Wednesday Nostalgia

Among many others, I’ve been “Scribing” or helping to index Washington records with SCRIBE, the indexing program of the Washington State Archives. As I’m working, I cannot help but think “what happened to THAT family, to THOSE people?” Recently I indexed the family of Leander Monson who in 1904 and 1906 (according to the school censuses) lived in Langley, Island County, Washington. Doing a little Ancestry supplemental research I learned about the Monsons.

Leander Otto Monson (1854-1908) and his wife, Emma Johansson (1861-1934) were both born in Switzerland; they married near Chicago. He was a farmer and ended up in Langley having Esther, Elvira, Arthur, Ernest, Florence and Carl.

The stories of our ancestor’s migrations are wonderful to imagine and/or to find and read.

Wednesday Nostalgia

Many of you……. well several of you…….. actually two of you have asked about SCRIBE. So I shall explain. If you’re a working genealogist, and you care to make a difference in the field, then SCRIBE is for you. Go:  and set up an account. This is to you/they can send records back and forth. Then pick the group of records you’d like to see/index. Here is a sample:

It’s a school census record from 1929 for Island County and yes, it is faint but the handwriting is darn clear. The image comes and to the right are the boxes/lines where you type in your transcription from the record. One image is a “batch” and when you get to the bottom of the page, you click FINISH and the page sails into the ethernet on its way to the digital archives and you can download a new batch/page. Really, it’s pretty straight forward and quite easy.

One thing I learned the hard way: When you fill in the blanks on the right side of the screen, and click enter, you then need to click APPEND on the top to bring up a new box on the right. You’d think it would say ADD but nope, it says Append.

It just feels good to use an otherwise empty few minutes to do some “scribe-ing.” I 100% recommend it to you!

Wednesday Nostalgia

Today, a most delicate subject. Most of us in our ancestral pedigree, have a history of one or more of our male ancestors being termed a drunkard. Perhaps this has seemed shameful to you at worst, or most uncomfortable at best. But today I invite you to think of this in another way.

Think of our modern medicine today…….. we have fixes for arthritic knees and hips. We have medicines for most any ailment all with the aim of making the patient better and more comfortable. Prior to 1900 our ancestors had no real help at all for their ailments and surely they did suffer the same ailments as we do today, don’t you suppose? And on the whole, our ancestors had to work physically way, way, WAY harder than we do today. Don’t you suppose they were in pain lots of the time? Yet, they had to get-up-and-go and resume work for no down time was available to them. (Cows had to be milked, etc. A mother of 6 under 10 in a snowbound cabin with a migraine? A coal miner barely making a living?)

Aspirin as a pain reliever, plain simple aspirin, was not introduced until 1897. What did our ancestors use for pain relief before that year? Yes, there were homeopathic remedies and quack potions and pills. But for real relief, what did our ancestors do??

They drank. Alcohol was about the only pain killer available to them.

I’m not saying that pain relief was the object of every man who guzzled down too much booze, but I do think it was a big factor. And I am asking with this post that you pause to reflect on why your ancestor was termed a drunk.  Think kindly of them.




Wednesday Nostalgia

What’s better than German Chocolate Cake? Nothing much, eh? Did you know it did not originate in Germany?? Nope, not a “German food.”

“German chocolate” was developed by an English/American baker, Samuel German, in 1852. The Baker’s Chocolate Company used Samuel German’s creation of a dark baking chocolate to ultimately develop a recipe for a chocolate-coconut cake. On 3 Jun 1957, a recipe for “German’s Chocolate Cake appeared as the “Recipe of the Day” in The Dallas Morning News. It was created by Mrs. George Clay, a homemaker from Dallas.”

General Foods, which owned the Baker’s brand at the time, took notice and distributed the cake recipe to other newspapers and sales of Baker’s Chocolate are said to have skyrocketed. The possessive form (German’s) was dropped in subsequent publications forming the “German Chocolate Cake” identity and giving the false impression of a German origin.”

(Thanks to both Wikipedia and Der Ahnenforscher, newsletter of the German Genealogy Group ( ……. to which you might want to subscribe iffen you have German roots and not just a love of German Chocolate Cake.0



Wednesday Nostalgia

Do you YouTube? If you don’t, and you consider yourself a genealogist, you should. It’s a free resource, so why not?

Yes, there are plenty of funny cat or dog videos, “Wal-Martians,” how-to-cook-anything videos, travel logs, beginning crochet, wood carving and darling baby videos.

Of course there are “black” things to view; just do not go there. They won’t pop up unless you ask for them.

Did you know there are channels on YouTube? You can click to view a list of whatever topic you want………. and that includes genealogy! Ancestry! How tos! History of any topic you can think of!! FamilySearch!

You’ve heard the phrase, Try it you’ll like it! This applies to YouTube too. Do give it a try.

Wednesday Nostalgia

In this month of thinking turkey, here’s a question for you: How many kinds or species of turkey are there? The answer surprised me.

This image (from Wikipedia) is of a Mexican turkey. Other sorts are Eastern Wild Turkey (what we’re familiar with), Osceola Wild Turkey or Florida Wild Turkey, Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Merriam’s Wild Turkey and Gould’s Wild Turkey.

Wild turkeys are found in 49 of the 50 states (all except Alaska). They can be seen from southern Canada to southern Mexico. Many species have also been introduced into Europe and New Zealand. Turkeys are able to live in many different areas, including in the forests on the edge of suburban areas.

Here’s some bits that will win you the $10,000 prize: A bunch of turkeys is called a rafter. A baby turkey is called a poult. And when writing to refer to a rafter of turkeys it is turkeys not turkies.

Think your ancestors ate turkey???? 

Wednesday Nostalgia

As you probably know by now, I’m fascinated by names. Especially names from long ago. They cause me pause (why did the parents chose that particular name?) and cause me to laugh. (Sorry, ancestors.)

Here are some I’ve gleaned recently:

Zymetta Phillips 1875, m. Joan Abston

Onesephorus Masch, had dau, Hannah, b, 1757, Boston

Aylett Waller, m. Miss Armstead

Lorcufo Phillips

Maphibosheth Marsh, original settler of NJ

Truman Derastus Phillips, b. 1731, PA

Zalmuna Phillips, 1804-1883, m. Eunice Cobb

Lerias Phillips, m. 1816 Elizabeth Smith

Please use the comment box below to share some of the more unusual names from your pedigree. 

Wednesday Nostalgia

Know what this is? It’s Solanum tuberosum…… does that help?? Does this?

Washington is known for its apples but did you realize that potatoes in Washington have a much longer history. Back in 1792, Salvador Fidalgo, a Spanish marine explorer, supervised the planting of the first garden in Washington (by white folks) at Neah Bay. He used potato starts brought from San Blas, Mexico. The crop yielded enough to feed his crew.  Then in 1795, Englishmen planted potatoes near present-day Ilwaco. In 1825, Fort Astoria had a “promising crop” of potatoes. Didn’t take long for farmer-settlers to realize that Washington’s fertile soil would yield bounteous potato crops; “many a farmer reported harvesting potatoes that weighed eight to ten pounds and tasted far better than cake or ice cream.”

“Read all about” this subject in the Fall 1996 issue of Columbia a magazine of northwest history. I’m gleaning from an article by Jacqueline Williams.

Wednesday Nostalgia

Know what this is? U.S. census takers, as well as Lewis & Clark in their journals, used one of these.

This is a replica of a quill pen, a writing instrument from long ago. I spotted these in the gift shop of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls, Montana. Maybe they were “true” and maybe just “for tourists,” but they looked very difficult to use ….. and what a broad line they would make.

quill pen is a writing implement made from a moulted flight feather (preferably a primary wing-feather) of a large bird. Quills were used for writing with ink before the invention of the dip pen, the metal-nibbed pen, the fountain pen, and, eventually, the ballpoint pen. The hand-cut goose quill is rarely used as a calligraphy tool, because many papers are now derived from wood pulpand wear down the quill very quickly. However, it is still the tool of choice for a few scribes who noted that quills provide an unmatched sharp stroke as well as greater flexibility than a steel pen.  (Thank you, Wikipedia.)


Wednesday Nostalgia

In rural southeast Spokane County there are three cemeteries with nearly the same name: Mica Cemetery, Mica Peak Cemetery, and Mica Creek Cemetery. They all date back 100 years ago. One is weed-overgrown and two are dry-mowed tidy. This is wheat farming country, big time.  Since they’re all on Elder Road, on the way to Lake Coeur d’Alene, of course I had to stop and roam around.

And of course the stories behind the stones captured my mind. Little baby boy Homer Jay Kidwell  was only three years old when he died that cold winter of 1913.  His baby brother or sister apparently died without even a name at the age of only one month in that hot summer of  1906. Think of the expense and effort to place a tombstone on the grave of those little boys! Sigh.