Monday, April 23, 2007

A New Cousin

Memories are extremely powerful. Whoever you are, as you read this, you have memories that mean a lot to you. Good or bad, old or new. Memories about people...memories about events...and memories about places.

That's what motivated Angela Lucas in the first place. Back in the late 1990's, she found Dennis Matthew's Red River Valley website, which at that time was virtually the only place you could go to get good information on our area.1 In her emails to me, Angela had this to say:
I just discovered your blogs on the internet. I am so excited to see so much information in one place about St. Vincent and Emerson! I have many ancestors and relatives from this area, namely the Lucas and Lang families. I am also connected to the Turners and Finneys, and one Lucas in my line married a Fitzpatrick. I am familiar with your family names, too. I went to your pictures on flickr and saw Harriet Short. Is this your mom? I think I talked to her on the phone once about St. Vincent. She told me some information about my Lucas family, Hugh and Iva and children, that settled in St. Vincent in 1898. She remembered them and told me about their house and memories about my family. They came over from Emerson. My Lucas ancestors settled in Emerson shortly after 1870, and my great-grandparents were married there in 1895. I have been reading the Gamble letters online with great fascination! Thank you for posting them.
I wrote back right away, telling her "... My family on my Mom's side is also connected to the Finney family - a Fitzpatrick married into that family. As my Mom (yes, Harriet [Fitzpatrick] Short) has always said, we seem to be related to everyone up there!" I encouraged her to share more about her ancestors experience in our area over a century ago, and she replied:
I think I talked to your mom in 1999. I took notes, which I will try to find. She was very sweet on the phone. I only talked to her once. I think it was Keith Finney that gave me her number. We (Keith and I) were emailing back and forth after I found his name on Dennis Matthews' Red River Valley website as a contributor. (I contributed there, too; the notes on the Lucas lineage posted on the site are mostly mine.)

You and I are almost the same age. My dad, Earl Lucas, grew up in Hallock and we visited there a few times when I was growing up, but it was a long trip for us so we didn't go much. I do have pictures of the area...some are from the time period of 1918-1920s in St. Vincent...just a few, though. There is one that I'll try to find for you; it shows one of the family homes in St. V. and a train going by in the background.

My dad's parents were Vernon Lucas and Reta Lang. The Langs, Reta's parents, moved to St. V or Clow township in 1880 and had a homestead there. Vernon Lucas was a pilot and an radio expert, son of Hugh and Iva Lucas. He was a very nice guy, popular and smart, and my Grandma Reta loved him a lot. They were married in St. V. in 1921 and had 4 kids, one of whom was my dad. Vernon died young in a plane crash, and my grandmother remarried after that. People knew her for years as Reta Hord. She stayed in the area, worked at local restaurants, and died in 1995 in Hallock. She was one of 12 Langs that grew up in St. Vincent in the early 1900s. Many of her siblings also stayed in the area and married, raised families, etc. That's how I am connected to Finneys and Turners. So yes, your mom was right; everybody in St. V. was related!

My grandparents were Hugh Lucas and Iva Colby Lucas. They are the ones that your mother remembered. Iva was a nurse and she traveled with a local doctor on house calls. They had 7 kids. Hugh Lucas was a compositor and printer for the Emerson International newspaper in the late 1800s and worked there with J.E. Bouvette. He was also a carpenter and built their first home in St. Vincent with his own hands, or so the story goes. He died in Hallock in 1958.
Later this past weekend, Angela's sister Elaine also wrote to share:
Elaine Lucas Hubbard here. My sister Angela found your blog and sent me the link since we’re Lucas/Lang family and very connected to Red River, Emerson, St. Vincent, Pembina, Kittson County, Hallock, etc. She noted your Fitzpatrick connection, but wasn’t sure how it fits our line. I think this is it:

Ella Lucas married Frederick George Fitzpatrick, son of Sheldon and Margaret Berry Fitzpatrick . They were Stella's parents. Cousin Jackie Zimmer [Note from Trish: Jackie is Stella's daughter and my cousin as well as cousin to Angela and Elaine...] is in this line I think.

Ella Lucas was daughter of William Lucas of Dewittville, Quebec and Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. This William Lucas and our great-grandfather Hugh Lionel Lucas Jr. were brothers.

Our father, Earl Lucas, was born in Fargo, but grew up in Hallock. His parents (our paternal grandparents) were Vernon R. and Margareta “Reta” Lang Lucas.

Incidentally, I may be named for Elaine Fitzpatrick (something Angela may not even know!) It was not in memory of, as she was still alive when I was born, but I remember being told as a child that had the same name, or had been given the same name, as someone (related, family, close-to-family) who had a twin sister and they had both died young and very tragically. I’d always thought they both died at the same time, and before I was born, being told it involved a car accident (a convertible?) Not until I went to your MyFamily site, logging in as guest, and saw the drunk driver reports and all did I make the connection to Elaine Fitzpatrick, and saw that her twin Alice and other sister and father all drowned a few months later in the farm pond. That seems to connect to what I was told in the mid-50s.

You seem to have Finney connections, as we do. Our Grandma Reta’s sister Dorothy Lang married George Finney.

Your blog and site are very interesting and help to fill the gaps historically and culturally for us. We’re digging in now. Thanks and keep up the good work!!
Nothing makes me happier than to know I'm helping others make connections with each other and with their roots. That's what this is all about.

1 It's still a core reference, and I value it highly and can't recommend it enough.