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Subject: [ROUNDY] Shadrach Roundy response
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2003 22:46:37 EST

Hi, and thanks:

We're not kin. But it's nice to meet you anyway.

Here's my little story, which I think is sort of fun. I grew up in the small
town (Pop. 11,000--back then) of Fremont, Neb. Practically every day on the
way to and from school, I'd walk past a monument in the park marking the
Mormon Trail. I never read the monument until one night in 1953, when I was
17 or 18 years old.

My oldest brother came home on leave from the Navy. At sunrise one day,
after talking away the night and sipping on a few beers, we found ourselves
leaning against the monument. At first light, we read what it said. There
was the name Shadrach Roundy. Something about the name struck us as funny
and we had a good laugh.

Fast forward to 1967, when I was appointed to the faculty of the School of
Journalism at the University of Nebraska. One of my jobs was to invent
make-believe "facts" from which students would compose practice news
stories. So I began using your fourth great-grandfather's name in my
newswriting exercises. First he would be the sheriff, then the major,
sometimes the victim of an auto accident, sometimes a football star, etc.

Faced with the many "lives" of Mr. Roundy, students would ask where the name
came from. I never would tell but would challenge the students to find out
for themselves. I promised extra credit to students who could uncover this
"mystery." (This was before the Internet, of it would take
any student with a computer about 10 seconds to find the answer.)

Many students became so obsessed trying to uncover the secret that they
actually neglected their real assignments. Those few who found the monument
in Fremont were so proud they'd often have themselves photographed in front
of it. Many sent mounds of information about Mr. Roundy to me.

A faculty colleague of mine at Nebraska resigned and took a job teaching at
the University of Minnesota. Soon I began fielding calls from his
students--because he had copied my use of Mr. Roundy as the ever-changing
news source--and extra-credit assignment.

Now fast forward to about 1991. I'm head of the Journalism Department at the
University of Arizona (in a region where many LDS folks live, and that's
part of the story). Unaware (at first) of the Mormon connection in Arizona,
I continued my little game with Mr. Roundy's name.

Then one night, on the last class of the semester, a student began acting
peculiarly. Even though everyone was eager to leave and get the semester
over, she kept urging me to stall and not dismiss the class. She said it was
important. Puzzled, I stretched the class as best I could, even as students
rolled their eyes at me as if to say "let's get out of here, the semester's

Finally, after I had held the class for about 10 minutes past the bell, the
door opened. The student who asked me to stall beamed with pleasure and
introduced me to one of her professors, Chad Roundy. Chad Roundy, as it
turned out, was, like you, a grandchild of Shadrach Roundy. I think probably
he was a third great-son, if you're a fourth. He was a professor (in
agriculture, as I recall) like me, teaching at the University of Arizona.

I thought my goose was cooked, that Chad Roundy would think I was making fun
of Shadrach Roundy (which I wasn't). Instead, Chad Roundy gave the class a
fun little lecture on Mormon history (was there an incident in which
Shadrach Roundy saved some people from drowning? I seem to recall Chad
Roundy mentioning it). He said he was honored that I was carrying on the
name and keeping it alive with many students.

It was a delightful evening, a pure pleasure, that mixed my interest in Mr.
Roundy, teaching, and students.

So that's the story. The only thing I changed was Prof. Roundy's first name.
It may or not have been Chad but for simplicity in the narrative I used that
name. I do know for sure that his son, then 13, I believe, was truly named

I just checked the university phone book and there's no longer a Prof.
Roundy on the faculty. I don't know what became of him.

So from a night leaning against the monument in 1953 until another night,
nearly 40 years later, I've been involved with the Roundy family.

I hope you enjoyed this tale.

I'd be interested in your reaction.


Jim Patten
Tucson, Arizona

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