Passing the Conger Legacy

For years I’ve searched for a CONGER to serve as the steward of a vast legacy of Conger lore collected by Maxine Crowell Leonard and passed on to me. I transported that legacy from Maxine’s Iowa home to mine in the late 90s, published the Conger Confab newsletter for years and soon realized I could not give it the attention it merited. I am not a genealogist, and Confab readers deserved one. Earlier this year my friend from Confab days, who has remained a valued friend since, Dick Henthorn emailed me about an Ernest Conger, 82 years old, living in Iowa, who knew Maxine,  who was re-launching Confab. That was music to my eyes! Ermest and I talked over about his plans for Confab. He said his son Gene would be helping him. What  he and Gene did not tell me, that I had hoped they would, was that they could come to Springfield to take that materials Maxine had passed on plus what I had added in the course of years of Conger correspondence and hundreds of extra issues of Confab which I had published.  Gene sent me the four page issue of one of his early Confabs . . . . and that was the last I heard from the the Iowa Congers.
Later this year I received an email from Jean Clinton of Louisiana. In the course of several emails it became obvious to me that she was a thoroughly competent genealogist, a fine writer, and an enthusiastic CONGER . . . AND she would be willing to be the new steward of the Conger legacy. I began gathering materials — books by Congers, correspondence, all photo albums from Maxine’s Conger Confabulation reunions, newsletters and stacking them in my living room, just inches from my front door, ready to load when Jean visited with a roomy vehicle.
CongJea-2CongJea-3 CongJea-4She arrived in Springfield late Monday, perfect timing for a twilight tour of my home town and dinner. She stayed the Mansion View Motel on S. 4th Street, right across from the Executive Mansion, home for Illinois’ Chief Executive (Governor) when he is in town. Item number ONE for the morning ahead would be to load Conger lore into her squeaky clean driving machine. . .

Jean examines a 19th century Conger photograph, part of what was ab out to be taken out to her car.

Jean examines a 19th century Conger photograph, part of what was about to be taken out to her car.

On arrival at “Conger House at 428” about 9:30, Jean explained she had been up since EARLY early and walked around the heart of Springfield in perfect early sunshine.
I was totally surprised by — with excellent mutual assistance — how fast we loaded the car. She clearly had a gift for optimal space utilization; ’twas amazing!
Jean (bless her heart) had shared keen interest in visiting my AeroKnow Museum, so the first stop of the day, with me in my vehicle and Jean in hers, was the airport.

Loading her car. It's a miracle the weight of the Conger lore didn't burst the tires!

Loading her car. It’s a miracle the weight of the Conger lore didn’t burst the tires!

A smile to remember.

A smile to remember.

I could not — in my best dreams — have asked for a more charming and attentive visitor! The pictures show this to be true. Later I shared some songs I wrote and gave her my books of poetry  I’ve written.
(sorry for the disarray of the pictures. There’s a way to have avoided this, but I don’t know what it is.)
The tomb where “The Great Emancipator” Abraham Lincoln is buried was amazingly close to the airport, and it would be the final spot for Jean and I to visit.

looking over some of the magazines in AKM's Periodical's Room

looking over some of the magazines in AKM’s Periodical’s Room

photographing part of the WELCOME Room at AeroKnow Museum.

photographing part of the WELCOME Room at AeroKnow Museum.

Under that stone, greatness lies.

Under that stone, greatness lies.

distinguished visitor photographs the tomb of a distinguished citizen of Springfield, Illinois

distinguished visitor photographs the tomb of a distinguished citizen of Springfield, Illinois

Two distinguished poses: one in bronze; one in breath.

Two distinguished poses: one in bronze; one in breath.

Too, too, too soon it was time to say goodbye. Jean followed me to the intersection and street going south to St. Louis. And we said goodbye.
UPDATE
     Jean is going through the Conger materials and welcomes correspondence with other Conger family researchers. She can be reached ONLY VIA E-MAIL at jclinton@latterblum.com

I tried to reach Ernest Conger while preparing to post this blog. The address for him and his son Gene is genecong@prairienet.net 

I, Job Clifton Conger, IV, kept my great grandfather’s shaving  cup and early safety razor, but the rest belongs to Jean. Since blogs last forever, I’m ready to respond to notes that are directed to me via the Comments area that follow this post.

Thanks for reading this post, and warmest regards and THANKS for carrying the legends of Congers onward with dignity, enthusiasm and pride.

As I say in closing my Honey & Quinine blog posts . . .
Live long . . . . . . . and proper!

At Springfield's airport, just outside the building that hosts the aviation museum, Jean photographed a visiting Pilatus PC-12 business turboprop.

At Springfield’s airport, just outside the building that hosts the aviation museum, Jean photographed a visiting Pilatus PC-12 business turboprop.

Holding my great grandfather's shaving cream cup. It and the portrait of yours truly drawn by international artist and family friend Ned Chase on the wall in the background remain with me in Springfield but will be passed on before it's time for me to "leave."

Holding my great grandfather’s shaving cream cup. It and the portrait of yours truly drawn by international artist and family friend Ned Chase on the wall in the background remain with me in Springfield but will be passed on before it’s time for me to “leave.”

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Test with new theme

This is just a test. I know I am behind posting here.

Back to normal programming now.

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The Tormenting Impediment of Missionary Zeal

One of the factors which led to the discontinuation of Conger Confab the newsletter I took over from Maxine Leonard and published from March 1997 to June 2001 was that the number of paid subscribers I was told were supporting it, was in fact far less. But as with most labors of love — which it had been for Maxine and would be for me — supplementing production from my own bank account was not the major roadblock to continuing production of Confab. Another was my ongoing chagrin over 1. not being a genealogist — heck it took me six months to learn how to spell the work correctly, consistently — and 2. not wanting to become a genealogist. Because I had NO sense of family growing up and throughout most of my enduring thereafter, I thought I’d find some sense of it in taking on the newsletter. There would be no Conger family reunions of Confab subscribers in Springfield, Illinois — as I learned after a major effort to organize one — but several subscribers did pass through my town, to visit the collection, to meet me, pose for pictures and share encouraging words. The ultimate obstacle that stood in the way of my further attention to Conger family history was something I considered an elemental flaw in the premise of Maxine Crowell Leonard’s disciple-like devotion to her superlative enterprise. She revealed the flaw at the top of the March 1983 Confab, saying “It is believed that all white Congers are descended from the six sons of our immigrant ancestor, John Belconger. The March 1997 issue, the first I produced and distributed, modified that statement, saying “Sharing the continuing story of the Conger family of America  in the belief that all Congers are descended from the six sons of our immigrant ancestor, John Belconger.” I had grown up believing that all Congers were descended from a common Conger, but my parents and older sister didn’t go into details and I didn’t ask. Discovering Maxine years later and subscribing to Confab occasionally for about 10 years before becoming publisher, I wore the assumption like a comfortable hat. But the more I considered the possibility that NO OTHER immigrants came to the USA and Canada named Belconger, or Conger or variations on that spelling later changed to “Conger,” the more I considered it impossible. And I could not, as a journalist, perpetrate what was becoming a “fairy tale” to me.

I asked others for advice about how to reconcile the tension. How do I learn the truth without appearing to disparage Maxine’s amazing work? How much of her research is suspect because it was predicated on a fairy tale? Who KNOWS the truth? Could I as a researcher share updated information about the family while having absolutely no credential or scholastic foundation from which to JUDGE the accuracy of information sent to me by pranksters and liars? How could I — still the non-genealogist who could at least spell the word without having to move my lips as I typed it by then — separate the wheat from the chaff? Could I even share information that came to me from published sources without violating copyright laws? It seemed an impossible task, and it still seems so. My attitude was shaken out of my quagmire of doubt when Dick Henthorn, a MAJOR contributor to my knowledge over many years, contacted me concerning our shared interest in Facebook. I felt like a computer that had crashed to catatonia, immobilized, but was re-booted into action, not by a leather-covered toe to my gluteus maximus, but by the possibility of launching a new effort through this blog.

Comments and facts from all readers of Congers Worldwide are welcome and may be shared in the comments section here, by e-mailing me — jobconger@eosinc.com —  or by sending correspondence via conventional post to me at 428 W. Vine, Springfield, Illinois 62704-2933

What do you think?  What do you know?

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Hello world!

VL12834Salutations from Springfield, Illinois, USA! My name is Job Clifton Conger, IV, descended from John Belconger who came to Woodbridge, Connecticut before George Washington almost lost a really important war for us, went on to greater fame as a new nation’s first chief executive . . . and you know the rest. This blog was launched October 2, 2009.

Congers Worldwide is my effort to create a publicly accessible place for good people  who share the last name of Conger to connect. I have a web site — http://www.aeroknow.com/arts/congerfamily.htm — but WordPress seems to offer a more open forum. Congers Worldwide (CW)  will be what it will be. Do we recognize a future pilot when he comes into this world? It’s appropriate that we don’t recognize what CW will be on the day it is launched.  If you are a Conger or Conger kin with questions about our family throughout history and today, here is another site for you. It will be what we desire it

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