the wind and i just come and go

Month: June, 2014

Skeletons in the closet III – ah, here it is…

John B. Lindsay – Junior.  born in Iowa, about 1846-1848, depending on which document you believe.  His father went west when he was young.  The judge who oversaw the care of the children after their mother died called him “a sickly child”  so his care was for some years relegated to the poorhouse in Muscatine, Iowa.  The second of two known John Lindsay’s in our genealogy, it is unlikely he had any recollection of his father, or mother for that matter.  The fact that he is a tragic figure did not keep the family from seeing him as a disgrace.   Sometime between 1856 and 1859, he was “claimed” by his aunt, Susanna Lindsay Johnston, and taken to the city of Rockford, IL.    His sister Susan was likely already there, while Lizzie and Thomas Hamilton Lindsay stayed in Iowa, working in farm homes.

We know nothing of John B. Jr.’s life before October of 1863, when he enlisted in Capt. Witt’s company B of the 2nd Illinois Cavalry.  His enlistment papers list him as having sandy hair, hazel eyes being 5′ 7″ tall and of average build.    He served without distinction, guarding railroads and bridges and pretty much doing mop up operations after Grant had gone east, Sherman was starting for the sea, and Custer was cutting a wide swath across Louisiana and Mississippi.   The second (later combined into the fourth) Illinois Cavalry may have been involved in the Red River Campaign, as their final posting was at Waco Texas, as an occupation force.   It should be remembered that as a three year enlistee, he was obligated until October of 1866, unless released sooner.  Officers, on the other hand, mostly resigned their commissions and went home when the war was over.   When there was a muster on January 1, 1866, he was listed as a deserter, to be “stopped” for a variety of equipment including a Spencer Carbine, two swords, one dress and one battle sword – and two army ponies.  Thanks to my nephew Rich, I have the battle sword, rescued from a pile of items being prepared for a rummage sale.    It should be noted that in 1888, there was a general amnesty for this class of deserter, since there was no one to pay them or drill them, generally they just started walking.   Being stopped with a couple of army ponies was an entirely different matter.

Eventually, he arrived home in Illinois.  By 1870 he was living in Byron Illinois, with his cousin Thomas L. Johnston, also a civil war Veteran.  It’s not likely that the welcome was  a very warm one.   He was a soldier in a pacifist family, and it is likely that by this time, he was drinking at least regularly, another trait that would not have gone over well.  He worked with his cousin, (who had been widowed by the death of his cousin Susan in 1864)  They worked as plasterers and painters in southern Ogle County in the area of Byron and Stillman Valley.  Thomas L. Johnston is buried in Stillman Valley Cemetery.

John B. eventually left Illinois and found his way to Arizona, where he worked, at least for a time for the family of a Robert Anderson, who were sheep ranchers on Canyon Diablo, near Chavez Pass, near Flagstaff.  John was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, Flagstaff chapter, which was headed by a lawyer with the auspicious name of J. Guthrie Savage.  John B. had a short correspondence with my grandfather, Samuel Jacob Lindsay.   By 1892, the drinking had become more problematic, and when his horse was found wandering the streets of Flagstaff one morning, the sheriff, apparently tired of trying to dry him out, ordered him to the insane asylum in Phoenix. (104 miles away, according to one of Savages letters to my grandfather.)  The plan, apparently was to transport him to Prescott by stage, and then to Phoenix by train.   Here, the story breaks down.  One account is that he was briefly left in the care of the stationmaster,  whereupon he grabbed the pistol of a passerby and mortally wounded himself.  The other account, was that he hung himself in a cell.  But then, dead, then as now, is dead.  “John was his own worst enemy, but none could have known him so close to his own end,” wrote Savage to S.J. Lindsay in April of 1892.

A brief newspaper clipping sent to S.J. Lindsay by Mrs. Anderson simply said that he died by his own hand and was buried in a paupers grave in Prescott.  As of this writing, there are no records of unmarked graves, and no real hope of gaining any more details.  My dear sweet Aunt Etta upon being confronted with this information, acknowledged that she knew of the story, but was unsure of the details.  My dad, after allowing me to dig on my own for many years, finally gave up the brown envelope containing the correspondence from all players.  His justification: “Just wanted to make sure you weren’t just diggin’ up dirt.”

Bill’s Boots

I have referred previously to Bill’s boots. Susie was my seventh grade English teacher and Homeroom czarina.  I admit, I was probably an acquired taste for her husband Bill, but over the years, Bill became as much a mentor and friend to me as his dear wife.  As we progressed in life, the relationship changed and grew, the difference in our ages became less important.  The low point was probably a day in about 1963 or 1964 when he got really angry with me for throwing snowballs at him while he was standing on a ladder changing light bulbs on the used car lot.  There are a lot of good memories, but the one that, while ironic, will always remain with me, was the day that I walked into Susie’s kitchen for my occasional Saturday morning cup of coffee.  Bill poked me in the gut and said, “Johnny, you need to go on a diet”  I had “grown” to about 250 as the result of a shoulder injury that put a stop to my regular exercise of biking and racquetball.  

He patted his middle and said, “you need to go on my diet – I’ve lost 18 pounds”.  I had already been on every “diet” known to man, so I probably paid less attention than I should have.  He did look trimmer, and at that point still had that goofy smile, and twinkle in his eye.  The son of a furrier/farmer Bill loved hunting, fishing, his family, UpNorth and horses.  Well, Bill’s “diet” turned out to be colon cancer,  and after a long battle, it was thought he was cured, but they decided on one more round.  It seemed to work.   Only a few months later, as I recall, he had a massive stroke, lingered a couple of days, and the call came from his son, Billy, that his dad was gone.

At Bill’s funeral, in place of a casket, there was a small pine tree and his hunting boots at the front of the Presbyterian church. it  was hard to grieve, but I did.  in the past decade, I had lost my dad, my father-in-law, my “second dad”, Clarence “Peg” Koeppler, my close friend Don Wright, Clancy the best bird dog I ever owned, and my brother Sam and couple of other friends and mentors.  I was shell-shocked. there had been so much hope for his recovery, and now death came at him from another direction.  

It was several months later that Susie called me.  “I have some things of Bill’s that I think he would have liked you to have.”  I rolled that conversation over in my head again and again, and finally worked up the courage to go over and face her – I wondered what the Bill-less Susie would be like.  I wondered what she had in mind, because any little memento of Bill.would be a treasure to me, not to mention the fact that there were two grown sons in the picture, that would certainly trump me.  I barged in the kitchen door, as I always do.  A few minutes later Susie appeared.  we had a little conversational sparring, as I couldn’t be sure what she was feeling, and as always, shared a cup of coffee, which always pulls everything together.  

Eventually we migrated to the basement where all of Bill’s hunting gear and footgear were neatly positioned on a shelf.  I was shocked, because what ever Bill was, I had never known him to be all that neat, but then most of my time had been spent in his shop, looking for stuff.  She pointed to “those” boots.  “Try them on…”   I froze.  A pair of old school insulated Danner High Countrys.  I also noted a pair of run-over insulated pull-on boots.  “you can have those too, I was just going to toss them.”  I knew Bill loved the Danner’s – any cold weather hunter would be happy to have them.  “Try them on.”  They were a perfect fit, and I’m pretty particular about keeping my feet comfortable, and have been ever since my paper route days when boots weren’t “cool” and I was just as likely as anything to wear leaky hand laced loafers without regard for the weather.   As I pulled them off, the emotion gripped me – for an outdoors guy, his boots are right up there with his favorite shotgun and a good dog.  “I can’t take these, you have two sons who should be in line for these, why me?”  I was hoping to infuse a sense of duty into this to resolve my conflict.  In her typically Susie way, and  now she was talking as gently as she would have to a troubled seventh grader, “Because, Johnny, you’re the only other person I know that wears size 13 Boots”.  

The Danners sit on a similar shelf, worn more than a few times, late season hunting trips to South Dakota, a few field trials in late season in places like the Colorado grasslands and the west face of Utah’s Wasatch.  It has been subtle, but although Bill and I never got to take the hunting trip to Alaska we always talked about, but his boots have been on some good ones since he left us.  As for the run down, insulated pull-on boots that look worse than they wear, I wore them every morning to take care of the dogs when we had enough dogs to have outside kennels, and now I wear them any time I need to go outside and am too lazy to put real shoes or boots on.  

The Creek

No words required

Skeletons in the Closet. . . . maybe – Part II

John B. Lindsay and Margaret Norman had five children together: Mary Margaret, the infant who died in May, 1850 in Muscatine, Iowa, John B. Lindsay Jr., Born about 1848 in Iowa, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Lindsay, Susanne Lindsay, b. Harrison County, Ohio, c. 1845., and Thomas Hamilton Lindsay B. 1842 in Harrison County, Ohio.  When John B. left for Oregon, I think it is pretty safe to assume that the intention was for him to send for his family when he became established.  Margaret died in the Spring of 1850, her daughter a couple of months later.  This left the other four children to the care of the county.  All were eventually placed in foster homes, with the exception of John B. Jr.  The judge referred to him as a “sickly child” who was kept at the county orphanage.  I have the original court documents on this thanks to a sharp eyed librarian at the Muscatine public Library who salvaged them for me after the county donated them to the Library for microfilming.  Nice save!

The court pressed John B. for money.  The only record is of him sending $40 at one point.  Although we assume there was correspondence with the family, none of it has survived, and as might be expected, the relatives who wound up in IL were pretty upset.  At some point, John B.’s sister Susanna Lindsay Johnston retrieved the children from Iowa and took them into their home in Rockford, IL.  (Hence the Illinois connection)  Thomas indentured to a William Lawrence in Muscatine County until 1860 (18 years old) and was likely the last to join his siblings in Illinois.  Lizzie also stayed with a family in Iowa through at least 1860, working as a seamstress.  Thomas and John B. jr. worked on various farms in Ogle county South and West of Rockford near the village of Adeline.  John B.Jr.’s  life could be the subject of a book, but we will deal with that later.  

ImageThe only photo known to exist of the siblings of John B. Lindsays first family.  On the right is Elizabeth Lindsay Wortman (Aunt Lizzie).  The woman on the right is my grandmother, Nellie Mariah Ward Lindsay.  This photo is believed to have been taked about 1887.  Nellie was introduce to S.J. Lindsay by Lizzie.  (her nephew) They were married the following year.


Skeletons in the closet – sort of…

My family, brothers, sister and their children mostly, know that for many years I have worked on tracing the genealogy of the Lindsay family as well as other branches, including some of the in-laws (Scoppa, Hasslinger, Stokes, Ahrendt/Tozier, as well as Pam’s family, although her cousin Karen has done a ton of work on the Ordways.  Through this medium, I will try to bring the history as I know it to the present.  The oldest relative I am sure of is John B. Lindsay, Sr.  He is the great grandfather of my dad, my gg grandfather.  He was born in 1820 on Christmas day, according to a statement he made to a journalist in Clark County, Washington in about 1895, at the age of 73.  There is no record that I have been able to find where he mentions his parents, although he also stated for the journalist that he was born in Harrison County, Ohio.  We learned alot about him after I connected with Arnie Lindsay in Sheridan, OR, and later Roy J. Lindsay Jr., in Madison, SD.   Both are cousins from John B’s second marriage in Washington Territory in about 1856.  He first married Margaret Norman, who gave him five children. In April of 1849, John B. left his home in Muscatine County, Iowa, for the promised land of the Oregon Territory.  Margaret and her four children and stayed behind.  What John B. probably did not know was that she was pregnant with the fifth, Mary Margaret, when he left.  More to follow. Image


I was, many years ago, a fairly active political participant and observer.  Forty years later, I have thrown up my hands.  “Lindsay, I can never figure you out – are you a liberal or a conservative?”  My standard answer? “Yes, I am”.   That is my answer because it is true.  I think, I analyze, and keep my mouth shut unless and until I have a clear and comfortable handle on the issues.  That is not very often.  Some people would be surprised, I think, by what I believe, and it will vary by issue.  I will take a “liberal” position on some things, pretty “conservative” positions on other things, and by the political tenet that I hold most dear – “the right to be left alone”  as made famous by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.  The things I have decided are just that.  Mostly minor things, insignificant, but things I can put away as decided.

You want me to “re-engage”?  Here’s what we can do.  Get the money in politics down to a reasonable level.  In fact, I liked 1968.  Let’s use that, and ok, you can adjust for inflation.  No corporate money – directly or indirectly.  One man, one vote.   You are who you say you are until proven otherwise.   Let’s pay the bills, no bullshit about how deficit spending is the only thing that will keep our economy strong.  I will pay taxes for what I cost the government and gladly assist those who have problems doing the same, both with charity and my taxes.   Let’s do term limits, with a sundown strategy after 20 years.  If it hasn’t worked by then, we’ll go back to doing what we know isn’t working now.   Lets put the job of drawing the lines for districts in the hands of somebody who doesn’t have a dog in the fight.  And I heard this about that the other day, and I think it’s brilliant:  A political district can have no more than five linear sides.  No squiggling about to include or exclude neighborhoods or politico-ethnic concentrations.  Gerrymandering, I believe it is called, and it is just another way for the party in power to preserve their influence after the people have tired of them.

If you’re a politician, and I don’t care what party you are from, don’t tell me you are proud of the job you do as long as we are spending millions on wars and our people, including many veterans are losing their homes because they got sick and can’t pay the bills.  The rest of the world seems to have figured it out.  We just can’t get past our greed and self interest to let it go.   Based on my experience with my parents and other elderly folks I know, we have a pretty good system: it’s called Medicare.  It works.   Doctors still drive BMW’s, and corporate as well as not for profit hospitals build one after another, sometimes right on top of another.   Every one is mucking around in the money pot.  Corporate investors, individuals, attorneys, insurance companies, attorneys, manufacturers, and the medical professionals.

One thing I am, and have found that it follows a long family tradition, is that I am a pacifist.  I believe in peace.  Got my buddy in trouble for naming me as one of his friends, almost cost him his army job, as I understand it.  I walked the anti-war picket lines.  I had things thrown at me, and got jeered at work.  When I thought about joining the military, my dad had a one word answer “NO!”  I would challenge you to look at the pictures of the day after at Gettysburg and tell me war makes sense.  That is where the family history as conscientious objectors got it’s start.  As members of the Christadelphians in Ogle County, IL, my great grandfather and his family took a stand against armed conflict as well as against slavery.





A memo from my friend Thoreau

Many years ago, a friend gave me a little book of quotations from Thoreau.  She signed it: “Since Walden seems to be your Bible, I thought you would enjoy,  Love, BH”. My friend was very Catholic, and if I had been, things probably would have worked out. I wouldn’t say it was my Bible, I think that would risk hell and damnation.  It was my conservative evangelical upbringing  – just that Thoreau and to some extent Emerson, always resonated with me. she and I went different directions, but remain friends to this day.  I am happy with my path and I know she is happy with hers. My debt to Beverly is that she pushed me along mine.  Thoreau has always given me a path to walk, (not run).  I have been to Walden.  Living among the beautiful lakes of Southeastern Wisconsin, the pond was unimpressive in comparison, but you could feel the solitude, which I have always craved.  Every once in a while, I run across something I have never seen before from my friend Thoreau, and one came to me this morning from the blue of the internet.  I am an advocate of teaching kids to write, in cursive.  To be able to develop and have a signature. To be able to write a note and stick in their wallet or purse.  Writing your name gives you an identity, something only you can do the way you do it.  My signature was something I consciously developed when I was at OSU (Oshkosh State University).  If you wanted cash, you had to write a check at the bookstore for cash.  As I recall, the limit was $5 or $10, so I had to write lots of checks.  (Beer was a quarter)  I worked on my signature.  I had lived with my brother Jerry and his wife for awhile, and I admit, I copied his signature.  It kills me that we “don’t have time to teach cursive”  – so I was struck by this quote from my friend Thoreau:  “Writing your name can lead to writing sentences, and next you’ll be writing paragraphs and then books.  And then you’ll be in as much trouble as I am.”  I am proud to say my writing has gotten me into trouble at times.  At OSU, letters to the editor of the Advance Titan about the war in Viet Nam, about campus “rules”  and later  at UW-Whitewater, when I led the losing side when the powers that be wanted to arm the security guards on campus. (they shot a kid a short time later for stealing a boom box from a dorm room).  Later as a minor public official, when I proposed changes to any thing for which the reason  was “because we’ve always done it that way”  I’ve always been a troublemaker and a pot stirrer when something doesn’t make sense.  Life is quieter now.  I have my Walden.  It is Passing Wind farm, where we raise no animals save for one 14 year old Springer Spaniel. For crops, we raise only hay and perennial flowers because I don’t want to mow it all. We host a large quantity of bees for a friend, but that is the extent of our farming.  It all started with writing my name                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 . Image