The long awaited birth of the third child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has finally arrived. It’s a prince. I am so excited to have a new royal cousin…my 16th cousin twice removed to be exact. Of course, we don’t know the baby boy’s name yet but he weighed in at 8 pounds 7 ounces, so he was a good sized boy. He is just perfect. It is always so exciting with one of my royal cousins has a new baby. There has been much speculation as to what the couple might name the little prince, with names like James, Phillip, and Arthur. The bookies have started the betting process, so everyone can be involved, Personally I like the names Michael, Phillip and Spencer. In fact I would like a some version of the three together. Time will tell, and until William and Kate inform the Queen of the name, no one else will get to know what it is, but from what I’ve read, the Queen will have no say in the baby’s name. As a grandmother, and soon-to-be great grandmother myself, while I have my own ideas about good baby names, I do not think it is my place to try to force my opinion, and in fact, when I have thought a name would not be the best on for the babies in my family, I have found out that each of their names seem to fit them perfectly. That said, no matter what the name is, it should be totally the decision of William and Kate. We just wish they would hurry up and tell us already!!
With the birth of this baby boy, history will be made again. This new baby will be 5th in line to the throne of England, following his grandpa, Prince Charles; his dad, Prince William; his brother, Prince George; and his sister, Princess Charlotte. In times past, Charlotte would have fallen after this new baby, but the law changed before her birth, and she now holds her line in the succession to the throne. Many people are not sure how they feel about that, but since her great grandmother, Queen Elizabeth has successfully ruled England for many years, it would be hard to dispute Princess Charlotte’s ability should that position ever arise. This baby also moves Prince Harry, William’s brother, to 6th place in the line of succession, which pretty much guarantees that he will never be the King of England, unless something huge happens, which I pray it never does…obviously.
So, as an eventful first day of life comes to an end for the little prince, who was born of Saint George’s Day, a big holiday in England, we go to sleep still wondering what this little man will be named. Not that he really cares either way right now. After all, he has had a busy day, and all he really wants is dinner and a soft bed. Happy birthday sweet little HRH Prince of Cambridge, which is his official title. We look forward to knowing your name very soon. Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We are so happy for you!!
Last night my sisters and I, along with our families, got together for our 2nd annual Spencer Family Christmas Party. Our family made a commitment long ago, to stay close as a family. Family is so important, and all too often, people lose touch, because they don’t realize the importance of family, or they think there will always be time later. It is never a good idea to put off family until later. I’m thankful that my mom’s parents, George and Hattie Byer asked their kids to stay close, inspiring the annual picnic and Christmas parties to keep us all close, because it was those events, that gave us the inspiration to do the same. Then, our sister, Allyn Hadlock, and her husband Chris decided to host the annual party at their house. What a wonderful blessing that has been for all of us. This year was a smaller crowd, as there were several family members who will be spending Christmas in various locations across the United States, but I know they were there in spirit. Of course we missed each one of them, but we understand. I hope that maybe one day, we will be able to have a party with all of us together again.
The one thing that I have noticed about each of the two parties we have had since our parents left us, is that when we are having the party, it’s like Mom and Dad are there with us. Part of the reason is because of the fact that the conversation always turns to them, and to Christmastimes of the past. The memories of special gifts given and received, moments of surprise, and comical moments too, flood the room…along with the laughter as we reminisce about the Christmases of our lifetimes. Still, it always leaves us with an almost bittersweet feeling. Sweetness, because we have been blessed with such great parents, and that we are making the proud, but bitter, because they aren’t here with us. Nevertheless, we know that we will all be together again.
We really have been blessed with wonderful sisters, and all of the other family members. The family has grown exponentially. Like my mom’s family, we are related to about half of the town. That part in itself is an amazing and wonderful thing. We all feel very blessed by all of the nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and the wonderful additions that have joined us by marriage. This time of year, we start to think more and more about family, and while I miss my parents more that I could ever say, I am thankful for my sisters, everyday, because sisters really are forever friends.
As I contemplated today’s story, I thought about one of my biggest fans…my mom, Collene Spencer, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself. I was researching a part of our family tree, after a conversation with a co-worker, Carrie Beauchamp, who had the opportunity, while living back east to visit one of the Vanderbilt mansions. I knew that my 2nd great uncle was named Cornealius Vanderbilt Spencer, but I didn’t know if there was any real connection, or rather maybe his mother just wished there had been a connection. So, I set out to look. I was pretty sure I had seen the Vanderbilt name somewhere else in my tree. My research brought me to Consuelo Vanderbilt, who married Charles Richard Spencer Churchill, who is my 15th cousin once removed.
I knew that I was related to Winston Spencer Churchill, who is also my 15th cousin once removed, and I knew how his name had been changed from what should have been Spencer, when his 4th great grandfather, Charles Spencer married one Anne Churchill, in a merger that was mutually beneficial to both families, and changed the name to Spencer-Churchill. Through the years some of that branch of the family went on to stay Spencer-Churchill, eventually dropping the hyphen, making the Spencer name appear to be a middle name. Others dropped the Churchill name, going back to Spencer, and still others dropped the Spencer name, deciding to stick with Churchill. Nevertheless, they are all my cousins at some level. In my search, I found where Consuelo Vanderbilt was indeed my 15th cousin once removed, and so my 2nd great grandparents, Allen and Lydia Spencer did have the actual connection to the Vanderbilt name, and were justified in naming their son Cornealius Vanderbilt Spencer. And since there was an actual Cornealius Vanderbilt, who built the Vanderbilt mansion in New York City, I guess the first name was after an ancestor too.
As I thought about that connection, my mind instinctively thought of how much my biggest fan…my mom would have loved that story. Of course, when those thoughts of my parents, and my desire to tell them something surface, my mind, in its ability to fool itself, thinks that I really can’t wait to tell my parents what I have found, or to have my mom read this story. She would have been so excited to hear that new information. It wasn’t that she ever wanted to be snobby, or even that she would have cared about being related to the Vanderbilt family, but rather that she would have found the information very interesting, and in fact, as amazing as I did, because it really is a small world, when you think about it. I’m sure there are many other famous, rich, or even infamous people that our family is related to, because there are so many branches that split off of the originals, that it’s bound to connect us to someone famous at some point. I just always find it rather surprising every time it happens, and I think my mom did too. I wish I could have told her about it…but then I suppose she already knows.
The Spencer line in America began with four brothers who, along with one sister and her husband, immigrated to America in about 1630. The brother my family descends from is Michael, of whom the least is known. I’m not sure why so little is known about my ancestor, but I have decided to start a journey to find out…along with the journeys of so many others I’m working on. I hope not to hit a dead end. My sister, Cheryl Masterson inspired this new tangent I have set out on, when she asked me which line we came from. She and I are both members of the Spencer Historical and Genealogical Society’s Facebook group. Her thought was to see if there were other members who come from Michael Spencer’s line, but to date, there are not. Michael’s line is a bit of a mystery at this point. While we know that we and a number of other family members come from that line, we are not a group large in number.
So, let us begin. About five years after his arrival in America, that is, in or about 1635, Michael and his brother Gerard moved to Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, where Gerard reportedly appears as a journeyman in Lynn in 1635. Then we see that after the death of his brother Michael, Gerard was appointed administrator of his brother’s estate in 1653. So, what happened to Michael between 1635 and 1653. Michael married Isabel West in 1636, the year after his move to Lynn, Massachusetts. Isabel married a second time about a year after Michael’s passing, to a man named Thomas Robbins. Michael and Isabel were the parents of five children, John, Hannah, Susannah, Michael, and William.
On September 1, 1634, Michael was granted four acres on the west side of the river in Cambridge. It was also recorded on October 10, 1635, that he owned one parcel on the south side of the river, also about four acres. And in the 1638 division of land at Lynn, Massachusetts he received thirty acres. Still, since he passed away at the very young age of just 42 years, I have to wonder if he was somewhat sickly. It’s possible that his sons worked the land in his stead. I have not found any indication of him being in poor health, but I also have not found any job that he held within the community either, so it makes me wonder.
On November 29, 1653, Michael’s brother Gerard was appointed administrator of Michael’s estate, and charged with the task of disposing of the estate for the needs of his children. The documentation states that the estate was small, and so it was necessary to sell it to help pay for the upbringing of his children. Bringing up five children is no inexpensive task…and at the time of Michael’s passing, none of the children were married yet. The older children might have been out of the home already, however, because on November 30, 1654 the court, with Gerard’s consent and agreement gave some of the estate to Thomas Robbins, because he was raising one of the children, Michael, who was six years old. This was because Thomas had married Isabel.
That is about the extent of Michael Spencer’s story. His life was too short to have done very much with it, but he does hold as a claim to fame, the fact that he was indeed one of the original four Spencer brothers who was responsible for most of the Spencer line in America today. I can tell you that his children and other descendants faired nicely, however…because, my sisters and I are five of them. And there are many more, just in my grandparents family alone family alone…even if our total number is small.
Over the years, the New Years Eve party that we always hold at my parents, Al and Collene Spencer’s house, has changed in many ways. New family members join our clan, and others depart, whether by their passing or moving away. Still, the party goes on. It is tradition, because, you see, my mom was born on New Years Day. That has always made New Years Eve and the party we hold be something that is anticipated with excitement…or at least it always was.
This year will be very different, and all future New Years Eve parties will also be very different, because our guest of honor…our mom will no longer be there. It’s hard to believe that it has been over ten months since her passing, but it has. Still, just knowing that our parents loved the New Years Eve party so much, and having all their children and grandchildren around them at this special time, was their way of celebrating it, makes it special. They never wanted to go out to a bar, because they wanted their kids to be able to be involved, so in their early years, the annual New Years Eve party at the Spencer home was born.
As teenagers, they knew we would be safe, because we didn’t have to drive anywhere. The party was at our house. And we never wanted to go anywhere else anyway. Our assorted boyfriends were allowed to come to the party over the years, and later husbands and kids, but the party location never changed. It hasn’t changed now either, but our guest of honor will be celebrating her birthday and the party that goes with it, in Heaven this year, because that is where she lives now.
I think we are all a little apprehensive this year, because we really don’t knew how we feel about this particular party. I know that the echoes of our parents and indeed their very essence will linger over the party, because they will be in our thoughts throughout the night. It is just very strange to think about having this party without them. over the years, it was always them that planned and executed the whole evening. It didn’t matter how cold it was outside, because it was always warm and cheery in their house. I’m sure there will be a tear or two that will escape from our eyes, but for the most part, we will try to keep things light. This is a party and not a punishment, after all…and Mom wouldn’t want us to be moping around. So here’s to our parents. Mom and Dad, we love you always and forever, and we miss you very much. As you would have wanted it to be…the party will go on without you…but it will not be nearly as much fun as when you were here.
People always seem to be in a hurry. We encounter cars that fly past us trying to get to their destination on time, when they really didn’t allow enough time for the trip. We are all guilty of running late, and even of speeding to make it on time, and as we all know, sometimes our habit of running late and being in such a hurry, can have bad consequences. Sometimes the consequences of running late can be devastating. Such was the case with Old 97, a mail train for Southern Railways. While it’s number was simply number 97, and it was officially known as the Fast Mail, its nickname was Old 97. The train ran from Washington DC to Atlanta, Georgia. On September 27, 1903 it was en route from Monroe, Virginia, to Spencer, North Carolina when disaster struck…or rather was forced upon the ill fated train.
When the train arrived in Monroe, it switched train crews and when it left Monroe there were 17 people on board. The train personnel included Joseph A Broady who was the engineer, nicknamed “Steve” by his friends, John Blair was the conductor, A C Clapp was the fireman, John Hodge was a student fireman, and James Robert Moody was the flagman. Also aboard were mail clerks, including J L Thompson, Scott Chambers, Daniel Flory, Paul Argenbright, Lewis Spies, Frank Brooks, Percival Indermauer, Charles Reames, Jennings Dunlap, Napoleon Maupin, J H Thompson, and W R Pinckney, who was an express messenger.
As they left Monroe, Old 97’s engineer, 33 year old Broady found himself running late, and in a hurry to get the train back on schedule. When the train pulled into Lynchburg, VA, Wentworth Armistead, who was a safe locker boarded the train so at that time there were 18 men aboard. The train consisted of four cars, and Broady was operating the train at high speed in order to stay on schedule and arrive at Spencer on time. You see, Fast Mail had a reputation for never being late…and a contract that included a fine if they were. Old 97 was behind schedule when it left Washington, DC and was one hour late when it arrived in Monroe, Virginia. All that was unacceptable, but Southern Railways and Engineer Broady were about to discover two things. The first is that it is always best to stay on schedule, when a schedule is an important part of your job. The second is that there are far worse things than being late.
By the time Old 97 reached the Stillhouse Trestle near Danville, Virginia, Broady realized, with a horrible sense of dread and impending doom, that he did not have enough air pressure to slow the train for Stillhouse’s upcoming curved trestle. He tried, in vain to slow the train down by reversing the engine to lock the wheels, but Old 97 vaulted off the trestle, and 11 people were killed. Nine men of the eleven who died, were killed instantly. Seven men were injured. Among the deceased were the engineer Broady, conductor Blair, and flagman Moody. The bodies of both firemen were recovered, but they were mangled so badly they were unrecognizable. There were several survivors to the wreck who believed they survived because they jumped from the train just before the fatal plunge. Among the three survivors was an individual named J Harris Thompson of Lexington. Harris was a mail-clerk who served on the Southern Railroad. He later retired on May 1, 1941. W R Pinckney, the express messenger who also survived went home, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, and immediately resigned after the experience. Two other survivors included Jennings J Dunlap, and M C Maupin. These two men did not resign and continued their work, but started in new departments. Dunlap went to work on a train that ran between Washington and Charlotte, while Maupin worked at the Charlotte union station. The horrible pictures of the aftermath of the crash taken from above the scene ran in newspapers across the country.
At Monroe, Broady was instructed to get the Fast Mail to Spencer, 166 miles away…on time. The scheduled running time from Monroe to Spencer was four hours and fifteen minutes at an average speed of approximately 39 miles per hour. In order to make up the one hour delay, the train’s average speed would have to be at least 51 miles per hour. Broady was ordered to maintain speed through Franklin Junction, an intermediate stop normally made during the run. This was a time when train wrecks were not uncommon, but the day after the wreck, Southern Railway’s Vice President stated that “The train consisted of two postal cars, one express and one baggage car for the storage of mail… Eyewitnesses said the train was approaching the trestle at speeds of 30 to 35 miles an hour.” The Southern Railway placed blame for the wreck on engineer Broady, denying that he had been ordered to run as fast as possible to maintain the schedule. The railroad also claimed he descended the grade leading to Stillhouse Trestle at a speed of more than 70 miles per hour. Several eyewitnesses to the wreck, however, stated that the speed was probably around 50 miles per hour. In all likelihood, the railroad was at least partially to blame, as they had a lucrative contract with the US Post Office to haul mail…a contract that did include a penalty clause for each minute the train was late into Spencer. It is probably safe to conclude that the engineers piloting the Fast Mail were always under pressure to stay on time so the railroad would not be penalized for late mail delivery. And being under pressure can be deadly.
For many people researching the family history means looking for things like famous ancestors, family occupations, historical locations, and eventually the family crest, also known as the Coat of Arms. The problem with the family crest is that there are so many, and the process to make a legal claim to one is difficult, because the right to bear arms in the legal sense of a coat of arms, must be researched and proven through attested Genealogical records. Of course, this doesn’t mean that people can’t pick out a crest that bears their name and use it, even without the legal documentation. They can be displayed as decorative reproductions, derived only from the association with your name. That use, while legal in the sense that you are not committing a crime, is not the legal right to bear arms that is normally associated with the crest.
Sometimes, for those who are very fortunate, the family coat of arms might be found in a grandparent’s attic, but most of us will not discover our true coat of arms in this manner. Because of the difficulty in locating the necessary information to claim a legal right to a family coat of arms, most people just don’t bother with this part of a full family history. According to LG Pine, author of Heraldry And Genealogy, “At the onset, there is a curious fact in the relationship between the two subjects. While students of Heraldry do take to Genealogy, and acquire a considerable knowledge of it, those who begin as genealogists seldom if ever take any interest in Heraldry. This is most unfortunate, because the two subjects are necessarily related.” I suppose this is true, but once you have stumbled upon a family coat of arms in your research, like I did a few years ago, you simply do become intrigued.
Nevertheless, I had no idea about the legal right to bear arms until I was doing some research into the coat of arms of the Leary side of Bob’s family the other day. I had found several family coats of arms for the Spencer, Byer, Pattan, Fuller, and Schulenberg sides of the family, and planned to look for some of the others in the near future. While I will still do that, I have to wonder about the accuracy of the ones I have, and just how difficult it will be to verify their validity. I can see that I will need to do some research on just how to move forward on this matter in the correct way.
The biggest obstacle I see in researching Heraldry or Genealogy is that the spelling of names changes. Whether it is because the person moved to a new nation and was made to change their name or spelling, or like many people do with their first names these days, the person experimented with the spelling of their last name. William Shakespeare was known to spell his last name Shakespeare, Shakespere, Shakespear, Shakspere, and Shaxpere. So to the researcher, I suppose it would be a matter of searching for documentation under multiple different spellings. You can see that the further you get into a search, the more difficult it is to determine the accuracy. So now apply that to the search concerning the legal right to bear arms, and I think you might have the answer as to why so many people avoid this area of research altogether.
The dukedom of Marlborough is one of the titles in the Peerage of England. The Peerage of England comprises all peerages created in the Kingdom of England before the Act of Union in 1707. In that year, the Peerages of England and Scotland were replaced by one Peerage of Great Britain. The peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which is constituted by the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honors system. The dukedom of Marlborough was created by Queen Anne in 1702, for John Churchill, who was the 1st Duke of Marlborough.
I can’t say that I completely understand all there is to about the peerage of Great Britain, but in the peerage, a Duke is a higher rank than a Marquess, Earl, Viscount and Baron. Thus Prince William is the Duke of Cambridge, because as the prince, it would not be right for him to have a lower rank than other members of the peerage. Originally dukes were the rulers of the provinces of the Roman Empire. Now however, the title of duke has become in almost all cases a nominal rank, without possession of an actual principality. The province that a duke was titled over, is known as a duchy. As I said, in modern times dukes aren’t really over a duchy, with the exception of Lancaster and Cornwall, both of which do include land and ownership. Lancaster belongs to Queen Elizabeth II and Cornwall to Prince Charles. The title of duke cannot normally be handed down to female heirs, but the Dukedom of Marlborough is the exception to that rule. It is one of the few titles that allows females to inherit the title, and the only current dukedom to do so.
In the Spencer family, there have been a number of titles, but it wasn’t until Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, widowed following the death of his first wife, Arabella, daughter of Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle, married Anne Churchill, that the Dukedom of Marlborough first came to the Spencers. With this dukedom, Charles Spencer was first introduced to politics, making this alliance between Sunderland and Marlborough a very important one for Charles and his descendants. From his marriage to Anne Churchill who would become the 2nd Duke of Marlborough, the Spencer family would retain the dukedom for all time. At the current time, the dukedom is at 12, with Charles James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough, born in 1955, as the current duke.
To date, I cannot say how many dukes and duchesses were or are Spencer descendants, for names change with marriages over the years. Nevertheless, the Spencers have played a great part in the peerage of Great Britain, and with Prince William and his descendants, beginning with Prince George, the Spencers will continue to have great influence in that nation for the rest of time.
As I have been working through some of the hints on my Ancestry tree, I am amazed by the number of family members from varying sides of my family and my husbands family, who started their life in America, or moved early in their life in America, to the same places. I don’t know if they knew each other, or even if they were there at the same time, but the roots are there nevertheless. They may not have lived in the same town even, but sometimes it was close. One state that I just keep coming up with is Massachusetts. Who would have ever thought some of my roots would have come from Massachusetts?
Recently I started talking to a relative from my dad’s side of the family that was traced to me through DNA matching. We have been unable to connect our two trees yet, because of limited information back through the generations, but DNA doesn’t lie, and we both have Fuller relatives in our background…and both sides come from…you guessed it, Massachusetts. I have also been looking at the Shaw side of my mother’s family because of another recent connection in Ancestry, that I’m not yet sure is related or not. Nevertheless, once again, I have run into Massachusetts as their point of origin to the United States. In the Shaw family, we also find that we have a Mayflower connection, in the form of one Lieutenant John Shaw, who arrived in America on that ship.
Now, switch to my husband’s family, and you will find that the Noyes family, another connection I made recently, also hail from Massachusetts. I have known for some time now, that my husband, Bob Schulenberg, and I are cousins of varying degrees, depending on the side of the family you look at, and now I think I can understand how some of this might have come about. I think much of it can be traced back to Massachusetts. The connections don’t all trace there, but there are enough of them that it made me very curious about all those people who lived in Massachusetts way back then. Then I came across John Spencer, who is my 8th great grand uncle, and the Reverend James Noyes, who is Bob’s 7th great grandfather, both came over on a ship called the Mary and John, and were among the first settlers of Newberry, Massachusetts, so my suspicions are confirmed. That also brings in yet another side of my family…the Spencer side.
This will be a developing story, of course, because as I trace things further, and discuss more of the family history with these new found cousins, more information will come to light. Whenever I find these new connections, I get very excited, because you just never know where they are going to lead you. I had always through that most of my roots were in the Wisconsin/Minnesota area, but of course, that could not have been, because when our ancestors came to this country, they didn’t arrive in Wisconsin or Minnesota, but rather along the east coast, because that was the area of the nation that had been developed at that time. So in reality, I knew we came from the east coast, but Massachusetts…seriously!! I never would have guessed it.
After my 2nd great grandfather, Allen Spencer passed away suddenly at the young age of just 56 years, my 2nd great grandmother, Lydia Spencer found herself in one of the hardest positions anyone ever has to face. In those days, few of the women worked outside the home, and with her husband and the bread winner of her family gone, she had some hard choices to make. She still had several children at home, including three sons and one daughter. Her daughter, Teresa would marry later that year, and eventually move to North Dakota. Her son Allen would follow his sister to North Dakota, and eventually move to Washington, where he would marry and live out his life. That left Lydia in Iowa, with her two remaining sons, Cornelius and Luther…at least for a time. That had to have been the hardest part of the time too, considering the grief she must have been feeing.
Luther married Ellen Dykes in 1885, and Cornealius married Leona Stinson on February 1, 1888. By 1900, the two brothers along with their families and their mother had moved to the Deer Creek, Oklahoma area. I know that in the years following their fathers death, these two men took on the role of caregiver of sorts for their mother. It wasn’t necessarily that she needed a caregiver, at only 53 years of age, but rather that these two brothers took on the role of picking up the pieces of her shattered life and helping her through the rough transition years, during which she went from being a wife to a widow. It isn’t that she was incapable, but it would be really hard to find yourself widowed at such a young age. You had thought you and your souse would grow old together, and now you have been left to try to figure out how to move on alone.
Little has been said about the role the two brothers played in her life, and I suppose that is because it was just expected of them and so everyone assumed they just did their job. I suppose that is true to a large degree, but there were other children in the family, and yet they chose to take on this role, and she chose to go to Oklahoma with these two sons, rather than move to North Dakota, Wisconsin, or Washington with her other children. She loved the others very much, and the pictures tell me that she saw them whenever she could, but she moved to Oklahoma with Cornealius and Luther, and lived in Luther’s home until her passing in 1906, at the age of 75.
It takes a very special person to move their elderly parent into their home, and I don’t just mean that parent’s child, but the spouse of that child too. You can’t take in your parent without the ok of your spouse, because this is going to affect the whole family. In this case, it is likely that the time Lydia lived with her son Luther and his family in Oklahoma, was about ten years, but in reality, that is a long time. The last days could have been very stressful and trying, given the way, aging parents get weak and tired as they get closer to death. Yes, I think that Luther and his wife, Ellen had to be very special people to make sure that Lydia was taken care of, and not lonely. I’m sure that went a long way toward picking up the pieces of her life, after the loss of her husband, Allen. That leaves me with a lot of respect for these sons and their families.