Still Friday, May 31
Here is one more snapshot from Uncle Barney’s apartment in Billings, to include cousin Joyce Fletcher. Joyce is her dad’s frequent companion, and has been a great help arranging my visits, not to mention planning Barney’s hundredth birthday celebration in 2010, which I was regrettably unable to attend.
Just as on my previous visit, the graves were decorated with attractive artificial flowers, thanks probably to cousin Joyce. From Park City, we continued south to the mountain town of Red Lodge, at the edge of Yellowstone National Park, for a pleasant lunch.
During our drive, Missy casually mentioned that as a young girl, she had lived with her adoptive parents in St. Xavier, a tiny village on the Crow reservation south of Billings. That just about floored me, as “Saint X” was where our common grandparents Dan and Lillian lived at around the same time (early 1940s). I asked Missy if she knew that; she said she did not. It could hardly be a coincidence; I can only guess that Grandpa must have somehow been involved in arranging the adoption. How painful it must have been, especially for Grandma, to live in the same town as one or both of their estranged grandchildren, apparently in secret, and have (presumably) no contact with them.
The other twist is, Missy has lived for many years in the same city as Uncle Barney, without knowing who or where her biological relatives, if there were any, may be. We returned to Billings for the night, Missy to her home, Lisa and I to our separate motels.
Saturday, June 1
Lisa drove me the 300 miles to Shelby, MT to catch the train. We stopped on the rimrocks overlooking Billings to enjoy the view.
There were a few hours to spare, which we spent in Lisa’s home city of Great Falls, which is on the way to Shelby. Lisa showed me her home, and some of the local sights, including Giant Springs Heritage State Park.
This is one of several “giant” springs feeding directly into the Missouri River. After that, it was on to Shelby for the last all-night train ride. I arrived in Portland mid-morning on Sunday.
From there it was a few hours by bus home to Bend, and my genea-journey was complete. It took me three months to plan, three weeks to complete, and over four months to process, digest, and write these 22 blog posts about it. Thanks for coming along.
Next: a 70-year friendship between the Larsons and the Ericksons, stretching from Wisconsin to North Dakota.