grandmother

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Just when you think you know someone, you find out that maybe you didn’t know them at all. I have always known that my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels is a great lady. She has made many, many wedding cakes for her friends and family, and then gives them as gifts, so that the bride and groom don’t have to pay the price she could easily charge for them. Yes I always knew that she was a great lady, but I didn’t know the true extent of her giving…until now.

Aunt Bonnie has always had a special love for children. I remember attending activities at Grant Elementary School with my grandchildren, Shai and Caalab Royce, to find Aunt Bonnie there too, watching the her grandson, Anthony McDaniels participate in the same events. Of course, that was just one of the many times Aunt Bonnie attended for her kids ad grandkids, and now great grandkids. She was instrumental in the lives of three generations of her family’s lives. Her family was her true delight. She is selfless and gives to her family with endless joy and love.

That is a part of Aunt Bonnie that I also knew, and I’m sure that like Aunt Bonnie and me, this is something that many grandparents do for their family, but Aunt Bonnie didn’t stop there. And that is truly where the similarities between most moms, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, and my aunt end. Aunt Bonnie loves crocheting and sewing. It is a talent she has shared and taught to her family. These days, the family often shares gifts of yarn and pom-pom makers for birthdays! Each of them feels a very special bond with her through crocheting and sewing, but even that still doesn’t tell you the most amazing things that Aunt Bonnie does.

Aunt Bonnie’s love of babies and children has brought her to a place of giving to the babies in our community. Along with a couple of her friends, Aunt Bonnie sews and crochets for the new babies at the hospital and at Family Practice. She provides all of the supplies she needs for her projects…that’s a part of the gift…just like her cakes always were. She meets with her friends every other Thursday to cut out material and prepare for the week’s work. Over the years Bonnie has made baby gowns, hats, fleece blankets, quilts, onesies, crocheted caps, socks and bibs. Every other Thursday they meet to deliver the items they have created for the new babies. Aunt Bonnie is a giver, but I just never knew just what a great giver she is. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Alena Stevens is in the middle of preparing for one of life’s biggest changes…grand-motherhood. The biggest life change is motherhood for sure, but grand-motherhood ranks right up there with motherhood as being one of the most special times of our lives. Alena’s son, Garrett Stevens, and his beautiful wife, Kayla are expecting their first child in August, and Alena is beyond excited…as is her husband, Mike. I know Alena is going to be an amazing grandmother. Alena’s work with children at Verda James Elementary School has kept her on top of the whole kid thing, and up to date on the latest cool stuff kids like. That’s an advantage that many grandmothers don’t have, and so they had to re-acclimate themselves to, but not Alena. The students she works with at the school love her very much and she loves them too. As her little granddaughter grows, Alena will be one of the cool grandmas, which is always a big plus.

Alena also loves to decorate, and sometimes I think she missed her calling, because the decorating she does on her home is lovely. She has a real eye for it. Most of us hang a few pictures up, and hope we made them look a little different than a picture album, but not Alena. Her flair for decorating makes her home a show piece. Maybe I should make her come and decorate mine. Alena like to change her house up periodically, to give it new life, and that could be part of the reason that it is always a showpiece. Whatever the case may be, she has a lovely home that people enjoy coming over to.

Alena is a summer girl, which makes her June birthday the perfect time of year.While no officially born in the summer, it marks the beginning of what most of us deem to be summer. Alena love the heat and being out in it,especially at the lake. She looks forward to her husband’s family’s yearly trip to Boysen Reservoir, where they enjoy the water, the sand and sun, and spending time with the whole family.She especially loves their annual horseshoe tournament…complete with a traveling trophies for the year’s winners to gloat over. While the competition is fierce, the family isn’t they all get along very well, and the only time they are fierce is during the competition. Making it more fun, they choose teams or partners, so no one is always partnered with their spouse. Team work can take on a whole new meaning with this method. When you dont get to pick, but are placed with a team. Their annual trip is coming up soon, so I know she will be preparing for all the fun days to come, especially with the summer culminating with the best part of all…that new little baby girl. Today is Alena’s birthday. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Albert SchumacherFor some time now, I have not really had a lot of information on my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer’s brother, Albert Schumacher. My Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren, their younger sister wrote a few things in her journal, and I have connected with one of his great grandchildren, but she doesn’t have much information on him either. There were a few pictures of him in my Uncle Bill Spencer’s family history, as well as my grandmothers photo album and my dad’s photo album, but unfortunately for those of us left behind, there is not always good information about the pictures, except what my Uncle Bill was able to find out, because he documented pictures very well, if he had information on them. Uncle Bill started his family research long before computers, and since he really knew very little about computers, he never really furthered his research there. It was a fact that I found very sad, because I think he would have been so excited about what he would have been able to fine online.

That said, I will tell you that the latest little tidbit of information, came not online, but rather through the hard work of Uncle Bill, and the pictures found in the albums of my dad and grandmother, that ended up being connected to what we knew from all of Uncle Bill’s hard work. It is completely amazing to me that it wasn’t all of the technology we have today that helped with the discovery to any large degree, but rather the old fashioned way of putting the history together that was so common to my Uncle Bill. I have looked at the pictures, I have been so blessed with, dozens and dozens of times, but somehow, at some point, something jumps out at me when I least expect it. One picture reveals to me a distinct similarity to another picture, and when I look at them side by side…well, there it is.

That is exactly what happened the other day when I was looking at pictures, and I noticed that the man in a Albert & Christine Froemke Schumacherwedding photo I was looking at, looked very familiar. I knew I had seen that face before, and I knew exactly where I had seen it. In comparing the two pictures side by side, my revelation was confirmed. The picture I was looking at was a wedding picture, and the man and woman in the picture, were my Great Uncle Albert Schumacher, and his wife Christine Ida Froemke Schumacher. How could I have missed that? I had no other pictures of Christine, of course. so it couldn’t have been her that caught my eye. No, it was the man, and he was most definitely my great uncle Albert. When I put the two pictures side by side, it left no doubt in my mind, I had found my Great Uncle Albert’s wedding picture. That was so exciting to me that I sent my sister Cheryl Masterson a text at about midnight. Now thankfully she didn’t hear it, because we both had to work the next day. This is just what the excitement of my discovery caused me to do. I guess that once you get into the family history, it can be very addictive. I think maybe I’m my Uncle Bill’s niece in that way too. I can’t say that I’m surprised at all.

Young ShawnIn the relatively short time that our family has really reconnected with our cousins on my dad’s side, I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know my cousin Shawn Fredrick. I have to say that his personality has been such a pleasant surprise. For some reason I always thought of Shawn as really shy and serious, but now I know that he has an amazing sense of humor, and a real talent for history, especially family history. I think that part is in his blood. His grandma, my Aunt Laura Spencer Fredrick, and his great uncle, my Uncle Bill Spencer, have been studying family history for a long time…as have his Uncle Dennis Fredrick, and his dad, Gene Fredrick, both of whom are my cousins, and of course, his older brother, Tim Fredrick. I’m sure that Shawn and Tim got into the history about the same time, with their dad’s interest in it, and he was helping Uncle Bill with copies, layouts, scanning, and researching. Nevertheless, once you start looking at family history, it is very easy to become additced to it…I should know.

I find, the more I get to know Shawn, that we think a lot alike…especially politically, which I love, but for the sake of my friends who disagree with me politically, I won’t go into now. Nevertheless, I think Shawn and I have a similar sense of humor too, because we also seem to find the same things funny. Shawn likes trivia, which is, in my opinion, a lot of fun too. I love to see what might have happened on a certain day in history, or even just learn about unusual facts. I think Shawn is a lot like that too, because of the things he posts on Facebook. I really like the way Shawn explains the things he is telling you about. He is very thorough, and when he is done telling you the story, you really feel like you know what was going on. Not everyone has the ability to tell a story in a way that makes you feel like you are there too.

I think both Shawn and Tim are very intelligent men, and both are very excellent computer programmers, but they both also love woodworking, which is another thing that is in their genes, through their dad, Gene, grandfather Fritz Fredrick, and great grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, and probably other people on the Fredrick side of the family too. Their dad made beautiful dressers, desks, and cabinets, and taught them how to Shawn Fredrickmake them too. Still, I’m not sure that just anyone could learn that. I believe it takes a bit of inherited talent too. I am not sure that I could make anything that would look like it was anything much, and that is one area that Shawn and I differ greatly. Of course, not all of his projects are geared toward beauty, necessarily, some like the mirror that fell, are geared toward functionality, with a little humor mixed in, as you can see from Shawn’s comment about that project. “My mirror fell in the middle of the night and shattered so in the tradition of my father for sturdy building projects that never have to be fixed again, I just installed another one with drywall anchors rated at 60 pounds. Unless we have a 7.0 earthquake, it’s not coming down again in my lifetime” No, I’m sure it won’t Shawn. Like your brother said, “When Mt. Cheyenne suddenly and unexpectedly erupts and the pyroclastic flow brings down mirrors across the city, yours will be standing!” If you can pull that off, you are a great craftsman. Seriously though, Shawn is a very talented man, and I am proud to call him my cousin.

Frank Joseph BrownJoe Brown FamilyA few days ago, a man commented on one of my stories, saying that he was Mary LuLu Taylor Leary Begier Warren’s great grandson. Joe Brown comes from her marriage to James Begier, the man she married after James Leary passed away. LuLu and James had three children, Minnie, John, and Mable. Mabel Claire married Edward Anthony Brown, and they had three children, Charles, Frank, and Mary. Frank Brown married Mary Lou Conway, and Frank Joseph (Joe) Brown is their son. Joe is my husband Bob Schulenberg’s second cousin once removed. Finding a new cousin is always exciting for me, but with the discovery of Joe, comes so much more. Joe brings with him a Gold Mine…a true Gold Mine. Joe has sent me pictures of his family, and his own drawings too. In return I have sent him pictures of our family and my in-laws family, so we are working on getting acquainted.

Joe has been researching his family tree too, so we have a lot to talk about and a lot to share. He has access to a bunch of pictures from a part of Bob’s family that I know…some well, some only from my own research and stories from Bob’s grandmother, Vina Leary Schulenberg Hein. Joe, however, has much information, and many Chester and Kirby LearyVina Learypictures…pictures of people I didn’t think I would ever have and pictures of people I know well, when they were just children. I am so overwhelmed by all this and his generosity, that it brings tears to my eyes. What a gift he has given me and the rest of the family too, as this story will serve to inform them of this amazing gift we have received. Overwhelming and amazing!! Receiving these pictures was like being given a part of our family back. I have often wondered what Bob’s grandma, Vina Leary Schulenberg Hein looked like when she was a girl. Now I know. She was a pretty girl with long ringlets. I have never seen a picture of her brother, and now I have several of them, including one with his wife, Rose Schulenberg Leary. And the only picture we had of Marion Chester Leary was the one I have used in stories in the past. My father-in-law only knew of that one. Now I have several of him too. And I have pictures of Chester’s half siblings Minnie Begier Morgan, John Begier, and Mable Claire Begier Brown. I have pictures of the history that has taken place in Forsyth, Montana, where much of Bob’s family history is centered. Of course I can’t include them all here, so they will be used in a future story. I simply could not feel more blessed.

Joe has told me that he has much more information to share with me, and while I thought I didn’t have very much to share in return, I am finding that I have the continuing story on the Schulenberg side, at least, and he has the continuing family of his side. That is an amazing combination, and with the history that he knows, I The Leary'sOtto and Lula Warrenhope that I will be able to contribute some history too. Neither of us live in the area that we are talking about…Forsyth, Montana…and yet a lot of the family history took place there. What I do have is the stories told to me by my husband’s grandmother, our beloved Vina Leary Schulenberg Hein, and the stories told to me by my in-laws, Walt Schulenberg and Joann Knox Schulenberg. I am eager to share all of this history with Joe and his family, my family, and my readers. It’s going to be an incredible journey.

scan0050 (7)Bob & CorrieShe got it from her grandma, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg…that ability to go shopping for hours on end, looking for a bargain here and there. My daughter, Corrie Petersen is what many people would call a shopaholic, but what Corrie has on her grandmother speaks volumes. My mother-in-law looked through all the different sales flyers from the newspaper, as does my daughter, but Corrie has taken couponing to the highest level there is. When Corrie goes to the grocery store, she is able to buy $100.00 worth of groceries, and come out of there with the store owing her money. Who does that? Not many people. Not me for sure.

Now granted, my mother-in-law didn’t have a computer, and she wouldn’t know how to run one if she had. The internet has made a huge difference in all that Corrie has been able to accomplish. Nevertheless, to get to the level of couponing that Corrie has reached, took a lot of hard work and diligence, and that is where Corrie shines. Corrie is very skilled on the computer, and knows where to look for great couponing sites, and she Corrie with ChristopherCorrie & Kevintakes the time to search out the coupons that go with the sales that create the overage of discounts that create a situation in which the store owes her money for shopping. It’s an amazing feat, and one that makes me very proud of her.

Corrie has always been a stubborn woman…that part she gets from her mom, and once she puts her mind to something, she will not be moved off of her plan. She has the perseverance to stick to it, and that is why she succeeds. We, her family, might tease her and laugh about the long shopping trips she makes, but in all reality, we all wish we had the system in place that she does, because she has accomplished so much…gone so far beyond what we have done with the one or two coupons we manage to clip from the newspaper.

There is however, a part of Corrie that comes from her great grandmother, Nettie Knox…and that would be her birthday. Corrie not only made my husband’s grandparents Bob and Nettie great grandparents on this day 40 years ago, but she gave her great grandmother the best birthday present a grandmother could ever receive. Corrie with baby JoshCorrie and Grandma Knox 10002Over the years, they always celebrated their birthdays together, and the bond between them grew quite strong. I think one of the hardest days of Corrie’s life was when her dear great grandma passed away. There are still times she has trouble talking about her without shedding a tear or two. It was such a beautiful bond, and such a beautiful tradition, and one I was very sorry to see end. Happy 40th birthday to my beautigul daughter, Corrie, and happy birthday in Heaven to her sweet great grandmother, Nettie!! Two beautiful ladies. Corrie, have a great day!! We love you very much!!

JamesSome kids take to having their parents leave them with a grandparent or aunt while they go out of town better than other kids do, and I suppose that as an only child, my grand nephew, James Renville felt that he shouldn’t be left out of anything, and for the most part he wasn’t. One advantage to being an only child is that you have the full attention of your parents most of the time. When James was five years old, his parents, my niece Toni Chase, and her husband at the time, Jim Renville, decided to go to Las Vegas for the weekend. They left James with my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who is his grandmother, and headed out for a nice weekend.

Now, I can tell you that James had a wonderful time, because when his parents came back, he was in the back yard playing cops and robbers with his cousins, Garrett Stevens and Jake Harman. When Jim said his name, he turned and pretended to shoot his dad. Then, he ran and hid under the picnic Teenaged James_editedtable. When his dad picked him up, he said, “Take me to Steve’s…he’s my daddy now!” Steve Spethman, being his uncle had apparently now become the guy he wanted to replace his dad when he was mad at him. Of course, he would never shoot his dad, and he didn’t want a new daddy, but he had been feeling a little bit abandonded, and so was a little mad at his parents. After about an hour, he forgave them, and that horrendous, but in reality kind of fun, first weekend away from his parents was over. James stayed with his grandmother other times, and had no issues with it, so apparently he wasn’t traumatized too much.

He wasn’t traumatized on that issue anyway. One day, when James was in preschool, his mother, my niece, Toni Chase was getting him ready to go to school, and he was throwing a fit because she was dressing him in a pair of adorable green bib overalls, and a Bob the Builder t-shirt. Toni thought they were adorable. James was fighting her every step of the way. Finally in frustration she asked him why he didn’t want to wear them. His 10401458_10152102088472237_3870755221038856524_nanswer was, “Cuz, I’m too cool!!” Aparently Bob the Builder simply wasn’t cool at all, so that would traumatize him.

For some reason, while most parents threaten their children with the other parent when they are acting out, Toni and Jim used to threaten James with his Aunt Chantel Balcerzak, who is Toni’s sister. Now personally, I can’t see that as a threat, because, Chantel is a real softy, but that is what they did. When I talked to Chantel about all this, she told me that she simply doesn’t know how James turned out to be so sweet, but he did. And anyone who knows him would have to agree. James is a real sweetie. Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Grandma ByerMom aWhen my grandmother, Hattie Byer passed away, her girls ended up with a lot of jewelry. Grandma loved her jewelry, and always looked so pretty in it. Of course, at the time my sisters and I saw the pieces my mother, Collene Spencer received, we thought many of them were pretty old fashioned…although there were some timeless pieces, because not all jewelry goes out of style. Still, Mom kept and cherished her mother’s jewelry, mostly I’m sure, because it was her mother’s. Now that Mom has gone to Heaven too, my sisters and I have been going through her things, and we have come upon her jewelry, as well as her mother’s jewelry. If Mom could have gotten her hands on all the jewelry we have come across, she would have been simply floating on air. We have found pieces that would have gone with so many of her outfits, and yet she always wore something else with them, because it was difficult to get to the stored jewelry.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there has been some stuff that we have looked at and wondered what the person who bought that piece was thinking! When you buy a necklace made of little plastic pineapple beads…dozens of them…well, let’s just say that since they were plastic anyway…they will be part of the little girls’ dress up jewelry. There were also pieces that, while one of us would never wear them, one of the others would. We all have slightly different tastes when it comes to jewelry, so very little of it has been left there with the thought of figuring something out. There were also pieces that, while most likely none of us will ever wear, we can vividly see our mother wearing. Those pieces when drawn for fall into the category of never to be worn, but it’s a Mom Necklace, so it will be kept. There were also pieces that, while probably not valuable, were obviously quite old. Those will be kept and treasured for the treasure they are, and probably only worn on special occasions.

The thing that amazed us the most, was the sheer volume of jewelry Mom had. Every time we come across another jewelry box, shoe box, or drawer with jewelry in it, we have thought, “Wow!! How much jewelry did she have, anyway?” We have even ventured to say that she simply had too much jewelry! Then I got to Too Much Jewelrythinking…can a girl ever really have too much jewelry. I love jewelry, and I have a lot of it too. Like my mother and grandmother, mine is mostly costume jewelry with no real value to anyone but me, but it’s all jewelry I like…and wear. Now I find myself with a lot more jewelry than I had before, and I find that I am going to need to go through what I had before, decide what to keep and what to give away, and figure out where I am going to store it all. The good news for me is that I wear jewelry every day, so it will get used. Besides, I don’t know what outfits I’ll have in the future and what colors I’ll need. I suppose that some day, my own girls will say that I have too much jewelry, but seriously…can any girl ever have too much jewelry? I don’t think so.

20100623_31_editedWhile little is known about his mother, Susan Francis Spencer Cheshire, my husband, Bob’s second great grand uncle, James Riley Cheshire was a rather well known man…at least in Jefferson County, Tennessee. As a young man of only 14 years, he vividly remembers some of the tragedies of the Civil War, of which his family was not a part, but because of where they lived, they were suspected of being a part of the rebel sympathizers. The old Baker place was where they lived, and the Bakers were hated by the Union soldiers for their loyalty to the Rebel cause. The family had moved there when Mr Baker decided to move to a place that was closer to his son-in-law’s place. So, the Cheshires into it because it was a bigger, very nice log home.

Soon after moving there, James recalls the day when he saw one of the Baker boys and Mr Richie, a brother-in-law, shot by the Union Soldiers. The bodies were taken to the Cheshire house to be prepared for burial. As they were getting ready to place them in their coffins, Union soldiers showed up and searched the house again, but they didn’t do anything to the bodies. James saw the soldiers march old man Baker into the woods, and heard the three shots they fired into him. After they left, James and his five year old sister, Louise Cheshire ran out to the woods and spend several hours guarding him so that the hogs didn’t get his body before the coffin maker could help move him. The Bakers had been so hated by the Kingston Militia that it was decided that their house would be burned. They ordered the Cheshires to get all of their goods out and burned the house down. There were many harrowing experiences that James recalls from the Civil War days, and maybe it was all the death he saw then that prompted him to begin carpentry work, including coffin making. He was the first person in the county to make a flat top coffin. I can’t say why the flat top coffin was so important, but apparently it was the latest thing. The people really liked them, and they had a hard time keeping them in stock. James was always considered a wise man. He felt very strongly that evey town needed a church. He joined the Cottage Grove Sarah Cheshire KnoxBaptist Church in 1871, and he helped organize the Baptist Church of Cowgill in 1888. He was made deacon of the church in 1893. He also worked in banking, and became a judge at one time.

My main interest in James comes from the fact that he is related to both sides of my family. His dad is an ancestor of the Knox side of Bob’s family, and his mother is a Spencer, and related to my dad’s side of my family. Unfortunately there seem to be no pictures of James…a fact that I find very sad indeed. Nevertheless, he is a connector to both my families, and was a very well known and respected man who went through so pretty awful things as a young man, and handled them quite well in my opinion. And he was the brother of Bob’s grandmother, Sarah Cheshire Knox.

Pat NevilleYears ago when my girls were young, the school systems…at least in the Casper area, had a program whereby the kids were checked for symptoms of Streptococcus bacteria, or as we knew it…Strep Throat. Since I was not working outside the home, I volunteered to help with that program. That was where I first met the mother, Pat Neville, of my dear friend, Becky Neville Osborne. Pat taught me the ropes, and we worked together in that program for eight years. Pat has gone on to be with the Lord now, but the friendship that blossomed with her daughter, from her own childhood, has continued through the years, and continues to bless my life every day.

When Pat was teaching me the ropes of the throat culture program, I really didn’t know much about the Streptococcus bacteria, nor about how it had affected my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer many years earlier. Streptococcus bacteria, is the same bacteria that causes Rheumatic fever, and years ago, that was a very dangerous disease. When Strep Throat is not treated with Penicillin to kill the bacteria, the bacteria just continues to run rampant in the system. Rheumatic fever is caused by a combination of bacterial infection and immune system overreaction, and it almost always follows a strep throat infection, which is an infection of the respiratory tract caused by bacteria of the Streptococcus family. The reason for throat cultures in the schools is that children are far more likely to get strep throat than adults…these days Becky Nevilleanyway. Years ago, it was anybody’s guess.

While my grandmother was living in Casper, Wyoming where my aunts, Laura and Ruth were living at the time, she contracted Strep Throat, and probably didn’t even know it. Then it turned to Rheumatic Fever. Unchecked, Rheumatic Fever can cause heart problems, which was common in children years ago, but is much less common now due to the routine use of antibiotics. In fact, I don’t believe routine throat cultures are performed in the schools anymore. Strep Throat still exists, but now people have to go to their doctor to be swabbed.

Rheumatic Fever is most common in children under 15 years of age, but it can affect adults too…as was the case with my grandmother. As was the case with my grandmother, Streptococcus bacteria can attack the joints. It can also attack the central nervous system, brain and spinal cord, as well as the heart. In the heart the disease affects the inner lining of the heart, including the heart valves, which is known as endocarditis, the muscle of the heart, which is known as myocarditis, or the covering of the heart, which is known as pericarditis.

Sometimes, the body reacts with a huge immune system reaction to the affected areas. The immune system becomes so active that it attacks the affected tissues too. In the joints, this results in a temporary arthritis. In the heart, permanent damage to the heart valves can occur, also increasing the risk of heart problems in later Anna Louise Spencerlife. Rheumatic fever can also cause problems in the nervous system, but these are usually reversible.

I do know that my grandmother spent her final years confined to a wheelchair, but I always thought it was because she had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Now I wonder if it was because of Rheumatic Fever. I also know that My great grandmother and uncle here sick with something that ended up causing temporary arthritis, so possibly they had it too. I guess I may never know for sure, but I do know that sometimes I wonder if the practice of taking throat cultures should have been stopped. It seems to me that it did a lot of people a lot of good, and probably saved a lives too.

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