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.
Every 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 is 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.
Recently, my interest turned to the ancestry of the Schulenberg side of my family, when I was contacted by a more famous member of the family, who I will not name at this point, as I have not asked his permission to do so, and so I will respect his privacy. He wondered if we might be related, and I told him that I expected that we probably are. Since that time, I have been looking back on that side of the family. I knew that our side of the Schulenberg family came to America aboard the SS Moltke in 1895, when Max Heinrich Johann Carl Schulenberg arrived on that ship at the tender age of 17 years, without an adult to accompany him…a bold move for a young man. He arrived in New York City, like so many other immigrants. Before too long he had made his way to Blair,Nebraska, where he met and married Julia Doll on December 16, 1902. The couple would have ten children, the oldest of which was Andrew, my husband, Bob’s grandfather. The family would eventually settle in Forsyth, Montana, where there are still family members living to this day.
But what of the German half of the Schulenberg family. They had a longstanding heritage in Oldenburg, Germany, where the family owned a farm since 1705, when the first known Schulenberg owner, Johann Schulenberg shows up in records as the owner. The farm was rather large and still stands to this day. It has been well maintained, and is in fact, more beautiful today than it was when Johann owned it. I’m sure that has to do with all the modern equipment and products we have today to enhance the natural beauty of a home and its grounds. Nevertheless, the farm was a productive place in 1705 too.
The furthest record of the family line that I have found to date is Vitter Schulenberg, who actually hailed from Schulenberg, Germany, where I expect the family originated, because as most of us know, before last names existed, people were known by the town they came from, such as Jesus of Nazareth. The Schulenberg family had been known in prior years as von der Schulenberg, which translates from Schulenberg, meaning the town of Schulenberg, Germany which is located in the district of Goslar in Lower Saxony, Germany, I don’t know if those people whose last name is spelled Schulenburg came from the same family or not, but I would expect that it is quite likely, because when people came to America, they were told to Americanize their name, and there was no regulation as to how to do that, so some went one way and others went another way.
I also found out that there was an older village of Schulenberg, which only appears in the fall, when the lake is at its lowest point. The lake (der Okertalsperre) or reservoir which was constructed in 1953, resulting in the flooding of the old village. That fascinated me. I found this picture of the ruins on Google Earth (taken by Harz Geist), and either there is not much left of the old village, or it was very small, which almost makes me wonder if it was originally a farm named Schulenberg, that grew into a village…but that is the subject of another story, for another day.