I love that I have connected with so many family members over the past few years. It seems like each connection brings another connection, and then it keeps blossoming into more and more connections. Yesterday, I got an email from my cousin, Tracey Schumacher Inglimo, telling me of some information she came across in FamilySearch.Org. Some of it I already had, but there was quite a bit of it that I didn’t. It was like opening an early Christmas present. It was given to me for no reason other than to further the family tree for all of us. I seriously can’t tell you how big a blessing Tracey has become, and she continues to grow more and more important to my life every day. It was the connection with her that started all the open doors in the Schumacher family in the first place. From there, the Schumacher side of the family has grown to the point where I’m not sure just how many we know…and that is awesome!!
As I said, some of the information was information that I already had, but some of it was new to me. One of the things I found most exciting is that Tracey had found, what I now believe to be the long lost picture of Christian Schumacher, who is my great great uncle, and the brother of my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher. According to my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren, “Christian was a soldier (he joined very young, perhaps 20), straight and tall when he stood in his uniform, the photo of which Elsa and I used to love to look at when we were small. He served in the first World War, having stayed in the reserves throughout the years, and fighting men became so few in the closing years of the conflict that Germany had to call up all the reserves, regardless of age. When the Russians entered Poland, he was captured and never heard from again. He had married a Polish girl and lived just inside the border of the two countries, operating a wholesale grocery business. They never had children and she did not continue writing after this tragedy.”
It is my hope that the picture Tracey found online is the same one Aunt Bertha mentioned in her story. It had seemed all but lost, and to find it among the things Tracey had found excited me beyond measure, as I know it will for all the other family members who have been hoping to see it. It is exactly what was described to me, and I know that there are others in the family who have seen it, so I hope they will be able to confirm that is the one they had seen.
I have found, as I have taken this journey of discovery to find other family members and more information on our history, that two heads…or ten, are better than one. They are far better, in fact. We all tend to look different places, and look for different information, and yet before you know it, the information found by one turns out to be the information that someone else was searching for. I guess I would have to say that my main reason for connecting with family is the family…for sure, but finding out so much more about the family is definitely a plus. So, today I want to thank Tracey for giving me and the rest of the family such an amazing gift. We all love you very much!!
Every year, in the tradition my grandparents started, the Byer family gathers to celebrate the Christmas season together, and to keep my grandparents’ dream alive. It was their desire that their children wouldn’t drift apart after they were gone. The family has done their very best to honor their wish, and the Byer Family Christmas Party is a big part of honoring that wish. Over the years, we have all worked together or split the hosting into families, but the party has always been held. Santa Clause has shown up to talk to the kids, bags of treats for the little ones were always given out, and the food…the best in the world. But, the most important part of these wonderful gatherings is the family. Re-connecting with all of them and hearing all about what is going on in their lives…that’s what it’s all about…that’s the dream that our grandparents had for us. The connection to family.
This year I had a chance to hear about how well Autumn Beadle is doing in school, and her plans to graduate at semester in her senior year, and then it’s on to Nursing School for her. I got to see how much she cares for her grandma, my Aunt Virginia. I got to touch base with Aunt Dixie, Uncle Jim, and their family. We used to see them at the mall a lot, but in recent years that hasn’t worked out so well. I ran into Michael and Deena McDaniels on Black Friday, and we laughed about our shopping trials tonight. I had seen Missy and Mindy Grosvenor at the movies on Thursday, and we had a chance tonight to discuss how much we liked “A Christmas Candle” tonight, as well as how much they like taking care of their niece, Piper and sometimes her brother and sister, Parker and Payton. Cousins, Clyde and Susie Young spend much of their winter months in Arizona these days, but they were able to get home for the holidays and the party.
Anthony McDaniels showed up in a suit, adding a special touch of class to our party, while Shai Royce and Christina Masterson dressed up as twins, even though they are not. Aunt Bonnie’s little grandson, Noah spent the latter part of the evening trying to give her a bunny tail. Aunt Sandy has been a mainstay for information for some of the great stories I have been able to relay about the Byer Family, and has also spent several afternoons with my mom this year at the Senior Center, which my mom has cherished and fully enjoyed. The party has brought Elmer Johnson back into our lives after a time of not being able to be there, and since he and I have connected on Facebook too, we have grown to be even better friends than we were as kids. Aunt Jeanette is doing well, and always brings a smile to my face with her awesome laugh. Corrie and Kevin Petersen and their boys Christopher and Josh have been busily planning for Chris to start college in Sheridan next year and Josh to get his driver’s license. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George were not able to join us this year, but their granddaughter, Rachelle French took lots of pictures for them so they would not feel left out.
This year’s highlight, however, had to be the idea someone had to open up bags of cotton balls for the little kids to play with. It turned into a cotton ball/snow ball fight, and everyone had a wonderful time. Xander, Zack, Isaac, and Aleesia Spethman; Kya and Noah Hamilton; Logan and Lea Orr; Mateo Steiner and Dera Elvidge; Noah Williams; Parker, Payton, and Piper Dobson; Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna Masterson all had a wonderful time picking up, loading up on, and throwing those cotton balls. I don’t know who thought of it, but it was a great idea.
As sometimes happens in families who live great distances away from each other, our family has been distanced from some of my cousins for as many as 30+ years. That is a fact that I find sad in many ways, but mostly because now, with the use of Facebook, we have reconnected with many of those cousins, and now we are faced with the lost years that cannot be replaced. I am very glad to be in touch with my cousins Shirley, Terry, Pam, Bill, and second cousins, Larry, Tonnya, Danyelle, Jason, Crystal, Christine, Bill, Kristin, Cody, Tim, and Shawn and all their families. Talking with them now, the missed years seem to have melted away, but knowing that there were so many years, and so many past events that we missed out on, makes me sad. That’s how life goes sometimes. You get so busy with your own life, that there doesn’t seem to be enough time to stay in touch.
Kids I last saw as babies, or have never even met, are grown up and out on their own. Some have their own children and one has a child on the way. My cousins and I have been doing quite a bit of catching up, and that has been very wonderful for me, as I hope it has been for them. I have been getting to know the younger generation, as well as the ones in my age group. We are as varied in who we are as we are in where we live, and yet each person, each personality, each life is a precious reunion to me. I am interested in the lives and lifestyles of each one. Some of us prefer the big city life, some the small town atmosphere, and some the scenic beauty of nature.
We are all very different, but we all share one side of our background. We share the same Spencer lineage. We are connected in the past, present, and future because of it. We share similar views of our background…similar stories of the past. We may have a little bit different view of those stories, but they are basically the same. I feel so blessed by the connection to these precious cousins. It is really the fact that these cousins complete who I am…and that part of me was separated from the rest of me for a long time. Today, I feel so blessed to be reunited with my cousins…the grandchildren and great grandchildren, and even great great grandchildren of my grandparents.