On the topic of major genealogical hot-spots, I have one definitive example – my mother-in-law’s hometown of New Riegel, Ohio. Generations and generations of huge German-American farm families who rarely moved more than a few miles away. Everyone is related to everyone else.
I don’t have any such dramatic examples – my people tended to move around a lot. But there are moments when paths cross and worlds collide. Consider Kalispell, Montana. The 1955-56 yearbook for Flathead County High School has become almost a family scrapbook, with a definite musical bent.
First off, Kenneth Rawson – Dad’s Uncle Ken, husband of my Great-Aunt Ruth – was the school’s Principal. Their two children were students – Claudia a senior; Neal, a sophomore.
Whenever Flathead students needed to be alpha-sorted – as, say, here in their 1956 yearbook – Claudia Rawson invariably followed Ray Rasmussen.
Now, Ray Rasmussen was an Earl descendant – Mom’s 4th Cousin on her maternal side. He was a wrestler known as “Moose” – but he was also a singer. He was in the A Cappella Choir and Madrigal Choir with Claudia, and they did just about every musical production the school mounted during their years there. The Mikado… HMS Pinafore… Amahl and the Night Visitors… My people.
Also there in the ’56 senior class – just one page back – is Connie Meacham. Also Mom’s side. She was the daughter of Grandpa Wright’s 1st cousin Homer Meacham – son of his Aunt Kate. Yet another member of Flathead’s A Cappella Choir, Connie was on the entertainment bill at the FCHS Senior Ball during Christmas Week 1955, singing in a triple-trio with Claudia Rawson.
Several pages further on, among the sophomores, we find Neal Rawson, not surprisingly directly adjacent to a Rasmussen. (But she doesn’t appear to be Moose’s sister, so I’ll leave her be for now.) There IS however a Meacham sibling – Jim – in his class.
Maybe it’s just me, but I find all this peculiar. Wild, even. I mean, why Kalispell? It’s a beautiful place, for sure – but hardly a spot one just happens across – particularly a century ago. But, for the record, here’s how it all went down:
- Moose’s grandmother Minnie Olive Palmer was born in Fennimore, Wisconsin, and moved with her family to Kalispell in the 1880s. There Minnie met and married Lewis Rasmussen, a Danish-born carpenter, probably about 1885.
- Connie Meacham’s people were from Madison County, Iowa. There was a regular path between Winterset, Iowa and Utica, Montana, worn down by most of Kate Wright’s siblings who traveled back and forth many, many times in the 1880s and 1890s. Kate herself tried it for a time too, before her marriage. She must have liked it – by 1900, she and Mr. Meacham, along with their first two children, left Iowa for good. They settled in Kalispell circa 1910.
- The Rawsons were the newcomers. My Great-Aunt Ruth (Watson) Rawson was born in Nebraska and grew up in Iowa. She and Ken married and moved first to Colorado, then Kalispell in the late 1940s – probably for this job at Flathead County High School.
To quote Linda Ellerbee (which nobody does anymore, sadly): And so it goes.