An old partner in crime, Bump Halsey, dropped by last weekend to chew the rag and brag a bit on the progress of his current project.
The last time Halsey and I met, he was working as a lobbyist for a Hens in the Backyard Co-op. He clucked on for a time while I did my best not to listen.
He rattled on about the upcoming Legislature, which he says will crowd its deadline debating the legalization of atlatls, states’ rights, constitutional rights, personhood, corporate-hood, fluoridation and abstention.
Finally, Bump introduced his project - the Halsey family tree.
After a long pause, Bump pulled out a scroll and began reading: “Attai begat Nathan, and Nathan begat Zabad, and Zabad begat Ephlal, and Ephlal begat Obed, and Obed begat Jehu, and Jehu begat Azariah, and Azariah begat Helez, and Helez begat Eleasah, and Eleasah begat Sisamai, and Sisamai begat Shallum, and Shallum begat Jakamiah, and Jakamiah begat Elishama ... .”
I suspected that Bump cribbed this lot from Genesis.
He admitted as much, confessing that these were Biblical patriarchs he hoped to connect in his trek toward Adam.
Skipping ahead to approach the recent past, he quoted public records reporting that Jacob (Tomas Charles Alderson) Halsey was born the son of Hoarse and Julianna Halsey in Chaff, a suburb of Frostbite, Minn.
The Halseys were missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ Right Now. Both parents perished in a Sioux raid.
Only 18 months old at the time of the raid, Jacob was taken captive and raised by the Lakota woman, called “Shoestrings.” Jacob ran away from the Lakota at the age of 12 and supported himself for the next 10 years, digging potatoes, stealing cantaloupe and trading muskmelon futures. Jacob had four wives, seven sons and an odd lot of daughters. One of the boys would be one of Bump Halsey’s direct ancestors.
As one of Bump’s great-great-great-great-grandfathers, Jacob represented one of 128 blood lines included in Bump’s DNA.
Other ancestors included Abbey, Able, Abraham, Alsopp, Alfson, Bagley, Barley, Bradley, Bowman, Culbert, Calvin, Doolittle, Daneson, Elton, Bachmeier, Braun, Brinker and Brandt, to name a few.
Going back 28 generations, Bump’s ancestors totaled 500 million – more than the total population of Planet Earth. At that point, Bump was related to everyone alive and everyone who had ever lived: Christ, Caesar Shoestrings, Albert Einstein, Tokyo Rose, Queen Victoria and Sarah Palin.
Bump’s great-great-grandfather, Civil War veteran Herman Bachmeier, fought with Braxton Bragg at Chickamauga, dodged cannon balls at Stones River and was wounded at Chancellorsville. Herman ran away from a Virginia hospital wearing a sun bonnet and a calico dress. Joining an emigrant train, he trekked 600 miles to open a barber shop in the gold rush town of Lead, S.D.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Lower Saxony, Prussia, Bertha Bricklemuller, born the daughter of an Protestant clergyman, ran away from home and signed on as a scullery maid to work her way to the new world. In New York City she was hired as a seamstress by the Triangle Shirtwaist Co.
When the plant caught fire, 146 women perished in the flames. Fortunately, Bertha had always been a sickly girl and more than a bit of a malingerer. She herself never knew if she was sick or pretending to be. Bertha was AWOL when the factory caught fire and wasted the Bricklemuller family’s only shot at fame.
Bertha drifted West, taking jobs as bar wench, nanny, saloon swamper and fry cook, finally landing in Helena, where she married Gustave Hoffer, Esq., founder of the Hutterite law firm of Hoffer, Haupf, Klinesasser and Wipf.
Bertha bore Gustavo a single child, a girl named “Belle.” Belle left home at 16, moved to Clancy and changed her name to Bonita Chavez. On her 19th birthday she changed her name again, this time to Lizbette Nizbette. None of her name changes were sanctioned by law but the changes raised her spirits.
She was traveling under the alias “Betty Wamsutter” when she landed in Butte with more money than the Bricklemuller family had ever smelled. She was 26 and had been married four times and widowed six times.
If that doesn’t add up, blame the venal county clerk in Lewis and Clark County. To her credit, Betty (aka, Lizbette, Belle, et al) reformed and was never widowed again.