When I think of my grandmother, Harriet “Hattie” Byer, the person that comes to mind is Grandma as she was in my adult years. f course, by that time, she was a great grandmother many times over, and so had aged into the kind of grandma you always see on television…gray hair and somewhat wrinkled. In reality, it is television’s view of what a grandmother should look like that is warped in many cases…odd since they try very hard to make everyone else forever ageless. It’s not that I don’t remember the Grandma of my youth, it’s just that I really don’t think of her that way. That wasn’t what she was like as she aged, and I was at an age to place a specific memory of her in my memory files. Nevertheless, when it came to being the boss, the kidder, or the disciplinarian, all I can say is, don’t let her looks or her small stature fool you, because Grandma was in charge, and that’s all there is to it. Just ask anyone of her kids, grandkids, or great grandkids, who might have had the misfortune of cross her. Most of us were done crossing Grandma, but there were some who were brave enough to try again…if you call that bravery. There might be a different word for it, in reality.
When I was little, my family lived in Superior, Wisconsin. That made it hard for her to see my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me when we were little. Grandma and Grandpa did make trips up to see us, and really loved it. Mom and Dad showed them around the area, and they spent time with us too. I don’t remember those visits, but my guess is that my sister, Cheryl does, because she was a couple of years older than I was. I love looking at the pictures of those visits with my grandparents. They are precious to me now, because of course, my parents, Grandpa, and Grandma are in Heaven now. Looking back at those moments by the lake, at the house, and on trips we took, are such wonderful memories.
We moved back to Casper before I turned three, and then we had chances to see them more often. I remember those many visits to their house so well. I can’t say I was one of those kids who learned from her mistakes, but I don’t remember very many times that I was on the wrong side of Grandma. You might call me chicken…and you would be right…either that, or smart. When Grandma spanked, it hurt. Thankfully I outgrew those days, and in the end, I remember my sweet grandma as a little old lady with gray hair. Nevertheless, she was mine, and my sisters and cousins…and we loved her. Today would have been Grandma Byer’s 107th birthday, if she were still with us. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma. We love and miss you very much.
During this journey to find my ancestors and my living family, there have been several times that I have felt that I had made a rare find. Of course, how could it be rare if there were several times, you might be thinking. I thought the same thing, and yet, some of the people I have come across have become so special to me that they could only be classified as a rare find. People like my father-in-law’s half brother, Butch Schulenberg, and our cousins Paul and Betty Noyes, come to mind immediately. But then, I also think of Tracey Inglimo, Denny Fredrick, Tim and Shawn Fredrick, Shirley Cameron, Pam and Mike Wendling, Bill and Maureen Spencer, and the many Schumacher cousins in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I think of Nick and Laura Weber, and Joe Weber. As I think of these people, new rare finds and renewed rare finds, I begin to realize that as I have discovered these special people, some I have never met in person, and some that I have known all my life, but lost track of, I begin to realize that maybe rare finds in the family line aren’t really as rare as I thought they were after all.
I have been thinking about what it is that makes a person a rare find, and the thing that immediately comes to mind is that these people truly care about me…about what I think and who I am. I find that these people are kindred spirits…something I had not really given much thought to until I got into the “Anne of Green Gables” movies, but after watching those movies, I realize just how important kindred spirits really are. Kindred spirits share the same values, goals, and desires, even if they are is slightly different ways. I think it is the values though that mean the most. Maybe that is a big part of what makes these people a rare find. So much has changed in our world these days, and while we all have maybe a slightly different view of what things are wrong and how to fix them, I still find that these people are value driven people…patriots, who love this country and what it stands for.
The longer I think about it, the more I realize that while finding people who compliment who I am is not such a rare find, it is still a rare find that there are so many people who have become so very special to me. It warms my heart to think of these people, and it warms my heart with every conversation I have with them. It is my hope to someday meet those precious people who I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person. I know we will really hit it off, because we are family and kindred spirits. It’s a great combination. While my “rare finds” have not really been so rare after all, I am so blessed by each and every one of then, and that makes them absolutely priceless. I am very blessed to know them all.
As Thanksgiving approached this year, I found myself thinking of the things I’m thankful for. Of course, I’m thankful first and foremost for my loving Heavenly Father. He is always there for me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. How could I possibly ask for more than to have a God who cares deeply about every little tiny part of my life. No human cares that much, not even those who love me with all their hearts, because…well humans just don’t have a love so deep and unconditional.
While this year will find half of my family here and half in Washington, it will feel very lonely, but what I really care about is that my family is all happy, healthy, safe, and sound. And I hope they have a wonderful Thanksgiving too, even though we will miss them very much. I think the holidays are the hardest time to be apart, because the rest of the time work and activities keep you busy and you can forget that they are so far away, but the holidays…well, they are just different. The holidays are all about family. Maybe next year we can be together for one of the holidays. That would be really nice. For now, I am thankful that all of Amy’s family is together for this Thanksgiving holiday. And I’m lonely and sad because of the empty chairs we will have at our table this year.
And this will be the first Thanksgiving with both of my parents in Heaven, and that is very hard for my sisters, and our families. Yet, we are still thankful that our parents are together with other loved ones who have gone to Heaven too. I am so thankful that our parents brought is up to know the Lord, and to know the comfort of knowing where they are now and that they are safe in the loving arms of our Heavenly father. While we will miss them terribly today, as we do every day, and the empty chairs that they would have occupied will make us lonely, we know that they are celebrating with us, because they celebrate God’s love with thanksgiving every day, as do we. We will also be missing my father-in-law, and in reality my mother-in-law, who is in a nursing home. For Bob’s siblings, the loneliness is the same as my sisters and me, the empty chairs speak volumes, if we will listen.
Still, not all things about this day will be sad and lonely, because last month, right after I broke my shoulder, I was so blessed when Bob and I were “adopted” into my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen’s family. His parents, Becky and Duane Skelton invited us to spend Thanksgiving as part of their family. Kevin’s parents have been friends of ours for a long time, and it was just such a wonderful thing to do. I don’t think I was ready to try to put on a Thanksgiving dinner. By Christmas, I expect that I will be much more ready, when I host Bob’s family, but for now, I am very thankful for the kindness of such amazing friends. I love both of them very much, and I look forward to the memories we will have of this day.
Lastly, but in no way the least, I am thankful for new and renewed family connections. Over the past couple of years, we have reconnected with cousins that we haven’t seen in quite some time and some we had never met, which has expanded our family in areas that were lacking before. It is so wonderful to have such a large family, and to have the opportunity to get to know these cousins that we never knew. They are all such wonderful people with so many different interests and life stories, and yet, we are all connected in the deepest of ways…we are family. And that is definitely something to be thankful for.
While this Thanksgiving is filled with mixed emotions for me and my family, I am truly thankful for every day of life, for every member of my family, for each friend, for job, home, and the beauty of God’s creation here one Earth. And I am thankful that when this life is over, I too will live forever in the loving arms of my Father in Heaven. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!! Have a blessed day!!
My mother’s is a large family. There were nine children, and with each new marriage and birth, it grows larger still. At this point, I’m sure the family is well over 300, and all from my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer, but with them, it all started with my Aunt Evelyn. She was their first baby. She was the one who informed my grandmother, when she was asked to go get her daddy, that “You must say Uncle Daddy!” She was the first of the social butterflies in their family, having a circle of friends who did lots of activities, and I’m sure that the younger kids wished they could do that too, but by the time they were of age, things like that weren’t done so much anymore. Fads like that come and go, and unfortunately for the little ones who would have loved to be a part of it, but they just don’t get to. Yes, Aunt Evelyn was the first of her siblings, and that gave her some seniority in the whole getting things by ages thing, but to me, she was just my aunt.
Because of the fact that my mom and Aunt Evelyn had children about the same age, they got together quite a bit. Aunt Evelyn, her husband, my Uncle George Hushman, and my parents went to the military ball together, the fireman’s ball together, and they bowled together. They double dated when my mom and dad were dating, and they spent time at each other’s houses. Because they did, my Aunt Evelyn’s kids, my cousins Susie, George, Shelley, Shannon, and Greg, were some of the best friends my sisters and I had as little kids, and we remain friends to this day, even if we don’t get to see each other as much as we used to.
As kids, we loved going to Aunt Evelyn’s house. She lived right next to the Mills Volunteer Fire Department, and I can’t count the number of times that we were there when the fire alarm went off. I will never forget how loud it was, nor how loud the fire trucks were when they went screaming out those big doors. Not every kid had the opportunity to live right next to that, or even to visit someone who does. It was quite interesting.
Many was the time when we went to Aunt Evelyn’s house and played hide and seek, or went down to the school to play on all the playground equipment there. There was never a dull moment when we went to Aunt Evelyn’s house. Of course, I’m sure that her kids always thought it more fun to come to our house, but that would just have to be their memory.
We lost Aunt Evelyn on May 4, 2015, and I still find it hard to believe that she is gone. Today, she would have been 87 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much, and can’t wait to see you again.
My cousin, Dennis Fredrick and I have been emailing back and fourth for a few weeks now, and it has brought our relationship back to what if used to be, years ago. Time and distance make it difficult for people to stay in touch…even relatives. That is what happened with Denny and me, and now that we have begun to move our relationship back where it should be, I think we are both much happier about it. It’s amazing just how much you miss of someone’s life. The years go by so fast, and before you know it you can feel like you hardly know them anymore, and that is a sad thing to see happen between cousins. The good news is that it’s not too late to change all that, and that is exactly what Denny and I have set out to do.
Denny recently retired, and that has given him more time to devote to the family history. It’s perfect timing, because I have some pictures that I wanted his opinion on, and he has found some great documents that most of the family had never seen before. Denny’s mom, my Aunt Laura Fredrick has been working on the family history for years, and being the oldest of my grandparents’ children, she had the opportunity to have a copy of her parents’ marriage certificate. With her passing, her years of hard work on the family history were passed on to her son Denny. Now, with Denny’s extra time, and my knowledge of Ancestry.com, it is my hope that we can make some the information available online, as well as to other family members who are online, but maybe not on Ancestry.com.
Of course, the family history is not the only thing that Denny and I have been talking about. There are so many memories to talk about. Our families were so close when they lived in Casper. we loved it when they came over. There was always something fun going on. The conversation was interesting, and there was a closeness between the families. After their move to Oregon, we didn’t get to see them as much. That is the part that both Denny and I feel a loss over. Nevertheless, it’s never too late to catch up on the past, so that’s what Denny and I intend to do…making up for lost time. That is our ultimate goal. It might be a long road, but it will be worth it in the end. Today is Denny’s birthday. Happy birthday Denny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grand nephew, Matthew Masterson has always tried to be a tough guy, but the biggest problem with that whole idea is that he has a soft heart. Matthew doesn’t like to see anyone get hurt or be sad, because all of his tough guy stuff is for fun. Matthew likes to hang out with his cousins, Xander, Zack, and Isaac Spethman, playing all of the tough guy games that boys play, like war games, super hero games and of course, every sport imaginable. He is after all…a boy. As cousins, Matthew and the Spethman boys get to spend quite a bit of time together, and they are always off playing some war game or something.
My niece, Liz Masterson, who is Matthew’s aunt, told me that Matthew talks like a small adult, using big words and sentences that sound like they were spoken by an adult. It happens sometimes. Little kids who seem to have grown up too soon.
Matthew has something in common with my daughter, Amy Royce, too. Last week Matthew and his sisters got to go to breakfast with their Aunt Liz. Liz took them to IHOP. The girls all ordered a traditional breakfast, but not so Matthew. He on the other hand decided to have a cheeseburger. Liz tried to reason with him, but Matthew would have none of it. So, he ordered a cheeseburger and then proceeded to pour Cholula Sauce all over it. What ten year old wants Cholula Sauce on their food. Most ten year olds hate hot sauce. Not Matthew. When, Matthew’s cousin, Amy went to breakfast on a vacation we were on one time, she decided that she wanted Spaghetti for breakfast. We all thought she was half crazy, but she ate every bite…as did Matthew. The only thing was that Amy wouldn’t have ordered a cheeseburger if you paid her. In that one, Matthew was on his own.
Matthew is going into 4th grade this year, and I’m sure he will have a great year, but that is not something he wants to think about right not. I’m sure he is like that little girl on television talking about the back to school sign, who says, “Back off sign people…I’m keeping my summer.” I have to agree with you, Matthew, I’m not ready for fall either. Today is Matthew’s tenth birthday!! Happy birthday Matthew!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every year my mother’s family has two gatherings designed to keep the Byer family close, which was my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer’s desire for their family. They were married on Christmas eve, so a Christmas party was the ideal event for on of those gatherings. It was decided that the other would be a picnic in the summer. Over the years, attendance as dwindled a bit, which I find very sad, because this is an easy way to stay connected, but this year was a bit of an exception to the rule, because unusual as it is, we had a family member come from out of town, and everyone wanted to see him. Greg Hushman decided to make the trip down from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to visit family members and attend the picnic. We were all excited to see him, and people who had never come to the picnic before, came and really enjoyed themselves.
Elmer Johnson is a regular attendee, like me, but with Greg’s appearance, we had two of the Three Musketeers of Mischief in attendance. Unfortunately, Forrest Beadle, who was the third musketeer, passed away in July of 2005. He was very much missed yesterday. As we visited with Greg and Elmer, they recapped some of the various ways they managed to get into trouble…especially with Grandma Byer, who had a broom that could somehow reach around corners, and down stairs to wallop the, by then running to get away, mischievous musketeer. They could never figure out how she did that. Surely they were quick enough to outrun Grandma. After all, she was only 4’10” tall, and being a grandma, she must have been too old to run…right??? Nevertheless, she never failed to make them painfully aware that short and old or not, she was the boss…and they simply better never forget it!!
My sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock all commented that they had never been spanked by Grandma Byer…after which I had to admit that I had. I was probably the more mouthy one of my siblings…no not probably…I was. I argued with my Dad…we called it debating, but my sisters thought I was about to die, for sure, because they never dared argue with Dad. Well, anyway, somehow, my Grandma Byer didn’t understand the difference between arguing and debating, and she just called it mouthy, so I got a spanking. Not to self…don’t argue or debate with Grandma Byer!! She will win!!
Of course, most of the still living original siblings were there, but this year, we lost two…my mother, Collene Spencer, and Aunt Evelyn Hushman. It felt a little bit empty without them, and in a strange way, I noticed that the remaing original siblings worked very hard to connect with all of the nieces and nephews, almost like they were concerned about those relationships. Uncle Wayne Byer was seen teasing several people, and Aunt Virginia Beadle, Aunt Bonnie McDaniels, Aunt Dixie Richards, and Aunt Sandy Pattan made a great effort to make the rounds to talk to as many of us as they could. As did the cousins, like Clyde and Susie Young, Terry and Shannon Limmer, Dennis and Wendy French, Kevin and Jamie Patsie, Jeannie Liegman, Jimmy Richards, Keith Beyer and his brother, Cliff Byer’s family, Cindy Ellis and family, JeanAnn Stanko, Rachelle French, Corrie Petersen and her son Chris, Jim and Alina Young, Dwan Orr and family Steve and Jenny Spethman and kids, and lots of the children. I felt like this was one of the closest picnics we have ever had. I suppose that the more family members we lose, the more we realize just how quickly we can lose each other. The time to stay close is right now!!
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.