Every family has it’s black sheep, and I have recently found out that one of mine is that my 7th cousin 3 times removed is Billy the Kid. Most of the people in my family tree are good people, and many are presidents and even royalty, but there are still a few of them who were…a bit on the wild side. Billy the Kid was one of those. On September 23, 1875, William Henry McCarty was arrested for the first time after stealing a basket of laundry. I can’t imagine why he chose a basket of laundry, but that was his entry into the world of crime. The jails back then weren’t super secure, so Billy the Kid broke out of jail, and roamed the West, eventually earning a reputation as an outlaw and murderer and a rap sheet that allegedly included 21 murders.
No one really knows much about William’s birth, other than his name and approximate year of birth…between 1859 and 1861, in Indiana or New York. William’s dad was never in his life, and the family moved around a lot, living in Indiana, Kansas, Colorado and Silver City, New Mexico. His mother died in 1874 and Billy the Kid…who went by a variety of names throughout his life, including Kid Antrim and William Bonney…turned to crime soon afterward. I guess that explains the decision to steal a basket of laundry. There are criminals who start out as good people, and then circumstances in their life force them to do things they might not otherwise do. Then, once they are into it, there is no going back. Billy the Kid became a horse thief in Arizona before returning to New Mexico, where he hooked up with a gang of gunslingers and cattle rustlers involved in the notorious Lincoln County War between a rival rancher and merchant factions in Lincoln County in 1878. It would be this time period that would eventually get him a death sentence.
Billy the Kid wasn’t a big man, but rather had a slender build and prominent crooked front teeth. He loved to sing, and I have to wonder what he might have become had he chosen singing over crime. Nevertheless, after the Lincoln County War, he went on the lam and continued his outlaw’s life, stealing cattle and horses, gambling and killing people. His crimes earned him a bounty on his head and he was eventually captured and indicted for killing a sheriff during the Lincoln County War.
Sentenced to hang for his crime, Billy the Kid managed to escape from jail one more time, murdering two deputies in the process. His freedom was short lived, however, as Sheriff Pat Garrett caught up with him at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on July 14, 1881, and fatally shot him. Billy’s legend grew following his short life and violent death. Today he is a famous symbol of the Old West, along with such men as Kit Carson, Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok, Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, and like many criminals of the past, his story has been romanticized in numerous films, books, TV shows and songs. Each year, tourists visit the town of Fort Sumner, located about 160 miles southeast of Albuquerque, to see the Billy the Kid Museum and gravesite.
As an insurance agent and living in Wyoming, which does not have the history that some of my ancestors built in the east, when I think of an old house, something in the 1910s comes to mind, but in reality, that is not an old house at all. In fact, by comparison to Bob’s 7th great grandfather, Reverend James Noyes’ house, a home built in 1910 would be considered brand new. The house James Noyes built was, and still is located at 7 Parker Street in Newberry, Massachusetts…a small town of about 7,000 people located in Essex County. It is really a suburb of Newburyport, which has a population of about 18,000. Newbury is situated in the Northeast corner of Massachusetts, near the coast. Newbury was founded by Reverend James Noyes and his cousin Reverend Thomas Parker, who were English clergymen who immigrated to the United States. James Noyes was educated at Oxford, before relocating to Massachusetts in 1634. He spent a short time in Medford, before moving to Newbury to pastor a church there from 1635 until his death. He sailed aboard the Mary and John of London, accompanied by the Hercules on March 23, 1634 with his wife Sarah Noyes, brother Reverend Nicholas Noyes and cousin Reverend Thomas Parker. Newbury was originally named Newbury Plantation, and was incorporated in 1635.
The house that Reverend James Noyes built in 1646, is a historic First Period house, and was added to the National Historic Register of Historic Places in 1990. First Period houses have a steeply pitched roof, a slightly asymmetrical plan, and a central chimney. The first period house is distinguished from later houses by its exposed…often decorated or beveled frame in the interior. Some early windows in modest houses may have had no glazing, but the standard first period window, until at least 1700, was the diamond-paned casement. The main block of the James Noyes house is a 2½ story wood frame structure, five bays wide, with a large central chimney. When the house was first built, it was only a single room deep. Then, around 1800 a 2½ story cross gabled addition was added to the rear, which was further extended by a 1½ story addition later in the 19th century. The interior rooms of the main block have Federal period styling, probably dating to the time of the first addition.
I’m sure that to many people the idea of a house built in 1646 that is still standing is, at best a novelty, but when you couple that with the fact that it was built by one of your ancestors, it becomes a little bit more interesting. My mind wanders back to what life might have been like for them in that home in the mid 1600s. Of course, there were no modern amenities, such as a bathroom, dishwasher, refrigerator, modern stove, and other such conveniences, but it was still a pretty house for the era, I’m sure. While it was originally quite a bit smaller, but with the additions, it is now 4200 square feet and has six bedrooms. I have looked around online to see if there are any pictures of the interior of the home, but found none to date. Maybe we will have to visit there sometime, but until then, I will just have to be happy knowing that a home built by our ancestor, and a founder of Newbury, Massachusetts is still stand, still in good condition, and still being occupied by a family, who is making memories of their own there.
Since my dad was stationed in England during World War II, and because many of my ancestors come from England, I am interested in all things English. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I know everything about England, and I think it would be pretty difficult to do that with any country, including the country I live in…the United States. That said, I learned something about England today. England is an island nation as most people know, and that can make travel to mainland Europe difficult and expensive. Travel to Hawaii would be a good example of that, and Hawaii isn’t even it’s own nation. Nevertheless, most of us have to save up our money to make the trip to Hawaii.
So, what does that have to do with England, you might ask. Well…everything. While an alternate mode of transportation to get to Hawaii…other than ship or plane, is not feasible for Hawaii…for England, maybe it could be. As early as the days of Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1802, people were looking for a way to connect England to France. Nothing came of those early suggestions, because the necessary technology was not available until the 20th century. The proposal was that since England and France were no longer at war, they should permanently connect their countries by way of a tunnel. The Channel Tunnel, later dubbed the Chunnel runs from Folkestone, England to Calais, France. The tunnel is 31 miles across, but in total there are 95 miles of tunnels. There are two railway tunnels, and a service tunnel. The work began on in 1986, and took four years to connect the two sides. Approximately 13,000 workers dug the 95 miles of tunnels at an average depth of 150 feet below sea level. Eight million cubic meters of soil were removed, at a rate of about 2,400 tons per hour. When it was finished, the Chunnel would have three interconnected tubes, including one rail track in each direction and one service tunnel. It cost $15 billion to complete.
Most of us don’t give much thought to tunnels, but when it comes to underwater tunnels…well, that is just different. Of course, we all know of the Holland Tunnel that connects New York and New Jersey, but that tunnel isn’t nearly as long as the Chunnel. The Holland Tunnel is a little over a mile and a half, which pales by comparison to the Chunnel’s 31 miles. On December 1, 1990, after four long years of work, the two sides of the Chunnel were connected. Workers exchanged French and British flags and toasted each other with champagne. It was a great day. The Channel Tunnel finally opened for passenger service on May 6, 1994, with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and France’s President Francois Mitterrand on hand in Calais for the inaugural run. A company called Eurotunnel won the 55 year contract to operate the Chunnel, which is the crucial stretch of the Eurostar high speed rail link between London and Paris. The regular shuttle train through the tunnel runs 31 miles in total, with 23 of those underwater and it takes 20 minutes, with an additional 15 minute loop to turn the train around. The Chunnel is the second-longest rail tunnel in the world, after the Seikan Tunnel in Japan.
Things like this fascinate me. I like the idea of something as unique as the Chunnel. I like the interesting fact that it is in England. And I like the fact that, the Chunnel is the longest underwater section, longest international tunnel, second-longest railway tunnel in the world. Some day, I hope to ride the train through that tunnel. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
During this journey to find my ancestors and my living family, there have been several times that I have felt that I had made a rare find. Of course, how could it be rare if there were several times, you might be thinking. I thought the same thing, and yet, some of the people I have come across have become so special to me that they could only be classified as a rare find. People like my father-in-law’s half brother, Butch Schulenberg, and our cousins Paul and Betty Noyes, come to mind immediately. But then, I also think of Tracey Inglimo, Denny Fredrick, Tim and Shawn Fredrick, Shirley Cameron, Pam and Mike Wendling, Bill and Maureen Spencer, and the many Schumacher cousins in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I think of Nick and Laura Weber, and Joe Weber. As I think of these people, new rare finds and renewed rare finds, I begin to realize that as I have discovered these special people, some I have never met in person, and some that I have known all my life, but lost track of, I begin to realize that maybe rare finds in the family line aren’t really as rare as I thought they were after all.
I have been thinking about what it is that makes a person a rare find, and the thing that immediately comes to mind is that these people truly care about me…about what I think and who I am. I find that these people are kindred spirits…something I had not really given much thought to until I got into the “Anne of Green Gables” movies, but after watching those movies, I realize just how important kindred spirits really are. Kindred spirits share the same values, goals, and desires, even if they are is slightly different ways. I think it is the values though that mean the most. Maybe that is a big part of what makes these people a rare find. So much has changed in our world these days, and while we all have maybe a slightly different view of what things are wrong and how to fix them, I still find that these people are value driven people…patriots, who love this country and what it stands for.
The longer I think about it, the more I realize that while finding people who compliment who I am is not such a rare find, it is still a rare find that there are so many people who have become so very special to me. It warms my heart to think of these people, and it warms my heart with every conversation I have with them. It is my hope to someday meet those precious people who I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person. I know we will really hit it off, because we are family and kindred spirits. It’s a great combination. While my “rare finds” have not really been so rare after all, I am so blessed by each and every one of then, and that makes them absolutely priceless. I am very blessed to know them all.
I think it is always a cool thing when we look through old family pictures of people we never knew, or at least don’t remember, and suddenly find ourselves looking at a familiar face…one very similar to our own. Such was the case for my youngest sister, Allyn Spencer Hadlock, when she read my story a couple of days ago, about my great aunts, Mina, Bertha, and Elsa. For much of her life, Allyn had noticed similarities between her sisters and other family members, and in reality there are many strong family resemblances, but she just didn’t see one that she could say looked a lot like her. She just assumed that she was of the Heinz 57 variety…a mix of several or many other family members. All that changed when she read my story, and looked at the picture of our great aunt, Mina Schumacher Spare. The picture of Mina bore a remarkable resemblance to pictures of Allyn, and to certain looks she saw in her reflection in the mirror.
Something about Mina’s face simply reminded Allyn of herself. She mentioned it to me, and I set about looking at pictures of Allyn and Mina to see for myself. I think Allyn hit the nail on the head. While Allyn’s eyes are bigger than Mina’s, the rest of her face is quite similar to Mina’s. I always find it quite remarkable to be able to see ourselves in the face of one of our ancestors. I am finding more and more that the Schumacher genes in my family tree are very strong genes. There are similarities that have jumped out at us through several of our family members and the Schumacher family, which is to say our grandma, Anna Schumacher Spencer and her parents and siblings. I love finding look alikes among the family members and ancestors. It gives people such a sense of belonging to see just where their characteristics came from.
For Allyn, who had always felt like simply a mix of the ancestors, seeing a picture of Mina that reminded her so much of herself, was a very cool feeling, and I can relate. I have come across different pictures of myself that remind me of Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren, Aunt Ruth Spencer Wolfe, my daughter, Amy Royce, and my granddaughter Shai Royce. When you find that look alike, it seems to leap off the screen at you. It is just the coolest feeling, because even though you never had any doubt that you were a part of this family, you still wondered just exactly where you fit in. Then, when it has becomes so very clear, just exactly where you fit in, you start looking for other similarities you might have with that person, such as the fact that I laugh exactly like my Aunt Ruth…so much so, that every time I laugh, she comes to my mind. It is another connection I have to her, even though she passed away in 1992.
Unfortunately, Allyn and I don’t recall Great Aunt Mina or Great Aunt Bertha, so we are not aware of other similarities, although I have been told that I got my writing abilities from Great Aunt Bertha…a thought that I am honored to hear, because I consider her a great writer. Great Aunt Mina was a very capable woman, who got an education that was more than what many women received in those days, and that moved her into supervisory positions at her work. Allyn has that capability too, and in fact was just promoted to Clinic Billing Supervisor at Central Wyoming Neurology, where she has worked for some time now. She has shown that her abilities are just what they want in their office, and we are all very proud of her achievements. I’m sure her look alike, Great Aunt Mina Schumacher Spare would have been too. It is a testament to her belief if a good education, and never giving up just because you are a woman…something that we don’t have as big a problem with these days, but that Mina and her sisters, Bertha and Elsa dealt with for sure. Obviously, there is more about Allyn and Mina that is alike than just their pretty faces.
My Uncle Bill Spencer always loved the handwritten letters that were written by his family. It didn’t matter to him if it was nieces or nephews, his siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins. He saw in every word, great value…as if it were pure gold. The more I look at old letters, and search for information about my family online, the more I realize that Uncle Bill was really on to something. Seeing the handwriting of our ancestors…be it on a letter, draft card, or photograph always gets me excited. To think that my ancestor actually signed that card, or wrote that letter is very cool. I especially love finding things that were written in some other language. When my grandmother Anna Schumacher Spencer and her brother Albert Schumacher were in school, the teacher made fun of their language. When they came home and told their mother, my great grandmother, Henriette Hensel Schumacher, she decided that German would no longer be spoken in their home. I don’t know if she ever changed her mind on that issue, but if German was spoken, it was not often. So to find a letter written in German by my Great Grandmother Henriette Schumacher to her daughter, my Aunt Min Schumacher Spare is especially exciting. I wish that I understood then, what I understand now about the handwriting of my ancestors. I am so excited about to find these great letters from people I have come to feel like I know well.
When I look at the handwriting of my great grandmother, I see a woman who, even in the face of much pain and adversity, prided herself on her handwriting. Of course, life happens, and we can’t always have the same control of our handwriting that we once might have, but at the time of this letter in May of 1911, her handwriting was pretty and delicate. My great grandmother suffered much with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and yet, I believe that she loved beautiful things, and that she was a delicate and beautiful woman. I know that she was so proud of her family. She would like to help them all she could, but with a large family, and tough times, it was not much. Nevertheless, it was her hope that all of her children would succeed in anything they chose to do…after all, America was the land of opportunity.
Mina Schumacher always wanted to be a teacher, but in the end, she became a bookkeeper. I think she was probably ok with that, but maybe always felt a bit of regret. Nevertheless, her hanwriting to me shows strong woman who loved the pretty and delicate things in life. She often signed things using beautiful script or calligraphy. It was her own sense of style. Many people never give any thought to the impression their signature will make on another person, but she did, and I loved it since the first time I saw it in my dad’s photo album. It was just as beautiful and graceful as she was. She knew that the handwriting of our ancestors is important.
One of the things about family history that especially holds my interest is locating the house where someone was born. It isn’t that I always set out to locate the house, but when one falls in my lap, I am especially excited…and that seems to happen a lot. There is a feeling of almost wonder when I find the exact place where one of my ancestors was born…especially when it is someone very dear to me. I don’t know exactly why that is exciting to me, except that it’s not every day that you find your self looking at the exact place that your parent or grandparent was born.
Home births are making a comeback these days, and I suppose that more and more people will be able to say that one specific house is where they were born. I very seldom feel the same way about the hospital where someone was born. Maybe that is because it is not very unique. Many other babies were born there too. I do think that I would feel that way about the hospital I was born in, because that is personal, but the one my kids and grandkids were born in, is also the place where a number of my loved ones passed away, and that feels different to me. I believe that my kids and grandkids will feel a closeness to the Wyoming Medical Center, because it is their birthplace, and that will make it special to them.
The house where someone was born, however, will always hold a special interest to me. I have to wonder what those walls to tell if they could talk. How did the family feel as each child joined the family? This house was where my Great Aunt Mina Schumacher, my Great Uncle Fred Schumacher, and my great aunts, Bertha and Elsa Schumacher were born. It’s also possible that my Great Aunt Marie Schumacher, who passed away at three years of age, could have been born in this house. My guess is that there was much happiness there, as well as some sadness. That is the way it is in any home…life happens there. That house saw the children playing and growing up, and the new births, one by one, and the family grew to it’s full size.
Before they would move to North Dakota, I’m sure there were many memories made there, but by the time Bertha and Elsa would return to the area for a visit, they no longer remembered the home where they were born, nor the wonderful times the family had there. Bertha wrote about that in her journal, so I have a feeling that those lost memories made her feel a bit sad, just like they would for me. I have a feeling that Aunt Bertha and I were quite a bit alike, and so the things that she thought were important to remember are the same kinds of things that I think are important. I am always very saddened by memories lost. Even if it is about people that I never knew, because everyone has a story, and someone, somewhere feels like their story is important, and once it is lost, it is very hard to find again. If no one ever wrote it down or told it, no one remembers. I guess that is why finding the house where someone was born is so important…it is where their story started.
Since it is Saint Patrick’s Day, I decided to explore the Irish connection in our family. One of the main connections to Ireland that our family has comes from the Pattan family. I believe that the Shaw family who married into the Pattan family to become my ancestors, also came from Ireland, but I have no concrete information to corroborate my beliefs, as of right now. The Pattan name has changed over the years, and might be spelled Patton, Patten, or Pattan, as ours is. We have a number of Georges in our family, but I have found no connection to General George Patton, as of yet….not that it would surprise me if I did. Our family in America began, when John Pattan come over to the United States from Ireland in the early 1800’s, and the family has grown by leaps and bounds since that time.
Before her death, my grandmother, Harriet Pattan Byer, and some of her siblings made the trip to Ireland to see the country of their ancestors, and hopefully to be able to connect with some of the family that might be still living over there. I don’t recall if they found any family or not, but I do know that they had a wonderful time. They explored the castles in the area…sometimes I wish we had castles. They kissed the Blarney Stone, which is a block of carboniferous limestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, and a must when visiting Ireland. They went out by the sea and into the towns, and they have a marvelous time.
I suspect that most of us have some Irish background, but many people may not know it. It seems to me that a lot of people have immigrated from Ireland over the years, and if that is the case, there are probably very few families who don’t have a least a little bit of the Irish in them, but then that could be a lot of blarney too. Nevertheless, Irish or not, most of us like to celebrate the wearin’ of the green every year when Saint Patty’s Day rolls around. So, whether you drink green beer or eat corned beef and cabbage, or simply wear green so you don’t get pinched, happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all!!
For some time now, I have been trying to find any information on the family of my Great Grandma Henriette Hensel Schumacher. The pictures we have of Grandma’s immediate family, which includes my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer, always seem to include two cousins. We know that their names are Anna Schubring and Laura Kurth. We don’t know if those are maiden names or married names, and that makes this harder. Recently, I found a picture of a family, and I believe that the oldest girl is Laura Kurth. The other girls did not exactly look like Anna Schubring, but I thought that possibly this family was my great grandmother’s sisters family. She was the sister that my grandmother came to America with, and since her first husband died, and she remarried and had more children, That could explain the difference in the two girls features.
Last night I stumbled upon a little bit more information. The girls are not sisters, or even half sisters, as I had originally thought they might be. My sister, Cheryl thought that the father in the family picture looked a bit like our Great Grandfather Carl Schumacher, and thought he could be his brother. I now believe that she is right in that. What I found is a page from my Uncle Bill’s family history, but it wasn’t with the rest of his history books…it was in some pictures he had sent to my cousin, Tracey Schumacher-Inglimo’s family. This picture tells us that Anna Schubring is the daughter of one of Great Grandma Henriette Hensel Schumacher’s sister and that she came from Canada. Anna could possibly be the daughter of the sister that my great grandmother came to America with, whose husband died a short time later, and she remarried and had more children. Having a step father could also be part of the reason that Anna spent so much time with her Aunt Henriette’s family. Sometimes the step parent situation doesn’t work out so well for some of the children. If Anna is that child, then she has a sibling that would be from that first marriage too, but we don’t really have any information on that.
Laura Kurth is also a cousin, but on the Schumacher side, so Cheryl is probably right in that she thought the father in the family picture looked like our great grandfather, Carl Schumacher’s side of the family. Cheryl also thought that Anna looked older than Laura, so she might be correct in that too. Laura’s family lived in the Mazeppa, Minnesota area, which might explain why she spent a lot of time with her Aunt Henriette and Uncle Carl’s family…not to mention that she and my grandma, Anna Schumacher Spencer were fairly close in age. I am also assuming that Kurth was Laura’s married name, and that her dad was the Schumacher brother, but I could be mistaken in that too, and it could be that her mother was the blood relation to my great grandfather. I may never find out for sure just how these cousins fit into our family, but I will most likely not stop looking until I do find out. Nevertheless, these pictures lad me to believe that my great grandparents were very close to their siblings, even if there is a sense of mystery to my family and their elusive ancestors too.
What is it about reading a story that intrigues us? It is the content, of course, but there is something more. Sometimes, we just want to take a few minutes outside ourselves…to lose ourselves in another man’s mind. It was a quote by Charles Lamb in 1890, who wrote “I love losing myself in other men’s minds” that came to me in a cover letter for my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journal. It was written to some of her grand nieces and grand nephew, her sister, Mina’s grandchildren, when she gave them a copy of her journal…the writings of her thoughts. And when I read the letter, I was intrigued. I was very curious about her mind. I never had the opportunity to know Great Aunt Bertha, who went by Bertie, and I find that very sad. It is my opinion that she was an amazing woman. In her letter, she points out that all too often, historical writings take in simply the events as they occurred, but leave out the human side of things…the thoughts, emotions, feelings, and the impact the events had on the lives of the people who lived them. She also points out that the family stories told by the very of people who lived those stories will impact the lives of their descendants for years to come. She looks ahead to the 23rd century, and wonders what they would think of the events that shaped the lives of their ancient ancestors. After reading her letter, I realized that my stories had barely scratched the surface of the events I was writing about.
I began to think of the day to day moments of our lives, and how much of the future history is being lost, because we have not recorded the thoughts and feelings we experienced at the time that we experienced them. Great Aunt Bertie suggested that if a person was interested in writing about family history, they should question their parents about the lives of their parents and grandparents. I immediately felt a sense of loss, because my dad and my father-in-law are both gone, and the opportunity to talk with them is gone too. I also felt a sense of loss, because my mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s Disease, and doesn’t always remember the events from her past anymore. I did feel an urging to sit down with my mom to see what things she could tell me, and also with my aunts, because I still have a chance to get their perspective on things. It occurred to me that while the desire is there, time will be the biggest problem, because of work and other obligations. Still, I want to take the opportunity while I can do so, and I know that I will learn many interesting things about my family.
I look forward to reading more of Great Aunt Bertie’s journal. She was an amazing individual, and she had the presence of mind to think in the future. She knew that the past has a very important place in the future, and that the future generations will never know the great things their ancestors accomplished, unless someone tells them about it. They will never know how their ancestors felt when they made the decision to immigrate to a new country, with their future very uncertain, but knowing that they had no future where they were then. And yet, she saw the importance of the here and now too…the everyday changes in the lives of family members around us…the accomplishments, hopes, and dreams for their future. She knew the importance of documenting the everyday moments of a life. Thank you for your wisdom, Great Aunt Bertie, and thank you Julie Holmberg Carlberg for blessing me and the rest of the family with this wonderful journal and the pictures you sent too. Great Aunt Bertie’s legacy will always be our priceless treasure.