John Tyler, the tenth president of the United States, was born on March 29, 1790 in Virginia to John Tyler Sr and Mary Marot (Armistead) Tyler. He had two brothers and five sisters, but his mother died of a stroke in 1797 when John was seven years old. I can’t imagine how hard it was on young John to lose his mother. That wasn’t the only hard part of his youth. John was frail and sickly most his young life. Considering the start he had in life, it would not seem likely that John Tyler’s life would have amounted to much…but those who think that would be wrong.
John Tyler came from a political family, and he was destined for the presidency. Tyler was admitted to the Virginia bar at the age of 19. He was actually too young to be eligible, but the admitting judge neglected to ask his age. By this time, his father was Governor of Virginia (1808–1811), and John Tyler Jr started a legal practice in Richmond, the state capital. In 1811, at just 21 years of age, Tyler was elected to represent Charles City County in the Virginia House of Delegates, an office he held for five successive one-year terms. As a state legislator, Tyler sat on the Courts and Justice Committee. Following the War of 1812, Tyler’s father died in 1813, and Tyler inherited thirteen slaves along with his father’s plantation. In 1816, he resigned his legislative seat to serve on the Governor’s Council of State, a group of eight advisers elected by the General Assembly. He then ran for the US House of Representatives, narrowly winning the election. Later he served in the US Senate, before being elected as Vice-President of the United States under William Henry Harrison. Harrison served from March 4, 1841 to his death on April 4, 1841, after which John Tyler took over serving until March 4, 1845.
You might think that Tyler’s political career was the defining point in his life, but he is actually known for something much more surprising. Tyler fathered more children than any other American president, but it isn’t even that fact that is so surprising. His first wife was Letitia Christian and together they had eight children, Mary (1815–1847), Robert (1816–1877), John (1819–1896), Letitia (1821–1907), Elizabeth (1823–1850), Anne (1825–1825), Alice (1827–1854) and Tazewell (1830–1874).. She died of a stroke while they lived in the White House in September 1842. He married again on June 26, 1844, to Julia Gardiner (July 23, 1820 – July 10, 1889), with whom he had seven children, David (1846–1927), John Alexander (1848–1883), Julia (1849–1871), Lachlan (1851–1902), Lyon (1853–1935), Robert Fitzwalter (1856–1927) and Pearl (1860–1947). Tyler’s son, Lyon was born when Tyler was 63 years, and while he was not his youngest child, it would be Lyon who would bring about the thing that really makes Tyler something special. Lyon would go on to father two sons of his own…one when he was 71 and one when he was 75. One of those sons, Harrison Ruffin Tyler is still alive, meaning that John Tyler, tenth president of the United States, who was born in 1790, has a grandson who is still alive in 2021. His older brother, Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr passed away in September of 2020. The fact that their great grandfather was the tenth president, is unbelievable to the children of Lyon’s sons.
Our aunt, Charlys Schulenberg is a wonderfully sweet person, as anyone who knows her can attest. She is an amazing cook, and even better, it is something she loves to do. She definitely spoils anyone who comes to her house for a visit. Charlys is the kind of person everybody love to be around. She’s friendly and welcoming, and when you leave her home, you know you have been taken care of. Aunt Charlys is the perfect complement to Uncle Butch. He is the teller of stories, and she is the giver of comfort. You may not even have known that you needed a giver of comfort, but when you leave her home, you know that you did. It may not be because you are sad, although I’m sure she would be very comforting then too, but just that we all work hard in life, and it’s nice to sit down and be taken care of sometimes. She works too hard, of course, often refusing your help, in her effort to have you relax, but what she sets out to do, she does very well. Part of her charm is her wonderful comfort food.
Aunt Charlys married our uncle, Butch Schulenberg on June 25, 1966. and their marriage has been blessed with three children Tadd, Andi Kay, and Heath. To that number have been added seven grandchildren, Savanna, Gage, and Sophie Schulenberg; Calen Bell; Christian, Heath, and Ethan Schulenberg, and I probably don’t have them in the correct order. The blessings just keep growing. She and Uncle Butch are soulmates, and as close as they can be. They can almost read each other’s thoughts, and the peace in their home is known to anyone who walks into it.
Aunt Charlys and Uncle Butch love to travel, and spend time in Sheridan, Wyoming where two of their children live, as well as Helena, Montana where the other one lives. They also like to go other places, but their family is the top priority, so they go to see them as often as they can. They have a camper, so they have a place to stay wherever they roam. Bob and I have gone to visit a couple of times, but the Covid-19 virus stopped us from going last year. We are hoping to get back up for a visit very soon. Today is Aunt Charlys birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Charlys!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My aunt, Deloris Johnson was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She has a shy, but sweet smile, and loving way about her. She loved to sing and dance, and to show other how to do so too. My mom, Collene Spencer would always remember learning the hat-dance when her sister was in fifth grade and she in kindergarten. It was a dance Aunt Deloris had learned in school. All her siblings learned the hat-dance, and all were excited about it, because Aunt Deloris was excited about it. Her excitement was contagious. Life was like that for Aunt Deloris, always some new adventure to excite the soul.
Aunt Deloris was never afraid to try something new, and I believe that had she not left us so soon, she may have discovered some very cool things. They may not have been some world-changing discoveries, but they would have been very cool. She was always figuring out a way to make things work better. Things like inventing the first shoe-watch, although she did not get credit for it. She also invented the great flying trench coat, and took my mom for the maiden flight in that “vehicle.” Of course, it didn’t exactly fly, but it made you feel like you were flying, and my mom never forgot that flight.
Mom and Aunt Deloris were just 5 years apart, and as often happens in families, they were best friends, as well as sisters. Their interests were similar, as were their personalities. My cousin, Ellen talks about her mom’s quirky ways, and I can tell you that my mom shared her sister’s quirkiness. They were both known for their silliness. They didn’t care if their special style of creating laughter was a little less than dignified, all they cared about was that it worked. The loved laughter, and they always seemed to be right in the middle of the laughter in a crowd…and I’m here to tell you that their laugh was very contagious, as was their own personal brand of teasing. I am reminded of the time my grandma, Hattie Byer, their mother, was over having her large family of children arguing while the dishes were being done. She yelled at the kids that she didn’t want to “hear another peep” out of any of them. They all knew that was the final say. Grandma always meant business when she yelled at the arguing kids. As silence reigned over the room, I doubt if any of the kids considered saying anything, including Aunt Deloris, but then suddenly and without warning, Aunt Deloris uttered the forbidden, “Peep!!” Now, having been that mischievous child myself, I can tell you that she may not have even realized that she was about to challenge her mom, but there it was, and her siblings assumed that her life was over. Nevertheless, somehow, her life was spared, simply because Grandma could not hold back the laughter over such a ridiculous response. When Grandma laughed, everyone else knew that disaster had been averted, and they laughed too. I can jut picture it, and each time I picture it, I laugh all over again. It was just a typical Aunt Deloris response to the situation, and it was hilarious. That’s just how Aunt Deloris was. Today would have been Aunt Deloris 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Deloris. I know you will have a day filled with laughter. We love and miss you very much.
My husband’s grandfather, Andy Schulenberg became the the Sheriff of Rosebud County, Montana in 1955. His was a unique way of operating as sheriff. He did not carry a gun. Andy had been injured in a hunting accident as a teenager, resulting in the loss of his leg and a 2 year long stay in the hospital. He didn’t have a modern-day prosthetic leg, with a foot that was the same size as their other foot, and fit nicely in a shoe. That didn’t exist then. He had a peg leg. That seems odd to us now, but for him it was just normal, and it didn’t stop him from doing whatever he wanted to do, including becoming the sheriff of Rosebud and holding that position until 1972. Grandpa held that position and was so respected, that he simply didn’t need that gun. If he told someone to stop in their tracks, they stopped in their tracks. If he told someone to stay put on the side of a river, while he crossed the river to get the evidence that would convict them, they stayed put. He worked with the Indian nation leaders, who willingly turned over their young braves to him, in order to straighten them out, and turn them from a life of crime. His influence made a difference in many lives.
When I think of Grandpa Andy as the Sheriff, it is hard to picture that part of him, because there were so many other parts of him that were really so much more of who he was. Grandpa loved going to their place at the lake, spending time with his family, and enjoying Grandma Barbara’s good cooking. I think he enjoyed being with people in general. He was a social person, and that showed in every part of his life. I don’t think he could have done his job as well as he did if he had not been the kind of man who could talk to anyone and become a friend to everyone. The leaders of the Indian nation did not have to turn over their braves to him when they had robbed a store. Their law was different than that of the rest of the county, but they liked and respected Grandpa, and so they did what they needed to do to turn their wayward sons back to the right path.
I didn’t have the chance to get to know Grandpa Andy as well as I would have liked, but through his son, Butch Schulenberg, I have had the opportunity to hear some of the great stories about his dad. Grandpa Andy was his son, Butch’s biggest fan. During his high school years, Butch played football, as well as other sports, and his dad was there to cheer him on. Today would have been Grandpa Andy’s 115th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandpa Andy. We love and miss you very much.
With Abraham Lincoln’s birthday just behind us…he was born on February 12, 1809. Most of us know that Lincoln had no formal education. We know that he gave amazing speeches and that he freed the slaves. We also know that he was assassinated, but there are a number of other Lincoln Facts that I didn’t know, and maybe you didn’t either. One sad fact is that Lincoln lost his mother at the tender age of 9 years old, when she drank poison milk. She wasn’t poisoned, but it turns out that many people died of a strange “milk sickness” that was caused by a cow eating a “poisonous to humans” plant called White Snakeroot. I’m sure it was a horrible time for Lincoln, but his father remarried, and the widow, Sarah Bush Johnston was a kind woman, who got along well with her step-son.
At the age of 21, Abraham Lincoln became a champion wrestler. I don’t know how he would have fared in WWE, but then that is a lot of drama and show too. Nevertheless, he wrestled in approximately 300 matches, and only lost once. It is thought that his long legs helped him lock his opponent down. Lincoln reportedly talked a little smack in the ring too. According to Carl Sandburg’s biography of Lincoln, “Honest Abe once challenged an entire crowd of onlookers after dispatching an opponent: ‘I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.’ There were no takers.” Lincoln’s grappling exploits earned him an “Outstanding American” honor in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Lincoln is also the only president to have personally test-fired rifles outside the White House, including one by my ancestor, Christopher Spencer who was the inventor of the Spencer Repeating Rifle. When Spencer signed his new rifle up for adoption right after the Civil War broke out, it was not well received by the Department of War Ordnance, that felt soldiers would waste ammunition by firing too rapidly with repeating rifles. The unit was also more expensive than Springfield Model 1861 rifled musket in use at the time. Nevertheless, shortly after the famous Battle of Gettysburg, Spencer was able to gain an audience with President Abraham Lincoln, who invited him to a shooting match and demonstration of the weapon on the lawn of the White House. President Lincoln was so impressed with the weapon that he ordered General James Wolfe Ripley to adopt it for production. Unfortunately, Ripley disobeyed the order and continued to use the old single-shooters.
President Lincoln is also responsible for the safety of the presidents that followed him. Yes, there were failures, but without Lincoln’s decision to create the Secret Service on April 14, 1865, just hours before he was assassinated, many presidents in the future would not have had the quality of protection they did. The Secret Service did protect President Lincoln after his death, when grave robbers attempted to steal his body and hold it for a ransom of $200,000 and the release of one of their gang from prison. Their attempt was foiled by the Secret Service that President Lincoln had initiated.
My dear uncle, Bill Spencer, who left us on Christmas day, 2020, was such a favorite of mine. We were a lot alike, and we had many of the same interests. It was Uncle Bill who taught me to play cribbage, but was never one to let me win. I learned to play well, and when I won…I knew I had really won. Back when you could get away with letting your kid drive on your lap, or even themselves with you in the car, well before they were of an age to get a permit, he let me drive to their cabin when we visited. Even my dad was ok with it, so I drove the three of us for quite a while. As a mom, when my kids needed family history information, I knew that my Uncle Bill was the guy to go to. He was the family historian from the time he was eight years old, and I quickly became as obsessed as he was. Uncle Bill did his research the old fashioned was, by making trips to different places to look in cemeteries, county and state records offices, and libraries. It was much harder work back then, and those of us who have been the beneficiaries of Uncle Bill’s hard work, can say that he has done a great work.
Uncle Bill is my dad, Allen Spencer’s older brother. Uncle Bill was ten years younger than his sister, Laura Fredrick, and three years older than his younger sister, Ruth Wolfe. The two boys were in the middle. The family lived many years in Holyoke, Minnesota, and ran a farm there. Uncle Bill, being the oldest son, played a big part in the farming. He, along with mostly my dad and Aunt Ruth helped with haying, and growing the the gardens. Their dad worked for the railroad, and so the farm was largely left to my grandmother, Anna Spencer, and the kids. My Aunt Laura was married during a good part of the younger children’s growing up years. Nevertheless, Uncle Bill and Aunt Laura were very close during his childhood years when their mother was working and Aunt Laura took care of him. They grew to have a close friendship, as well as being siblings.
As they grew older, Uncle Bill and my dad were the definitely the boys of the family. They loved getting into all kinds of trouble. The jumped on the moving trains, even though they had a pass to ride. They played with dynamite, even sinking the gatepost couple of inches. They also loved to go fishing, and often brought home a good catch, which all the family got to enjoy. Even though they were typical boys, I guess they weren’t all bad. I’m sure that when Uncle Bill got to Heaven a little less than a month ago, there was a wonderful reunion between the brothers, as they rest of their family too. It makes me sad to know that all of the siblings are gone to Heaven now, but only for myself and those of us left here. For the siblings it a big celebration. They are all together again. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 99th birthday…and his first birthday in Heaven. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.
Yesterday, we received the news that our sweet Uncle Bill Spencer had passed away from Covid at the Middle River Health and Rehabilitation Center in South Range, Wisconsin. He was a little under one month from his 99th birthday. Uncle Bill had lived at the Middle River Center for about ten years now, and we have had the opportunity to visit him there twice. I wish it had been more, but we live a long way away from them, so it wasn’t to be. The center was a nice place, and the people there loved Uncle Bill. We could see that the people there had a heart for their residents, and that gave us peace of mind. Uncle Bill tested positive for Covid on December 14th, and was doing ok until the morning of December 25th. By that afternoon, he had gone home to Heaven.
Uncle Bill was the last of my dad’s generation in their parents’ line, and lived the longest of them all. He was the second child of my grandparents, Allen and Anna (Schumacher) Spencer, born in Tomahawk, Wisconsin on January 21, 1922, when his older sister, Laura (Spencer) Fredrick was 10 years old, born August 3, 1912. We don’t know why there was such a distance between the two older children, because the younger three were pretty close together. My dad, Allen Spencer followed on April 27, 1924, and Aunt Ruth (Spencer) Wolfe on November 9, 1925. As they grew, the brothers, William and Allen were good friends as well as siblings. The fact that both were boys gave them many interests in common.
I recall some of their stories told when Uncle Bill came out for a visit in 2006. One of my favorites was about Independence Day celebrations. Growing up on a farm in the Holyoke area of Minnesota, they boys worked to plow, and remove rocks and tree stumps from the fields. This made them experts with dynamite, a fact that we hadn’t heard before. That in itself is very interesting, but they were also kids, and…well mischievous to say the least. Their July 4th tradition was to set off a dynamite blast…at daybreak. When I asked if people got mad at them, they said that they were out in the country, so who cared. Indeed!! One time though, they decided to try something new. Their mom had gone into town, leaving the boys at home. Their curious minds kicked in. They decided to find out what would happen if they set off a stick of dynamite on the top of the gate post. Yikes!! Well, they found out what would happen. When the dynamite exploded, the gate post sunk several inches into the dirt. The gate would no longer close, of course, and he boys immediately set about fixing it before their mom came back from town. They had no desire to find out what she thought of their prank.
While it makes me so sad that my uncle is gone now, I can feel his excitement as he entered Heaven to find his parents and siblings waiting for him. And what a wonderful thought…he was home for Christmas this year. I would imagine the celebration was wonderful. The boys were back together after so many years. I can picture them…just like kids again, filled with excitement, but I can also imagine one other thing. I can hear God saying, “The boys are back together…hide the dynamite!!” God knows his children well, and it simply wouldn’t do for those mischievous Spencer brothers to set off a stick of dynamite, right there on the gate post of the Pearly Gates, and sink one side several inches into the ground!! Nevertheless, I can see their minds clicking, sharp as ever now, thinking…”Hey, lets give that a try!!” Dynamite or not, there is a party going on in Heaven today. Grandma and Grandpa Spencer, and their kids are all together in Heaven again, and that’s worth celebrating. Uncle Bill we all love you very much and we will miss you always. You are in our future now, and we can’t wait to see you again.
My husband’s grandfather, Robert Knox came from a long line of political figures, but he was not a political man. The ancestors who were political were pretty far in the past. There were also some military connections, which he probably never knew about, other than his own family members who served, like his brother Frank Knox. Grandpa’s life fell between wars, so he was not called to serve in the military.
Truth be told, Grandpa was more of a farmer/rancher type. It was where he felt most at home. I will never forget the early years of my marriage to Bob, when Grandpa would spend hours in the family garden growing tons of vegetables, which the women in the family would can to supply vegetables for the coming year. It made Grandpa feel useful in his retirement years.
I think that one of Grandpa’s greatest joys, however, was the day when his great granddaughter, Machelle Cook Moore was born…on his birthday. It gave them a bond much like the one Grandma Knox had with their first great granddaughter, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen, who was born on Grandma’s birthday. I suppose that continued the Grandma first teasing that had gone on their entire marriage, because Grandma was six months older than Grandpa was, and she enjoyed teasing him. And I’m sure he enjoyed it too over the years, but this idea of having a granddaughter born on his birthday…that was cool.
Grandpa left us in 1985, and we still miss him and Grandma. Today would have been his 112th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa. I know you and all the family who have gone one before are having a great time. We love and miss you very much.
America has been the land of opportunity since its inception, and people often worked years to save enough money to pay for passage to what many considered the promised land. It wasn’t cheap, but the money for passage was just the beginning of the grueling process of becoming a citizen of the United States. They knew some of what they would face, but not all. Still, it did not deter them. For a chance at a better life, they came. Many immigrants came through Ellis Island, passing by the Statue of Liberty on their way. It was their first glimpse of what they considered the symbol of America. Then they went on to Ellis Island, where their pre-entry screening began.
First, they were rigorously questioned…what we call vetting today. They asked things like: “Are you meeting a relative here in America? Who? Have you been in a prison, almshouse, or institution for care of the insane? Are you a polygamist? Are you an anarchist? Are you coming to America for a job? Where will you work? Are you deformed or crippled? Who was the first President of America? What is the Constitution? Which President freed the slaves? Can you name the 13 original Colonies? Who is the current President of the United States?” Providing they passed this first test, they moved on to the next level. Many people these days would take offense at some of these questions…especially the health questions. What they don’t understand is that an unhealthy person or one with a disability could have been a burden to society…even more so than the problems with disabilities today. I know that sounds bad, but they couldn’t afford to take lots of people that the government was going to have to support. They also couldn’t take people with a communicable disease that could cause an epidemic in our country…something we can all understand these days. Every immigrant with a medical condition was marked on their on the shoulder of their clothing with their condition. Things like “PG” for pregnant, “B” for back problems, “SC” for scalp condition, etc. That way, every station down the line knew the problem. Sick children had to be quarantined away from their parents.
Sometimes people had to be held at Ellis Island for a time…weeks and even months, until they got well, or could get someone who would agree to sponsor them with their disabilities. That said, another problem or set of problems occurred. There were minimal beds available at any given time, and people spoke different languages, making communication difficult. Often, fights broke out and had to be settled, and sometimes people had to sleep on the floor. Sometimes, children came over alone. Their parents were dead, and they were sent to live with relatives or maybe to be adopted. Sometimes they were on Ellis Island for months…so long in fact that a playground was build so they could play. A school was started because they needed an education. And sometimes children had to be sent back alone or with a parent if they had one. Some people were rejected. It was part of the process. It was hard…on everyone, but the reward was a better life, if they were accepted. It was tough, and still, they came. They knew it was worth it. The nation has always accepted immigrants. We just expect them to do so legally. The process is difficult, but it is worth it.
My husband’s Uncle Butch Schulenberg is such a sweet man. Bob and I went up to Forsyth, Montana a couple of years ago, and Uncle Butch was so gracious and kind to show me so many pictures of himself and his family. They were pictures we had never seen before, and it was such a treat to receive them, along with the stories that went along with them. Uncle Butch is my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s half-brother by their dad’s second marriage, and to me, he is such a precious part of the family. His is loving and kind, and he is a man of integrity and honor.
Uncle Butch, like many of the young men of his era served honorably in the Army after high school, and was one of the lucky guys who got to be stationed in Hawaii part of that time. He did find out that not all of Hawaii is a tropical paradise, when he got to go up to one of the high peaks that are between 10,000 and 13,000 feet, and are the only places where Hawaii gets snow every year. Butch tells me that it was absolutely freezing while they were up there. Yikes!! I had no idea. Still, knowing Butch as I have come to, I know that the views he had while he was in Hawaii were spectacular, and some that he cherishes still today. Butch loves the outdoors, and takes lots of walks near his home. He probably has the best view in Forsyth, Montana, especially if, like Butch, you love taking pictures of sunrises and sunsets. His home overlooks the Yellowstone River, and the sun sets on the horizon behind the river view…making for a spectacular image.
Butch married Charlys Stull on June 25, 1966 and their marriage was blessed with three children, Tadd, Andi Kay, and Heath. They also have seven grandchildren. Their marriage has been blessed with many wonderful years, and is still going strong. They love to travel around, and especially to go visit their children and grandchildren. Butch is also a very strong supporter of the local school teams, and knows the players personally. Forsyth is a small town, so most people know each other, and Butch is well known as an encourager of the teams. What a wonderful way to be known. Of course, I know just how they feel, because Butch is that way with everyone, and I have been privileged to receive his words of praise many times over my writing…something that blesses me more than he could possibly know. Today is Uncle Butch’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!