Friday, January 30, 2009

Caroline Elizabeth Caldwell [Neddo] McIntosh

I hope all of you had a chance to read through our late Uncle Rip’s recollections of his youth in Burlington, Wyoming, over the past week. If you haven’t, make a point of doing so – it’s worth reading. (Nobody clicked on the “comments” button at the bottom of last week’s post, so maybe no one is reading this stuff. If not, I’m content entertaining myself.)

This week I’d like to spotlight someone I’m sure most family members don’t know much about: Caroline Elizabeth Caldwell McIntosh. I find her story fascinating (to read it, click here). Indeed, was I the only one who didn’t know our family had a connection to the founder of Notre Dame University? (Read on, please, and I’ll get to that.)

To help explain who she was and how we’re all related, Caroline is the wife of John McIntosh (b. 1824), mother of William Abram McIntosh (b. 1859), mother-in-law of Nancy Lena Guhl McIntosh (b.1865), grandmother of Mary Anne McIntosh (b. 1890) and great-grandmother of Rip, Mark, Marie, Carlos, Snuffy, June, Reanous and Helen Henderson.

The information on the family Web site comes via a history I found in an old manila envelope in my mother’s back closet, written by Caroline’s granddaughter Ann Neddo. (I guess I’ll have to do some searching to see if Caroline actually wrote journals, and if so maybe they are available.) Caroline was the daughter of an Irish father (David Caldwell) and a Scottish mother (Mary Ann Vaughn), and was born after her parents journeyed to Canada. She was the fourth of nine children.

At some point, Caroline moved to a “city” – which one, this particular history does not make clear – and met a man named Charles Neddo, whose father reportedly had been a founder of Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind. (I Googled Charles Neddo and it looks like some Neddos donated significant land to the university in the 1880s, and many are buried at a cemetery reserved for those who made contributions to its founding. In my brief search, I couldn’t confirm the “founding” part of the story, but it may well be a fact – there seems no reason to dispute it.) She married him in 1849, and they had two children. Not long after, though, her family (the Caldwells had joined the Mormon Church in 1843) set about preparing for the move to Salt Lake City, and Caroline decided she would go with them. Her husband, Charles, was a devout Catholic, and was understandably not interested in going to Salt Lake City. Given the modes of travel at the time, this presented something of a “Sophie’s Choice” for Caroline, who along with her soon-to-be ex-husband had to decide which child would go West and which would remain in the Midwest.

She did go to Utah with her family, and had quite a life in the territory, marrying John McIntosh and … well, that’s what the Web page is for: you can read her story here. (I found another Web page, too, that repeats the story I have posted (they must have copied and pasted it from my site, since it also includes the “back to home page” at the end of the piece) as well as other useful tidbits of genealogical information. To view it, click here.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Looking back via Uncle Rip

I’ve been neglectful when it comes to this Henderson Reunion blog. I pledge to do better in the coming months.

For those who have forgotten about this, I decided to begin it in an effort to introduce, or re-introduce, all of you to our family’s rich history. Over the years, and with much help from you, I have collected a little treasure trove of information about our ancestors. But I have a feeling this is only scratching the surface – there’s a lot more out there, and with more of your help we’ll get it together and distribute it widely throughout our family so it will never be lost or forgotten or unavailable again.

Here’s my goal: Once each week for the next little while, I’ll highlight an aspect of the Web site,, to help introduce you to it. My thinking is, if I point you to some interesting bits of history about the family’s past, maybe it’ll spark an interest. What I’m hoping is that once you check out the site, you’ll find things to discuss on this blog – we can have a conversation about these people, about our memories of them, or our observations of the lives that were lived long before we ever walked the earth.

So, I’ll start with one of my favorites spots on the site: “Rip’s Recollections.” After our reunion in 1998 – the first family reunion since 1966, if memory serves – Rip and I started trading e-mails back and forth. It was one of the great joys of my life getting to know my uncle. (He was a font on hilarious lawyer jokes, too.) At some point leading up to the next reunion in 2000, I mentioned that it might be fun to have the surviving siblings – Rip, Marie, Mark, Reanous and Helen – jot down some of their memories of growing up in order to share with the rest of us. Rip responded enthusiastically, and the product of his efforts is a breezy, detail-rich look back at his youth on the farm in Burlington and right up through the mid-1940s.

For example, there’s this: “Our water supply was hand pumped from a drilled well behind the house. Water for routine use was stored and heated in a metal reservoir attached to the cook stove. Water for laundry use was heated in a large metal “boiler” placed atop the cook stove. Our bathroom was an outdoor privy well away from the house.”

Rip also speaks directly, if briefly, about the effect of his mother’s death on the family: “Mother’s health began to fail in 1929 and she passed away in late November after surgery in Billings. Her passing was very traumatic to all of us and hard to overcome. Dad was very firm that his family not be split up as some well-meaning relatives proposed.

And he describes what it was like living in a one-parent household with all those children: “In the summer months when Dad was away on his ditch-rider job, he was usually gone very early, so we soon learned to take care of ourselves, doing the farm chores and breakfast and house cleaning. Uncle Marion and Aunt Ivy lived about three-quarters of a mile across the fields from us and we usually had lunch with them and after the day’s work was over we headed home and had supper with Dad. By then Marie was a pretty good housekeeper and did a lot to keep us going. It wasn’t a very easy life, but we managed to get along. Despite some very different personalities, we kids got along pretty well. It seemed that Carlos and Rip were the feistiest.”

And that’s just a sampling. It takes only a few minutes to read through, but it’s worth your time. Personally, as I reviewed it again before I wrote this blog entry, I couldn’t help but ponder the stark contrasts between his life during the Great Depression, and ours as the nation teeters on the edge of another profound economic downturn. Our family was made of strong stuff.

So, please take a moment to read Rip’s words, and share with everyone your thoughts about them.