I got sick. I caught a virus that rendered my throat incapable of doing anything a throat is made to do (pass breath, handle the food, the drink and the other body-stuffs we pretend doesn't happen, like food that burps back up but we swallow back down--I mean, what?).
I'm trying to look on the positive side, though. Right after my throat burned itself into a no-entry zone I found out that I do not have Herpes, HPV, or HIV/AIDS. It was a win/sorta lose kind of moment.
Anyway, in getting so sick I deliberately separated myself as much as possible from my friends. Being quarantined, I can say now from experience, is not fun. I get antsy enough as it is when Downton Abbey episodes have run dry on Netflix. So, in a vague attempt to avoid stir-craziness I started up my latest Campaign of Learning and began researching the people I could socialize with and avoid infecting: my ancestors.
You Know When You Kind of Know About Something But Don't Really Know It Until You Actually Start Researching What It Really Means And Then You Wish You Hadn't?
When I was a kid I had heard about my family on one side having more than one family. Or that two sisters had the same husband. Or that my grandpa had left a church. I had asked questions about it in the past, but for some reason even after repetitive explanations from my mom and dad, it didn't quite sink in what it all really meant.
I started off with the photo that had confused me for a long, long time. It had been sitting on the family mantel surrounded by a pretty antique metal frame. One day, while hacking up my lung (and lunch), I decided to take a closer look inside and break out the photos to see what they said on the backs.
|This is how I destroy antiques.|
Or, as he was fondly called back in Switzerland, Karl Heinrich Häderli. Yea, that last name was hard for me to pronounce first time I saw it. Think "Hey!-D.A.R.E.-lie" Sounds kind of like an anti-drug abstinence program.
Karl--or as I like to think of him, Crazy Charley--was a polygamist. No, that doesn't mean he was an avid gamer, as I had foolishly hoped. Charles had more than one wife.
To make matters even more intriguing, his wives were also sisters.
Meet The Schiesses.
Btws, Schiess is pronounced "sheess"not "shies," as I had again foolishly thought; that would have meant that they were the Shit family in Swiss.
|Mr and Mrs. Schiess and their children, Anna Barbara, Bertha (at age 5) Jacob and John.|
Big Love Just Got Very Real.
As hard as it may be to comprehend in the Post-3rd Wave Feminism world of the Bay Area, as hard as it is for me to see this as anything but some form of voodoo cult culture, the two daughters of Ulrich pictured above ended up being married to the same man, Crazy Charles Henry.
|Bertha (now age 17) with new hubby Charles Henry, who at the time was already married to her sister.|
Meet The Haderlies.
Gotta love those 1940s up-doos and wide-lapel suits. Pictured above are the thirteen--yes, thirteen--children of Bertha Schiess and Charles Henry Haderlie. Just for kicks, here they are again as children in 1905, when Bertha had only had nine by that point:
|The Haderlie 9; the baby is Mabel, little girl is Ina, top right is Clifford.|
Déjà vu-Doo Cult?
Ok. I really should stop passing judgment on polygamists. I mean, without them and their crazy-breeding techniques, I would not exist. Flat out that is the truth.
Charles Henry didn't just marry two women. He didn't marry just two sisters and have an exorbitant amount of kids with his second wife.
He also was simultaneously making thirteen other children with Anna Barbara, Bertha's sister, bringing that up to 26 children total.
26 children. From three people...you can get 26? Don't women's uteruses fall out after their fifth child? Don't men's penises fall off after the 10th? I don't understand.
Apparently Charles Henry Haderlie did. Like a crazed scientist, trying to force a "solution" to his original crack-pot idea, he placed the two sets of children and wife on either side of the Idaho and Wyoming state border, both along Tin Cup Creek.
That's right. That was the dude's solution.
Got two families? No prob. Put them in different states. That way, no one will know and no one will have the awkward family reunion moment of wearing the same genes to the same party.
That was a bad pun.
According to what we have from record accounts, the families did not consort with one another, but merely shared resources (one owned a ranch, the other a lumber mill). And, apparently tensions ran particularly high after one incident where one of the boys from the mill got fresh with one of the girls from the ranch and he and his siblings were politely met with gunpoint by their half-brothers upon a return visit.
When Did Mormons Become a Fad?
If you're interested to know how I'm related to all of this, it's quite simple. I'm the great-grand-daughter of one of those thirteen kids pictured above: Clifford Moroni Haderlie, to be exact. His eldest son, Eugene, is the very same Eugene who just celebrated his 90th birthday a week and a half ago, aka my grandpa.
Eugene politely declined to be a part of the Church of Latter Day Saints as a young man, and was excommunicated. Our relatives who still belonged to the Church kept trying to get him to come back for a while afterwards but they stopped when my grandma (a British war bride who had survived the London Blitz) said she'd haunt them forever as a ghost even after she died if they kept it up.
They stopped calling after that.
Anyway, it seemed fitting to "come out" to everyone about my family's somewhat sordid history. The Book of Mormon, written by South Park's creators, has become the latest broadway smash musical. Also, Big Love, the HBO series on a fictional Utah polygamist family, just concluded with its last episode only a few weeks ago. I find it oddly coincidental that the two head writers of Big Love, Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer are a gay male couple, as I now find myself in a slightly intriguing position:
It's 2011 and here I am. I am the great-grand-daughter of a devout Mormon family (among many others) and I am an out, lesbian atheist. My existence is somewhat of the exact opposite of what Charles Henry Haderlie had intended in producing so many heirs; his religion was forgotten with my mom and standard procreation could easily stop with me and with that, his line of genes.
I find that fantastically sweet as a form of revenge, in the name of all and any women who were badgered into being second wives. But, I don't like to end blogs on a vengeful note. So, let's go back to genealogy.
This is Woo with HER extended family. Here are her half siblings from the same mother.
Can you see the resemblance?
|Woo, Blue and Roxy|
I like to think Woo got her mom's eyes. Something about that bulginess and confused glassy stare...