Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Summer 1966 at 210 North 42 Street. Rapid City.

Summer 1966. Kim was 9. I was 8 My Baptism Year, Kevin was 5,
Janice and Jon were 3
and Jilane was 18 months.
Click to Enlarge

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Valley of the Pleasant Grove

Hello Clan,
Our family moved from 38 East Signal Drive to the South Canyon neighborhood of Rapid City in 1965. We rented a home at 210 North 42nd. Street. It was sad leaving Signal Heights but South Canyon opened new opportunities for a young family.

I remember the day this picture was taken. The photographer worked out of his car. He knocked on the door and offer a picture package if mother was interested. She said yes. He brought in his equipment. While he set up we rushed through the house getting into our church clothes. You'll notice I'm wearing something nicer than that last picture of 'anything that buttons or snaps is a go'. I was 8 and either just baptised or about to be.

Now, this may well be one of the only pictures in existence of Jon not acting stupid. It was a miracle and as soon as the flash ignited Mom knew she had a masterpiece. I'm sorry to see the picture has degraded over the years but now it is digitized and protected for ever. In this picture I apologize for Janice. Notice she doesn't know what to do with her hands. Secondly - the tongue. She had an adult tongue in her small head. It was so big she couldn't keep it inside her mouth. It was sticking out all the time. We teased her about it relentlessly. I'm surprise she isn't traumatized about it today.

The six of us were very close. The three boys shared a basement bedroom, so did the three girls. The upstairs had a kitchen, living room, a small master bedroom for mom and dad and another bedroom we called the TV room. That's where we went to watch TV. I remember our favorite shows were Bewitched, Green Acres, The Andy Griffth Show, The Wild Wild West and of course Johnny Quest.

We attended South Canyon Elementary School. Kim's best friend lived across the street. Her name was Pandora. When our chores were finished we'd ride our bikes to a wooded area with watered by a small creek we called Monkey Village. We swung from trees, had forts and general just played and hung out all hours, only going home to eat and bed. We also lived close to the hills and spent hours hiking and exploring. live was different then. Much simpler.


Jilane at Story Book Island

Here we are a few years later. Jilane is older now. We're at Story Book Island. Remember visiting Story Book Island during the family reunion a couple years ago? We went there a lot as kids for two reasons: 1. It was fun and 2. IT WAS FREE!

Jon at Story Book Island

Jon looks to be about 5 in this picture. Jon was the most loving outgoing kid. He embarrassed me all the time. Where ever we went he'd walk up to total strangers and introduce himself and start a conversation. Never a fear never a worry. He talked and laughed and talked and laughed. Oh, I should add, he did all of that when he wasn't tripping. The kid was a danger to himself. He was always tripping and falling forward - right onto his face. We always used to say how lucky he was to have a pug nose.

Driving Miss Luella. My Afternoon Giving Mother Parking Lessons!

Yes, I know this isn't Mother but it Sure Comes Close to What
I Saw and Experienced Last Sunday. You All Owe Me Big Time!

Last Sunday morning I was home enjoying an exceptional view of the valley. The sky was crisp blue and the air was clean, a real treat considering the muck we’ve had to breath for the last several weeks.
“Victor!” mother called from the door leading to my home's basement apartment. She was using her “I’m going to ask you to do something so I’ll use my kind, less shrill” voice.
“Yes,” I hesitated in responding. She knew I was home so remaining silent wouldn’t be wise. It would only result in a personal visit up the stairs.
“Would you take me driving so I can practice parallel parking?”
I let her words hang in the air until the shock of their meaning dissipated to the point where I could respond. My mind went through thousands of calculations in an attempt to rearrange the universe in such a way that I could get out of doing it without disappointing her. I opened my mouth to lie....
“Yes, I’ll take you,” I said. I don’t knew where those words came from. I suspect guilt planted them into my head. She needed help and I was home. It was a son’s duty. I also realized that her chances of passing the parallel parking part of the driving test were as good as dad ever saying “I’m tired of working. I’m going tot take the rest of my life off.”
“Let’s go,” she shouted. Her excitement reminded me of a dog circling and yapping in delight after realizing he’s about to get to ride in the back of the pickup truck for a trip into town.

I fell to my knees realizing the mortal danger I’d put myself into. I prayed, using my own made up prayer; afterwards, thinking my own prayer for safety wouldn’t be enough, I went online and did a quick Google search for “Prayers for Driving Instructors”. I found a good one, fell again to my knees and recited it word for word. I heard her ascending the steps. I closed my computer, put on my coat went into the kitchen, opened my desk, and searched for my amulets. I found my Rabbit’s foot and plastic Buddha. I couldn’t find my Star of David but felt it would be OK considering we doing this on a Sunday, and Sunday wasn’t the Jewish Sabbath. I put the two items in my coat pockets and turned to select a cross necklace from the many hanging around the wooden banister separating my kitchen and living room. They were sent to me by dozens of Catholic charity searching for donations. Sheezzzz, I gave a couple bucks to a Catholic homeless shelter for teens in New York City and Presto... my name is spread to every Catholic charity world wide. I selected the cross sent by the Sister of Ever Increasing Hope, put it around my neck and walked out to the garage to meet her.

“Get in,” she said. She was sitting in the driver’s seat of her Titanic sized Lincoln Town Car. I got in. She backed out of the Garage without hitting anything. Fortuna was with us I thought. I thought too soon. She didn’t take the driveway at an angle causing the car to scrape against the rise where the driveway and sidewalk meet at a sharp incline. I cringed at the sound of metal on concrete. She didn’t hear or feel it. She was too busy finding the road. She managed to find Drive and we jerked forward.

“How’am I doing?” she said as she leaned forward to rest her chin on the steering wheel - her favored driving position. You see, she has a cataract in her right eye, so she really only sees out of her left. She thinks she has a better view of the road if she leans forward that extra foot and a half. The hood of the Lincoln stretching out several yards doesn’t help. I fastened my seat belt and rubbed the cross around my neck praying to Saint Christopher for deliverance.

I watched her as we rolled down the hill. Her eyes were wide open staring at the road ahead.
“What’s the speed limit,” she shouted nearly sending me out the door. I was clutching the door handle anyway, ready to jump and roll if necessary. You know the old adage, at sea - its every man for himself on a sinking ship.
“Twenty Five,” I shouted back. She slammed on the brake to slow from 18 miles per hour to 12.
“Read this,” she tossed a yellow paper at me containing the notes written by the driving evaluator from her last failed attempt to pass the driving test. He’d written that she wasn’t looking over her shoulder when changing lanes.
“You’re not looking over your shoulder when changing lanes,” I said.
“Where?” she shouted. Her foot found the brake again. A radar gun would have clocked us at 8 miles an hour at that point. She jerked her head left and right looking for something that wasn’t there.
“When you change lanes - you need to look over your shoulder,” I explained.
“Oh..... got it,” she answered. Our speed increased. I looked at the paper again. Down in the bottom corner I found a cross drawn in ink. Below it were these words, “Pray for us now and in the hour of our death Amen.” I recognized them from the Catholic “Hail Mary” prayer.
“Mom, was your last driving evaluator Hispanic?” I asked.
“How did you know?” she answered. I let it go.

We approached the traffic light at the bottom of the road on 1100 North. She was going to merge to the left to get into the turning lane. She braked, then spun her head violently to the left to check for cars creeping up beside her. Then, to my surprise, she spun her head to the right to check for cars. We stopped on the red. We waited. Her hands clutched the wheel. My hands clutched the dashboard. The light turned green. We didn’t move. Yes, she saw the green but was busy looking to the left and right for oncoming cars.
“Go?” she shouted out the question, unsure of herself.
“Yes, its green?”
“So Go?”
“Yes.. GO!” And go she went, pedal to the medal. I believe the Lincoln rolled up on its right two tires on that corner.
“God help us,” I mumbled.
“WHERE?” she shouted. Her foot found the brake again.
“Keep going,” I said loud enough for her to hear.

A quarter mile down the road we came to the school crossing zone.
“School Zone,” she said. “They’ll get me if I don’t slow down.” We slowed.
“Mother, its Sunday. There is no school.”
“Does it matter?” she asked.
“Slow down only if there are children present or if the yellow lights are flashing.” I reminder her.

“That’s were Judy lives. She’s my friend,” she said as we passed the large house next to the cemetery.
“Who drives when you and Judy go out?” I asked.
“Judy drives,” she replied.
Yes, I was right. I knew Judy would be the designated driver. Would you let an old lady with one good eye and paranoid of everything else on the road drive you anywhere?

We got to the light on Center Street. She was going to turn right. Again, she cranked her head to the left and right before signalling the turn and moving into the right turning lane.
“Why are you looking over your left shoulder when you’re making a right hand turn?” I asked.
“You said the instructor wrote that I needed to look over my shoulder when changing lanes. Did he write that or not?” she asked a bit perturbed.
“Ma, look over your shoulder at the lane you’re moving into to check for traffic, not at the lane you’re moving out of,” I explained.
“Well make up your mind,” she shot back.

The rest of the way to the driving range was filled with the same. She cranked her head to the left and to the right all the way down the road, at every intersection, at every stop sign and every time she changed lanes no matter what direction she was turning.

We managed to get to the driving range alive. She pulled up to the tall cone markers marking the place where parallel parking was tested.
“This is where I keep failing,” she hissed as we pulled up to the front two cones marking where the back bumper of a parked car would be. Behind us stood two taller cones marking where the front bumper of another parked car would be.
“I’ve got to get this car in there,” she said point to the small open space between the two sets of several orange cones stacked on on top of the other.

“OK, let’s do this,” I said. Hoping for the best. For the next ten minutes she maneuvered the car. First forward, then she would check the position of the front cones. Then backward and rechecking the positions of the cones. She was looking for some magical sweet spot that would guarantee a perfect park. I urged her to just “Do it already”. She bit her bottom lip, cranked the wheel and hit the gas.

We stopped after the back right tire went up and over the curb.
“Damn it,” she mumbled as she shifted from reverse into drive and peeled forward out into the driving lane and into the parking lot. She turned hard left, circling around, passing the parking test point into the opposite parking lot. She made another hard left and pulled back into position to try it all over again. I’ll call that her classic Circle 8 maneuver.

She tried again. Success! We didn’t climb the curb. We also didn’t parallel park. We ended up half in the parking place and half into the road.
“Damn it,” she mumbled and stepped onto the gas. Another classic Circle 8 maneuver.
The next time I talked and talked and talked her through the parking. We moved slowly an inch at a time. It was nearly a success. We did another circle 8 to reposition the car for another attempt.

By this time I was getting car sick with all the circle 8’s. We were into it 20 minutes and I had to get out or I’d loose my lunch, breakfast and supper from the night before. I got out of the car and stood beside the cones. I talked her through a half dozen attempts. She got the last one right! There were cheers. She was so proud of herself. She insisted she do it again. She got the next half dozen wrong. Her problem was she couldn’t see the cones very well. She also freaked out because the Lincoln had a backing up alarm. Every time she’d get close to the back cones the alarm rang sending her into shock. Thirty minutes into the practice she became desensitized to the alarm.

On the 19th attempt she successfully knocked over the back two cone pillars.
“Damn it,” she mumbled and sped off into another circle 8. On her next attempt she knocked over the front left set of cones. By then I’d had enough. I got in the drivers seat. She stood outside and I parallel parked the car several times so she could see how it was done. Half the time she seemed more interested in the cones than my demonstration. She thought they were lower than the last time she attempted to pass the driving test.

She got in again even more determined to succeed. I remained in the car and tried to teach her to focus more on the mirrors than cranking her head around so much.
“Mirrors! I can’t see the cones in the mirrors!” she shouted.
“Are you telling me that you can’t see the cones in this mirror?” I said pointing to the mirror on the outside of my door.
“Am I suppose to?” she asked. I heard a chuckle from the back seat. I turned, and for a brief thousandth of a second I thought I saw what appeared to be an angel. Her guardian angel. The one she says is there to help with her driving. It was all just too much. I moved the mirror until she saw the cones in their right position.
“Look at that, I can see the cones!” she said happily. After that, she parked nearly perfectly.
She had parallel parking mastered and it only took 90 minutes to do it!

On the way home she got a phone call from my father. I answered it fearing to let her talk on the phone and drive at the same time.
“How many cones did she know over?” he asked from work. My dad works at Walmart. He retired many years ago, has plenty of money but likes to work to keep busy.
“Ask her if she’s going to Walmart today,” he asked.
“If he needs me to go I will,” she replied. I passed the message back to dad.
“Tell her I need my three D’s” he responded. “Do you know what the three D’s are?” he asked.
“No,” I said, and in reality I didn’t care to know.
“Drink, dinner and dessert,” he said. I passed the information to mom and the call ended. I thought for a moment. That entire conversation seemed strange.
“Mom, Dad’s at work. He’s at WalMart. He’s asking you to drive to Walmart to pick up a drink, dinner and dessert. Why? He’s already there. Why doesn’t he do it himself?”
“He thinks it tastes better If I do it?” she answered as she cranked her head back and forth so much I didn’t need the window down for a breeze. Her head was fanning the air enough.

I was never so happy to get home in my life than I did last Sunday. The next day she went in and took her driving test. She passed!
“I passed,” she said when she got home.
“Any problems?” I asked.
“Nope. I got up and had a revelation. I realized the Lincoln was too big so your father and I rented a small compact car for the day and that's what I used for my driving test. I parked that small thing on the first try. Thanks for you help honey!”

"You're welcome. I'm glad you passed. I told you you could do it. I never lost faith," I lied while feeling peeved I spent all that time on Sunday trying to teach her to park that Titanic Lincoln. Now hopefully her license will be valid enough years so I can recover before it all has to be done over again.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Mystery Solved. Mary Queen of Scots our 1st Cousin (14 Times Removed).

Mary, Queen of Scots. Painted while in Prison

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Pleasant Grove

Dispatch to the Clan,

A Mystery Solved,

Every since I was a child I remember Grandma Mattson telling me that we were related to Mary, Queen of Scots. She couldn’t say how, she just knew we were. Today, that mystery is solved. This old family memory, passed from generation to generation is true and today I will explain how.

Our story begins with our 14th Great Grandfather King James IV of Scotland. He fathered our 13th Great Grandmother, the Lady Margaret through his mistress Margaret Drummond. After Margaret died, James IV married the English Princess Maragret Tudor, the sister of the famous Henry VIII. They had a child named James, who later became King James V of Scotland. Therefore Kings James V of Scotland was our 1/2 14th Great Uncle so to speak. From this point on I’ll not use the term 1/2 now that you understand the relationship.

Mary at 13 years old

Mary, Queen of Scots was the daughter of our Great Uncle, James V of Scotland. Therefore, Mary was our 1st cousin 14 times removed. She became Queen of Scotland at the age of six days. She was crowned nine months later.

Mary and Francis

In 1558 she married Francis, the crown prince of France. She was not Queen of France for long. She was widowed in December 1560. Four years later she married her first cousin Henry Stuart. He was murdered by an explosion in 1567. After that she married James Hepburn, who is believed to be the murderer of her 2nd husband Henry Stuart.

Mary with her young son James VI

Mary was forced to abdicate the throne of Scotland in after an uprising. Her one year old son James VI became King of Scotland. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne Mary fled to England to seek protection from her first cousin, Queen Elizabeth I (a distant cousin of ours) whose kingdom she hoped to inherit because, as we all know, Queen Elizabeth (daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife who was later beheaded by Henry) never married and had no children.

Mry was arrested because of three plots to assassinate Elizabeth. Mary wanted to seize the throne of England and reestablish Catholicism as the religion of the land (remember, Henry VIII created the Church of England and turned England into a Protestant nation). Mary was tried and executed by beheading.

Contemporary sketch of the Execution

Her execution was a gruesome business. She spent the last hours of her life in prayer and also writing letters and her will. She expressed a request that her servants should be released. She also requested that she should be buried in France. The scaffold that was erected in the great hall was three feet tall and draped in black. It was reached by five steps and the only things on it were a disrobing stool, the block, a cushion for her to kneel on, and a bloody butcher's axe that had been previously used on animals. At her execution the executioners (one of whom was named Bull) knelt before her and asked forgiveness. According to a contemporary account, she replied "I forgive you with all my heart.” The executioners and her two servants helped remove a black outer gown, two petticoats, and her corset to reveal a deep red chemise—the liturgical color of martyrdom in the Catholic Church. As she disrobed she smiled faintly to the executioner and said, "Never have I had such assistants to disrobe me, and never have I put off my clothes before such a company." She was then blindfolded and knelt down on the cushion in front of the block. She positioned her head on the block and stretched her arms out behind her.

In Lady Antonia Fraser's biography, Mary Queen of Scots, the author writes that it took two strikes to decapitate Mary: The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head, at which point the Queen's lips moved. (Her servants reported they thought she had whispered the words "Sweet Jesus.") The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew that the executioner severed by using the axe as a saw. Robert Wynkfield recorded a detailed account of the moments leading up to Mary's execution, also describing that it took two strikes to behead the Queen. Afterward, the executioner held her head aloft and declared, "God save the Queen." At that moment, the auburn tresses in his hand came apart and the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had had very short, grey hair.
It has been suggested that it took three strikes to decapitate Mary instead of two, a ritual devised to protract the suffering of the victim.

Mary's Tomb at Westminster Abbey in London

There are several stories told about the execution. One already mentioned and thought to be true is that, when the executioner picked up the severed head to show it to those present, it was discovered that Mary was wearing a wig. The headsman was left holding the wig, while the late queen's head rolled on the floor. Another well-known execution story related in Robert Wynkfield's first-hand account concerns a small dog owned by the queen, which is said to have been hiding among her skirts, unseen by the spectators. Her dress and layers of clothing were so immensely regal, it would have been easy for the tiny pet to have hidden there as she slowly made her way to the scaffold. Following the beheading, the dog refused to be parted from its owner and was covered in blood. It was finally taken away by her ladies-in-waiting and washed.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our 14th Great Grandmother, Margaret Drummond, Mistress to James IV. Murdered?

James IV King of Scotland. Our 14th Great Grandfather.
Grandma Mattson to her father and along the Pierce Line

A Dispatch from the Fortress of Solitude
To the Clan

Tonight I tell a tale of woe. It is the story of our 14th Great Grandmother Margaret Drummond. She was born in 1475 to John Drummond the 1st Lord Drummond. In 1495 Scotland’s King, James IV (our 14th Great Grandfather) beheld her beauty and sought a relationship. They fell in love. She became his mistress. The King was unmarried at the time. In 1496 she lived in the royal castle at Stirling. Together they had a child named Margaret Stewart, our 13th Great Grandmother.

It is widely believed that James IV secretly married Margaret. There are no pictures of Margaret.


Margaret died of food poisoning in 1501 along with her two sisters Eupheme and Sibylia while staying at their parents’ residence. Normally the fact that someone died of food poisoning during this time in history is common. Standards of food hygiene are unlikely to have been very good then, and cases of accidental food poisoning have happened in any period. However, with three people who presumably died shortly after eating the same meal, the claim of poisoning gains serious merit.

Murder Theories

It is suggested that our Great Grandmother was murdered either by English agents or pro-English elements in the Scottish nobility. If she was married to James IV then her death was necessary in order to allow, or force the King to marry the English princess Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister). The plaque on her grave in Dunblane Cathedral says she was “privately married” to the King and that she was murdered by Scottish nobles who supported the English marriage.

Dunblane Cathedral

The marriage of James IV and Margaret Tudor brought about the Union of the English and Scottish Crowns 100 years later when their great grandson James VI claimed the English Throne upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I (daughter of Henry VIII).

If James IV and our great grandmother were married then the Union of Crowns might never have taken place and Scotland might have remained an independent country. Of course this is a theory. No one can be sure.

Serious historians doubt she was poisoned, believing the poisoning was an accident.

Our 13th Great Grandmother, Margaret Stewart, now without her mother, was raised at Edinburgh Castle as Lady Margaret. She was supported throughout her life by her father James IV.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mother and Kevin. October 1961.

Luella Williamson, age 22. Kevin Williamson, age 3 months. October 1961
Click to enlarge

From the Fortress of Solitude.

The Lady Luella called me to her chamber this evening. On my orders she fumbled through a file of old pictures looking for tonight's postings. A gleam from her eye brightened the room as she pulled this photo from the file. The original was small, the kind you get from the old photo booths of another era. Remember them, you found them at Kmart, Gibsons and the super markets. You put in two quarters, sat on a spinning stool, looked at a mirror and waited for the flash to take 4 pictures of you. After the pictures, you waited outside the booth for the pictures to drop into the receptacle. All they could afford in those days I'm sure.
"This is my favorite picture of me," mom said smiling as she placed this snapshot into my hands.
"Don't I look a treat?"

I know Kim and I were present when this was taken because there is a a series of pictures of the two of us in the same booth, to be posted another time. I decided to let this picture stand alone, considering it's importance to our old Ma.


And Now, The Mattsons and McCrillus.

From the Fortress of Solitude

This evening we peer into the past, capturing visions of ancestors long dead. Tonight we meet John Albert Mattson, my Great Grandfather and father of Walter Mattson (Luella's father). He was born August 6, 1873 in Fjaras, Halland Sweden. He is 16 years old in this picture, taken in 1889, the same year South Dakota was made a state. The picture was taken in Scranton PA.

John Albert Mattson. Age 16
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John Albert Mattson. Age Unknown
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This picture is of John Albert and his wife Ida was taken on the Mattson ranch in Montana. They moved from Lead where they owned 5 houses. They sold the houses, bought a homestead in Montana and moved the family. The homestead was one mile from the town Pinele. Our grandfather Walter was 10 years old when they moved. Walter was their only child.

Click to enlarge

This was written on the back of the picture. It is written in his own hand in Swedish. I'm guessing it was written to his sister Josephine in Lead.

John Albert Mattson died on May 16, 1955 in Belle Fourche South Dakota.

John Albert came over from Sweden when he was 16 years old. He didn't speak English. His family came over one at a time. One would come and get a job, save money, send the money back to Sweden so another family member could come. His oldest sister was the first to come to America. He saw a fruit pie for the first time in America and thought it was an omelet. He helped in the San Francisco 1906 earthquake recovery. He eventual moved to Lead South Dakota. He met his wife in Lead and that's where they settled.

He moved to Spearfish with mom and the family in 1954. He lived with them until he died. He was 72 when he died of Leukemia.

Also Tonight you are fortunate to meet Isabelle Deanora Helgerson McCrillus. She was Grandma Mattson's Grandmother, my Great Great Grandmother. She was born in 1851 in Vermont and died the day after Christmas in 1896. The McCrillus line is where we trace most of our royal blood all channeled into your bloodstream by Great Great Grandmother D. Bell (as she was known).

She was married before to a Helgerson. Later she married John Dennis, mom's Great Grandfather. He worked on the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

Now, we end for the evening. There will be more to come.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Janice and Jon Join the Williamson Family. 1963

Hello Family,
This picture was taken in 1963 just after Jon and Janice were born. Kim was 6 years old. I was 5 and Kevin was 3. This picture was taken at our home at 39 East Signal Drive, Rapid City. We just came home from church. Notice how nicely Kim and Kevin are dressed. Now notice what I'm wearing. Yea, let's let the 5 year old wear whatever. How typical. Its the story of my life - always getting the shaft. Ah, give him whatever, it doesn't have to match and who cares if the shirt doesn't even fit! :)

Mom was 26 years old with five children when this picture was taken. No one gave mom a baby shower for Jon and Jan so she had to make do with two outfits apiece, at least for awhile. One outfit was in the wash while the other was on their backs.

I predicted the birth of twins before anyone else, including the doctor. I also predicted they would be a boy and girl. I had unique powers of observation even at the young age of 5. I mean how hard was it to see that mother looked like she had swallowed several basketballs. She was huge.

We had an oversized playpen for the twins. You see, in those days the play pen was your home. You got fed, you got your nappy changed and then straight into the play pen to entertain yourself with whatever was tossed in, a bowl a cup a stuffed animal, whatever. Mom remembers Jon and Jan loved their play pen. She also remembers they played nicely together. They were really good babies. Kim took it upon herself to help with Janice. I took responsibility for Jon. As for Kevin, he spent most of his time trying to escape. Every time the front door was opened little 3 year old Kevin made a break for it - out the door and running down the street as fast as his little legs would carry him.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Jilane's Birthday Party and a Christmas Shot. 1972 - 1973.

Hello Family,
More pictures taken at 2214 38th Street, Rapid City. I'm guessing these pictures were taken in 1973. I'm basing the guess on Lisa's age. I'm sure Jilane recognizes everyone in this picture. There are a few I know. I see Janice and Jilane. In this series of pictures I feel it necessary to apologize for Jon. Enlarge the picture by clicking on it and look at him. Yes, I'm sorry for Jon.
I think Paula Thomas is in these pictues. I think I see Shelley Burnett as well.

Here's a question for my 7 siblings. Do you recognized the KoolAid tupperware container? We kept that filled. It was our watering tough. We drank the stuff by the gallons. What else do you remember about these pictures? What else comes to mind when you see them? Send along your comments.
And Another Lisa
And a picture of the famous heater vent in the living room. Lisa is just learning to walk.

Wow! This may be the only picture left of our 1958 blue station wagon with the hole in the floorboard. This is the car mom and dad used a vice grip to shift gears with. We held the windows up with clothes hangers. It's horn blew everytime you turned a corner. It belched poisonous clouds of blue oil smoke. And in its last days it wouldn't reverse. Ah memories.....
Christmas 1972. Look at Kevin's clothes. Such style! I'll bet he won't show this picture to anyone. Quick, copy it, call him and ask for money or it gets distributed.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

And Now, a Drop of Scottish Blood. Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, Our 20th Great Uncle

Robert the Bruce, our 20th Great Uncle

Hello Family,
For today's journey in our family Way Back Machine we travel to Scotland. Before we do, let's review what we know about our ancestors so far.
  • We have several English Kings and Queens in our ancestral line.
  • We discovered we are descendants of Roman Emperors.
  • We are descendants of Holy Roman Emperors.
I'm currently researching direct family ties to Irish and Welsh Royal lines but while I do that let's meet someone from our royal Scottish family line.

His name is Robert the Bruce. He is, without a doubt, one of Scotland's greatest historical figures, a George Washington of Scotland so to speak. Robert is our 20th Great Uncle. His sister Marjoie Bruce Princess of Scotland is our 20th Great Grandmother.

This is therefore our Bruce family Scotish tartan:

This is our Bruce Family Coat of Arms: Fuimus means "We Have Been"

And Now, a bit of the Bruce Family History:

Robert I, known as Robert the Bruce, was the king of the Scots who secured Scotland's independence from England.

Robert was born on 11 July 1274 into an aristocratic Scottish family. Through his father he was distantly related to the Scottish royal family. His mother had Gaelic antecedents. Bruce's grandfather was one of the claimants to the Scottish throne during a succession dispute in 1290 - 1292. The English king, Edward I, was asked to arbitrate and chose John Balliol to be king. Both Bruce and his father refused to back Balliol and supported Edward I's invasion of Scotland in 1296 to force Balliol to abdicate. Edward then ruled Scotland as a province of England.

Bruce then supported William Wallace's uprising against the English. After Wallace was defeated, Bruce's lands were not confiscated and in 1298, Bruce became a guardian of Scotland, with John Comyn, Balliol's nephew and Bruce's greatest rival for the Scottish throne In 1306, Bruce quarrelled with Comyn and stabbed him in a church in Dumfries. He was outlawed by Edward and excommunicated by the pope. Bruce now proclaimed his right to the throne and on 27 March was crowned king at Scone. The following year, Bruce was deposed by Edward's army and forced to flee. His wife and daughters were imprisoned and three of his brothers executed. Robert spent the winter on the island off the coast of Antrim (Northern Ireland).

Returning to Scotland, Robert waged a highly successful guerrilla war against the English. At the Battle of Bannockburn in June 1314, he defeated a much larger English army under Edward II, confirming the re-establishment of an independent Scottish monarchy. Two years later, his brother Edward Bruce was inaugurated as high king of Ireland but was killed in battle in 1318. Even after Bannockburn and the Scottish capture of Berwick in 1318, Edward II refused to give up his claim to the overlordship of Scotland. In 1320, the Scottish earls, barons and the 'community of the realm' sent a letter to Pope John XXII declaring that Robert was their rightful monarch. This was the 'Declaration of Arbroath' and it asserted the antiquity of the Scottish people and their monarchy.

Four years later, Robert received papal recognition as king of an independent Scotland. The Franco-Scottish alliance was renewed in the Treaty of Corbeil, by which the Scots were obliged to make war on England should hostilities break out between England and France. In 1327, the English deposed Edward II in favour of his son and peace was made with Scotland. This included a total renunciation of all English claims to superiority over Scotland. Robert died on 7 June 1329. He was buried at Dunfermline. He requested that his heart be taken to the Holy Land, but it only got as far as Spain. It was returned to Scotland and buried in Melrose Abbey.

Janice and Steve Cover Under the Milky Way Tonight

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Williamson Family Reunion 1975. And Other Things.

Hello Family,
Our first stop in tonight's venture through the Twilight Zone of memory is Spearfish Park in July 1975 for the Williamson Family Reunion. Click on the picture above to enlarge and see if how many of our family you can recognize. Please send me your official entry. I'll post all their names on Monday. No cheating and calling mom or dad. Do this yourself.

Our picnic tables where near Spearfish Creek. I got these two shots of three year old Lisa near the water's edge. I kept telling her to "move closer to the water". She hesitated - remembering mom's warning about staying away from the water. Well, I tried my best but try as I did she wouldn't go just those few extra steps. Darn it. Well, one can only do one's best.

I remember sitting her on this log, right on the water's edge. I planned on taking the picture then shouting "SPIDER!" thinking the sudden shock would send her right over but, darn it, look how cute she was back then. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I had my chance and blew it. Well, Caden, Draker, Aidea and Bob can thank me for it. You four owe me big time!Our final snapshot comes from my old white Polaroid Instamatic camera. Can you see the talent in this snapshot? No... I'm not talking about the malnourished "Feed the Children Poster Children" in the picture above. I'm talking about the professionalism of the picture. Remarkable for one my age. Notice how I caught Kevin in mid swing. Notice I captured Jon with a decent face. That's rare indeed. I apologize, as I always do for Jilane. What can one say. She's just Jilane. Janice tried that cosmopolitan look (notice the slight turn of the head and Mona Lisa smile). Unsuccessful as it was it was still a good attempt from someone that, even on her best days, struggled to make a good picture.

This picture was taken in our back yard at 2214 38th Street. I believe that is Frosty the mutt in the background. Remember Frosty - our street accident of a dog with the matted fur and host to the world's greatest collection of flea circuses? I still laugh when I see that miserable barrier we called a fence. Yes Friends, the boards do go different directions. Sheezzzzze........

I'm guessing this picture was taken around 1973. Kevin looks to be around 11 years old. I love this picture.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mark Antony, Roman Emperor. Our 58th Great Grandfather

Hello Family,
We've all heard of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Well, now we find that Mark Antony was our 58th Great Grandfather through a line of Kings and Queens tied to Charlemagne. His wife, our 58th Great Grandmother was Octavia Minor. She was the sister of Caesar Augustus (He called the world to be taxed in the Christmas Story). So Caesar Augustus was a Great Uncle. Hold on to your socks on this, but through another line, Caesar Augustus was another Great Grandfather (another post for another day). History suddenly comes alive doesn't it?

Mark Antony (left) on a Roman Gold Coin. Caeser Augustus (Octavian) is on the Right. Two Great Grandfathers on a single coin.

Here is a brief outline of Mark Antony's life:

  • 83 B.C.E.—born in Rome
  • 54–50 B.C.E.—joins Caesar's staff in Gaul and fights in the Gallic wars
  • 50 B.C.E.—Tribune of the Plebeians
  • 48 B.C.E.—Serves as Caesar's Master of the Horse
  • 47 B.C.E.—Ruinous administration of Italy: political exile
  • 44 B.C.E.—Forms the Second Triumvirate with Octavian and Lepidus
  • 42 B.C.E.—Defeats Cassius and Brutus in the Battle of Philippi; travels through the East
  • 41 B.C.E.—Meets Cleopatra
  • 40 B.C.E.—Returns to Rome, marries Octavia Minor; treaty of Brundisium
  • 38 B.C.E.—Treaty of Tarentum: Triumvirate renewed until 33 B.C.E.
  • 36 B.C.E.—Defeated by the Parthians
  • 35 B.C.E.—Conquers Armenia
  • 34 B.C.E.—The Donations of Alexandria
  • 33 B.C.E.—End of the triumvirate
  • 32 B.C.E.—Exchange of accusations between Octavian and Antony
  • 31 B.C.E.—Defeated by Octavian in the naval Battle of Actium
  • 30 B.C.E.—Antony commits suicide in the mistaken belief that Cleopatra had already done so

Marcus Antonius (Latin: M•ANTONIVS•M•F•M•N)[1] (c. January 14, 83 B.C.E. – August 1, 30 B.C.E.), known in English as Mark Antony (also spelled Marc Anthony; Latin, Marcus Antonius), was a Roman politician and general. He was an important supporter of Gaius Julius Caesar as a military commander and administrator. After Caesar's assassination, Antony allied with Caesar’s adopted son Octavian and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus to form an official triumvirate which modern scholars have labeled the Second Triumvirate (43–30 B.C.E.). The triumvirate broke up in 33 B.C.E. Disagreement between Octavian and Antony turned to civil war in 31 B.C.E., after Antony formed a personal and political alliance with Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt, and used her support to invade Parthia. Antony was defeated by Octavian at the naval Battle of Actium and then in a short land battle at Alexandria. He committed suicide, and Cleopatra killed herself soon afterwards.

Mark Antony was especially criticized in Rome for betraying his Roman citizenship by forming an alliance with a foreign queen. His plans for collaboration between the Roman Empire and Greece were put to rest by his defeat at the Battle of Actium, and the Roman Empire continued a policy of attempting to bring its neighbors under central control for the next three centuries. Shakespeare made Antony and Cleopatra the subject of his famous tragedy, “Antony and Cleopatra,” and gave him a role delivering the funeral oration for Julius Caesar in another tragedy, Julius Caesar.

Please visit the following link to learn more about this ancestor:


Keep in touch with the blog. There are many more to come.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Charlemagne, The First Holy Roman Emperor. Our 36th Great Grandfather. Born 2 April 742. Died 28 January 814

Hello Family,
Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor was our 36th Great Grandfather. The relation comes through Grandma Mattson and then through her mother Vesta.  Here are the basics on Charlemagne.

I should also come clean about this and tell you that our relation to this very famous historical figure comes through his bastard son (he had two) Hugo "L'Abbe" Bastard of the Holy Roman Empire. Yes, that is his real historical title.  Hugo was therefore our 35th Great Grandfather. Hugo's mother was named Regina. History tells us she never married.

Here is a written description of Charlemagne from one of his associates.
He was heavily built, sturdy, and of considerable stature, although not exceptionally so, since his height was seven times the length of his own foot. He had a round head, large and lively eyes, a slightly larger nose than usual, white but still attractive hair, a bright and cheerful expression, a short and fat neck, and a slightly protruding stomach. His voice was clear, but a little higher than one would have expected for a man of his build. He enjoyed good health, except for the fevers that affected him in the last few years of his life. Toward the end he dragged one leg. Even then, he stubbornly did what he wanted and refused to listen to doctors, indeed he detested them, because they wanted to persuade him to stop eating roast meat, as was his wont, and to be content with boiled meat.

Charlemagne was also called Charles I, Charles the Great (in French, Charlemagne; in German, Karl der Grosse; in Latin, Carolus Magnus) was King of the Franks, King of the Lombards, and is generally considered the first Holy Roman Emperor. Charlemagne consolidated a large portion of Europe under his rule, promoted learning, and instituted innovative administrative concepts.
Charlemagne was the son of Pippin III (the Short), who officially put an end to the Merovingian line of kings when he negotiated with the pope to be crowned King of the Franks. When Pippin died, the kingdom of Francia was divided between Charlemagne and his brother Carloman. Charles proved himself a capable leader from early on, but his brother was less so, and their relationship was tense until Carloman's death in 771.

Once Charlemagne had sole rule of the government of Francia, he expanded his territory through conquest. He conquered the Lombards in northern Italy, acquired Bavaria, and campaigned in Spain and Hungary. Charles used harsh measures in subduing the Saxons and virtually exterminating the Avars of presnt-day Austria and Hungary. Though he had essentially amassed an empire, Charlemagne did not style himself "emperor," but called himself the King of the Franks and Lombards.
Charles was an able administrator who delegated authority over his conquered provinces to Frankish nobles. At the same time, he recognized the diverse ethnic groups he'd brought together, and allowed each to retain its own local laws. To ensure justice, Charlemagne had these laws set down in writing and strictly enforced. He issued capitularies that applied to all citizens, and kept an eye on events in his empire through the use of missi dominici, representatives who acted with his authority.
Though never able to master writing himself, Charlemagne was an enthusiastic patron of learning. He attracted noted scholars to his court, including Alcuin, who became his private tutor, and Einhard, who was his biographer. Charles was responsible for reforming the palace school and setting up monastic schools throughout the empire. The monasteries he sponsored preserved and copied ancient books. The flowering of learning under his patronage has come to be known as the "Carolingian Renaissance."
Charlemagne took his role as a Christian seriously, and in 800, he came to the aid of Pope Leo III, who had been attacked in the streets of Rome. Charlemagne went to Rome to restore order and, after Leo purged himself of the charges against him, the pope unexpectedly crowned him emperor.

According to his biographer Einhard, Charlemagne wasn't pleased with this development, because it established the precedent of papal ascendancy over secular leadership; but though he still often referred to himself as a king he now also styled himself "Emperor," as well.
Charlemagne died in January, 814. His achievements stand among the most significant of the early Middle Ages, and although the empire he built (called "the Carolingian Empire" after him) would not long outlast his son Louis, his consolidation of lands marked a watershed in the development of Europe.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tonight's Picture Palace Presentation. Before Dad and Dad's Early Years.

Hello Family,
Tonight's offer takes us back to the 1930's for the first picture and then a few other pictures of dad before he started school.

A family photo taken in 1932/33.

The people in this picture are Left to Right, William Jonathon Williamson - Dad's Grandfather.
Francis Plato Williamson, Mary Anne Good (Baby) Aunt Josie Williamson Good's daughter, Walt Williamson - Dad's Uncle and oldest boy born to William Jonathon Williamson. Francis and Walt were married.

This picture was taken at the family's Conaco Station in Sundance Wyoming. The station is on the old original highway through Sundance. It is long gone, replaced by a cleaners.

If you look closely at the gasoline pump you'll see a big long handle. At the top of the pump was a glass tank that held the gas. To fill a car you took the handle and pumped the gas out of the underground tank into the glass cylinder on top of the pump. The glass cylinder is marked by gallon and half gallon. You hand to decided how many gallons you wanted before you started pumping. Then you took the hose off the handle, put it in your tank and my gravity it ran back down the hose into the tank. Of course, you didn't pump your own gas, it was pumped for you by attendants in uniform. One pump was for regular gas and the other was for Ethyl (Premium gas with lead). The attendant also checked your oil and water and cleaned your windshield. If requested they'd check your tire's air.

Dad on a petrified tree stump. This picture was taken in 1942 on the Mauch Ranch in Sundance Wyoming. He's sitting on a pillow but you can tell it isn't that comfortable on dad's skinny butt.

These two pictures are of dad when he was 4 1/2 years old taken in 1940. He is standing on the steps outside the door into the kitchen. Grandma Elda is with him in one. That house was brand new. It was off Porman Road in Lead, South Dakota. It sat at the end of the road. That house was built by Ted Pascoe and Dad's Dad Charlie. It had a living room, kitchen, washroom, bathroom and one bedroom on the main level. Upstairs it had one bedroom (dad's) and storage space. They paid $18.00 per month rent. In the dead of winter the heat bill was $3.00 per month and the lights were $2.00 per month. Dad had a small deck outside of his upstairs bedroom. He used to jump from the porch onto the lawn. He also used to jump from the deck into the chicken coop. Dad watched when they'd cut the chicken's head off to have a chicken supper.

Dad had a cat named Fuzz. She had kittens. Dad remembers his father Charlie sitting on the porch chloroforming the kittens to kill them, putting them in a sack and throwing them into the lake the next time he when fishing. Such lovely memories........

They moved out of the house in 1947 when dad's parents divorced.


Monday, January 18, 2010

The Obituary for Nadine Williamson.

Hello Everyone,
Nadine Williamson Rankin died last week. Nadine's first husband was Delbert Williamson. Delbert was the son of dad's great uncle, Glenn Williamson (brother to his Grandfather, William Jonathan Williamson).

I want to thank Karin Martin for sending this to me. This is Nadine's obituary from the Rapid City Journal.

Nadine L. Williamson-Rankin
RAPID CITY - Nadine L. Williamson-Rankin, 88, Rapid City, died Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010, at Rapid City Regional Hospital. Survivors include seven sons, Leedel Williamson and Denis Williamson, both of Rapid City, Marvin Rankin, North Platte, Neb., Douglas Rankin and Martin Rankin, Gillette, Wyo., Larry Rankin, Lawrence, Kan., and Bill Tolson, Ariz.; two daughters, Inez Maxner, Rapid City, and Debra Newlin, Pine Haven, Wyo.; eight grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husbands, Delbert P. Williamson, Tom Tolson and Harold C. Rankin. Services were held Saturday, Jan. 16 at the Free Methodist Church with the Rev. Doug Heck officiating.

Please take a moment and visit the online guest book and memorial to Nadine:

Published in the Rapid City Journal on 1/17/2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Little Lisa Williamson. A Darling for the Camera. 1974/75. Oh, And a Few Other Things - As if That Mattered.

Lisa on her 2nd Birthday. July 1974

Dear sweet Lisa was always a darling for the camera. As soon as she saw the lens she was all over it. Mention the word "camera" and she immediately broke into pose. Even at the young age of two she had rehearsed smiles spiced with innocent charm.

In this photo we see her preparing to dive into her delicious store bought cake right from Safeway's Bakery. I think I still remember that cake, strawberry topping, whipped cream, white frosting sprinkled heavily in coconut.

Did you notice the absence of friends? A birthday party for one. Just what we could afford in those days :) Our family philosophy was one of budget simplicity - if they were too young to realize what a proper birthday party was then why waste the money and throw one? Better to tell them its their birthday, dress them in their swim suit so you could hose them down before letting them back into the house if they make a mess with the frosting and cake Present the cake while telling them how lucky they are to get their very own cake - but you're sure she'd want to share it with her six other brothers and sisters hungrily standing just out of camera range, also in their swimming suits and ready and wanting to partake of the luxury of a store bought cake - a treat indeed even if it was off the week old shelf! Once she agreeed to share you brought out the cake, holding it in one hand and using your other (plus one foot if necessary) to fight off the starving siblings clawing to get at the pastry. You presented the cake, told her to smile and snapped the picture. You had to step back quickly, for at the sound of the shutter the cake was attacked and devoured in a frenzy of kicking, screaming, flying hair and bloody noses. Present was unnecessary. She was only two for Pete's sake.

Here we have Lisa's third birthday party in 1975. You'll see that Glenn and David (the boys from next door) were invited. At three years old, Lisa was old enough to understand what a party meant. That understanding included friends, cake, ice cream and singing. Mother did her best to accommodate the normalcy of a typical Midwestern party.

You'll see Janice and Jilane were present in the picture. Once again notice Lisa's perfect smile compared with her sister's. Yea........ You see what I mean - Lisa was born for the camera. Janice and Jilane, on the other hand, seemed uncomfortable. Jilane was straining to make 'just one good picture..... just one' and Janice seemed to have given up.

Mother looked good in this picture. She was in the grips of another diet - Weight Watchers I believe. She did well.

Glenn was a bit 'off'. David was the normal one of the two. No matter how many I times I asked Glenn to look at me he wouldn't. I can't decide who he was checking out in this photo. I'd like to think it was Lisa - someone near his chronological age but I think it was Jilane. I'm thinking Glenn was smart enough to know Lisa was out of his league. He had a chance with Jilane, even though she was older and more mature. Well, everyone was more mature than Glenn.

Here they are again. Lisa is opening her one and only birthday gifts. You'll be happy to see that we weren't spoiled as children. Mother was actually brilliant in the giving of gifts. If you cold kill two birds with oe stone - she did. Because Lisa's birthday was in July, mom purchased a few of her back to school clothes early and give them to her for her birthday. That's why Lisa was the only one of us that got pencils, pens and erasers on her birthday as she was growing up and the rest of us didn't.

David is still perplexed by the after taste of her birthday cake. We religiously skipped the day old bin at the Safeway and dug this one out of the special 'bin' in the back of the store for speciality items. We were used to the 'off' taste but our neighborhood friends found it 'interesting'.

Glenn is practicing his Barnabas Collins vampire stare from the 1970's hit TV show "Dark Shadows". I think he plunged for Lisa's neck after the picture was taken. I pulled him away from her and gave him a pound of thawed hamburger to suck on instead. Our goulash supper that night was meatless - just elbow macaroni, tomato sauce and lots of salt.

Our final picture is that of a lazy afternoon spent deseeding Bing cherries. My, doesn't Jilane have a high forehead? She has her nose curled as well. It was her normal reaction to work. That little blond boy is Shane Mattson. I'm not sure how many cherries her added to the final tally. I think most of his were digested as soon as the pit was released.

This photo shows one of the few times Lisa was NOT in perfect pose for the camera. She was having a bad day. The cherries were getting more attention than her and that was inexcusable.

There you have it troops. A few pictures from our time at 2214 38th Street.


P.S. Aren't I the smart one for always being the one taking the pictures?

Music of our Ancestors. The Music of the Tudor Court

This is the music from the time of our most recent historical family discoveries. This is a sample of the music from the 1500's.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Our 15th Great Uncle Edward and Henry VIII. Brotherhood and Betrayal

Edward Stafford, Anne's Brother, our 15th Great Uncle

Hello Family,
Today we discuss our 15th Great Uncle and brother of our 15th Great Grandmother Anne Stafford and his relationship with Henry VIII of England.

Edward was the 3rd Duke of Buckingham. Born on 3 February 1478 and executed by order of King Henry VIII on 17 May 1521. His father, our 16th Great Grandfather was executed for rebelling against King Richard III when Edward was 5 years old. When his cousin, King Henry VII (Henry VIII's father) became King he was accepted into the royal household and made a ward of the Queen, the Countess of Richmond and Derby (Henry VIII's mother). He later married and built Thornbury Castle pictured below.

Thornbury Castle Today

As a young man, our Great Uncle was made a Knight of the Garter (1495), and had various ceremonial roles at the Royal Court of Henry VII. He was given further honors following the crowning of King Henry VIII: Buckingham was Lord High Steward at the King's coronation in 1509, where he also carried the King's crown, and in 1514 he became Lord High Constable.

Henry VIII

Buckingham fell out dramatically with the King in 1510, when he discovered that the King was having an affair with the Anne, his sister, our 15th Great Grandmother. As we already know, Anne was taken to a convent sixty miles away. There are some suggestions that the affair continued until 1513. However, Edward returned to the King's graces, being present at the marriage of Henry's sister and served in Parliament.

Betrayal and Execution

The real power in King Henry VIII's court was not with the great nobles but with low-born men. Buckingham, with his royal blood and numerous connections by descent or marriage with the rest of the aristocracy became a leader of the disaffected nobles. During 1520, suspicions were raised about potentially treasonous actions and investigations began. Henry VIII personally examined witnesses against him and gathering enough evidence for a trial. Edward was finally brought to Court in April 1521 and arrested and placed in the Tower of London. Buckingham was tried before a panel of 17 peers, being accused of listening to the prophecies of the King's death and intending to kill the King; however, the King's mind appeared to be decided and conviction was certain. He was executed on at the Tower on 17 May 1521.