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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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