While most people look back on their childhood with fond memories, most of us would say our childhood was probably typical for the era we lived in. Of course, not every childhood is perfect, and some can be absolutely horrible. President Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1890, and spent his childhood years in Kentucky and Indiana. He personally summed up his childhood days on the frontier as “the short and simple annals of the poor.” While that is how Lincoln saw his childhood, he wasn’t the only one in that situation. The hardships he endured there as a child weren’t unique. Frontier life was harsh for most families in the early 1800s. Living and working on the frontier was hard work. In fact, sometimes the people worked as hard as their oxen and horses. According to Lincoln, his earliest memories were of life on the farm in Kentucky where he moved in 1811 with his parents, Thomas and Nancy, and sister, Sarah. She was four years old, and Abraham was two years old. His parents had been married five years.
At Knob Creek, in Kentucky, the Lincoln family lived in a one-room cabin with a dirt floor. The place was very similar to the place where Lincoln was born a mere nine miles way near Hodgenville. Steep, heavily wooded hills rose on each side of the home. Nevertheless, things were “looking up” on the Knob Creek farm, because while the place was leased, Lincoln’s father planted corn and pumpkins on wide fields with rich soil on the 30-acre farm. From the little dirt-floor cabin on the road from Louisville to Nashville, the Lincoln family watched as the “world passed” by. Pioneers with fully loaded wagons, peddlers, local politicians, slaves, missionaries and soldiers returning from the War of 1812.
Abraham’s dad, Thomas Lincoln, who was stern and often domineering, put his son to work before he turned seven. Of course, if you ask me, seven-year-olds can help out, provided that they aren’t mistreated in the process. Abraham filled the wood box, brought water from the creek, weeded the garden, gathered grapes for wine and jelly, picked persimmons for beer making and planted pumpkin seeds.
Lincoln didn’t have many opportunities to go to school, as was common in those days in rural Kentucky. For the most part he was self-taught. Mostly, he and his sister sporadically attended ABC schools—so-called “blab” schools in which students repeated their teacher’s oral lessons aloud. Usually barefoot, Lincoln walked to the one-room schoolhouse, “a little log room about 15 feet square, with a fireplace at one side.”
Two years later, Abraham’s mother, Nancy Lincoln died in the remote wilderness—the first of Lincoln’s many family tragedies. Nancy was a good mother, and her passing was heartbreaking for the Lincoln children. Apparently, she had consumed milk tainted when cows ate poisonous white snakeroot…although, some believed the cause of death was tuberculosis. She was just 34 years old. Eleven-year-old Sarah now became the woman of the house, and all domestic duties fell to her. The Lincoln children’s lives were worse than ever. That winter, the motherless children and their 19-year-old orphan cousin lived dismally in that place.
It didn’t take Thomas long to decide that he needed a new wife, so Thomas Lincoln traveled to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where he proposed to widow Sarah Bush Johnston, whom he had known since childhood. She accepted, provided Lincoln paid off her debts. On December 2, 1819, Thomas and Sarah married and later returned to Little Pigeon Creek, accompanied by her three children: Elizabeth, 13; Matilda, 10; and John, 9. Thomas’s new wife brought along furniture (including a walnut bureau valued at $50), cooking utensils and comfortable bedding…astonishing luxuries for her new stepchildren. She also brought several books, including the Bible and Aesop’s Fables, which she gifted to Abe. Things were looking up again in the Lincoln household. At his wife’s insistence, Thomas Lincoln installed a cabin floor and plastered cracks between logs. Instead of cornhusks, Abraham and his sister slept on a feather bed. The cramped conditions were no match for the love Sarah brught with her, and the family thrived. To make him look “more human,” Lincoln’s stepmother dressed up the poorly clad Abraham.
On the farm, Lincoln became skillful with an ax. But Thomas didn’t see the need for the reading his son loved. He wanted him to learn carpentry, but Abraham wasn’t interested, and the matter brought tension to the relationship. Sometimes the illiterate Thomas even reprimanded Abraham for reading instead of doing farm chores. Thankfully, Sarah Bush Lincoln persuaded her husband to allow their son to read and study. “At first, he was not easily reconciled to it,” she recalled, “but finally he too seemed willing to encourage him to a certain extent.” The bond between stepmother and stepson grew. Sarah Bush Lincoln recalled years later, “Abe was the best boy I ever saw.” I think we would a have to agree, he was not just a good boy, but a great man and a great president.
Brian Cratty is my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely’s partner and soulmate. Their relationship has blossomed and grown over the years, and Brian has become an important part of our family. He is there in the good times and in the bad, always lending a helping hand, wherever it is needed. That really falls right in line with several aspects of Brian’s character. Brian is a nature lover and spends a lot of time at the cabin he and Jennifer purchased on Casper Mountain. He loves to mountain bike and cross country ski off trail. For this reason, the cabin is where Brian likes to spend much of his time…year round. He like to wander around on the mountain, and in the summer, Brian and Jennifer can often be found cleaning up the forest. When I first heard that, I was surprised, but when you think about it, the wind blows all kinds of trash around, and the forest doesn’t somehow miss out on all that junk. If you want to be able to enjoy nature in the future, you have to help keep the place clean…right?
Brian is also a very good cook. It is a pastime he very much enjoys, and Jennifer doesn’t mind that either. Brian is retired, and Jennifer isn’t yet, so it’s nice that he can cook meals to be ready when she gets home. Brian is also a big movie buff. I’m not sure what his favorite movies are, but for many people, a nice dinner and a movie night make up the perfect date night. And, after a busy day at work or taking care of other things at the house and cabin, you are ready to relax and enjoy a quiet evening. Brian also likes to puzzle in the winter and always has one going at their house. Puzzles are not my thing, but Brian finds puzzles to be very relaxing.
Brian not only loves nature and the outdoors, but he loves bringing nature indoors too. Brian has a room that has been dubbed the “Plant Room,” and it is literally full of Brian’s plants. He has a true green thumb, and maybe I should have him stop by an touch my plants for me. I think they might perk up with the help of someone with a green thumb. He is one with nature.
As our family has been embracing family time once a month, with a family dinner, I have had a chance to see another side of Brian. Brian is a strategist, and he enjoys playing games. He and their oldest grandchild, 8 year old Reagan Parmely, have been playing games after dinner. Some of these games, like chess, are quite complicated, and Brian (who reminds me of my Uncle Bill Spencer, when we played Cribbage) patiently teaches Reagan the game, but doesn’t give her the game. I don’t care what anyone says, when my Uncle Bill taught me to play Cribbage and didn’t give me the game, I was thankful, because when I did finally beat him…I did it honestly. The victory was real. There is just something to be said for teaching someone the game, versus giving them the game. I really respect that. Today is Brian’s birthday, Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My Aunt Doris Spencer is a wonderful woman who has always had a great sense of humor and a great imagination. When my mom, Collene Byer Spencer married my dad, Allen Spencer, they moved from Casper, Wyoming to Superior, Wisconsin. Dad’s family was from Superior, and most still lived there, so Dad was quite comfortable going home again. Mom was a young bride, who didn’t know anyone there, but found a new sister-in-law and best friend in Aunt Doris. They quickly became inseparable. They lived across the back yard from each other…there was no ally to separate the homes, but rather, just a fence and a gate. It was a great place to raise cousins, their children, together.
I am reminded sometimes, of my aunt and uncle’s cabin at Lake Superior, and all the fun we had there over the years. Everything from time spent in the Lake, to the drive out too the lake. Wonderful memories all. My sister, Cheryl and I were talking about a particularly funny incident the other day. Our Uncle Bill was already at the cabin, and Aunt Doris and my cousin Pam, their daughter, were coming out later. As she drove, probably is a hurry for the weekend at the cabin to begin, she wasn’t really paying close attention to the speed of the car. Before she became aware that she was speeding, she heard sirens coming up behind her. Like most of us the feeling of immediate dread leapt up, but I don’t think Aunt Doris had ever received a ticket in her life. She was really very shook up about it. I’m not sure she even knew how shook up she was, but I’m sure that her daughter knew how shook up she was, because Aunt Doris mentioned later that Pam had said, “Are you afraid of that man, Mommy?”
The police officer, told her she had been speeding, and that he was going to have to give her a ticket. He went back to his car to write the ticket. For her part, Aunt Doris simply drove away. I can only imagine what went through the police officers mind. I’m sure he knew that Aunt Doris wasn’t any kind of a criminal. No one, whether they knew Aunt Doris or not, could possibly have though she could be a criminal. She simply wasn’t the type…couldn’t possibly be the type. So, he didn’t go after the woman who, being shook up, had driven away instead of waiting for her ticket.
Aunt Doris arrived at the cabin, and told Uncle Bill about the police officer and the speeding ticket. I’m sure that it was very clear to him that she was very shook up about the whole incident. After listening to her account of the traffic stop, Uncle Bill said, “Well ok. Let’s see the ticket.” Aunt Doris asked, a bit shocked, “What ticket?” Uncle Bill said, “The ticket he gave you!!” Then the realization came, probably to both of them, that there was no ticket, because she had simply driven away. Of course, my Uncle Bill, being quite mischievous, began to tell her that the police were going to be after her for leaving, and I can just picture my rather innocent aunt “freaking out” at the thought of the police showing up to “haul her off” in handcuffs. Of course, no such arrest ever took place, because the police officer, simply passed the event off as the actions of a woman who had never received a ticket before, and was terribly shook up about it. Besides, just imagine going back to the station and telling the guys that a woman drove away when he was trying to write her a ticket. Would he become the laughingstock, or maybe he did tell them, and they all laughed at the situation, and agreed that he couldn’t give her a ticket now…he just couldn’t!!
Today is my Aunt Doris’ 96th birthday, and while she like most people in the United States is under lockdown, it isn’t because of any arrest, because that arrest never came. She is living quietly, still in Superior, Wisconsin, and doing very well indeed…clear in mind, and healthy in body, for which we are all thankful, Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!
When my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely met her partner, Brian Cratty, I remember thinking about how quiet he was. I suppose it isn’t surprising to have someone be a little quiet when meeting a large family like ours is. It takes a brave person to walk into a big family for the first time. I know, because I’ve been there. So when Jennifer brought Brian to meet the family I felt a little bit sorry for him. It’s sort of like standing before a crowd of hundreds of people to give your first public speech, and you’re 13 years old. Once you get to know Brian, you can see the gentle, kind man that Jennifer fell in love with.
Brian and Jennifer are soulmates. They have the same interests, and are going in the same direction. They love spending time on the mountain, and the time of year doesn’t matter a bit. For them, Summer is no different than Winter, when it comes to how much they like it that is. I personally don’t care for Winter…in any location. I love the mountains, but in the Summer, when I can hike. Brian and Jennifer, and most of their family, love to ski, so the mountain in the Winter is great for them too. Brian likes to ski, and hike, but one of his favorite activities in mountain biking. He gets on his bicycle and hits the trails around their cabin on the mountain. She might not see him for an hour at a time, because he is out there in his own world.
Brian has been such a blessing to Jennifer’s family, and to the rest of our family. The little kids love him, and he is very good to them. He fits in well with all of us, and while he is a quiet man, he can carry on a great conversation with the best of ’em. We all love having him around, and he is a great partner to Jennifer, and grandpa to the babies. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My cousin, Shirley Cameron is what can only be call a Modern Pioneer Woman. Not many people were living off the grid when she and her parents and brother moved to their mountain top in Washington state. They built 3 cabins. Her brother later moved to town, but her parents, Ruth and Jim, lived there for the rest of Ruth’s life and until fire destroyed their cabin, and Jim, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease had to be moved to a nursing home, where he lived out the remainder of his days. That left Shirley and her husband Shorty, and their grandson Tyrel living off the grid on the top of Wolfe Mountain.
After Shorty’s passing, in 2016, Shirley and Tyrel live up there alone. Oh they have neighbors, down the mountain, and Tyrel’s mom lives not too far away, but in town. Shirley and Tyrell just like living in the wilderness far from civilization. I really don’t think Shirley will ever leave her mountain. The views up there are breathtaking, and she gets to see lots of wild animals. Nevertheless, winter can be long and lonely. There are times when getting off the mountain just isn’t going to happen, because the snow is too deep. They have to have enough food to last for a very long time, because running out of food would be bad. There is a well, so water is not a problem, and they use a generator for electricity, so they do have to have enough fuel to run that. Still, summer will come around again, and everything is renewed.
These days, more and more people are living off the grid. It has become almost “fashionable” for people to get away from the city and all of its ties to utilities, phones, and water. With cell phones, people can still be connected to a degree, if they choose to be, but they can also shut it off when they don’t want to be connected. I think Shirley likes to be disconnected sometimes. It gives her time with her own thoughts. Being a modern day pioneer woman is not a way of life for the faint of heart. A person has to be comfortable in their own company. I don’t know if it would be something I could handle, but Shirley has done well with it, and I commend her for it. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Sometimes, you meet the love of your life the second time around. That’s how it was for my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely when she met her other half, Brian Cratty. These two are so much alike that they practically finish each other’s sentences. They have the same goals and they are going in the same direction with their lives. They have been a blessing in each other’s lives, and it is a sweet thing to watch.
Brian is rather a quiet guy, with a kind and loving spirit. I think he is most at home seated on his bicycle, weaving back an forth over the mountain trails. Brian and Jennifer have a friend who owned a cabin on Casper Mountain, and then moved away. While he was gone, he asked them to keep an eye on his cabin, and in exchange, they could use it whenever they wanted. They jumped at the chance, and when their friend decided to sell the cabin, he offered it to them, and they were delighted to buy it. Anyone who has owned a cabin on the mountains, know that there is always this or that improvement to do, and so Brian and Jennifer have been doing lots of updates to it so that they and their family can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Casper Mountain. Since they bought the cabin, it is their home away from home…when they aren’t traveling, that is. Brian and Jennifer love to travel to areas of the United States where they can find new trails to hike and bike…as well as seeing the local sights.
Brian is a licensed pilot, but I don’t know how much flying he does these days. I’m sure it is enough to keep his license in place. He was a pilot for the Wyoming Medical Center until his retirement from there, but as any pilot would say, flying is in your blood, and you fly every chance you get. He has done corporate flying, but I think he just likes being retired for the most part. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, Steve Moore is one of the most at home in the mountains people I know. He and his wife, my niece, Machelle love sending time in the Big Horn Mountains near their home in Powell, Wyoming. Their favorite thing to do there is to go exploring on new trails or roads, in areas they haven’t explored before. This past summer, while exploring such an area,the came across a cabin. It was in such a beautiful setting, and of course, it heightened their desire to have their own cabin in the mountains, which I truly believe they will have one day. They had seen the road to the cabin before, and that day, they decided to go see where it led them. I think that if anyone I know could live off the grid, it would be Steve and Machelle. Steve is extremely handy when it comes to building things, and living off the land.
Last winter, Steve decided to build a gun. It is a 22 Dasher. Steve has a Labradar Witch, which is a devise that tells you how fast your bullets are going. He can measure the speed, and decide if he wants to add or subtract gun powder for reloading. The gun shoots accurately, and Steve got a couple few Rock-Chucks this summer on the mountain. While it is a great gun, it isn’t one that you want to have to pack very far, because it is pretty heavy. Their youngest son, Easton got to shoot Steve’s 1911 for the first time this summer. their older so Weston is four years older, and so has been shooting or a while now. Their ideal camping sot is one where nobody else is around for miles, so target practice can be done from camp. Another thing Steve likes to do in camp, is experiment with the fire. Of course, he is careful, but he can say for sure that discarded bacon grease will make the flames flair up nicely.
Steve got a chainsaw from a really good friend last year, so firewood is never in short supply. He never has to be asked twice to go to get some firewood for camp, or for his father-in-law, LJ Cook’s garage. In fact they have so much now, that he had to tell us that’s enough…for probably the whole next winter. Te way Steve and Machelle see it, better to have too much, than not enough. Needless to say there is also always enough firewood for camp too! Camping is a way of life for the Moore family, and this summer they tried to go someplace different, instead of always doing the same things, in the same places. They had a great time exploring new roads, hiking around, and just enjoying each others company. It was great while summer lasted, but they said that it sure went fast this year. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
During the week, my nephew, Sean Mortensen is a hard working family man. His loves, and top priorities are his girlfriend, Amanda Reed, and their daughter, Jaydn Mortensen, who arrived 14 years ago, the day before his birthday. She was his early birthday present that year. Sean works hard to make their life great. A few years back,they bought a house, and together, he and Amanda are making it into their dream home. Sean and Amanda encourage their daughter to be active and enjoy a variety of sports, but her favorite is horses for sure,and her parents are happy about that.
When the working day is done, and especially when the weekend rolls around in the summer, Sean takes his family and heads for the lake. They meet up with a group of friends, and the fun begins. Most weekends will find everyone at Seminole Reservoir boating, and their favorite time is when they find themselves alone at the lake…just their group and all that water. All the kids can swim and hang out to their hearts content, and the parents are right there with them. There is never a dull moment…even in the evening. Cabin to me might fight a little Kung Fu fighting, in good fun, of course. It’s also a time to relax and visit with everyone, or laugh about the funny things that happened that day…because there is always something funny that happened.
Sean is a fun loving guy who loves making people laugh. He doesn’t care what it takes, and he isn’t above funny faces and goofy jokes. While Sean sees life as a happy place, he is also a solid kind of guy, who wants the very best for his girls. He loves Amanda and Jaydn very much, and no one is more important to him in this world. They are his whole life, and they are a wonderful family. they are a team. They work together, have great goals in life, and they have fun together…so let the fun begin!! Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Brian Cratty, who is my sister-in-law Jennifer Parmely’s partner is a somewhat quiet man, who is very likable. They share so many common interests, the biggest of which is the love of the outdoors. That means hiking, skiing, and of course, Brian’s favorite, bicycling. They love to be in the mountains, and so when the chance came up to buy a cabin on Casper Mountain, they took it. For the past few years, they have been spending time fixing up their little cabin so that it can be a place where they can gather with their family and just enjoy the beauty of the mountain.
Brian is a retired pilot, so he likes those high altitudes, but being on the mountain is much different from flying above it. Still, there is something about being up there. Live is different on the mountain. It’s quieter and more relaxed. The air is fresh and clean, and the trees smell amazing. Who could blame Brian for wanting a cabin up there. The area where their cabin is, has an abundance of trees, and it is very peaceful. The location is perfect for both hiking and bicycling because it is near a trail.
Brian and Jennifer are so good together. They are two people who are happily going in the same direction, and that is always a good thing. Their blended family seems to do well with it too, even though the kids are all grown and living on their own. The thing I think I like best about Brian, however, is his caring nature. He is so good to Jennifer, and that goes a long way when a guy joins a family. Being the new guy on the block is never easy, but when you have a kindness about you, and you don’t force your own way, it gets a whole lot easier. That is exactly the kind of guy Brian is. I remember when I first met him. He wasn’t loud and boisterous, but had a relaxed way, or maybe such a big family was simply overwhelming. Either way, we really think he is a great addition to the family. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian! Have a great day!! We love you!
Brian Cratty, who is my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely’s partner, is just as athletic as she is. They love to hike, ski, snow shoe, and a variety of other activities together. Last September, they hiked the Colorado Trail, which culminated in 14,000 foot peak. Jennifer told me that it was pretty difficult, and since that is quite a bit higher than the highest hike I have made, I can only imagine. From what I understand, Brian did very well with it, however. Maybe the fact that Brian is a pilot has something to do with being able to acclimate to those higher altitudes. Brian is retired now, but he spent a number of years flying for Wyoming Medical Center, where Jennifer is a nurse.
While Jennifer likes hiking more than bicycling, the same cannot be said of Brian. When we decided to take a group hike, Brian went off ahead on his bicycle. He crisscrossed all over the trail we were on, but oddly we only saw him once while we hiked. Brian and Jennifer love to spend time on the mountain, and a while back, they came into a sweet deal. They had been using a friends cabin, in exchange for keeping an eye on it, and since he hadn’t been back to Wyoming to use it in quite some time, and had the need for some money to pay medical bills, he offered to sell the cabin to Brian and Jennifer. And they jumped at the chance. Now they spend as much time as they can, at the cabin, fixing it up and just enjoying it. It is going to be really nice when they get it done.
Jennifer has been so happy since she met Brian, and we are all very happy for her. They really make a great team. He is a kindhearted and compassionate person, and that has been a blessing over the past few years, especially when the family lost their dad, Walt Schulenberg. I don’t know if his compassion has to do with his years of flying Life Flight or not, but I tend to think that he is just a very kind person, and he understands the needs of those around him. It is a wonderful trait to have. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!