Monday, March 7, 2016

"What Do You Do With A Shoebox Full Of Letters?"

If we're lucky, we all have them: a box or folder of old letters. Musty, fragile, irreplaceable, old letters. And we wonder: whatever do we DO with them...... to share them? To preserve them?

Author Bill Leslie in his article of this same name (YourGenealogy Today Magazine, Jan-Feb 2016) offers some advice:

Never separate the envelopes, nor the stamps, from the letter....and all the clues that those things can furnish.

Study the letters in chronological order; see migration patterns.

Pay attention to the stationery; monogrammed? notebook? back of something else? 

What instrument was used to write the letter?

But what to DO with these old letters?

Pull key moments from them and include them on a family calendar. 

Consider copying a verse or prayer from them into your Christmas letter.

Quote sentences from them to explain photographs.

Author Bill Leslie ends his article with this:  "Above all, and always, make copies, and share!"

I enjoyed this article, and it gave me new insights, because I'd always thought in terms of preservation when it came to thinking about old letters. Bill Leslie's down to earth advice is a totally different tack but most welcome to me!   

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Our Ancestors As Ghosts?

This book was a great read. The author writes about her Staab family who emigrated from Germany straight to New Mexico. In the course of telling the story, she says this....... and it piqued my interest big time. I wonder? Do you? 

“Ghosts?  Imagine a “timeslip” in which the present grazes against 

the past. Imagine two clothes lines in a row…. Most of the time the 

sheets hang down and are still, but maybe there’s a metaphorical 

breeze, a brushing between the sheets…. When the sheets touch 

people who don’t live in the same era see each other as 

ghosts….strangers in period dress. You peer briefly into their life 

and they peer into yours.”

Friday, February 12, 2016

Tika & New Microsoft Adventure

This is a most intriguing announcement from Microsoft in our paper today, 12 February 2016..... but Tika says "I know who I am; just give me the cookie!"

"Microsoft introduced a new app on Thursday that anyone with a dog should play with because it’s a lot of fun.

It’s called Fetch!, and it’s available for iPhones and on the web. It uses artificial intelligence techniques to classify images of real-world dogs into breeds. On the web, users can upload a photo of a dog, or you can take a picture of your pet using your phone’s camera.

If you upload a picture of, say, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, Microsoft should be able to confirm the dog’s breed.

It’s the latest in a line of fun, silly apps released by Microsoft Garage, an “outlet for experimental projects” that are designed to show off creative and unexpected ways to apply Microsoft’s expertise in artificial intelligence. In the past year, Microsoft has released apps that detect and measures mustaches in photos or guesses your age, for example.

Like Microsoft’s other AI apps, Fetch! should become more accurate as users upload more photos and data. More technical information is available here.

Fetch! is already fairly accurate. Here it identified the breed of a dog belonging to one of BI’s reporters."

Wouldn’t it be fun to upload a photo of the dog in an ancestral photo to see what kind of dog they had? Probably a “Heinz 57” more often than not, but I think I’ll try this out!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Is Family History THIS Complicated?

Yes, Tika has been away from the computer for awhile but winter is waning and she is back and eager to share genealogical things and stuff with everybody.

Spokane didn't get blizzards like on the East Coast but we had our share. Hopefully all that moisture will lessen the forest fire danger this summer. 

Now to the "teaching" part................

Monday, October 19, 2015

Tika & Red Fish

Tika really did not care much that Red Fish finally died. (See his white chin? He was an old fish, I guess, by fish standards, at least two years old.)

I took this picture of Red Fish to illustrate a point, which I was trying to explain to Tika.

"Fish, in their natural state, eat bugs, right?" I asked her. "So why wouldn't fish-in-fishbowls like a bug every now and then too?"  Tika looked away and gave no answer. She is really not interested in fish......... unless it's salmon tidbits in her bowl.

Point of today's story is this:  I did catch some mosquitoes and other tiny bugs and dropped them right on top of Red Fish in his bowl. And he turned up his nose at them and turned away! He, in his generations-inbred-domesticity did not recognize a bug when it was presented to him. Here was a tasty treat but he did not recognize it. (I had to spoon the bugs out.)

Are we like Red Fish in our genealogical endeavors? When presented with something totally new, some totally unexpected and totally unknown previously information, do we turn and swim away???

Bugs for thought............. err, food for thought.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tika & Women's Clubs

I was honored to be one of the four presenters at the Autumn Quest last Saturday, an annual all-day event sponsored by the Heritage Quest Research Library.  While Tika could not make the 5-hour drive from Spokane to Sumner, I left her in good hands.

My topic was one I'd never seen presented before...... Women's Club, Societies & Organizations. 

I began by musing that we, today, join clubs, societies and organizations so why would we think out lady ancestors were any different? They in their day, as do we in our day, joined groups that reflected or enhanced their lifestyle.

How do we know our lady ancestors joined clubs? We see the evidence in their grave markers, obituaries, cookbooks, pieces of clothing, photographs, jewelry, photos and certificates.

Once we realize that our lady ancestor did belong to a group, then we can go looking for any extant records of that group. Who knows what we'll find?

Back home, I assured Tika that I was a card-carrying member of the Dachshund Lovers Club for sure! No meetings, no dues, no handshakes, no certificates, etc. etc. but there are dachshund T-shirts abounding!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tika & Cyndi Ingle

Tika did not actually get to meet the genealogy-famous Cyndi Ingle when she came to Spokane on October 3rd but when I told Tika that Cyndi has two Boston Terriers, Tika was pleased. She likes me to have dog-lover friends. "But I'm much cuter," sniffed Tika.

Cyndi Ingle maintains the website, This is a directory
to over 300,000 genealogy-related links.
Some are paid sites; most are free sites. 

Among the pearls of wisdom that Cyndi
shared with us last Saturday was this: "If you've looked everywhere and not found your answer or ancestor, you are not looking in the right place, at the right record. You have not done your homework to learn about the records created in that place and for that they were created, where they are kept now. In other words, you've not done the genealogy of that place."

Good advice and we thank you, Cyndi. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tika & Skulls & Family Trees


Richard-2,  Russell-2,  Rose-2

Ruth-3,  Roscoe-3,  Roman-3,  Richard-3,  Russell-3

Rachel-4,  Roxanne-4,  Ronald-4,  Roscoe-4,  Roman-4,  Richard-4,  Russell-4

Ramona-5,  Rebecca-5,  Ruhanna-5,  Rochelle-5,  Ronald-5,  Roscoe-5,  Roman-5,  Richard-5,  Russell-5

  Robin-6,  Rosalie-6,  Ruby-6,  Regina-6,  Rosanne-6,  Roberta-6
Roderick-6,  Ronald-6, Roscoe-6,  Roman-6,  Richard-6,  Russell-6

And we wonder why genealogy is so difficult????

Imagine if this chart carried down ALL those generations??

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tika & YouTube

Tika, like many dogs I imagine, jumps to bark and enjoy when she spots other dogs on the TV.

Sometimes she's here in my office........ I just did a search on for the word "dachshund" and learned that there were thousands of doxie videos posted there! When I viewed a couple, boy did Tika bark.

This photo went with "Ten Funniest Dachshund Videos" and over one million folks have viewed it! Tika loved it.........but assured me, with a sniff, that she would never do some of those things.

The genealogy point here, and I quickly pointed this out to Tika, is that if you search for videos on most any genealogical topic, you'll get an entire afternoon's viewing.  For instance:

Ancestry - 93,700 links
FamilySearch - 9,370 links
Genealogy - 88,701 links
DNA and Genealogy - 7,480 links

And the bestest parts is that they are all FREE and all relatively short......... if you need a tutorial on any of the above topics, just click away and search YouTube for answers.

Tika likes the dachshund videos best, of course. DNA bores her; she's from Idaho and that's enough knowledge for her.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tika & Very Old Family Trees

I was explaining to Tika what a pedigree chart is...... here's the official explanation:

Late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French pé de grue ‘crane's foot,’ a mark used to denote succession in pedigrees.

Was needing an image of a family tree and so I asked Grandma Google (who knows everything!) and came up with just what I needed..... and some really interesting stuff.  Here is a tree dating back to the year 1200 and is reputed to be "the oldest sustaining representation of a medieval family... was from the old Guelph Grave Lege ..... in the last decade of the 12th century":

This next one is the family tree of Ludwig von Herzog, 1568-1593:

Kinda interesting, don't you think? Obviously, drawing a pedigree chart for an individual or a family is not something all that new.

Now all Tika heard through all of this explaining is that a pedigree must be something tasty if it's like a chicken leg. Dear, dear Tika!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tika & Pomeranian DNA

"No, no, dear little Tika." I spoke softly to her as she snuggled beside me in our blue chair as I caught on up some magazine reading (genealogical magazines, of course). I had read out loud the Table of Contents to the March-April 2015 issue (the premier issue!) of Your Genealogy Today, "DNA: Unraveling a Pomeranian Mystery," by Lori Alexander.

"Pomeranian?" Tika perked up. "That's a dog!" That's when I petted her head and explained that this was an article about researching your Pomeranian ancestors........... those good folks who immigrated to America from the areas of Pomerania, now spanning parts of both Germany and Poland. In the article-story, DNA was used to solve a family mystery.

Tika blinked twice and went back to sleep, having lost interest.

But I had not lost interest in this magazine! Your Genealogy Today, with a DNA strand as the "L" in the word genealogy, is the successor to Family Chronicle Magazine. If you liked and enjoyed FC magazine, you're gonna love and really benefit from YGT magazine.

Ed Zapletal, Publisher of Your Genealogy Today,  explains in his editorial, "This first edition (of this new magazine) heralds the dawn of a new era, and continues the traditions of Family Chronicle---- a magazine that was built on the loyalty of our faithful readership, and the genealogy community ... for almost 19 years. We thank you, and hope you will continue the journey with us into the future of family history publishing."

Ed further explains that this newer magazine "will allow for a variety in perspectives from experts in the specific areas of Advice from the Pros,  Genealogy Tourism,  and DNA & Genealogy."

Subscription information (I believe they offer both a print and digital magazine) can be obtained by calling toll free 1-888-326-2476.   You won't be sorry, I guarantee.

Did you know that Pomeranian dogs hail from the Pomeranian area of Central Europe?? Maybe your little Pomeranian buddy would enjoy your reading the Pomeranian article out loud to him???

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tika & Names (Specifically Hers)

When this 2-pound baby came into our lives in September 2008 it took no time at all to come up with her name:  Tika.  I have no idea why I chose that name; it just "came to me."

Why do we choose the baby names we do?  Way long ago they used the family Bible. Yesterday they used a baby names book. Today we use the Internet.

According to ............. there is "less than 1 person" in the U.S. with the first name of Tika.

According to ............. there was no "Tika" but Nitika means angel of precious stone or from India, Gitika means a summer song and also from India, Jyotika means a light flame.

According to no Tika but this site says Nitika means morality.

And according to Kabalarian Philosophy ( Tika stand for:

Your first name of Tika has given you energy, drive, and ambition, but also an almost excessively strong-willed and independent nature.

Well! My little dachshund is certainly full of energy and certainly is strong-willed !!

Take a peek at some of your names. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Tika & Freebies

Tika does like freebies......... especially when they are in the form of a cheese stick handed to her. And her favorite indoor toy is a well-mangled old gray hospital sock with which we play tug-of-war. Those are her kind of freebies.

But for genealogists, we like another kind of freebies. How about a free guide to Finding Ancestors on Or any sort of free guide having to do with genealogy?

Click to and you'll see the prominent link to their free downloadable books............. and go for it!  Enhance your education beginning today with freebies.

Tika would approve.


4 Free Family Tree TemplatesA Free Download of Family Tree Templates to Organize and Share Your Genealogy

In this collection, we’ve provided two decorative family tree templates, a five-generation ancestor chart, a family group sheet designed for recording information about a nuclear family, and a useful relationship chart to help you deduce how a specific family member is related to you.

Surnames E-bookSurnames: FREE Genealogy E-book on Surname Origins and Family Search Tips

This free e-book contains some of Family Tree Magazine’s best genealogy tips relating to family names, including articles on basic surname research strategies, tips for seeking ancestral maiden names, what your surname reveals about your ethnic heritage, how to refining Google surname searches, and what you can learn by understanding surname meanings.

Surnames E-book48 Search Tips: Free E-book on the Biggest Genealogy Website

This free e-book contains some of Family Tree Magazine’s best genealogy tips relating to searches, including articles on using the Card Catalog, navigating immigration records, customizing your homepage and the advantages/disadvantages of public and private family trees.

DNA RCLPJump into Genetic Genealogy: Use Genealogical DNA Testing to Solve Family Mysteries

This free e-book contains some of Family Tree Magazine’s best tips relating to genetic genealogy, including articles on debunking genetic genealogy misconceptions, tricks for using DNA to break through brick walls, and a resource roundup of tools to analyze your Y-DNA, Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Autosomal DNA  (atDNA) test results.
- See more at:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Tika & Old (Unidentified) Photos

The mail came; in the pile was a letter from my second cousin, Carol, in Illinois. It was a fat envelope so I knew something good was inside. I settled down on the deck with Tika in my lap as always.  I opened the letter and was both very excited and very disappointed.

It happened again.

People sharing family photos without identifying who the folks are.

Carol knew who they were because they were relatives living nearby in Illinois. I had only a guess as to who they were. I only met these more-distant relatives once back about 30 years ago.

So what to do? Send them back and ask for IDs? Scan them in and send that and ask for IDs?

I chose the easiest thing. I emailed Carol with a description of who they were ("tousled gray hair in a green shirt") in hopes that she will remember............ or have similar photos.

Certainly these photos can and will be identified. But it surely would have been easier had Carol numbered them and made a name list of who they were. (Notice I did NOT say write on the back of the photo.)

I explained all this out loud to Tika and she gave a big sigh and rested her chin on the chair. That was her way of saying, "Yes, too bad."

We can ALL learn from this:  do not send family photos to family without identification. It surely does matter.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tika & Buddhas

Leaving Tika with "Gramma Kay" last year, hubby and I were privileged to tour the island of Taiwan. Of course I zeroed in on unusual things to photo with the thought to compare them to something genealogy.

Visiting one temple, and as we climbed the many steps up to that temple, we passed several small gardens along side the stairway. In one garden were dozens of white marble statues of different Buddhas....... different poses, different faces, some happy and some not so.

Looking at all the varying faces of these Buddhas in this garden, I thought of a family cemetery. In a family cemetery are all the varied faces of our ancestors...... some happy and some not so. But all there, looking back out at us.

I found this to be a warm-fuzzy view and a very comforting thought.

Tika would have thought so too.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Tika & The Porcupine

Our mothers and leaders have long given us (repeatedly) this good counsel and advice:

"Don't stick your nose into other people's business."

"If it doesn't concern you, it should not concern you."

On Sunday last, Tika learned about this the hard way:

She went dashing into the brush, nose first, and look what she found.............. no fun, that was for sure.

Whenever I am tempted to say something I really shouldn't, or go where I really shouldn't,  or do something I really shouldn't, I will bring up this image of Tika's poor little "quilled" snout.

And I will learn from her unspoken words of counsel and advice. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tika & Beaches

Laura Bush, former First Lady, said at RootsTech 2015:  "All we know we have is now so walk on the beach every chance you get." Tika and I could not agree more!

Any beach is a beautiful place but some are more beautiful than others. Here Tika walks along the beach of the west side of Banks Lake with Steamboat Rock in the background.

Here Tika investigates a crab shell on the seashore beach at Moclips, Washington. 

One of her (and our) favorite beaches is right in our backyard. Long Lake is the Spokane River contained between two dams.  We get within a few feet of a beach (the shore) and Tika jumps over the bow ready to explore (but I do keep her on a leash). 

Tika even has her own bikini! But she hates to wear it and prefers skinny dipping.

Romping on beaches can get Tika in I'm picking from her fur bits of the most obnoxious sticky weeds.

What is our point to talk about beaches today?  I think mankind is genetically wired to enjoy water whether ocean, lake or river. Tika and I think the opportunity to walk on a beach is one of the best gifts God ever gave to us. 

And I'm betting our ancestors thought so too.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Tika & Tombstones

Tika knows I love to visit cemeteries............ I'm always looking for unusual grave markers to photograph. I spotted these top two in Hillsboro, Hill County, Texas. The bottom one? Unknown origin. Was shared with me. Which is your favorite??

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tika & Difficult Problems

Tika and I are lucky enough to spend time in our boat out on the waters of Lake Roosevelt (the lake formed from the Columbia River when Grand Coulee Dam was built and so named for President Franklin Roosevelt).  I look at the trees and the rocks and see so many parallels to life and to genealogy. 

Somehow a Ponderosa Pine seed gets blown into a crack in a huge granite wall near the lake. There is just enough soil accumulated in that crack to get the seedling tree off to a good start. 

Parallel:  Too often we have just enough information to "whet our whistle" on a family history problem. We know that great-great grandmother, born in 1822, must be dead, but where did she die? In every available place or source..... or crack. 

Some trees manage to extend their roots and find enough soil and moisture to survive and grow. Others do not.

Parallel:  Sometimes we chase the wrong set of facts and end up with a "dead tree."

We solve some really tough genealogy problems by sheer perseverance.... and by learning how to effectively research.  (How did that Ponderosa survive to become so big from whatever little nourishment and water it found in the granite bluff's cracks?)

Parallel:  If we look "in the right place," we'll find the answering facts. But until we find the right place, we keep looking. 

Taking 100 photos of the granite bluffs and Ponderosa pines along Lake Roosevelt would not come close to capturing the majesty of the miles of views along the river/lake. 

Parallel: Some of our family lines are a joy to pursue for we find answers and ancestors!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tika Thinks About Daniel Boone

In May of 2015, my friend Cecily and I were lucky enough to visit the home of Daniel Boone in Defiance, Missouri, near to St. Louis. This is the home where Daniel died in his bedroom on September 26, 1820. He was 85 years old. Of his long adventurous life, he only got to live for ten years in this lovely home. 

We all think we know much about Daniel Boone, and likely we do, but I didn't know much about this wonderful still-standing house. The story begins in 1799 when Daniel, then age 65, arrived at the Missouri River and took out several Spanish Land Grants. Boone's land consisted of 850 acres (for him and members of his family). 

Construction on this home began in 1803 and was not completed until 1810.  The walls are 2 1/2 feet thick and made from rubble-fill construction and local Missouri blue limestone. Much of the original wood remains in the interior of the home. The middle photo shows the view that Daniel and his family would have seen from the front porch (on the opposite side from where Cecily is standing) except that today there are trees and in those days it would have been vegetable gardens. 

The ancestry and lineage and descendants of Daniel Boone are extensively documented. One great website I found was but there is also the

I'm sure Daniel Boone and his family had dogs but they surely did not have dachshunds. This breed was not introduced into America until 1887.

"Ha!" sniffed Tika when I was explaining this to her.