In the summer of 1964, my family took a 3-week vacation and drove to Denver, Colorado to visit my Dad’s HART and SPAULDING Cousins. Christine (DeVaney) Spaulding and Kathleen (DeVaney) Hart and their families both lived there.  The two women were the daughters of Ivy A. (Vincent) DeVaney and her husband Michael, who helped raise my Dad after his mother passed away.

I was only 7 years old at the time, and my memories of the trip are now limited to just the moments that were captured by photographs. And oh, what photographs I have:  Mountains, Plains, Continental Divides, Buffalo Bill’s Grave and so many photos of my Mom, sister Margaret, 2 brothers, Chuck and Lee and me.

I inherited all of them after my parents passed away, and have over the years scanned them, so I have an electronic copy and can relive the memories. 


Some of these photographs have puzzled me for decades.

Backyard of the home we stayed at in Colorado, overlooking the hills and meadows.

This is a photo of the backyard of where the Bliven family stayed while in Colorado.  I don’t remember which of the families we stayed with – was it with Mr. and Mrs. Gus Hart?  Was it with Mr. and Mrs. Jay Spaulding?

What I do remember is that there were horses living in the field behind, and I was photographed with 2 of my young cousins and several of the horses.

My mystery cousin and I and one of the wild horses.
More of the wild horses come to visit.
My cousins, me and the horses.

Who are these cousins? Are they still living in Colorado?

I know that at least one trip into the Rockies included Jay and Christina Spaulding, my parents and older brother and sister, because several photos exist to support this.

Jay Raymond Spaulding ( 1909-1970) married to Christina R (DeVaney)
Looking closely at the car, I can see both my Mom and cousin Christina in the back seat.
Again, looking in the car, I see my Mom, my older brother and my sister
A classic shot – “Snowball fight in the middle of summer” – participants are Mom and Margaret
I’ll bet this happened a lot on this road trip – “Stopping for photos” Participants: Jay Spaulding, Margaret Bliven

I vaguely remember the day of this trip, as my younger brother and I got to stay behind and play with the family dog. There was only room for 6 in our family station wagon and in reality, both my younger brother and I would most likely not remember the trip, since we were 7 ½ and 4 ½ years old at the time. So, it’s possible we stayed with the Spaulding’s and the Hart’s came to visit.

Perhaps one of my Hart/DeVaney/Spaulding cousins will also remember the visit in that Summer of 64, when the Bliven family came to Colorado to spend time with cousins. Perhaps they will be in contact with me.  Perhaps, I’ll never know the names of the cousins I spent time with.

I’ll end this here, with a few more photos from the trip to and from Colorado.

Traveling with my Aunt Ivy – I believe somewhere between Michigan and Colorado
Golden, Colorado – Gravesite of “Buffalo Bill” William F. Cody
Another Classic photo op “Children in front of scenic marker” Participants, Nancy and Leroy Bliven (I believe this is located in South Dakota)
Apparently there were occasional breakdowns on the road to and/or from Colorado. Then again, what’s a vacation without an occasional breakdown?
Another Historical Marker, another Classic picture
You HAVE to take a photo of children in front of markers. Participants: Nancy, Leroy and Chuck
The Majesty of the Rocky Mountains!
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
Cemetery at Little BigHorn Battlefield National Momunent
Battlefield photo
Walking the Battlefield. Led by Leroy, then Mom, Nancy , Chuck, Margaret trailed by Dad
“Children in front of beautiful lake” Participants: Nancy and Leroy
If my memory is correct, this is a mountain view of the area in Colorado where we were staying. Supposedly, you can see our trailer from here. I’ve never found it.
Another mountain top view
Somewhere in the Black Hills of South Dakota
Buffalo in the Black Hills
A Family Favorite Spot – Prairie Dog Town. You may not see them, but the field is filled with Prairie Dogs peeking out of their burrows.

My Parent’s Current Neighborhood

Flora Bliven (front) and Ivy DeVaney (back) visiting Mt. Hope Cemetery and the Vincent – DeVaney – Bliven graves

I can remember going with my parents and an occasional Great-Aunt to visit Mt. Hope Cemetery, usually on Memorial Day weekend, or Decoration Day as it was known to my parents. Buried in the 10 grave plot were my paternal Grandmother Peggy (Margaret Vincent Bliven), my Paternal Great Grandparents – Elizabeth and Charles Vincent and my Great-Uncle Mick (Michael J. DeVaney).

All of them had passed away before I was born – Uncle Mick in 1914, Grandma Peggy in 1931, Grandpa Charles in 1934 and Grandma Liz in 1950 – so I didn’t know any of them personally, but I did know a lot of stories about them.

The annual trip to Lansing and Mt. Hope was a definite family ritual, one that I kept up even as an adult. I can remember one Memorial Day weekend in 1986 when my Mom, Dad and I visited not only Mt. Hope, but two other cemeteries in the greater Lansing area: Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery (where my Aunt Dolly and Uncle Lew are buried) and Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens (where my Aunt Kitty and Uncle Ernie are buried.). Although it was never said out loud, I’ve always been convinced my father asked me to take the trip with my parents in order for one of his children would know where the relatives were buried. I wasn’t into Genealogy and Cemeteries at the time, but I’ve always wondered if my father knew my future even before I did.

I still visit these three cemeteries at least once a year, sometimes just to stop and pay my respects to my parents, who are now buried next to my paternal great-grandparents, or to research other family members who are also buried in them. As expected, I spend the most time in Mt. Hope, In November to decorate the family plot for Christmas and again in March to retrieve the Christmas Decorations.

Because of my many trips to Mt. Hope, many of the headstones in the surrounding plots have become very familiar to me. So over the course of the next few weeks, I’m going to be researching the families behind the headstones that I find in my parent’s current neighborhood.


It has been close to 25 years since I started this journey…  all because of a poster I bought with the history of my Family Name…. Bliven

I learned that everything I thought I knew about my Family ancestry was not quite true and so I decided to try and learn the truth about my family.

It has been a very interesting journey…..


Ellen and Herbert Gardner

Herbert and Ellen Gardner, circa. 1920


….. one that continues to this day!