Family

Family

Family | Guy L. PaceYou never know what will happen when you get down to researching family. Sometimes you find things you never expected.

My mother started looking for information on her father a long time ago. She found a few things, but not much and she had this romantic memory of him. If you refer back to my posts on “Desperate Times,” you’ll see some things about her father that we finally dug up. Unfortunately, most of this we found after she passed away.

Deer Lodge

If you read that earlier post, you’ll also note that Lee Frank Harrison spent at least two stints in the old Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, Montana. I stumbled on the prison admit record in the process of searching for any kind of record of him.

Mom | Guy L. Pace
My mother’s high school photo.

I don’t think my mother knew that Lee Frank was in prison when she was an infant. All she remembers, as I recall from her stories, is she got hand-made moccasins from him that she wore and kept in her cedar chest all her life. It turns out that Lee Frank made those in prison as one of the craft projects the prison encouraged.

Anyway, a couple of years ago, my wife and I bought genetic/DNA testing kits for our family. I followed instructions on mine and sent it in thinking this would help with clearing up things in my family history. I first found my mother’s sister’s children and their kids in East Tennessee. That wasn’t hard or unexpected. Also, it’s amazing how some facial characteristics so memorable in my aunt carried through to my cousin’s children. But nothing prepared me for what happened next.

The other day I received a note on the genetic site from someone who thought they might be related. I checked the DNA comparison and went ahead and shared my info with them. What got me going were the names she mentioned. We messaged back and forth a few times, then she shared my information with her aunt and a sister and we all emailed and messaged back and forth.

New Information

It turns out that I now have a whole bunch of new cousins. Lee Frank seems to have been a rather opportunistic young man. He met and possibly (don’t have a record yet) married a woman when he was about 26-27 in Helena, Montana. This was after he paroled for the burglary sentence. They had two children, a boy in 1925 and a girl (don’t have the date).

This relationship didn’t last long, because Lee Frank left the first little family and started another with my grandmother. And fathered my aunt and mother. The first wife could not support two children on her own, so she put the son up in the Catholic children’s home in Helena. She came back for him when he was about 9, according to my new-found cousin. This would have been just about the same time that grandmother dropped my aunt and mother off at the same Catholic children’s home in Helena.

Grandmother, though, dropped them off for completely different reasons. She’d met a rich man and he didn’t want children around. So the story goes.

So, my aunt and mother missed getting to know their half-brother. It turns out this half-brother served in the military, married, had 10 children, and drove truck most of his life. My cousin said her brothers worked in the lumber industry and “were tough.”

Tracking

Lee Frank changed or switched his name around a lot through his life, and this made tracking him through official records difficult. Stories from my new-found cousin’s family hold that Lee Frank got into more trouble with the law and married a few more times before passing away.

With more information now, I’ll find more records and trace Lee Frank’s history. No, it isn’t a pretty picture, based on what I have now. Sometimes, I wish Mom got to find out more before she passed away. Sometimes, I’m glad she didn’t find out things and get her romantic memories of him dashed.

But, now I have more family to meet, learn from, and get to know.

Keep writing.

(*Note: I’m only using Lee Frank’s name to limit confusion. The family chart is now extremely complicated and it’s simpler to not use other names. Thanks for understanding.)

Signing

Signing

Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, Idaho. One of the prettiest falls there is. Rainbow included at no extra charge.

We arrived in Twin Falls, Idaho, on a beautiful Saturday morning and immediately went down to take a look at Shoshone Falls. A lot of folks were heading down there and–surprise, surprise–they needed $3 per car for entrance. Good thing we had a little cash handy.

The falls were everything promised and it was wife Connie’s first time there. Then we went to the Barnes & Noble in town and started to set up. Deby Johnson, the person who coordinated this even, had twelve copies each of Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers. At noon I started to get nervous, wondering if we would even put a dent in the bookstore’s inventory of my books. Connie got me a venti non-fat mocha and we settled in to watch people come and go.

Signing Table at Barnes & Noble
Connie adding class to the display at Twin Falls, Idaho, Barnes & Noble.

I talked to a few folks, said “Hi” to people who looked our way, but things were quiet at first. Some people came by and mentioned an article in the local newspaper and looked over the books.

Then things started to pick up. My dad arrived with a friend and a nephew. My brother showed up. Folks I hadn’t seen since I was very young walked in. Activity around our table increased. Folks requested signing, shared memories, talked, hugged, shook hands–and then it was 4 pm.

Two copies of Nasty Leftovers were still on the table. Sudden Mission was sold out. Deby asked me to sign the last two copies of Nasty Leftovers and she would put an “autographed” sticker on them. Then we packed up our display. The Twin Falls Barnes & Noble, and Deby Johnson, were gracious hosts and we had a lot of fun there.

Connie and I checked into the hotel down the street, then went down to a conference room where Dad set up a reception. The room was packed and I set up the tabletop displays again, signed and sold a number of copies of each book. We ate, then I talked about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the journey to publication, answered questions, and read a little of Sudden Mission.

It’s all kind of a blur, now. Connie and I stumbled into our room exhausted about 8 or 9 pm (my watch said 9, but we were in Mountain Time).

I’m blessed and humbled at the turnout, the great people, friends, and family who came to support me. Thanks to Deby and the Twin Falls B&N, and Dad for setting this up.

There will be more.

Keep writing.

 

 

Travel

Travel

I will be in Twin Falls, Idaho, Saturday. This was originally set up to be a reading/signing at a Barnes & Noble. My extended family has a lot of history in Southern Idaho and I came to Twin Falls after active duty in the navy in the mid-1970’s. I worked across the river at The North Side News* in Jerome, Idaho, attended college at College of Southern Idaho, and at the time the family had a ranch on Rock Creek in the South Hills.

Shoshone Falls, one of the falls in the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho.
Shoshone Falls, one of the falls in the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho. Shoshone Falls and park is my favorite of the two.

As a journalist, I covered the events leading up to and including the Snake River Jump of Evel Kneivel–that didn’t really happen. I also served in the Idaho Army National Guard there. And, it turns out, a future son-in-law played basketball for the College of Southern Idaho Golden Eagles** in the early 1990’s before transferring to Washington State University.

Saturday will turn into a family reunion, complete with cousins, siblings and friends from Boise, Pocatello, and all across Southern Idaho. After the book event (noon to 4 pm) at Barnes & Noble, there will be a reception at the Best Western Plus just down the road. I haven’t seen some of the cousins in many years, though we’ve maintained contact via Facebook and other media.

I’m looking forward to this. In some ways, it is a little scary. I know there will be people there I know or knew, but it has been many years and the miles have changed us all. Names like Hunt, Craney, Littlefield, Crockett, Church, and others may come up and will bring memories both good and sad.

If you are in the area this weekend, please come to the bookstore or the reception. I would love to meet you.

Keep writing.

*The North Side News ceased publication and merged with the Twin Falls Times-News in Twin Falls in 2008, after 100 years. The Jerome County Historical Society maintains the archives.

**The records online only go back to 1998, so I can’t highlight anything here.