to Journey to the Past, I'm Brenda (Glover) Leyndyke and I believe researching your family history is a fascinating journey.

A Time I Will Never Forget- I am a Survivor!

02 July 2015

It isn't very often that I write about my personal life on this blog, but I have a very important anniversary today and want to share it with my readers and future generations. Thirty five years ago I had a major life event that could have changed how my life turned out.  Thankfully, it didn't but it did make me see life in a more precious way.

I had graduated from college at the age of twenty-one. I was looking forward to changing the lives of children through teaching.  I couldn't wait to get a teaching job.  I was ready, I had the degree and the certificates.  I just needed a job.

I couldn't find a teaching job my first year out of college, but I could substitute teach.  I enjoyed substitute teaching and I think it helped me become a better teacher because you never know what will be thrown at you during the day.

The same year I graduated from college, I had a broken engagement.  I was living in the same town as my fiancĂ© at the time.  My dad kept telling me I should come home to live and save money on rent. I could substitute teach at home.  I didn't want to move back home because I thought of it as a failure. In January of 1980, I decided to move home.  It probably saved my life.

I spent the winter of 1980 sick, I couldn't get over a cold.  My pierced ears would bleed and my nose looked like raw meat.  I kept going to the doctor because I could not get better.  I was substitute teaching in elementary schools and I figured I was picking up every bug out there.

One April day I went back to the doctor and he discovered a lump on my neck.  He asked, "was this here last week?" I said I don't think so.  He wanted to send me for more tests; mainly, a thyroid scan. He said I might have cancer. That shocked me to my core.  Never once did I think I had anything seriously wrong. The scan would have to be done at a hospital about thirty miles away, in Bad Axe, Michigan.

I remember the day so clearly when I went to get my scan done.  My mother had offered to go with me, but I said no I am fine, they aren't going to tell me anything today.  I was up early and off to Bad Axe, a place I had been to many times in my teen years.  It is where I would go shopping, or to the movies.  It is where I had my senior pictures taken.  I knew right where I was going.

I got in the car that morning and turned on the radio. The Iran hostage crisis filled the airwaves.  The day before, April 24, 1980, President Jimmy Carter sent helicopters to the Tehran, Iran embassy in an attempt to rescue the 52 diplomats that were being held.  The helicopters were unsuccessful in their attempt. The Iran hostage crisis had filled newscasts since November, 1979, when the diplomats were first taken hostage.  This was before the days of the 24 hour news cycle.  It was big news for the time.

Many people remember where they were during important news times, such as when JFK was killed. I remember where I was on the Friday morning, April 25, 1980 when the news of a failed Iran hostage rescue reached the United States. I was driving to get a thyroid scan.  It was a morning that no one could have predicted what was about to happen.

I arrive at Huron Memorial Hospital eager to get the tests over with.  I didn't have a clue what those test results would uncover.  The thyroid scan involved lying on a table, having an IV put in my arm that contained the radioactive iodine used for the scan, and having to tip my head back.  I would guess this took about a half hour to complete.  I remember the technician came back once during the scan to see if I was okay, which I was.

The scan was completed and I was told I could get dressed and the technician would meet me in the hallway.  The technician took me to a consultation room where a radiologist was waiting for me. Now, I recognized the radiologist because when I was in high school I took a Health Occupations course where we did rotations in the hospital and one of those was in radiology.  This radiologist came to the hospital in Harbor Beach, once a week.  I just remember thinking he wasn't very nice and didn't have good bedside manners.  Now, I had to sit in a room alone with him and get my test results!

The radiologist had my results and started talking about cold and warm areas of the scan.  I was thinking, I am not going to have to wait a week to find out what is wrong with me.  The radiologist proceeded to tell me that there was an area of my thyroid that was cold, meaning it didn't absorb the radioactive iodine and that meant that I had thyroid cancer.  Oh my god!  The "C" word.  I knew it was a possibility, but I was stunned.

I asked the radiologist what was next and he said he would send the results to my doctor, but it would mean I would have to have surgery to remove the cancerous thyroid.  I left the consultation room and the first people I saw were neighbors.  If you have ever lived in a small town you will know that you don't want to see neighbors after you get bad news.  I tried to cover my reaction to the news and just said hi, and went on my way.  I got in the car to drive home.  I made the turn from M-142 to M-19 to go home and I had to pull over to the side of the rode to cry.  I was devastated.  I had cancer!

I believe there are moments in your life when God is very present and I believe that God was present the spring of 1979 when I was selecting classes for Spring term at Western Michigan University. One class I took was Cancer Education.  Less than a year later, I was needing it myself.  I relied on my education that morning on the side of the road as I blubbered about having cancer.  I think it was at that moment I decided I was going to fight this.  Nothing was going to get the best of me.

I remember getting home later that morning.  I had things to keep me busy.  I had phone calls to make because I was helping to plan our five year class reunion.  I was on the phone and there was a knock at the back door.  It was the elementary school secretary.  Remember, it was a small town.  She had been trying to call to see if I would like to substitute teach for the afternoon.  I said yes.  I was 22 at the time, what did I know about taking time to process things.

I arrived at school, which was the school Kirk, my boyfriend and eventual husband, taught at.  He asked me in the teacher lounge in front of other people how my scan went.  I said it went well.  I was not ready to share my news in a public format.  It wasn't until recess time when Kirk came into the class room I was in, that I shared my news.  Of all the people that I told throughout the whole ordeal Kirk was the most compassionate and understanding.  I had already fallen in love with him, but if I hadn't this would have sealed the deal.  The fact that he stuck with me and asked me to marry him five months later proves it.

Now, the waiting began.  Waiting to hear from the doctor, waiting to go to an endocrinologist for a needle biopsy, waiting to schedule surgery.  I think this was the most stressful time of the whole ordeal. I called my doctor's office because I wanted to discuss what the radiologist told me and couldn't get beyond the receptionist.  I wasn't going to tell her, it would have been all over town before I could hang up the phone.  My doctor called me one week later in the evening.  He didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.  I am thankful that my doctor was fairly young and completed some of his training at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, because he recommended I go there.  He did give me the option of having it done in Bad Axe, but I knew enough to know I wanted to go where they treated this often.  He said he would make the referral and I would be hearing from his office soon.

The referral was made to a Dr. Miller at Henry Ford Hospital.  I loved Dr. Miller from the moment I saw him.  He was kindest, gentlest doctor I have ever had.  I didn't know it until much later, but he was friends with my Uncle Hank and Aunt Mabel Glover.  Dr. Miller performed the needle biopsy and the rest as they say is history.  The results came back as papillary carcinoma of the thyroid.  I did indeed have cancer.

The treatment for papillary carcinoma is surgery.  The surgery was scheduled for July 2, 1980-thirty five years ago today!  Dr. Ansari, another awesome doctor, performed the surgery.  I was admitted to the hospital a few days ahead of time and remember going through all kinds of tests.  Dr. Miller, my endocrinologist, even came to my room a couple of times and went with me to the tests.  I remember being in the elevator and it was just Dr. Miller and I.  I am in my robe heading to one test or another, and he said the most important thing I could have done was to have the surgery at a good hospital and I had picked a good one.  He said it was important because it increased the chances that it would all be removed and I would have a great recovery.  He said if you have to have cancer, thyroid cancer is a good one to have as it is almost 100% curable.

I don't believe any cancer is good cancer, but I was cured and I am here today to say I am a survivor. I don't have a lot of memories about the day of the surgery except I am waiting in a dark hallway to go the the surgical room and there was a chatty Cathy asking me what I was having surgery for.  She was having knee surgery. My surgery was successful.  I woke up in my hospital room and was frustrated because I couldn't open my eyes, they were stinging.  I slept most of that day.

The nodule was 2 cm and the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes.  I had a total thyroidectomy with two of the four parathyroids and many lymph nodes removed. Dr. Ansari, the surgeon, told me they removed many more lymph nodes than necessary and would test them to make sure the margins were clean, meaning all the cancer had been removed.

I was discharged on July 4th.  Kirk came to take me home.  I had to return to Dr. Ansari's office a week later for a check up.  It was here where I learned he had gotten all the cancer.  The extra lymph nodes were clear.  I would not need radiation or chemotherapy.  I would need to return in four months for a scan, just to be sure they had gotten all the cancer.

The scan in November of that year was clear and I haven't had a re-occurrence of the cancer.  The cancer was gone.  I am on thyroid replacement medicine and other than an occasional high or low thyroid blood level I have been healthy.

I look back on the time when I was dealing with this and wonder how I would handle a cancer diagnosis now.  I had the invincibility of youth at the time.  Nothing was going to get to me.  I was going to fight this and be successful at it.  I remember one of the young residents telling me I had such a great attitude and that a positive attitude would help me beat this diagnosis.  I didn't know anything else.

Today, July 2, 2015 I celebrate life!  I am a cancer survivor.  I am one of the lucky ones.  I wish all cancers would have the prognosis that I had.  I have three very special doctors to thank for my life: Dr. Moi, Dr. Miller and Dr. Ansari.  Thank you for your kindness, your care, and your expertise. You were all there at the right time with the right knowledge and because of you I am here today to celebrate.

Last Day Local: Dubois Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan

30 June 2015

Dubois Cemetery, Battle Creek Michigan
Dubois Cemetery, a Battle Creek city owned cemetery, on the south side of Battle Creek is named after one of the first settlers to the Battle Creek area, Peter Dubois. Peter; his wife, Sally; and three children arrived to the area in 1836, one year before Michigan became a state.  Peter, a Saratoga county, New York native made his home on the property which is now the cemetery.

Dubois Cemetery was part of Battle Creek Township until the city annexed the township.  This area is known as Lakeview, within the city of Battle Creek, and many of the early Lakeview settlers are buried here.  Names such as Willard (of library fame), Minges, as well as Dubois and about 500 others can be found buried here.

Below are a few of the headstones from Dubois Cemetery.  

 Margaret Carr Sprague, daughter of a Revolutionary War soldier

 John Harris, War of 1812 Veteran

 Willard Family Stone

Minges Family Stone

Peter Dubois

If you would like to learn more about Dubois Cemetery, Ryan Holland wrote an article, including pictures of Peter Dubois, published in the Battle Creek Enquirer, found here.

The Find a Grave page for Dubois Cemetery is here.

The Michigan Tombstone Transcription Project for Dubois Cemetery is here.

Wedding Wednesday: Charles White and Caroline Graf of Indiana

24 June 2015

I have been trying for months to find the maiden name of my second great grandmother, Mary, who married Caspar Graf.  I have one secondary source that lists it as Wrightweasner, but I have never seen that name anywhere else in my research.

One of the research strategies that I use when I have trouble researching my direct line of ancestors is to start researching collateral lines.  I have been successful in the past finding the maiden names of mothers, but not this time.  I had researched my ancestor, Valentine Graf, and did not find his mother's maiden name.  Next, I went to Valentine's brothers and sisters.  I was hopeful his oldest sister, Caroline, would provide the clues I needed.  Although her records didn't give me what I was looking for, I still found some interesting records for Caroline.

Caspar and Mary Graf's first born, Caroline Graf, married Charles White 21 March 1871 in Miami County, Indiana.  There marriage record is below:

Source: "Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-40056-4775-95?cc=1410397 : accessed 14 June 2015), Miami > 1867-1873 Volume 4 > image 241 of 347 citing the marriage of Charles White and Caroline Graf 21 March 1871; County clerk offices, Indiana.

Happy Father's Day

21 June 2015

Happy Father's Day, Dad

Today we celebrate fathers.  I am fortunate to still have my father in my life.  He turned 90 in February.

My dad has seen a lot in his 90 years.  He lived through the depression in the 1930's, served his country during World War II, graduated from Western Michigan University, became an accomplished teacher and coach, is in the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame, a husband for sixty three years and counting, community volunteer, father to four, grandfather to eight, great grandfather to three and much more to those who know him.

The one title that stands out to me is Father.  He has been a great father and role model for our family.   I hope he has a Happy Father's Day, he deserves it.

You Know You Are the Family Historian When...

19 June 2015

Finally, my family knows how crazy I am about genealogy.  I have irritated questioned them enough that they now know who to share their pictures and stories with- ME!!

My Uncle Richard turned 90 in May and his family gave him a surprise birthday party, which I attended.  A couple of days before the party my cousin, Jamie, posted on Facebook to bring my computer because he had pictures to share with me.  You don't have to tell me twice, the computer was in the car.  Plus, I transferred the family pictures that I had to a flash drive to share with him. Afterall, I am not a selfish person.

Jamie was one of the first people I saw when I got to the party and he had his tablet up and running and showed me some of the pictures he had scanned.  I hadn't seen a lot of them.  He, too, had put the pictures on a flash drive.  We exchanged flash drives and I was one happy party goer!

The pictures that Jamie had scanned were from his grandmother's house, Kathryn Fredrick Tritten Puryear Pihl.  My Aunt Kate. Jamie had been spending time at his parent's house while his father was ill and would scan pictures.  He said they were in a big box.  I think we can all imagine the big box, I have one here that I need to go through from my mother's house.

The pictures were an assortment of family pictures.  The pictures included:

  • Valentine Graf, my great grandfather,
  • Kathryn Fredricks, aka Aunt Kate
  • Children of Otto August Fredricks and Daisy Fredricks: Lola, Marie, Leona, Ray, John
  • Grandchildren of Otto and Daisy: Rose Marie, Kathryn Marie and John
  • Harold Fredricks and family
  • My mom!  Audrey
  • and many more.
I am in the process of sorting and identifying the pictures.  I have shared some on the Fredricks Genealogy page and with my cousin, Nancy, in California.  They are all wonderful treasures that I am thankful to have.  As you can see it pays off to be known as the family historian, aka the crazy one!  

I am thankful to be known as the family historian and if any other cousins want to share their family pictures with me, I will gladly accept them.

Here are a few of the pictures I have identified and think are special.

My mother, Audrey, holding not sure.
My mother and ? 

Aunt Lola and baby in front of old gas pump. 

 This is one of my favorites.
L-R  Norman Fredricks, Ray Fredricks, Otto Fredricks, John Fredricks, Jeannie Fredricks, Daisy Graf Fredricks, Audrey Fredricks and baby Katherine Marie Tritten

 Harold Fredricks at camp on Lake Eleanor in Brethren, Michigan

 I am still working on identifying everyone.  The tall one in the white hat is Valentine Graf.

 Kathryn Marie Tritten and my mother, Audrey in Brethren Michigan

Daisy Graf Fredricks with granddaughters, Kathryn Marie Tritten and Rose Marie Sandberg 

Oh, Lordy! Lord Stanley is 2!!

17 June 2015

My nephew, Lord Stanley, is two today.  The terrible two's?  I think not, he is too cute for me to think he will go through the terrible two's.

Lord Stanley with his Grandma and Grandpa

One of the highlights of 2014 was when my husband, Kirk and I, drove my parents to Alabama to see Lord Stanley and his family, this past December.  I hadn't seen him since he was four months old.  I had so much fun.  I have always enjoyed the 18 month old age. Lord Stanley prefers interacting with men and he enjoyed his time with Grandpa and my husband.  I did get to play a little with him.  He likes trucks, balls, and trains.

One way to get him to sit on your lap-let him have the cane.

Lord Stanley enjoyed trying to get his Grandpa's cane.  He would see it and go right for it. Always, with the cutest grin on his face.  He even crawled under the end table to try and sneak up on it. Grandpa was too quick for him as Grandpa saw the table move.  The other thing he liked to do was to sit in his Tonka Dump Truck and be pushed around the house.  Kirk was on truck duty a couple of times.  Lord Stanley would be pushed from the living room to the kitchen to the dining room and back to the living room in a circle.  He loved it.
Lord Stanley is a bit of a neat-nick!  If he saw a piece of fuzz or paper on the floor he would pick it up and take it to the waste basket.  My husband and I joked about getting him a janitor play set for his birthday, but we didn't.  We went with a Little Tikes water table, instead.  

Lord Stanley has a playful disposition.  He would go over to my brother's speakers and look at my brother with the biggest grin and try to pull the front off of it.  If he did get the front off he would laugh.  It is fun being an aunt and not being the one to make him behave.

Here are a few of the precious moments Lord Stanley had over the past year.  Happy 2nd Birthday, Lord Stanley!

 The last time I saw Lord Stanley, about four months old.

This time I saw Lord Stanley, walking and 18 months old.

 Lord Stanley is a great eater and loves whipped cream.

 Up early and smiling, he is one happy little guy.

Another great smile, I sure do miss this little guy.

 Hmmm! I wonder where Lord Stanley gets his looks from?

 Peek a Boo!  Lord Stanley and his sister, Cutie Pie

No words are needed!

(Lord Stanley and Cutie Pie are nicknames I have chosen to use for my nephew and niece on this blog to protect their identity at such a young age.)

Military Monday: Herman Brien (Breen)

15 June 2015

Source:  "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," [database on-line], Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 January 2014), Entry for Herman Brien, serial number 93; United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

Do you ever write a blog post, proof read, edit, and publish it and then realize it wasn't very good? This was the case a week ago with this blog post.  I was getting questions that I thought could be answered by the blog post, but when I went back and read it I realized I didn't write all that I should have.  Here is the edited version that clarifies a few things, hopefully!

World War I draft registration cards can be bountiful in information for how little they are.  They provide clues to a family researcher that will help one find more information. Sometimes, the record creates conflicting information, as was the case with this record and his U. S. Citizen status.

The card above is for the husband of my maternal grandaunt, Augusta "Gustie" Fredrich.  Augusta was the daughter of Johann August Fredrich and Louise Fredrike Zastrow Fredrich.  She was the younger sister to my grandfather, Otto August Fredrich(k).  They were known to the family as Aunt Gustie and Uncle Herman.

This draft card is for Herman Adolph Brien (Breen). One of the things I noticed on this card is that Herman states he was native born.  Herman's marriage record and census records state that he was born in Germany.  I believe he was born in Germany and need to find proof of his birth.  The original post I wrote had people commenting that maybe he was trying to hide his German identity because of the anti-German sentiment of the time.  I imagine it was hard for German born American residents during the war.

I believe the other information on the card is accurate.  Most records I have found for Herman and Augusta have used the Breen spelling.  This one is the only one where I found Brien used.


Name: Herman Adolph Brien
Address: 140 Jefferson St. Manistee, Manistee, Mich
Age: 41
Date of Birth: Nov. 17 1876
Race: White
U.S. Citizen: Native Born
Occupation: Locomotive Engineer
Employer's Name: Pere Marquette RR Co.
Employer's Address: Potter St. Saginaw, Saginaw, Mich
Nearest Relative Name: Augusta Brien (wife)
Nearest Relative Address: 140 Jefferson St. Manistee, Manistee, Mich
Signature: See registration card
Height: Medium
Build: Medium
Eye Color: Blue
Hair Color: Gray Mixed
Date of Registration: 7 Sep 1918