When we think of the president of the United States…in general terms, we often wonder if he will be good enough to be re-elected and serve the maximum term of eight years. We seldom think about whether or not he will finish his first year…or even month for that matter. And few of us can name the president with the sad title of being the president of the United States for the shortest term. Nevertheless, that is a record that has to be held by someone, and that man was William Henry Harrison, who was our 9th President. Harrison’s inaugural speech, delivered on a bitterly cold March morning, lasted one hour and forty five minutes. Harrison wasn’t really feeling well at the time, and went to bed at the end of inauguration day with a bad cold. The cold quickly developed into what would become a fatal case of pneumonia. I have to wonder if he would have been just fine in this day and age of modern medicine. Not everyone gets pneumonia these days, but most of those who do, survive and go on to lead long lives. Pneumonia isn’t the death sentence these days that it used to be.
William Harrison was the last president born as an English subject before the American Revolution. After that time, it became law that the president must be a natural born citizen, something that has sparked bitter battles in these modern times. He hailed from Virginia, and attended college intending to become a doctor, but opted to join the army before finishing his degree. President John Adams took note of Harrison’s exemplary service in the Indian Wars of the Northwest Territories. In 1801, President Adams appointed him governor of the Northwest Territories, which is now Indiana and Illinois. Harrison later fought in the Battle of the Thames River during the War of 1812. After that time, he decided to go into politics, and went on to become a congressman and the ambassador to Colombia before running with John Tyler on the Whig Party ticket in the presidential election of 1840, which he won, but this would not prove to be a long term in office for him. In fact, his death came exactly one month after he was inaugerated into office.
I have to wonder what things he might have done differently than his running mate, John Tyler did. Harrison was 68 years and 23 days old when he took office. He was the oldest president to take office until Ronald Reagan in 1981. After his passing, there was a brief constitutional crisis, because this had never happened before, and it had to be decided, who would take over. The solution was not widely accepted, and there were disputes as to the presidential line of succession, with regard to the Constitution up until the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967. William Henry Harrison was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, who was the 23rd President from 1889 to 1893, so his line did have a second chance at the course that the country would take, even though he was not directly involved. Of course, there is nothing to indicate that Benjamin would have had the same values as William did. Things change over the years, but he was a Republican…a good thing in my opinion.
There is an old saying, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.” If that’s the case, then one must assume that the opposite is also true. And in the case of March, 2016…the opposite would definitely be the case. Bob and I were married on March first, and so we go to Thermopolis around that time to celebrate our anniversary. This year was absolutely beautiful!! It was warm with no snow, and our quiet little walks were just lovely. The groundhog had predicted an early Spring this year…and unusual prediction for him, so I was feeling very optimistic about the remainder of the Winter…or the lack thereof. Now it’s not that I’m superstitious, and I don’t believe that these predictions are superstition anyway, but rather God’s way of showing us little signs of His plans for the future. He tells the animals things that humans just don’t hear, like telling the geese when to fly south or to head north. We humans have somehow become so scientific that we fail to listen to the signs from God.
Of course, the scientists would say that they are able to predict the weather too, and perhaps they do listen to the signs of God, whether they admit that is what they are doing or not. Still, I find it odd that things like the groundhog not seeing his shadow on February 2nd, or the way March makes it’s annual entrance, can have such an impact of the weather over the next month or so, but they do nevertheless. One thing that many of us have come to look for is the time when the geese fly south. If they head out early, we have a pretty good idea that Winter will soon follow, but if the stay around into late fall, things could be very different for the Winter. They simply have been told that there is no hurry to leave. It is maybe the one sign from God that we humans have noticed over the years.
Be that as it may, we have arrived at the end of March in Wyoming. Enter Winter Storm Troy!! This Winter has been a relatively easy one, even though, the snow that fell in mid-December, didn’t leave the streets until mid-February. Nevertheless, I am pretty much over Winter after the first snow of the season, so I was looking forward to an early Spring. Now, with the end of March upon us, it decides to follow the old saying, and go out like a lion…since it came in like a lamb. That said, we are sitting here in Wyoming with about sixteen inches of snow on the ground, many businesses closed, and schools that would be…were it not for Spring Break. This storm is not supposed to hang around very long, but those unfortunate people in its path could get anywhere from 1″ to 47″ of the white stuff. I certainly hope we are not on the 47″ end of that scale. The snow is expected to continue through tonight and finally heading out around 6pm tomorrow. After that, look out, because when the temperatures heat up to the low fifties by Sunday, all this snow is going to melt, and become…a whole lot of water. I guess that is the April Fools Day joke in all of this weather prediction process.
Many people find themselves living, with no plans to move, in a climate that they are often unhappy with. This would apply to me when it comes to Wyoming winters, but, of course, not the summers. My granddaughter, however, is another story. I never would have expected her to be the one to like the winter, and especially the snow. I mean, she did as a little kid, but then most little kids do like the snow…then they wise up…again, my opinion, but Shai still likes the snow today. She wants it to snow a lot from October through March. Crazy kid, but she is my granddaughter, and I love her. Still, on this one issue, we will never agree.
We do agree that driving in snow isn’t such a lovely thing, and we do agree that watching it snow, as long as I don’t have to be out in it, is also a lovely thing. On the rest, well…sometimes I think Shai should have been my sister, Cheryl’s granddaughter, because Cheryl absolutely loves winter…every part of it, except maybe for the driving in it. I shouldn’t be so surprised about that, because Shai’s mom, my daughter, Amy maybe should have belonged to my sister-in-law, Jennifer, in that both hate beef, love vegetables and fish, and both could easily live on pasta. I don’t know how I managed to have such a mixed up daughter and granddaughter. Thankfully, the areas that we disagree on are few, and far between. We like many of the same or similar things, but on this one thing, well, I have to say that Shai is crazy concerning snow, and Amy is crazy concerning beef, and I will never change my mind on that one.
Of course, the snow scenes on Christmas cards, and other pictures is something I doubt if anyone could dislike. As long as you can be warm and cozy in front of a crackling fire with a mug of hot chocolate, those scenes are very nice and create a cozy atmosphere…at least until the reality of just how bitterly cold it is out there, sets in.
Years ago…September of 1976 to be exact, Bob and I went to Yakima, Washington to visit his great grandmother. While we were there, Great Grandma showed me a copy of a family tree, in the form of a real tree. As we looked it over, I noticed that Bob’s great great great grandmother’s last name was Spencer..the same as my maiden name. Susan Frances Spencer married William Elkins Cheshire on January 31, 1847, and their daughter Sarah Jane Cheshire married Joseph Leonidas Knox on March 4, 1875, and their son Edgar Allen Knox married Nellie Elizabeth DeGood (the grandmother who was showing me the tree) on December 25, 1907, producing Robert Leonidas Knox who married Nettie Landis Noyes, producing Joann Eleanor Knox who married Walter Andrew Schulenberg, producing Robert Walter Schulenberg, who married me on March 1, 1975.
The only clue I have as to what Susan Frances Spencer might have looked like is her daughter Sarah Jane Cheshire Knox, shown here. I know that Susan married William Cheshire, and that her life was rather short. She was born January 30, 1830, in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and died at the age of 46 years, on May 26, 1876 in Caldwell, Missouri…just over 100 years before I would find out about her, and begin a quest to find out more about her, that would span 36 years to date.
The Spencer family, or at least the branch I come from kept extensive, detailed records, so I never dreamed I would have so much trouble locating a Spencer or their ancestors, but with Susan Frances Spencer and her ancestors, that has not been the case. The trail to find out more always seems to turn very cold right at Susan, and I am left with questions. Who was Susan Frances Spencer Cheshire? How did she die? Who were her parents?
Susan married very young. She was only 17 years and 1 day on her wedding day. Hers was a marriage that would only last 29 years, and would produce 10 children between 1847 and 1867. She did not die in child birth, so what happened. Was there some epidemic in Missouri in 1876? It’s possible since there was a Yellow Fever Epidemic in Georgia in 1876, but I can’t find anything saying that it spread to Missouri. Another dead end!!
I have to wonder if I will ever know if she was related to me. I suspect that she was, because most of the Spencer families seem to come from one branch or another of the same set of grandparents back in England. I would also like to know if back in Bob’s family history somewhere, we will find that he too, is related to the current royal family in England.
As Spring approaches, the minds of many men turn to…well, fishing. And it isn’t just the men either. My daughter, Corrie has already mentioned that she is getting camping fever. I suppose that really is normal for this time of year. Winter has dragged on long enough, and everyone is really over it, and ready for warmer weather. Bob and I don’t do much camping, but we love to hike, and lets face it…walking the mall just isn’t the same thing. So, as we get to this time of year, we can feel spring fever coming on too.
For avid fishermen, spring brings on a pretty big yearning for the open air, the water, and the fishing pole. I have never been one for fishing much, but then again, maybe it would be kind of nice sometimes. I lead a pretty hectic life, and the thought of sitting in a chair with nothing to do but wait for the fish to bite could be just what I need. I know my kids and grandkids seem to really enjoy it.
There are a lot of the other members in my family who love to head out to Pathfinder Lake to see what they can catch. And since I have fished in the past, I can relate to the challenge. There is really something about feeling that fish on the end of the line, and the ensuing fight to bring him in. The minute you feel that first tug, you wonder who will win…you or the fish.
And you don’t even have to enjoy eating the fish to enjoy the sport, because while Corrie’s family doesn’t like fish, they simply supply other family members with a couple of meals that are well received and very much enjoyed. My mom and sister, Cheryl have been the grateful recipients of a weekend’s catch, as have Kevin’s mom and Bob and me. So I guess we can’t say that we mind the fact that they don’t like fish.
As February comes to a close, and March marks the move toward Spring, the minds of sportsmen of all ages begin to think about fishing and other water or warm weather sports. I think that if it is possible, the adults are more excited that their little fishing buddies, for the season to begin. It’s like a breath of fresh air…or the light at the end of the tunnel. Winter is losing it’s punch and with it’s death comes the promise of the coming Spring and Summer…the lazy days of Summer and fishing, camping, hiking, and…warmth…beautiful warmth.