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 FamilySearch.org 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 Ancestry.com. 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.