Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One of the things I recall about summers spent with my grandparents, is the frustration of having to wait for the grass to dry before I could go outside. The frustration of having to sit in the house and wait for the grass to dry was, well, frustrating. Occasionally, I would sneak outside, hoping to get across the grass without getting my Keds wet and would end up having wet shoes, socks and feet for a few hours. If my memory serves me right, the joy of being outside was worth having squishy shoes.
Now when I make my way across that same stretch of ground, I have a pair of waterproof boots that I can slip on and not have to worry about wet feet.
Isn't it funny how something as simple as wet tennis shoes on a summer morning can immediately transport you back to a very special childhood memory.
Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Congratulations Mom!

Congratulations! Earlier today I was informed that a program my mother and I wrote and presented to our Daughters of the American Revolution chapter was selected by the National Society DAR as one of the latest additions to the NSDAR Program Collection. The program, which was submitted to the Wisconsin Society Daughters of the American Revolution and forwarded on to the national level, will be added to the manuscripts section of the members' web site that can be downloaded and printed by chapters for their use.

The program titled Ojibwe Heritage was presented at the November meeting as part of the DAR celebration of American Indian Heritage. For my mother and I, this was sharing a part of our family history, claiming our heritage as Anishinabe which translates as "the original people."

According to their tradition and from recordings in birch bark scrolls, many of the Original People came from the eastern areas of North America, or what the original people called "Turtle Island." These original people traded widely across the Continent for thousands of years, and knew of canoe routes west, and of a land route to the west coast. Some of the first maps of the inland rivers and lakes were made by the Ojibwe made on birch bark maps and preserved by the elders along with the history of the original people, Anishinabe.

Legend says seven great "radiant beings" appeared to the peoples in the Land of the Dawn - the eastern lands - to teach them of the ways of life. These seven great beings established clans - or dodems - for the people of the east. The original Anishinabe were the crane, loon, fish, bear, bird and marten and the thunderbird.

After a time, the great beings returned to the sea and the people prospered - drawing on the bounty of the eastern forests and lakes. In these early years, one version of the legend said the Original People "were so many and powerful that if one was to climb the highest mountain and look in all directions, he would not be able to see the end of the nation."

Then came a warning from a prophet to the people: "If you do not move, you will be destroyed." The prophet urged the Anishinabe to seek out an island in the shape of a turtle; this would be their first stopping point. There would be six more, and each one would be revealed through a sacred sign in the form of a cowrie shell that first emerged from the great salt sea.

During their long journey, which lasted many generations, the Anishinabe encountered enemies and subdued them. At night it was said their campfires flickered like stars for as far as the eye could see. All the campfires were kindled from one sacred fire, which had been carried from the land of the rising sun and was never allowed to die.

At their third stopping place near present day Detroit, the Anishinabe divided into three groups and went their separate ways, with each group assuming a different responsibility for sustaining the culture. One pledged to safeguard the sacred fire, these people became known as the Potowatomi. Another group agreed to carry out major trading expeditions, these became known as the Ottawa. The third group who's duty was to protect the spiritual beliefs of the Anishinabe emerged as the Ojibwe. Before separating, they formed a confederation called the Three Fires, and met each year to renew their alliance.

Continuing westward the Ojibwe settled farther to the north, along the north shore of Lake Superior. After parting from the others, the Ojibwe continued to be guided by the sacred spirits. In time, a new sign appeared to them at another place of beauty and bounty, the strait where waters from Lake Superior rushed down to the lower-lying Lake Huron and whitefish choked the rapids. It was here the Ojibwe paused and established a village they called "Place at the Falls." This was not only a splendid fishery but also a hub of water-borne trade. French explorers and traders who arrived there in the 17th century called the local Indians Saulteurs, an adaptation of the French word saut, or "falls." This place became known to the French as Sault Ste Marie. At that time, the village had a permanent population of several hundred people, a number that swelled to two or three thousand each summer as Ojibwes and others from surrounding areas congregated there to fish, trade, hold diplomatic councils and join in ceremonies.

By the time the Frenchmen reached Sault Ste Marie, many Ojibwe were fanning out around Lake Superior. According to legend, those who ventured to the western end of that lake were again blessed with a vision. That sign appeared to the people for the last time at La Pointe Island, or Madeline Island as it is known today, where the Ojibwes founded a bustling village that emerged as the spiritual center of their culture.

One of the foremost scholars and researchers believes the migration of the Anishinabe began around 900 AD and took approximately 500 years to complete.

It is from this group of the Ojibwe that my mother's family descends. My great-great grandmother was a member of the Lac du Flambeau band, which translates to "Lake of the Flaming Torches." Early French explorers used the term to describe how the tribe often fished at night by torchlight. While my gr-gr-grandmother's name was been long forgotten, she is included in the early rolls of the reservation as the wife of Isaac Stone, the first white man to settle into this area of Wisconsin. She has been found listed as "Elizabeth" on a vital record but very little is known about her other than she died in June 1858 shortly after giving birth to my great-grandmother, Nancy Ann Stone. Elizabeth is buried in an unmarked grave in the village of Hogarty, Shawano Co, Wisconsin. On Memorial Day, my mother and I honor the memory of Elizabeth by placing flowers in the section of the unmarked graves in the Hogarty Cemetery.

My grandfather, proud of his heritage, made sure that this pride was passed on to his daughter and to his granddaughters. I credit this with helping to kindle and fan the flame of my interest in family history.

I am sure that both he, Grandma Nancy - and Elizabeth - are pleased to see that their story, which we continue to share within our family, is now part of a larger audience.

Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

My Sister ...

My Sister deserves to know that even though
I don't always get a chance to show it,
She is absolutely essential to the happiness ...
that lives within my heart.
~Ann Turrel
Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cluster Genealogy

During a recent session, assisting someone with their family history has served to remind me of why I love using cluster, or 'whole family' genealogy to help solve those problems we've all run into at one time or another.

Our ancestors did not live in isolation, although we often research them as if they did. They were part of a family, most often with siblings, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and other relatives. They were also part of a community with friends, neighbors and co-workers. This 'cluster' of family, friends and neighbors can provide valuable clues to the lives of our ancestors.

Cluster genealogy or 'whole family' or 'extended family genealogy' is the practice of extending our research on one individual to include the individuals and families to which he/she is connected - these range from the ancestors brother or spouse to the neighbor who appeared as a witness on a land deed.

This type of research leads to a more complete and more accurate picture of our ancestor's life.

On its surface you may think you are not interested in your ancestor's siblings, cousins or neighbors but consider the following:

The records of siblings, cousins and other family members may provide clues to the next generation that you have not been able to find in the records left by your direct ancestor.

Neighbors may actually turn out to be relatives. Family groups often migrated to the same town, lived near each other, attended the same church or school and were buried in the same cemetery.

Since a single record is often not enough to prove an ancestral connection, cluster genealogy offers additional documents to support accurate research.

Knowing and recognizing the names of other family members can sometimes help you locate your ancestor when he has been mis-indexed or had his name mangled on a record where you expect to find him.

Tracking ancestors as they move from place to place can often be a daunting task. Knowing the names of relatives who may have moved with him can make it easier to identify him in a new location.

Cluster genealogy involves expanding your search beyond your direct line ancestors to include their brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends. Check for as many of these individuals as time and finances will allow - collect information on them just as you do for your direct ancestors and record it in your notes or software.

Don't neglect the spouses of these 'cluster' individuals!

Census records and estate records are especially useful for identifying additional family members - land deeds, newspapers and church records can prove useful for pinpointing neighbors and friends.

By increasing the pool of individuals whom you are researching, cluster genealogy improves your chances of locating records and details on your ancestors. In the process you'll learn more about the places and times in which your family lived.

Photograph of Earle C, Bergeron, Army Air Corps training at Kelly Field, TX; Bay '7', March 22, 1942. Bergeron Family Papers; photograph in possession of Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski

Saturday, July 12, 2008

One Sweet Ride

If a man is defined by the company he keeps, then a lot can be said about the car he drives. While the political views of our family are all personal and individual, we are, without a doubt, a Ford family. While you won't find any of those annoying stickers of little boys peeing on a Chevy 'bow tie,' you won't find a GM product permanently parked in our driveway either.

From the time I met Al, he has driven a Mustang. He tells me that it was 'love at first sight.' Not necessarily making a reference to his future wife, but certainly to the moment he first laid eyes on a Ford Mustang.

Park Falls, Wisconsin during the mid-1960s was just like any other Midwest small town; the latest news and gossip made the rounds quickly. April 17, 1964, was like any other spring day with the exception of the arrival of a Mustang at Vincent and Vincent Ford Dealership; a white convertible with red interior. Even at 12-years of age, Al remembers it was a six-cylinder, 3-speed on the floor. It would be another five years before he would slip behind the wheel of his own Mustang - a 1968 Mustang coupe; Wimbelton white with red interior. Later, the car underwent a radical upgrade when Al and his brother-in-law, built a racing motor that transformed the car from a pedestrian vehicle into a muscle car.

Volunteering for the draft in the early 1970s, marriage and a tour of Viet Nam made it impractical to keep the car and brought to the end an important part of Al's youth. His love for the classic Mustang's continued and at various times in our life, we have had other pony's parked in our garage. They were all very nice cars but never held a special place until 1994 when Al found an ad for a 1965 2+2 Fastback for sale in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. A California car (no rust) and a check of the VIN showed it to be a true San Jose assembled vehicle with the rare Champagne Beige paint. The drive home made it clear that a lot of work would be needed on the engine.

The car is known simple as "The Sixty-Five" - it has since undergone a transmission transformation and engine upgrades that makes it one quick pony. We drove it to Charolette, NC, for the 35th anniversary of the Mustang and again to Nashville five years later. She will never be a trailer queen; it is my favorite vehicle to go out for ice cream and long drives along the backroads during Autumn, when the fall colors are best enjoyed with the windows rolled down.

Every year Al threatens to take it out to the Iola Car Show and see how much someone would pay to own The Sixty-Five. I'm not too worried. We've been down that road of watching someone else drive away in our car and don't think that we're about to have history repeat itself.

Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Thursday, July 10, 2008

With A Nod To Carl Sandburg

During the summer months one of my mother's favorite times is when the cool morning and evening air moves in on 'cat feet.' It reminds her of the Carl Sandburg poem, Fog; one that her Aunt Leona remembers memorizing as a child during the early 1900s.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

With the exception of the poem, Fog, Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Remembering Earle Bergeron

If you have worked on your family history for any length of time and have/are subscribed to any genealogy discussion lists, you've probably been asked the question, "If you could spend the day/invite to dinner, anyone from history, who would you invite?" While I might be tempted to ask Amelia Earhart where she and Fred Noonan set down the Lockheed Electra, without hesitation, I would want to spend the day with my Uncle Earle.

Earle Clare Bergeron was born in Wausau, Marathon Co., WI, on 25 June 1922, the eldest son of Charles Edward Bergeron (1887-1969) and Mildred Eileen Little (1899-1968). The marriage of my grandparents on 1 June 1921 was the second for my grandfather; he and his first wife, Ida Servant, had a son, Melvin Charles Bergeron. When they divorced, I'm told it touched off quite the firestorm in our devoutely French Candian Catholic family. At the time of their marriage, my grandfather was 33-years old and my grandmother was 21 and only ten years older than her step-son. I can imagine that made for some interesting family dynamics. Earle Clare was named for my grandfather's brother, Earl Stanley Bergeron; my research leads me to believe that Clare is from my grandmother's father's side of the family as there are a number of children who carried the name Clare, who died during the diptheria epidemic in the mid to late 1800s.

My grandfather worked for a hardware company in Aniwa, Shawano, Co, WI, all though Earle and his brother, Leland Keith (1924-1966), were both born in Wausau, WI, their sister, Carol Arleen (1927-1992), was born in Aniwa. My father, John, born in nearby Mattoon, WI, in 1929. The family briefly left central Wisconsin when my grandfather was employed by a company in Rush City, Chisago Co., MN; during this period of time my aunt, Marian Jean (1931- 2004) was born. Within a few years time, the family returned to northeastern Wisconsin and settled into life in Antigo, Langlade County.
Earle graduated from Antigo High School, Class of 1940, and enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 7 July 1940. He was sent to Chanute Air Base near Rantoul, IL, where he is listed as a mechanic then shipped to Kelly Air Base in Texas. The opportunity for an enlisted man to be accepted into pilot training was non-existant. It was the belief of military 'brass' that a pilot needed to possess a college education; something my grandparents could not afford. Yet, the military promised a better life once the war came to an end and most young men wanted to go off to war. In 1941 a window of opportunity opened for Earle. Due to a drastic shortage of qualified pilot candidates during WWII, the Army reduced the education requirement allowing enlisted airmen to earn their wings as pilots. Earle applied and was accepted into this program. Known as Flying Sergeants the men endured harsh treatment and prejudice. The cadets trained six days a week in the classroom and in the air. The competition among the cadets was fiercely competitive and the atrition rate was incrediably high. As if the classes weren't difficult enough, the instructors did their best to 'wash out' the Enlisted Pilots. My dad recalls that Earle, who was an average student, struggled with his meterology class but finally, in August 1942, he received his wings at Ellington Air Base in Texas, the class of 42-G.
You get a sense of the sentiment within the military for the Enlisted Pilots looking at this photograph, taken shortly before earning their wings. On the left, the cadets jumpsuits in stark contrast to the enlisted officers uniform.
Earle's first assignment was to fly C-47 for paratrooper training at Fort Bragg, NC. Finding the assignment far too mundane, he volunteered for duty overseas. He was assigned to Sixth Ferry Group, First Ferrying Command; in early February 1943 he arrived at Mohanbari Air Base, India. The China Burma India theater during WWII is one that has been overshadowed and yet, played an important role not only because it helped insure a victory for the Allies, but laid the foundation for transporting and evacuations in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
While piloting a food dropping mission on 23 April 1943, the C-47, with Flight Officer Earle C. Bergeron at the controls, crashed on take-off. At a critical point during take-off, the right engine failed, immediately causing the right wing to drop, hitting another C-47. Earle did not have sufficient flying speed or altitude to allow him to get the required air speed for 'single engine performance'. The plane turned up vertical and the right wing cut through the fuselage of a B-24 parked near the runway. The C-47 struck the ground, nose first, and within 20 seconds began to burn. Co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Alfred R. Rossman, perished in the fire; Uncle Earle was pulled from the plane but died in route to the hospital. Listed as having sustained "major injuries" was radio operator Pvt. Robert W. Bowles. The three remaining crew members, Pvt. John Street, Pvt. Scicolone and Pvt. Tanner all were reported no injuries.
As a child, I never understood the sadness that was part of my Grandma Bergeron. I can't imagine the grief she experienced and how her life changed from the moment the Western Union telegram was delivered announcing the death of her eldest son. On her dressing table, next to a glass trinket box, my grandmother kept a photo of Uncle Earle. He's wearing a leather flight jacket and helmet with the coveted white, silk scarf, signifying he was a pilot, casually draped around his neck. The trinket box and photo now sit on my dresser to carry on the tribute to this mother and son.
I wish I could explain why I feel so close to this man who died ten years before I was born. When our youngest son was born we gave him the middle name, Earle. It seemed fitting to carry on the name I'm sure my parents would have given to one of their children had they had a son.
This past June 25th would have been Earle's 89th birthday. My children have all lived longer than Earle and with the death of my Aunt Marian, my father is the remaining children of Charles and Mildred.
But that does not mean that Earle's spirit, his life and legacy will be forgotten.
Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday America!

Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Serious Girl Time

Without a doubt, one of the most important things in my life, is family. The term applies to immediate family, extended family, even those people who's company I enjoy as part of my 'biking family' or my 'D.A.R. family' or the chance to spend time with friends families. But nothing can compare to time spent with those family members who hold a very special place in my life and in my heart. Over the past few days I've had the chance to become reacquainted with my nieces, Alissa and Rebecca, who are visiting from their home in Iowa. Having known them from the time before they were born has a tendency to remind me that time flies my much too quickly; something I seem to recall my father telling me but never quite understood - until now. The time between playing dress-up, Strawberry Shortcake and Barbie's, until now seems to have flown by in an instant. They are now young women - beautiful, bright, articulate and funny - which makes up for time spent apart. I am honored that they would want to spend part of their vacation time with Uncle Al and Aunt Cindy. It does not surprise me that part of their request included time spent at 'the cabin.' The place where their grandmother spent so many years of her childhood - where she learned to sew by making clothes for the farm cats and heard the stories that made up her family history - and where later, their mother and I, along with our sisters spent our childhood, is part of their family history. We are blessed this piece of property still held within our family.

Laughter. It is the first word that will come to mind when I think back over the past few days. The laughter that was a result of family stories and memories their grandmother and I shared about our family and the laughter at moments that happened out of my sight. But what I will treasure the most, are the memories of laughter shared with these new memories. A day trip to Minocqua, standing in line at the Island Cafe waiting for a table on the patio, Becca overcoming her aversion to the smell of book stores to humor her aunt, winding our way through the mammouth arcade to locate the world's best ice cream. The laughter of sisters experiencing the freedom of riding 4-wheelers; the sound of their joy rising above the machines and echoing over the field. The memory of putting on jeans and sweatshirts, the smell of Off and wood smoke as we gathered in the twilight to roast marshmallows and wait for the stars to appear. And of course, laughter. The photographs will be treasured memories, capturing the moments that will bring a smile to our faces when we 'remember when' but won't capture the sound of laughter. The kind of laughter that brings tears to your eyes and takes your breath away - a reaction to a moment that reaches down to that place in your heart as only someone you love so completely can touch.

I will be forever grateful to the wonderful gift I received from these two beautiful young women, my nieces. Family.
Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski


Related Posts with Thumbnails