Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tika & It's A Dog's Life

Did our ancestors keep dogs for pets or for food? For companionship or to help haul burdens?

The Non-Sequitur cartoon in our paper today showed a fellow sitting on a bar stool with a sign on his back: "Treat me like a dog." The bartender tells somebody looking at the sign: "He's hoping someone will take him home, feed him, and let him sleep all day." That's a dog's life for sure!

But has it always been so? Since the 1660s a proverb has explained a dog's life:  "It's a dog's life, hunger and ease."  In common usage today, a dog's life usually means that life is hard and unpleasant.

But if my Tika is any example, a dog's life is pretty cushy. She's kept safe (baby gates on the deck), fed only good-quality kibbles, walked only on a leash and tucked in warmly at night (into our bed). Some dog's life.

My grandfather, George Louis Gurney (1895-1964) had a little black Cocker Spaniel appropriately called "Blackie," whom he doted upon. My Dad and his father had "Turk" a rangy looking hunting dog and I have several B&W pictures of father, son, rifles and dog.

My opinion: I think besides being food, carriers-of-burdens and hunters, I think dogs have been companions of mankind since very early times. Does this rock art prove that???

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tika & State Archives

Lee Pierce is an archivist at the Eastern Washington Branch of the Washington State Archives and he gave my genealogical society a grand tour and explanation of just what is and what is not available to you at a state archives. (I was telling Tika all about this but she was bored so I decided to tell you!)

To use an archives, Lee explained, you must know why the archives keeps records........ why THAT archives keeps WHAT it keeps and WHY. Then you must ask yourself, what of their inventory would be helpful to me in my research?

"Using archives for research is not like stopping by the 7/11 for a quick gallon of milk," Lee continued. "Using archives means learning to use a wide variety of resources. Even smaller or private archives might have more and completely different records and resources than does a state archives. One example would be police records. Here in Eastern Washington we have a wonderful Law Enforcement Museum and older police records are housed there." Another example would be the Diocesan Archives of the Catholic Church, also here in Spokane but covering all the parishes in Eastern Washington. "Those archives have materials that we don't and never will have," Lee stated.

Just look at my photo of the old books above that contain early deed/land information for Spokane County. Would you search in them by name? By address? By date? Would they be digitized and available online?  Also look at the endless rows of document-storage boxes......... what treasures might they contain about your ancestor?

What you will not see are family history books or any files on specific families. You must look for your specific family in the records that they left behind.......... school records, voting records, naturalization records, etc. Those sorts of records are what's in an archives.

Tika was really snoring-fast-asleep when I finished explaining all of this to her! She is a dog after all.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tika & Choices

The other day I posed my darling little Tika to tempt her decision making process. A Milk-Bone dog chew or a fresh cookie?? (And no, I do not give Tika chocolate.) She would have happily chomped down both treats but I posed this picture to illustrate a point: We all face decisions daily in our lives.

This is so true in genealogy. I've been working on a couple of projects for other folks and I've relied heavily upon Almost any tree you set up on Ancestry will have some waving green leaves to lure you deeper into the website and some of those leaves will point to good records and some will not.

Example: Surely, I thought, Fitzroy Chapin was the son of Paul Fitzroy Chapin, whose mother surely was a Fitzroy. The name was unusual enough that it seemed logical. BUT. Fitzroy Chapin was born in 1821 and Paul Fitzroy Chapin was born in 1824, so that hardly works out. But it looked so good! There probably is a family connection here but Fitzroy cannot be the son of that Paul Fitzroy.  That was my "chocolate cookie" answer. I had to keep looking and that's not nearly as fun as chomping down the cookie right off the bat.

Most leaders in the genealogical community these days are teaching and touting proper research processes and procedures and documentation to the "enth" degree. And of course they are right. This is the "Milk-Bone treat" answer, ie, the better answer....... or path to getting the answer.

"Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made," said Wayne Dyer. 

May I paraphrase:  "Our family history is the sum total of the choices we have made." 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tika & Native American Research

The Spokane River is the boundary between Spokane and Stevens counties. Also, the north shore of the river borders the Spokane Indian Reservation. Boating there once, far up (east) on the river, we spotted an Indian cemetery high on a sandy bluff. I was explaining to Tika (who never misses a boat trip) about our local Native American peoples.

While I've learned that in my pedigree I have no Native American ancestry, I'm sympathetic to those who are so lucky. To that end, I picked up a flyer at the Family History down in Salt Lake City that details Finding Your Indian Ancestor. So I was explaining these tips to Tika:

1.  Find out where your ancestor lived.
2.  Find what tribes were located in the area where your ancestor lives, and learn who kept the records.
3.  Search all record types for your ancestor's time period and location.
4.  Identify and locate specific records by using the Family History Library Catalog.
5.  Search the records for your ancestor.

While I don't know if you can request a copy of this little flyer, I do know that if you click to and then "search" and then "Wiki" you will get 3996 hits for "Indian" and 1755 hits for "Native American."  

And I learned this tidbit:

Did You Know?

  • The term Indians of North America is the traditional term used by English-speaking non-Native Americans. Despite the widespread use of the term, both within the Native American community and the North American population, many people prefer to use the term Native Americans, acknowledging the fact that these peoples were the original inhabitants of the continent. The term is associated with the 1960's Native American campaigns for civil rights - campaigns which helped to change the policy of the federal government to one of self determination for the tribal communities.
Tika says, "Don't ever give up on finding your Indian ancestors.... just keep looking and learning about new records and resources."  I agree! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tika & Southern Research Tidbits

Ever since Tika was a little #2 puppy (late fall of 2009), I've been teaching her how to do Southern research. Since there is a long list of reasons why researching in the southern U.S. is a tad more difficult than for other localities, I thought today that Tika and I would share some resource tidbits with you concerning Southern research.

1.  Tyler's Quarterly Historical & Genealogical Magazine began publication in June 1919 and continued under that name until 1952. Clicking to this link,,  you can freely access a wealth of information on southern families.

2.  DAR Magazine Index:  1892-1997 is just what it says, an index to the Genealogical Notes & Queries published in the DAR Magazine beginning in July 1900. Over 40,000 queries were published in that magazine up to 1997. I looked at this 3-volume index at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, but here's a tidbit for you:

While the DAR may not have this 105-year index available freely online, they do offer a parallel search service. It's free; why not check it out?

3.  Edward Pleasants Valentine Papers:  Abstracts of Records in the Local and General Archives of Virginia Relating to (various Southern) Families. Again, I looked at these books at the Family History Library but we both can now access this southern database via! If you are not a subscribing member, you can use Ancestry for free at your nearby FamilySearch Center.

On a lighter note, and since it's springtime and windy time, here is a little poem for you from William Howitt, (1792-1879):  The wind one morning sprang up from sleep, Saying "Now for a frolic, now for a leap!  Now for a madcap galloping chase! I'll make a commotion in every place." 

Tika likes to "frolic in the wind" and at a "madcap galloping chase!"  If I left her off her leash, she be "making a commotion" over in your county!!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tika & Smiling

Was sharing a good quote with Tika the other day:  "Want to know how the secret of how to wake up in the morning with a smile on your face? Go to bed with a coat hanger in your mouth." (Richard G. Scott).

Now does that not make you laugh? Or at least smile at the image? Tika says, "Hey, I'm smiling without that coat hanger!"

So why is Tika (and me too!) smiling? Because the snow is almost gone!! Tika is so eager to get outside and frankly so am I. Cannot help but think about my ancestors snowbound in their dimly-lighted little cabins, with a passel of sick children, for months and months. At least we can get out and go places. And we still complain about being sunless and housebound. "Buckle up!" says Tika. "If they could do it, we can do it too. But (woof, woof) I'm so glad spring is here!!"  Me too, Tika.

Even without a coat hanger.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Tika & Hawaiian Cemeteries

When Handy Man and I returned from Maui, of course Tika was overjoyed to see us. After all the obligatory doggie kisses, and after we were all "squared away" (Handy Man's old Navy term), I settled Tika into the chair next to me and told her what I'd learned about Hawaiian cemeteries.

It's not particularly good news. More and more development is terribly encroaching on ancient as well as newer cemeteries or burial grounds. Here is one just a bit north of Lahina, squashed between the highway and the beach, and you can clearly see what is happening:

This last one has a lei made from those old pop-top cans. Yes, the place looks a bit neglected but that is not the point. On a busy beach day the cars would park everywhere if not held back by those ropes.

A local newspaper carried this tidbit:  "One of the reasons land developers tend to get bad press is that their hotels, resorts and shopping centers often disturb the remains of those who lived here before the arrival of Westerners. The general rule is that any bones (iwi) found during construction must stay where found. If that can't happen, then those who dug them up must rebury them as close as possible to their original site.

Apparently, this plan of action, which is actually part of state law, isn't working too well, because now the state Senate is kicking around (a new bill) which proposes that we simply bury all the bones we can't really find a place for over on Kaho'olawe.

Hawaii's Senate is considering a bill that would designate the island of Kahooalwe as the resting place for unknown or inadvertently discovered Hawaiian bones when those remains cannot be buried nearby."

(This was copied into the local newspaper from an AP story reported on 31 Jan 2014.)

Tika thought that sounded like a good idea; what do YOU think of such a proposal? What if your state designated a specific place for the common reburial of Native American remains???

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tika & RootsTech

I kissed Tika goodbye a couple of days ago and went on a Delta silver bird down to Salt Lake City to attend RootsTech. While I do not expect there will be a class on "Finding Your Dog's Ancestry," I'm very much looking forward to almost more learning than my brain can handle.

I understand nearly 10,000 people will be attending....... 10,000!! It is so exciting to think that so many people are interested enough in family history and the technology that makes it possible to spend the time and money to come to RootsTech.

For those unable to attend in person there will be much great stuff posted after the conference as well as live streaming during the three days.

I am 100% convinced that to really make significant progress on learning about your family history, you must employ technology. There are dozens of helpful websites and tutorials to teach you and more dozens of online databases wherein to search for your ancestors. (Think of it as lots of lakes with fish and you get to go fishing. But you gotta learn how to fish and where are the lakes.)

Tika promises to stay awake as she snuggles by my side when I get home and go to tell her all about it. We'll see......... I really don't think she cares too much about RootsTech, but I do!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tika & Roots

Tika and I were out in the sunshine last summer when we spotted this Ponderosa Pine tree. It was growing on a fairly steep sandy bank and only those tangled, deeply embedded roots, kept the tree from falling down the hill.

Tika and I had a nice discussion about roots and not the Ponderosa kind. Our roots are our forebears, our ancestors, those who have gone before us in time. The sometimes tangled lives they led have become the foundation which holds us up straight and tall in the sunshine of today. The deeper into the earth the roots reach, the stronger the tree.

The strength of our personal roots are the stories of our ancestors. Just to know the vital statistics of their lives is not very interesting. But to learn how they learned to overcome the big rocks, the lack of water, and the ever present danger of falling down the hill, as with a Ponderosa, will make us strong too.

Tika listened for a while and then dozed off in the sunshine. She only knows that she is from Idaho; her doxie roots are shallow.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tika & Maps & History

Tika does watch TV. She prefers dog shows (wolves, coyotes, dogs) or cat shows (cougars, cheetahs, cats) but most anything that moves catches her attention. A friend sent me this link and while I held Tika on my lap and we watched this moving-map-video, the was, alas!, not very interested. But I surely was! So I thought to share this link-website-opportunity to learn with you. Enjoy! And share with us what new tidbits of history and/or geography that you learned, please? 

Moving Map Of The Country ( UNIQUE HISTORY LESSON! )

Probably the best capsule of the history of our country ever put together, free! (:) It's fascinating to watch the evolution of growth from the 13 colonies up to the present day -- with dates, wars, purchases, etc. all included. As much as you may know about American history, I guarantee you'll learn something from this short video clip. Best history lesson you'll have in a long time. 

Click on the link below; when it opens, do not click GO at the bottom, but rather click on PLAY at the top. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tika &

Tika asked me the other day, "Does everybody know about"  (I've told you before what a smart little dogger she is.) "Most genealogists do," I assured her. "Let's tell them what we've learned about doing research on Ancestry," she eagerly told me. "Great idea!" I replied.

The first thing I might share with you about doing research on is that as you look at the hints (the waving leaves) for a person, and then evaluate the information and perhaps add that person to your tree, more hints come!

The next thing I recommend is to go through all the "wavy leaf" hints and take the time to study what you will or will not add to your tree. Don't swallow them all "hook, line and sinker." 

The last thing I realized is that found references that I had not yet thought to look for.... or that new information brought to light. 

Paying attention to detail, research on can be a delightful "finding" experience.

"Oh, by the way," Tika spoke up. "Don't leave me out in the snow too long!!"

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tika & Birds

Tika is ever on guard against birds. She watched The Birds movie with me once and has had a personal vendetta against birds ever since. She sits with us in the living room watching out the window for whatever might be flying by or flying around. And when a big Southwest or Delta "bird" comes by in a landing pattern, she launches immediately into a barking rage. Good dog, Tika. :-)

Ever thought about what birds might have been in your ancestor's yard? For instance, my Michigan and Illinois ancestors enjoyed Bluejays and Cardinals whereas we here in Washington state have neither. But we have Magpies and they don't! Neither of us have Road Runners that live in the southwest.

Read a neat story in Readers Digest once about when they cleaned out great-grandma's house somewhere in the flat plains of the midwest, they found a very dried-up little bird carefully wrapped in tissue. Of course they marveled but some reading of Great-Grandma's letters (lucky folks) showed that moving to the midwestern prairies was hard on Grandma and the thing she missed terribly were the songbirds. So somewhere along the line she got one to keep in a cage and when it died, could not bear to bury it.

Birds in our environment are powerful to us in many ways. Always has been so and always will be. And Tika is always on the lookout for them!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tika & Christmas Letters

When Tika gets snapped onto her rope out in the yard, it's a snowy yard at this time of year. But snow or not, doggers must go outside even for short bursts. Few days ago when I let her back in, Tika came bounding to me with snowy paws and a cold nose and announced that she had something important for her blog this week. I was all ears.

"You know those sometimes-boring Christmas letters that family members often send to one another?? Well, aren't they a chronicle of what's happened over the past year to that family?" Tika asked with her big brown eyes.  I had to agree; those boastings and postings that make up the family Christmas letter are indeed a family history record for the year.

"They should be kept as a family history source document," Tika said with emphasis. And I couldn't agree more. I did not send out a family epistle this year but I did receive several.............. I shall think twice about what I really should be doing with them.

What about you?? What do you do with those family Christmas newsletters???

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tika Wonders: Don't You Like Me?

Tika wonders, "How come nobody "likes" me or "comments" to me? She does read and follow her blog, remember. "I surely do not know," I pet her head and tell her. "Well, we'll just keep trying!"

I was reading to her from a recent issue of Family Tree Magazine about World War II Draft Registration Records. We learned that 16 October 1940 was the first day of the World War II Draft Registrations and all men between the ages of 21 to 31 living in the U.S. had to register. This does not mean they served, but they had to register. Both naturalized immigrants and aliens had to register for the draft as well. These registration cards yield many tidbits of good information.

A man typically registered at the draft board in the precinct, ward, city, county and state where he lived. He typically signed his name, so you get a signature. He stated who he worked for and his occupation. He stated his age, date and place of birth, which may help you confirm you have the correct ancestor if you're searching a common name. He gave information on  the "person who will always know your address" and the "relationship of that person."

Tika and I discussed that to keep current these days in genealogy you almost have to read the genealogy magazines and keep up with the blogs. You not only keep current but you learn more in depth about the records you're using. Family Tree Magazine does help with that learning.

Now Tika says, "Please sign up for my blogs if you like me and what I try to teach. Please?" And then she asks me if it's time for dinner. She is a dog after all.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tika & Being Prepared

Tika does not like her sweater. Not even a little bit. And I don't think she appreciates my concern. It was a "balmy" 28o the day I took her out for a potty break....... that's below freezing! So since I thought to leave her in the sunny-but-frigid fresh air for a few minutes, I slipped onto her this cute sweater. Now Tika is prepared!

Like so many things in life, if we anticipate our needs (insofar as is possible) then we are better prepared to achieve what we need and want. Isn't this a principle of life?

Take genealogy or family history. Most of us jump into the collecting of information...... names, dates, places...with little scholarly understanding of what we're doing. Tika would offer this suggestion:  "Wouldn't a good beginner's book be of benefit?? With any new hobby you need some guidance to know what to do, don't you??"

Elizabeth Shown Mills recently recommended this book to any and all stages of beginners:  The Complete's Idiot's Guide to Genealogy, 2012, Third Edition, by Christine Rose, CG, CGl, FASG,  and Kay Germain Ingalls, CG. 

In the Foreword to the book James L. Hansen, FASG, explains:  "You've been curious for quite a while. You've asked some questions of other members of your family, maybe poked around in the family papers, or even searched for others of your name on the Internet. But now you're serious about tracing your ancestors. However, just because you're serious doesn't mean you know how to tackle what seems like an unusual research project. That's why this book was written, to provide the background knowledge and skills necessary for successful genealogical digging."

Tika often quotes a favorite homily to me:  "If ye are prepared ye shall not fail." While she may dislike her "winter-cold-preparation" sweater, she knows the value of being prepared when beginning your genealogy.

Elizabeth Shown Mills would pat her on the head and call her a good girl.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tika & Tombstone & Grandsons

Tika really likes cemeteries. "So much to investigate and so many smells to sniff!," she says.  Tika knows I like cemeteries for vastly different reasons but one of those reasons is that if you look you will always find an "interesting" tombstone. And, hooray, that gene has been passed to my oldest grandson! Evan sent this to me with an "I thought of you when I saw this and had to jump the fence to get it!" message.  The tombstone reads, "Here lies Patrick. No longer banging his head against a wall." Poor Patrick, to be sure, but how fun to see his interesting tombstone. I'm so proud of Evan for listening to his "family history gene."

Then there are tombstones like the one above. Did not take this photo; do not know where it is. But it surely is sad-funny. You think in 1869 there was a February 31st??

Then it being Thanksgiving week, here is my favorite tombstone photo. Daughter Jane and I are standing by the obelisk-tombstone of Gov.William Bradford, our direct-line ancestor. The place is the old cemetery in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Tika says, "Well, I did not get to go to Plymouth, nor on that walk with Evan, but I do get to visit lots of cemeteries around Spokane and oh! they are such fun!"

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tika & Ports of Entry

Tika and I had always thought of a port as a place on land near water, most usually the ocean, where boats and ships dock. When doing some FamilySearch Indexing, I did a passenger list record from the Port of Easton, Idaho. Idaho? A port in Idaho? Tika was surprised, too, and suggested we do some research.

According to Wikipedia, "a port of entry is a place where one may lawfully enter a country."  But, Wikipedia continues, "the formal definition of a port of entry in the U.S. is something entirely different." The explanation goes on to explain "the terms port and port of entry incorporate the geographical area under the jurisdiction of a port director and may encompass an area that includes several border crossings as well as some air and sea ports."

The Port of Easton, Idaho, is directly across from Kingsgate, British Columbia. Easton is one of 118 ports of entry between Canada and the United States and many of those ports are on dry land and not connected to an ocean or other body of water.  Idaho has two ports along its 45-mile border with Canada.... and is nowhere near the ocean.

We both gained a new understanding of the term port and port of entry by having just one little thing spark our interest. Good way to learn a lesson. But while that's "good news", the "bad news" is that an ancestor could have emigrated into the U.S. through which one of those 118 ports of entry??

"Well," says Tika, "I much prefer to think of ports as places where I can get onto the water and go swimming."  I agree with her. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tika & The Mail

One highlight of Tika's day is the walk to the mailbox. It's about a quarter mile from the door to the box and that walk is healthy for both of us. This is our mailbox last winter:

The Nov/Dec 2013 issue of Family Chronicle magazine, "the how-to-guide to tracing your ancestors," has a terrific article by David A. Norris about the mail service in the past. Tika and I did not realize that home-delivery of mail began in 1863 in America and then only in the large cities. Until then folks went to the post office to pick up their mail. Residents in the country also wanted home mail service and Rural Free Delivery (remember R.F.D.??) was begun in the 1890s. At first the mail carriers only provided service along designated routes and folks who did not live along those routes would put up their mailbox on that route...... and might still have to travel some miles to fetch their mail. 

Norris' article explains how the style of an address can reveal the years when it was valid. When the mail went only to the post office, only the town was needed and not a street address. Letters would have had home addresses only after home delivery began in 1863 and R.F.D. began in the late 1890s. 

The article explains some of the problems faced at first such as duplicate street names in towns. In 1902 in Salt Lake City there were 78 duplicated street names, according to the Salt Lake Telegram. Zip codes were added after World War II when mail volume soared. 

When families were separated by time, by geography, or by events such as war, they were hungry for news from home. Mail was and remains a vital link between families. 

Tika asks, "Did your family have a mail box like this?" 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tika & Occam's Razor

When out walking, Tika told me she wanted her blog this week to explain Occam's Razor. We both had heard this term and had no clue what it meant.

Occam's Razor is a principle attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham (a village in the English county of Surrey). Tika and I are guessing that razor meant a saying?

Originally stated, "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily," this saying has morphed into the current day language of "If you have two equally likely solutions to a problem, choose the simplest."  Or sometimes, "The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."

Or, and the one Tika and I like best:  "Keep things simple!"  (Or KISS?)

How does this apply to genealogy? "We should apply Occam's Razor in looking for guidance as we develop a theory," Tika counselled. To arrive at the proper documentation for our research problems, we too often overlook the simple, obvious answer. And, just as valid, a sound conclusion cannot be reached based only upon complicated assumptions.

Tika wishes us all well in our genealogy and, having done her good deed for the day, requested her dinner.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tika & The Many Marriage Documentations

We genealogists all too often go in search of a "marriage certificate" not realizing that there are several "marriage documentations" and that most often while there is no "certificate" some other piece of evidence can be found to document a marriage.

Remember when you got married. You two went to the courthouse and paid a fee and filled out an application. You were given paperwork to take to the official who was to perform the marriage to sign and for you to return, a marriage return. Sometimes this was the certificate and sometimes with the receipt of the return, the county clerk issues a certificate.

The county clerk would send this community information to the local newspaper and ultimately to the state (after about 1910ish in most states) and not retaining a copy in the courthouse. There are exceptions.

The local newspaper (especially in smaller towns) would print the story of the wedding which could be quite detailed and often included a photo. Often these stories would be clipped and tucked or glued into a family Bible, or cookbook, or scrapbook.

The minister of the church may have kept a record in the church of this marriage.

Lucky is the researcher who finds several of these pieces of documenting evidence; "seek and ye shall find" is good advice.

You just never know where a great tidbit of history will show up. When Chuck married Esther in 1940 in Spokane, his part of the application asked if he was or was not free from venereal disease. Her portion did not include this question.

Tika reminds us that she never married. Never had the inclination after her young trip to the vet.