(The following is an address given by Mary Elizabeth Mruzik nee Werner at the Sheraton-Anaheim Hotel, Anaheim, California, on June 21, 1986, on the occasion of the Paxton Family reunion.)
Paxton Family Reunion
For those of you who are interested in genealogy, and for those of you who were dragged here by those who are interested in genealogy, I’d like to tell you how I became a red hot amateur genealogist.
In our small town in Missouri, there is a group of ladies devoted to genealogy. They asked me to join their genealogy club. I thought they were studying rocks, so I said, “I’ll give it a try.” I found out they were trying to prove they had ancestors.
The leader of the group was Mrs. Howard Hobbs Anderson. The reason she was the leader was that she had once written a paper entitled “Pulling Up Your Roots in the Weed Patch of Humanity.” She kept a pair of rubber boots in the trunk of her car in case she came to a deserted grave yard, she could gallop among the tombstones to see if she could find anyone she knew.
At every meeting, each club member had to read a document from the past about a forbearer. Mrs. Howard Hobbs Anderson asked who I was tracing. I told her “Paxton.” She said, “Hmmmmm. A common name!”
Here’s what I read at the first meeting:
“Acacrombie & Williams, Realtors
Los Angeles, California
I am requesting the return of the deposit I placed with you prior to the purchase by myself of twenty acres of land in your State.
I believe such a venture on my part would be highly risky and foolhardy.
Please return my eighteen dollars immediately.
In my opinion, the dusty wilderness you tried to sell me, Palm Springs, will never amount to a hill of beans.
Edmund L. Paxton”
When I finished, Mrs. Howard Hobbs Anderson flew at me. “We are very disappointed in you! Look at the date on your letter - - 1921 - - We expected more from you! 1921 is totally unacceptable! We are not interested in the 20th Century. Go back, back, back! Dig, dig, dig!
Well, I found out how to be a red hot genealogist, you need lots of time, lots of postage stamps, and lots of friends in the county courthouses.
So I went back, back, back, and dug, dug, dug:
“September 3, 1804
This here letter is being taken by runners going back to St. Louis for more supplies.
Do you recollect that jug of medicine you done made for me? It shore came in handy warding off calamities. After just three doses, I kilt a grizzly bar I met by pulling off my cap and stuffing it down his throat.
Captain Lewis and Captain Clark would like to get a-holt of some of that stuff, too.
“Better,” said Mrs. Howard Hobbs Anderson, “We have hopes for you - - - still, you must go back, back, back - - and dig, dig, dig!”
You get a lot of material you can’t use when you’re a red hot amateur genealogist - - suitcases full of it. I even got a statement from a cemetery clerk that reads that my great grandmother died at five years of age.
So I turned into a genealogy fiend - - I forgot home, family, career - - everything - - to pursue genealogy.
I spent 2 ½ months in a library and would have been there still if a tornado hadn’t flattened the place - - but I had gone back, back, back - - after I dug, dug, dug - - I saved this document:
To Theodosius II:
I, Clement Ornasus, Public Scribe, am writing this for the maiden Moldtra, daughter of Paxtonius, Citizen of Rome.
My answer to your offer of marriage is ‘NO.’ I will marry an even-tempered gentle homebody, a fair man, who will be forever at my side. Since you frequently travel about the empire, I cannot accept you as my husband. I will wed a man who will be a source of comfort, pride, and companionship. I have chosen to be the bride of the nephew of Roas, King of the Huns. The boy is now eleven years old, and is named Attila.
After that one, Mrs. Howard Hobbs Anderson resigned her membership and joined the garden club. The ladies made me leader. I knocked their socks off with this bit of historical research:
Good news! I’ll soon be coming home. The war is over! I am so sick of killing I have thrown my sword and shield into the sea.
I am sitting in the moonlight, on the beach here in Troy. I am admiring the huge wooden horse the Greek army has left for us as an offering of friendship and brotherhood, before they sailed away.
The gods have smiled on us!”
There are caves in Spain and France used in prehistoric times for shelter. On the walls are drawings of bison and mammoths. You can see a blackened handprint where some Stone Age creature drove his palm against the wall. Now, some folks might be confused by that palm print, but not if you’re a red hot, true blue, all-American genealogist - -
It’s as plain as the nose on your face. The handprint says:
“Ug! Ug! Paxton was here!”
I salute those who have gone before us - - I salute those who will come after us - - I salute those who are here tonight.
WE ARE THE SAME!