cousin

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When it comes to birthdays, my granddaughter, Shai Royce is still losing ground. While most people who were born in 1996 are turning 24 years old this year, Shai is still spinning her training wheels at 6 years old. Of course, it all started 24 years ago, and when it came time for Shai’s first birthday, it was mysteriously missing. February 28th arrived, and her cousin, Chris turned 1 year old, but then the date went to March 1st, and Shai’s birthday was not there. The same thing happened when Chris turned 2 years old and 3 years old, and Shai’s birthday was missing both times. Then, when Chris turned 4 years old, Shai’s birthday suddenly reappeared, but the damage had been done. Chris was 4 years old, and Shai was only 1 year old. Shai has been continuing to lose ground in this manner ever since that time. This year, Chris is 24 years old, and Shai is only 6 years old…and yet, they were born one day apart. Shai has been getting ripped off ever since.

People born on February 29th go through this situation every year. Their birthdays are not guaranteed. They get them, but only every 4th year. Most of them really like it, however, because let’s face it…it is unique!! Everyone wants their birthday to be special, but for the Leap Day Baby, birthdays are the most unique of all. On the off years, they can pick their day…the 28th or the 1st, or they can just celebrate both days. Then, on their on year, many of them have an extra big blow out bash!! It’s a win-win situation. Their payback for those missed birthday years.

Shai has several things that make her unique including her birthday. Her name is unique…at least in the United States. Shai is a Hebrew name that means gift…and that she is, but this year she has one other unique credit to add to her repertoire. Shai is quite possibly the youngest licensed insurance agent ever!! I mean, how many 6 year old insurance agents do you know? I would guess none!! Shai is a wonderfully unique kind of girl, and I’m very proud of all she has accomplished. Today is Shai’s 6th official birthday!! Happy (unofficial) 24th birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My cousin, Shirley Cameron is what can only be call a Modern Pioneer Woman. Not many people were living off the grid when she and her parents and brother moved to their mountain top in Washington state. They built 3 cabins. Her brother later moved to town, but her parents, Ruth and Jim, lived there for the rest of Ruth’s life and until fire destroyed their cabin, and Jim, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease had to be moved to a nursing home, where he lived out the remainder of his days. That left Shirley and her husband Shorty, and their grandson Tyrel living off the grid on the top of Wolfe Mountain.

After Shorty’s passing, in 2016, Shirley and Tyrel live up there alone. Oh they have neighbors, down the mountain, and Tyrel’s mom lives not too far away, but in town. Shirley and Tyrell just like living in the wilderness far from civilization. I really don’t think Shirley will ever leave her mountain. The views up there are breathtaking, and she gets to see lots of wild animals. Nevertheless, winter can be long and lonely. There are times when getting off the mountain just isn’t going to happen, because the snow is too deep. They have to have enough food to last for a very long time, because running out of food would be bad. There is a well, so water is not a problem, and they use a generator for electricity, so they do have to have enough fuel to run that. Still, summer will come around again, and everything is renewed.

These days, more and more people are living off the grid. It has become almost “fashionable” for people to get away from the city and all of its ties to utilities, phones, and water. With cell phones, people can still be connected to a degree, if they choose to be, but they can also shut it off when they don’t want to be connected. I think Shirley likes to be disconnected sometimes. It gives her time with her own thoughts. Being a modern day pioneer woman is not a way of life for the faint of heart. A person has to be comfortable in their own company. I don’t know if it would be something I could handle, but Shirley has done well with it, and I commend her for it. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The other day, while reading an article about notable Native Americans, I came across a name that was familiar to me, but really didn’t seem like a Native American name. The name was Renville, the same name as my grand-nephew, James Renville. Immediately, I wondered if there might be a connection between Chief Gabriel Renville and my grand-nephew. The search didn’t take very long, before I had my answer. Gabriel Renville is my grand-nephew, James’ 1st cousin 7 times removed. I find that to be extremely amazing to think that James is related to an Indian chief. With that information, I wanted to fine out more abut this man.

Chief Gabriel Renville was a mixed-blood Santee Sioux—his father was half French and his mother half-Scottish. He was born in April of 1825 at Big Stone Lake, South Dakota. Renville was the treaty chief of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Santee tribes and signed the 1867 treaty, which established the boundaries of the Lake Traverse Reservation. One source called him a Champion of Excellence.

He was careful to protect his people as much as he could, and was also instrumental in saving the lives of many white captives. During the 1862 Uprising, Renville opposed Little Crow and was influential in keeping many of the Santee out of the war. He lost a large amount of property, including horses appropriated by the hostile savages, or destroyed in consequence of his position to their murderous course. Renville served as chief of scouts for General Sibley during the campaign against the Sioux in 1863.

Even though Chief Renville was an ally of the whites, it didn’t help him when he settled on the reservation. The government agent there, Moses N. Adams, considered him hostile. Renville was the leader of the “scout party” which was in conflict with the “good church” Indians. I’m sure that was common in those days. Renville preserved many of the traditional Santee customs of polygamy and dancing, and he ignored Christianity, but he was not opposed to economic progress and he and his followers became successful farmers on the reservation. However, the Sisseton agent favored the “church” Indians.

Renville and other leaders of the traditional Indians accused Adams of discriminating against them in the disposition of supplies and equipment. He said Adams favored the idle church-goers instead of encouraging them to work….a situation not unlike the current welfare system. Agent Adams considered Renville a detriment and removed the chief form the reservation executive board which Adams had organized to carry out his policies. It was a move that was considered extreme. In 1874 Renville was finally successful in securing a government investigation of the Adam’s activities. The outcome of the investigation was an official censure of Adams. Chief Renville continued to practice the old Santee customs, yet he encouraged the Indians to farm. This progressive influence was greatly missed after his death in August 1892.

With the eruption and possible explosion of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, my thoughts are drawn back 38 years to another mountain…Mount Saint Helens. The scientists said that an explosive eruption was imminent. The mountain had been swelling up with internal pressure from the gasses deep in the earth. Still, some people didn’t believe the mountain would ever hurt them, and many just couldn’t wrap their head around the possibility that it might explode. So, some people stayed in their homes in the area. It would prove to be a fatal mistake.

It’s strange that we are able to associate things in life with major events in recent history. Many of us can say where we were when we learned of President Kennedy’s assassination, or when 9-11 took place. It is a moment that is embedded in our memories for all time. That morning as the ash rolled into our area, I was getting into my car to go to town. It looked like dust on my car, a very thick layer of dust. Of course, it wasn’t dust, it was volcanic ash. It had never occurred to me that volcanic ash might affect me, but here I was, needing to wash the ash off of my car, so it was not damaged.

My cousin, Shirley, who lives in Washington, said she and her family were in Spokane. She saw a black cloud coming their way, and so she turned on the radio, to see what was going on. She immediately started yelling to the teachers and students from Saint Matthews school, who were at an end of the year baseball game. Every one scrambled to get their belongings, and headed back to the Church, before heading for home. Navigation became difficult. They had to watch the curb on the side of the streets to know where they were. It was a long drive home. They held their breath from the truck to the house, to protect their lungs, and watched the street lights come on. Shirley went out on the front porch and took pictures, before retreating back to the safety of her house. They were forced to stay in the house for about a week, before it was safe to out again. Many safety precautions were in place, and people were told not to breathe the ash because of the glass in it.

Mount Saint Helens is located in the Cascade Range. On May 18, 1980, at 8:32am Pacific Standard Time, it erupted and blasted 1,300 feet off of its top, sending hot mud, gas, and ash running down its slopes. Approximately 57 people were killed directly from the blast, while 200 houses, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway were destroyed. Two people were killed indirectly in accidents that resulted from poor visibility, and two more suffered fatal heart attacks from shoveling ash. The explosion sent plumes of dark gray ash some 60,000 feet in the air which blocked out the rays from the sun making it seem like night over eastern Washington. So…where were you when Mount Saint Helens blew?

Leap Day babies only get an official birthday every four yeas. According to tradition, on the off years, a Leap Day baby gets to celebrate their birthday on February 28th, March 1st, or both. I suppose they look at it this way…their actual birthday gets lost in time 3 years out of 4, so they have to make due with the other days. And maybe they even have a right to celebrate for two days. It seems strange to celebrate a lost day, but that is what they do. My granddaughter, Shai Royce is a Leap Day baby, and she has had her years of celebrating her day on the 28th, the 1st, and both, but for the most part, she chooses the 1st for her three off year birthdays. I have always celebrated her off year birthdays on March 1st, because the 28th was her great grandmother, Joann Schulenberg’s birthday, as well as her cousin, Chris Petersen’s birthday. Chris was born one day before Shai, so that day just made no sense to me. Nevertheless, tradition allows her to celebrate on both days, and so , in order to make sure that she and anyone who knows her don’t think I forgot her birthday, I at least send her a text that says, “Happy first day of your birthday.” It actually should have said, “Happy first day of your missing birthday!!

Having a birthday that goes missing three years out of four could tend to give a person a bit of a complex, but I think that most Leap Day babies look at it as have a really special day every four years, and a really special situation the other three years. It is unusual to have your birthday disappear, after all. In the United States, as of 2016 (the last Leap Year), there are currently only 187,000 people who were born on Leap Day, plus approximately four million others from around the world. Babies have a one in 1,461 chance of being born on Leap Day. That makes my girl very special, in the world’s view. Of course, I always knew she was very special.

Shai has always been a hard worker with a heart of gold. She is good at so many things. She is great with children, and she could easily have been a nurse, or something in the health care line. She has a bubbly personality, and a smile that lights up her whole face. Her beautiful expressive eyes welcome you into her wolrd. She brings the sunshine into the room with her, when she walks in. I never would have expected that Shai would be my only granddaughter, but that has turned out to be the way it was. We used to love to do our nails together, and when she got into hiking, we hiked together. She was a great companion…until she moved to Washington state. That and the day her family moved were very sad days for me. I miss my beautiful granddaughter very much, but I know that she is living life her way, and that is the best thing I could ask for her…other than an awesome missing birthday day. To day is the second day of Shai’s missing birthday. Happy birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For a number of years, I was out of touch with my cousin Dennis Fredrick, but all that changed a couple of years ago, when we started emailing. That has turned into a true friendship and I think it has been a blessing to both of us. Of course, our love of family history has given us common interests to explore, but there was so much more, because as cousins, we had a lot of memories to share too. I feel very blessed to have my cousin back in my life again. We are currently working together of different aspects of our research…or at least sharing our finds, because that is really what is so exciting about finding new family history information.

One of the things that I found out recently about Denny was that, like his dad, his grandpa, his brother, and nephews, Denny builds furniture sometimes. And he does a very fine job of it. Not everyone has the ability to build furniture, and if we attempt, it often looks like a box slapped together. Not so, with Denny. I think his work looks like it was made in a factory…perfect. The dresser is for his daughter-in-law, Carrie Fredrick, who is feeling very blessed right now. Denny comes by is skill from a long like of furniture builders. Our grandpa, Allen Luther Spencer built furniture, as did Denny’s dad, Fritz Fredrick, who built the baptismal font for the little church in Holyoke, Minnesota. Denny’s brother, Gene Fredrick, who sadly passed away a number of years ago, also built beautiful furniture, as did Gene’s sons Tim and Shawn.

Denny, as we have called him all my life anyway, has a heart of gold, and really wants to be a part of the lives of his family, even those of us who live far away. It’s so easy to lose touch with friends and family, and while we often don’t feel the loss until we reconnect, sadly sometimes that never happens, and when a loved one is gone, we really fell that missed time. For that reason, I am so glad that Denny and I have reconnected while we are both still alive, and young enough to remember and enjoy the connection. I just wish I had more time to stay in touch, because since Denny retired, he is able to focus on the things he loves to do, which would be lovely. Today is Denny’s birthday. Happy birthday Denny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Recently, I discovered that Amelia Earhart is my 8th cousin once removed on my dad, Allen Spencer’s side of my family. Prior to this time, I knew of Amelia and her accomplishments, as well as her disappearance, but other than the fact that the whole thing was sad, it really didn’t affect me very much. Maybe it’s the fact that I now know that she is a relative, or maybe it’s the fact that the whole plot of the mystery seems to have thickened with some new information. Either way, I find myself intrigued by this new information.

Amelia Earhart vanished eighty years ago. She was last heard from on July 2, 1937. It was assumed that her plane had crashed during an attempt to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, and since she was never heard from again, most people, myself included, were sure that she had crashed. For eighty years, it was pretty much settled…until someone looked at a photograph in a long forgotten file, that suggests that she may not have crashed, but rather crash landed in the Marshall Islands, and was possibly taken prisoner, along with her navigator. The photo, found in a long-forgotten file in the National Archives, shows a woman who resembles Earhart and a man who appears to be her navigator, Fred Noonan, on a dock. The discovery is featured in a new History channel special, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence.”

The photograph suggests that Amelia Earhart, survived a crash landing in the Marshall Islands. I’m sure there are many people who doubt the authenticity of the photograph, but independent analysts told the History Channel that the photo appears legitimate and undoctored. Shawn Henry, former executive assistant director for the FBI and an NBC News analyst, has studied the photo and feels confident it shows the famed pilot and her navigator. Henry told NBC news, “When you pull out, and when you see the analysis that’s been done, I think it leaves no doubt to the viewers that that’s Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.”

These days, with so much fake news, and so much speculation about things, it’s hard to believe things sometimes. Still, so much of this evidence seems to point to facts very different from the theories we have believed to be truth for so long. We know that Earhart was last heard from on July 2, 1937, as she made her quest to become the first woman pilot to circumnavigate the globe. She was declared dead two years later after the United States concluded she had crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, but her remains were never found. Now, these investigators believe they have found evidence that Earhart and Noonan were blown off course, but survived the ordeal. The investigative team behind the History channel special believes the photo may have been taken by some secret spy for the United States on Japanese military activity in the Pacific. It is not clear how Earhart and Noonan could have flown so far off course.

Les Kinney, a retired government investigator has spent 15 years looking for Earhart clues, about what really happened to her. He said the photo “clearly indicates that Earhart was captured by the Japanese.” Japanese authorities told NBC News they have no record of Earhart being in their custody, but then it is doubtful that they would have been honest with us if they had her. The photo, marked “Jaluit Atoll” and believed to have been taken in 1937, shows a short-haired woman, believed to be Earhart, sitting on a dock with her back to the camera. Like Earhart, the woman was wearing pants, something for which Earhart was known, even though it was odd in those days. Near her is a standing man who looks like Noonan, so much so that when a transparent photo of him fits it perfectly…down to the hairline. “The hairline is the most distinctive characteristic,” said Ken Gibson, a facial recognition expert who studied the image. “It’s a very sharp receding hairline. The nose is very prominent.” Gibson added, “It’s my feeling that this is very convincing evidence that this is probably Noonan.” The photo also shows a Japanese ship, Koshu, towing a barge with something that appears to be 38 feet long airplane…the same length as Earhart’s plane. The locals have continued to claim that they saw Earhart’s plane crash before she and Noonan were taken away. Native school kids insisted they saw Earhart in captivity. The story was even documented in postage stamps issued in the 1980s. “We believe that the Koshu took her to Saipan, in the [Mariana Islands], and that she died there under the custody of the Japanese,” said Gary Tarpinian, the executive producer of the History special. “We don’t know how she died,” Tarpinian said. “We don’t know when.” Josephine Blanco Akiyama, who lived on Saipan as a child, has long claimed she saw Earhart in Japanese custody. “I didn’t even know it was a woman, I thought it was a man,” said Akiyama. “Everybody was talking about her — they were talking about in Japanese. That’s why I know that she’s a woman. They were talking about a woman flyer.” It is not clear if the United States government knew who was in the photo, or if it was taken by a spy, the United States may not have wanted to compromise that person by revealing the image. If that were the case, sadly two lives were sacrificed for one.

My grandniece, Anna Masterson is her own person. She likes what she likes, and she doesn’t care if that makes her different. She doesn’t care if the things she is into are the popular things that others are into or not. If others don’t Ike what she likes…oh well. Anna is not bothered by her uniqueness…and neither am I.

Anna is a quiet girl, but she’s not a shy girl. People think she is shy, but she is a listener. Anna gets to know people and what they are all about before she dives into the conversation. She likes to “figure you out” as her mom, Dustie would say. Once she figures you out, she will let you into her world. Anna thinks before she speaks, and her mom says Anna tends to astound her with with her observations and thoughts. Anna is a realist. She has questions about a lot of things and she wants a real answer, not a sugar coated one intended to make her think the world is all soft and sweet. Anna loves to sit and watch documentaries with her mom. She doesn’t care what it’s about, just that it’s real. She’s very smart and her favorite subjects in school are Math and Science.

She loves God, family, and country, in that order. Her loyalty to all of those is second to none. Her cousin, Aleesia Spethman is like a little sister to her. They are both the youngest in their family, and they are just like sisters, complete with sibling rivalry and the fighting that goes along with it. Nevertheless, as annoyed as she may get with her younger cousin, She also councils her, comforts her and protects Aleesia even from Anna’s brother, Matthew who is Anna’s best friend. Sometimes, When Matthew is to much for Anna to handle alone, she pulls out the big guns, her big sister, Raelynn. These days, since Raelynn had to have back surgery, Anna is extremely protective of of her older sister too. If she hears her sister crying in the night from pain, she is the first one there to comfort her.

Anna has a bright future ahead of her, quite possibly in the area of science. Her close relationship with God will guide her to what he has planned for her. Her parents have no worries about this girl, who is very comfortable in her own skin. She does have a funny side too, though, and according to her mom, loves cheesy puns. One night, she and her mom were making pizza crust. When they were all done and went to wash their hands off, Anna said that they “had just gotten out of a very sticky situation.” Today is Anna’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Anna!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My cousin, Shirley Cameron is the first granddaughter of my grandmother, Anna Louise Schumacher Spencer and grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, and would remain the only granddaughter for nearly the first seven years of her life. As the first granddaughter, and the only one for so long, she and my grandmother became quite close. Grandma passed away when I was just six months old, so I never really got to know her. Nevertheless, Shirley has told me a few things about Grandma that give me a bit of a view of her…humorous side. Kids tend to get into trouble with their parents, and Shirley is no different, but Shirley had a bit of an edge when it came to getting in trouble with her mom. She would run to her Grandma Spencer, who would teasingly shield her from her mother’s wrath. It’s one thing to plan to spank your child, but when your mother gets in the middle of things and makes the whole thing seem like a game of chase, it sometimes becomes impossible…not to laugh, that is.

Our grandmother spent part of her time in a wheelchair, due to Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Shirley remembers climbing up on her lap and tearing around the house with much screaming, of excitement that is, while her mother most likely sported a headache from all the noise, but I must admit, I would probably find it quite fun to ride around the house on Grandma’s lap in her wheelchair. I also think that while Grandma and Shirley might have ganged up on Aunt Ruth, and Grandma might have helped Shirley get away with a few things, Aunt Ruth probably also loved watching the two of them being so close. I suppose that could be the grandma in me talking, because I loved being so close to my grandchildren. It is a privilege that is simply priceless. Nevertheless, I think my grandkids liked it too. There is just something wonderful about being close to your grandparents.

As with most of us, those childhood days have long since turned into childhood memories. Both Grandma and Aunt Ruth have been in Heaven now for many years, but Shirley will always have the memories of those amazing fun times, and that is something most of the rest of us will never have, because we were either too little, or not born yet, when our grandma passed away, with the exception of three of the grandsons. Knowing Grandma is something I wish I had been able to do too, but I love hearing about the good times Shirley and Grandma had. Today is Shirley’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Recently, I found out that President Dwight D Eisenhower is my sixth cousin six times removed. We are connected on my mother’s side through her Pattan roots, which is her mother’s side. Eisenhower was the 34th president of the Unites States, serving from January 20, 1953 to January 20, 1961. He was also a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. Eisenhower was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942 – 1943 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944 – 1945 from the Western Front. In 1951, he became the first Supreme Commander of NATO.

With everything else that he did, it seems odd, I suppose, to mention the fact that on March 18, 1959, he signed the Admission Act. Basically, the act dissolved the Territory of Hawaii and established the State of Hawaii as the 50th state to be admitted into the Union. Statehood became effective on August 21, 1959…the last state to join the United States. Eisenhower, in fact, was the president who signed the last two states into the United States. To me that must have been such an awe inspiring thing to get to do. My guess is that Eisenhower really had no idea that Hawaii would forever be the last state in the United States, and I suppose that it is still possible that another may join, but it has been almost 58 years, so it seems highly unlikely that there will be another. I wonder if, as his life was drawing to a close, Eisenhower gave any thought to the fact that he got to do that…to bring in the final two states in the United States. I also wonder if anyone thought there would ever be more states after Arizona and New Mexico were added in 1912, almost 47 years earlier. Maybe, adding another state to our country didn’t seem like such an important thing for a president to do, but I think it is. And to be the president to add the last two states…well, I just think that is very cool.

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