Déjà Moo

Home is where my cows are.
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Dotty Allen Reeder, circa 1945, Hotchkiss, Colorado, Roger’s Mesa

In my family, the women have loved and spoiled their cows. But to be honest, what was not love? These gentle creatures have provided milk, cream, and especially love and companionship.

My mom told me stories of my grandmother’s favorite milk cow. The two formed a sweet friendship, and her pet would demand to be milked first. Even when my grandmother would try to “ignore” this bovine, her girl refused to be left out. If grandma tried to milk another cow, her baby would push her way into the front and take her milking stance, and all the while, grandma would chuckle at her pet’s sweet act of defiance.

My mom adored cows too. As a child, she and her young friend, Tommy, would play rodeo when the parents would go to town on Saturdays. The pair broke the cows to ride, and often when it was time to round up the cows, mom would hop on the back of a cow instead of saddling up a horse.

And on Saturday evenings, when her parents came home late from a day in town, mama would milk the cows, strain the milk, and rush back to the barn. As evening approached and darkness blanketed the night skies, the young girl hated being alone in the house. She would settle in with her cows and snuggle in close with her beloved pets. More than once, her parents would find their daughter asleep in the hay, curled up with her cows.

Even me, this city girl turned country girl loved her Cow Patty. From the time Patty was a calf, this pet played a vital role in the family. Patty knew she was special and would demand attention if she felt neglected. After riding my horse Bo, I would have to put a halter on my cow and take her for a walk, or she would pout and cry all night long. My big baby warmed my heart whenever she wanted to spend some extra time with her human mama.

And now, my daughter, Leslie, has longed to add cows to her farmhouse menagerie and has missed her former family cows. These creatures have been her favorite animal for as long as I can remember. Now that she has a mini-farm, she has acquired chickens and ducks, and goats and horses, but to date, not one cow. But when the timing has aligned, I know her pasture will once again find a cow or two within its borders. In the meantime, her mama provided a bovine Christmas for her girl. Some of her gifts were all about her favorite pet.

Leslie and her baby circa 2005

Well, until the cows come home, enjoy your family, and don’t forget to love on those special critters that add such a daily spark to our lives.

Cows and Christmas

Ladies and Kings and Knights, Oh My!

Photo by Cederic Vandenberghe on Unsplash

Ladies and Kings and Knights, Oh My!

Years ago, when I started this family history journey, I had no idea what I would find. Years ago, while stuck on bedrest, I became bored watching Netflix. Since I wanted to maintain some resemblance of sanity, I dove headfirst into the tarns of my family history. What an adventure it has been! Each discovery kept me riveted, so I decided to start a family blog to preserve my family history. Last year, after taking some time off, I decided to start researching again, and like before, I was not disappointed.

A few months ago, I decided to check out my 9x great grandfather, Thomas Dudley. After a closer inspection, I found that his family tree included some major historical players! And just last night, Robbie, a sweet cousin of mine, sent me a message on Facebook. She told me about a book that she received as a Christmas gift, Royal Families Americans of Royal and Noble Birth, by Marston Watson. Exciting news, Cuz! Recently, I ordered that book, plus two more, The Great Migration. Immigrants to New England 1634-1635, by Robert Anderson and The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England, by Antonia Fraser. What a find!

Now, as chilly winter weather resides, I will snuggle close to my fireplace. Okay, it’s an electric heater that resembles a fireplace, but I think you get the idea. It’s just so exciting to be writing again. What a great way to start the New Year. Let the adventures begin!

Thomas Dudley Family Tree

The Cornerstone

Summer 1965 – Ann Marie, mother, Dotty, David and Tommy, Alameda, California

Often, recollections from days gone by take up residence in my thoughts as I remember my childhood. Days of warmth and fun-loving doings flow full circle. Yet, each innocent recollection eventually comes to rest on the woman that rendered care for her family, the loving matriarch of my family, my mother, Dotty Allen Reeder.

This woman gave me so much strength, hope, and courage. She taught me to laugh and rejoice at each extraordinary occurrence that took place in our lives. It was the simple things that found a home in my heart, words of encouragement, cuddles on the couch on rainy days or endless board games at the kitchen table. Or, it was summer tournaments of baseball and kickball with brothers and neighbors with mom in the middle of it all.

Always my closest confidant, we shared stories and laughter and silly gossip while doing kitchen chores or sharing a Dr. Pepper, her favorite soda, and now mine. She was the hub of our home, the very foundation that provided prudence and understanding on how to live in a world that was not always kind. She reminded everyone to find joy in each incredible moment and take nothing for granted. As my biggest cheerleader, the world sometimes feels so strange without her. Still, I find her in the shared stories with her granddaughter. I see her smile in my granddaughter, her kindness in my grandson, her ornery humor in another. Her legacy has continued and found residence in each generation that has followed; the cornerstone of our family still stands.

French Canadian Roots

Standing on the deck of the ship, the wind tugged at her hair, pulling it free from the combs and pins that tried to keep rebellious strands in place. As she viewed the harbor and the lands before her, the beating of her heart quickened as she thought about the strange new life that waited for her. She could hardly imagine what secrets this new land presented; where would she live? What would her new life offer? But mostly she wondered about her future husband and her bewilderment consumed her.

New World

In 1534 and 1535-36, Jacques Cartier sailed to new lands in a new world. His voyages brought him to Kanata, Canada, and he explored the St. Lawrence River. On his first travel, he claimed the land for his French King, Francis I. Since his accounts sparked the curiosity of the king, for the land was said to be rich with precious minerals, the ruler decided to create a fortified settlement, so he could challenge Spain’s claim on the New World. Still, settling the land proved to be difficult. Cartier’s discovery of precious minerals proved to be worthless. Winters were harsh, and some of Cartier’s men generated resentment among the Iroquois. Ultimately, the fledgling colony failed. Though the expedition was not a total failure, for the French fur trade with the First Nations began, and the French claim endured.

New France

In the beginning, the French settlements encompassed mainly the shores along the Saint Lawrence River and the lands of Newfoundland and Acadia (Nova Scotia). In 1603, The navigator, Samuel de Champlain, was commissioned to sail to the Saint Lawrence area to establish the first French colony with the hopes of marketing a successful fur trading venture.

In 1604, on the Bay of Fundy, the first colony, Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia), was established on the lands claimed by France. The land was fertile, and the forests provided game while the river offered fish. The natives, the Mi’kmaw, welcomed the settlers and taught them how to survive in this in this perilous territory. After witnessing the beauty and the natural resources that surrounded this region, Champlain inscribed, “this place was the most suitable and pleasant for a settlement that we had seen (History – Port-Royal Natural Historic Site Parks Canada Agency).

In 1608, sailing along the St. Lawrence, Samuel de Champlain established a new Colony, Quebec City, with the belief France could regulate the mighty river and seize control of the fur trade. During this period, the first wave of French citizens sailed to this new colony. The French explorers, fur traders, and missionaries came to this new land and hewed a fort on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River.

In time, Robert Gifford, an apothecary from Tourouvre, also decided to settle near Quebec in 1621/22. In the year 1627, Gifford returned to France, for he believed colonists should settle in this new nation. During this time, alliances were shaped, and a new company was founded. The Company of the One Hundred-Associates transpired, and Noel Juchereau, a native of Tourouvre, and a friend of Gifford, was one of the members of the company. Gifford planned to return to New France to prepare for potential settlements, but his ship was diverted by pirates, and he was forced to return to France.

At that time, the British occupied the continent too and longed to remove the French from this land. However, settlers of New France constructed forts and protective walls to defend their occupants. The settlement grew as more people sailed to this rugged land. But in 1629, during the Anglo-French War, Quebec City surrendered to the English after David Kirke interrupted the town’s supplies. Kirke set up a barricade and confiscated the provisions from the French ships that delivered goods to Quebec. In 1632, Samuel Champlain contended the French territory was unlawfully sequestered by Kirke and his men. The King, Charles I of England, arranged to return the land if the French king, Louis XIII, paid for his wife’s dowry. The French King agreed, the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye was signed, and the territory was returned to the French.

The Percheron Immigration

After the English vacated the land, Robert Gifford longed to return to his lands in Beauport, near Quebec, and establish a permanent colony in New France. He was the seigneur of the lands and enlisted skilled tradesmen to travel to New France to help build the colony. Gifford recruited many people from the former Perche Province to settle in Beauport. In March 1634, this landowner and his party, about thirty colonists, sailed from Dieppe and landed in Quebec in June 1632. Many people with French Canadian ancestry can trace their ancestors to these early pioneers that settled these lands.

The King’s Daughters

Since the colonies began, the focus remained on the men, which created a gender imbalance. The French government and the church agreed that more women were needed in New France if the colonies were to survive.

The unmarried woman became known as the King’s Daughters, Filles du Roi, and the king sponsored them to settle in the colonies. The king paid for their travel and provided a dowry and clothing.

Between 1663 and 1673, around 800 women arrived in New France and landed in Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres, and Montreal. Once they arrived, the women received room and board until they found a suitable match among the workers and the soldiers. The women chose their future mates, and marriage contracts formed. Some women even canceled their contracts before their weddings to find a more suitable union. Certainly, the women in these lands had more freedom than their contemporaries in their homeland.

Although living in these lands proved to be difficult, most of the King’s Daughters stayed. The women helped their husbands and raised their children. Today, many North Americans can trace their ancestry to at least one of the Filles du Roi.

Fright Night, Mom Wisdom, and Family Traditions

“If The Exorcist doesn’t knock you out of your seat, it’s only because you are too stunned to move.”

Stanley Eichelbaum ~ The San Francisco Examiner ~ 26 Dec 1973

“Everybody in the movie experienced some kind of horror.  On the day Max von Sydow arrived for his first scene his brother died, and the film was again delayed while Von Sydow returned to Sweden for the funeral.  The little girl’s grandfather died the first week of the picture.  One of the carpenters cut his thumb off.  Irish actor Jack MacGowan who is murdered by the demon possessing the child, dropped dead one week after his death scene.”

Billy Friedkin ~ The Los Angeles Times ~ 18 Nov 1973