Recently, my cousin, Shirley Cameron shared a post of Facebook about eye color. The post was simply about green eyes being rare, but Shirley posted that her eyes change color according to her moods, something that has to be more rare than green eyes. She stated that they change from blue to green to gray depending on the mood she is in. If they are blue she is happy, green she is really angry, and gray she is feeling pretty neutral. Now, I don’t know how many people out there have eyes that change color like that, but I suddenly found out that it tends to run in my family. I have always known that my own eyes change color like that, although I had not associated the changes with my moods before. That might be something to look into…no pun intended. My grandson, Caalab Royce has eyes that change color that way, but I think he is the only one of the kids.
I was very excited to see that post, and I told Shirley, that mine do that too. I suggested that it must run in the family. No sooner had I said that, than our cousin, Shawn Fredrick posted that his eyes do that too. Well, now I was really intrigued. If it runs in the family, then it must be from our Spencer/Schumacher background, because all four of us have that in common. That said, I have to wonder how many of the other too numerous to name cousins from that family have this same trait. Of course, I hope that with this writing, we may find out the answer to that question. We often think of our parents, grandparents, and sometimes even further back in our family histories when we look in the mirror and wonder who we really look like. We compare similarities, such as nose, eye color or shape, chin, hair color, build…well, the list goes on, but you get my point. Still, one trait that is difficult to see in a photograph, is eye color changes. That is something that has to somehow be brought up in a conversation before the reality jumps out at you, that you may not be unique in this trait. That was the kind of revelation that came to me when Shirley posted that remark about her eyes. This trait must be in the genes, because there are at least four of us that have eyes like that!!
I’m used to being told by people that my eyes change colors. I have been told that much like a chameleon, my eyes match my clothing or surroundings. I have even been asked if I wear colored contacts to achieve those eye color changes…the answer by the way, is no. And I knew that my grandson’s eyes changed colors, but somehow, I didn’t think any further back than that. Really!! How strange is it that I, a serious genealogy buff, who has come across multiple look alikes between modern day and ancestral family members, never thought about where this unusual trait might have come from. Of course now, as it would have been then, I wouldn’t know where to start. As I said, pictures don’t reveal eye color changes. That said, I guess that all I can do is to see how many cousins have this same trait, and which side of the family they come from. Of course, even if we find out it is from one or the other, the fact remains that we would then need to go to the next couple and see which side of that line it comes from. I’m sure you, like I agree that this is a daunting task, with very little chance of getting very far, but as is the case with most of genealogy…you just have to put the knowledge you do have out there, and see what will come from it.
As little girls, my sisters and I would get very excited when our different grown cousins, aunts, or uncles would come over. Like all little kids, we would want to hang out with the adults, and tell them about everything we knew…or could dream up. I think this is as common among kids, as breathing is. Maybe it is about someone new to listen to your stories or maybe it’s that everyone in the household has already heard them, so they don’t want to listen again…or maybe it’s just that you like the person who has showed up. Whatever the reason, you just can’t seem to hold yourself back…or at least that was how it was when I was a kid.
Now, fast forward about 50 years. A couple of days ago, I had to take some groceries to my nieces house for my grandson’s graduation party, which she is graciously holding at her home for my daughter. I had called to let them know I was coming, and they were on a walk, so when I got there, I just waited in my car. Pretty quickly, two of my grand nephews, Xander and Isaac came running up to my car. They had run ahead, obviously excited that I was there. Xander is twelve now, and so was a little better able to contain his excitement, but Isaac being only eight, was not able to do so as easily. While Xander ran back to let his parents know I was there, Isaac decided that he could bring everything up to the porch. He proudly carried five bags at once, and the bags were up on the porch in no time.
After his parents got back to the house, we were inside talking, and the kids, including Zack and Aleesia, all wanted to tell me or show me things. They were so excited to have me there. I was suddenly taken back those 50 plus years, to my own childhood, and I could so completely relate to how they were feeling. I could tell that their parents, Jenny and Steve Spethman, were thinking that they should stop the kids from chattering, but for me, it was really cute. I guess that it gave me a picture of what my sisters and I had looked like to our family members all those years ago. I don’t think they were ever irritated with us. They just knew that we loved them very much. As I recall, they always listened to our stories and made us feel like we belonged…never acting like we should just go play. I thought that now, I was that aunt that all the little ones were so excited to see and talk to. It made me smile, because it was such a special place to be.
Years ago, I received a CD with a large amount of information on the Knox family, which is my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s mother, Joann Knox’s family. Knowing that these people…dozens of them…are related to you, and knowing how and where they fit in are two very different things. I have been trying to get them connected through Ancestry.com, for years, but really wasn’t able to successfully make the connections until I met John Knox, through his website and through Ancestry.com.
I suppose much of my problem was simply the time constraints, but when you are searching for a specific person without knowing how they fit into your family, but rather only that they do, the search can be endless. They might be the child or grandchild of your great uncle’s daughter. In order to find those connections, you need to go through every person’s children, their children, their children, and so on. The process can be quite long. That is why making a connection, at any level, with a person who has done research on their family tree becomes one of the most exciting finds in your family history. By following their family back to where you suddenly stumble upon a familiar name from your own tree, you will find yourself face to face…sort of, with a common set of grandparents. Just like that, your family tree has one less mystery in it…or maybe now a new one.
That was exactly how it was for me yesterday, when I finally connected the faces from the CD to the lines in my tree where they belonged. Names like Absolom Knox, who was born in 1738, married Mary Morrison, who was born in 1745, and they had a daughter named Sarah Knox. Sarah then married William Barr, and they had a son named Absolom Knox Barr. Absolom married Abia Foote Wormer, and they had a dughter named Sarah L Barr. Sarah married a man named James Beach…and that takes me in a totally new direction, and one in which they outcome is still unknown to me.
My sister, Caryl Spencer’s first husband was Warren Beach, and together they have a daughter named Andrea and a son named Allen. Now, I know that my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I are tenth cousins on the Knox side of his family, and twelfth cousins on the Leary side of his family. So now the question becomes, is Warren Beach a cousin at some level. It would not be outside the realm of possibilities, you know. I’m sure it will take some time to trace things back to see if my hunch is right, but if it is, then not only would Caryl and Warren be cousins at some level, but Warren and Bob would be cousins at some level. As with many of my stories, this one will mst likely be the continuing saga…or maybe the mystery of the Knox/Beach connection.
It’s strange that you can look at pictures of people in your family’s history, and somewhere in the back of your mind, you know the names connect, but somehow you don’t connect the people to their parents. While looking through some of the old family pictures from my mother-in-law, Joann Knox Schulenberg’s family, I found pictures of her as a little girl, with two other children, a boy and a girl, who I found out were Richard and Mary Ann Batey. The Batey kids were my mother-in-law’s cousins, and I knew that, but somehow I didn’t connect them with their mother, Bernice Noyes Batey, who I met as an older woman. Then again, I have never met the Batey siblings at all, so maybe that is why they didn’t really connect in my mind. Bernice Batey was my mother-in-law’s mother, Nettie Noyes Knox’s sister, and I did meet her a couple of times. She was a very nice lady, and very sweet, but when you don’t meet the kids at the same time, it can be hard to make the connection. Somehow, the kids end up slipping into that obscure area of almost unknown relatives…until you think about those relationships for a few minutes.
That is exactly what happened with my mother-in-law’s cousins. For a time, I didn’t know those kids were even related at all, until my sisters-in-law told me they were. Then, I just didn’t connect their last name to anyone in particular. Finally, I was looking at a picture of Bob’s grandma, Nettie Knox, with her sister, Bernice Noyes Beaty…who I had always known as Bernice Beaty, it connected. Wow!! These kids were Berniece’s kids. Ok, sometimes I can be a little slow to connect these relationships, but now it became clear just exactly where they fit in.
Family connections are complicated, and even the best genealogy expert could have problems making the connections. Although, maybe if you weren’t involved as a family member, you would be able to see the relationships clearly. Maybe, you wouldn’t have any pre-conceived idea of where people fit into a family line, if you weren’t somehow emotionally involved with the family.
I definitely feel a little bit closer to the Noyes side of the family now that I have figured out the connections. I remember meeting Bernice, and thinking that she was such a sweet lady, but then she was Bob’s grandmother’s sister, so being sweet would be right in line with the way the whole family was. I do wish I had known the kids who were such good friends, as well as cousins of my mother-in-law. I’m sure I would have liked them very much too.
There are moments in every human life, when something that they have been trying to push to the back of their mind, comes to the forefront with no warning, and hits them like a ton of bricks…right in the stomach. Most of us have had them. They usually happen when you are having trouble wrapping your mind around a reality…that you wish was a bad dream. The passing of your parents or child, is a good example of such a reality. The loss of aunts, uncles and cousins have this effect too. In your mind, you know they are gone, but your heart refuses to accept the finality of it. Of course, I don’t mean the finality in that you will never see them again, because I know that I will see my parents and loved ones again. No, it is the finality of the fact that I won’t see them again in this earthly life, that really hits home in a painful way.
Those moments never allow you to be prepared for them, but rather they sneak up on you, and hit you at a point when you are totally unprepared. It’s times like new babies arriving, graduations, marriages, and other big moments in life. You think…I can’t wait to tell Mom and Dad…and then you realize you can’t tell them. It’s also the little moments when you drive past their house, or it happens to be a day when you would normally take them to lunch or dinner, or when you reach for the phone to call them, and then realize that they aren’t there. The sadness and loneliness washes over you, and there is nothing you can do about it, but cry.
The really hard thing about it is that you can’t stop those moments from occurring. So many things in life can be avoided by simply not placing yourself in that place or situation, but you can’t do that, because they were involved in every part of your life at one point or another, or as is the case with parents, many, many points. They shared every accomplishment, every failure, every hope, and every dream with you. They were the wind beneath your wings, lifting you up and encouraging you to soar…and now, you must fly on your own, because the days of training are over. Yes, that training goes on into adulthood too, even if you thought it didn’t. They have given you every tool you need for success in this life, and now you have to go out an make use of them on your own. Maybe that is why those “ton of bricks” moments are so hard. You want to share the excitement with them and you can’t.
And then, there are the “ton of bricks” moments, when someone remembers your loved one years after they have passed away, and they tell you what an impact they had on their life, and you can’t hold back the tears or remove the lump from your throat. You had no idea that your loved one would be remembered by people who you would never expect to remember them…but they had such an impact on those people, that they felt compelled to tell you about it so many years later. In all reality, I wouldn’t want to trade those special, but really difficult moments, because they mean that someone hasn’t forgotten my dad or my mom, or other loved one. Those moments mean that someone else saw what really special people they were. It meant that while they are in Heaven now, and I can’t bring them back, I can be reminded that they will always love me, and they will never be forgotten. The people who’s lives they touched, family, friends, and yes, even strangers, will always carry them in their hearts too. While those “ton of bricks” moments are hard, they are also very sweet, because someone remembered them.
My grand nephew, Easton Moore is growing up so fast. At eleven years old, he will soon be starting middle school, and before we know it high school. Kids grow up so fast. It seems like only yesterday that Easton was all about hot wheels and super hero toys, and he may still play with them, but those days are numbered, because Easton is growing up fast.
Still, he is all boy, and probably one of his favorite things is to be outdoors…especially camping with his family. When you think about it, what could be better than spending as many summertime days outside as possible. School will start back up before you know it, and then you find yourself wishing for summer again. I’m sure Easton knows exactly what I mean, as does every kid in school. They live for summer and weekends, don’t they? Sounds like me!! I think we can all relate to those summer, lazy days, and wish we could have them back again.
Easton, being the little brother to Weston, has often had to be the one who gets to look at his older brother and wonder when his day will come. When will he get to stay at grandma’s house? When will he be old enough to go play at a friends house? So many whens. Unfortunately, whens are a part of every young life. Nevertheless, there comes a time when suddenly when is now. At eleven, Easton is getting to that age when his whens become nows. That is an exciting time in the life of a kid. They are finally old enough to be trusted to go places without their parents, because they either don’t get scared or act out when they are away from home. I suppose that school has a lot to do with that, because they have to abide by a certain code there.
Easton has always seemed like a bit of a shy guy, at least around those he doesn’t know well, but in his eyes, I can see an obvious glint of mischievousness. I think he could easily be a trickster, if given the opportunity. In a house full of boys, my niece, Machelle Moore is most likely the target of choice too…unless the boys are playing with their cousins Jala Satterwhite and Kaytlyn Moore. Like most kids these days, Easton likes playing on the trampoline and of course, video games are another best source of fun. He and his brother, Weston like to play catch on the trampoline, because it’s almost impossible for the ball to get away, thereby eliminating the need to run after it. Don’t think they don’t get their exercise though because bouncing around on a trampoline is pretty good exercise too.
Before long, Easton will begin to change before our very eyes. Middle school does that to a guy. I hate that kids always grow up so very fast. You always wish you had more time with them when they are little. But, that is not to be, because for every child there is a time when almost all their whens become their nows, and that is when you know that they are all grown up. Today is Easton’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Easton!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The other day, I was talking with my cousin, Shirley Cameron on instant message through Facebook, when she brought up an old memory…a blast from our past. Shirley’s mom, Ruth Wolfe was my dad, Allen Spencer’s younger sister, and our families were very close…especially when the Wolfe family still lived in Casper, and we were all little kids. Shirley was the oldest of the three Wolfe siblings, with two younger brothers, Larry and Terry. My older sister, Cheryl Masterson fell in between Larry and Terry, and I was four months younger than Terry. Our three younger sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock were the youngest ones. Back in those days, the fun you had depended on your imagination. I guess we all had imagination, but Shirley really seemed to be able to come up with great ideas. And she was able to carry them out too.
We started talking about the games we played when we were out at their place, like wagon train. Of course, we didn’t have a real covered wagon or a team of horses, but that didn’t mean that we would have to be the horses for our pull type wagons, because My aunt and uncle had a tractor, and Shirley knew how to drive it. So we hooked the wagons to the tractor, and headed down the road near their place. Oh sure, sometimes the whole thing would break down, but then what would a wagon train be without a breakdown. Even in the pioneer days, the wagons broke down…right?
Shirley had a set of dishes, and like the wagon trains of the wild west, we brought our own food the long trip…usually. Of course, sometimes we had to improvise. Since we didn’t really have a way to go hunting, we had to make due with what was available to us, and the best cooking we did was when we made mud pies. They probably didn’t taste good, and I’ll never know, because I never tasted them, but we could make them look pretty good…in a hamburger sort of way. I’m sure there were other things like vegetables picked out of Aunt Ruth’s garden, and maybe apples or berries that we came across, whether they were edible or not. No matter what we came up with, real or imagined, we always had a lot of fun playing wagon train or any other game we came up with to play. It was always interesting, but I think in reality it was Shirley who had all the great ideas…maybe with a little help from Cheryl.
We were all as close as sisters or best friends, but we were more than that…we were cousins, and that is a forever friend…kind of like a sister is a forever friend. For Shirley, we were like the sisters she never had. Of course, we didn’t really understand what a big deal that was, because we were five sisters. We had never really known a time without our sisters, but Shirley had two brothers, and even though they were close, they weren’t like sisters. Boys think differently than girls. They like to do different things than girls. It just wasn’t the same. Yes, we played the games the boys wanted to play too sometimes, but we sure had a good time playing wagon train with Shirley.
As I have been working through some of the hints on my Ancestry tree, I am amazed by the number of family members from varying sides of my family and my husbands family, who started their life in America, or moved early in their life in America, to the same places. I don’t know if they knew each other, or even if they were there at the same time, but the roots are there nevertheless. They may not have lived in the same town even, but sometimes it was close. One state that I just keep coming up with is Massachusetts. Who would have ever thought some of my roots would have come from Massachusetts?
Recently I started talking to a relative from my dad’s side of the family that was traced to me through DNA matching. We have been unable to connect our two trees yet, because of limited information back through the generations, but DNA doesn’t lie, and we both have Fuller relatives in our background…and both sides come from…you guessed it, Massachusetts. I have also been looking at the Shaw side of my mother’s family because of another recent connection in Ancestry, that I’m not yet sure is related or not. Nevertheless, once again, I have run into Massachusetts as their point of origin to the United States. In the Shaw family, we also find that we have a Mayflower connection, in the form of one Lieutenant John Shaw, who arrived in America on that ship.
Now, switch to my husband’s family, and you will find that the Noyes family, another connection I made recently, also hail from Massachusetts. I have known for some time now, that my husband, Bob Schulenberg, and I are cousins of varying degrees, depending on the side of the family you look at, and now I think I can understand how some of this might have come about. I think much of it can be traced back to Massachusetts. The connections don’t all trace there, but there are enough of them that it made me very curious about all those people who lived in Massachusetts way back then. Then I came across John Spencer, who is my 8th great grand uncle, and the Reverend James Noyes, who is Bob’s 7th great grandfather, both came over on a ship called the Mary and John, and were among the first settlers of Newberry, Massachusetts, so my suspicions are confirmed. That also brings in yet another side of my family…the Spencer side.
This will be a developing story, of course, because as I trace things further, and discuss more of the family history with these new found cousins, more information will come to light. Whenever I find these new connections, I get very excited, because you just never know where they are going to lead you. I had always through that most of my roots were in the Wisconsin/Minnesota area, but of course, that could not have been, because when our ancestors came to this country, they didn’t arrive in Wisconsin or Minnesota, but rather along the east coast, because that was the area of the nation that had been developed at that time. So in reality, I knew we came from the east coast, but Massachusetts…seriously!! I never would have guessed it.
Several of my cousins were talking a couple of days ago on Facebook, about our grandmother, Hattie Byer, and how she kept her numerous grandchildren in line when they were at her house. Now, in reality, I pretty much mean Greg Hushman, Elmer Johnson, and Forest Beadle, because most of the rest of us would never have done anything to provoke the Wrath of Grandma!! It’s funny, but I can almost hear the skepticism from every reader. Ok, I’ll admit that I was no less likely to get into trouble with Grandma than Greg, Elmer or Forest, but I truly don’t recall having her coming after me with the broom, although my cousin Shirley Cameron, who is from the other side of my family remembers it once or twice, when she was over there with us.
One thing I do remember, and that I know every one of Grandma’s grandchildren will agree on, Grandma was the boss when you were at her house. You see, those were the days when it didn’t matter if the adult in the vicinity was your parent, grandparent, or the parent of the friend you were visiting, they all disciplined the kids who got out of line. And if some adult caught you doing something in the public arena that you shouldn’t be, such as graffiti or some other such mischief, they weren’t afraid to tell you to “knock it off” either. That was just the way things were back then. From what I am told of this barely five foot tall, broom wielding grandma of mine, she was able to make that broom go around corners, so if you thought you were going to get away from her, you might just as well think again.
I certainly remember that when you found yourself in trouble with Grandma, you were about to get a very clear understanding of what the word “trouble” meant. Yes, I too, had my share of times in my childhood where I found myself on the wrong side of Grandma Byer. Oh boy, believe me, it was not a place you wanted to be. And don’t think she was going to threaten to tell your mom just how bad you were, and then conveniently forget to do it when the time actually came for your parents to come home. Grandma wasn’t about to be the helpless little babysitter who had to wait for your parents to make you behave…oh no!! Whether she used a broom, her hand, or some other punishment, believe me when I say the punishment was swift, and it fit the crime. You see, Grandma was old school, before there was a new school form of discipline. People weren’t afraid of some well meaning, but not too bright passerby telling them they shouldn’t spank that kid…those people didn’t exist then. People knew that most situations required a little whack on the seat to get through to the brain. For many of us those lessons made it crystal clear, who was in charge, who was acting up, who would refrain from such activities in the future, and who would apologize for their elders for acting such a horrible fashion in the first place.
For most of us, the discipline Grandma dished out, is looked back on with a smile, because we all knew how much she loved us. People who have never had any discipline simply don’t understand that discipline is a form of love. Does it hurt…yes, because it is tough love, but are you better for it…oh yeah, because they love you very much. If your parents or grandparents didn’t care about you, they would have no need to want you to behave. They just wouldn’t care, but since they do, they want you to know how to act in public, because then people are happy to have you around. And for any of you, who have ever been around an out of control kid, can you honestly tell me that you did not wish their parents would just give them a spanking? Of course you did. So to my grandma, to her broom, and to our parents, aunts, uncles, and teachers…I say thank you. Whether we felt the broom on our backside, or some other form of discipline, I can say that we all turned out pretty good. And people don’t seem to mind having us around.
As another year comes to a close, my mind drifts back to the events that have taken place over the last twelve months. it seems like every year I’m alive goes by faster than the one before it. Christmas last year was just here, and before my very eyes, it was Christmas again. As a kid, it seemed like each year took ten years to pass, and now it seems like mere days.
Last year ended with my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg beginning a journey toward health, and this year, she has shown us just what determination and consistency can accomplish, by losing over 275 pounds. She looks amazing, and her new active lifestyle is giving her a new found happiness and a definite glow. Her success has motivated several others in the family to get back on the bandwagon toward health, myself included.
The grandkids have grown up before your very eyes, and we now have two high school graduates. Our grandson Christopher Petersen, left us this year to venture off to Sheridan to begin the journey to build his dream of becoming a great chef, and or restaurant or hotel owner. It’s been hard having him be away from home and yet we are thankful that he isn’t so far away as to make trips home impossible. Our granddaughter, Shai Royce has entered the workforce full time, at the Hilton Inn. She is unsure of her future goals, so working is a good option. Our grandson, Caalab Royce is a senior in high school and will graduate in May. He is exploring the options for college to learn to make guitars…a longtime dream of his. And our grandson, Joshua Petersen is a sophomore in high school this year. Josh loves track, but with a knee injury, the season, or at least the indoor season, is up in the air until the doctor gives him the go ahead.
The past year has proven to be a pretty good one for The Moms. My mom, Collene Spencer took a couple of falls, but other than a couple of staples in her head, she is fine, and we are planning on physical therapy to strengthen her legs in the new year. My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg continues to thrive at Shepherd of the Valley Care Center, where she has lived for almost two years now. Both moms are happy where they are, and their living situations are a perfect fit for them. My mom’s mind is clear, so being at home is a workable situation, and since my sister, Cheryl Masterson lives with Mom, there is someone with her in the evenings anyway. Alzheimer’s Disease has made it impossible for my mother-in-law to live on her own, but since she doesn’t realize that Dad is gone, and that she is in a nursing home, she experiences no sorrow over her situation.
The past year brought our family a new addition, when Hattie Joy Parmely arrived, right on schedule. She joined her parents, Eric and Ashley Parmely, and big sister, Reagan Kaylynn Parmely, to give them a blessed home indeed. There were new additions in our family in other ways too, as I was able to connect us to many previously unknown cousins all over the country. I would love to tell you just how many new cousins there are, but there are too many to count, and more that will continue to join us through the ones we have already found. We said good bye for now to my grandniece, Christina Masterson, who moved to Germany to live with her mom. And we acquired a new driver, when my grandson Josh got his license.
Bob and I took a lovely cruise to Alaska this past summer, and it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. My dad had always wanted to go, and take his family with them, but while we sent our parents on a cruise for their 50th anniversary in 2003, we couldn’t join them. Well Dad…I’ve been there now, and you’re right…it was amazing. It was one of the most memorable trips I have ever taken, and I would love to go back someday. Mom, Cheryl, and I also went on a trip this year. It was a trek to meet all the new Schumacher cousins that we had met online, and to reconnect with our Spencer cousins, and our precious Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill. The trip was far too short, but it has left us with precious memories, and new relationships that we will always have. We thank God for giving us back such wonderful family members, and adding so many new ones to our lives.
This is a time when so many people are making new years resolutions, but that is something I just don’t do. I prefer to reflect back on the passing year, and rejoice in all the blessings I have been given over the year. This year, has brought blessings in many different forms, from Facebook and Ancestry, to face-to-face blessings. I could not ask for more. Happy New Year to all of you from all of us, and may God’s blessings overflow in your lives. I love you all very much!