mystery

Imagine an airplane simply disappearing…without a trace. These days, that scenario seems both far fetched, and yet not so far fetched. After Malaysia Flight 370 went missing and wasn’t found for a long time, the people began to wonder if it had been hijacked and taken to a communist country. Many people are still skeptical concerning the wreckage that was located. Nevertheless, Malaysia Flight 370 was not the first flight to go missing, many planes have gone missing, some never to be seen again. The big shock with the Malaysia flight was that there were so many locators on these planes. We couldn’t figure out how this could happen with so many gadgets to find missing planes.

In years gone by, flight locating equipment was not as readily available. For that reason, planes disappearing was more common. On March 16, 1962, one of the strangest disappearances of modern times occurred. Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 still remains a mystery. It is the worst aviation accident in the Lockheed Constellation series. The strange thing was that there was no reported accident involving the flight, and yet the general belief is the plane was involved in an in-flight explosion. This information came from a potential witness on a civilian tanker. Nevertheless, no wreckage, debris, or bodies were ever found, although the search and rescue efforts of the US military were extensive. The frustration must have massive. Looking…but finding no signs of wreckage.

The biggest reason that the lost flight still remains a mystery, is that without wreckage, there was no way to determine probable cause of the accident. The explosion remains the best cause, but there is a conspiracy theory which insists that sabotage could have been in play. Flight 739, an L-1049 Super Constellation, took off from the Travis Air Force Base on the March 16th and went missing in the area of the Aleutian Islands. The Civil Aeronautics Board determined that, based on the tanker’s observations, Flight 739 probably exploded in-flight, though an exact cause could not be determined without examining the remnants of the aircraft. As of this date, flight 739 remains the worst aviation accident involving the Lockheed Constellation series.

Lots of people would love to find a gold mine, stake a claim, and get rich. And if that didn’t work, they would love to stumble on a hidden or long lost treasure. Of course, for most of us that will never happen but that does not mean that those things don’t exist. In 1845, a group of pioneers were traveling by wagon train from Iowa to Oregon. They got as far as the Malheur River about a mile below the present-day Vale, Colorado. They had already traveled about 1,500 miles. They were tired and more than ready to reach their destination, they camped at a spring to rest for the night. The trip had been hard, and they had lost several oxen that had apparently died from poison. When one of the members of the party examined a carcass, his hand was infected and he too died. Tempers flaring within the group of travelers. It was time to bring their journey to a close. They were tough, but this was possibly more than they had bargained for.

Part way through their journey, the wagon train was joined by a man named Stephen Meek. He joined the party somewhere in present-day Montana or Idaho, claimed that he had been to Oregon and knew a shortcut. Along the trail, many of the men had begun to distrust Meek and when the party set out westward from the springs, they split into two groups. One group followed the known route, and the other group went on to Meek’s promised shortcut. The Meek party swung to the south toward the Steen Mountain country. As it turned out, Meek didn’t really know where he was going and soon the group became angry at him, so he fled the wagon train in fear of his life, after only one week. The fighting among the members of the group caused them to split once again at the headwaters of Willow Creek. Part of the group headed towards Huntington and down the Columbia River, while the rest of the party continued to travel along the Malheur River.

Along the way, the party met with trouble again as one member was stricken with fever and died, and just a few miles later, several of the oxen were lost. Their journey seemed to be destined to fail. On August 25, 1845, three of the young men soon went out in search of the stock, walking all day and well into the late afternoon before coming to a small stream. After quenching their thirst, they picked up 15 to 20 pebbles in the creek that displayed an unusual color. Finally finding their oxen, they then returned to the train. They showed their stones to the older men in the train, and the “more seasoned” travelers said they were “copper.” When someone asked, “Was there much of it?”, one of the boys replied, “We could have filled one of these blue buckets.” One of the train’s members, Mrs Fisher, kept a single nugget and the train continued its journey, leaving behind the other stones.

Stephen Meek made it to The Dalles and returned to the train with a party of rescuers in order to save them. The wagon train finally reached its destination at The Dalles in October 1845. The people began the work of settling into their new home, and forgot about the stones until three years later when gold was discovered in California. Then someone mentioned the 15 to 20 “copper” stones found near the spring on their journey west. They re-examined the stone kept by Mrs Fisher, and soon discovered that it was actually gold. Thus began the search for the mythical or long lost Blue Bucket Mine. Though the location of the gold continues to remain a mystery to this day, it is believed to be at a tributary of the John Day River. I’m sure the people of the wagon train were sorry that they didn’t take the initial find more seriously. I have no idea how big the stones were, but I’m sure they left a sizable amount of money on the prairie that day.

Ghost ships have been a prominent tale of mystery over the years. Many say that seeing a ghost ship is an omen of doom, which I do not believe in, nor do I believe in ghosts or ghost ships, but there was a ship that was dubbed a ghost ship, and has had the longest standing as a possible ghost ship in history, at least to my knowledge. The SS Baychimo was a cargo ship that was built in 1914 in Sweden. It was used for trading routes between Hamburg and Sweden. After World War I, the ship was sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company. The ship made numerous sailings for Hudson’s, mostly carrying cargo to and from the Arctic region.

The Baychimo had a lucrative career until October 1, 1931, when it was on a routine voyage, filled with recently acquired furs. An unexpected storm blew in, trapping the ship in a sea filled with ice. The closest city was Barrow, Alaska, the northern most city in the United States, and almost like being on top of the world, but it was too far to get to in the blowing snow and high winds. The captain and crew had to stay inside the trapped ship, where they hoped to wait out the storm. This storm was the beginning of the more bizarre part of Baychimo’s life.

When October 15th rolled around, the ship could still be found stuck in the ice, so 15 of the crew members were airlifted to safety. The captain and 14 other crew members made a temporary camp on the ice near the stranded ship…which turned out to be a very wise decision. The terrible weather continued to pound the crew and the “temporary” camp became home for weeks. Then, on November 24th, a fierce blizzard hit the area, and the snow was so heavy that the campers could no longer see the Baychimo, which was still trapped in the ice…or so they thought. The next morning, it was just as the expected. The ship had vanished. They assumed that it had been sunk by the preceding blizzard. The remaining crew made their way back to civilization.

Then, less than a week later, a hunter told the captain that the Baychimo could not have sunk, as he had just seen it floating in the icy waters almost fifty miles from the location where it had been abandoned. The captain was, understandably reluctant to battle the snows to try and find the ship, knowing that it could be miles for the last known location. Nevertheless, he gathered his crew and went looking. Just as the hunter had said, they found the Baychimo in the location the hunter had described. The ship looked like it was no longer seaworthy, so the captain didn’t think it would stay afloat much longer and would soon break apart and sink, so the crew gathered the cargo of furs and had everything, including the captain and the crew, airlifted out of the area.

The captain was wrong. The SS Baychimo was spotted again and again. In March of 1933, some Eskimos, trapped by a storm, took shelter in the Baychimo for a week until the weather improved enough to journey back to their homes. In November of 1939, another ship came close enough to the Baychimo that they were able to board the abandoned ship, but due to the approaching ice floes, the captain did not have the time to bring it back to a port, although he did report the empty ship’s location. In 1969, the Baychimo was spotted at a distance, once again trapped in an ice pack. This was the last recorded sighting of the ship, and after a few years it was commonly believed that the ship did eventually give in to its deteriorating condition and sank to the bottom of the frigid seas. Not everyone agreed though, because in 2006, seventy-five years after the ship was first abandoned, the state of Alaska formally began an effort to find the mysterious SS Baychimo, the Arctic’s elusive wandering ship.

imageWhen my daughter, Amy Royce and her family first moved to the Seattle, Washington area, I started looking around online to see what sights there might be for them to go visit. The first thing I came across was the Pacific Queen shipwreck. I was excited to tell them about a shipwreck in their area. I thought it might be a cool thing to go see. Amy researched it too, and found that it was on a private beach. We were disappointed, but I couldn’t get it off my mind.

Bob and I had a little time on Saturday, so we decided to head back out to Puget Sound. I got an idea to see if there was a place where we could actually see the ship, and found that we could see it from Picnic Point Park. While we could not get close to the private beach where the Pacific Queen rests, we were treated to some really good views of the ship, imageand I was so excited. This was something I really wanted to see.

I started researching the origins of the Pacific Queen online, I found that she was a old minesweeper. The ship was not wrecked, but rather brought to the site by a man who planned to salvage the metal on her. So the only wreck she had was when she was run aground to her final resting place. The Pacific Queen is one of 27 boats that were brought to the sight over the years, but she is the only one that really still resembles a ship. Several of the boats are underwater except during low tide, and those still look somewhat like ships too.

I admit that I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t an actual shipwreck, but then again, the ship was built in the 1800s. It was actually brought to its current location in 1929, and really has been an area attraction since that time. The best way to get up close is by kayak, but the beach is off limits. Apparently you can walk the distance from Picnic Point Park to the Pacific Queen during the low tide, but it is not recommended that you go onto the actual beach. Nevertheless, a few people have ventured close, and if the owner was in a good mood, they might have been treated to a few of the stories surrounding the boats and their arrival at the current sight.

imageIn the end, with the boat viewing and my research, I felt very pleased with this adventure. Whether she had wrecked or not, the Pacific Queen was a very cool boat. It was amazing to sit and wonder where she had been and what she and her crews had seen. A minesweeper must have been an important boat, and I would think that would be a dangerous job. If you didn’t see a mine and you bumped into it…well, it was all over for you. Nevertheless, the crews of the Pacific Queen must have been good at their jobs, because she survived the war and ended up on her current resting place, a ship of beauty and intrigue, sought out by many and having her picture on the Internet for all to see. I know that for me, it was a view I will never forget.

Rev Absolom K BarrMrs Absolom BarrYears 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 Husband of Sarah Barr BeachSarah Barr Beachchildren, 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.

Warren BeachBobMy 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.

Portrait of Angeloah ShawFor some time now, my Shaw family line has been stalled at Angeloah, who is my 3rd great grandfather. I have always known that he was my grandfather, and that he was a religious man, but other than that, he has remained a mystery to me. Most of the time when a side of my family history stalls, I just move to another branch, because at that point I need a break from the frustration of a fruitless search. That is what I had done on that branch, until I was contacted by a man who was researching a Shaw branch of his family. So far, I have not found a connection between his family and mine. But in my search, I found a story from a history document about Catarogus, Allegany County, New York. In that document, it said that Angeloah’s father was Joseph Shaw. That was what I had originally thought to be correct, but then during my search, I saw where his father had been listed as Nathaniel and also as John. For a time I wasn’t sure what to believe, but this document made it very clear, and it was the first one that did. What it didn’t make clear was who Angeloah’s mother was. I find that so odd…and frustrating!!

From his childhood until about 1860, Angeloah lived in Lyndon, New York, where he met and married his wife, Mary Delilah Sapney. They moved to Derinda, Illinois before 1860, as they were counted in the census taken in 1860. Then in 1864, they moved to Tremplealeau County Wisconsin, and is shown to have owned land by 1869. The land totaled 160 acres, and Angeloah took up farming. his son, my 2nd great grandfather, John Brad Shaw, helped out on the farm until he was 24 years old, before moving to Nebraska. Angeloah and the rest of the family would stay on in Wisconsin for a number of years before following John in 1874 to Nebraska where Angeloah lived out the remainder of his life.

He was a very religious man, and some of the pictures we do have of him showed him reverently holding his Angeloah ShawBible. I’m sure that in the early years he was a preacher of sorts…at least in his family. That reminds me a lot of my dad, in that he was the patriarch of our family. We always looked to him to have the answers and to show us the right way to go in all things. I doubt if any of us would have been who we are today, had it not been for that leading. I can’t say for sure if Angeloah was the same kind of father to his children. Those were very different times, and parenting was different too, so I can’t say what his parenting style was like or what part his faith played in his parenting style.

Basically, that is all I know of my 3rd great grandfather. That makes me sad in many ways. It seems like some families didn’t keep records that were up to date as much as other families. I had hoped that with the abundance of pictures out there, I would be able to find much more documentation on him and his life, as well as his parents. Instead, I am left with nothing but the continuing mystery of Angeloah Shaw.

Lake Superior MapCaryn Sue Spencer abt June 1956 editedI always liked the fact that I was born in Superior, Wisconsin. It was where my dad was born, and I suppose that could have been part of its charm, but I really think it just seemed exotic or romantic to me. I know that sounds funny, but there is so much history in the area, with a bit of mystery mixed in. The mystery comes from all the shipwrecks in Lake Superior, in my mind anyway. When I think of Lake Superior, my mind always wanders to the shipwrecks that have occurred there, and the fact that Lake Superior, while beautiful, has a dark and dangerous side for any ship caught out on her in a storm…especially a November gale, and especially an early November gale, such as in 1975. When the Edmond Fitzgerald was caught out there in an early gale on November 10th, she sank with all hands lost because it. I remember my Uncle Bill telling me about that storm, years later, and the fact that he was driving around the lake at the time of the sinking. He told me that it was a horrific storm, and he was not surprised to hear of the loss of a ship.

Of course, the shipwrecks are not the only things I find to be exotic and romantic about the Lake Superior area. Smelting at Lake SuperiorThe fact that ships come into the Duluth-Superior Harbor from all over the world and that things that are shipped out of that harbor go all over the world, makes it feel more connected to the world somehow. My cousin, Pam’s husband, Mike Wendling, who worked for the railroad for many years, before retiring, told us that the trains would bring in coal from Gillette, Wyoming and Montana. It is strange to think that the coal we see in railroad cars here is headed for an ore boat on Lake Superior…and then places all over the world.

When I look at some of the pictures of me as a baby, I almost feel a bit like I missed out on some parts of my own babyhood. My sister, Cheryl remembers living there, playing with our cousin, Pam and the neighbor kids…including the last name of her favorites, the Lawlers. I don’t remember them. I was too young. With movies and pictures, I have been able to get a picture in my mind of what my life there must have been like. Most of it was likely spent being a third wheel to my sister and cousin, but it doesn’t look like they minded me too much. I was probably too little to be very bratty then. There were also trips to the lake with the family, which I didn’t know about really until my cousin, Pam produced a picture in her baby album during our visit. It was such a great family moment, at the lake when the smelt were running. Smelt are a type of fish who, like the salmon swim against the current to lay their eggs. People went out and gathered lots of them. It was a big deal on the lake.
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I probably get most of my memories of Superior, Wisconsin from our many visits back there when we were kids. Even then, I felt like it was a special thing to be born there. Maybe it was just about not being born in Casper, Wyoming. Don’t get me wrong, I love Casper, but when you are born somewhere other than the place you grew up, it just has a different feel. I’m sure most smaller city or small town kids think that their little corner of the world it the most dull and boring place ever. It tends to make any other place take on an exotic feel. Nevertheless, I will always feel like there is something exotic and romantic about being born on the tip of Lake Superior.

Angie Schumacher-BardenWith every step I take in the family history journey, I find as much mystery as I do revelation. It seems that for every door opened, comes a multitude of questions. Recently my sister, Cheryl Masterson, my mom, Collene Spencer, and took a trip to Wisconsin, during which we met quite a few family members within the Schumacher side of our family. With every new family member I meet, in person or online, comes increased curiosity about our connection, as well as our differences and similarities. After all, while we are related, each family has a slightly different background. Even though we share the same set of grandparents, we also have a set of grandparents and ancestors that is different from our relatives. I love to see the new paths the extended family can take as those new links are connected.

Recently, after our trip to Wisconsin, I was contacted by Angie Schumacher Barden, who is my second cousin once removed, the daughter of Brian Schumacher, and granddaughter of Les and Bev Schumacher. She had seen some information on the Schumacher family indicating an Albert Schumacher who was born in Germany and came to America in 1864. About the same time as his wife…or future wife…who was named Henrietta. The indication was that they were married about the time they came to America in 1864. As I recall, our grandfather, Carl Schumacher who was married to Henrietta Hensel in 1886 in Wisconsin, did have family members that lived in the area. It is entirely possible that one of them was a brother named Albert, since Carl did name a son Albert. And I suppose that Carl’s brother Albert could have married a woman named Henrietta, just as Carl did. Spencer Schumacher Family cover photo2There is a number of years between the two marriages, so it could also be an uncle of Carl’s who came over. All this is hard to prove at this point, and will most lkely be a story down the road, if I can connect all these theories to some kind of reality.

For now, however, this will remain a mystery that was opened up by another curious family member who saw something, and decided to see what she could find out. As for me, Angie, I will be doing whatever I can to find out more about these, for now at least, mysterious Schumachers who may or may not be related to our family. I love a good mystery, and with the possibility of connecting with more and more of our family’s past, I will be searching in earnest for the answers to the questions you have asked. And so…the Family History Journey continues.

DwarfedAs a kid, I heard the song, North to Alaska often. My parents were fascinated with the idea of going to visit there. Dad talked about it so much, that when it came time for their 50th Wedding Anniversary, our gift to them was a simple choice…a cruise to Alaska. They had such a wonderful time, and it was a memory that has lived on. Then a couple of years ago, I started thinking about how great it would be to see Alaska for myself. Everyone talked about how big Alaska was, and as a state, it is…very big, but that is not really what makes Alaska big…as I found out.

There is a quality about Alaska that can’t be described any other way, but big…a vastness that you can actually feel. That was part of the draw for my parents, and then for me. I felt like the pioneers or gold rushers, setting out into the unknown. Yes, it was quite different for me than it was for them, because so many had traveled before me, and the route is known. There are guides all the way. Still, you get a feeling of being in the wilderness, in the last frontier. Alaska truly is just that, the last Panning for goldfrontier, and yet, how could that still be when it has been a state for 55 years? I suppose that it is because much of Alaska hasn’t changed in all those years. About 94% of the state is still uninhabited…at least by permanent residents. Just knowing that makes Alaska have an air of mystery…of wildness.

While in Alaska, I found myself wondering what the gold rush was like. We watched a movie at the visitors center in Anchorage, about the Klondike Gold Rush, and I realized that not only were lives lost in the search for wealth, but lives were destroyed. People lost everything they had…betting on the possibility of striking it rich. Around 100,000 men set out on the journey to the Klondike region in northwestern Canada, most of them by way of Skagway, White Pass, and the Yukon River, where they sailed to the Klondike, but only about 30,000 to 40,000 made it. The rest gave up, or died. Alaska is a place that is very unforgiving. The mountains are very high and topped with glaciers. It was cold and filled with steep climbs. Citrus fruit was scarce, so Scurvy was common. It was a really miserable place to be in winter, and yet they came.

There is still something about Alaska that draws people to it. Yes, there is still gold in Alaska, The Tailbut there is much more to it than that. There is something about its vast wilderness that challenges them…keeps them there or keeps them coming back. Maybe it’s the beauty of the whole place, or the mountains rising sharply right out of the water,…that are able to dwarf a cruise ship, or any other vessel. It could be the hunting and fishing, or maybe the whale watching. It could be any or all of those things, but for me it was a combination of several of these, coupled with a desire to see the things my parents had seen on their trip. So far, Bob and I are the only ones in the family to go to Alaska, besides Mom and Dad, but if I’m not mistaken, more will follow. Alaska has a way of calling your name…drawing you north.

Jacob's tentJacob, the son of my cousin, Denise DeVogel, who I recently met on Facebook, got busy the other day and in his play, he reminded many of the rest of us in the family about the fun things many of us did as kids. Jacob pushed the couch and chair in his mom’s living room together, covered them with a blanket, and…presto, he had a private little tent to camp out in. He has spent the last couple of days having a great time in that little tent. And his mom, Denise has had such a good time watching him have such a good time.

Looking at the picture she posted on Facebook, took me back to my own childhood, and the many tents my sisters and I made. We had such good times playing in the little shelter that the tent provided. Not that we needed shelter, but more a secret little place to hold our meetings, play games, have snacks, and pretend to go to sleep…not that any sleeping happened, unless we planned to camp out for the night like it seems was Jacob’s plan to do. The things that went on in those tents, were such a big deal when we were kids, and I suppose that everyone’s games were a little different, but we all thought that our little club meetings were a total mystery to our parents, not ever realizing that our parents were little kids once too, and they probably played many of the same games you did.

And it wasn’t just me who took a trip down memory lane while looking at the pictures of Jacob Home Sweet Homein his tent, because Denise’s friend, Karen commented, “How fun!! I remember doing that!!” Her words were exactly the ones that would have come out of my mouth, had she not beat me to it. It’s pictures like these that remind you of all the good things that define childhood. It’s the freedom to be creative, inventive, and yet silly, all rolled into one little person, that makes the whole scene so fun to watch. It makes me want to be a kid again…well, maybe not, but I could be a kid again for a day or maybe a week, so I could build a tent in the living room, and hold the little club meetings, or read a book, or camp out, and then I could step back into reality again, and take with me the little vacation memories I had in the tent in the living room. Thanks for the memories Jacob!!

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