I see London, I see France


As I noted in my last post, 15-20 years ago I wrote a regular series of essays, most intended to be humorous. These were shared via a mailing list — this was waaay before blogs came on the scene. I wrote this one in 1999 about events in 1991. I have edited it a little from the original. It is almost completely accurate, unfortunately.

The Story

Back in about 1991, I was invited to Bell Northern Research at Research Triangle, NC to give a talk on my debugging work. (In my career to date, I have worked in distributed systems, software testing, debugging, and security, in roughly that order.) I had been on the road a lot the previous few years talking about the Internet Worm, so a talk on my debugging research was welcome. Plus, BNR was a sponsor of the SERC (then) at Purdue with which I was (then) an affiliated researcher. Plus, several of my former students were working there, so I’d enjoy the visit for no other reason than to visit them. This was not the first time I would be mistaken about travel.

I don’t remember the day exactly, but I loaded up my garment bag and flew out of West Lafayette (USAir had service to Dayton from WL in those days). I connected in Dayton, and got into the Raleigh-Durham airport rather late in the evening. Then, my adventure really started.

I got a shuttle bus and arrived at the hotel around midnight. I checked in to my room. It was the last room they had available. It was next to the elevator. The sodium arc lamp illuminating the parking lot (and several counties in the surrounding area) was perched outside, above the window for my room. Despite heavily lined curtains, the light coming in around the edges lit up the room to daylight levels. However, it looked like something out of an Outer Limits episode — this orange-red light ominously streaming around the curtains on all sides. If I opened the curtains, I saw a huge cloud of moths from the surrounding countryside (and several neighboring planets), drawn to the lights. Swooping through this were dozens of very happy bats that didn’t even need to try very hard to catch anything because the moths were so thick they could have walked on them. Very bizarre, but more interesting than anything on network TV.

Between the near constant hum and thump of the elevator, the daylight-level illumination of the room (except for that macabre reddish-orange of a sodium arc lamp) , and the thump of very large moths against the window, I felt I was in some alien environment. However, had I been kidnapped by aliens, I might have gotten more sleep. I think I was kept awake until at least 4am.

Morning arrived too quickly (as judged by my alarm clock — there was no change in the light in the room). I managed to drink about 8 cups of coffee, check out, and catch a ride to the BNR site — I don’t quite remember, but I think it was on the hotel shuttle.

My hosts were glad to see me. They showed me to a lovely conference room, and asked if I minded telecasting this talk to their other lab locations in the US and Canada. No problem for me! So, they hooked me up with a wireless mike, tested out the video links, and got my overheads set up. Then they offered me more coffee.

At this point, I was sloshing as I walked, so I took my coffee and wandered down the hall to where I thought there was a restroom. There wasn’t, so I asked someone there, who pointed me in the right direction. As I rounded the corner I was intercepted by about 3 of the people from the conference room frantically searching for me — they somehow knew where I was going and needed to intercept me. They pointed out that my wireless mike was still on, and suggested that I might shut it off before using any plumbing. I had already broadcast my destination to locations in 5 states and two countries, so I might want to go off the air before “streaming.” Ooops!

The talk went well. Q&A was fine. Lunch was great. Everything seemed to be going fine despite the lack of sleep and earlier slip-up.

One of my hosts offered to take me down to find one of my former students. As we walked through the cubicle farm, I observed a mechanical robot cart rolling along the floor, delivering mail. It would roll up to a designated spot on the floor and ring a very loud bell to alert whoever was there that it had arrived. Someone would pick up the mail from the “in” box, and put more in the “out” box, then press a continue switch. My host explained that there was an “invisible” ink stripe on the floor that the robot followed with an ultraviolet light. When it hit a cross in the line, or the line ended, it stopped and rang its bell. Nifty.

We walked a bit further and found my former student. We stood outside her cubicle for a few moments, watching her pound the keyboard. She had headphones on, oblivious to all around her. My train of thought immediately went off the rails — something that has served me well in my security work: I don’t quite think like everyone else. I watched the robot roll by and suggested to my host that it sure would be interesting to pull up the carpet tiles with the ink and place them so as to lead the robot into her cubicle. Apparently, he did this about a week later to his supervisor — the robot rolled into her cubicle, blocking the doorway, hit the end of the line and rang its alarm bell. Loudly. She about jumped over the wall. However, because there was no way out around the cart, and hitting the “continue” button didn’t help, she was trapped for about 15 minutes. I wonder if she ever found out it was my idea? Maybe that explains why I have never been invited back?

Anyhow, the rest of the day was completely uneventful. Then it was time to have some dinner and go to the airport. One of my colleagues from the University of Florida was doing a sabbatical there at BNR, and he asked what I liked, and I said barbecue. He offered to take me to a homestyle barbecue place then drive me to the airport. So, I said good-byes to all. My hosts gave me a nicely gift-wrapped box as a token of appreciation for my talk. I slipped it into my briefcase to look at later. We then took off for the restaurant.

Great barbecue. Great food. But we dallied a bit during dinner and had to hurry to get to the airport. On the way out to the car, I dropped my keys, or pen or something. I bent over to pick it up and heard the very distinct and ominous sound of ripping. Now, one of three things had happened. Either someone nearby was rending their clothing, I had very badly injured myself, or my pants had ripped. Straightening up, I did a quick (and not very discrete) check. No blood or disconnected tissue that I could find. However, I did discover an opening in the back and bottom of my pants that was not supposed to be there.

Ever notice how sizes are deceiving? When you lose a tooth, for instance, as a child, the gap feels huge to your tongue? Well, this rip appeared to feel small. So, I wasn’t too concerned. Besides, I had no spare slacks, and I would be late for my flight if we delayed by trying to do something as a fix.

I got into the car, hearing the fabric rip a little more as I got in. Oh well — how bad could it be?

We had a mad dash to the airport to get there on time. I said a quick good-bye and hopped out of the car, only to hear another rip. I leaned over and grabbed my bag from the trunk to the sounds of some more ripping. Then I headed into the airport. I heard my host, Doug, break out into giggles behind me. This was more than vaguely disquieting.

Once I got inside, I discovered why he was giggling — the air conditioning hit me. The shock was not the A/C to my face — oh, no. The shock was the A/C infiltrating regions that do not normally experience A/C up close and personal. I was discovering a little of what it must be like to wear a kilt. I did not want to check out the damage, but I suspected that the little rip was now considerably bigger. In fact, with the quantity of breeze that hit me with each step, I decided the rip must now be a few meters in size. They really air-condition that airport well!

So, I swung my garment bag over my shoulder so it was hanging down my back, and I set off for the gate. I put the bag up on the conveyer belt for the X-ray, along with my briefcase, adjusted my suit coat, and took short, careful steps through the metal detector. Everything would have been fine, except the guards gathered around the x-ray. (This was pre-TSA, but they still had screening.)

“Sir? Is this your bag?”

Sinking feeling. “Yes.”

“Please come over here.”

So, I picked up my bags and took them over to the table, They asked me to unpack my briefcase. So I had to lean way over the table to unpack my briefcase. Many, many people behind me started to giggle, with a gasp or two mixed in.

Yes, I had a gaping hole in my pants, but it was worse than that. I had only been married a few years at that time, and my wife decided she really liked a particular style of underwear on me. Colored, too. I liked to humor her. So that day, in that position, I was bending over the table and flashing a pair of bright red bikini underwear to the people coming through the metal detector. I’m sure they had a lot to talk about. And I had a lot of breeze.

And why was it that I had to open my briefcase? Because my hosts had given me a beautifully gift wrapped, solid brass letter opener — that appeared on the X-ray as a 6-inch stiletto knife. (I still use the letter opener, by the way.) They took turns looking at the letter opener, and I think they also took turns scoping out the view as I repacked my bag. Grrrr. I was now blushing about the color of my underwear, not so much about the exposure as the whole airport security thing.

Collecting my bags and what little dignity I had left, I went to the gate — only to find that the flight had been delayed. So, I quickly headed to the airline club room. There, I asked the woman behind the desk if by any chance she had a sewing kit. She didn’t but she did have a half a dozen of those little brass safety pins that seem to populate such kits. Salvation! With a little effort, I could keep from flashing everyone else by using these.

So I went into the men’s room with my luggage and the pins. I took off my pants and turned them upside down to look at the hole. Of course, I dumped about 20 coins all over the floor, making a terrible racket, and leaving something else to clean up.

The hole was far worse than I thought. It wasn’t that the seam had come undone. No, the pants had been worn a little too much, and the fabric to the side of the seam had actually given way. There wasn’t even enough to hold the pins. And it was about 7 inches from one end to the other.

I did the best I could, sort of overlapping the fabric and pinning it every inch, keeping the pins to the inside so as to hide them. It didn’t look too bad in the mirror when I put them back on, either. My timing was great, too — they called my flight as I finished.

I rushed to the gate, and boarded near the end. My seat was a window seat next to a little old grandmotherly type.

If you travel much, you know “grandma” — she already has pictures of her grandkids out and ready to show anyone who is in range. So, I smiled at her, slid in to my seat, and sat down.

I was pretty proud of myself up until that moment. I had managed to deal with an embarrassing crisis, and I had improvised a solution. Yup, pretty proud of myself….until I sat down. The stress on the fabric, coupled with my weight and contact with the seat caused all those tiny safety pins to open. And mind you, these were strategically located. I suddenly discovered that acupuncture can be a form of torture, too. I tried to raise up in my seat and dislodge them by moving about a little, but they were firmly embedded into some very sensitive tissues. In fact, my wiggles about were causing them to hurt even more!

So, I had a 10 second, very intense dialog with myself, tears forming in my eyes, as the flight attendants began to tell us all about using our oxygen masks and flotation devices.

“Self,” I said, “you can sit here for an hour, in incredible pain, slowly bleeding to death from pins stuck into your nether regions, or you can remove them and look like a complete pervert.”

“Well, self,” I responded quickly “I’ve certainly looked like a pervert before! Get these damn things out of my butt!”

So, as delicately as I could, I raised up in my seat, and pulled my pants away from my bottom. I did my best to dig out the pins that were most deeply embedded there, but only got three out. The other three were located further forward and particularly painfully positioned. So, after digging around for about 30 seconds I sat down, smiled to grandma on my right who was watching in wild-eyed amazement, then undid my belt and went for the other three. I suppose the sighs of relief as I extracted them from my scrotum didn’t exactly make the scene any better.

Imagine: A strange bearded guy with a garish bow tie sits down next to you, makes faces and talks to himself. Then he starts digging around in his backside, followed by plunging his hand into his pants and sighing.

Grandma was white as a sheet and having difficulty breathing as she frantically rang for the flight attendant. I’m quickly doing my belt buckle back up and hoping to avoid being arrested. The attendant comes over just after I finish and get settled again. Grandma starts whispering frantically in her ear. The attendant looks at me with a shocked expression. Rather than look guilty, I smile at her a little quizzically, then nod at granny, shrug my shoulders and roll my eyes. The flight attendant decides maybe grandma is a little senile, but escorts her to another seat — and she’s too frightened to look back.

I was careful to carry my garment bag behind me in Dayton. Granny refused to get off the plane when we landed. She watched me very carefully, so I smiled and blew her a kiss. The flight attendants couldn’t understand what her problem was.

The commuter flight to West Lafayette was largely empty, and I had no further difficulties (but I did have a breeze).

When I got home, Kathy simply laughed hysterically at me and my wounds

I no longer wear colored underwear, except when I do the laundry and it gets a little pink. I now have salary to afford better clothes. I also carry a sewing kit in my suitcase and in my briefcase as talismans to ward off future such occurrences. I wonder if granny ever decided to fly again?

This was also not the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to me on a trip, but that will need to wait for a different post.

Spafford/Spofforth Family History + Trivia

[Updated 8/26/13 to include the contested 21st generation entry and fix small typos.]


Recently, my family vacationed in England. While there, we visited the town and castle ruins in Spofforth, a small town in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Spofforth is strongly suggested as the ancestral home of the Spafford, Spofford, Spufford, Spuford, Spoford, Spauforth, Spofer, Spawforth, Spofforth, Spoforth, Spoffurth, Spoffort, Spofferd, Spofforths, Spauforthe, Spoofourthe, etc. family lines, at least as far back as they can be traced. (And no, not the Staffords — that is a totally different family.) That has prompted me to write up some things about the family and family history for my daughter, nieces, nephews, and other Spaffords. Read on — if you dare.

A note about spelling. Up until a few hundred years ago, spelling really wasn’t viewed as “fixed.” There were many reasons for this, including lack of references, evolving language, and low literacy rates. Thus, things were often spelled out as the scribe heard them, and there are some different spellings over time. I try to spell things in an accepted way, and reproduce the ancient spellings the way I found them in the references.

Spafford Narrative History

If you go back far enough (100 generations, certainly), every family likely interweaves with every other in a locale. I imagine if you go back 100,000 generations or so you come up with the few original homo sapiens, so in that sense every family is connected. Thus, at some levels, we are all related.

Throughout time, there was a lot of intermarriage of families and clans, and even among not-too-distant relatives, so family trees don’t really branch out quite so much as mathematics would predict. But for purposes of this essay, if we base our story on the Western view of descent of family name via the paternal line, and if we assume that all the women directly on that line were truthful about who was the father of the children involved (not necessarily a given in any family line), then my family can trace back as far as Orm in Yorkshire, England in the 10th century.

Orm (or Arm; old Danish for Dragon) was apparently a Christian lord of Viking descent, born around 965 AD. It is entirely possible that he arrived in England during the conquest by King Cnut around 1010, and may have been one of the clan chiefs (or son of a clan chief) who helped Cnut in that conquest: Orm was mentioned in an early charter of land by Cnut in 1033. Orm was a Thane in the area, of the “family” Ormerod. Orm has record of being a significant leader, and shows up again in the “Ormulum” text. Little is really known of his life, but he apparently lived near what is now Leeds. Orm paid for the restoration of the church in Kirkdale, and an engraving above the door still commemorates that. He held significant estates in Northumbria, either by conquest or gift.

Orm married into royalty. His wife, Etheldreda was the daughter of Aldred, Earl of Northumbria. Her uncle was Duncan, King of Scotland. Her great grandfather had been King of Northumbria before it had been conquered and added to the kingdom of England.

Gamel, Orm’s son, had significant land in York, Dereby, Lincoln, Stafford, Salop and Chester. He was Lord of Thorparch, on the river Thorpe in Yorkshire, There is record that he was generous to the Church, as he gave one of his manor homes to the Church of St. Peter in York. Given the time when he lived, he may have participated in Earl Siward’s 1054 military expedition against the Scottish king Mac Bethad (Macbeth!). Gamel’s mother was sister to Siward’s wife, and he was thus viewed as “family” in that household. Siward, the Earl of Northumbria, died in 1055 from dysentery. His son was too young to assume rule, so King Edward the Confessor appointed Tostig Godwinson, one of his own brothers-in-law, as Earl.

Tostig was not well-liked in Northumbria, being a Saxon in a land of many Danes and Scots. A few years earlier, he had been exiled by King Edward, briefly, from England along with his father, the Earl of Wessex. Tostig spent a lot of time in the court of King Edward, preferring the company of his kinsmen in Wessex to the people in Northumbria. He also likely secretly allied himself with the Scottish king Malcolm III. Tostig heavily taxed the locals, made unpopular decisions, and generally was disliked. He increased this dislike by appointing an inept administrator in the form of someone named Copsig who was inept. Tostig ordered the killing of several lords who objected to his heavy hand, including Ulf, son of Dofin, and Gamel, son of Orm, in 1064 during a visit to his manor in York under safe conduct.

Gamelbar, Gamel’s son, was successful and inherited his father’s lands. He was Baron of Spofforth, was recorded (after the Norman Conquest) as having the following fiefs: Folyfate, Aiketon, Spoford, Ribbeston, Plumpton, Colthorp, Stockton, Lynton, Heselwode, Sutton, Sighelinghale, Lofthowse, Kibelingcotes, Guthmundenham, Cloughton, Pokethorp, Esthorp, Hoton, Fosseton, Wandesford, Nafferton, Queldryke, Wartre, Thriberg, Edelington, Middleton, Stubbum, Skaln, Colesburn, Nesselfeld, Inwely, Wheteley, Askwith, Dalton, Horton, Casteley, Letheley, Walton, Bergheby, Arlesthorp, Soreby, Hemelsby, Steynton, Asmonderby, Merkingfeld, Hornyngton, Wolsington, Yedon, Rondon, Oxton, Tadcastre, Snawes, Haghornby, Gramhope, Kerkby, Kerkby-Orblawers, Carleton, Midhope, Remington, Neusome, Boulton, Horton, Gersington, Lynton, Ketelwell, Thresfeld, Arnecliffe, Addingham, Routherneck, Stynton, Estborne, Malghum, Brunby, Swyndon, Halton, Pathorne, Elgfeld, Thornton, Bunyngeston, Difford, Gisborne, and Westeby. Spoford or Spofforth was a place name, derived centuries earlier, and means “spot of land where the ford is” (as in ford of the river). It is uncertain what river that may have been, but the town of Spofforth is along the River Crimple, which empties into the River Nidd.

Clearly, Gamelbar was a wealthy and powerful thane.

On 3 October 1065, all the thegns (thanes) in the region rebelled, marched to Eoforwic (York) and defeated Earl Tostig’s house troops (all Danish mercenaries — he didn’t trust the locals, and apparently for good reason); Gamelbar was a leader in this revolt. King Edward sent Harold, Earl of Wessex (his brother-in-law), to York as his emissary. Harold secured a truce, and returned to the king with the recommendation that Tostig be stripped of his title. It was so ordered by the king, and Tostig again went into exile, now with a big grudge against Harold.

Tostig raised some troops via his father-in-law, Count Baldwin of Flanders, and made several raids along the coast. In January, 1066, King Edward died and Harold became king. Many others wanted to claim the throne, including Harald Hardrada of Norway, who launched an invasion. In September Tostig joined forces with Hardrada to invade Northumbria where they conquered York. Nearly simultaneously, William the Bastard of Normandy invaded Wessex (he claimed that Edward had promised the throne to him; he and Edward were cousins).

King Harold learned of the fall of York, first, and he put his troops on a forced march to the north where he caught Tostig and Hardrada by surprise. Their army was not prepared for a battle, and were defeated at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, with both Tostig and Hardrada killed and Gamel avenged.

However, as this concluded, news reached the King about William’s Norman force landing to the south. He put his exhausted (and bloodied) army on a march south to meet them. They eventually met at the battle of Hastings, where Harold — making some poor decisions along the way — died (as did his two remaiming brothers) and William became William the Conqueror; had he lost, he would probably still be known to history as William the Bastard.

Meanwhile, Gamelbeorn, also known as Gamelbar de Spofford, had been loyal to King Harold. He participated in the revolt to the Normans in 1068-1069, but the effort was defeated. William exacted terrible revenge on everyone in Yorkshire, including Gamelbar. He forfeit his estates, his mansion in York, and his many other manor homes. Those were given to William’s ally, William de Percy, who was made a Baron. Gamelbar’s main manor home was in the town of Spoford (Spofforth, now.) Gamelbar was almost certainly put to death if he was not killed in battle. (See the section below on Spofforth Castle)

So, the early history of the Spafford (et al) line has them being significantly involved with the incidents that led to the victory of William the Conqueror: Gamel’s assassination as a cause of rebellion against Tostig, leading to bad blood with Harold, leading to the attack that sapped Harold’s troops and thus unable to defeat William’s forces. As we will see later, they also were involved, very indirectly, with the Magna Carta. The family also had an indirect connection to Shakespeare via the real King Macbeth.

Line of Descent

Based on the available information (linked in above), the following appears to be the line from Orm, my (great-)29grandfather to me; there is some small dispute about whether there was another generation in 20-22. I’m leaving out siblings, although some are known (but not all are). A rather comprehensive family history up to 1888 is available as an online book, although at least one alternate and well-researched history presents some disagreement.

  1. Orm, Lord of Thorpatch. Born probably around 965, died before 1042
  2. Gamel of Spofforth. Born ca 990, killed 1064. Lord of Thorparch and Lord of the Manor of Ilkley. King’s fowler and Ranger of the Forest of Knaresborough. Assassinated by Tostig, Earl of Northumbria.
  3. Gamelbar or Gamelbeorn. Born ca 1015, died in or after 1068. Lord of Spofforth, Plumpton, Braham, etc.
  4. William de Spofforth. Born ca 1040. Joined Aldred, Archbishop of York in resisting Normans. His properties were also confiscated by the Normans in 1086 as a result of William’s scourge of Yorkshire.
  5. Walter de Spofforth. Born ca 1063, died ca 1091. Walter was killed in an invasion of England by Scottish king Malcolm III.
  6. John of Spofforth. Born ca 1085, died ca 1091. Married Juliana de Plumpton, daughter of Nigel, a lord. This was the first in a long familial association with the Plumptons over 200 years.
  7. Henry. Born ca 1115. Married the daughter of Sir Richard de Stokeld.
  8. Elwine or Elerina de Spofforth. (Also known as Robert.) Born ca 1145 and died after 1186.
  9. Gamel de Spofforth. Born ca 1175. Was Marshall to Nigel de Plumpton, Lord of Plumpton.
  10. William of Spofforth. Born ca 1200. Noted as attending a Parliment at St. Albans
  11. Nicholas de Spauford. Born ca 1235, died ca 1265. Married Dyonysia de Plumpton.
  12. Roger Blase de Spofford. Born ca 1260, died after 1325. Joined Lord Pembroke in the insurrection vs. Edward II in around 1320.
  13. Robert of Spofforth. Born ca 1285, died after 1338. Married Agnes Castelay.
  14. Robert of Spofforth. Born ca 1310, died after 1339. Married Evorta de Norwode. Served as the Prior of Helaugh.
  15. Robert Spofforth. Born ca 1340, died after 1361. Married Mary de Malebis, daughter of Sir Thomas de Malebis. Robert’s nephew, Thomas Spofford, was in the House of Lords in the reign of Henry V as Abbot of St. Mary’s in York. It is alleged that Thomas was a hero in one of the ballads of Robin Hood while Bishop of Hereford! He was also elected one of the four presidents of the Council of Constance.
  16. John Spofford. Born ca 1360, and died after 1396. Married Maria Meynel. Lived in Newsham, England.
  17. Robert Spofforth. Born ca 1405, died after 1431. Married Ann Anlaby, daughter of William Anlany and Alice Ughtred. Lived in Menthrope, near Selby, and in York.
  18. Robert Spofforth, born ca 1460, died after 1494. Married Ellen Roncliffe, daughter of Baron Bryan Roncliffe. They lived in Wistow Manor, near Selby.
  19. Bryan Spofforth. Born ca 1500, died ca 1555. Was rector of Barton-le-Street from 1536-1554. Married Agnes Aslaby (a nun), daughter of Walter Fawkes, in 1530. He was ejected from the church in 1554.
  20. Robert Spofford (sometimes listed as Richard). Born ca 1532. Married Agnes Clare, daughter of Gilbert Clare, in 1565. Robert was the first Protestant from birth in the family.
  21. [According to some accounts, there was another generation here, with Richard, b. ca 1565, died 1611. Married Anne. He was esquire to Sir Wm. Bambrough.]
  22. John Spofforth. Born ca 1588, died 1668. John was the Vicar of Silkstone, but was ejected as a nonconformist (Puritan). Married Ellen.
  23. John Spofford. born 1612 died ca 6 Nov 1678. Emigrated to Massachusetts in 1638 as a Puritan aboard the “John of London” sailing from Hull with a group led by the Rev. Ezekiel Rogers. Married Elizageth Scott, who came to MA at the age of 9 in April 1634 aboard the ship “Elizabeth.” She was the daughter of Thomas Scott and Elizabeth Strutt; the Scott family traces back to Charlemagne. John & Elizabeth lived in Ipswich and Newbury. John was 13 years older than Elizabeth. As a matter of trivia, each traveled to the colonies aboard a ship bearing their names.
  24. John Spaford II. Born 24 Oct 1648 in Rowley, MA and died 22 Apr 1696 in Bradford MA. He married Sarah Wheeler, daughter of David Wheeler and Sarah Wise. John’s name appears in the list of soldiers with Capt. Thomas Prentice’s Company in King Philip’s War, Feb 29, 1675-1676, and also in Capt. Appleton’s troop in the Narragansett campaign of the same war. John and Sarah had 8 children.
  25. Jonathan Spofford. Born 28 May 1684 in Rowley, MA and died 16 Jan 1772 in Georgetown MA. Married Jemima Freethe, daughter of John Freethe and Hannah Bray. Jonathan and Jemima had 13 children, not all of whom lived to adulthood.
  26. Jacob Spafford. Born 17 Aug 1722 Rowley, MA and died 1769 in Salisbury CT. He married Rebecca Smalley, daughter of Benjamin Smalley and Rebecca Wright. Jacob and Rebecca had 11 children. He was the first to use the last name Spafford with that spelling.
  27. Solomon Spofford. Born 21 Sep 1756 and died 2 Feb 1837 in Athol, Ontario. He Married Sally Sheldon. He had achieved the rank of Colonel in the army. He fought with the colonists in the Revolutionary War, but his allegiance changed and he fought with the British in the War of 1812, moving to Canada after the war ended. Solomon and Sally had 9 children.
  28. Abijah Pratt Spafford. Born ca 1787 and died 1842. Married Margaret Sheldon Ferguson, daughter of J. Ferguson and Polly Young. They had 9 children.
  29. Abijah Spafford. Born ca 1825 in Athol, Ontario, and died 4 Dec 1909 in Cherry Valley, Ontario. He had a paralyzing stroke in July of 1908. He married Anna Eliza Ketchum, daughter of Thomas H. Ketchum and Caroline Jackson. Abijah was a Methodist minister.
  30. Thomas Franklin Spafford. Born 16 Mar 1857, died Dec 1937, both in Cherry Valley, Ontario. Married Sarah Catherine Wood, daughter of Nehemiah Wood. He was a schoolteacher.
  31. Marcus Vernon Spafford. Born 11 Jan 1883 Sophiasburg, Ontario, and died 23 Jun 1948 in Rochester, NY. He married Ila Maude Foster, daughter of William Asa Foster and Lucritia Iantha Anderson. They emigrated to the US ca 1902, and he worked as a foreman in the film doping plant for George Eastman at Kodak. He became a naturalized US citizen on 29 November 1921. Ila lived to age 100.
  32. Howard Franklin Spafford. Born 22 Apr 1918 in Rochester, and died 3 July 2007 in Hartford, CT. Married Elizabeth Ann Gallagher, daughter of Eugene Paul Gallagher and Ruby Viola Shoemaker. Howard served in WWII in an antiaircraft battery deployed in Europe. He later served as an accountant and financial officer for several small companies in the Rochester area.
  33. Eugene Howard Spafford. The current affront to civilization from the Spafford family.

John Spofford (#23) was the ancestor of almost all of the Spaffords, Spoffords, and similar in the US and Canada. A few others have since immigrated from other parts of the British Empire.

To the best of my ability to tell, there are no male heirs to this line after at least Thomas (#30), and possibly earlier — all lines end in daughters. If I were to somehow have sons at this point, I might try to name them Orm and Gamel.

Crest and Motto and Etc

The family motto has been rendered as Fidelis ad extremum or “Faithful to the extreme.” Another version has been “Rather Deathe than false of Faythe,” which is rather the same thing. Given some of the family history of continuing to serve on the losing side of disagreements long after the outcome was decided, this certainly seems apt!

A commercial service has a version of the Spafford coat of arms. This is one of two versions. The other version is shown to the right.

There have been a few notable Spaffords about. Check out the Wikipedia page for Horatio Spafford, for instance, especially if you think your luck is bad; the Spafford Center in Jerusalem is related.
Suzy Spafford is a notable cartoonist. Spafford Lake on the campus of UC Davis is named after a long-time administrator in the UC system, Ed Spafford. Roz Spafford is an award-winning author. George Spafford has coauthored several books with my former student Gene Kim.

There is a jam-rock band from Arizona named Spafford, although I have no idea why they picked that name.

NY State has a town of Spafford. I’ve been there — it is a pleasant little town in the Finger Lakes region.

There are other Spaffords about, if you know where to look for them, and many are worth finding.

Spofforth Castle

The ruins of Spofforth Castle still stand in the town of Spofforth. Actually, it is the remains of a fortified manor house, but at one point it would have been seen as a castle. Only the western part of the castle still stands — there was originally more to the East, North, and West. After the castle fell to ruins, the locals took a great many of the stones to build their homes, churches, and common buildings, thus leaving much less of the grandeur that was once there.

After William took Northumbria, he gave all of Gamelbar’s lands and manors to his buddy, William de Percy. Spofforth Castle was constructed in the 11th century. It seems likely (although there is no clear archeological evidence) that Spofforth Castle was built on the foundations of one of Gamelbar’s early homes.

Legend has it that the first version of the Magna Carta was drafted at Spofforth Castle!

One account notes that Harry Hotspur was born here at Spofforth Castle in 1364. He is a notable character in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV, as a friend of Henry V. In real life he also was a notable knight, who rebelled against King Henry IV and killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.

The castle was ruined in 1461, after the Percys sided with Lancaster in the War of the Roses — and lost. Over 100 years later, the castle was restored, but it was not used as a primary residence and fell into disuse. It was last occupied in 1604, and again ruined in the civil war (1642-1651).

The castle has a ghost, too!

One might make the comment that the castle is like the Spafford authoring this blog — old, weathered, and in ruins.

Here is a video tour of the castle, taken in 2011, with silly music in the background.

This is a gallery of pictures I took in August 2013 of the castle and its interior:

Historic marker

Long view from ENE

NE side

East side & entrance

SE side, looking NW

SE side looking W

South side, outside

NE corner

North side

NW side & tower

NW base of tower, looking S

West side

Entering in via N wall

Inside undercroft, looking North

Inside undercroft, looking South

Inside undercroft, looking NE

Stairs in SE corner

Another view looking South

NW corner with chapel window

View to NE from inside

View to NW from inside

My Trip to Poland (part I)

I left home on Saturday to travel to Krakow, Poland (or Cracow). This was a flight from Indianapolis to Charlotte, Charlotte to Munich, and then Munich to Krakow. Total flight time was about 14 hours in planes, and 4 hours in terminals, connecting.

The Munich airport is very large, and has a huge duty free section. I saw a sign saying that I could get anything German duty free. I asked for Heidi Klum and Giselle Bundchen, but was told I could only request German brands. So, I asked about an Audi and a BMW, but they told me I couldn’t get those either. I figured I might ask next about Glock and Sig Sauer to make a point, but considering I was still in the security zone at the airport, I decided to go to the airport lounge instead (thank you Star Alliance Gold status!) and have breakfast. The Germans are very civilized about that, at least, with two wonderful beers on tap to accompany my granola and fruit. I managed to recharge my laptop and then got the plane to Krakow. The airport at Krakow is very small, and was closed for outgoing flights from bad weather after I arrived and the taxi ride to the hotel was a trip through forests covered in snow.

The hotel is lovely and near downtown Krakow. My stomach was a bit upset (maybe beer and granola wasn’t the best idea for breakfast) and I only slept about 4 hours last night. Coffee was called for this morning, in quantity, but German coffee isn’t very strong nor is it served in big cups. Luckily, I could go back for refills at the buffet.

This morning I delivered my keynote address at the ARES conference, and spent some additional time there.

In the afternoon, I went to the Wieliczka Salt mine — perhaps the oldest salt mine in the world in continuous operation. According to the guide, the first written mention of the mine was in 1291, and it was a description of an already working mine.

For much of time of operation, the salt was an extremely valuable item — more valuable by weight than silver. This is because it was used to preserve food for travel and over the winter. Silver may glitter, but you can’t eat it in the dead of winter! Apparently, early miners faced danger from getting lost, mine collapse, methane explosion, and more. However, they also were wealthy because each was allowed to bring out a handful of salt each day (remember, it was worth about twice its weight in pure silver). Many stole more than that and their families lived in great comfort. Nonetheless, enough salt was produced to make Poland one of the wealthiest countries in Europe for many centuries.

The mine has 6 levels and over 300km of tunnel, shored up by nearly 1 million cubic meters of timer (some of it over 400 years old). There are multiple lakes, and scattered throughout are 42 separate chapels including one fully functional Catholic church dedicated to St. Kinga (about 4 stories tall in a cavern, with weekly masses; everything inside is carved of salt, including the floor tiling). Throughout the mine are elaborate carvings and decorations made by the miners over the centuries. There are also elaborate ballrooms, meeting rooms, offices, restaurants, stairwells and ladder runs, and exotic looking mineral deposits — and that was only the small part we saw! They run a health spa for people with allergies and asthma, hold concerts in the ballrooms, formal conferences,  and the church has regular masses and weddings. One room even is in the book of records as the site of the first indoor bungee jump and first indoor hot air balloon flight!

The story goes that J.R.R. Tolkien visited the mine in 1908 and may well have based his description of Moria and the dwarves based on the mine and the miners in it. Kings, movie stars, authors, philosophers, presidents, and even a CERIAS faculty member have all visited the mine at some point or another, but the last is an incident they are attempting to hush up.

They had their own stable of horses in the mine, some which were born there, lived for 20 or more years, and then died there — it was too difficult to move them in and out via hoists, with many horses dying in that process. Instead, the ones that stayed in the mine were actually healthier and lived longer because of the steady climate.

They ceased regular mining about a decade ago, but still extract some salt as a preservation step (the salt is slowly moving to close some tunnels because of the pressure — it is somewhat plastic, and is under huge weight from above), and they regularly pump out water from the bottom levels and extract the salt from that.

Our tour went down over 800 steps and saw less than 1% of the mine over 3 hours. It was one of the most incredible experiences I can recall in recent memory.

I took pictures but without a major flash unit I can’t say they turned out all that well (a few did, though).Most  of the pictures online are much better. See some of the official pictures and descriptions here. I will post my pictures after I get home.

I bought a couple of souveniers (including a piece of pink salt for our small mineral collection at home; the salt is pink from some iron oxide inclusion), and then snoozed a little on the bus ride back to the city.

Dinner was traditional Polish food at the hotel and very good. It was served by two extraordinarily good-looking blonde, blue-eyed young Polish women — who, unfortunately, had been warned for years with stories of strange, bearded dwarven men so they kept their distance from me after serving me the food.

Tomorrow I will take a walking tour of the city center, including the old castle and the cathedral (Poland is historically quite Catholic, but the people seem nice anyhow :-). The walking may be a bit of a challenge — it has been snowing lightly but continuously for over a week, and the temperature is hovering right at freezing. Thus, there is icy slush everywhere and I do not have my winter shoes with me. I have already fallen once (and hurt my back a little) so tomorrow may be an adventure.

Wednesday I return home. Winter back there too. No salt mines, and all the cute young things back there seem to have been warned about me, too. Ah well, at least I will have warm, dry shoes and access to my regular computer again. Until my next trip, that is.

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