War is a really horrific thing for soldiers to go through, and closure comes in different forms for different soldiers. Returning to the battlefield is a way to find closure for many veterans. It is also a way for solders to keep the friendships they made at a time when their life depended on their fellow soldiers. Countless numbers of men have returned to places like the beaches of Normandy, France to see that place again, where so many lost their lives. Some soldiers didn’t leave the place they fought in their war. Vietnam was that way to a degree.

The Civil War was unique in that when the veterans decided to have their reunion, they wanted to, of course renew old friendships with those they shared a common bond, but they also wanted to make their reunion a way to bring the north and south back together again. The Gettysburg, Pennsylvania reunion was the largest of these events, and so made headline news around the world. The event took place in 1913 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Civil War was unique in that all participants were citizens of the United States. Brother fought against brother, and family members against family members. The reunion was a chance to repair those horribly broken relationships for all the men who were still alive at the reunion, which was held on the 50th anniversary of the battle. General H.S. Huidekoper, a Gettysburg Veteran of the 150th PA., was the man behind the idea of making it a gathering of both Northern and Southern Veterans on the 50th Anniversary of the battle. With the state of Pennsylvania, acting as host, $400,000 was set aside to finance the event. The Federal Government added $195,000 and the volunteer services of 1,500 officers and enlisted men. The event was five years in the planning, with Veteran groups throughout the nation helping to make it happen.

The Veterans who were still alive were aging, and because of the reunion, they were able not only to renew the friendships they had, but new friendships were born, and old wounds healed as well. The youngest Veteran, Colonel John C. Clem (known as the Shiloh drummer boy), was 62 years old. The oldest Veteran was 112 years of age. A total of 55,000 veterans attended the event, representing the half million living Confederate and Union Veterans. Of the 55,000 men, 22,103 came from Pennsylvania, and of those, 303 were Confederate. The smallest delegation came from New Mexico…one, a Union Veteran.

The event…one I wish I could have seen, saw over 5,000 tents, covering 280 acres in the middle of the battlefield, where so many had lost their lives. It was almost as if they were there too…giving their approval. Distinguished guests had come to give speeches and presentations. General Daniel Sickles, representing the III Corps at Gettysburg where he lost his leg, was the only corps commander present. On behalf of the battle leaders were the daughter of General Meade and the grandchildren of Generals Longstreet, A.P. Hill and Pickett.

The reunion lasted a full week. The men ate well and swapped stories, cried and laughed. In all 688,000 meals were served by two thousand cooks and helpers. Amazingly and considering the age and health of the Veterans, along with the hot, sultry weather, there were only nine Veterans who did not survive the week, a number well below the normal mortality rate for that day. Perhaps it was the exhilaration of the joining of old friends, reliving days of their youth, hearing the infamous Rebel Yell resound across the battlefield, or reenacting Pickett’s charge to have the Stars and Bars meet the trefoil of Hancock’s II Corps once more that had lengthened their lives.

In the most stunning moment of the event…on the fourth of July at high noon, a great silence fell over the battlefield, as the church bells began to toll. Buglers of the blue and gray prepared to play the mournful tune of Taps one last time. The guns of Gettysburg shook the ground, signaling the end of the weeklong event. When I visited Gettysburg many years later, I was surprised by exactly how that place felt. You could feel the atmosphere there all those years later. It is hallowed ground. You feel like you should whisper…or better yet just be silent. I have never felt that way before, or since.

And though many eloquent speeches were given at Gettysburg that week, none expressed what these Veterans took away from this experience better than a scene witnessed at the train station: “Nearly all of the men had said their good-byes and headed for home. On the station platform a former Union soldier from Oregon and a Louisiana Confederate were taking leave of each other. They shook hands and embraced, but neither seemed able to find the words to express his feelings. Then an idea seemed to strike both men at once. In a simple act, which seemed to say everything they felt the pair took off their uniforms and exchanged them. The Yankee went home in Rebel gray, the Confederate in Union blue.” The above quote is an excerpt from “Gettysburg: The 50th Anniversary Encampment,” by Abbott M. Gibney, Civil War Times Illustrated, October 1970.

When I was a little girl, my family lived in Superior, Wisconsin. Those were wonderful years, but in more recent years we had not been back to Superior for a number of years. When my mom, Collene Spencer wanted to go back to Superior, my sister, Cheryl Masterson and I took her, since our dad had passed away by then. That, Ancestry, and Facebook opened up a whole new world for Cheryl and me. We got to know our cousins, and the list of cousins we know grows every day…or at least every year. This year, with the Schumacher Family Reunion, we knew we had to go, even though it would be without Mom this time. This trip was bittersweet, because of course, Mom was missing.

Nevertheless, we have had a wonderful time. When we were here the last time, our first cousins once removed, Les and Bev Schumacher had wanted us to come to their house, but our time was do limited, that we didn’t have time to. This time, their daughter, Cathy La Porte graciously invited us for dinner this evening. We got to meet her husband, Gary, as well as to see her brother, Brian Schumacher and his wife, Lisa again. It was simply a wonderful evening. Cathy is an excellent cook and we were treated to Walleye Pike and Northern Pike that Cathy’s husband, Gary caught in North Dakota with his brother this past week. Wow!!! Was it good. Dessert was a Cherry Crumble that Lisa’s friend had given her, and everyone loved it.

The evening was very enjoyable and will always be a sweet memory from our trip. The trip has gone by so fast, and what we thought was enough time, really wasn’t…it never is, is it? Nevertheless, the friendships (cousinships) formed will last for the rest of our lives, and while our parents weren’t there this time, we know they would be smiling…happy to see their daughters and granddaughter continue to reach out to the family as if they were with us. I guess we are carrying on the connections, and that would make them happy, and it makes me happy.

When my parents moved to Superior, Wisconsin, which is where my older sister, Cheryl Masterson and I were born, my mom was a young bride, who was experiencing the first days of marriage and the first time away from her family. I’m sure that was not really an easy time for her, but when she arrived in Superior, she was greeted by my dad’s family, who were the only people she knew there. If you have to move to a new city and state, it is nice to at least have someone that you know and can call family, as well as friend. My dad had a large family in the area with whom my mother became quite close, one of whom was my Aunt Doris Spencer, her sister-in-law, and my Uncle Bill’s wife. They spent a lot of time together, and really, had a number of “adventures” together.

As young women, they were always weight conscious, and always on the latest diet. I’m sure that they thought it would be easier to diet with a buddy, and many of us have thought the same thing, but as we all know, dieting is never ease, and inevitably, they found themselves starving!! So, as a way of easing the cravings until they could eat something again, my Aunt Doris handed gave each of them one kernel of puffed wheat and said, “Here, this will tide us over until dinnertime!” Now, as we all know that would be like literally eating air, and it would not ease hunger pains in any way, but as every dieter knows, it was worth a try, because they didn’t want to mess up their diet.

When we moved to Wyoming when I was a little over two years old, it was hard on a lot of people, but I think it was especially hard for my mom and Aunt Doris. While their “adventures” were sometimes silly and sometimes almost crazy, they always had a great time together, and they had become almost like sisters, not sisters-in-law. Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill visited us in Wyoming and we visited them in Wisconsin, but it was never quite the same. Then a few years ago, my sister, Cheryl and I took Mom to Wisconsin for a visit. it was so amazing to see the two sisters-in-law/friends together again, and I know they felt like it was an amazing reunion too. It was the last trip my Mom would make, but my Aunt Doris is still alive and going strong. Today is Aunt Doris’ 94th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageWhen my niece, Lindsay Hadlock Moore’s husband Shannon took a position as Special Teams Coordinator at East Carolina University, it meant that they would be moving from the Miami area of Florida to Greenville, North Carolina. That also meant that in due time, my sister, Allyn Spencer Hadlock and her husband, Chris would be traveling to visit their kids in their new home. That time came this week, when Allyn flew out last Saturday, and Chris joined them on Wednesday after a work related trip to Chicago. As Allyn was getting ready to fly out, she sent out a text to the rest of my sisters and me to let us know that she was leaving and when she would be back.

Of course, in our family of jokesters, it had to happen. Our sister, Cheryl Spencer imageMasterson made the comment that Allyn, who would be landing in Raleigh, would be flying into Andy Griffith Land. I laughed, and Allyn commented, “Yay, Mayberry.” Then she said that, of course, Lindsay actually lives in Greeneville, North Carolina, or more correctly, a suburb called Winterville…to which I commented, “Sounds like Mayberry to me.” and Cheryl commented, ” Greenville, Mayberry. Pretty close!” If you will recall, the big city that everyone went to on The Andy Griffith Show, was Raleigh…which got the whole conversation going in the first place. Mayberry, of course, was a fictional town based on Mount Airy, which is Andy Griffith’s hometown. Mount Airy is three and a half hours west of Winterville, and a place that maybe the family will go see someday, since there are a number of Andy Griffith related sights to see there, such as Andy Griffith’s house, the Andy Griffith Museum, the Mayberry Fountain, and the Mayberry Campground, and several more I’m sure.
Of course, Andy Griffith…as much as we all loved him, was not the reason that Allyn and Chris traveled to Winterville, North Carolina. That honor belongs to their daughter and son-in-law, and now they are having a great time touring the campus of East Carolina University, and just spending quality time with their kids. It is always hard to have some of your kids living so far away, and you find yourself really looking forward to trips to see them, and their trips home to see you. they are having the time of their lives visiting, and really the only thing that has in common with Andy Griffith…is that this reunion is taking place in Andy Griffith Land.

1920603_363627640480027_3939279693936329099_nForsyth SchulenbergsEvery time I make a new family connection…no matter which of the many branches of the family tree it happens to be on…I feel such excitement. These are new members of a family history that is ever evolving. We are related…be it by blood or by marriage, and now there are new people to get to know. They may or may not have new family history information, but quite often, they do. They may not even know that they have important information, until someone asks them a few questions. Still, most times they do know that they have important information, but they just don’t know that it is information that someone else is interested in.

In the past year and a half, I have had the wonderful opportunity to become friends with some family members on my father-in-law’s side of the family, that I knew about, but had never really connected with. My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, had a half brother, Andrew (Butch) Schulenberg, and I met him and his family years ago, when we went to a family reunion for the Schulenberg family. After my father-in-law’s passing, we needed to contact his half brother, and that conversation started my curiosity. I began searching Facebook, and came up with a familiar name…Andi Schulenberg.

When I first met Butch’s daughter, Andi Kay, she was a little girl, with a really cute name that just stuck in my head over the years. I didn’t have a chance to talk to her then, but I remember thinking that she was a cute little girl. She was a couple of years older than my oldest daughter, Corrie, and three years older than my youngest daughter, Amy. They could have been friends if they had lived in the same town. As I recall, Andi Kay was into sports, but I don’t recall what sport exactly. Andi has two brothers…an older brother, Tadd, and a younger brother Heath. At the time of the reunion, I don’t remember seeing her brothers, nor her mom, Charlys. I only remember meeting Butch and Andi Kay, and them only in passing.

Now that I have friended Andi on Facebook, I have to say, that as an adult, she is a very interesting person. We haven’t connected personally, just through Facebook, but I like her a lot. She is the mother of a nine year old boy named Calen, who is her pride and joy. Andi is a therapist at the Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center in Sheridan, Wyoming. She is bright and cheerful, with a smile that makes you feel like she is your friend right away. Through Andi, I have connected with Jennifer Schulenberg, who probably doesn’t know it, but she is the second Jennifer Schulenberg. The first one is my sister-in-law, Jennifer Schulenberg Parmely. The current Jennifer Schulenberg is married to Andi’s brother, Heath Schulenberg, and they have two sweet little boys named Heath and Ethan…or as Jennifer puts it so adorably in a picture…Thing One and Thing Two. I also connected with Butch Schulenberg, who is my husband, Bob’s uncle, and now with his wife, Charlys and their son Tadd. I understand that we are going to have to work on Heath to get him on Facebook…but that Ethan and Heath SchulenbergCalen & Andiis a job for another day. Sometimes, you have to pick your battles, but maybe we can get him interested in new family members.

I feel like our family is so much more complete, now that we have added the Forsyth Connection to the mix. I look forward getting to know the Forsyth Schulenberg families better. I know there are more of them that have not been mentioned here, but I don’t know them yet. I’m sure there will be some new connections very soon. These things have a way of snowballing into a bigger and bigger connection every time.

scan0099Everyone who has ever attended a family reuinion knows that it is a wonderful way to reconnect with family who live far away. Sometimes these can be people you have never met before, like new spouses and children. It can be so much fun to get to know everyone, but there is also another aspect of the reunion, that isn’t so much fun…saying goodbye at the end. Reunions, while a lot of work, really enjoyable and informative, nevertheless, always end too soon. You make new friends, and then they are gone, and you have to try to keep up with them long distance. It seems like an easy thing, but everyone is busy, and it is hard to keep up, even with the very best of intentions. If you have the chance to attend a reunion, I highly recommend that you make the time and take that journey down memory lane.
GG Gpa, Amy, GG Gma Corrie
Those reunions bring generations together, some for the first and last time. There is never a guarantee that you will see people again when you part, but when they are elderly, the chances are even greater that the family member will pass before you get a chance tp see them again. Such was the case with Bob’s grandfather, who passed away less than two months after that reunion. I was so thankful that he had the chance to meet, what I believe were his first two great grandchildren. I’m sure that was a special to him as it was to me. My only regret was that before we could make the trip to see them again a little over two months later, he was gone. We couldn’t have taken our trip sooner, but I have always wished we could have.
I like reunions more now than ever before, because I know their real value. I will never forget Bob’ grandfather. He was a sweet, loving man, who was a pleasure to be around. We were able to go on our trip to Washington to visit Grandma, and she was able to come back here for a vicit, and a chance to meet three more more great grandchildren. We have treasured those visits from that time forward. Still, those visits ended the same way as that first reunion…with the need to say goodbye, and that is the saddest part of it all. I really hate goodbye. It is a very sad word. I don’t like having people move away and go back home if they don’t live here. I simply don’t like saying goodbye.

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