Wendy Jean and the Great White Backed Cow

1968 Mom Jeane, me Wendy Jean and sister Dixie

My first 4-H calf was of Hereford breeding with a white stripe on his neck. His name was CZ26 (pronounced Cee zed twenty six) after his lineage from the Hereford bull that was his sire. CZ became quite the pet, was gentle enough to sit on, led well and with pride I placed 6th in the final competition.

The Puritans came across the Atlantic from England on ships. By 1623 the colony was to have a future where they were to share everything. This great experiment soon failed with human nature. Those who worked the hardest soon became discouraged by the shirkers. Governor Bradford had some huge decisions to make; the Governor decided that the communal effort wasn’t working as some were lazy and he divided up the land; he put the people into smaller groups. About this time the Great White Backed Cow made her journey across the sea. I had never thought about how cattle came to North America and whether this cow was the first, but she certainly has her place in the history I share with Wendy Jean along with our names.

The Pilgrims didn’t bring any large animals on the Mayflower. In their journals are listed two dogs, some chickens and maybe some pigs. In 1622 there were six goats, fifty pigs and many chickens.

The first cattle arrived at Plymouth on the ship Anne. They were “Great Black Cow”, the “Lesser Black Cow” and the “Great White Backed Cow”. The Less and White Backed Cow produced calves by 1627. (Here’s a thought: is my CZ26 a descendent?) The next ship Jacob arrived in 1624 bringing 4 black heifers: Least, Raghorn, Blind and Smooth-Horned. There was also a Red Cow that belonged to the poor of the colony which leads me to believe although becoming capitalists the people retained their socialist beliefs.

Edward Bangs 1591-1677 is my 9th great-grandfather. Edward Bangs came on the ship Anne and was part of a group of 16 who had charge of the Great White Backed Cow and two goats. My thanks goes out to Grandfather Bangs who nurtured this cow to provide, milk and cream, butter and cheese and eventually meat that would give them a change from wild game. I admire his story (The Migrant Ship and The Seven Men of Eastman blogs) where he found the courage to get in another boat each time one leaked and turned back. From a journal, “The ship was so foundered in the sea they thought she might not rise again.” This February storm lasted 14 days in 1622 and yet he boarded his third ship; the first had leaked! His entire trip took him 9 months to reach American shores; determination!

Wendy Jean was born Februrary 24, 1959 into a military family. Wendy Jean is my 10th cousin 1x removed. We share 15cM across 1 segment with the longest segment being 16cM. I was so excited to find her and trace her back to Edward Bangs as confirmation of my ancestry. I wish I could have known her! Wendy Jean lost her battle to lung cancer May 3, 2019 at age 60. We would share so much in common: she lived in the middle of no where, Seminole, in the West Texas desert similar to my Black Butte experience while husband worked the oilfields, she went back to college as her children were growing up, raised her children then found employment as Director of the Small Business Development Center and became author of a book on resiliency for young women called “Young Women Bouncing Back”. I also graduated college at age 40, found employment and love to write. And look at the DNA we share with those smiling blue eyes and red hair. RIP Wendy Jean.

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