Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield

Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Newcomerstown, Ohio, USA
December 28
Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Retired Protestant Pastor and Theologian, credentialed in the United Church of Christ; licensed by the Moravian Church . Education: BA, MA, M.Div, Thd. Public Service: NY State Office of Executive Development, Management Intern; Federal Exec. Branch: Executive Office of the President, Budget Examiner, Bureau of the Budget; Interior, Director of Energy and Minerals, Bureau of Land Management; Non Profit: Ford Foundation, Deputy Director, Energy Policy Project; Congressional: Director, Office of Special Projects; Director, Division of Energy and Materials, General Accounting Office. Private industry: Vice President, Grow Group, Inc.; Chief Executive Officer, US Paint; Owner, the Energy Center, St. Louis. Christian service: Pastor, First Congregational UCC, Ottawa, Illinois; Pastor, St. Paul's UCC, Port Washington, Ohio; Pastor, Moravian Church, Gnadenhutten, Ohio. Interim Pastor, the Baltic Parish UCC, Baltic, Ohio; starting 08 2014: Interim Pastor, St. John UCC, Strasburg, OH


Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield's Links

JANUARY 6, 2011 1:00PM

Memoir: The Earliest Years, Part One: Those who came before

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Why now?

I  just celebrated my 72nd birthday, and have decided that it is none too soon to begin fleshing out my personal memoir, bits and pieces of which are already written, but with huge gaps remaining. As the old saw says, "I am not getting any younger."

As a child I was usually called "Little Monte" since I was a "Junior," or "Monte Gene," because my middle name is "Eugene." A brief glimpse of my early childhood was first introduced to my Open Salon readers in the final installment of the series "A WWII Romance." There we saw a melodramatic, but all too true, tale of "Monte Gene," then 6, being secretly lowered through a window by his uncle into the arms of his mother, Wilma, followed by a quick automobile run for the county line.

This "kidnapping" was the culmination of a bitter argument between his mother and his maternal grandmother, Lola, with whom he had lived most of his life up to that time. Wilma had remarried, over the vehement objections of her mother, to a young man named Alva Galemore. Al was to Lola nothing more than "poor white trash" and she had vowed to never give Monte up to go live with the newlyweds, even if it meant a court fight.

My life up to that time had been relatively uneventful from my point of view, but, from the perspective of the other parties involved, a center of controversy from the start. And it is there that my story really begins, long before I could have any actual memories of the history or the events.

However, all of the parties to my earliest years were eager, through the years that followed, to convince me of the truth of their versions of my earliest years. And, out of that cacophony of biased opinion, as I grew older, I pieced together my own version of my earliest years. That my version may be wrong in this or that detail is likely the case. But that the quilt that I pieced together from these multiple memories molded my understanding of human nature, family dynamics, my identity, and of life itself cannot be denied. That, of course, is a mixed blessing.

None of the key parties to this earliest story are alive, save me. And there is little that can be remotely called "evidence." There are, of course, a few photos, some crude information, what I have been told, and my personal memories which go back to about the age of three.

I am told there are those folk who remember their first birthdays, but I claim no such extraordinary abilities. And I only know that my memories go back to about three because there are pictures of me inscribed as taken at "age three" at events about which I remember details not in the pictures. Before that there are pictures, but I remember nothing about them other than what I have been told.

Before the Memories

But we must start even before my memories, because earlier events shaped those who shaped me, and I have distilled from them some background of those people who were vital to my formative years.

My father, of whom I have only the vaguest memories prior to age 12, was Monte Eugene Canfield. The version of my birth certificate filled in by the doctor, gives me that same name, but another certificate, the official state version, lists me as Monte Eugene Canfield, Jr.

In any case, there is some undocumented genealogical information on the Canfield side so we will start there. There is no genealogical information on my mother's side.

According to family records, my particular branch of the Canfield family emigrated from England to New England in 1639. My direct ancestor, Matthew Canfield, was born in 1604 and died in 1673. Later generations emigrated From New England, first to eastern Ohio when Ohio was a territory, part of the Western Reserve, and, later, to Kansas territory.

[Ironically, by shear accident, I have retired into the same eastern Ohio area of the early Canfield emigrants, some 60 miles southwest of the city of Canfield here in NE Ohio. I had no clue that there were Canfields in Ohio until after we moved here in 1997.] 

Some 9 generations following Matthew Canfield, my paternal grandfather, Leo See Canfield, was born in June, 1892. He married my grandmother, Ola G. Montgomery, in 1915, and died in Dec, 1918 at Scranton in eastern Kansas where he owned a small town newspaper. While the records do not say why he died, that was the year of the great flu pandemic that originated in the US in Kansas, at Ft. Riley, and killed over 1/2 million people here in the US, and 50 to 100 million world wide.  

My father, Monte Eugene Canfield, the first of two sons, was born in 1916.

My father's mother's maiden name was, as noted above, Ola Montgomery. I know nothing of her background other than that she was born in eastern Kansas. After my grandfather died she gave birth to her second son some three months later, my uncle, Leo. My father was then about 2 1/4 years old. In spite of those dire circumstances, rather than give up the family newspaper, and knowing nothing of the newspaper business herself, she determined to learn the trade and run the paper and print shop. This she did. She later went on to become a highly respected member of the press establishment in Kansas.

My mother was born Wilma Lee Elaine Allensworth in eastern Kansas, in 1923. In those days her friends called her "Willie." She hardly knew her father as he deserted the family when she was a very small girl and she was raised by her mother and her second husband, William Isaiah Isaacs. Bill Isaacs owned three small coal mines in Osage County, Kansas and they lived in Burlingame, Kansas, some 30 miles south of Topeka, and 6 miles from Scranton.

From the time Wilma's mother, Lola, and her stepfather, Bill, combined their two very large families, Bill Isaacs was known to Wilma as "Daddy," as he was to all of Lola's children. Wilma was given the name Isaacs as her family name, but Lola's older children were offered the choice and all chose to be known by the name of Isaacs. I did not even know that Bill Isaacs was not my grandfather by blood until I was a much older child and by then could not care less. I idolized him.

My maternal grandmother was born Lola May Barnes. I know nothing of her family background other than that there was an alleged ancestral relationship to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, one which my grandmother was not interested in discussing. She told me, in no uncertain terms, that her family was part of the "free state" pioneers in the days of "Bloody Kansas." I judiciously never pursued that line of thought with her.

The Importance of Ancestry

The truth is that within my own family our ancestral pedigree was not very important, except for a small interest shown on the Canfield side. The general conviction on both sides of my family was that people earned their place in society by dint of hard study and/or hard work, preferably both.

As for myself the only thing I think is interesting about this little foray into my family background is that all the associated names are English in origin. I make no more of it than that.

And, I have little interest in the importance of "blood" beyond a sense of love and obligation to my immediate family, and, even then, "blood" cannot not define my immediate family.

The fact is that the man who had the most influence in my earliest years was my "step" grandfather, Bill Isaacs; the one who raised me throughout my public school years was my "step" father, Al Galemore, and the one who helped me most through my college years was my biological father's "step" father, Sam Shade.

All of those men treated me with unequivocal love as one of their own.

I have a sense of unconditional love and devotion to their memories today. They were my heroes, my mentors and my role models; and I loved them shamelessly and passionately. And I think of and miss them to this day; especially my ("step") Dad, Al Galemore.

Next: Wilma and Monte Sr. marry. And I am born, not in Kansas, but in the Oklahoma panhandle, a harbinger to an itinerant childhood.

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It so good to read you again, Monte. I find this very interesting. Personal histories are the details of larger thing we like to call history and are often more telling of what things were really like, what shapes people and their thoughts, etc.
You are off to an excellent start and I'll be looking forward to reading more.
What a bang of a story start with this kidnapping scene, followed closely by the beautifully shared insights of these word gems "... out of that cacophony of biased opinion, ... the quilt that I pieced together from these multiple memories molded my understanding of human nature, family dynamics, my identity, and of life itself ..." .
and i love that the truth of your experience goes against the grain of the stereotype with every "step-parent" in your life helping you step into the strength of who you are.
and belated Birthday Wishes! no small victory!
Happy belated birthday, Monte - it's interesting reading someone else's family history. I've only just come into contact with very distant relatives who revealed a whole plethora of facts and figures in my own family that not even my father, who now has lost his memory, knew.
Hello Monte,

I'll try to keep up with this as you add to it.
It clips along well.
It might inspire me to do something similar. I've thought often to give it a try.
Good to see you on here again, Monte. I trust the gaps between posts won't be long.

I well remember your "WWII Romance". It was vivid, and I'm glad you're taking the time to go back and fill in some of the blanks.
It is so good to have you back, Monte! I will be looking for more to your very compelling story.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! How nice of you to do this for your family. Been begging my own father to do the same .... and he's 80! Good to see you back! How are the kitties?
An excellent beginning and I am eager to read more about your life and times.
Monte, for some reason I am not surprised that this has pulled me in already. There is something about detailed reflection on one's life, especially one which has evolved in such a positive way, that becomes a story of great interest even when it is "only" for the sake of reconstructing the family quilt. I look forward to more here, and as has already been said, it is very good to be reading you again. It feels like home. Thanks for that. r
it amazes me when people can get this genealogical information generations back, in my country it is sketchy at best

loved to read this
So happy to see you back here, sharing and shaping history in such a personal, meaningful way. Monte style, which we love so much. And a very happy belated birthday!
Hi, everyone. It is good to be back. I do not expect to write all that much for a while but will be posting some in this series and a couple of things about faith. But only a few times a month. I have worked hard these past few months trying to achieve a better balance in how I spend my time, most particularly spending more time with Sue when we are at home together. I like that balance and want to include a bit of writing in it, but not to the all consuming level it was before. I think I have figured out that writing is important, OS is important, etc. in my life, but not to the exclusion of things around home. Yes, kind of a "Well, Duh!" moment, but it took me a long time to get to it.

Thanks for your kind comments on this piece. As I go along it will become more personal and deal with specific events, but some of this background is important to explore because it will explain a bit why I felt and reacted to changes in my life the way I did.


how fortunate that in this somewhat tumultuous childhood, these good men were present
You are so fortunate to have had wonderful male role models, who were your kin in "spirit" if not in blood. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your family.
I was just mentioning Ann Cameron Cutri ref`

and Miss Joy's.
off-topic? - You'd appreciate (Christian Century)
Lois Huey-Heck - Great critiques of spiritual works.
I love to research Family Trees. It's our roots. Great.
I always wonder why ancestors from Wales got drunk?
Holy Communion? After a hard day in orchard? Cheese.
They sipped wine, cut a wedge of cheese, kiss the Peace.
I have a huge old bible with names like Jacob. Hannah,
and the James in Western Maryland all seem`Spirited.

Some are 72- years young. I say `Ain't gonna die young!
The wino James's on top of VFW and American Legion?
They bum change from preacher copper collection plate!
They call it five-finger wine money for holy communion!
They attend church to get money. It's a date to bowl tho.
Sometime church is more lucrative than a bus to Bingos.
Churches in Western Maryland haul church folk to Bingo.
Bless you.
Aim for 103.
In Nova Scotia?
You quit drink at 100.
You start smoking at 3.
You quit when in coffin.

Good to read you. I was thinking of you and Lead Belly.
He's sing `bout animated jawbones of a donkey. Song.
Rev Lead Belly sang Blue Moon of Kentucky. Fellowship.

Colorful Art work with a message at my sons Place.
What a good idea! Wish I could induce my mother to do this. Great to read you once again. I practically never visit OS anymore but when I do to read such pieces from friends is a treat! Thank you for sharing....I shall be following. Peace.