When we think of hurricanes, we think of the ocean, but on November 7, 1913, there was a storm over the Great Lakes that would go down in United States history as the largest inland maritime disaster, in terms of number of ships lost. The storm was nicknamed the White Hurricane. The storm system brought blizzard conditions to areas all around the Great Lakes, with hurricane force winds. The nature of the storm was unique and powerful, and caught even the most seasoned captain by surprise. Two low pressure centers merged and rapidly intensified over the Lake Huron, with periods of storm-force winds occurring over a four day period. Surrounding ports signaled it was a level-four storm, but for some vessels, it was already too late. Major ship wrecks took place on all the Great Lakes except for Lake Ontario. Vessels at that time could withstand 90 mile per hour winds and 35 foot waves, but it was the whiteout conditions and accumulation of ice on the ships that turned an already dangerous situation into a deadly one. Ship captains were unable to maintain navigation, resulting in 12 shipwrecks, 19 ships stranded, and an estimated 250 lives lost. On land, 24 inches of snow shut down traffic and communication, causing millions of dollars in damage.
The storm took place before the time when weather forecasters had the luxury of computer models, the detailed surface and upper air observations, weather satellites, or radar needed to make the most accurate predictions. Had weather forecasters then been able to access modern forecasting equipment, they may have been able to determine the likely development of this type of storm system in advance, as they did with Superstorm Sandy in 2012. As part of the forecast for Sandy forecasters were able to predict storm force winds over the lower Great Lakes five days in advance. The technology and forecast models available to forecasters today led to a more accurate forecast which saved mariners, recreational boaters, and businesses millions, as they were able to make preparations in advance of Sandy’s storm force winds and near 20 foot waves.
One hundred years later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in the Great Lakes is commemorating the Storm of 1913, not only for the pivotal role it played in the history of the Great Lakes, but also for its enduring influence. Modern systems of shipping communication, weather prediction, and storm preparedness have all been fundamentally shaped by the events of November 1913. It’s strange to think that one storm could make such a lasting impact on so many systems, but then it is the need for something better that spurs great inventive minds to invent a solution to a serious problem.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plays a major role in protecting maritime relics of the past. Included are many of the ships lost in 1913. They have remained preserved deep below the surface of the Great Lakes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a 48-square-mile area of protected territory with one of America’s best preserved and nationally significant collections of shipwrecks. Located in northwestern Lake Huron, Thunder Bay is adjacent to one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes system. Unpredictable weather, murky fog banks, sudden gales, and rocky shoals earned the area the name “Shipwreck Alley.” To date, more than 50 shipwrecks have been discovered within the sanctuary including the Isaac M. Scott, a 504 foot steel freighter lost in the storm of 1913.
This storm holds an interest for me, because at that time in history, my grandparents, Allen and Anna Spencer were living in the Great Lakes area. My grandfather was not part of the crew of any ship, and so any effect to them would have come in the form of very deep snow. My Aunt Laura would have been just 16 months old at the time. I’m sure that the thought of being stranded in her home, was not a pleasant one for my grandmother, considering Aunt Laura’s very young age, but they survived the White Hurricane, as did most other people, at least those on land anyway. It still seems incredible to me that a storm of that magnitude could have brewed in an inland setting, but then anyone who knows the Great Lakes will tell you that they are so big that they might just as well be considered a sea. The November Gales have long been known as killers, especially over Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. I’m glad that modern weather forecasting equipment had at least lessened the possibility of ships and lives being lost in the Great Lakes, as well as the oceans.
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!!
When my Uncle Larry Byer, married the love of his life, Jeanette Morton, she became the first daughter-in-law my grandparents had. They had nine children and of those, just two sons, Larry and Wayne. Larry was the oldest boy, Wayne the youngest boy, with three girls before Larry, and three girls after Wayne, and my mom, Collene Byer Spencer in the middle.
My grandparents were used to girls, with all of their mixed emotions, but prior to Aunt Jeanette, the additions had always been men…husbands for the daughters. I’m not sure, but I have to think that it must have been a little bit of a culture shock to add another girl to this mix. When your family has an over abundance of girls, adding boys seems to calm the whole world down some, because suddenly the emotions of those girls settle down too. I suppose they probably thought that adding a daughter-in-law could possible bring a new surge of emotions, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. Aunt Jeanette has always seemed like a very calm, mellow person to me…with a wonderful laugh that brings a smile to everyone’s face. Of course, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have an Aunt Jeanette, because she married my Uncle Larry back on February 11, 1956, and I wasn’t born until the following April.
Aunt Jeanette has always been such a kind and thoughtful person. I’m sure that is what attracted her to Uncle Larry too. Aunt Jeanette had been a friend of the family for a while before she and Uncle Larry started dating, and so in many ways, she just fit right in with the rest of the family. Nevertheless, Aunt Jeanette brought a sweetness to the family all her own. She is one of the few people these days who always sends out Christmas cards, because she wants those she loves to know that she is thinking about them. That is just the kind of person she is and always has been.
Aunt Jeanette has long been the only sister-in-law in the family, but in reality, she is more like a sister than a sister-in-law to the rest of the siblings. She has endeared herself to them in many ways. Her kindness and generosity are well known to anyone who ever had a need. She is quick to offer words of comfort, and just to let you know that no matter what you need, she will be there for you. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When most people think of the barracks, they think of a military facility, but not so my mother’s family. For all of their childhood, the barracks meant the bedroom. No, it isn’t because that is what they called the bedroom, because, they didn’t call the bedroom that. While visiting with my aunts, Sandy Pattan and Bonnie McDaniels, and cousins Susie Young, Shannon Limmer, and Jamie Patsie, after my mother passed away a week ago, we got on the subject of precious memories…which naturally took us to my grandpa and grandma, George and Hattie Byer’s house in North Casper, where they lived for many years right next door to his mother, my great grandma, Edna Byer. The two houses were very similar, but my grandparents house had an extra, very long bedroom attached to the back of the house. Grandma and Grandpa’s room was in from of that back bedroom, and there was another room where the two boys slept, but the girls all shared that huge back bedroom.
We always loved to go play back there, because it was a long room with lots of beds, and it just seemed very interesting to all the grandkids. I suppose that to the aunts and uncles, it was just normal, be we had really never seen anything like it. We began to talk about what spending the night in that back bedroom was like. There was no heat in that back room, so at night grandpa would heat rocks in the cook stove, and wrap them in a towel. Once the girls were tucked into bed, under a mountain of blankets, grandpa would come in and stick those towel wrapped rocks under the blankets at their feet. What a wonderful thing those rocks were. Aunt Bonnie tells me that they would immediately put their feet on those rocks, and before long, they would be all warm and cozy for the night. In the absence of heat, the blankets and the rocks did the job of keeping them warm quite well.
For us grandkids, the best way to play in that room in the winter cold, was to keep moving. I don’t think my aunts spent much time in there other than sleeping, because it was just too cold in winter. The main living room and kitchen were heated by the cook stove, and I’m here to tell you that those rooms were very warm…a fact that was just fine with me, since I have a tendency to get cold. Nevertheless, after some time in the main part of the house, the cooler bedroom could come as a nice change, until you got cold, then you went back out to the main rooms to warm up.
I had always wondered about the house with the long bedroom, and how it came to be…but no longer. As we were talking about those old days, my Aunt Sandy cleared that question right up. It turns out that both houses, Great Grandma’s and my grandparents, were originally old barracks from the air force base that used to be located in Casper. I don’t know for sure when they became the two houses, but that is what happened. My grandparents’ house had the added barracks to it, making up the big back bedroom where so many childhood memories for my mom, aunts, uncles, and many of the grandchildren, were built. In those days, times were tough, and people had to make do with what they had. In my opinion, the barracks and the houses attached to them, were more than just a way to make do. They are the houses I remember fondly from my own childhood years. We used to love going to visit Grandma and Grandpa. The house was always cozy, and my grandparents always pleased to see us. I get a warm cozy feeling just thinking about those visits.
Sometimes, a child grows up right before your eyes. One day they seem so young, and then quietly, like they were trying to sneak up on you, all that changes, and before you stands a woman. Gone are the adolescent drama queen days, and in their place is a woman, strong and capable…where once a little girl stood. I just don’t know where the years could have gone.
My granddaughter, Shai Royce, who is the daughter of my daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis, arrived the day after her cousin, Chris who was my first grandchild. She brought with her something fun for our family, when she was born on Leap Day. I had always thought of Leap Day birthdays as something really cool, but never expected to have a Leap Day birthday in our family. It was something unique and in our family there would be just one Leap Day birthday…and one granddaughter. Shai was not always sure she liked having that birthday, but I think that as time goes on, she will like it more and more.
Shai is a very outgoing, people person, with amazing management skills…especially for a nineteen year old. I find it quite amazing that she stands out as a go to person at every job she has ever had. She learns things quickly and is able to execute them efficiently. Before long, Shai is telling the boss how to do things, and they are listening, because they know she knows what she is doing…strange thought that. Shai’s ability to take charge presented itself early on when she took care of her ailing grandparents by herself for a full month at the tender age of just ten years. It was a debt we could never repay, and a blessing beyond measure for her grandparents. My dad told me later that they felt such a bond to Shai after the time they spent together. She gave them the peace of mind to be able to rest and recover.
It’s funny how some kids just seem to be mini adults very early on. Maybe for Shai, it was that she took on a lot of things, or maybe it was because as the only granddaughter, she was the one with the mother instinct…or the boss instinct, or maybe that was just her nature, and she was doing what came naturally to her. Whatever the case may have been, Shai was always a leader and manager. She will always stand out in that way in my mind, and I’m sure also in the minds of everyone who has the privilege of knowing her. She is a beautiful young woman of only 4¾ official years, who has captured the hearts of those around her with her charm and beauty. Her kindness and compassion for others will always endear her to those whose lives she will touch. Where have all the years gone? Where once a little girl stood, there now stands a lovely young woman…a blessing to me and her grandpa, as well as family and friends. Today is Shai’s 19th birthday. Happy birthday Shai!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!
As I was researching some of the latest Ancestry.com hints for my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s side of our family tree, I came across another name that sounded familiar to me. Having been all over the family tree countless number of times, I was pretty sure where I had heard the name before. After checking back in my side of the family, I found that Bob and I share a yet another set of great grandparents. John Collamore and Margery Hext are my 11th great grandparents on the Spencer side of my family, and they are also Bob’s 15th great grandparents on the Leary side of his family. I’ve heard it said of several family trees, including my own, that the owner was not looking for fame…they were just tripping over it. That is the case in my tree and in Bob’s. We are related to presidents, princes, pioneers, and other famous people, but in my case, I also keep tripping over my husband’s family.
I have found a connection on the Knox side of the family that makes Bob and I 10th cousins twice removed. Bob’s mother’s maiden name was Knox and since Bob and I are 10th cousins twice removed, his mother is my 10th cousin once removed. It’s odd to think of your mother-in-law also being your 10th cousin once removed. Nevertheless, that is exactly what we are. I suppose that many people would consider that relationship to be enough distant that it would make no difference on all reality, and they might be right in many ways. Still, I find that relationship very interesting. Family lines can be so complicated, and yet, they are undeniably relationships…however distant they may be.
As I said, in my research of my family history, I keep tripping not only over fame, but also over my husband’s family, and that has once again occurred…and I found it totally by accident. It has taken me a little bit of time, but if my calculations are correct, then this new relationship makes Bob and I, 12th cousins 4 times removed on the Leary side of the family. The Leary side of the family is Bob’s dad’s mother’s side of the family. So then, my father-in-law is also my 12th cousin 3 times removed. Once again, to many people, this relationship may seem unimportant, since they originated in the 1500s and beyond, but to me it is very interesting.
Finds like this one get the gears in my mind turning. I understand the relationships. I can put them down on paper. But that kind of a find is nevertheless, complicated to wrap your mind around. Things like the realization that I was related to my in-laws, before I was married to their son, and I was related to my husband before we were married too. The thought that my father-in-law is also my 12th cousin 3 times removed…is mind boggling.
Of course, when we think about it, we did all come from the same place ultimately, so I suppose we are all related in some, or even in many different ways. Nevertheless, it is really strange when you start stumbling upon so many different ways you are related to your husband…other than the fact that you are married. I am reminded of the time when my mom mentioned how much she thought Bob and I looked alike. I thought it a strange thing to say at the time, but maybe it isn’t so strange after all. It could be because of the different ways that we came from the same ancestors.
Years ago, long before refrigeration was safe to use, most people had a more primitive way to keep foods fresh or frozen. I say that this was before refrigeration was safe to use, because mechanical refrigeration was actually invented in 1748 by William Cullen and was demonstrated at the University of Glasgow. This version was not used for any practical purpose, however. In 1805, an American inventor named Oliver Evans designed the first refrigeration machine, and the first person to make a practical refrigerating machine was Jacob Perkins in 1834, using Ether in a vapor compression cycle. American physician, John Gorrie, built a refrigerator based on Oliver Evans’ design in 1844 which he used to make ice to cool the air for his yellow fever patients. German engineer Carl von Linden, patented not a refrigerator but the process of liquefying gas in 1876 that is part of basic refrigeration technology. Refrigerators in the late 1800s and up until 1929 used toxic gasses, such as ammonia, methyl chloride, and sulfur dioxide as refrigerants, which were responsible for several fatal accidents in the 1920s. I suppose the cost and the dangers of these early models were the main reasons that people continued to used the old fashioned version.
The old fashioned way to keep foods fresh or frozen, involved using ice and snow, which they would bring in from the mountains, or use what was on the ground, if it was available. They would dig a cellar in the ground, and line it with wood or straw. Then they packed it with snow and ice, and the food was placed in the cellar. It was this type of refrigeration system that my grandparents, Allen and Anna Spencer, were using at the time my Aunt Laura Fredrick was a very little girl in about 1913. My grandparents were living in a wooded area in northern Minnesota near American Falls. Grandpa was working in the lumber business at that time.
According to my Uncle Bill Spencer, who was their second child, the cellar was probably not needed much in the long winter months, because the house stayed pretty cold up there anyway. I’m sure that they had wood for a fire, but then again, I suppose that everything they burned, was something that could not bring in money. Also, they lived in a log cabin, that was apparently not very well built, or at least the spaces in between the logs were not really well packed with mud to keep the cold winter air on the outside of the house, where it belonged.
I’m not sure how far the cellar was from the house, because, I can’t see the house in the picture, so it might have been a little way from the house, or the picture might have been taken from the house. Either way, getting food from the cellar was a bit of a process, because you don’t want to upset the cooling process by removing the straw too often, as it was part of what kept the ice and snow from melting.
I can’t say when my grandparents got their first real refrigerator, but I expect that like many people of that time, they were a little bit leery of the early refrigerators, after hearing about people dying because the gasses leaked out of the unit. I suppose it was the price people paid to be able to use some of the early inventions, but many people felt that the price was too high, so they waited until these new fangled gadgets were proven safe before they took a chance on them. And, I’m sure that like any new thing, they were pretty expensive early on too. The cellar would work just fine for now, and therefore, that is what my grandparents were using at that time in our family history. These days, we would be shocked at such a method of keeping food fresh.
I think it’s a good thing that my niece, Machelle Moore likes to do a lot of outdoor, tomboy kinds of things, because with a husband and two sons, she is pretty much surrounded by those things. Her family loves to go camping and recently purchased her parent’s old travel trailer. They love spending time up in the Big Horn Mountains. The boys get to have lots of time to get out of town and do something different, and for Machelle, that is what it’s all about…spending time with her family and watching her boys grow up. Of course, being married to, Steve, the love of her life is one of the things that is closest to Machelle’s heart, and something that has made her life wonderful for the past fifteen years. Doing things with her three boys is what she most likes to do.
Machelle also likes to get away once in a while and go to Las Vegas with her sister, Susan Griffith or her aunt, Rachel Schulenberg. The fast paced party lifestyle is fun to go participate in once in a while, and since her husband, Steve doesn’t like to rally travel much, he stays home with the boys so she can go and have a good time. She also likes to come to Casper sometimes to visit family members here, and while the boys come with her about half the time, they don’t always. Since she and Rachel were good friends before Rachel married her Uncle Ron, and moved to Casper, it is one way to spend time with her friend.
Machelle always liked to come to Casper to visit though. When she came down with her mom, Debbie Cook, to visit her grandparents. As a little girl, she always seemed especially excited to come and spend time with them. As they grew older, she would come and cut their hair for them. She was their personal hair stylist, and that is not an easy thing to have these days, but nevertheless, they had their own personal hair stylist…their granddaughter, Machelle. I suppose that the fact that she loved them with all her heart, did have something to do with that privilege. Machelle would do just about anything for her grandparents. And that has endeared her to many of us in the family. Machelle is simply a good hearted person, and the kind of friend you want to have. Today is Machelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
So many of us would love to know more about our family and the stories from the past, but by the time we realize that we are interested in those stories, the people who could tell us about them are gone, and it is too late. I feel very blessed that my grandparents had nine children, all spaced roughly 2 years apart. My aunt, Sandy Pattan was the youngest of those children. While the older children lived some things that Aunt Sandy was to young to have lived, she was nevertheless, not to young to have heard all the stories, and she was just curious enough to be a willing listener. While her older siblings were growing up and doing all the things a kid sister finds very cool, Aunt Sandy was watching with curiosity. She wanted to grow up just like her sisters, and she loved watching her brothers’ antics, as well as, their kindnesses. She also watched her parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents…and she listened to the stories that were told.
Flash forward to today, and to her niece…me, who is curious about all those events from the past. I have asked other family members about those events, and received a little bit of information, but my Aunt Sandy has an amazing mind. Not to brag…but I think I take after her in that area. Once a story is told to her…she stores in I her memory files for all time, and she can pull it out and accurately pass on the details to those around her, who want to know, and are blessed enough to realize that she is an such amazing store of information. There is just no need to be in the dark about our family history, because if the information is out there, Aunt Sandy probably has it.
Aunt Sandy retired a while back, and is busy with a lot of projects, but she has it in her heart to put some of this information on paper, so that it can be passed on to other interested family members. I really hope she does that, because it is so easy for those stories to get lost and forgotten in time. Those who remember them pass away, and if they didn’t tell others the stories, they are lost. Aunt Sandy has a real talent for remembering the events as they happened, and for telling them in a way that makes them interesting to the listener. I have very much enjoyed listening to her accounts of the events of her life, and the ones that shaped it…as well as mine, and the rest of the family. Next time you get an opportunity, I strongly recommend that you take the time to talk to her about your history. You will be amazed at what you might find out. Today is Aunt Sandy’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
New babies are always so very special, but when the baby is your baby or your little sister, it is even more special. That’s how is was for my grand niece, Reagan Parmely yesterday morning, when she got to meet her new little sister, Hattie Joy for the first time. Reagan and Hattie are the daughters of my nephew, Eric and his wife, Ashley Parmely. To Reagan, her little sister, Hattie is absolutely the best baby in the world…because she belongs to Reagan…forever!! She will have to share her a little bit with her mom and dad… and, grandparents and all that, but I have a feeling that they will soon be told that Hattie belongs to Reagan. Hattie is a pretty little girl with lots of dark hair…much like her sister was when she was born. In fact, when I looked back at the first picture I have of little Reagan, I found that you could easily mistake them for the same baby. I seriously doubt if anyone will have trouble realizing that these two girls are sisters, because the Parmely girls are little look alikes…at least for now.
Hattie made her entrance very early on September 20, 2014, arriving at 4:06am and weighing in at 7 pounds even. Hopefully she won’t be so used to keeping her parents up all night, that it becomes a lifelong habit. I’m sure her parents will not appreciate spending all their nights trying to get their little Hattie to sleep…and later, well Hattie, there will be curfews and other such rules that you will be expected to live by…like it or not. I suppose we don’t need to jump the gun just yet. You are, after all, only one day old, so there will be time to learn all about that whole rule thing…and, I’m sure your big sister, Reagan will be happy to teach you the ropes, and how to get around the rules. Of course, you might find out that Reagan has a little bit different take on the rules than your parents do…one that slants more in her direction, as the official big sister. Nevertheless, hang in there and you will find that she will be your biggest ally.
Sisters have a way of sticking together through the years, and while they may fight with each other, they are usually best friends forever. Friends may come and go, but your sister will always be your sister. You, Hattie Joy, are so blessed to have a great big sister, and yet Reagan is so blessed to have you. Being sisters is one of life’s greatest blessings. You will share so much through the years. Your years are not so far apart that you won’t go through the boy-crazy, teenage years together…among other things. Being sisters…well, it doesn’t get any cooler than that.