Monday, July 21, 2014

Tika & Mustard

Everybody likes mustard, right? It's the world's most favorite condiment and it comes in so many different flavors! But Tika does not like mustard in any flavor:

This is from Wikipedia:  "The Romans were probably the first to experiment with the preparation of mustard as a condiment. They mixed unfermented grape juice, known as "must", with ground mustard seeds (called sinapis) to make "burning must", mustum ardens — hence "must ard". A recipe for mustard appears in Apicius (also called De re coquinaria), the anonymously compiled Roman cookbook from the late 4th or early 5th century; the recipe calls for a mixture of ground mustard, peppercaraway,lovage, grilled coriander seeds, dillcelerythymeoreganoonionhoneyvinegarfish sauce, and oil, and was intended as a glaze for spit-roasted boar."

Did you know there is a National Mustard Museum and a National Mustard Day?  The museum is in Middleton, Wisconsin and August 2nd is the annual National Day of Mustard. 

Our ancestors undoubtedly enjoyed mustard on their meats because without adequate refrigeration meat would too quickly spoil and our ancestors would eat it anyway (up to a point of course). 

Click to to enjoy learning all about America's favorite condiment. And how do you enjoy your mustard? 

"Big deal," said Tika. "I prefer mayo." 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tika & The Educating of Thomas Jefferson

Last May, I visited Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. (This life-size statue of him is at the Visitor's Center.) I have read many books and watched many TV specials on this man and continue to be intrigued with his life. One thing I learned about him that I did not know before was that in his youth, in Williamsburg, Virginia, and at the home of John Wythe, he was educated and tutored in "Socratic method of teaching and learning." Wanting to know just what this was, I asked Grandma Google (who knows everything) and found this in Wikipedia:

"The Socratic method of teaching and learning was named after the classical Greek philosopher, Socrates, and is a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions, to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas. Socrates generally applied his method of examination to concepts that seem to lack any concrete definition; e.g., the key to moral concepts at the time, the virtues of piety, wisdom, temperance, courage and justice." 

That the Wythe house was Jefferson's classroom was evident. In the main rooms, the tables and shelves were populated with "things" to stimulate discussion, understanding and learning. Take this shell, for instance, which I photographed. Think of the discussions it occasioned! The guide to the Wythe house explained "that in this house curiosity was championed and all were familiar with the ancients..... Locke, Bacon, Newton, Socrates, Plutarck, etc. Ideas first presented by the ancients were discussed anew." And that's how Thomas Jefferson obtained much of his education. I was impressed. 

Tika was not impressed as I explained all this to her. "When is it time for Animal Planet?" she asked. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tika & Towns Named Mount Vernon

Tika was primed and ready for a history lesson when I returned home from Mount Vernon, Washington. This charming town is 300 miles west of Spokane, where we live in eastern Washington, and is near onto Puget Sound. "And the town was named for George Washington's home, Mount Vernon?" my smart little Tika asked.  I assured her it was. As we snuggled and talked, we wondered how many towns were there in the United States named Mount Vernon to honor our First President?

Asking Grandma Google (who knows everything!) I found that there are 20 states other than Washington who have towns named Mount Vernon:  Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Made me wonder next how many town names in my state (Washington) are repeated in other states?? I'll ask Grandma Google and then share the findings with Tika.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Tika & Smoked Ham House

We were enjoying a BLT sandwich and I was explaining to Tika how in days of yore if a family wanted bacon or ham they had to do all the work to get to that point........ starting with a piglet and ending up with the Smoke House. I took these photos at Boone Hall Plantation (near Charleston, South Carolina). The sign reads that this smokehouse, built in 1750, is the oldest existing structure on the plantation.

Tika noted and asked about the circular building style and I explained that likely this round style of construction was harder for a hurricane wind to blow over (as evidence by its survival for 250 years)? She also pushed out a paw and chirped to indicate she noticed the beautiful design done in the brickwork in the original construction. We agree; they don't build little common things with such beauty these days it seems.

I explained that when we walked up to that open door, and inhaled from the interior, you could still detect a smokey smell in the darkened wood. Overhead were the heavy beams from which ropes dangled that would have suspended the curing meat over smoldering fires on the earthen floor below.

Tika sighed. "Too much work," she yawned. "Just go to Costco." I had to agree.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tika & Ancestor's Ships

As you know, my Tika loves to be in the boat on the water about as much as I do. The other day I was telling her that my ancestor (William Bradford) came over on the Mayflower and she was impressed and she wanted to see a picture of that ship. Well, that was easy; Grandma Google (who knows everything!) found several photos instantly.

But what about a photo of the ship YOUR ancestor sailed aboard when they came to America? Would you like to have a picture of that ship? Well you can! is a fabulous website and I can almost guarantee that on this site you will find a picture of your ancestor's arrival vessel. With over 3,000,000 citations (that means photos) how can you miss?

Tika gently reminded me that her ancestors were from Idaho and did not arrive on a ship. Silly Tika.

Current Site Statistics's premium database currently contains:
  • 3,362,270 citations (an 18% increase since the last newsletter!)
  • 365+ resources
These stats are current as of 6/11/2014, and are guaranteed to keep increasing. June 2014 Update
The free portion of the database has been updated and expanded, with new content in the WorldCat Authority Records file. This is a very important and useful file; I encourage you to read my two blog posts about Locating Resources Mentioned in the Database, and Finding Books by Ships. Both use WorldCat records, and the 20% increase in WorldCat content will be a boon to all researchers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tika & An Old Doggie Exerciser? Old Marbles and Old Doggie Waterer

Last May, while in a humungous junque shop somewhere in Virginia, I spotted this old thing...... can you read the posted sign? It says, "Please Stay Off For Dogs Only." And I believe it was a treadmill of some sort. Was it really a doggie exerciser or a  people exerciser or something entirely different? Don't know but I surely got a big laugh from looking at it and imagining my Tika running for her life.

I showed Tika this picture and her ears perked up; she likes to chase balls across the living room floor (not outside). Your little boy ancestors made marbles for themselves from any possible material, don't you just bet? But to Tika they appeared to be cookie bites!

Tika was truly impressed when I showed her this photo of a doggie water stand in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. What a neat idea to re-purpose an old umbrella stand into a dog watering hole.

I explained to Tika that I'm drawn to appreciating old things because those were the things my ancestors most likely used in their every day life. Tika, being a dachshund, really does not appreciate that feeling but that's okay for she is a dog, I remember. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tika & The War of Jenkins Ear

I had just read a historical trivia tidbit when I snuggled in next to Tika in our chair. The bit I read was about the War of Jenkins' Ear. As I rubbed her ears, I wondered if any of my ancestors were involved in this very unknown little conflict.

"The War of Jenkins' Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748 with major operations largely ended by 1742." (So speaks Wikipedia.)

The unusual name was not coined until 1858 (some 100 years later!) by one Thomas Carlyle who, as a 19th century author, mentioned the event in several passages of his book on Friedrich II.

The name refers to an ear sliced from the head of Robert Jenkins, who was captain of a British merchant ship. He lost the ear when his ship was boarded by Spaniards in 1731.

This small event happened in the midst of the British war against the Spanish Empire and something to do with the slave trade. (Tika didn't care to learn of those details.)

Jenkins' ear "was subsequently exhibited before Parliament."  Can you imagine a Congressman today bringing in to the august chamber a severed ear for show and tell???

No war is good; every war is terrible and filled with atrocities big and small. Losing a small ear was no doubt a big deal for Robert Jenkins.

Any Jenkins family have this story in their history?? Tika and I wonder.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tika & A Sutler

As I was trying to explain to Tika was a sutler was, especially during the Civil War, the only question she had was, "Did they stock Milk-Bone treats?" Not hardly, dear little Tika, but lots of other things.

(Image from Wikipedia)

An article in the April-June 2014 issue of the NGS Magazine by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens titled "Sutlers of the Civil War," was good reading as Tika and I settled into our favorite chair. 

Claire gave a super two sentence explanation of just what was a sutler in the Civil War:

"Civil War sutlers were the 19th century's equivalent of the modern US Army's Post Exchange or commissary. Soldiers in the field patronized these traveling storekeepers to purchase needed goods and desired luxuries that were not provided by the US government." 

The article contains a long list of "items listed on the standard sutler's invoice approved by the Office of the Quartermaster General,"  and the list ran easily to a hundred items running the gamut from dried apples to yeast powder with tooth brushes and tin plates in between. 

Tika and I agreed upon this point: You really must read this excellent article for yourself, and especially so if your ancestor was by occupation a sutler during the Civil War. 

And for being such a good girl, I gave her a Milk-Bone treat.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tika & Land Measuring Back In the Day

Tika was not paying too much attention to what I was explaining yesterday when we went out on the lake. I was explaining to Handy Man about the method of measuring land back in Colonial Times. I learned about this at the recent NGS conference in Richmond, Virginia.

A surveyor was "top dog" in those days (late 1700s) for he had the tools and the skills to help you get the parcel of land that you wanted. He had helpers, of course, who did the "grunt work." Here's how it worked:

Showing your warrant (proof that you were entitled to get some land) to the surveyor, together you went to that parcel to officially measure off the acres you were entitled to have. Usually this was 50 acres, but if you were willing to "go West" into the western part of Virginia, where the Indians were still a presence, then you could have 200 acres.

Once there, you began to generally point out what you wanted and the surveyor, using his tripod and compass, would call out the numbers. His helpers would carry a chain, 33 1/2 feet long, from point to point to measure off the land. The links of this chain looked rather like a pencil with a hook at each end. But to be sure, it was heavy, and to be surer, it must have been a monumental chore to drag that chain over hill and dale, through briers and brambles and thickets. Across rivers and lakes?? How long would you or I have lasted at that job?

Tika did turn around and ask, "Chain? You mean like the one you use to hook me up?" Silly dogger.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tika & Civil War Trivia

One of the first things I did upon returning from my month-long trip to the East (from the West) was to snuggle my Tika in our chair and tell her some of the wonderful stories and things I learned on this trip. She was all ears as I explained some Civil War trivia bits:

"Cush" was fried fatback (like bacon) and then hardtack biscuits crumbled (worms and all) up in the grease ("rendering the hardtack chewable and the worms crispy").  "Goober peas" were peanuts. This Southern staple originated in Brazil and then went to Africa and finally came to America with the enslaved African-Americans.

"Graybacks" were body lice; the soldiers regularly had "grayback races." Only the officers were issued toilet paper. The officers smoked cigars, the juniors smoked pipes and the foot soldiers chewed. For most of the men the war was 80% boredom and 20% sheer terror. Only 50% of the men in the Civil War could read and write. One musical instrument the men played was "bones," using two animal ribs about 7-8" long, to click together.

During the Civil War, over a million horses were killed. "Quickest way to disable an officer was to shoot his horse from beneath him." During the three days at Gettysburg, some 7,000,000 bullets were fired and 53,000 men died.

Only the fatback and crumbles really interested Tika, and worms? "I'm okay with them too!" she said.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tika & Top Ten Genealogy Mistakes

This was my sorry-looking little Tika when I made the mistake of giving her cooked hambone from a pot of hambone and beans. Those gelatinous bites solidified in her tummy and intestinal tract and she barely escaped having surgery (the laxative worked). But it was a Big Mistake that I shall not never repeat!

What, do you suppose, are the Top Ten Commonest Genealogy Mistakes? From a 2005 list compiled by the Connecticut Society of Genealogists they are:

1.  Misspelling the word genealogy.
2.  Believing everything you find in print is correct.
3.  Assuming you're related to XXX because your surname is XXX too.
4.  Being content with finding names, dates and places only for your family.
5.  Believing an undocumented 1908 family history must be correct.
6.  Accepting without question the family stories and legends.
7.  Believing that any variation in the spelling of your surname means it is not your surname.
8.  Never writing down a source.
9.  Believing that everything you find on the Internet is correct.
10. Not bothering to talk to all relatives and searching out new cousins to talk to.

Do you identify with any of these mistakes??

Tika just says, "Please don't bring me to this place ever again!! It smells awful!!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tika & Fraudulent Pedigrees

Have you come across a nice tidy genealogy of your family compiled by one Gustave Anjou?? Sorry to have to tell you, but no doubt it is all untruths.

Gustave Anjou, born in Sweden in 1863, made a good living in New York City by pandering to those folks wanting to have good solid European ancestry by giving them what they wanted....... no matter that many of the sources he cited did not exist.

I learned about Anjou from speaker Gordon Remington at an FGS conference back in 2004 and kept this story all these years to remind me to beware.

Gordon told the audience that over 300 fraudulent pedigrees by this fellow have been identified to date. A list of the principle names for these pedigrees can be viewed at this website:

Maybe this is not news to you but I hate to think of so many eager-beaver upcoming genealogists who tend to believe anything they might find on the Internet. Surfer, beware!

Tika reminds us that she has no pedigree; all she knows is that she is from Idaho.

Tika's Laughs

I've been away from my Tika for a month now enjoying being a Southern tourist and attending a national genealogical conference, finishing up with some Library of Virginia research.  Found this delightful "dog" bit (quoted from C.R. Humphrey Smith's "Kentish Names & Arms" in Kent Life, 17 Nov 1972:

"..... on the thirde day of January 1579 was a decree for doggs and proclaymed in the church of St Nicholas after Evensong that all inhabitants of Newe Romney disposed to keep any dogg or curr, should before the twelveth of the said month enter their dogges and after observe the decrees in order as they were read, uppon payne in those decrees expressed. These were admitted to keep dogges.... William Eppes, three red spaniels, one bitch all spotted red....."

In other words, William Eppes, living in the town of New Romney in Kent, England, in 1580 had to "license" his "dogges."

For 400 years our dear doggers have had to be officially noted! Did you realize that?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tika & Dog's Names

Tika asked me today how I came to name her Tika?  "To be honest, I made it up," I answered and she seemed satisfied. "At least you didn't give me a cat name!" she retorted.

So what about dog's names? According to a 2013 polling in Massachusetts the most popular names for dogs were (in order): Bella, Max, Buddy, Bailey, Molly, Lilly, Lucy, Maggie, Daisy and Charlie. 

And check out this article:

Few years back I remember reading that Brazil had passed a LAW banning people names for dogs..... here's the link to that story:

We have always given non-people names to our dogs. Over the years we've had Senna (Irish Setter), Mitzen (German Shorthair), Kira (German Shorthair) and now Tika. We have Dolly, too, another German Shorthair, but she came to us with that name.

A good friend of mine once named her mini-longhaired dachshund "Puddles." Wondere how the darling got that name????

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tika & Bible Records

Tika happily sits next to me in our chair when I do my almost-daily scripture study. She even pays attention when I tell her the stories.........but there are not many dog stories in the Bible.

Was explaining to her the other day that in days or yore, families had few places wherein to keep records of the births, marriages and deaths in the family. They quite often did have a big family Bible and usually in the center of the tome were some pages as a place to specifically record the vital record events of a family.

I know that as late at 1920 my Potter family Bible was in Latah County, Idaho (about 100 miles south of where I live now). But where on earth it is now???

Here's a website for those of us trying to locate our family Bible: . Doing a search on this website for the Potter name, I saw that they searched 1232 records (Bibles?) and came up with 13 hits (none of which was the one).

I also know that the Daughters of the American Revolution in their Washington, DC, headquarters has a Bible collection as does the National Genealogical Society's library. So there are places for us to look for that lost-misplaced (won't say long lost) Bible belonging to an ancestor.

Maybe, hopefully maybe, I'll find that Potter family Bible................  Tika licks my hand and says "Of course you will!"

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!!