Chrisman's Meet on the Trail, Again

Thanks to Cousin Stephen Chrisman, a retired MD living on Arizona

Cousin Bob and I met this summer in Arizona. We both impressed each other as nice fellers, and handsome. He had already started this nice web site honoring his father, Pop Crismon, and he wanted to write a story for his web page about me and my Chrisman's. We spell our names differently, but we are the same family and both interested in family history. I said, "no". I didn't want a story about me. I told him. "I'll write you something about all of us".

You see, I'm the family historian for my clan and I was thinking about Chrisman traits, as relates to what you tell the kids to keep them safe or make them successful in life. My wife would call some of them flaws but I disagree. We have some very distinguishing traits, besides baldness, and very few flaws.

"That's it"! I heard a voice, say. "I'll write about family traits". So like Dr. Suess, I sat and I sat; And I thought and I thought. I talked to my self and this is what I got, for Chrisman Traits:

1. Strong minded-our wives might call it stubbornness, our employers would call it bull-headed, and, our friends would call it loyalty and determination. History calls it strength, fortitude, and conviction. The Chrisman's, Hites, and Bowman's were among the first settlers of Virginia. They were our mom's and pops. Our Chrisman first American dad was named Jacob Chrisman. His kids, our uncles represent at least 6000 Chrisman cousins. Cousin Lonnie has a really nice web page and at 

2. Invention-as evidenced by my grandfather's (Ambrose Chrisman) installation of an electrical generator on his farm in the 1930's, his brother's (John Henry Chrisman) idea for a saw with little blades hooked on a chain (also about 1930...he didn't make a chain saw, just had the idea), or my father's (Bert Chrisman) attempt to invent a new form of plastic (in the garage, in 1955). History would deny that my attempts to make a powerful explosive from 7 common house hold chemicals, to mutate plants to get giant tomatoes, or the preparation of rocket fuel burn tests in the garage, were really the good things I thought they were. I'm the families "mad scientist" (Biologist, Chemist, Electronics Engineer, Family doctor; my name is Steve Chrisman).

3. Nature lovers-all Chrisman's love the out-of-doors. That includes my uncle Dale Chrisman, who once ran his motor boat over the top of Bagnel Dam (that's in Missouri) at full flood stage. Dale, his father, his uncles, and all the kids also loved to fish. That's something Chrisman's do. Woodsman talents are inherited in our family, we are explorers, dare-devils, and trail breakers. Ambrose was a crack shot and a great fisherman. Every generation expresses its Chrisman love for nature differently, some blazed trails though wilderness with Daniel Boone. This generation's Chrisman, my daughter Natalie, is an environmental Engineer dedicated to making the environment safe for future generations.

4. Patriotism-Chrisman's have fought in every war this country has had with anyone since 1730. Our Virginia Chrisman's participated in the Continental Congress. Every generation of Chrisman's is represented and we are good leaders and good followers. We have our share of Privates, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains, Majors, Colonels, and Generals. Our neighbors in Virginia were some folks called the Boone's and the Custer's. We also participated in exploring this country with some folks named Lewis and Clark. We missed Cousin George Custer's big battle at the Little Big Horn, but you know, mostly we sympathize with the Indians. Despite the fact that we fought the Indians and the French and Isaac Chrisman and two sons were killed by Indians, several of us married Indians; and, lots of us have Indian blood.

5. Opposers of Tyranny-In McMinn County, Tennessee in 1946 there was something called the Battle of Athens; Chrisman's as returning soldiers from WW II stood with the town of Athens, Tennessee to throw off a corrupt town government by force of arms. My dad Bert was in WW II pioneering and demolition, he was a top sergeant, who turned down a battle field commission to return home to his family. Like his Tennessee cousins, and all Chrisman's before, he returned to ensure America had a future from Tyrants and that Democracy would survive hard times such as he had experienced in the dust bowl days of the Depression.

6. Tellers of tall tales-yes we love stories. Chrisman's exist for stories. In Missouri you call them 'fish stories' and you are judged by the story you can tell. It's a disease and starts when you are little, nature and nurture, around campfires, at coon-hunts.

(That's a little animal that climbs in trees to get away from us. Some of us eat them, other Chrisman's just love to run through the woods, at night with lights yelling. Alcohol is sometimes involved, but we don't need it to have such fun; and, it can even be a hazard where deep holes you didn't see suddenly appear and new branches grow instantly on trees where you didn't see them before.)

I digress, Chrismans tell good stories and are the subject of family stories. Chrisman kids tell stories about you when you are gone, or out of the room, that are just too amazing! Except, if you were there, you really saw it, and you KNOW IT REALLY HAPPENED! My kids are just amazed at me, and my dad confided in my before he died, "I didn't think you would live." You see we tend to climb, rappel, cave, scuba, fly, jump from high objects, explore dark holes, do things blindfolded, and engage in dangerous sports people just scratch their heads and say, "He did what"? Ask my kids.

7. Builders-we build things. My dad was a master carpenter. His dad was a carpenter too. That's been the predominant trade in the Chrisman family for about 8 generations; besides farming, soldiering, exploring, and ranching.

(There have been some doctors, lawyers, and bankers, but the family is very forgiving.)

I guess you could say Chrisman's are visionary. We take ideas and we materialize them. We are conceptualizes. Look at Bob Crismon's straw bale house or take the Chrisman Sawyer Bank in Independence Missouri or Swope Park; look at Chrisman Springs in Virginia and all the towns, roads, hotels, and other buildings named after the Chrisman who had the idea and did it. One orthopedic surgeon Chrisman invented the Chrisman-Snook procedure, an Orthopedic repair for unstable ankles. So, you get the idea Chrisman's have ideas, energy, and the courage to turn dreams into reality. Yes we build people too, Catherine Chrisman, my daughter is a teacher and works in special education.

8. Handsome-not vanity. We truly are handsome guys and girls. Aside from being bald, sunburned, wind-burned, powder-burned, cut-up, scarred, and calloused from hard work or our dangerous hobbies, Chrisman's are pretty good looking, missing pieces excepted. Cousin Bob looks a little like Jessie James; and, did I tell you his wife swooned when she first met him. Mine just laughed, which was better than fainting. Jeni is still laughing. My brother Dave got the handsome genes from our dad and my sister, Janice is pretty. I just had to work hard in school, because I knew I wasn't the looker. But, most Chrisman's are and if you don't believe me, ask their mothers. A mother isn't biased, Right?

9. Strong-We lift things to show we are strong. This is an early trait and sometimes foolish or dangerous. It has to do with blood running away from your head when you look at heavy objects. Because of this problem, we are often exploited for our strength, by our women and our bosses. (Kind of like Mikey will eat it. Sorry Cousin Mike).

If something needs lifting or just looks like it could be lifted, sometimes or probably a Chrisman will try and move it. It's a curse.

No I didn't loose that rock that nearly missed your car. It was my dad. He also climbed down cliffs without a safety. I didn't think he was going to live; and, he made it to 84. My cousin Gary Chrisman was an Airborne Ranger and liked jumping from perfectly good airplanes. He is a plumber in Kansas City. I think being an Airborne Ranger takes guts, but I already told you we are good soldiers. Gary's father, my dad's brother Dale (the one with the boat) was also strong. Dale had a life-long quest for speed (fast cars, fast boats, fast airplanes). I guess he was the family dare devil and his strength made his feats safe. He was strong, like the rest of his brothers.

10. Passionate-My grandfather, Ambrose Chrisman, family tradition says, fell in love with my grandmother Josie, when he saw her climbing a fence. He would tell that story at family dinners and she would blush, even in her 80's. I guess you could say old Chrisman's are a little like Moses (Chrisman? No, the Bible guy.) Don't ask.

We tend to be true believers-We believe in causes like liberty, justice, brotherhood, and human rights. We find our selves on opposite sides at times like in the Civil war. I forgive my great grandfather John Chrisman for fighting on the Union side. My Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Texas Chrisman's fought for Cousin Robert E. Lee, while John Chrisman was fighting for Cousin Abraham Lincoln. (See President Lincoln's Cousin confirmation letter at the end.) Cousin Jesse James held a grudge for a while. I don't. Again, my kids say "Right". And, they get a certain look like they don't believe me.

11. Grateful-All the Chrisman's I've known are happy to be alive and grateful for a smile or a kind word. We are so modest, shy, and hide our feelings. Sometimes, not often, we get kind words from our wives; and, if we are lucky they will cook breakfast for us.

In defense of the wives, Chrisman males tend to get up early and enjoy the early morning hours. It's most likely the family and the kids will be grateful to us for fixing breakfast for everybody. In this case Chrisman women are truly grateful for Chrisman men. We are great cooks.

I'm sure there is much more I could tell you, but these things come to mind and Cousin Bob really wanted to know what was on my mind; which by the way, wasn't much.

Did I tell you my uncle Clyde had written a book? That's something else we do we like to write. Now, Clyde's book is going to be interesting, but you probably won't see it on Amazon or Clyde on C-span Book TV. Here is the deal. Clyde was the family flyer in WW II and he couldn't see well enough to pass the eye test. You thought the author of "Pearl Harbor" the movie thought that up? No it was Clyde. Clyde Chrisman bluffed the doctors into thinking he could see. He was so good a pilot that he didn't run into any thing and they kept him to train others during WW II. He is a hero. Chrisman's do that.