a unique way of operating as sheriff. He did not carry a gun. Andy had been injured in a hunting accident as a teenager, resulting in the loss of his leg and a 2 year long stay in the hospital. He didn’t have a modern-day prosthetic leg, with a foot that was the same size as their other foot, and fit nicely in a shoe. That didn’t exist then. He had a peg leg. That seems odd to us now, but for him it was just normal, and it didn’t stop him from doing whatever he wanted to do, including becoming the sheriff of Rosebud and holding that position until 1972. Grandpa held that position and was so respected, that he simply didn’t need that gun. If he told someone to stop in their tracks, they stopped in their tracks. If he told someone to stay put on the side of a river, while he crossed the river to get the evidence that would convict them, they stayed put. He worked with the Indian nation leaders, who willingly turned over their young braves to him, in order to straighten them out, and turn them from a life of crime. His influence made a difference in many lives.
When I think of Grandpa Andy as the Sheriff, it is hard to picture that part of him, because there were so many other parts of him that were really so much more of who he was. Grandpa loved going to their place at the lake, spending time with his family, and enjoying Grandma Barbara’s good cooking. I think he enjoyed being with people in general. He was a social person, and that showed in every part of his life. I don’t think he could have done his job as well as he did if he had not been the kind of man who could talk to anyone and become a friend to everyone. The leaders of the Indian nation did not have to turn over their braves to him when they had robbed a store. Their law was different than that of the rest of the county, but they liked and respected Grandpa, and so they did what they needed to do to turn their wayward sons back to the right path.
I didn’t have the chance to get to know Grandpa Andy as well as I would have liked, but through his son, Butch Schulenberg, I have had the opportunity to hear some of the great stories about his dad. Grandpa Andy was his son, Butch’s biggest fan. During his high school years, Butch played football, as well as other sports, and his dad was there to cheer him on. Today would have been Grandpa Andy’s 115th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandpa Andy. We love and miss you very much.
With Abraham Lincoln’s birthday just behind us…he was born on February 12, 1809. Most of us know that Lincoln had no formal education. We know that he gave amazing speeches and that he freed the slaves. We also know that he was assassinated, but there are a number of other Lincoln Facts that I didn’t know, and maybe you didn’t either. One sad fact is that Lincoln lost his mother at the tender age of 9 years old, when she drank poison milk. She wasn’t poisoned, but it turns out that many people died of a strange “milk sickness” that was caused by a cow eating a “poisonous to humans” plant called White Snakeroot. I’m sure it was a horrible time for Lincoln, but his father remarried, and the widow, Sarah Bush Johnston was a kind woman, who got along well with her step-son.
At the age of 21, Abraham Lincoln became a champion wrestler. I don’t know how he would have fared in WWE, but then that is a lot of drama and show too. Nevertheless, he wrestled in approximately 300 matches, and only lost once. It is thought that his long legs helped him lock his opponent down. Lincoln reportedly talked a little smack in the ring too. According to Carl Sandburg’s biography of Lincoln, “Honest Abe once challenged an entire crowd of onlookers after dispatching an opponent: ‘I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.’ There were no takers.” Lincoln’s grappling exploits earned him an “Outstanding American” honor in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Lincoln is also the only president to have personally test-fired rifles outside the White House, including one by my ancestor, Christopher Spencer who was the inventor of the Spencer Repeating Rifle. When Spencer signed his new rifle up for adoption right after the Civil War broke out, it was not well received by the Department of War Ordnance, that felt soldiers would waste ammunition by firing too rapidly with repeating rifles. The unit was also more expensive than Springfield Model 1861 rifled musket in use at the time. Nevertheless, shortly after the famous Battle of Gettysburg, Spencer was able to gain an audience with President Abraham Lincoln, who invited him to a shooting match and demonstration of the weapon on the lawn of the White House. President Lincoln was so impressed with the weapon that he ordered General James Wolfe Ripley to adopt it for production. Unfortunately, Ripley disobeyed the order and continued to use the old single-shooters.
President Lincoln is also responsible for the safety of the presidents that followed him. Yes, there were failures, but without Lincoln’s decision to create the Secret Service on April 14, 1865, just hours before he was assassinated, many presidents in the future would not have had the quality of protection they did. The Secret Service did protect President Lincoln after his death, when grave robbers attempted to steal his body and hold it for a ransom of $200,000 and the release of one of their gang from prison. Their attempt was foiled by the Secret Service that President Lincoln had initiated.
My dear uncle, Bill Spencer, who left us on Christmas day, 2020, was such a favorite of mine. We were a lot alike, and we had many of the same interests. It was Uncle Bill who taught me to play cribbage, but was never one to let me win. I learned to play well, and when I won…I knew I had really won. Back when you could get away with letting your kid drive on your lap, or even themselves with you in the car, well before they were of an age to get a permit, he let me drive to their cabin when we visited. Even my dad was ok with it, so I drove the three of us for quite a while. As a mom, when my kids needed family history information, I knew that my Uncle Bill was the guy to go to. He was the family historian from the time he was eight years old, and I quickly became as obsessed as he was. Uncle Bill did his research the old fashioned was, by making trips to different places to look in cemeteries, county and state records offices, and libraries. It was much harder work back then, and those of us who have been the beneficiaries of Uncle Bill’s hard work, can say that he has done a great work.
Uncle Bill is my dad, Allen Spencer’s older brother. Uncle Bill was ten years younger than his sister, Laura Fredrick, and three years older than his younger sister, Ruth Wolfe. The two boys were in the middle. The family lived many years in Holyoke, Minnesota, and ran a farm there. Uncle Bill, being the oldest son, played a big part in the farming. He, along with mostly my dad and Aunt Ruth helped with haying, and growing the the gardens. Their dad worked for the railroad, and so the farm was largely left to my grandmother, Anna Spencer, and the kids. My Aunt Laura was married during a good part of the younger children’s growing up years. Nevertheless, Uncle Bill and Aunt Laura were very close during his childhood years when their mother was working and Aunt Laura took care of him. They grew to have a close friendship, as well as being siblings.
As they grew older, Uncle Bill and my dad were the definitely the boys of the family. They loved getting into all kinds of trouble. The jumped on the moving trains, even though they had a pass to ride. They played with dynamite, even sinking the gatepost couple of inches. They also loved to go fishing, and often brought home a good catch, which all the family got to enjoy. Even though they were typical boys, I guess they weren’t all bad. I’m sure that when Uncle Bill got to Heaven a little less than a month ago, there was a wonderful reunion between the brothers, as they rest of their family too. It makes me sad to know that all of the siblings are gone to Heaven now, but only for myself and those of us left here. For the siblings it a big celebration. They are all together again. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 99th birthday…and his first birthday in Heaven. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.