Mom and I set up the website probably about 10 years ago. I did most of the family data pages and she wanted to do the photo pages. You might say that it took a while with our combined efforts to complete the webpage. Don’t remind me how long it has been since I have updated everything. I was going through and a looking at a few page when I came across the main photo page…and remembered that there is a quite a good story to go with that photo.
Working the land has always been an important part of our family’s lives. It is how they made their living and what they loved to do. From lumbering to farming – the land has been a central part of our ancestor’s lives. There was one photo that Mom thought really was emblematic of that love of land. It was taken probably around 1910 when my great great grandfather and his boys were thrashing grain I Nebraska. George Christian Shawver is the adult male with his two sons Dewey and George and stepson Merle Davidson (I think Merle is the one standing on the wagon with George on the horse and Dewey standing next to his father.. Sitting in the carriage is Tamsey with Aida (Chris Shawver’s third wife) and Nettie’s head is poking out above the grain near the wagon wheel. It was taken on the family farm near Lyons, NE.
Now a version of this picture is on our website and it is also on the front cover of the Shawver family cookbook that was published many years ago. It wasn’t too long ago when I found a much better copy of the photo to scan that Mom and I didn’t have available when we first put it on our website. It wasn’t on too long before Mom received an email from a gentleman named Earl Bacon. He commented to Mom that the photo looked like on that he had seen at his Aunt Jessie’s house and wondered where we got the photo. After a little bit of questioning we found out that the Aunt Jessie Bacon that he was talking about and the one we knew were one and the same. So began an email friendship that lasted. Earl and Mom started out by trading short emails and soon they were trading email jokes. I must say that I have never seen better jokes than the ones we got from Earl. All of the family enjoyed them and they became known as “Earl” jokes. Mom and Earl also traded family news of their children, political beliefs and other assorted items in these emails and through email became close friends. When Mom got sick, Earl was a concerned friend who I regularly updated.
When Mom died on December 26, 2005, I went back to our den and turned her computer on. I was thinking about taking care of some of her correspondence and letting her friends know of her passing. One of the first emails that came up was one from Earl Bacon wondering how Mom’s Christmas was. It became my sad duty to let Earl know that Mom had passed. I told him how much she had enjoyed her contact with him and thanked him for being such a wonderful friend. I asked him to keep sending the jokes to Dad’s email because he needed the smiles.
One day in October of 2007, we received an email from Earl’s son, informing us of his death. We mourned someone that we had never met in person but who we got to know through email. Just as if we had been friends for years – we mourned his passing. To think – it all started with a picture of a family thrashing grain back in 1910. What a happy coincidence!