Friday Serendipity

Ever heard of “mug books?” These were commercial enterprises, and comprise the earliest histories written about a county. They are so called because individuals paid a fee to have their biographical sketches and photographs included in such books…….. and so of course the biographies in these books were often embroidered histories and compiled with laudatory language. Ever man was a pillar of society, sober and kind, a great husband and father, and dealt fairly with every man. Sure.

But such books also provide fairly accurate information about occupations, family origins and backgrounds, descendants and the dates people moved into an area. So despite the biased personal slants, these Mug Books contained important information on events, transportation, agriculture, commercial enterprises and population.

Think “county history” and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what a mug book was. And we’ve all used them, right?


Friday Serendipity

I quite enjoy learning trivia bits of history….. especially Washington state history…. especially as pertains to old towns and ghost towns.

Ever heard of Hylebos? (1925, Pierce Co) Kamilche? (1929, Mason Co)  Day Island? (1919, Pierce Co)  Manette?  (1910, Kitsap Co)  Monitor? (1917, Chelan Co) Ronald? ( 1902, near Roslyn, Kittitas Co)

These were all real towns….. for a short period of time…. and some still exist, having been incorporated into larger towns.

What about “real life” ghost towns? This colorful map is posted on the website, It’s an interactive map, meaning if you click on a county, up will pop the map of that county with all sorts of little…….now ghost….. towns. Only 18 counties are linked as having ghost towns and Spokane has none.

If you want to spend a hot afternoon hour having some clicking-around fun, click to the link above. Have a cold drink handy.

Friday Serendipity

This was just too good not to share: San Antonio, Texas, just a couple of weeks ago. Very pregnant lady was having contractions when she and husband stopped at a Chick-fil-A restaurant to drop off their kids. Mom had to use the restroom…… and baby girl Gracelyn came… in the bathroom! Company says “Gracelyn will have free Chick-fil-A for life and a job when she turns 14.”  Like I said, too good not to share.


Friday Serendipity

Leah Pearce Hansel is a long time member of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, as was her mother before her. She approached me recently with the generous offer to give away free for postage her genealogical research library. Here’s the photo of what Leah offers:

The blue one on the bottom is Val Greenwood’s good old standard Guide to Research.

Would you like these for your own library or for your society? They’re free but for postage. Reply to me ( and I’ll get you in touch with Leah.

Friday Serendipity

Apathy has a lot going for it.

It is easy to catch and is painless. You can ignore it and nothing happens. The stronger it gets the less you feel the need to do anything about it.

It becomes most noticeable when it begins to spread over a large area. When it does, the individual usually feels it belongs to someone else.

Another appealing thing about apathy is the warm glow of nothingness it gives.

The temptation is to leave it alone and hope it will go away. With this attitude, it may stay for a long, long time.

Apathy demands a special treatment for it will not go away alone.

The treatment starts with a good dose of involvement followed by long periods of action.

It may be had to get a confirmed apathetic to take the cure. And then, likely, it isn’t permanent.

Action must be rewarded while apathy is to be condemned. Since it is easier to condemn than to praise, it stands to reason that apathy is here to stay. It is needed by those who would rather condemn than act.

Apathy has a lot going for it, but action is more fun. It must be. Have you ever heard anyone say, “Let’s go where the apathy is??”

(Sorry, source unknown to me.)

Friday Serendipity

This will open your eyes……….. to the sad truth. According to the May/June 2018 issue of Family Tree Magazine, article titled “Heirloom Hand off” by Denise May Levenick, here is a list of

The 10 Least Wanted Heirlooms:

  1. “brown” furniture
  2. china
  3. crystal
  4. silver-plate serve ware
  5. table linen
  6. collectible figurines
  7. collectible teapots, teacups and spoons
  8. chafing dishes and large serving ware
  9. pianos
  10. grandfather clocks

And can you guess why? I think it’s because most of today’s millennial’s do not entertain the way their parents and grandparents did….. big fancy table, cut-work tablecloth, crystal and silver, candlesticks with bobeches and multi-pot-bowl dinners. To entertain that way, you needed the stuff on that list. Who does that sort of entertaining now-a-days? Yes, some but not most.

So if you’ve got great-grandma’s crocheted tablecloth and/or silver knives and forks and/or Limoges china, use it! And if it stains or breaks, oh well. Your kids don’t want it anyway.


Friday Serendipity

My good friend Sue Miner who lived in New Hampshire, shared a photo she took of a sand sculpture on a nearby beach. It was titled “Ancestors.”

Do you see the faces sculpted into the sand? Sue explained that a special something is mixed into the sand to help hold it. Wouldn’t this be a sight to behold?

Friday Serendipity

Crista Cowan is The Barefoot Genealogist, and does the FABULOUS Ancestry YouTube videos…. and she does one every single Wednesday. The first week of the month she does “What’s New At Ancestry.” Even if you cannot watch Crista live each week, her videos are posted on YouTube and anybody can go watch at anytime. Cool!


Surname story:  Last week I drove the 80 miles north to visit with the Northeast Washington Gene Society in Colville.  A new member to the group was introduced, Mary YANN. She related that the surname was Swiss and was originally spelled JANN, pronounced “yawn.” She explained that when her grandfather was in grade school, the teacher insisted that a surname must be spelled as pronounced! Hence, Jann became Yann. Would that happen today? Fat chance!


My grandson, Austin, graduated with his B.A. degree in Port Angeles and, sadly, we could not attend in person.  BUT the college had a live feed to the ceremony and Austin let me know and I got to watch the entire thing! And of course saw him walk up to get his certificate. Almost (almost) as good as being there. Do most colleges do this these days? Great for far-away grandparents. 

Friday Serendipity

We keep hearing about The Deep Web. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? It can be, but for us genealogists, it doesn’t have to be. Quoting again from James Tanner’s “Genealogy’s Star” blog:  “Sometimes the deep web or dark web is portrayed as something mysterious or even evil, but here is a definition from the Association of Internet Research Specialists about the hidden Internet that explains what and where it is:

“When you hear or read about the hidden or deep web, it’s anything behind a paywall (or) something with a password……These are the things you are not going to find with a traditional Google search.”

Example: Picture a huge, wonderful, old card file cabinet in your local library. (My first visit to the Family History Library was in 1975 and I there used a wooden-drawer file cabinet!) You might can click to that library’s website, and see where is listed among their resources “a card-catalog index to surnames in the area for in-house use only.” No Google search will look for your surname in that catalog. Make sense?

Or your local genealogical society has a “members’ only” section where are posted things like past issues of their publication and/or their membership list. Again, Googling to that society website won’t get you into those publications because they are behind a membership wall. Again, make sense?