Since the beginning of this country, its citizens have been moving. We are a nation of pioneers. We came from many other countries to start a new life in a new land, and we seldom settle down in the place where we started, although, some do. Some of the pioneers in this country seemed, almost out of place in their new surroundings. When I look at pictures of some of my family’s ancestors, such as Mary DeGood, my husband’s great great grandmother, I see a woman, who had the innocence of many people had who started out life in the eastern part of our country, and later a strength that comes from living in the west. Many pioneer women seemed to take on the roughness of the west when they moved in the mid to late 1800’s, and there is nothing wrong with that, because it took a tough woman to make it in the west, just like it took tough men to make it in the west. Many of the people who came out west, couldn’t make it. They didn’t have the strength of character, or the physical stamina to handle this rugged country. Those who weren’t tough enough, went back home.
Bob’s great great grandmother had those qualities, and many people seemed to realize it, because she was well known and respected in the town of Prosser, Washington. It isn’t often that a woman is considered a pioneer in a community, but she was. Mostly, it is the men we think of when we think of pioneers, but where would those men have been without their wives. While they probably wouldn’t admit it to their wives and families. They were the main reason men headed out west…to find a better life for them and their families.
Still, it was a rare man who really made a good life in the west alone. They may have started out alone, but before long they knew they didn’t want to go on alone. That was a wise man for sure. Bob’s great great grandparents married and soon headed out west, finally settling in Prosser,Washington. The people of Prosser considered them to be pioneers of their town. They were respected and revered, and upon their passing, they were given a pioneer’s send off. A pioneer’s last call.
As I have been going through the pictures from my grandmother’s album, I keep coming across pictures with life sized dolls in them. I know that all little girls like dolls, but these dolls seem to have some special significance to them, as they were so often included in the pictures, and even photographed by themselves. That seems rather strange to me, but I guess the times could have been different and different things were done. Still, when you start seeing pictures with a young man looking at the dolls, you have to wonder if there is simply something more to this. I have my own theory on it, so let’s see if you agree.
I really don’t think that most young men would want to be photographed with a doll. It just isn’t how most boys are. Still, here were multiple pictures of dolls and this one with the young man and the doll. It started to occur to me that possibly, there was one or maybe several doll makers in my family. It is probably something I will never know for sure, but the pictures do indicate a definite connection to the doll world.
It reminds me a little bit, of the way pets become a part of the family. Here we have dolls in the pictures, like they are one of the kids. And the really great thing is that these dolls even look like people. The doll maker did a very good job on them. They looked so real. I suppose the doll maker looked at it as an art. And today, with everything being mass produced and computer stamped, a doll with a hand painted face would be a very rare item indeed.
No matter where the doll infatuation came from, it seemed to be there to stay in my grandmother’s family. I may never really know why there were so many dolls in the pictures in my grandmother’s album, but in my imagination, I can picture it any way I want too. In my imagination, I can almost see a booming business, selling life sized dolls.
I always thought I knew so much about Bob’s grandmother on his Dad’s side. We didn’t get to see her as much as we would have liked, but when we did, I was sure I could see in her home, all the things she liked and disliked. Looking around her home you would find the piano and the sewing machine in the living room, along with a small television that was never turned on. Grandma was always working on something. Over the years she made many quilts and afghans, and of course, she sewed many clothing items. Her living room also housed a collection of photo albums, that hold the treasures of her life…her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Her kitchen was a flurry of activity almost from morning until night. The radio was the main, and usually the only form of entertainment and it was usually on the station with the farm and ranch report. It seemed like Grandma was always cooking. Living on a ranch meant that she was up with the sun. Grandpa had to have breakfast early so he could milk the cows and feed the livestock. Lunch was always the biggest meal of the day. After breakfast, Grandpa worked up a big appetite taking care of the animals, and nothing would take care of it like a big home cooked meal.
Grandpa liked to play cards whenever we were there, and we always needed a fourth player, so Grandma was pulled from her duties so we could play. I could always tell that she didn’t feel like she should be sitting down wasting time playing cards, when there was so much work to be done. Nevertheless, she played, because she wanted our visit to be fun for us. She was quick to abdicate her chair, if anyone else was willing to sit in it, however. She finally got a break from cards, when we went to town to visit the rest of the family in Forsyth, or when Grandpa needed to take a nap, which he did every afternoon. But that never meant that she would sit and idly watch television. No, Grandma took that time to bake, clean, quilt, or some other productive activity.
Grandma just never liked having idle hands, which is why I was so surprised to find out that Grandma was a San Francisco 49er’s fan. Football seemed so far outside of her nature that it was something akin to having an elephant sitting in the chair next to you. Now more and more women are getting into sports of all kinds, and watching football on television is a big part of that. I am a Denver Broncos fan, myself. But for Grandma, that just seemed so foreign. And then to top it off, I found out that she also loved baseball. Now, more women liked baseball in times past, but it still seemed foreign to Grandma…at least the Grandma I thought I knew. And, I’m not alone in that thought, because my family didn’t know it either. I have to wonder what other little things there are about Grandma that we never knew.
When Prince William married Kate Middleton, the world became enthralled with the hats that were being worn by the elite female guests. It was as if the hat was the only part of the outfit that mattered. I watched when Prince Charles married my distant cousin, Diana Spencer, but I don’t recall so much fuss over the hats the women wore. Maybe there was a big fuss, but it just wasn’t what stuck in my mind. This time, however, the hats were the most important part of the pre-ceremony coverage. I was never one to wear hats much, in fact pretty much never by choice, so I couldn’t see the draw they seemed to have on the people in England. I suppose if I lived in England, I might think differently, and I also suppose that some of my English relatives would think I was a bit on the rogue side, for not conforming to the style.
I would also suppose that my grandmother, on my dad’s side, might be inclined to agree with them, if she were still alive, because she came from the era that had American women dressing somewhat similar to the English women…right down to the hats. When I look and those hats, all I can think, is how in the world do they keep their heads from flopping over from the weight of the hat. Now, I know that some of the hats were very light weight, even though they were big, but there were still those hats that weighed quite a lot. And the styles…well, wow!! Some of those women carried half a garden’s worth of flowers on their heads. They adorned them with peacock feathers, fake birds, ribbons, and many other such items. You could tell a woman’s social status by the hats they wore. And both the men and the women looked at the hats the women wore, although the men probably looked at the hats less that the other women at the event.
It’s not that I don’t like the look of a fancy hat on a woman, and in fact, I think many are just beautiful. I just wouldn’t want to have to wear one of them, myself. However, on my grandmother, those hats had a way of looking stunning. I have always thought my grandmother was beautiful, and so petite. She had an elegance about her that made you stop and take a second look.You just knew that she and her sisters were women of class and style. They knew what was the latest style, and they knew how to look elegant in those styles. They wore stylish dresses, carried parasols, and oh, those hats.
Sometimes in life, you find yourself receiving a treasure so priceless that it overwhelms you. I have been so blessed several times, and yet, each new blessing finds me as overwhelmed as the last one, or even the first one. I’m sure that you are wondering what I would have that is priceless. You might find yourself surprised, but it is old photographs…lots of them. I have received old photographs from my mom’s family, my dad’s family, and from both of Bob’s parents families. The latest priceless treasure came in the form of old photographs in my Grandma Spencer’s photo album.
While visiting my cousin, Shirley this past week, she brought out an album for us to see. I had no idea the album existed. We had not seen my cousin for a number of years, and the album had been given to her mother upon her grandmother’s death. Then it was given to Shirley upon her mother’s death. It had been in her possession since 1992, and now, 21 years later, during our visit, we were able to look through its contents together, and we were all very excited by what we found.
I suppose many people would think I was a little crazy, because old photographs get me very excited, but for me…they are treasures. They are the people of my past, my family, and many times they are faces I have never seen before. We found pictures this time that we believe to be the only ones in existence of our great grandparents…my dad’s grandparents on his mother’s side. We knew their names, but we didn’t know there were pictures of them…anywhere!! It was a priceless treasure!!
Shirley quickly scanned the pages of the album and we loaded them onto my flash drive. Now, I am in the process of separating the pictures out and digitally refocusing them, so that they are much clearer. Soon we will be able to see their faces much better. To me, that is amazing…especially since prior to this time, we didn’t even know they excited…not even Shirley, until we all looked at them very closely. We all felt so close to them. Suddenly, the names had faces. It was an incredible find. It is beyond my ability to fully tell you what that means to me. I will always fell blessed by the priceless treasure of Grandma’s photo album.
Through these past few years, I have been looking through my family’s old pictures, and while many are still of unknown people, many have now been named. The funny thing is that while some were completely unknown, some were ones I was sure were my dad and his siblings. This one in particular, was one I had thought was my Uncle Bill, my Aunt Ruth, and my dad, but my sister, Cheryl didn’t think so. Then when she looked again,she realized that it was. Neither Cheryl nor my cousin, Shirley was sure of all the people at first, but then realized it was.
I have been looking at that picture for a while now, and wanting to write about these 3 little kids who were so cute and looked so much like my aunt, uncle and my dad, but without the identities of the children for sure, I couldn’t write about it. The picture is taken in front of what appears to me to be a one room schoolhouse. I think that mostly because of the difference in the ages of the three children, and the friends who were in it before I cropped it.
My dad is the younger boy and the one who, while trying to smile, seems to be the most bothered by the sun in his face. Most of us try to smile without squinting, but little kids have more trouble with such things…or maybe it is a boy thing, since my Aunt Ruth doesn’t seem to be having a problem.
I am excited at this find, as I am about all old pictures of my family and especially my dad. I feel a closeness to my dad and my past every time I come across these pictures. I loved school, and so the one room schoolhouse is especially interesting to me. I have often wondered what it would have been like to attend such a school, and I think it is very cool that my dad did. I guess the past isn’t so far back as it seems sometimes.
My Uncle Bill is the 2nd child of my dad’s parents, and at 91, he is the one who has lived the longest. He is the last one left. That is something that I find to be sad for those of us who have lost our parent from the Spencer side, and happy that Uncle Bill is still with us. Reaching the age of 90 was something Uncle Bill never expected, and now, he has gone beyond that, and as far as we know, he will still be here next year and the year after that. And that does make me glad, because I love him very much and really don’t want him to leave us yet. I’m happy that God has blessed him with long life.
His health is good, but I suspect he has forgotten more about the family history than most of us will ever know. Uncle Bill became interested in the family history as a young man, and he has kept extensive records. The records he has are more than remarkable, because it was mostly done without the help of computers. He received some help later in life that involved computers, but his research was not done that way. I have also done a lot of research on my family tree, and it was Uncle Bill who inspired me to do so. I must say, however, that I did use the computer a lot, so my research has come from the work of many other people too. Not as remarkable as Uncle Bill’s work, but effective just the same.
Uncle Bill’s life was based in many ways on his childhood experiences. From his love of guns and antiques, to his management skills, he watched those people he respected and sometimes even took on the same causes, as is the case with the aunt who got him started in genealogy. The guns came from his personal experience, and his love of antiques was what got his longest career going. He collected everything… guns, coins, stamps, and antique furniture. Then he decided to start a shop to buy, sell and trade those items. His shop was an amazing place, because you never knew what treasures were hidden there. Eventually, he started a mail order business, and sold his items all over the country, and probably the world.
Today is Uncle Bill’s 91st birthday, and I’m sure that if he were not retired, you would still find him working at his shop in Superior, Wisconsin, doing his very best to make that next sale, or sitting with one of the people that used to stop by just to visit, and talk about old times. Happy birthday Uncle Bill!! We love you very much and hope you have a wonderful day!!
With her marriage to Prince William, almost 2 years ago, Kate Middleton added another facet to my family’s connection to the British Monarchy. I had always known that I was related to Diana Spencer, who became the Princess Diana that we all know of and loved, and later I found out that my husbands family also has ties to Princess Diana. Now, I find that my son-in-law has ties to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, or Kate as we all know her, even if the Queen hates it. Kevin’s grandmother’s maiden name was Hettie Middleton, and Kevin asked me if he might be related to Kate, when she and Prince William became engaged.
Now, we all quickly found out that Kate and William were actually distant cousins, as I have now also found out Bob and I are, and that tied her to my family and to Bob’s, but not to Kevin’s. I began researching Hettie Middleton’s background, and after a couple of hours, I had my answer. Indeed, Kevin is related to Kate Middleton, on his grandmother’s side, thereby adding another facet to the connection.
I know there are many people in the United States, who are related to the British Monarchy, and may be even more closely related than my family is, but having known about my British connections to the Monarchy and to Winston Spencer Churchill, has made me very aware of them throughout my life. I have always loved being related to them, but never more than with Princess Diana, who was so very special, and with William, Kate, and Harry, all of whom I consider wonderful people. William and Harry, and now Kate have managed to be so much more in touch with the people of England. The British Monarchy, like many monarchies, have always been known for a great degree of stuffiness. I have to credit that to their mother, Princess Diana who did her very best to teach them about the real world and those that they would someday be ruling over. I think she got that across quite well, in that they and Kate are much more comfortable talking to and being around the people of England, than any of the others.
Today Kate celebrates her 31st birthday, and this summer, she will give birth to the future King or Queen of England, and that will add yet another person to the connection that my family has to the British Monarchy. I am very excited for them, and I add my birthday wishes to Kate, as I’m sure many others around the world, do as well. Happy birthday Kate!! Have a wonderful day!!
About a year and 4 months ago, while I was researching my family tree, I came across someone else who was researching his family tree, and my Aunt Ruth, my dad’s sister was in that tree. Since his name and his user name were not the same, I contacted him to ask what his relation to my Aunt Ruth was. I was quite surprised to hear that he was my aunt’s grandson, Larry. That was strange too in that my mom had just said that she had wanted to get in touch with Shirley, my Aunt Ruth’s daughter, because she wanted to give her our grandmother’s wedding dress and we had been out of touch with that side of the family since Aunt Ruth’s passing in 1992. This all seemed too amazing to be simply chance. I believe it was a journey the Lord wanted our families to take, and one that would turn out to be a journey we would cherish for the rest of our lives.
Meeting up with Larry in the very near future seemed very unlikely given the fact that he was in the service and stationed in Korea. To further complicate matters, he planned to stay in Korea following his retirement. When Larry retired however, things in Korea had changed. The place he had intended to work, had implemented a hiring freeze. There was no work there for him. Larry and his son, Nehemiah returned to Washington state where his family lives. The job situation there was no better, until a friend suggested that he go to truck driving school. Larry was unsure that he would be able to learn to drive a truck, but with his friend’s encouragement, he went to school and found that this was a perfect fit for him. He loves driving truck.
Yesterday, Larry’s route found him driving through Wyoming. He posted a picture saying that it was a picture of the sunset in Wyoming. I asked where he was in Wyoming, and at the same time his mom was asking the same question. When she found that he was in Casper, she called me and told me. She gave me his phone number, and I called my mom and sister, Cheryl. Within half an hour, mom, Cheryl, her granddaughter, Aleesia, my grandson Caalab, and I were sitting at Perkins, having pie and a great visit with Larry. It was like coming full circle for our families. We had not seen them in 20 years, and yet it felt like just yesterday. The crazy thing about it is that neither Larry, being his family’s photographer, nor I, the one who uses pictures every day to tell the stories I tell on my blog, thought for one minute about taking a picture to commemorate the visit. Can you believe it?? I hope Larry’s route will soon find him in Casper again, and since he has my phone number now, he can let us know ahead of time, so we can have a longer visit, and bring more of the family…and take pictures!!!
I never knew my Great Grandpa Byer, because he passed away in 1930, long before I was born. Most of what I know of him comes from my genealogy research, pictures I have found, and the stories I have heard from my mom. The first time I remember hearing about him was when I gave birth to my oldest daughter, Corrie. My mother mention that I might want to name her Cornelia, so that it would be after her great great grandpa. I was not willing to go so far as to change the name I had chosen, but the name did attach itself to Corrie anyway, in the form of a nickname…that I loved, by the way.
My research told me that my great grandfather was born in Russia, which very much surprised me, as I thought that part of the family came from Germany. My mother filled in the blanks there, by telling me that in the 1780’s, my 6th great grandfather, who was concerned because of wars in Europe, and wanting to keep his family, and especially his son safe from the increasing German interest in jumping into the war. So, he moved his family to Russia, where my part of the family would live until, my great grandfather’s family immigrated to the United States. He eventually settled in South Dakota, where he married my great grandmother.
Picture documentation, at the point, places my great grandparents on a homestead in Nebraska. During his time in South Dakota and Nebraska, he befriended many of the Indians in the area. He was well respected by them and was invited to their Pow Wow’s. It is at this point in the family history that I came across another picture that made me wonder about its inclusion in the other family pictures. It still seems odd to me, but my mom assures me with her story, that it indeed fits in the family history. The picture is of a group of men in a pool hall. When I asked mom about the picture, she told me that she didn’t know the men in the picture, but the pool hall had belonged to her grandfather. I am still trying to figure out how he went from homesteading to a pool hall owner, but that is what he did. I’m sure that like most career changes, the decision was based on the income possibilities, because the main thing is to be able to support your family. The pool hall is not surprising to me because of what it was, but because of the fact that he had been a homesteader and farmer by trade for so long. Things change, as the needs change, and that is as simple as that. He saw a way to make a living, or even supplement the family income, and he did it. It is an interesting twist to my history.