Genealogy

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Wars always bring changes…especially in how nations feel about other nations. Sometimes, the whole world seems to be against one nation that has proven itself to be particularly evil. Germany was one of those nations that the entire world was against during World War I, as well as during World War II. It was during World War I that Britain’s King George V was quite concerned about the anti-German sentiment that existed in the world and in Britain. His family was of German descent, and the family name was very much a German name…Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, to be exact.

George was born on June 3, 1865, the second son of Prince Edward of Wales, who later became King Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark, and the grandson of Queen Victoria. He embarked on a naval career before becoming heir to the throne in 1892 when his older brother, Edward, died of pneumonia. The following year, George married the German princess Mary of Teck, who was his cousin, a granddaughter of King George III, and who had previously been intended for Edward. The couple had six children, including the future Edward VIII and George VI, who took the throne in 1936 after his brother abdicated to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson. As the new Duke of York, George had to abandon his career in the navy. He became a member of the House of Lords and received a political education. When his father died in 1910, George ascended to the British throne as King George V.

With the outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914, strong anti-German feeling within Britain caused sensitivity among the royal family about its German roots. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, also a grandson of Queen Victoria, was the king’s cousin; the queen herself was German. Public respect for the king increased during World War One, when he made many visits to the front line, hospitals, factories and dockyards. Still, because of anti-German feeling George V felt led to adopt the family name of Windsor, so on June 19, 1917, the king decreed that the royal surname was thereby changed from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor, which it has remain since that day.

After the World War II, the current Prince Philip was granted permission by King George VI to marry the future Queen Elizabeth. Before the official announcement of their engagement, Philip abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles and became a naturalized British subject, adopting the surname Mountbatten from his maternal grandparents. After an engagement of five months, he married Elizabeth on November 20, 1947. Just before the wedding, Philip was made the Duke of Edinburgh. He left active military service when Elizabeth became monarch in 1952, having reached the rank of commander. He was formally made a British prince in 1957. Mountbatten-Windsor is the personal surname used by the male-line descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Under a declaration made in Privy Council in 1960, the name Mountbatten-Windsor applies to male-line descendants of the Queen without royal styles and titles. Individuals with royal styles do not usually use a surname, but some descendants of the Queen with royal styles have used Mountbatten-Windsor when a surname was required.

For much of her life, my Aunt Virginia Beadle was a working woman. She spent time working for the telephone company, and also for the State of Wyoming. I remember seeing her sometimes all dressed up for work, and thinking that she looked so sophisticated. I wanted to dress up like her…to look like a real lady, and as an adult, I have spent many years in the working world too, where I have always remembered just how nice my Aunt Virginia looked. I have tried to keep that picture of the sophisticated lady that she always was in my mind in my own career. I have felt that a successful working woman was always stylish, whether wearing a dress or pants. For some reason that stuck out more to me than the actual work the woman did. I suppose that was the little girl in me remembering how stylish Aunt Virginia was.

Of course, Aunt Virginia’s look and her clothes were not what made her a great employee, but rather the fact that she was very good at her jobs. I can’t say that I know all the details of what her job entailed, but just the fact that she held her jobs so long and that she was very much respected at her workplace, tells me that she was an amazing worker too. People don’t have respect for a worker who doesn’t do their job, and I happen to know that she as a hard working woman. She was respected and well liked at her job, so that tells me that she was very good at it.

Aunt Virginia has always been a stylish woman, whether at work or at home, and while she was very good at her jobs, her real life was her family. She loves her kids, and she has been very blessed with many grandchildren and great grandchildren. I really love seeing her with those babies, because her eyes just sparkle. Being the second oldest of my grandparents’ children, Aunt Virginia will also, at this birthday, become the one who has lived the longest. That has afforded her the great pleasure of lots of new babies to cuddle with. I love seeing her with all of those babies, because she just seems to be totally in her element. It is a sweet thing to watch, as is her interaction with all of her nieces and nephews. Today is Aunt Virginia’s 87th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Virginia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Very early yesterday morning, a little boy named Jaxx David Harman was keeping his parents up all night. That may not seem like a strange thing to the parents of little ones, but little Jaxx had a very good reason for keeping his parents up…it was going to be his birthday, and he was excited. It wasn’t his birthday yet, and no one knew for sure if his birthday would be May 29th or May 30th. It depended on just how much of a hurry Jaxx was in. As it turned out, Jaxx wasn’t in a big hurry, and by the time he made his entrance, it was 4:15am on May 30th. Let’s hope he doesn’t make a habit of being up so late.

Jaxx is the youngest child of my grand nephew, Jake Harman and his wife, Melanie. They have two daughters, Alice and Izabella, both of whom are very excited to have a little brother. Alice, being the oldest understands all this better than Izabella, but Izabella is quite interested anyway. Oh, I know that as little Jaxx grows up, he will most likely torment his big sisters, as most little brothers…or brothers in general…do, but they will love him anyway, because he is their brother, and nobody gets to be mad at him but them!!

I’m sure little Jaxx didn’t mean to keep his parents up all night, but I seriously doubt if it will be the last time. I hope that starting out this way is not indicative of how Jaxx will be in the future, because as we all know, parents need their sleep too, especially parents of little ones. But then again, I would much rather have a baby keeping me awake than a child out on a date, and running late for curfew. I’m sure Jake and Melanie don’t even want me to think about those days yet, but as we all know, time flies quickly by, and those days will be here before they know it. Until then, Jake and Melanie, enjoy that sweet little boy. He is so precious and we are all very happy for you. Congratulations!!

When the United States entered World War I, they sent men into France to join Allied forces there. Their arrival was a great relief to the exhausted Allied soldiers. Before long the American soldiers in France became known as Doughboys. This was not an unknown term, since it had been used For centuries to describe such soldiers as Horatio Nelson’s sailors and Wellington’s soldiers in Spain, for instance. Both of these groups were familiar with fried flour dumplings called doughboys, the predecessor of the modern doughnut that both we and the Doughboys of World War I came to love. The American Doughboys were the men America sent to France in the Great War, who beat Kaiser Bill and fought to make the world safe for Democracy.

It is thought, however, that the Doughboys of World War I might have acquired the name in a slightly different way. In fact, there are a variety of theories about the origins of the nickname. One explanation is that the term dates back to the Mexican War of 1846 to 1848, when American infantrymen made long treks over dusty terrain, giving them the appearance of being covered in flour, or dough. As a variation of this account goes, the men were coated in the dust of adobe soil and as a result were called “adobes,” which morphed into “dobies” and, eventually into “doughboys.” Among other theories, according to “War Slang” by Paul Dickson, American journalist and lexicographer H.L. Mencken claimed the nickname could be traced to Continental Army soldiers who kept the piping on their uniforms white through the application of clay. When the troops got rained on the clay on their uniforms turned into “doughy blobs,” supposedly leading to the doughboy moniker.

Whatever the case may be, doughboy was just one of the nicknames given to those who fought in the Great War. For example, “poilu” meaning “hairy one” was a term for a French soldier, as a number of them had beards or mustaches, while a popular slang term for a British soldier was “Tommy,” an abbreviation of Tommy Atkins, a generic name similar to John Doe used in the Unites States on government forms. America’s last World War I doughboy, Frank Buckles, died in 2011 in West Virginia at age 110. Buckles enlisted in the Army at age 16 in August 1917, four months after the United States entered the conflict, and drove military vehicles in France. One of 4.7 million Americans who served in the war, Buckles was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. It’s strange to think that my grandfather, George Byer was one of the men called doughboys, but then he was stationed in France at that time in history, so I guess that Grandpa was a doughboy.

Every year since 1907 (or 1914, if you go by the day that Congress designated the day) children have celebrated a day of remembering all the wonderful things their mom has done for them. Being a mom is often a thankless job. It involves long hours, filled with worries, headaches, weariness, and work…and it’s an all volunteer job. Of course, if we had to pay our mother for all the things she did for us, we would all be broke, and the moms would have all the money in the world…or a good chunk of it. The job of Mom, is a highly skilled job, encompassing many different careers. Moms are nurses, teachers, chefs, nannies, coaches, maids, chauffeurs, financial advisors, tutors, counselors, advisor, judge, and jury, just to name a few. Most of her training is on the job training, because motherhood is a career that starts the instant your first child arrives, and lasts for the rest of your life. There are no days off, no passing the torch, and no retirement. And the funny thing is that no mother ever wants to retire, in fact, they wish their babies would stay little forever.

My own mom, Collene Spencer was a most amazing woman. She raised five daughters, teaching us to cook, clean, take care of a home, and how to be moms. She taught us that we could do anything we set our minds to. As our lives progressed and we took on our adulthood, she became our cheerleader…even if what we were doing was a hobby, she always had faith that we could do it. I remember when I started writing, she wanted to have me read the stories to her. She missed so many of them, because I didn’t see her that day, so I finally made sure she got them on her Kindle. She read every single one. She was my biggest fan, and I miss having her tell me how much she loved this story or that one. And I miss calling Mom to ask her about a detail from her childhood. Her information enriched my stories, because she knew all the little details of the events. Many times, while I’m working on a story, I think, “I need to ask Mom about that”…then, I realized once again…that I can’t. It would be nice to have a phone to Heaven, because I have questions for my mom…and my dad too. And I miss them, and just saying hello again would be wonderful.

When I got married, I assumed that I had learned everything I needed to know, but that was not so. My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg had been raised on a farm, and had a very different take on life and caring for a family. So, once again, I had things to learn. Having a vegetable garden meant that rather than buying vegetables at the store, you got them out of the cupboard, and that was because you had picked them from the garden, and canned them. It wasn’t that my mom didn’t know how to do that, but we didn’t have a garden, so we didn’t can. My mother-in-law sewed, knitted, and crocheted, and while I knew how to crochet, I hadn’t been exactly willing to learn much about sewing from my mom. I learned how to do these things, but unlike my mother-in-law, they would not become a big part of my life. Some things just simply are, what they are. Nevertheless, I am thankful for the things I learned from my mother-in-law, who also taught me that you never really know it all. My mom is in Heaven now, but we still have my mother-in-law for a while longer. Happy Mother’s Day to my Moms!! I love you both very much.

There is an old song, that Willie Nelson wrote in 1980, called On The Road Again, and one part of the lyrics goes like this, “The life I love is makin’ music with my friends.” That line reminds me of a story I heard about my Uncle Larry Byer. My Grandma Byer’s house was the place to be when all the kids were home. There were always kids hanging out there, and because of the varied ages of the siblings, the ages of the visiting children varied quite a bit too. The family had always loved to sing, and several among the family members played an instrument. Grandpa Byer played the mandolin and the violin. Uncle Larry played the guitar and the mandolin, as well as the piano. My dad, Allen Spencer, and Uncle George Hushman also joined in with guitar and singing. It was like a big jam session. For the kids, like my Aunt Sandy Pattan, those jam sessions were like a big party.

Uncle Larry always had a group of friends who loved to hang out at the house…among them Bobby Boatman, Caryl Sparger, and Gene Tholl. They and the rest of the gang played music and just had a good time in general. Aunt Sandy even told me that they had a machine that recorded the songs and put them on a record. They would hang blankets to make a sound room and record their own songs. I sure wish some of those old records were still around. I would love to hear my dad, grandpa, uncles, and their friends singing and making music with their friends. One of the songs that Uncle Larry used to play for Grandma…his mom…was her favorite, “Springtime in the Rockies.” Grandma loved that song, loved hearing him play and sing it. It was a song Grandpa always sang to her, so it had a very special meaning. I’m sure it was a sweet love song to her from Grandpa.

Aunt Sandy told me that when Uncle Larry went into the Army, she really missed him, like most little sisters would. She missed his joking ways, all the friends who came over, and especially, she missed those jam sessions. Nevertheless, when he came home, it wasn’t those things that Aunt Sandy was thinking about. Her big brother was home and all she could think of was to run into his arms for a great big hug. Today would have been Uncle Larry’s 83rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Larry. I can’t wait to see you again, and get one of those great big hugs too. We love and miss you very much.

There really is no better day in a family, than when a new baby arrives. Yesterday was just such a day for my nephew, Eric Parmely, his wife Ashley, and their daughters, Reagan and Hattie. Yesterday was the day that someone new arrived. His name is Bowen Lewis Parmely, and he made his appearance three weeks early, because his doctors felt that it would be best for him. He was a big baby boy, weighing in at 8 pounds 7.5 ounces, and he was 21¼ inches long…and everything with mommy and baby Bowen is perfect…including his appetite. Bowen is the first son for his parents, and the first grandson for his grandparents, and everyone is just as happy as they can be. He is also the first, and maybe only brother for his two big sisters, who cant wait until he can play.

As for Bowen…well, his first day was a very busy one. He was born at 8:56pm on April 24th…just when a guy should be sleeping, and they were shining bright lights in his face. Nevertheless, Bowen took it all in stride. He was handed off, first to his parents, and then to the grandparents. I’m sure he wondered how a guy could go about getting a bath around that place, but he waited patiently, and pretty soon they got him cleaned up and dressed so that he could meet his sisters…the most important people in his immediate life…after his parents that is. After all, it will be his sisters who play with him, teach him the ropes…on how to get around Mom and Dad, babysit him, and in probably, boss him around a lot. But, in all reality, while his sisters said that they wanted another sister, all that changed when they saw their brother. All thought a of a sister went out the door. Who could blame them? Little Bowen is a perfectly handsome little man, and the girls developed instant Brother Love!!

Bowen’s grandparents, like his parents, aunts, uncles, and the rest of the family, are all floating on air, now that he has arrived. Sometimes, I wonder how nine months can seem so long. When we first found out that baby Bowen was coming, and especially when we found out that he was a boy, we were all very excited. Now that he is here, the excitement is just growing. As for little Bowen, I think he figures that the future can wait for a while, because all these visitors have completely worn him out. Congratulations to Eric and Ashley Parmely. Your son is so cute. Love you guys.

On this, the 105 anniversary of the April 10, 1912 sailing of the RMS Titanic, for her maiden and only voyage, my thoughts have been leaning toward the people who were on board, and particularly those who did not survive that fateful trip. The Titanic was the most amazing ship of it’s time, filled with luxuries beyond the imagination…at least in first class. Back then, people were separated into classes based on their social importance. It’s sad to think about that, because every person has value, and many of those in 3rd class, or steerage were considered expendable. Nevertheless, it was not just those in steerage who lost their lives when Titanic went down on April 12th, 1912.

As Titanic set sail on April 10th, here was much excitement. Those who were “lucky” enough to have secured passage, were to be envied. Of course, the rich and famous had no trouble paying for their passage, but the less fortunate had a different situation, and different accommodations. Many of the steerage passengers had spent their last penny to pay for their passage, and still they considered it money well spent, because they were heading to America for a better life. Little did any of the passengers in all three classes know that in just two days, their beautiful ship would be at the bottom of the ocean, along with many of her passengers and crew. It is here that I began to wonder what they were thinking as the ship sank beneath their feet, into the deep dark murky depths. I know most of them were just trying to find a way to get onto one of the life boats…of which there were too few by at least half, but did it also become that moment when they thought about what might have been for them…had they not taken this particular trip, on this particular ship. I think that anytime a person finds themselves faced with death, their thoughts turn to family, friends, and what might have been. Most luxury trips taken are for a few reasons…among them the scenery, a long awaited visit, or just the sheer luxury of this particular type of trip. No one really considers what might happen if things go wrong, or at the very least, we try not to think about it. Still, when the moment of emergency arrives, did the passengers of Titanic think that if only they had waited for Titanic’s next trip, they wouldn’t be here today…in this most horrible of situations, with so many others screaming in fear, because they knew they were about to die…unless a miracle happened for them.

Titanic was carrying 2,222 people (passengers and crew), when she set sail. Of those people only 706 would receive that miracle. For the rest, this would be the end of their life. Of the 706 survivors, 492 were passengers, and 214 were crew members, a fact that I find rather odd. The class distinctions were closer to expected, with 61% of first class passengers surviving, 42% of second class passengers surviving, and 24% of third class passengers surviving. That is a sad reality of a time when class was everything. I’m sure that all of these people felt that their lives were a tremendous gift, and I’m sure too that their lives changed in a big way. Still, I wonder about the final thoughts of the 1516 people who died that day. I’m sure they wished they had not taken the trip, and I’m sure that they regretted the fact that their family would be sad. It really doesn’t matter what they were thinking, I guess, because it was too late to change what was…for most of them anyway. For the holder of Ticket number 242154, it appears that it was not to late. The holder of that ticket is unknown, but they were given a full refund for their ticket, and it appears that they did not sail on Titanic. Perhaps, they had their ear to the Lord’s Word, and were told not to sail. Not knowing who this person was, we will never know for sure.

The United States is often called the Sleeping Giant. In the past, the United States has been known as the most powerful country in the world…back in the good old days, that is. Now China, Japan and Russia are also considered to be powerful countries where nuclear weaponry is concerned. The dollar was also the powerful currency, then and even now. The president of the United States was always considered the most powerful person, and I think still is today, or is moving back into that position. All these things considered, the United States was definitely a sleeping giant, because if it woke up it would do everything in its power to rectify things around the globe. As we saw on September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked our country. Like Toby Keith sang in his song Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue (The Angry American), “Justice will be served, and the battle will rage. This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage. And you’ll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A” That is notoriously the way the United States has been when it comes to world conflict…slow to anger, but once we are in a war…we are in it to win it!

The same held true for the other wars we have been in. We might not jump in early, but when we do…look out. On this day, April 6, 1917, the United States Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the United States House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally entered World War I. This action would be the one that would send my grandfather, George Byer to war. He was 24 years old. Grandpa didn’t talk much about his time in the war…at least not that I remember. I think that most of the men who came home after fighting in a war, are just happy to be home. They want to put it all behind them, and move forward with their lives, knowing that if it was ever necessary he would go back again. He was a patriot, and that was what patriots did. In fact, when the time came for the men to register for the “old man draft” of World War II…a time when men up to the age of 65 were required to register for the draft, Grandpa was honored to register, as were the other men between the ages of 45 and 65. These men felt like their time of usefulness was over, and when they were told that they were needed again, even if it was just for work on the home front, they all jumped at the chance to serve.

As for World War I, Grandpa would serve, and he would come home. Then, he would go on to live a long life…forever changed from the man he once was, because you see, war changes a man. They are changed by what they see, whether they were required to take a life or not. And if they were required to kill, then kill they would, because The Sleeping Giant had been awakened, and the Big Dog’s cage had been rattled. The United States would go to war, and they would win, along with their alleys, because losing was not an option…not if the world was to remain the kind of place we knew and loved. Germany was an evil empire, and that evil empire had to be stopped. I am very proud of my grandfather’s service, and I’m thankful that the Big Dog fought in this one and the other wars it has fought in. It was an important fight, and we needed to win it.

For anyone who has watched the process of getting a bill made law in Congress, the word Veto is a well known word. If the president doesn’t like the bill, he can always threaten to veto it, forcing Congress to get a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate to override his presidential veto. The exact number depends on how many representatives vote, so the actual number is subject to change. The word veto is Latin for I forbid, and it is the power used to unilaterally stop an official action, especially the enactment of legislation. Therefore, if the president doesn’t like the bill, even if it has passed the House and Senate, he can veto it to see if he can keep it from being passed on a second vote.

The first veto ever exercised was by President George Washington on April 5, 1792. The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the amount of seats for northern states. After consulting with his politically divided and contentious cabinet, President Washington, who came from the southern state of Virginia, ultimately decided that the plan was unconstitutional because it provided for additional representatives for some states, and it would have introduced a number of representatives higher than that allowed by the Constitution. After a discussion with the president, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter that votes for or against the bill were divided along perfectly geographical lines between the North and South. Jefferson observed that Washington feared that a veto would incorrectly portray him as biased toward the South. In the end, Jefferson was able to convince the president to veto the bill on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and introduced principles that were liable to be abused in the future. Jefferson suggested apportionment instead be derived from “arithmetical operation, about which no two men can ever possibly differ.” With Washington’s veto, the bill was sent back to Congress. Though representatives could have attempted to overrule the veto with a two-thirds vote, Congress instead threw out the original bill and instituted a new one that apportioned representatives at “the ratio of one for every thirty-three thousand persons in the respective States.” That is a much more fair plan, in my opinion. George Washington would go on to veto one more bill during his time in office. In February 1797, the former commanding general of the Continental Army vetoed an act that would have reduced the number of cavalry units in the army. Neither of the vetoes were overridden by Congress.

Thirty six of the 45 presidents have vetoed at least one bill, with the most regular vetoes going to Franklin D Roosevelt with 372…seconded by Grover Cleveland with 346. There is also something called a pocket veto, which is basically when the president simply does nothing…refusing to sign it into law, or to veto it outright, and it was used by a number of presidents as well. That one seems strange to me, but it seems to have the same procedure to pass the bill into law that the regular veto does. Politics is a messy business, because with so many people involved, there is bound to be differing opinions on what should be done. Nevertheless, try as he might, while the buck might stop at the president’s office, the bill might not, but only if Congress can get its collective act together and vote to override a presidential veto.

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