Welcome Family and Friends......

    You have no idea how happy I am that you're all here. This is just great! ....Thank you all for coming. I have so much to say, and so little time. I'll try to keep this short.....

    As most of you probably know, I've spent the last 4 1/2 years looking for my ancestors on both sides of my family. In that time I have compiled over 10,147 people who are related to me, and I've managed to start my own family tree web site. I have corresponded with over 125 cousins from all over the world, and have collected many family histories and other documents. I've heard from family in almost all 50 states, and from our cousins in Canada, England, Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, and even the island of Guam. I've visited over 20 cemeteries and well over 200 graves in three different states. I've collected hundreds of old family photos and received hundreds more from others. I've heard many old family stories and read about many others. The whole experience has just been great. I've enjoyed all the research.

    And I've learned so much along the way. So much history in this family I can't begin to tell you all I know tonight. I've traced the Ivey family back to 1811 Virginia. Then to Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas and Texas, where they were farmers, coopers and cigar makers. I've traced the Fink family back to 1823 Germany, where George Fink and his son, John were executioners... BEHEADERS!!  John Fink beheaded one person and didn't like it, so he moved to America. Later Finks assumed slightly tamer occupations like farming and tending to the locks on the Illinois River.

    The Sanders family is the largest of my families. I've traced them back to 1736 Virginia. Moving to Kentucky, and then Illinois, they were tobacco farmers, coal miners and preachers. And my own surname, the Wakenshaw family, can be traced back to 1799 England, where they were coal miners. John Thomas Wakenshaw came to this country in 1882 when he was 21 years old. That was four years before the Statue of Liberty was here for him to see when he arrived. John came directly to Illinois, and his parents, and younger brother Adam came to America a few years later.
    Other branches of my family tree go back even further. The Howell family can be traced back to the 1500's and were among the first settlers in America in the 1600's. The Comstock family has some local history here in Illinois. At age 11, John W. Comstock was the groom and carriage driver for a small town lawyer named Abe Lincoln. John worked and lived with the Lincoln family here in Springfield in 1859, up until Abe became President in 1860. John Comstock later married Mahulda Davis. Her father was Owen Davis, another prominent lawyer in Illinois, who often argued many cases in court against his rival, Abe Lincoln. And on the other side of my family, uncle Lester Hanks is said to be related to Abe Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks, but I have yet to prove it.

    My family tree has all sorts of people. From policemen to convicted murderers. From musicians and singers to coal miners and gold rushers. From school teachers and farmers to Governors and former Presidential candidates. From salesmen and factory workers to doctors and lawyers. From housewives and homemakers to preachers and community workers. And from soldiers to decorated veterans.  
    Members of this family have fought in every American war since the Revolutionary War. And in Europe, I've found records as far back as the war between England and France in the early 1800's. In fact, it was our ancestor, Capt. George Ross who commanded one of Her Majesty's ships in the Battle of Trafalgar under Lord Nelson. The English defeated the French in 1805 and Capt. Ross brought Napoleon Bonapart back to England bound in chains aboard his ship, and delivered him to the King of England.

    Many of our ancestors were among the brave men and women who founded this country and fought to defend it in the Revolutionary War. Our ancestors also fought in the War of 1812, and in the Civil War... on both sides. They fought in the Spanish-American War, WW I and WW II. They fought in the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Gulf War. And even now, we have family in Iraq and throughout the world protecting our freedom.

     I'd like to ask you for a moment of silence to remember those of our family who served, those who continue to serve, and those who died serving. Let's also remember the rest of our family who have gone before us for whatever reason, for they are in our hearts tonight and everyday........


                                  (moment of silence)

    Besides this little family reunion, there was another reason I called you all here...  Tonight we have the joy of experiencing a once in a lifetime event.  But let me take you back to the year 1915 for a moment....

- World War I had just begun.

- In 1915 the United States Coast Guard was formed by an act of Congress.

- In Washington D.C., the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was put into place in 1915.

- 1915 was also the year the US House of Representatives REJECTED a proposal to give women the right to vote.

- The planet Pluto was photographed for the very first time in 1915, but it was not recognized as a planet yet. 

- And in Detroit, Michigan, automobile accidents were becoming a thing of the past when the city got it's first stop sign in 1915.

    But let me tell you about the most amazing part of the year 1915. Three ladies in this room were born that year, and they're all celebrating their 90th birthdays this week. My grandmother, Beatrice Sanders Wakenshaw and my great aunt Norma Williams Ivey were both born on this very day, Sept. 15th. And in a few days a dear friend of the Ivey family who is also with us tonight, Dorothy Housholder, will also be turning 90.

    There is one other person I would like you to celebrate with me tonight. My grandmother, Marjorie Fink Ivey who passed away four years ago this week. She would have also been turning 90 this year. Of all the people who couldn't be with me in this room tonight, she is the one I would like to be here the most of all. She may be gone, but I know her heart is here tonight.
    I want to thank each and every one of you for coming tonight, and for making this dream come true for me. Is this a great family or what? Thank you so much. Give yourself a round of applause......