This is pretty mundane and pointless, but here goes: along about 300 or so years ago, there was a fellow who lived in Wilmington, Delaware, by the name of Carl Christopher Springer. My great-great-great grandmother Angeline Springer was believed by her grandchildren to be descended from this Mr. Springer. For at least 3 generations now, the family has believed not only that Mr. Springer was ggggrandmother Angeline’s great uncle or something, but that she and the rest of his descendants were heirs to a fabulous fortune. For generations, the tale has been handed down orally or via copied and recopied letters. If only we could prove our relationship to Mr. Springer, we could secure our piece of the pie!
Now, Delaware is quite a way away from Oregon and no one on this coast has had the opportunity to go back and dig (literally and figuratively) for the lost treasure. However, this is a new age for a new kind of explorer. Netscape Explorer, to be exact. This week has yielded some fascinating discoveries. No, I still don’t know if we’re descended from Mr. Springer. However, I’ve learned that, for financial purposes anyway, it doesn’t matter if we are because there is no fortune. This is going to break my family’s hearts. I think we all knew deep down inside that, even if we could prove our Springers were related to Carl Christopher, we probably wouldn’t be entitled to one thin dime, but it was still fun to dream how one might spend one’s share of a $300,000,000 (in 1800’s dollars, no less!) estate. Now we have to face the cold reality that all we can do is dream.
Yesterday I found a website debunking the whole thing: J.E. Springer Genealogy. Turns out it was a hoax perpetrated by a Moses C. Springer. He claimed that the DuPonts used land rightfully owned by Carl Christopher Springer to make their vast fortune so his heirs were entitled to a cut. He formed “Springer Heirs, Inc.” and sent letters all over the country informing Springers that he had news to their financial advantage. Chapters of “Springer Heirs” sprung up to plan their course of action (and no doubt send Mr. Moses Springer money to fund the supposed pursuit). This was over 100 years ago and to this day the rumor persists (at least among my family–probably because we’re on the west coast and so far away from the action, or maybe we’re just slow).
So generations of my family have been taken in by what amounts to an urban legend. I wonder if snopes would do a write up on this.
“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy