politics

In a day and age when more and more young people are so intent on “fitting in” that they lose sight of who they really are, my grand niece, Raelynn Masterson is, refreshingly, not a follower. Raelynn remains true to herself, and she is just fine with who she is. Her mom tells me that she is a lot like both her parents, and while that may be true, I don’t think it is genetics, as much as it is good upbringing. Raelynn figures that if you like her…great, but if not…it’s your problem, not hers. I think that is the best way to be.

Raelynn is a has such a sweet attitude. She is a good big sister, and is always kind to her siblings. She is helpful when they need it, and that is especially nice when their parents are at work, and her siblings need some advise and encouragement. Their parents know that they are in good hands when Raelynn is there with them. There is, of course, a difference between a sweet attitude, and a pushover, and Raelynn is no push over. Once her mind is made up, it is and she won’t be moved. If you try to cross her, and you make the mistake of making this girl mad…well, as her mom says, “I’ll pray for you.” Personally, I have not seen that side of Raelynn, but then we are not really on opposite sides of things, and maybe I think I’m glad we aren’t too.

As with most people, the things going on in our world have caused Raelynn to look more closely into politics. Her parents have encouraged their children to look into a matter, and make an informed decision about where you stand. That’s a good way to be. We have too many blind followers, as it is. Raelynn, and her siblings, Matt and Anna, as well as Christina (who is grown and living on her own), are not required to agree with their parents views on things. Their parents, Rob and Dustie, think it is important for them to make up their own minds, even when they don’t match their parents views. Raelynn’s opinions on politics don’t always match those of her parents, but she is required to look deeper into things before forming her opinions…using legitimate sites (or, as close as you can get these days). There have been a few heated debates between Raelynn and her brother, Matt, which have required a parental mediator at times. My guess is that there have been some between her and her parents too, but that really is the only way to learn about politics and I’m sure that as time goes by, her opinions will grow and change, whether they ever match those of her parents or not.

The family recently got a dog, and as often happens with pets, Azura has decided that Raelynn is “her human.” They are so close, and almost inseparable when Raelynn is home. It was completely unexpected, but if Rob or Dustie are looking for one, all they need to do is find the other. Raelynn and Azura are practically joined at the hip. The hardest part about this “exceptionally close” relationship, is that whenever Raelynn is gone, Azura is totally miserable until she gets home!! That could be really bad when school starts again. Azura just loves Raelynn so much. I can see why, because we all do too. Today is Raelynn’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

William Henry HarrisonWhen 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 Death of HarrisonReagan 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.

Caryn - 12-02-2011_editedIn this day of the internet, cell phones, television, and radio, a new form of patriotism has emerged. The rights our American soldiers fought for are in peril. In a year in which many Americans were offended by literally everything, and the internet, specifically Facebook, has become one of the greatest sounding boards there is, everyone has stepped up to the plate to state their views and yes, even to hear the views of others. Of course, hearing the views of other people, is not always something that is well received. Sometimes, people lose sight of the fact that since we each own our own Facebook page, we also have the right to say what we want to say. Others may not agree, but that doesn’t matter, because this is our page…our right to free speech.
Oil Field
Of course, people with differing views have the right to challenge our views…to state their own case, as it were, but they don’t have the right to challenge our right to speak our own opinion on our own page. If we are offended by the views of another person, we need to move past the post. Never is this more evident than when the opinions of one person in a family offends another, and they decided to take things to the next level…unfriending. I won’t do that, because while I will state my opinion, and I will respect the rights of my friends to post what they choose, and to debate my opinion, the family connection is far too important to me to argue in President James Knox Polksuch a way.

In history, patriots had to go to the place they were going to protest. And of course, by the time they could get there, it was probably too late to protest. I suppose maybe our politicians were more honest back then, or maybe we just didn’t know all that was going on. It has been said that some presidents would never have been elected if we could have seen them. That is so true, and sometimes I think maybe that should be how it is today. If race, gender, and maybe even party affiliation weren’t able to be seen, who would we elect? That might be something to think about. Maybe we need to stop giving a pass because of race or gender, and make the politicians do what’s right.

USS LexingtonWhile Bob and I were in Corpus Christi, Texas in March of 2006, we had the opportunity to visit the USS Lexington, better known now, as The Blue Ghost. The ship was originally known as the Cabot, but after the USS Lexington CV-2 was lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea, she was renamed while under construction to commemorate the earlier USS Lexington. This Lexington was the fifth United States Navy ship to bear the name in honor of the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington. In June of 1942, after the earlier USS Lexington was destroyed, workers at the shipyard submitted a request to Navy Secretary Frank Knox to change the name of a carrier currently under construction there to Lexington. Knox agreed to the proposal and Cabot was renamed as the fifth USS Lexington on 16 June 1942. She was launched on 23 September 1942, sponsored by Mrs Theodore Douglas Robinson. Lexington was commissioned on February 17, 1943.

I can’t say for sure if this Frank Knox was any relation to my husband’s Knox ancestors, but it wouldn’t uss-lexingtonsurprise me at all, since the Knox family was into politics, and even included a connection to President James Knox Polk. While I was originally writing this because on this day, December 5, 1941, the prior USS Lexington headed out to the Battle of Midway…a battle that it never made it to, because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That Lexington made it back to Pearl Harbor on December 13, 1941, so it was not much help. Later, the prior USS Lexington was destroyed in the Battle of Coral Sea, triggering the renaming of the USS Lexington that Bob and I saw.

The USS Lexington we saw was referred to as a “ghost” ship by the Japanese for her tendency to reappear after reportedly being sunk. This, coupled with the ship’s dark blue camouflage scheme, led the crew to refer to her as “The Blue Ghost”. There were rumors during the war that the ship was so badly damaged it had to be scuttled at one point, but a newly built aircraft carrier was immediately deployed with the same name, in an effort to demoralize the Japanese. I’m sure the whole situation was a serious frustration to the Japanese, but for Bob and me the legend that ship had Navy Secretary Frank Knoxbecome was something we found quite interesting.

That said, I now find something new to draw my interest…namely Navy Secretary Frank Knox. One thing I have noticed is that in many families, certain names seem to be used over and over. In Bob’s family, there is a Frank Knox, and in that lineage there are Williams and Johns. The same is the case with Navy Secretary Frank Knox’s lineage. For that reason, I expect that a connection exists, and with a little work, I think I will find it, if it exists. I like the challenges that come from trying to connect the missing links in our family, and when I can tie it to something I have personally seen, it is an even more exciting quest.

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.

RaelynnFor a girl, turning twelve means that she is stepping into those teen and pre-teen years. For most of us, those years are tumultuous at best. We can’t decide if we like ourselves or hate ourselves. One minute we are sure that we must be the ugliest girl ever, and the next minute we look in the mirror, and there stands a girl who might just have some pretty features, after all. While this rite of passage is normal for girls of this age, it is not fun, so while I’m excited for the future of my grandniece, Raelynn Masterson, I also know that the road ahead will likely be a bit bumpy. Nevertheless, Raelynn has an advantage over me, in that she is a very pretty girl. Hmmm…maybe I haven’t moved past that stage…or maybe we never really do.

Of course, looks are not the only things on Raelynn’s mind. She is a resourceful girl. She is interested in how things work, and in making things better in her world. I suppose that is why she decided to run for class Playing Chesssecretary at school last year. She wanted to be able to affect changes in areas where they were needed. She is a thinker. She sees a problem, and thinks things through to come up with the best solution. Those are the kinds of people we need in politics…honest, concerned, and logical. Maybe we need to have her run for president of the United States. She would do a far better job that our current president, if you ask me.

Raelynn is a smart girl. She like to play chess with her Uncle Dave Chase…a game that takes forethought and good strategy skills. I’m not sure how often she beats him, but just being able to play Chess is a skill that many people don’t have. I used to play it, years ago, but I haven’t played in so long, that I’m not even sure I remember how anymore. Raelynn is growing up so fast that sometimes she seems much older that her young years…another anomaly that seems to happen about this age, whether it is because they are maturing so fast, Father Daughter Socialor that they want to be grown up already. They definitely seem to be twelve, going on…

Still, no matter how old Raelynn gets, she will always be her daddy’s girl. She and my nephew, Rob Masterson have such a close relationship. She is close with her mom, Dustie Masterson too, but for a lot of girls, being a Daddy’s Girl is simply the way it is. Raelynn also loves her siblings. She looks up to her older sister, Christina Masterson, and is a great role model for her younger siblings, Matthew and Audrianna Masterson. She is a great big sister, and she makes life fun for all who know her. Today is Raelynn’s 12th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Dr Nicholas C KnoxWhen I first read about the six Knox brothers who were able to place themselves into a family history where they belonged, but in which no one had been able to connect them to before, I was intrigued, for sure. They seemed so resourceful, but I had a feeling that there was a lot more to them than just finding their place in the family history. I’m sure I will come back to these brothers over and over in the future, but when I read about Dr Nicholas C Knox, I was…well, amazed really. This man had the character and fortitude to overcome adversity, and move forward with his life, and in the end, make it better.

The fourth son of Absalom Knox MD, Nicholas married Henrietta Craigan. After their marriage, the civil war slammed its way into the midst of their lives. Nicholas enlisted in the Seventeenth Mississippi Regiment, which was commanded by Colonel WS Featherstone, and was a part of McLaw’s Division. Nicholas took part in all the great battles in the Army of Virginia in which his command was engaged, but it was the Battle of Gettysburg that would change his life forever. On the second day of the battle, Nicholas lost his right arm. To make matter worse, he was captured and confined as a prisoner on Hart Island, off the city of New York, for several months before being parolled and sent into the Confederate lines again…without his right arm, and he managed to stay alive during the remainder of the battles he fought in.

During his entire enlistment time in the Civil War, Nicholas was never home…until the day he was discharged. I don’t know if he had been able to tell his wife about his arm, but even if he did, there is nothing like actually seeing it for the first time. It had to be hard for her…and for him. Many soldiers coming home from wars with life changing injuries feel very concerned about just how their spouse will look at them now. They feel like they are a lesser person than they were when they left, and that is just the physical challenges. I’m sure that an injury that cost you your arm, would be a moment that would live in your memory files for the rest of your life.

Nevertheless, Nicholas was not a man to let adversity take his life or his future from him. He returned to Mississippi, and he started the task of rebuilding his life, and getting reacquainted with his family. He started out by teaching school. Now most people would think that was a noble profession, and they would be right, but The Battle of Gettysburgit was not enough for Nicholas. While teaching school, he began to study medicine, and received a diploma from a medical college at Nashville, Tennessee. When I think about the challenges of being a doctor in post Civil War America, with only one arm, and during a time when prosthetics were primitive at best, I am amazed. Still, Nicholas was not satisfied. He entered politics, and represented his county in the Legislature, and afterward was a practitioner of medicine in Reynolds, Mississippi, and he was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. No matter what challenges hit Nicholas, he met them head on, and succeeded in every endeavor he took on. He was not a man content to settle on the ordinary. He was truly an amazing man.

3rd_duke_of_marlboroughThe dukedom of Marlborough is one of the titles in the Peerage of England. The Peerage of England comprises all peerages created in the Kingdom of England before the Act of Union in 1707. In that year, the Peerages of England and Scotland were replaced by one Peerage of Great Britain. The peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which is constituted by the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honors system. The dukedom of Marlborough was created by Queen Anne in 1702, for John Churchill, who was the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

I can’t say that I completely understand all there is to about the peerage of Great Britain, but in the peerage, a Duke is a higher rank than a Marquess, Earl, Viscount and Baron. Thus Prince William is the Duke of Cambridge, because as the prince, it would not be right for him to have a lower rank than other members of the peerage. Originally dukes were the rulers of the provinces of the Roman Empire. Now however, the title of duke has become in almost all cases a nominal rank, without possession of an actual principality. The province that a duke was titled over, is known as a duchy. As I said, in modern times dukes aren’t really over a duchy, with the exception of Lancaster and Cornwall, both of which do include land and ownership. Lancaster belongs to Queen Elizabeth II and Cornwall to Prince Charles. The title of duke cannot normally be handed down to female heirs, but the Dukedom of Marlborough is the exception to that rule. It is one of the few titles that allows females to inherit the title, and the only current dukedom to do so.

In the Spencer family, there have been a number of titles, but it wasn’t until Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, widowed following the death of his first wife, Arabella, daughter of Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of 12 Duke of MarlboroughNewcastle, married Anne Churchill, that the Dukedom of Marlborough first came to the Spencers. With this dukedom, Charles Spencer was first introduced to politics, making this alliance between Sunderland and Marlborough a very important one for Charles and his descendants. From his marriage to Anne Churchill who would become the 2nd Duke of Marlborough, the Spencer family would retain the dukedom for all time. At the current time, the dukedom is at 12, with Charles James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough, born in 1955, as the current duke.

To date, I cannot say how many dukes and duchesses were or are Spencer descendants, for names change with marriages over the years. Nevertheless, the Spencers have played a great part in the peerage of Great Britain, and with Prince William and his descendants, beginning with Prince George, the Spencers will continue to have great influence in that nation for the rest of time.

John Basil KnoxFor the past several weeks, I have been exchanging emails and lots of information with a man named John B Knox. He is my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s sixth cousin once removed. I came across his website about a year or so ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to contact him. This was such a great decision on my part, because it has been an interesting journey. Because John had the last name of Knox, and some of the same relatives that I knew to be in the Knox line of my mother-in-law’s family, I had no doubt in my mind that we are related, but I didn’t know the exact relationship. Finding someone who is a descendant of an aunt or uncle back in the 1800s and especially beyond that, isn’t as easy as one might think. It is very helpful when you find someone who has researched their family history as well as John has, because the research is more that half done. It was easy for John to connect our two lines and tell me exactly what the connection was. John is a very thorough person too, so he was able to send me an easy to follow diagram of the connection. Now, my family tree shows the connection to John and his family in detail.

Getting to know John has been a lot of fun. He was born in Kentucky, but he and his family now live in Washington DC. I could try to summarize his career, but I think he says it best so I will quote it instead. According to John’s LinkedIn page, “I currently serve as a Congressional Liaison for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). My background includes two decades+ of experience in management, strategic planning, change management, international business development, customer relations and team building. Highlights include my seven years as NASA’s Manager of Video Applications. The 35-member team that I led, using the world class production facilities that my team designed and built, won 44 awards on behalf of the space agency, including four Emmy’s. That record at NASA remains unmatched. I co-chaired the agency-wide Standards Committee for High Definition Television at NASA which established technical guidelines for the space agency’s transition to HDTV. Today, the guidelines which my group developed, continues to insure the interoperability of communications between each of NASA’s ten world-class research centers and the International Space Station. While serving as the DIA’s Contracting Office Manager in Baghdad, Iraq, I oversaw a “ground-up” conversion of twelve Iraqi buildings for use as DIA’s in-country Headquarters, Annex and billeting for deployed U.S. personnel. For this project, I was awarded DIA’s Civilian Combat Support Award. Most recently, I drafted, proposed and am currently leading the implementation the first Congressional Communications Strategic Plan for DIA. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications Technology, a Master’s Degree in Media Management (Magna Cum Laude graduate) and a Master Of Business Administration (MBA) Degree with a concentration in management.” All I could say to that was…”Wow!!”

This, of course, lets me know that I really knew nothing of the person, that I had so boldly contacted, and who so graciously contacted me back, and has helped me immensely with my inquiries. I have always known that the Knox family has been heavily into politics, and other areas of government work, and this Knox family member has obviously followed in the footsteps of his ancestors. I can’t say that I’m disappointed in that. I also know that his work at NASA interests me as well. I’m sure he would not have brought all this up to me on his own, because he never made the conversations we had about himself, but rather about the family history, and our connection to it. I think he is probably a humble man, and only put the information I gave here on LinkedIn, because that is what he was supposed to do on LinkedIn. Nevertheless, I must say that I am impressed with all he has done, and excited to know him and to get to know his family as wall. John and his wife Lisa have two daughters, Lindsey and Kelly. I am excited about this new branch of my family history, and I look forward to getting to know this family even better.

Beyer Crest GermanyIn the middle of the 18th century, Germany was a country that had been floundering due to European politics for more than a hundred years.  At that time, France, England, and Spain largely had control of the continent because of their military might. The German states, on the other hand, were left to their own devices, and each leader was running his state for his own gain, without concern for the people or the nation as a whole. As a result of all the political greed, Germany was a nation that was going to quickly go under or eventually succumb to the greed around it and become an evil dictatorship, and no help was coming. It was in this Germany, at this time in history that my 6th Great Grandfather, Philipp Beyer (a name that would later be Americanized to Byer) and his wife, my 6th Great Grandmother Maria, were a young couple with a small son…my 5th Great Grandfather, Johann Beyer.

Germany was quickly becoming a place that was either going to fall apart or be controlled Cornelius George Byerby it’s own evil leaders. Either way, Germany had become a place where my 6th Great Grandparents could no longer afford to raise their family, so they made the decision to immigrate to Russia, which at that time in history was a better choice. I can’t even imagine how they must have felt, as they were leaving the country they loved, and moving to an unknown situation in an unknown country. Russia must have ended up being a good decision, because the family would live there for the next five generations, before my Great Grandfather, Cornelius George Byer, would make the decision in 1874 to immigrate to America, once again in search of a better life and to get away from a government that was quickly becoming extremely evil.

It is a sad thing when a government becomes so evil that you feel like you must immigrate to another country in order to save your children from the tyranny of your own country. Like it or not, that is what many people had to do and still have to do in order to protect Grave of Cornelius George Byertheir children. The move to America would be the best thing my great grandfather ever did. Once here, they were able to get a homestead that belonged to them, and was not subject to confiscation by an evil government, and more importantly, their children could not be taken away by the government to be raised as it saw fit, and become as evil as it was. It does make me very thankful that my grandfathers were wise enough to know when it was time to simply cut your losses, and get out…before their evil government made it impossible to leave.

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