Editor’s note: This is the last in the ‘Two Broads Abroad on the Oregon Trail’ series from Judy. Up next: her recent trip to Cuba, which we’ll be sharing with you next week.
By Judy Rickard, author, Torn Apart: United by Love, Divided by Law, Findhorn Press, 2011
Our end of the Oregon Trail journey. Yes, Karin and I had made it to Oregon City. We had toured the Oregon City Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. We had taken photos of the giant sign that proclaimed the end of the Oregon Trail. We took pictures of the replica covered wagon across the street at a gas station. We took pictures of Oregon Trail signs and the creek and the river and the wildflowrs, anything we could find that could have looked the same in the mid-18oo’s when my Everest ancestors would have arrived, bone weary and grimy, to realize the dream that made them go from Iowa to Kansas and begin that long overland journey for a better future. Just a few short years before, they had boarded a ship from England to Canada – but diverted themselves when an Indian war was in their way. They stayed a brief time in New York, then went to Ohio, then got the bug to join the westward journey. They got all their supplies and set out for xxxxxx Iowa and went west with Captain Joel Palmer, who had completed the journey once before.
The very special thing about learning my birth father’s history was that his Everest family, now mine, was responsible for helping to establish a town in Oregon – Newberg. Richard’s Donation Land Claim and those of his sons became part of the town’s history. Son Ruben, my great grandfather, became a famous hop grower. Son-in-law Sebastian Brutscher, from Bavaria, became the postmaster and actually named Newberg after Neuberg in his homeland. So the Everest name is a deep part of Newberg, even today. There’s Everest Street, for example, which leads to the Fernwood Pioneer Cemetery, created on land donated by Ruben.
There, the graves of many Everests lie near one another. The adventurous couple who started it all, Richard and Jane, lie beneath headstones ordered and shipped from their native England.
The others, who died later, have monuments made in America, I supppose – at least I have not heard that their stones were sent from England. The whole thing remains overwhelming to me – on a personal level and on an imaginative level of what one family could achieve – especially in earlier times. My Everest ancestors crossed the Atlantic, settled in America, crossed America, went to California to find gold (and did!) and went back to Oregon Territory and improved their free land, helping to settle the west and establish a civil society. Whew! Makes me tired just to think of it.
So the headstones (see these photos) Karin and I visited with my Dad, Donald Everest and his current wife, my bonus mom, Jeanette Everest, included those from the past as well as my sister, Susan, who died at 44 before I met her. I found my birth father and met him in 2004. He never knew I existed until I found him. Shortly after I met him, I met Karin. So as I found new siblings and relatives, Karin has been right there meeting them – and, bringing me new family too – across the Atlantic. And in a fun irony, my wife, Karin, who most think is English, is really German by birth. And me, who never knew a genetic nationality, turned out to be English! What a family tree reveal this has been. And more recently, as I was discovered by my brother on my birth mother’s side, I find that my birth mother’s ancestors also came west on the Oregon Trail. I am just getting into finding out that history. More fun awaits with my crazy family tree!
This story ends my Oregon Trail saga for lgbtSr.com, but more stories of Two Broads Abroad, the love exiles, are on the way. Today Karin and I call ourselves Prisoners of Love, because instead of being forced out of America for periods of time, we are now in the process of trying to get Karin a green card. After our “marriage interview” in September, nothing more has happened and we are awaiting “further review” from U.S. Customs and Immigration Service. We know that my request to sponsor my wife for immigration cannot be granted while DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act, is still on the books. On November 30, the U.S. Supreme Court is to decide whether to consider several DOMA cases, along with California’s Prop. 8 same-sex marriage case. If they do take the DOMA cases and decide, as have district federal courts already, that DOMA is unconstitutional, Karin and I will be able to finish our process and be safely and legally together in America. We will also be able to safely and legally travel outside the U.S. and return to the U.S. Right now, Karin can’t leave the country because she would not be able to return. So we wait. And wait. And wait along with so many others who have even worse scenarios than we do. Bye for now. I’l be back with stories from other places soon.
If you want to learn more, or donate funds to help same-sex binational couples like us, there are groups working on this issue.
Immigration Equality is one. Go to: http://www.immigrationequality.org/
Out4Immigration is another. Go to: www.out4immigration.org/
Love Exiles Foundation is another. Go to: http://www.loveexiles.org/
Stop the Deportations – The DOMA Project is another. Go to: www.stopthedeportations.com/
We are all glad for the help and advocacy!