My curiosity about some of the family members on my husband, Bob’s side of our family, has led me to research the Forsyth, Montana area, because after all, that is where many of them lived for much of their lives. Some, including Julia (Doll) Schulenberg, and her husband, Max homesteaded here, until floods and droughts ruined their chances of making a living there. Then they moved into the little town of Forsyth, Montana, where they would live out their lives and raise their ten children, the oldest of whom was my husband, Bob’s grandfather, Andrew Schulenberg. Andy was the sheriff of Rosebud County from 1955 to 1972, in spite of the fact that he had lost his lower leg in a shooting accident when he was fifteen years old. To me that is rather an amazing feat for the times. Artificial legs of this day and age could probably facilitate an officer of the law’s need to run, but in those days, they did not have the technology to spring load the leg for running. During his term as sheriff, Andy became a much loved sheriff and citizen of the area, while also keeping the peace in the county.
Before the town of Forsyth, Montana existed, the river steamers used to stop in the area to refuel their engines. The area had an abundance of cottonwood trees and that made it a perfect fuel location. To this day, Forsyth is known as the city of trees. The town sits along the Yellowstone River, and it got its name from General James W Forsyth, who stopped there on one of those river steamers, before there was even a town. The town would be established in 1880, and the post office would be established in 1882 when the Northern Pacific Railroad extended into the Judith Basin, which opened up the territory for settlement. It is located along the Lewis and Clark Trail, which peaks my curiosity even more.
Max and Julia Schulenberg weren’t the only side of Bob’s family to settle in Forsyth. The Knox side of the family lived there too. Shortly after the death of their son, Joy Allen Knox, Bob’s maternal great grandparents, Edgar and Nellie (DeGood) Knox, moved from Prosser County, Washington to the Rosebud area to work on a ranch there. While Bob’s grandfather was not born in the area, he lived there until the early 1960s when they would move to Casper, Wyoming, which is where their daughter, Joann and her husband, Walter Schulenberg, who are Bob’s parents had moved. While Walt and Joann would never live in Montana again, Forsyth would remain an important part of their lives. Forsyth was, after all, an area where they had deep roots, connected to both sides of their family. With the move of the Knox family, the connection to Forsyth for that side of the family ended, however. Still the Schulenberg/Hein/Leary side of the family continues to have deep roots there to this day, and a number of the family members still live right there in Forsyth.
One of the things that I had always found very interesting about Forsyth is the cross on the hill. I always thought it was great that the town had decided to place the cross there, but now I find out that it was not the town at all. The cross, which has become a tourist attraction, as well as a source of inspiration and hope for the people of the area, was actually placed there early in the Fall of 1960 by the youth group of Concordia Lutheran Church. The idea was that of one of the youth group members, and was so well received by the entire youth group, that they all gave up their Saturdays to dig the hole for the pole and the anchor on the top of the hill to the south of Forsyth. The cross was first lit up on the second Monday evening in November of 1960. Over the next sixteen years, the cross remained lit and was kept up by contributions from individuals, businesses, tourists and organizations. I’m not sure if it is still lit these days, but it remains on the top of the hill. I’m sure there is much more history that I will discover as I continue to study the area where Bob’s family has such deep roots. I look forward to doing more research very soon.
While Bob and I were in Corpus Christi, Texas in March of 2006, we had the opportunity to visit the USS Lexington, better known now, as The Blue Ghost. The ship was originally known as the Cabot, but after the USS Lexington CV-2 was lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea, she was renamed while under construction to commemorate the earlier USS Lexington. This Lexington was the fifth United States Navy ship to bear the name in honor of the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington. In June of 1942, after the earlier USS Lexington was destroyed, workers at the shipyard submitted a request to Navy Secretary Frank Knox to change the name of a carrier currently under construction there to Lexington. Knox agreed to the proposal and Cabot was renamed as the fifth USS Lexington on 16 June 1942. She was launched on 23 September 1942, sponsored by Mrs Theodore Douglas Robinson. Lexington was commissioned on February 17, 1943.
I can’t say for sure if this Frank Knox was any relation to my husband’s Knox ancestors, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all, since the Knox family was into politics, and even included a connection to President James Knox Polk. While I was originally writing this because on this day, December 5, 1941, the prior USS Lexington headed out to the Battle of Midway…a battle that it never made it to, because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That Lexington made it back to Pearl Harbor on December 13, 1941, so it was not much help. Later, the prior USS Lexington was destroyed in the Battle of Coral Sea, triggering the renaming of the USS Lexington that Bob and I saw.
The USS Lexington we saw was referred to as a “ghost” ship by the Japanese for her tendency to reappear after reportedly being sunk. This, coupled with the ship’s dark blue camouflage scheme, led the crew to refer to her as “The Blue Ghost”. There were rumors during the war that the ship was so badly damaged it had to be scuttled at one point, but a newly built aircraft carrier was immediately deployed with the same name, in an effort to demoralize the Japanese. I’m sure the whole situation was a serious frustration to the Japanese, but for Bob and me the legend that ship had become was something we found quite interesting.
That said, I now find something new to draw my interest…namely Navy Secretary Frank Knox. One thing I have noticed is that in many families, certain names seem to be used over and over. In Bob’s family, there is a Frank Knox, and in that lineage there are Williams and Johns. The same is the case with Navy Secretary Frank Knox’s lineage. For that reason, I expect that a connection exists, and with a little work, I think I will find it, if it exists. I like the challenges that come from trying to connect the missing links in our family, and when I can tie it to something I have personally seen, it is an even more exciting quest.
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.
Living to be 95 years old is an amazing accomplishment, and one that few people are blessed enough to achieve. Today, that is the place where my husband, Bob’s great uncle, Frank Knox is. I think Frank was always my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg’s favorite uncle…doesn’t every girl have one or even two. When I found my mother-in-law’s childhood scrapbook among the photo albums and old pictures she had in a box in her closet, as we were preparing to sell their home to help pay for her care, after my father-in-law passed away, I noticed several pictures with her and her Uncle Frank, as well as pictures of him alone.
Frank was stationed in England during World War II, as was my dad. I’m not sure where in England, but it would have been interesting to see if they ever crossed paths. It’s possible that worry and the unknown were things that made my mother-in-law love seeing her uncle, because even when kids are young, they are well able to understand the dangers that their loved ones are being placed in, and they worry that they will not make it home. There really is no definite skill that keeps a soldier alive in a war. Some just come home, and others don’t. That is probably the thing that makes the homecoming so very sweet.
The first time I met Frank was the end of June, 1976, when they brought Frank’s parents, my mother-in-law’s grandparents for a visit. It was partly, I’m sure so that they could meet their two great great granddaughters, my girls, Corrie and Amy, but also to see the rest of the family. Living so far away, in Yakima, Washington, they didn’t get to see this part of the family very much, and Great Grandma and Grandpa were getting older. We did not know it then, but it would be the last time we saw Great Grandpa, since he would pass away the following August…just two months later. I think we all felt very grateful to Frank, his wife, Helen, and their youngest son, Richard for bringing Great Grandma and Grandpa Knox to Casper for such a lovely visit.
Frank is a very intelligent man, and while his mind may not be quite as sharp as it was in his youth, he still remembers all of us and his little niece, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg. He always calls her on her birthday, and while she won’t have a phone this year, we will make sure that we get them on the phone for that very important call. And perhaps we can surprise him today with a phone call from her, because I think she probably did that too, before Alzheimer’s Disease stole the memory of the date from her. Today is Frank’s 95th birthday. Happy birthday Frank!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I have always known of my family’s relationship to Princess Diana, and I also knew about the Knox family’s relationship to James Knox Polk, who is Bob’s 2nd cousin 5 times removed, but in more recent years I have come across, or as one family member put it, tripped over a line of presidents on my side of the family as well as Bob’s. It seems that both of us are related George HW Bush, my 15th cousin once removed, and George W Bush, who is my 15th cousin 2 times removed. We are also related to, although in a roundabout way, Andrew Jackson, the husband of aunt of wife of 1st cousin 6x removed of my husband, Bob…I know, that one is a little bit complicated.
I did not know of the Spencer connection to, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and George Washington. I also did not know of the Knox connection to the family history to Kentucky Frontiersman Daniel Boone, Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; his son, William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States; his great-grandson, Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States and…President George Washington. At this point, I don’t know at what level we are related to these, but I am finding out that Bob’s family history and my family history are intermingled in several areas. Now that I have some of this information, I look forward to putting these people into my family history, so I can find out how we are connected and who else might be in the family.
I have also found out that on the Spencer side of the family, Henry and Isabella Lincoln Spencer, who lived in the 1400’s, had a very large influence on the United States, as well as England, through their offspring. And, I have found out that John and Jean Gracy Knox, who lived in the 1700’s, also had a large influence in American history through their offspring. It is very strange to me to look at the people in history, knowing that at the time they had children, they had no idea what impact those children and their descendants would have on the world. To be an American president or a signer of the Declaration of Independence, made these men very well known throughout history. Even a frontiersman from Kentucky who probably never gave any thought to what the future of our nation might be at the time he was doing his part to go down in history, has managed to become an endeared character in all the history books, as well as, in television shows and movies. Who would have ever thought that could happen?
It’s odd to think that, depending on what we do with our lives, any one of us could stand out in the history of the nation and the world. Little did anyone think of the future when they began whatever cause they held close to their heart, and yet, just a short time down the road, they have become a household name, written in every history book, with parks, schools, museums, and airports, named after them. I wonder if they had any inkling just how big they were going to become. It is mind boggling just to think back on it now, and I’m not them. Of course, they didn’t really know how big they would be at the time they were becoming so big. Still, the presidents had to have known at the time they were elected that they had joined an elite group of men, and that would never change from that point on. Good or bad, right or wrong, the decisions they made from the first day of their presidency to the last, would be on record as either a testament or detriment to the man. I think that, in itself, would be a daunting thought, but in reality, they couldn’t think about that much when the decisions that affect a nation are in their hands. Just like their predecessors, they are a part of a long line of presidents, and some of them, are a part of my family.