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.