Monday, December 19, 2011

And he shall turn the hearts of the Fathers.....

Some days you make a little change, and you find out it isn't so little.  Often times we remember something that we did that caused us problems or discomfort....and I guess that is how we learn not to do a host of stupid things.  But sometimes the result is for the good, or is an epiphanal moment when you see things differently from that moment on.

A few days ago I was surfing  the net and turned to and began looking up some of my ancestors.  I didn't have to go very far back to run into Charles S, my step-grandfather and despised black sheep of the family.  I have to say that I think he earned every ounce of malice that has come his way.  He was a horrible man, and made my dad's early life, and that of the rest of his family a living hell.  But I was curious. 

All that I knew was that Grandma had married him in Kansas City - I don't think anyone even knew the year.  We knew he was older, alcoholic, given to gambling, given to child beating, wife beating, and not so good at holding a job.  All in all, not a great legacy.  But still, I was curious and began so search a little.

I quickly ran out of information, but there was an option to search outside links, and so I clicked that link and was directed to  You have to pay to use their site, but they had a 14 day free trial, so I signed up and began the search anew.  And hit pay dirt.

In the 1900 US Federal Census we find the family living in Prairie, Wyandotte, Kansas.

James D. S (husband) 54 years old
Mary B. S (wife) 43 years old

Sarah F.  13 years old
Robert L. 10 years old
Charles W. 7 years old (Later to grow into the man we knew, or knew of)
Delila L.  4 years old
Le Roy (Roy) L. 2 years old.

James was from West Virginia, and he was born in January1846.  Mary Bell was from Indiana.  She was born in August of 1856.  Don't do too much math on their ages and birth dates - I think that was fairly casual.  The age difference between James and Mary varies depending on which census you are looking at.  He lived to be at least 75, and she lived to be at least 63.

If this is true, or partly true then all of a sudden Charles doesn't seem so strange.  His dad was a rough, redneck hill billy from West Virginia, I imagine.  He probably drank and beat his family with fine regularity, although this is purely my conjecture.  James was older than his wife by at least 10 years as Charles was 10 years older than Emily. I think it is likely that James dominated Mary and the children in a strict and physical way and was probably the role model for those children.  This was how the man of the house ruled the roost.  This was his right.  And so it would be natural for Charles to grow into the type of man that he knew.  Unto the third and fourth generation.

I look back on my dad's early life and am amazed that he broke through the abuse that he lived with to become a decent, God fearing man who did his best to foster all of his family from the time he was a little boy and gave his mother his sugar beet check, until he was an old and sick man who was ready to die and wanted only to be a guardian angel for his children and grand children.  For this, I have to think that he used his Grandpa Starck for his model.  The Starcks had their share of characters, but they were a hard working family with deep religious roots.  They made mistakes, but by and large they stuck together through thick and thin, and they kept their family together. 

Well, it is late, and I have rambled for quite a while.  But it was a good thing for me to learn about Charles as a boy, and to have some idea of the home that he came from.  It's a lot easier have a little compassion  for the 7 year old boy on the census record, and who probably led a pretty tortured life.  And Christmas is a good time to have a little compassion anyway.


Annie of Blue Gables said...

That's a beautiful post from an amazing man. I love you so much, Dear Friend. From such a terrible legacy came one of the most wonderful men to ever live, and I married him. *sigh* Thanks

Andrew Hahn said...

Super fascinating—thanks for sharing. I've been digging around on the family chart—this is a line I'd really like to explore.

Andrew Hahn said...

Super fascinating—I've been digging around on the ol' record sheet and would love to explore this line more.

janet said...

You are an angel man with so much understanding and compassion! How I love you!

janet said...

You are such a sweet, understanding and forgiving person! Hurrah for your research! Love you,

Mike said...

Enjoyed the post!

Katie said...

Well, that made me cry. Grandpa really was amazing to get through all he got through. I'm sad that Charles had such a hard childhood and in turn gave his children a hard childhood. It breaks my heart to think of a child going through so much.

And now I'm glad that Grandpa is our guardian angel. I know he watches over us.

Love you Dad and I love reading your thoughts. Sorry I don't comment more. Know you are loved and appreciated.

Love, katie

Julie said...

I love hearing about family history. Thanks for sharing. I'm glad Grandpa broke the cycle.

Jenny said...

This sounds so familiar to my family history, especially my grandfather. It's amazing how well my parents turned out despite their rough beginnings.

Well, you got me rummaging around on now, so thanks for the instigation.

Annie of Blue Gables said...

Janet said
"You are a sweetheart to investigate and then forgive and understand with your talent with personalities. Good job working on the family!
I love you"

Caren said...

I too am blessed to have a cycle-breaker as a parent. And what an incalculable blessing it is! As I find myself with each passing year turning more and more into my own parents (which, fortunately, is a good thing), I have so much respect and awe for individuals who can break the cycle of abuse, because it goes against everything that a child from an abusive home is hard-wired to become as an adult. And I have never fully appreciated your dad as one of those choice individuals, so thank you for sharing.

Ash said...

I have to admit, I was not even aware of this blog. Now that I am, I am excited to read more of your thoughts. Thank you for being a good example, and doing family history and having an open heart and mind and being willing to forgive. In reading this post, my heart was softened a bit. I was also really glad that you put the websites down for family history. I've been wondering about it but didn't know where to start. Thanks for sharing this. I hope some day my kids can read this and know what a great grandfather they have, and be proud that you are doing the Lord's work by doing family history.

Andrew Hahn said...

I've got some names I'm taking tonight--some I found on the Hewett line. 3 men in the 1700s with the last name of Clay. Good times!