Scientists have done much for mankind. They are dedicated to finding a solution, a cure, a way, often sacrificing their own time, family life, and sometimes even their own life, to solve a problem, find a cure, or make things better. It seems a strange thing to give one’s life for an experiment, and yet people have done just that.
Marie Curie conducted pioneering research on radioactivity, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium. Unfortunately, she would die of aplastic anemia, a disease of the bone marrow that was very likely caused by the radioactivity she had been exposed for so many years.
Alexander Bogdanov was obsessed with Hematology. Bogdanov did research in blood transfusions in the 1920s. In fact, he gave himself blood transfusions…over and over. He insisted that the transfusions made him feel better. Maybe they did, but they would also be his undoing, when he transfused himself with the blood of a student who had malaria. Bogdanov contracted the disease and died.
Many people have heard of David Johnston who was a volcanologist. He wanted to see Mount Saint Helens for himself. He was the first to report and urge the evacuation, but seeing the show cost him his life too. He was killed by the Pyroclastic Blast.
Probably one of the most awful deaths to me was that of Harold Maxwell-Lefroy. He spent a lot of time studying bugs, or rather how to get rid of them. He knew that something needed to be done to get rid of these pests. He was very good at his work, but unfortunately, the chemicals would kill people too, and he inhaled enough to do so. In his lab, he inhaled a lethal amount of Lewisite.
There are others, maybe more that anyone knows of. If they weren’t famous or successful, their deaths might have looked like accidents, diseases, accidental overdoses, or even suicide, when in fact they were nothing of the kind. They are just some of the great scientific minds who gave their all in the name of science. Sadly, by accident.
Most national days that are designed to celebrate an activity or group, are just another day to most of us, but for me, and for many other family history buffs, Genealogy Day is different. I’m sure everybody has a day of celebration that hits home to them, but I know of so many people who are dedicated to tracing their family history. I’m sure everyone has different reasons for tracing their history…from adoptees finding their parents, to simply wanting to know which historical figures we are related to, many people are curious. Those of us who have begun this journey, find ourselves losing track of time as were research the proof of relationship between us and our ancestors. We get started, and the addiction sets in. It’s like a good book that we simply can’t put down.
All too often, by the time we think about researching our ancestors, any of our family members who might have any pertinent information are already gone. We find ourselves disgusted that we weren’t interested before that point. Of course, by then it is too late for us, unless someone else took the time to ask the questions, and record the information. That is where the family genealogists come into play. If you are blessed, you have a parent or grandparent that you can ask or who has written it all down for you, so you don’t end up in the sad situation of finding that you are hitting a wall in your research. Those of us who find ourselves in the self-appointed position of being the family historian or family genealogist are not sorry that this is what we do. It is exciting to come across an old picture that we never thought we would find, or a military draft registration card that contains the signature of our ancestor. Those things are like striking it rich in a gold mine.
People are busy, and we just don’t have a lot of time to dig through the past, but every now and then, people who happen to have a bit more time start digging around and sometimes find out the most fascinating facts about where their forefathers came from and what kind of people they were. Most people are a little bit curious, when someone brings the information to their attention, but some simply don’t think they care. I find the latter group to be the most sad. They simply don’t understand that they are missing out…until it’s too late.
Keeping track of one’s family lines has been going on for centuries…hence the wealth of information that is out there, but never has the information been easier to access that it is today. Computers, cell phone apps, digital pictures all make it easier to share what one has with another, without losing the treasure you have. In Western societies, genealogy was especially important to royalty, who used it to decide who was of noble descent and who was not, as well as who had the right to rule which geographical area, but I think everyone wants to kind a link to a royal line. The idea that our grandparents might be royalty is an exciting one…even if our royal family will never know who we are.
Genealogy Day was created in 2013, by Christ Church, United Presbyterian and Methodist in Limerick, Ireland to help celebrate the church’s 200th anniversary. For this day, Christ Church brought together local family history records not only from its own combined churches, but also from the area’s Church of Ireland parishes, including the Religious Society if Friends in Ireland (Quaker) and the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon). The people in attendance could then use the amassed marriage and baptism records dating back to the early 1800s, such as Limerick Methodist Registers and Limerick Presbyterian Registers, to find out about their great-great-grandparents. The idea was so popular that it was repeated for the next two consecutive years and has inspired many people to take a look into their family tree to find out a bit more about where they come from. I think that Genealogy Day is a perfect day to dip your toe in the Genealogical waters, and see what you can find out about your own family. You might be surprised.
For many people researching the family history means looking for things like famous ancestors, family occupations, historical locations, and eventually the family crest, also known as the Coat of Arms. The problem with the family crest is that there are so many, and the process to make a legal claim to one is difficult, because the right to bear arms in the legal sense of a coat of arms, must be researched and proven through attested Genealogical records. Of course, this doesn’t mean that people can’t pick out a crest that bears their name and use it, even without the legal documentation. They can be displayed as decorative reproductions, derived only from the association with your name. That use, while legal in the sense that you are not committing a crime, is not the legal right to bear arms that is normally associated with the crest.
Sometimes, for those who are very fortunate, the family coat of arms might be found in a grandparent’s attic, but most of us will not discover our true coat of arms in this manner. Because of the difficulty in locating the necessary information to claim a legal right to a family coat of arms, most people just don’t bother with this part of a full family history. According to LG Pine, author of Heraldry And Genealogy, “At the onset, there is a curious fact in the relationship between the two subjects. While students of Heraldry do take to Genealogy, and acquire a considerable knowledge of it, those who begin as genealogists seldom if ever take any interest in Heraldry. This is most unfortunate, because the two subjects are necessarily related.” I suppose this is true, but once you have stumbled upon a family coat of arms in your research, like I did a few years ago, you simply do become intrigued.
Nevertheless, I had no idea about the legal right to bear arms until I was doing some research into the coat of arms of the Leary side of Bob’s family the other day. I had found several family coats of arms for the Spencer, Byer, Pattan, Fuller, and Schulenberg sides of the family, and planned to look for some of the others in the near future. While I will still do that, I have to wonder about the accuracy of the ones I have, and just how difficult it will be to verify their validity. I can see that I will need to do some research on just how to move forward on this matter in the correct way.
The biggest obstacle I see in researching Heraldry or Genealogy is that the spelling of names changes. Whether it is because the person moved to a new nation and was made to change their name or spelling, or like many people do with their first names these days, the person experimented with the spelling of their last name. William Shakespeare was known to spell his last name Shakespeare, Shakespere, Shakespear, Shakspere, and Shaxpere. So to the researcher, I suppose it would be a matter of searching for documentation under multiple different spellings. You can see that the further you get into a search, the more difficult it is to determine the accuracy. So now apply that to the search concerning the legal right to bear arms, and I think you might have the answer as to why so many people avoid this area of research altogether.
I’m sure that most of you have heard that funny song by Ray Stevens called, “I’m My Own Grandpa”, and while I’m not going to tell you that I’m my own grandma, I will tell you that my husband’s Grandma Hein is my 12th cousin twice removed. We always enjoyed both of his grandmothers, but we got to see so much less of Grandma Hein, that it was very special when we got to go see her. I only knew one of my grandmothers, and my she passed away when Bob and I had only been married eleven years. His Casper grandparents died in the 80’s too, as did his Grandpa Schulenberg in Montana. So, much of my adult life was spent having only Bob’s Montana grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Hein, in my life. I loved spending time with them, and we made annual trips up to visit them. We wanted our girls to know them too, so the trips were a special family time for all of us.
After so many years of knowing them, Grandma and Grandpa Hein became my own grandparents. Little did I know then, or at any time during her lifetime, that Grandma Hein was actually my 12th cousin twice removed. When I made that connection a short time ago, I was so surprised. I’ve known for some time now that Bob and I are cousins to varying degrees, but somehow, in my mind, that didn’t officially connect to the prior ancestors. I mean, I knew it, but they didn’t feel like cousins, for some reason. Then I started thinking about that with respect to Grandma Hein when I came across a relationship between her dad’s family and my dad’s family. Somehow, it was at this point that my mind completed wrapping itself around the idea that I was related to Grandma’s family, and it hit me that my grandma was my cousin.
I’m sure that should have hit me before too, but somehow, she was Bob’s grandma, and therefore, mine by marriage, which she technically still is, in addition to our cousinship. I really wish I had know that she was my cousin too, because I think we would have liked that relationship too. I’m sure we would have both been surprised, and we probably would have had a good laugh too. Nevertheless, I think that we both would have liked that fact as well. We were always good friends, so being cousins too, would have been fun.
The cousinship occurred before either of us were ever born, of course. Our common ancestor is John Collamore who is my 11 great grandfather, and Grandma’s 13th great grandfather, was born in 1500 in England. The fact that we were cousins could not have been easily known at the time of my marriage to Bob. The internet didn’t exist then, and so people had to go to these places to study their lineage. Too much time and too great a cost usually stopped that unless you were very determined. Nevertheless, whether we knew it or not, we are cousins, and I’m sure we will enjoy that conversation when we see each other again in Heaven. Today would have been Grandma Hein’s 106th birthday…and, Groundhog Day, a fact that she liked. Happy birthday Cousin Grandma Hein!! And happy Groundhog Day too…not that it matters in Heaven!! We love and miss you very much!!
A while back I discovered, or should I say, connected the Susan Spencer in Bob’s family tree to my family tree, thereby confirming the cousinship that I suspected between Bob and me. Recently, as I was looking again at the beautiful family tree that Hattie Goodman, who was an ancestor of Bob’s mother’s family, put together and I had seen so many years ago, I started thinking about some of the other implications of that connection…specifically regarding my family, and more specifically my sisters, nieces, and nephews.
So often, we go through life separating, or keeping our families straight by catagorizing them as our family and our in-laws. Then we look at the families of our siblings, and catagorize them as friends or our sibling’s family. And most of the time that works well, but in my situation, and that of my family…on both sides, it ended up being a little different.
I have to wonder if my sisters have considered the fact, that if Bob is my 10th cousin twice removed, he is also their 10th cousin twice removed. Now, that is interesting enough, but go one step further. If Bob is our 10th cousin twice removed, then his sisters and brother are also our 10th cousins twice removed…and to top it off, our kids are 10th cousins 3 times removed to Bob and his siblings. Ok, if you find that to be a little odd, then consider this. My girls are 10th cousins 3 times removed…to their dad!!! Now, that is totally mind blowing, but truth nevertheless!!
People could let such relationships get to be more of a big deal than they really are, if they aren’t careful, as was the case, when it came out that Prince William and Princess Kate are actually cousins. If you think about it, since we all came from Adam and Eve, I suppose that we are all cousins or some other relationship, so we might just as well get over the stigma that we have attached to that. In reality, we are all just one big happy faimly.
My Uncle Bill is the 2nd child of my dad’s parents, and at 91, he is the one who has lived the longest. He is the last one left. That is something that I find to be sad for those of us who have lost our parent from the Spencer side, and happy that Uncle Bill is still with us. Reaching the age of 90 was something Uncle Bill never expected, and now, he has gone beyond that, and as far as we know, he will still be here next year and the year after that. And that does make me glad, because I love him very much and really don’t want him to leave us yet. I’m happy that God has blessed him with long life.
His health is good, but I suspect he has forgotten more about the family history than most of us will ever know. Uncle Bill became interested in the family history as a young man, and he has kept extensive records. The records he has are more than remarkable, because it was mostly done without the help of computers. He received some help later in life that involved computers, but his research was not done that way. I have also done a lot of research on my family tree, and it was Uncle Bill who inspired me to do so. I must say, however, that I did use the computer a lot, so my research has come from the work of many other people too. Not as remarkable as Uncle Bill’s work, but effective just the same.
Uncle Bill’s life was based in many ways on his childhood experiences. From his love of guns and antiques, to his management skills, he watched those people he respected and sometimes even took on the same causes, as is the case with the aunt who got him started in genealogy. The guns came from his personal experience, and his love of antiques was what got his longest career going. He collected everything… guns, coins, stamps, and antique furniture. Then he decided to start a shop to buy, sell and trade those items. His shop was an amazing place, because you never knew what treasures were hidden there. Eventually, he started a mail order business, and sold his items all over the country, and probably the world.
Today is Uncle Bill’s 91st birthday, and I’m sure that if he were not retired, you would still find him working at his shop in Superior, Wisconsin, doing his very best to make that next sale, or sitting with one of the people that used to stop by just to visit, and talk about old times. Happy birthday Uncle Bill!! We love you very much and hope you have a wonderful day!!
I never knew my Great Grandpa Byer, because he passed away in 1930, long before I was born. Most of what I know of him comes from my genealogy research, pictures I have found, and the stories I have heard from my mom. The first time I remember hearing about him was when I gave birth to my oldest daughter, Corrie. My mother mention that I might want to name her Cornelia, so that it would be after her great great grandpa. I was not willing to go so far as to change the name I had chosen, but the name did attach itself to Corrie anyway, in the form of a nickname…that I loved, by the way.
My research told me that my great grandfather was born in Russia, which very much surprised me, as I thought that part of the family came from Germany. My mother filled in the blanks there, by telling me that in the 1780’s, my 6th great grandfather, who was concerned because of wars in Europe, and wanting to keep his family, and especially his son safe from the increasing German interest in jumping into the war. So, he moved his family to Russia, where my part of the family would live until, my great grandfather’s family immigrated to the United States. He eventually settled in South Dakota, where he married my great grandmother.
Picture documentation, at the point, places my great grandparents on a homestead in Nebraska. During his time in South Dakota and Nebraska, he befriended many of the Indians in the area. He was well respected by them and was invited to their Pow Wow’s. It is at this point in the family history that I came across another picture that made me wonder about its inclusion in the other family pictures. It still seems odd to me, but my mom assures me with her story, that it indeed fits in the family history. The picture is of a group of men in a pool hall. When I asked mom about the picture, she told me that she didn’t know the men in the picture, but the pool hall had belonged to her grandfather. I am still trying to figure out how he went from homesteading to a pool hall owner, but that is what he did. I’m sure that like most career changes, the decision was based on the income possibilities, because the main thing is to be able to support your family. The pool hall is not surprising to me because of what it was, but because of the fact that he had been a homesteader and farmer by trade for so long. Things change, as the needs change, and that is as simple as that. He saw a way to make a living, or even supplement the family income, and he did it. It is an interesting twist to my history.