My niece, Cassie Iverson is a patient, loving mother of two beautiful children 6 year old Lucas, and 2 year old Zoey. She loves to go camping with the family, and they go as often as they can, because Cassie is a photographer, and is drawn to the beautiful side of life. Much of her photography is of nature, which appeals to me very much, as a nature lover too. Good photography requires an eye for staging. It’s strange to thing of staging the shot for nature, but things like what is centered, how much to zoom, and good lighting are vital to taking a great picture. Cassie has that eye for staging, and so her pictures come of beautiful and they draw you into the scene.

She takes pictures of her children and of other people too, and she has a great eye for staging those photos too, but her real love for photography lies in photographing nature. It makes perfect sense, since she loves to be camping more than living in town. She and her husband, Chris like to fish and camp out with the kids…showing them all the beauty that nature has to offer. While she loves photography, Cassie’s kids really are her whole heart.

Her son, Lucas has had some medical issues over the past few years and so now the family is looking to move to a bigger city where the necessary medical facilities are available. They have looked in Montana, Colorado, and Tennessee. At this point, it looks like Tennessee might be the best place for them, so they are hoping to move sometime this summer. I know that many people in the family would rather have them in Montana or Colorado, but that may not be feasible. Time will tell I guess, and we will have to see where they land. Of course, if they move to Tennessee, we will all miss them, but thankfully Facebook can keep us in the loop with their lives. The most important thing for the family is to be near enough to good medical care for Lucas, so they don’t have to travel every time he needs surgery or other treatments. One thing that is for sure, this move, no matter where it takes them, will open up a whole new world of photography vistas for Cassie. I can’t wait to see the pictures she will take now. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Any time explosives are being transported, there is danger associated with it. Of course, explosives like nitroglycerine used to be very volatile, and just having the bump around on a dirt road could set it off. Things might be safer now, but the danger still exists. On December 6, 1917, in the harbor outside Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, a Belgian steamer and French freighter exploded. Both were loaded with ammunition. The explosion was disastrous. Sixteen hundred people were killed immediately. They were sailors looking on from the decks of their ships, rail-workers, and longshoremen. They were onlookers who were drawn to the spectacle of the burning ship. They were laborers looking on from factory windows or doorways, shopkeepers, and firemen. They were wives, mothers and babies, and school children. Just people going about their daily lives, who were caught up in the shocking scene…and it cost them their lives. Nine thousand more people were wounded. The 8 million tons of TNT carried by the ships was intended for use in World War I. The ships were gathered in Halifax, which was the meeting point for convoys to begin the dangerous Atlantic crossing. They would go together as protection from the German U-Boat submarines. The HMS High Flyer was to be the lead ship in the convoy that trip. The freighter from France, the Mont Blanc, had picked up a full load of TNT in New York and came into the harbor that foggy morning. Due to the poor conditions, it collided with the Imo, a Belgian steam boat, also carrying ammunition. A fire resulted and both ships were abandoned immediately.

The Stella Maris was moving up to the Mont-Blanc at the time of the explosion. The crew were attempting to attach a line to the Mont Blanc to tow it away from Pier 6. When the Mont-Blanc exploded the Stella Maris was swamped and thrown up onto the shore. Captain Brannen and nineteen of his crew members were killed instantly. By some miracle William Nickerson, the second mate, and four of the crew members survived. At Pier 8, to the north of Pier 6, stood the steamer Curaca, that had been loading mules. The Curaca was found in the center of Tuft’s Cove, across the harbor, at Dartmouth, with her bow protruding from the water. The stern of the Curaca was pushed in, her masts and smokestack were blown away. Although the Saint Bernard was on the northern side of Pier 6, the pier offered no protection. The Saint Bernard was completely destroyed along with Pier 6 and the Lola R, a small schooner. Here the Saint Bernard was beached at Parsboro, its home port, during winter prior to the explosion. The Picton was tied up at the Sugar Refinery Wharf just below Pier 6. At the time of the explosion the Picton was being unloaded to undergo repairs. Her cargo included munitions. Due to the quick thinking of the longshoremen the hatches were closed. Although the Picton caught fire, it was quickly put out with the help of the crew of the tugboat Lee. A British ship, the Pictou, was at a pier in the harbor and was also filled with ammunition. The crew of the Pictou immediately fled and set the ship free upon witnessing the collision. The High Flyer was the only ship that took any action to try to stop the disaster…it sent 23 men toward the collision to attempt to sink the vessels. They were too late. Just as they reached the burning ships, a massive explosion occurred.

The explosion sent burning debris throughout Halifax. It also caused a large wave to form that pushed the ships at pier right up out of the harbor. A Canadian army officer stationed at Halifax described the result, “All that could be seen for a great circumference were burning buildings, great mounds of iron and brick in the streets and dead bodies.” A 2½ mile radius was completely demolished and the explosion could be felt 125 miles away. The wave of water hit a Navy ammunition plant located near the shores. That water most likely kept it from catching fire. Most other places nearby were not hit with the wave, unfortunately. The railway station collapsed from the blast and crushed scores of people inside. About 100 more were killed in a sugar plant located near the water. Of the 500 students located in schools nearby, less than 10 survived. In all, the death toll was somewhere between 1,200 and 4,000. No one knows for sure because so much of the city was completely obliterated. Many more might have died except for a snowstorm that hit the area later that day. It helped put out the flames, but not before 25,000 people were left homeless in the wake of the disaster.

The discovery of gold in the United States triggered massive growth, with towns springing up across the area. Helena, Montana was one of those towns. On October 30, 1864, four miners struck it rich at their appropriately named mine, “Last Chance Gulch.” From that discovery came one of the wealthiest cities in the United States by the late nineteenth century…Helena, Montana. While it was once one of the wealthiest cities, the current population of Helena doesn’t really fall in line with the direction the city appeared to be taking in 1864. As of the 2010 census the population is 28,190, making it the fifth least populous state capital in the U.S after Montpelier, Vermont; Pierre, South Dakota; Augusta, Maine; and Frankfort, Kentucky.

My husband, Bob Schulenberg’s aunt, Marion Kanta, and her family lived in Helena until the time for her passing in 1999, and many of her family members live there still. That said, we visited the capitol city a few times, and found it to be a very nice place. Of course, during the gold rush years, things might have been very different. A gold rush town can have a tendency to be a high crime area, and when 3.6 billion dollars worth of gold is extracted in the city limits of a town over a twenty year period, you know that there were people who would like nothing more than to take over the claim of another person, no matter what it took. The first major Anglo settlement of Montana began in the summer of 1862, when prospectors found a sizeable deposit of placer gold at Grasshopper Creek to the west of what is today…Helena, Montana. When other even richer deposits were discovered nearby, a major rush began as tens of thousands of miners scoured the territory in search of gold. In 1864, four prospectors spotted signs of gold in the Helena area while on their way to the Kootenai country, but they were eager to reach the reportedly rich gold regions farther to the north and did not stop. Then, after striking out on the Kootenai, they decided to take “one last chance” on finding gold and returned. When the signs turned out to mark a rich deposit of placer gold, they staked their claims and named the new mining district Last Chance Gulch.

Last Chance Gulch would prove to be the second biggest placer gold deposit in Montana, producing some 19 million dollars worth of gold in just four years. Almost overnight, thousands of miners flooded into the region, and the four original miners added to their fortunes by establishing the town of Helena to provide the new miners with food, lodging, and supplies. But unlike many of the early Montana mining towns, Helena did not disappear once the gold gave out, which was inevitable. Helena was able to survive and grow by serving the wider Montana mining industry, because it was located on several major transportation routes, well supplied with agricultural products from an adjacent valley, and near to several other important mining towns. In 1875, the city became the capital of Montana Territory, and in 1894, the capital of the new state of Montana.

img_5129img_5133When you think of a town within a town or city, you often think of New York City, where you might find Queens, Harlem, or Yonkers. Or you might think of New Orleans, where you might find the French Quarter or the 9th Ward, but people really never think of a town within a town, when the town is a small town, like Forsyth, Montana, population of about 1,777. Nevertheless, Forsyth, Montana was a town that had within it a town…so to speak. When my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s grandpa, Andrew Schulenberg was a young married man, he built a couple of houses there. The houses were next door to each other. Andy’s parents lived in one house, and he and his wife, lived in the other. Across the street was another house owned by Schulenberg family relative, Bob’s Great Aunt Hennie. Being such a small town, there were other Schulenberg families very nearby, and since Andy’s parents, Max and Julia Schulenberg had ten children, it made for a lot of Schulenberg relation living in a neighborhood in Forsyth, Montana. Well, before long, the people of the town found themselves calling that neighborhood, Schulenbergville. I’m not sure just exactly when img_5109the neighborhood got its name, but since Andy was the sheriff of Rosebud County from 1955 to 1972, my guess is that it was either during that time, or it was his job as sheriff that solidified the name to that area of town.

I had the chance to see the two houses that Andy Schulenberg built, and to find out that the second one was the house that Bob’s Uncle Butch Schulenberg was born in. I love to see the homes where loved ones were born, partly I suppose, because so few people are born at home these days. In those days, however, being born at home was a very common practice, and it makes me think about the history that the house has witnessed. The house got to see little Butch Schulenberg growing up…or at least starting his life, since I don’t know when the family might have moved out of the house. Nevertheless, the area remained Schulenbergville for a number of years, and I don’t think the locals have forgotten it to this day.

Nor have they forgotten the sheriff who really made the Schulenberg name a household word in the little town of Forsyth. Andy was a different kind of sheriff from those you normally meet, and that is a story I will tell sometime, but it’s too long for this story. Suffice it to say that he was dearly loved, and there is more than one img_5132img_5135adult who owes the fact that they weren’t in prison…or worse as kids, to Sheriff Andy Schulenberg, and they will be happy to tell you so. The two houses Andy built still stand, as do the houses of the neighboring Schulenberg clan members, although some are no longer occupied. I find that a bit sad, but it is a testament to good construction work. Now they stand as a treasured memory for those who knew Schulenbergville well.

Bob and Caryn - the early yearsIt’s funny, how time changes people. When our daughters, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen and Amy Schulenberg Royce, were little, we lived on a place east of Casper. We had a well, septic system, and our home was heated by propane. All that didn’t matter to the girls, and when they were little, they didn’t mind living in the country. I suppose it was just normal, and having all that space was a nice thing for them. They could ride their bicycles all over the place, and there were friends near enough for them to have playmates. For kids with no place to go exactly, the whole thing was just fine. Bob and I liked it too during those years. Of course, when we started bowling…like every day, living in the country wasn’t quite as convenient. We were I town all the time. In fact, my sister, Alena Stevens told me once that we weren’t country people…we were city people who slept in the country. She was right, of course. It wasn’t too long before we began to think about moving to town….but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

As the girls became teenagers, and began driving and dating, the whole thing about living in the country…well, Corrie & Kevinthe girls didn’t like it so much anymore. The long distance to town became an annoyance to them, and in the Winter months, the roads…which were awful, made for a treacherous drive both morning and night. Their boyfriends weren’t too keen on coming all the way out there to pick them up, but I must say, that Corrie’s husband, Kevin was a pretty good sport about it. Still with both future husbands, there were many times when dates took place after the girls got off work, and that meant that they had to drive themselves home afterward. I think it was about the time that the girls started driving, that I began to see that living in the country was not always sunshine and wide open spaces. There was a lot of dangers that my girls had to face on those drives home, and I don’t think I would have survived those years, had it not been for prayer and God’s angels to watch over my babies. We had taught them how to drive, and what to do to be safe, but when you turn your girl loose to drive home at midnight, you need the angels out there with them. That’s all there is to it.

Then came the time when we decided that country living wasn’t all it had been cracked up to be when the girls were little. Unfortunately for Corrie, the final decision to move to town came after her marriage…much to her Amy & Travis in Seattledismay. And in reality, it came only eight months before Amy’s marriage to Travis. Once we moved to town, I found myself really back in my element again, because I had been raised in Casper, after all. Bob was raised in the country, but he adapted to living in town like a man who had never lived a day of his life in the country. Corrie and Kevin live in Casper too, as did Amy and Travis before their move to Washington. Now, strangely, as they have purchased their home in Ferndale, Washington…or should I say ten minutes outside Ferndale, Amy and Travis…or at least Amy, has come full circle, and is living in the country again. Travis, like me, was raised in the city. Nevertheless, they will quickly get a handle on the whole country living thing…complete with a well, septic system, and propane. How strange is that?

Ranger, Texas 1919Ranger, Texas had been an agricultural center, becoming a wheat producing center for the north, until a drought in 1917 hit the town crops very hard. That was when a few residents encouraged William Knox Gordon (who could be relation to Bob’s family, but I have not confirmed it) who was vice president of the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, to test for oil in the area. He found oil, but the first well drilled, the Nannie Walker No. 1, was somewhat of a disappointment, as it first produced gas and only later blew in oil. Then, in October 1917 the McClesky No. 1 came in, reached a daily production of 1,700 barrels, and began a mammoth oil boomOil Well Ranger, Texas that drastically changed Ranger and Eastland County.

In the summer of 1918, my grandparents sold their homestead in Minnesota and headed south, finally settling in the town of Ranger, Texas. Like so many people, the oil boom in Ranger had drawn them in search of better times, and oil meant better times. There were many oil wells near and even in the town of Ranger during those years, and that meant that the residents could never escape the smell of oil. That is something we here in Wyoming can understand…or at least any of us who have been through the town of Midwest. You know you are getting close to Midwest, because your proximity is announced by the pungent smell of oil. I suppose if you are an oil tycoon, that might just smell like money, but to me…it smells awful.

During those years, there was a danger that the people of Ranger lived with every day. With so much drilling going on, so close and within the town and with the drought continuing, the possibility of out of control fires when an oil well came in and caught fire was a daily concern. There were several such fires, including the one on April 6, 1919, which took out 2 city blocks in the town. It is hard for me to think about how my grandmother must have felt with those fires being a daily possibility…especially after the one that happened on April 6th. Fire in Ranger, TexasMy Aunt Laura was just a little girl of 6 years when the April 6th fire hit the town. The worry of trying to get your little girl out of harms way, must have weighed heavy on my grandparents’ minds. She could be outside playing with friends, or sleeping, or any number of other reasons that could make a quick escape difficult. Nevertheless, the little family survived that constant threat of fires and after getting their fill of the Texas oil fields, returned to Wisconsin, at some point before my Uncle Bill was born in 1922, where they would remain for the rest of their lives.

It’s funny, how at each new stage in your life you seem to change. Sometimes is major ways, like going from being a little kid to being a grade school kid…or even more going from junior high to high school. Other changes can seem more subtle, but in many ways, they are even bigger changes than those prior ones that seemed so big. Like the changes I noticed in my grand niece, Siara, from high school graduation, to coming home from her first semester at college, and her first time living away from home. To most people, I’m sure she seemed like the same Siara that she always was, but I saw something else. She was more grown up, more sophisticated, more…college, and yet, she hadn’t changed that much at all. Can that happen?

Siara has gone from a high school girl without a care, to an adult in college, who knows the heartache that life can sometimes throw your way…right in the middle of some of the best times of your life. How can those two things coinside? One minute you love your life and everything you are doing, and the next, you are in tears because you miss your family so bad it hurts. That is how life is, when you move away from home and to another city. Especially when it is the first time.

For Siara, this particular day is especially hard, because it will also be the first birthday she has spent without her family. Being so far away from those who have always made your birthday a big deal is one of the hardest things to do. Oh, I know that her friends at college will pick up the slack and make her day the best it can possible be, but there will still be a few very important people missing. I know this day will be especially hard too, for her mom, my niece, Chantel, because she and Siara have always been so close. This will be a hard day for them, but I hope they will also find a way to make this one of her best birthdays ever as well. It will be different, but different doesn’t have to be bad. Here’s hoping this birthday is super special, Siara. Happy birthday!! We all love you and miss you very much, but we are also very proud of you and all your acomplishments.

Every year on July 10th, I take a few moments to reflect of the wonderful gift that God has given me…my husband, Bob. When I wake up on July 10th, it just hits me. Almost 2 years before I was born, the man God planned for me…to be my husband…was born. Bob is so perfect for me. We are good together…a good team. Our personalities compliment each other and we share like interests. What could be more perfect.

I was talking to Bob’s dad today, and he mentioned his memories about the day of Bob’s birth. It is quite a story. The family was spending the day in Billings when my mother-in-law went into labor with Bob. Since this was her third child, things can go very fast. My mother-in-law was determined to have her own doctor deliver Bob…her doctor was in Miles City, which is 145 miles from Billings. My father-in-law said that he sure didn’t want to leave Billings, but she was so determined, so he gave in. I don’t know how much time they had to spare, but I do know that there was definite concern that Bob might arrive somewhere on the highway between Billings and Miles City. Bob waited, and his arrival was in Miles City…after which, my father-in-law breathed a huge sigh of relief.

As my father-in-law spoke about that hurried trip, I could picture the whole scene in my mind. My mother-in-law has always been very strong willed, and my father-in-law has always been pretty soft hearted where she is concerned. I can just imagine how she felt too. At a time like that you want your own doctor, not a stranger, in a strange hospital, is a city you don’t live in…especially since hospital stays for births weren’t 1 day or less then. She knew it would be a hardship on the whole family if they had to try to go back and forth.

In the end, it all worked out, and Bob waited until they reached Miles City to be born. I believe he would have been fine either way, and I suppose being born on the highway would have given them all a story to tell, but it would have been scary too, and I’m glad they didn’t have to go through that. Happy birthday my sweet husband!! I love you very much, and thank God for you each and every day!!

My parents always liked to travel, and sometimes they didn’t have vacation time coming, but wanted to feel like they took us someplace. So along came going for a drive. I know lots of people who, like my parents, love to go for a drive around town, just for the pleasure of the road trip…even if the road trip is only 10 miles or so. It always took longer, of course, because we would stop and look around at all the sights. My favorite ride was up to the mountain, to look out point, or up to the hill where the Events Center now sits (though it was not there when I was little). We would always end up one of those places at night, so we could see the city lights.

Dad and Mom always liked the view of the city lights, but I think they also realized that with 5 girls, twinkling city lights would always be viewed with a sense of awe. It was the highlight of the whole drive. Sometimes we had to look quickly as we headed on into town, but other times we got to stop and just enjoy the beauty of the lights. We girls always called the lights The Jewelry Box, because the lights seemed to form sparkling necklaces and other pieces of jewelry. Sure, you had to use your imagination, but we were quite good at that.

Those drives and beautiful view of the city lights are things that we will always have in our memories. Mom and Dad just wanted to give us a chance to go for a drive, when there was not much else to do that didn’t cost a bunch of money for 7 people, but what they really gave us was a lifetime of memories. To this day, all of us love to go for a drive, and I don’t think any of us can come into town at night without remembering The Jewelry Box when we see the city lights.

We will always consider ourselves blessed because of all the places our parents took us on vacations. We have seen so many states, and experienced their beauty. We have camped out and stayed in hotels. We have learned about the Oregon Trail, and just about every other historical marker we ever came across. We have seen both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. We have been to Canada and Mexico. Yes, we have been very blessed because of our parents love of travel, but one place that has always brought special memories was right in our own back yard…The Jewelry Box.

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