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.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tika & Peanuts

Tika loves peanut butter. Her favorite treat is to give her a 99% empty peanut butter jar and let her, with her long snout and longer tongue, go after the residue. Peanuts and peanut butter are a universal treat and have been for a long time.For doggers too.

But they were not always so. They have a long history of growing in the Western Hemisphere and, to shorten the story, made a resurgence after the Civil War but only among the poorer folks in the South. Why the South? Because peanuts grow best there.

To bring this around to genealogy, think how many of our "poor folk" Southern ancestors must have grown and eaten their share of this delicious legume. Wonder if they mashed them to make a form of peanut butter? 

Remember the Kingston Trio song something about "eating goober peas?"  They were singing about peanuts.

To learn more about peanuts than you ever wanted to know, click on the link below:

Meanwhile Tika is asking, "Is that jar empty YET?"

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tika & Search Engines

Sitting in the October sunshine, Tika listened intently as I explained what I'd learned in Jim Johnson's presentation, "A Tour of Genealogy Search Engines," at the Heritage Quest Research Library's AutumnFest in Sumner, Washington, last weekend.

Jim shared several pearls with all 150 of us such as "Google is still by far and away the best all around search engine around. BUT using other search engines might just give you different hits sometimes."  He said that BING and YAHOO were numbers two and three in the standings.

Jim also explained that Google (or any search engine) might get you to a specific site but perhaps will not search within that website. For that you'll have to learn that website's search engine specifics.

With a big smile, Jim quipped that "all search engine searches will give you what they think you want, but not necessarily what you think you want." And, "if it's been put on wrong on that website, you will find it wrong," explaining how often you seem to find incorrect information.

It all comes down to knowing how to inquire of Google when you're searching and he advises taking the time to learn from the many Google tutorials available. Or come to the HQRL library and take his class.

Tika says that her nose is her search engine; she can find anything she wants with her nose. Good for you, little dogger. But neither your nose nor my nose will find Seaborn Phillips's father.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tika & Writing Your Own Obituary

Tika appeared to be listening intently as I explained what I'd learned at our society's recent Fall Workshop.

"Paula from Heritage Funeral Home gave a great presentation explaining why we should all write our own story, our own obituary," I told Tika. She blinked.

Paula explained how she sits with families every day and helps them struggle with questions that should have been decided long before that day. "It's such a stressful time for the family, and I'm so sorry for them to have the added burden of writing an obituary now when I know they could have done it long before on a less-stressful day," Paula said. "It's especially hard on the children, especially grown children, who never wanted to "interfere" in their parent's lives."

Paula quipped, "Talking about sex dos not make you pregnant; talking about funerals does not make you dead.  Crafting your own story, your own obituary, is a healthy and kind-for-your-family thing to do."

"Why not write what you  want others to read about you and not what your daughter-in-law has written about you?" asked Paula. "The best person to write your story is yourself. And write your story now while you're in full possession of yourself..... say whatever you want."

I chatted afterwards with Paula and she assured me that most every funeral home will help with writing that obituary whether in a pre-need situation (which is best) or at the time of the death. Most funeral homes offer a packet of information pages outlining just what is needed in a "good" obituary, "so don't be shy about asking," Paula said.

"So, Little Tika," I asked her, "shall we now write your obituary?"  Tika was born on the 18th of September 2009 somewhere in Idaho.........................

Monday, September 30, 2013

Tika & The Ten Rules of the Canoe

Near Poulso, Washington, is the resting place of Chief Seattle (ca 1786-1866) who was chief of the Squamish people. Near the cemetery is the Squamish Museum where we learned all about this tribe and their lives and times.

Calling themselves the Canoe People and this message was framed and on the wall in that museum. I'll retype the rules for you so you can read them........ we think they're darn good Rules for Living:

1.  Keep going! Every stroke we take is one less we have to make.
2.  Respect and trust cannot exist in anger; there is to be no abuse of self or others.
3.  The adaptable animal survives; be flexible.
4.  Every story is important: the gift of each enriches all.
5.  Nothing occurs in isolation; we all pull and support each other.
6.  Always nourish yourself; a hungry person has no charity.
7.  Our experiences are not enhanced through criticism.
8.  The journey is what we enjoy.
9.  A good teacher always allows the student to learn.
10. When given a choice at all, be a worker bee..... make honey!

Tika says, "Well, I cannot read but they do sound good to me."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tika & Lost Marriage Records

Tika went with us last weekend to the park to mark the wedding of our grandson. It was a very low-key, low-cost affair but abounding in family love (which is all that counts). Evan and Whitney were married by his Uncle Timothy, with Aunt Jane as the photographer.

On the way home Tika and I got to wondering........... for this marriage there were no newspaper notices, stories or announcements, no photographs except what family took and the requisite paperwork was signed there in the park. Evan's mother took it upon herself to ramrod  and secure the official paperwork.

No wonder we sometimes cannot find any official mention of our ancestor's marriage! They got married in the little church or the backyard and between there and the county office the paperwork got lost when the parson forded a stream and his bag got soaked. Or nobody was in charge of the paperwork and it just got forgotten or lost and was never properly filed.

If this marriage had been 150 years ago, in a little church, backyard or park near the couple's home, where would you maybe find a record of the marriage? Perhaps in a church bulletin or history mention? Perhaps in the local little newspaper..... if somebody submitted the story? Perhaps in the family Bible..... which is where today? Perhaps in a letter to a family member who could not attend..... which is where today? Perhaps in the diaries of those attending........ where to find them today? Or perhaps in the journals of the bride and groom.... no doubt written long after the event? Or the "Grandmother, Tell Me Your Story?" books?

Tika's point here is this: you may never find that one piece of paper, that one official record, for the marriage of your ancestor. To "prove" that marriage you will have to collect bits and pieces and secondary evidence. 'Tiz the way of life, I guess, mused Tika.

Who was asleep on my lap by this point. Smart, tired little dogger.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tika & Heart-Shaped Rocks

For over thirty years, my daughter and I have collected heart-shaped rocks. We were first hooked on this hobby by walking on Pacific beaches and looking for beach treasures. We soon found heart-shaped rocks and were amazed and delighted to find many rocks.... and everywhere!!.... in that distinctive shape. (The heart shape is my daughter's favorite.)

As our travel circles widened, our heart-shaped rock collection grew to include coral hearts from the beaches of Hawaii and slate hearts from the beaches of Maine and granite hearts from the banks of the Columbia River and from all points in between. This photo was taken of my "find" in Arizona.

My Jane jazzed up her collection by buying those fancy rock hearts that you seen in so many gift shops. We mounted our heart-shaped rocks in patterns on driftwood boards and hung them in our homes, always a delight to the eye.

There is a family history or genealogy parallel here.

As we'd walk the beaches we'd spot "wannabee" rocks and "leave-er-ite" rocks, and "nope" rocks. A rock was either a heart-shaped rock or it was not.

Genealogy is a bit like collecting heart-shaped rocks. A new name is either your ancestor or he or she is not.

Jane has tried grinding unwanted parts of some almost-heart-shaped rocks to remove what does not fit. You cannot and should not grind away unwanted ancestors. And you most certainly cannot grind away dates, places or connections in your family history just to make the fit.

When we're scouting for heart-shaped rocks, we gather into our bag only rocks that are for sure  heart-shaped. No "making them fit."

When you're researching your family, make sure you gather into your bag only persons that are for sure ancestors. No "making them fit."

Tika most surely agrees!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tika & Lighthouses

Are you as fascinated by lighthouses as I am? I love to visit lighthouses and enjoy the view from the top of ones open to the public and visit every one that I can.  So what is a lighthouse?   
A lighthouse is a tower, building or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses and used as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways.  Lighthouses mark dangerous coastline, hazardous shoals, reefs and safe entries to harbors. (This definition from the website,

What are the lighthouses in our genealogy? What are the "aids to navigation" for us in researching our family history?  What warns us from "dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals and reefs" and then provides us "safe entry" into harbors? 

I think there is a 1-word answer to the above question: Documentation. With proper documentation of every bit of information that we enter onto our charts we ensure a "safe harbor" and we avoid "hazardous shoals and reefs" of the dreaded general-ology.   (It has been said that genealogy without documentation is mythology or fiction at best.)

Documentation will serve us well if we will but employ it faithfully. What is documentation? Stay tuned…

Tika says, "Is this my new chew toy?"

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tika & Rocks (Documentation)

Documentation is, according to Webster's Dictionary, "anything printed or written that is relied upon to record or prove something."

Documentation is, then, something printed or written that substantiates as correct a conclusion…… something that documents your research conclusions.

To me, documentation is finding the answer to a question.

I have collected rocks from my travels. I arrange them on my deck and like to look at them and remember where I found them. Got to thinking one day about the geological origins of my rocks and which rocks came from the seashore.

So my question was: Are any of my rocks sea rocks?

Looking carefully at each one I could see that some are sandstone, some granite, some lave, some petrified wood, some basalt, etc. Very different origins. Only three prove to answer my question. Only three can "prove" that they are sea rocks. One is coral-turned-to-stone from the Pacific Island of Kiribati, one a different coral from Maui and one large one is sandstone-with-shells from an Oregon beach. Only these three document the answer to my question.

How do they do so? By what they are……….. corals and seashells only live in ocean water.

How does any of this apply to genealogy? Just as visualization documents my sea rocks, when I find and see the real, correct, answer to my genealogy question then I know I have my documentation.

Tika says, "This makes no sense to me." I hope it does to you

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tika & A Really Good Research Plan

Years, ago, EWGS (the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society) had Patricia Law Hatcher as our Spring Seminar speaker. She was fabulous in every way. I still have some of the notes I took that day.

Pat explained the difference between A Typical Researcher's Cycle and A Top Notch Researcher's Cycle.

It's really quite simple............. think of a circle divided into four equal parts. In a Typical Researcher's Cycle, 1/4 of the circle is allotted to Preparation,  1/2 of the circle to Research, and only the 1/4 remaining is devoted to Analysis & Writing.

In a Top Notch Researcher's Cycle the divisions are much different:  3/4 of the circle is allotted to Preparation & Analysis & Writing and only the 1/4 remaining is for Research.

Think about the difference. An "ordinary" researcher spends little time in preparation and little time in analysis and the writing up of the findings or the story but spends the majority of their genealogy time in research.  A top notch" researcher spends fully 3/4 of their time in preparation and analysis and writing and a scant 1/4 of the time in research.

I've thought about this and pondered upon Pat's words for many years now and the truth of her words have become clearer and clearer to me as time has passed. To be an effective genealogist, you cannot just spend time in research. You must be specific in your research and really study what you've found. And you really must write up your findings in a narrative. There is no better way to "lay all the cards on the table" so to speak and see if you have really found all the correct answers. I encourage you to follow Pat's direction.

She ended the day with us by sharing this quote: "Writing, then pondering what you wrote is the best preparation for research." 

Well, you know Tika by now. She listened, but was not really interested in all of this.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tika & A Test

Tika says it's been much, much too hot for much heavy-duty thinking so she suggested we give you all a test today. (That's Dachshund Logic for you.) It's an easy test.............. answers next week. But Tika and I would love to read your answers posted as comments! And this is from your Google help!

1.  How long was the 100 Years' War?

2.  What country makes Panama hats?

3.  Which animal do we get cat-gut from?

4.  In what month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5.  What is a camel's hair brush made of?

6.  The Canary Island in the Pacific are named for what animal?

7.  What was King George VI's first name?

8.  What color is a purple finch?

9.  What are Chinese gooseberries and where are they from?

10. What color is the "black box" on commercial airlines?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tika & A Family Puzzle

Have you even seen a family group like this one? Welcome to the Samuel Wells Metsker family of Douglas County, Kansas. I invite you to spot what's really unusual about this family and then to post your comment. Who among you will be the first with the sharpest eyes?

Samuel Wells Metsker was born in 1838 in Blair Co, PA, and died in 1907 in Douglas Co, KS. He was the son of Jacob Metsker and Elizabeth Christian. The couple married about 1861 in Kansas and had eleven children:

1.  Alonzo Byron Metsker, 1862-1921, m. Nellie Capps.
2.  Clara Delvina Metsker, b. 1863, m. Isaac Hershey.
3.  Emma Florence Metsker, 1864-1884.
4.  Granville Harrison Metsker, b. 1866, m. Effie Martin.
5.  Ida Jane Metsker, b. 1867, m. William Warner.
6.  Kellie Leota Metsker, 1869-1940, m. Albert Jefts.
7.  Minnie Nevada Metsker, b. 1871, m. Edwin Jay.
8.  Oma Pierre Metsker, 1873-1873.
9.  Quincy Roy Metsker, b. 1874.
10. Sonora Tolena Metsker, 1876-1946, never married.
11. Urban Victor Metsker, 1877-1864, never married.

(This comes from the Fall 1994 issue of the Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists Newsletter. Submitter was Dolores Baker of Wichita, Kansas.)

Now Tika does not really care about puzzles or brain-stumpers or unusual family groups.  She never has.... even when she was a tiny puppy.  But we do!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Tika & Family Ties

Sandy from Florida came to visit us and gained Tika's love and trust right away. Why not, since she is family?

Sandy is the ex-wife of the son of my husband's father and his first wife. (Can you figure that out?) So she is biologically aunt-by-marriage to my children and we are same to her son. Since all of our children share Phillips' ancestry, that makes us cousins!

After Sandy's visit I got to thinking about Collateral Research or some might call it Descendancy Research.  Whatever you term it, looking for the relatives-of-the-relatives-of-the-relatives, etc. is a worthwhile pursuit. The goal of any search is to find answers and/or new information. The goal of connecting up with a distant, shirt-tail, relative is the same: to find answers and/or new information. But the best part of this sort of research is that you often find "stuff and things" that you would never find elsewhere.

For instance, since Sandy's son comes from Chuck Phillips' first wife, Sandy could tell me more details about her life.... things I did not know. Things I had not looked for since "it's not my line"..... hubby comes from the second wife.

Another connection I've made this month with the descendants of the first wife was to get pictures that I would never have seen otherwise. It's sad but true that most of us only take the time to really dig into our own pedigree line and too often ignore those collateral folks, even close ones.

"Shape up!" Tika reminds us. "Think how great it was to spend time with a distant cousin and think what you both learned!" Tika is one smart little dachshund dogger.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tika & Perspective

This time I was explaining to Tika. "Perspective is everything," I told her. "From where you are looking makes a huge difference on what you see." Tika wagged her tail appreciatively.

We were playing on the grass in the front yard when I realized this perspective bit. The top photo shows how the yard looks atop her four-inch legs. The lower photo shows it from my standing-up point of view. The biggest difference, as I see it, is how far you can see... you only and mostly see near and far but not much of the center or middle. 

Do we do genealogy this way? Look mostly or only at the "grass" right in front of us as the only and main thing we see or do we "stand up" and look at the big picture?? Looking at the "grass" means you're stumped on a problem and just don't see a solution. But if you would "stand up", enlarge your perspective, you would get a different and likely clearer view of your problem. Doesn't that make sense?

By this point Tika was wriggling on her back in the grass............ and from her upside-down perspective she was not seeing much of anything. "Ah, little Tika dog," I smiled.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tika & Trivia Today

When my daughter and I visited Old Sturbridge Village (supposed to be an 1830s New England village) there was one house where you could lay upon the beds and pick things up.... a "touch and feel" house. So I did plop down on this bed!

This was a rope bed and it was surprisingly comfortable. You've heard the expression, "Sleep tight tonight?" Well (as I understand) it has to do with these ropes.... when company came the ropes were tightened up making a less-saggy and more comfortable bed. Now you know..... would you enjoy a rope bed?

Tika was quite overwhelmed when I explained to her:  Folks living in many different countries are enjoying Tikas Teachings......... U.S., Canada, France, Turkey, Russia, Latvia, Japan and Malaysia. Would love to know what those folks think of Tika's blog really.

Tika says, "Did you know?  A mile on the ocean and a mile on land are not the same distance. You will burn 7% more calories walking on dirt than pavement. Only male turkeys gobble. And you burn more calories sleeping than watching TV. Well now you do!"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tika & Glass

I photographed these glass windows at the House of Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts, last May. Both my daughter and I were fascinated by the irregularities in the glass which, we were told, were original. Did you know that glass is made mostly from sand melted at a high temperature? This famous old house was constructed in 1668 so they knew how to make glass for windows, albeit crudely, even way back then.

In the earliest times and especially on the frontier, our ancestors' homes did not have glass windows. The reasons for this were two: it was heavy and fragile to transport and it was expensive to buy. Some places, some cultures, put a tax on the number of glassed-windows in a house.

Glass windows are a luxury that we today totally take for granted. Not so in days gone by.

"Phooey," says Tika. "I'd rather my glass be sandy places where I can run and go swimming!" 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tika & Unusual Moms & Dates

Few days ago in our local paper I read the short article about the world's oldest known wild bird.....a 62 year old albatross on Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.... is now a new mother again.

The bird, a Laysan albatross whom biologists have named Wisdom...... received her first ID band during the Eisenhower administration in 1956 and since then has worn out five ID bands.....always returning annually to Midway and raising her chick. Pretty darn amazing.

This little story begs the question: could a 62 year old woman birth a baby? Which, Tika was teaching me, is why we must scrutinize those dates on our family charts because it's more than rare for a 62 year old mother to be correct on those charts. And we know that sometimes those kind of date scrambles can show up!

Another baby-mom bit that I recently came up was printed in The History of Barnstable County (MA): Town of Brewster.  On page 897-8 it speaks of one Thomas Crosby who came from Eastham in 1700 to become one of the first settlers of Barnstable. With his wife, Sarah, he had twelve children..... including a set of triplets, Mercy, Ann and Increase.  While the blurb does not say if all twelve children lived to adulthood, the fact that the triplets were named suggests that they did. And how unusual is it for a set of triplets, born in the 17th century, to live to adulthood????

Tika continued her teachings to me:  A mini-dachshund litter litter of puppies is typically never more than four, "and that's plenty!" Tika said.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tika & The Heat: What To Do When It's HOT

When it's this hot here in Spokane, Tika says, "Let me in! Let's go chase some Ancestry wavy leaves!" Good idea, Tika.

What do YOU do when you have a totally dead-end brick-wall ancestor that seemingly beamed down from some planet? No wavy leaves on this guy........... James R. Nelson, born about 1880 in Nebraska. With Claudia Fish had five children between 1901-1907 and then in 1909 they got married in Topeka, Kansas. And then the five children were placed in an orphanage and given up. Stories say he was the proverbial travelling salesman. Talk about a dead end.

Rendezvoused with Julie at our downtown library today; this is her family history problem. But it's my brother-in-law's lineage too, so we had to meet and talk and share.

Good thing to do on a beastly hot July day...... but what do you do if there are no wavy leaves?????

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tika & Differences in Ancestry & FamilySearch

Tika was with us out fishing on Williams Lake (southwest of Spokane). While Handy Man fished (and got five nice trout) we took a swim and enjoyed the scenery. We were happily sitting in the bow of the boat, looking at these basaltic cliffs when Tika asked, "Wow. Two towers in one cliff. Isn't that a good image to teach about using Ancestry and FamilySearch?"

Tika knows I enjoy teaching entry-level genealogists and am always looking for easy ways to illustrate a point. She was right-on about these cliffs!

Beginners will ask, "Which website should I start with? Which website is better? Ancestry or FamilySearch?" I shall use this picture to show that Ancestry (on the left) and FamilySearch (on the right) are two parts of the same cliff..............they are the two bestest websites for beginners (or anybody else, for that matter). Both of those rocky cliffs contain the same basaltic rocks. Both of those websites contain the same sort of information. Yes, there are differences, just like with the rocks making up these cliffs. But the information contained in Ancestry and FamilySearch are the same:  information on our ancestors.

"Besides," asked Tika, "isn't FamilySearch free?"  Tika is one smart little dashchund.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tika & Psychometrics

Tika was asking me the other day, "Is there another word for genealogy or family history?" Remembering a talk I heard a while back, I hesitantly told her, "Yes, I think there is; it's called psychometrics." Here's how Wikipedia explains this new word or concept:

Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement,
which includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational 
measurement. The field is primarily concerned with the construction and validation of measurement instruments
such as questionnairestests, and personality assessments.

Tika said, "Huh?"

Being a word person, I do like words, especially new-to-me words. So how does this word apply to genealogy?
Well, wouldn't we like to understand more about our ancestors' knowledge, attitudes, abilities, education and 
personality traits? Is there a way to understand their lives better by just digging into the records they left behind?
Guess it would take an expert in this field to explain it to me. It does sound fascinating, doesn't it?

After explaining all of this to her, Tika said, "Let's talk about something fun!" So here goes:  "What does it mean 
to be "all of a twitter?"  Wanna guess? 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tika & Thumbies

Tika was looking at (well, laying on) a brochure that I carried home the other day. I'd picked it up at Heritage Funeral Home and it was offering Thumbies: Fingerprint Keepsakes. Ever heard of these?

The brochure reads: "Meadow Hill helps you create keepsakes of the people you love and the times you want to remember. Three-dimensional Thumbies are crafted from fingerprints, footprints or handprints using the time-honored process of  wax casting. The finished pieces are ever so touchable, making real our memories at each stage of life's cycle."

This company, Meadow Hill, takes the fingerprint or footprint (like of a tiny baby) and creates a pendant either in a round or heart shape. Or smaller round circles for charms on a bracelet. Or even rings.  "A keepsake for all ages and stages."

Tika is not endorsing this as a product but just bringing a new wrinkle to your attention. In fact, I could find no website listed on the brochure but a Google search for "Meadow Hill Thumbies" will bring you the information. P.S. They are not cheap.

Tika wanted to know, "Do dogs have fingerprints? Pad-prints?" I honestly did not know the answer.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tika & The Fish

This is Fish. He is a Japanese Fighting Fish so he lives alone in his bowl. I've put some ivy cuttings down into the bowl to give him a more natural environment. The first picture shows him in all his colorful glory:

This next picture shows the point of today's lesson. I feed him once daily with proper fish food which he gobbles up. (I've trained him to come to the surface when I spoon-bang on the rim of the bowl.) One day I thought, "well, he is a fish and fish like insects so I'll feed him a tiny bug." Ha! He eyed them and circled them but did not recognize them as food (even the live ones squirming in the water) and did not bite at them. Finally I took a spoon and removed them...... and fed him fish food!

Here's the point of the story: are we, as working, practicing genealogists, so bound by tradition or custom or whatever that we do not recognize a new opportunity when it's presented to us????? Do we "bite" to use a new website or a new technique or do we circle and go away??

Tika says that even a dumb fish ought to have been able to recognize such a great opportunity. "And you're smarter than a fish!" she said emphatically.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tika & July 4th & Cemeteries

Spokane has two military cemeteries; one is the small Fort George Wright Cemetery and one is the brand new military cemetery southwest of town. I enjoy taking Tika and walking the Centennial Trail which runs past this spot. We always pause to remember why the cemetery is here and remember those resting therein. Thanks to the Spokane Historical website for the sketch of  the Fort George Wright cemetery. (My pictures from fall 2012.)

When Fort George Wright was constructed in the 1890s, effort was made to ensure a proper final resting place could be afforded the men who died there during in military service. A peaceful spot was selected away from the main base, overlooking the Spokane River. In 1900, remains from Fort Sherman  (in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) and Fort Spokane (west of Spokane on the Columbia River) were disinterred and moved to the Fort George Wright Cemetery. 

Families of active duty soldiers were allowed in the cemetery, and you will notice a preponderance of infant and small child  graves throughout the grounds. This is owing in large part to the high mortality rates of late 19th and early 20th century children. Advances in modern medicine would cut these rates dramatically. But they now serve as a sad reminder of a time  before modern medical practice. 

Veterans of all branches of the military are represented at the cemetery. The cemetery was always integrated, as shown by the black veterans of the Spanish-American War that are interred here, such as Andrew Booker and William Morris, whose 25th Infantry fought alongside Theodore Roosevelt during the famous battles near San Juan Hill. Navy men such as Eugene Alfred Gideon are buried here. Gideon died during WWII after serving onboard the U.S.S. Denver, a light cruiser which served during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. US Army Ranger Infantryman James Francis Clopton is here interred. He fell in battle during the infamous "May Massacre" during the Korean War, during which the 23rd Infantry was hit with friendly fire followed by a massive Chinese attack. 

Throughout the grounds you will notice trees marked as "Gettysburg Address Sycamores". These were planted from the seeds of the very old Sycamores that overlook the Gettysburg battlefield. These are just some of the improvements made to the grounds by Fairchild Air Force base, which still maintains the cemetery. Behind the cemetery, make sure to take in the spectacular view of the Spokane River below. The peaceful nature of the location is perfect for quite reflection and remembrance. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tika & Hawaiian Bells & Birth Announcements

Leaving Tika happily with Gramma Kay last February, we enjoyed some time in Kauai. We visited the museum near Waimea Canyon and I was fascinated by display of the Bell Stone. That's me tapping the stone and it really did ring like a bell!

Once home, and reading an old booklet Legends of Wailua, I learned much more about the importance of the Bell Stone to the ancient Hawaiians:  "Whenever the King wanted more men of strength to be added to his family..... he would send word to the common people that any expectant mother who knew (from their Kahuna) that she was going to have a son, would be permitted to walk the King's Path to the Holo-Holo-Lu Heiau and have her baby there. ............. After giving birth to the child, she would be sent back to her home as she was a commoner and could not stay in the Wailua (sacred) area. Her child, however, was left in the care of the priests.

After the birth, the baby's navel cord was cut and wrapped in a tapa cloth and placed in a crack in a big rock, called the Navel Rock, where it would remain for four days. After that time, the Kahunas would look to see if the tapa bundle was still there. If it was not, the Kahunas believed that rats had stolen the navel cord and since rats are thieves, the child too would be a thief and therefore the child would be executed. If however the cord was still in the Navel Rock it was a sign the child would be good.

When the cord was found intact, there was great joy and celebration. The Kahunas would march in a line on the King's Path to the Bell Stone. While marching they would chant prayers of rejoicing. Upon arrival at the Bell Stone they would chant different prayers while tapping the Bell Stone in such a way as to produce a ringing sound. This was the announcement to the people of Kauai that a child had passed the test and a new high chief had been born to a commoner."

Tika says to us, "And how did you announce the birth of your child?? And what if that baby had been a girl? And seems to me the Hawaiian genealogy is just as mixed up and uncertain as any other lineage."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tika Learns About Washing & Bathing In Early Wyoming

A summer ago I spent a delightful couple of hours in the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne. This crusty old washtub caught my attention. The plaque reads:

Before indoor plumbing, early-Wyomingians would have taken their baths in tubs like this one. While today we may consider bathing to be relaxing, before indoor plumbing, it was a lot of work just to achieve hot bath water. Water had to be drawn from a source such as a well or a river, heated on a stove or over a fire, and then added to the tub. In the past, bathing was done much less often than today.

This tub would have been a good fit for Tika, or a toddler child, but never an adult! Folks must have used it as a pool to dip their washing rag into. Think of the old cowboy movies you've seen where the dusty fellow comes in from the trail wanting a bath and the scene shows him in a body-full-size tub. Yah, right. Maybe it was so, but just think of the amount of back-breaking work to achieve that tub full of hot water.

"Fine with me," Tika says. "I hate baths!"