Webners On The Web

Pony Express rider Frank Webner

Pony Express rider Frank Webner

I’ve always thought there were not many Webners in the United States. It is certainly not a common name. Other than members of my own family, I’ve never gone to school with any Webners, or met any Webners while working.

The internet, however, has opened new vistas of discovery about the apparently far-flung, much more numerous than I anticipated Webner clan. A search of Google images reveals intrepid Pony Express rider Frank Webner, shown at left. The information about the photo says it was taken in the 1880s, and the huddled, blanketed figure holding the reins of the pack horse is described as a native American “squaw” who was just helping out.

The Charity Webner Family

The Charity Webner Family

The internet also features a photo of a family gathering of Charity Webner. She was my great great grandmother, and the photo also features my great grandfather, Ira Day Webner, who is fourth from the right in the top row, and may include my grandfather, Anthony Wayne Webner, as one of the kids in the front. They certainly look like a fun-loving group! And the explanation of why two potted plants are so prominently displayed apparently will just be forever lost in the mists of time.

Rush Webner

Rush Webner, station agent

Another interesting photo is of railroad agent Rush Webner, who was my great-grandfather’s brother. He apparently was a station agent at the Smithville, Ohio train station, and if the photo is any indication he personally performed many of the tasks involved in running a small train station, and did so while wearing a hat.

A “Webner” search also shows many living Webners, with Facebook pages, or entries on classmates.com, or other photos on other websites. Who are all of these people, and how am I related to them, if at all? It is a treasure trove of information, but how does it all fit together?

Oh, and I have to mention that, to my surprise and delight UJ’s high school graduation picture, which shows him grinning widely despite wearing appalling ’70s clothing, is available to the entire world via the ua74.c0m website.   For some reason I can’t link to it, but a Google Images search will get you there.

The Moon, Eclipsed

The future of the United States manned space program is uncertain, as this article reports, and current economic conditions aren’t helping matters.   I am a big booster of space exploration, and I think it would be tragic if the United States lost its leadership role in that area.  It was a bad decision to cut back the space program in the 1970s, and it would be a worse decision to further reduce space exploration now.

As I have argued before, our elected leaders should view the space program as a kind of public works program that has, during the 50 years of its existence, helped to spur tremendous advances in technology, computer systems, and other areas that have been of immediate and lasting benefit to our society.  (To say nothing, of course, of Tang and the food called “Space Food Sticks” that was sold when I was a kid, but that is an entry for another day.)  Money spent on rejuvenating the space program and pursuing exploration, Moon bases, and so forth obviously will have greater long-term impact than widening a road, paying part of the salary of an employee of an arts organization, or other uses of “stimulus” package spending.

I am hopeful that President Obama will realize the terrible symbolic message that would be sent by a decision that takes the United States out of manned space exploration.  President Kennedy challenged and inspired a nation with his declaration that we would try to land a man on the moon in a decade.  America rose to that challenge.  President Obama and his advisors should not make a decision that indicates they believe that our country is no longer capable of doing so.   A President whose campaign theme was “Yes, We Can” should not be heard to say “No, We Can’t” when it comes to assuming a continued leadership role in space exploration.