Mt StHelens 3In April of 1993, my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I took a trip to the Seattle, Washington area where our sister, Caryl Reed and her family were living at the time. I had not been there before, and so was excited at the prospect. We planned to have dinner at the Space Needle, do some shopping, visit Friday Harbor, and the one I was most looking forward to, Mount Saint Helens. Since the mountain had blown up on May 18, 1980, I had been intrigued. My parents had gone there, but I was married and so didn’t go along. On that trip, because the roads there didn’t open until May, and this was April, the viewing of Mount Saint Helens was not to be, unfortunately. I was disappointed.

I will never forget hearing about the coming eruption in the news, on March 15, 1980. When we first heard about it, people were riveted to their televisions, but as time went on, I suspect that people got bored with it. After two months, it got to the point where we all wondered if it was just a false alarm. Then, at 8:32am Pacific Time on May 18, 1980, the mountain blew up…literally. Suddenly, everyone was riveted to the television again. It was just shocking, and since 9-11 had not happened yet, it seemed like the most shocking thing we had ever experienced…in my lifetime anyway. I remember going out to my car and finding ash all over it. I had a hard time believing that a volcano that was over a thousand miles away in Washington state, could dump ash on my Mt St Helenscar in Casper, Wyoming. The ash went completely around the globe within a matter of days. Of course, it was nothing like what they had in the area surrounding the mountain.

When my daughter, Amy Royce and her husband Travis and son, Caalab moved to the Seattle area, and then decided to renew their vows, we decided to make the trip up for the ceremony. I wanted another chance to get to see Mount Saint Helens. My first attempt was thirteen years after the eruption, and that attempt was twenty two years ago. It was time. We had a rather small window of time to go see the mountain, with everything that has been planned at Amy’s house. So, Thursday was the day. Unfortunately, we seem to have picked the worst day of the days we would be here. Nevertheless, we went in the hope of a view of the…for me anyway…elusive Mount Saint Helens. Our grandchildren, Shai and Caalab Royce went with us. They were born well after Mount Saint Helens blew, and really knew very little about it…until today, that is.

Our first stop was to the visitors center, where we looked at the exhibits displayed there and watched a really good movie that told of the events leading up to and including May 18, 1980 and beyond. After we left, I think Mt St Helens 2they had a much better idea about the magnitude of the whole event. We drove up to the area where we could finally view the mountain itself, only to find it sitting right there in front of us…completely shrouded in clouds and mist. We could see where the ash had landed and where the water and mud had carved out deep crevasses. We could see where erosion had taken its toll on the area, and where trees had been wiped out, and now rather small ones have grown up in their place. We could see the base of the mountain, and really, almost half way up it, but the now famous space left when the top that is no longer there blew, was still not visible to me. Sadly, I guess some things are simply not meant to be.

Max SchulenbergRecently, my interest turned to the ancestry of the Schulenberg side of my family, when I was contacted by a more famous member of the family, who I will not name at this point, as I have not asked his permission to do so, and so I will respect his privacy. He wondered if we might be related, and I told him that I expected that we probably are. Since that time, I have been looking back on that side of the family. I knew that our side of the Schulenberg family came to America aboard the SS Moltke in 1895, when Max Heinrich Johann Carl Schulenberg arrived on that ship at the tender age of 17 years, without an adult to accompany him…a bold move for a young man. He arrived in New York City, like so many other immigrants. Before too long he had made his way to Blair,Nebraska, where he met and married Julia Doll on December 16, 1902. The couple would have ten children, the oldest of which was Andrew, my husband, Bob’s grandfather. The family would eventually settle in Forsyth, Montana, where there are still family members living to this day.

But what of the German half of the Schulenberg family. They had a longstanding heritage in Oldenburg, Germany, where the family owned a farm since 1705, when the first known Schulenberg owner,SS Moltke Johann Schulenberg shows up in records as the owner. The farm was rather large and still stands to this day. It has been well maintained, and is in fact, more beautiful today than it was when Johann owned it. I’m sure that has to do with all the modern equipment and products we have today to enhance the natural beauty of a home and its grounds. Nevertheless, the farm was a productive place in 1705 too.

The furthest record of the family line that I have found to date is Vitter Schulenberg, who actually hailed from Schulenberg, Germany, where I expect the family originated, because as most of us know, before last names existed, people were known by the town they came from, such as Jesus of Nazareth. The Schulenberg family had been known in prior years as von der Schulenberg, which translates from Schulenberg, meaning the town of Schulenberg, Germany which is located in the district of Goslar in Lower Saxony, Germany, I don’t know if those people whose last name is spelled Schulenburg came from the same family or not, but I would expect that it is quite likely, because when people came to America, they were told to Old Schulenberg, GermanyAmericanize their name, and there was no regulation as to how to do that, so some went one way and others went another way.

I also found out that there was an older village of Schulenberg, which only appears in the fall, when the lake is at its lowest point. The lake (der Okertalsperre) or reservoir which was constructed in 1953, resulting in the flooding of the old village. That fascinated me. I found this picture of the ruins on Google Earth (taken by Harz Geist), and either there is not much left of the old village, or it was very small, which almost makes me wonder if it was originally a farm named Schulenberg, that grew into a village…but that is the subject of another story, for another day.  

You can’t research your family history without reaching the conclusion at some point that each of us is an amazing mixture of different heritages, cultures, and nationalities. The names that have combined to bring us to the point of our place in history, come from all walks of life, and from many different countries. After centuries of marriages, the bloodline changes to the point of becoming almost unrecognizable. If good records are not kept, it can get to the point of not being able to trace the family history at all. I have personally come up against parts of my family history where I am at a dead end, and all I can do is hope that somewhere along the way, someone had some information that they will input into their history, so I can continue on with my line.

When I think about the different nationalities that have come together to bring about the person who is me, I am in awe of how it can all mix and still keep some semblance of who the original people were. Of course, there is a definite loss of the cultures, languages, and homelands of the prior generations, but the bloodline doesn’t really lose its history, it just becomes somewhat like muddy waters. You can’t easily see all the details of each part of what makes up the whole, but you know that it is there…somewhere.

I find it so interesting to look at all of my ancestors. There were some amazing characters in my history. Famous names mingle with not so famous names throughout my history, and it makes me wonder how these different people ever got together in the first place, but then most people aren’t famous until later in life. Some are born into it, but many achieve greatness through the course of their life, and many live their entire lives with their greatness known only to their lives ones and close friends.

I believe that no matter who we are or where we come from, whether we are famous or not, we are an amazing mixture of all that is in our ancestry. No matter what country we now live in, most of us have come from many nations to arrive where we are. It is what makes us who we are, and it is why each of us is unique. Even siblings can take more of their line from opposite parents and thereby come more along the lines of that parent than the other. It is an amazing mixture.

When a first child is born, and for the years following that birth, until a second child comes along, they are the baby…the one and only…the one who gets all the attention, but the one thing they can’t be is the big brother or big sister. Some kids prefer it that way, and some kids prefer it that way at least some of the time, but when their little brother or sister comes, most of them really like being the big brother or sister.

How my grand nephew, Ethan will feel about his little sister, Aurora Briann, remains to be seen, but one thing I do know is that if Aurora, or Rory as she is to be called, manages to inherit her sense of humor from her brother, Ethan, she will turn out just fine. She might be a tomboy, however. Ethan is famous for the goofy things he does. Of course, I think his family might have had something to do with that. Things like “Go long” after a football, and then he runs off in a goofy way that only Ethan can duplicate again and again!! It is a run that keeps everyone watching in stitches! Yes, Ethan is a character, and if little Aurora turns out the same way, she will be quite a ham.

Aurora might have different plans, however. Sometimes, no matter how much big brothers try to turn little sisters into little brothers, those little girls choose to be a girly girl…Princess Aurora, if you will, and that is final, so don’t try to change her, because her mind is made up!! If this little princess decides that she likes frills and laces and…well bling, no amount of trying will change her mind, but that is ok too. Each child has to have their own personality. The world would be pretty boring if we were all alike.

I think the coolest thing about having babies is the journey from their babyhood to who they will become. It is a journey filled with wonder and joy…and a few boo boo’s, but that is what life is about. Aurora will always be Ethan’s little sister, but she may not settle into some of the other things that make Ethan who he is. Still, no matter who she becomes, she will always be the right personality for her. No matter who she grows up to be, she is a beautiful little baby, and the latest joy of her family.

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