Let’s Talk About: A December Quiz!

This is, I’m 100%, a Christmas tree the likes of which you’ve never seen. This was a page in the L.L. Bean catalog, a clothing company based in Maine. And in case you cannot tell, it’s a tree built by stacking lobster traps!!  Way cool and most unusual, no?Now for some December chuckles:

  • What do you call an elk that can sing & dance?  ELFIS!
  • What do you get when you mix a Christmas tree with an iPad? A PINEAPPLE!
  • What is the Grinch’s least favorite band?  THE WHO!
  • What goes Ho-Ho-Whoosh, Ho-Ho-Whoosh?  SANTA CAUGHT IN A REVOLING DOOR!
  • What kind of photos do elves take?  ELFIES!
  • Why was the snowman looking through the carrots? HE WAS PICKING HIS NOSE!
  • What did the reindeer sing to Santa on his birthday? FREEZE A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW!
  • Knock, knock.  Who’s there.  Dexter. Dexter who? DEXTER HALLS WITH BOUGHS OF HOLLY.

Yes, these are pretty cheesy but you laughed, didn’t you? Took me a minute to get the iPad one………. 

Let’s Talk Fun Facts & Trivia!

What would December be without a blooming amaryllis? In any of their gorgeous colors, they are the quintessential December flower. Did you know that according to Greek mythology, the first amaryllis grew from the droplets of blood of the nymph Amaryllis, who was smitten with a handsome but aloof shepherd named Alteo. That beautiful flower helped win his heart.  Well, now you know!

Here’s a tantilizer for you: How many “people” are you? Daughter – Child – Mother – Parent – Sister – Sibling – Wife – Spouse – Niece – Grandmother – Granddaughter – Aunt – Cousin – Great-grandmother – Mother-in-law – FRIEND …….. can you add something I missed?  Could do the same thing for gentlemen.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society announced that they’re offering a Genealogists Handbook for Portuguese Research. There will be some folks delighted with that bit of news.  (Click to www.AmericanAncestors.org) 

Here’s how to fool people and make a new document look old:  Create a sample on plain paper with black or dark brown pencil.  Make a dark, strong tea and let it cool. Then put your paper in the tea and leave them there for 3 days. Squeeze and crush the papers daily. Finally, remove the paper from the tea and air dry in a surface where the tea will not stain.  Why does this work? Tea contains tannin, a dark chemical that stains paper. 

A funny from Chuckleberries, from the Huckleberry Press:  A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds.  After explaining the commandment to “honor thy father and mother,” she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” Without missing a beat, one little boy answered: “Thou shalt not kill.” 

Want to expand your vocabulary? And impress your family and friends? Google this: “100 Totally Weird Words.”  There you’ll learn about words like “argle-bargle” which means “copious but meaningless talk or writing.”   Perhaps you would think this post was argle-bargle?

Let’s Talk About: Billion Graves vs Find A Grave

What IS the difference between these two “finding grave memorials” websites? 

Both Billion Graves and Find-A-Grave do have similarities. Both websites have cemetery data.The biggest and main difference is that Billion Graves included the GPS coordinates which, they say, follows the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Billiongraves.com was begun in 2010 with the stated mission to provide accurate gravestone data with both images and GPS coordinates. To date, the website has millions of headstone images and they’re closing in on nearly two million records.

Find A Grave started in 1995 with the stated mission to post memorials, remembrances and virtual flowers first for celebrities and then for every-day people. They now exceed two million records. 

As I see it today, the best thing for you to do to understand the differences is to click to both sites and click around, seeing what they offer and how the data offered. Pick a little cemetery that you know of and see if there are transcribed memorials for that cemetery. 

Additionally, you can take your own grave marker photos and upload them to both sites, and you can assist with the indexing of the tombstone information. 

Today’s Laugh: Many in the Northwest are elk hunters; I hope they and you get a laugh from this postcard. It reads “The morning after the last day of elk season. Idaho.” These delightful cards are the creation of Paul Stanton and produced by Clay Salzman. He offers a bunch of similar cards; click to www.duckboy.com.  (He did give me permission to use this image.) The caption reads: “The morning AFTER the last day of elk season, Idaho.”

Let’s Talk About: Remember GPC?

Remember getting catalogs from Genealogical Publishing Company (based in Baltmore, Maryland)? I sure do….. sometimes I did order a book but more often I made note of a book pertinent to my research and would look for it next time at a big library. Maybe you did that too?  Well, GPC has morphed into My GPC Library and comes offering books to you in a brand new format: digitally. Click to www.genealogical.com to get all the info. But, bottom line, you’ll have access to 800 books for a yearly subscription of $135, or for six months for $75, or for three months for $45.  (What a great idea for our long winter days, no?)

Before you read on, here’s a warm fuzzy for you from EWGS member Rosemary Braun. She has a granddaughter born when her parents were in South America, and was named Xochitl……. “so-CHEE.”  The name is Mayan and means “beautiful flower.”  Rosemary assures us that she loves her name. 

Breakdown of the major categories:

  • Industry leading how to books and manuals – an unsurpassed collection of more than 140 of our best titles that you cannot find anywhere else
  • More than 375 genealogy books on colonial American families
  • Over 239 books on New England or Mayflower genealogy
  • Nearly 200 immigration titles covering Colonial America to about 1865
  • Native American guides and records
  • The best collection of titles on Royal and Noble genealogy
  • More than 90 titles on Irish and Scottish genealogy
  • Guidebooks for African American genealogy and records of families prior to 1870
  • Nearly 800 titles in all, and growing

Let’s Talk About: Coulee Dam Memories

This is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read lately. It’s the story of “Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.” 

College rowing had been a team sport since the early 1800s and began in New York. By 1900, many major colleges had rowing teams and the competition was fierce.  I literally couldn’t put the book down as I learned about the history of this sport and the teams at the University of Washington in particular.  I do recommend this as a worthwhile winter read for you all.

What I want to share with you today begins on page 122 and I both quote and paraphrase:  “In one small corner of the country (Washington state), something large was beginning to stir that terribly hot summer….. early on August 4th (1936) …. folks from Seattle climbed into their automobiles and headed east. People in Spokane filled their picnic hampers and loaded them into their cars and headed west. By late morning, the roads were black with automobiles converging from all directions on one unlikely spot: Ephrata, a forlorn little town of 516 people, out in the desolate scablands, not far from the Columbia River and a 50-mile long canyon called the Grand Coulee.

By midafternoon, 20,000 people had gathered behind a rope line in Ephrata. When Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared on the platform before them his cigarette holder angled jauntily upward, the crowd roared its welcome. Then Roosevelt began to speak, leaning forward on his podium, clutching it. In measured tones, but with rising emotion, he began laying out a vision of the benefits that the new Grand Coulee Dam would bring to this arid land in exchange for the $175 million public dollars it would cost……….”

Roosevelt then spoke of the many benefits and in closing said:  “We are going to see, I believe, without own eyes, electricity and power made so cheap that they will become a standard article of use….for every house within the reach of an electrical transmission line.” 

While it was not mentioned in this book, no doubt Roosevelt spoke to the thousands of “arid lane” that could be transformed into productive agricultural land. 

I wasn’t there; you weren’t there, but with this author’s words, we can well imagine the day, the crowd and his welcome news. 

Let’s Talk About: Little Town Libraries

We do tend to head straight to the “big” libraries in the big cities and so easily overlook what the smaller town libraries might have for us. Case in point, the Appleton, Wisconsin, Public Library in Appleton, Wisconsin, located northeast of Madison, the state capitol. 

This town of about 75,000 citizens, has just opened a brand new library…. doesn’t it look both grand and enticing????

Why should you care about the Appleton Wisconsin Public Library? Because they offer free genealogy resource/research monthly programs via ZOOM, that’s why. 

Their program quickly upcoming on Saturday, November 18, 2023, at 2:00 Central Time is titled “Researching German Ancestry”. Link to register is: https://bit.ly/3Xx1XHK (or likely from their website….. if you don’t register, you won’t get the ZOOM link). 

The Saturday, December 9th program is titled “Making Sense of All the Research You’ve Done.” The link to register is: https://bit.ly/3x1gtKm. Again, do register to get the ZOOM link. 

The library hasn’t posted any information about their 2024 programs but I imagine that these offerings will continue. 

Let’s Talk About: Barrier Hills

Why was Spokane first settled along the river, east to west through what’s now downtown? There was a simple reason in those early days: the south hill.  A couple of years ago, Lynn Krogh and I enjoyed a Southside Community Center’s history tour led by Richard Sola. Here is some of what we learned that day:

There were some 50,000 people in Spokane by 1900. They mainly arrived on the railroad. They settled east to west in the valley because the south hill was a real barrier to growth. There was no way to get up the basalt-formation hills until roads were cleared and especially until the streetcars arrived. There were bridges across the Spokane River to access the north side and so settlement first spread north. 
Geologically, Dr. Sola taught, is that the Dishman Hills is the original seashore boundary (where the Pacific plate subducts). The several Ice Age Floods bypassed this area to it kept its good soil and was perfect for agriculture.

The first whites in the area were the fur traders; very few came between 1830 and 1870 because there was no easy way to get here except on the trail up from Walla Walla (which is why these towns south were settled before Spokane). 

Today we think nothing of the rather steep drive south up the Monroe Street hill (except when its icy!) but yesterday that incline was considered nigh onto impassable…. until it was not. 

Other Washington cities have had their steep road problems. Consider the massive regrading project in Seattle:

Quoting from Wikipedia:  “Seattle’s first 58 regrades “consisted largely of cutting the tops off high places and dumping the dirt into low places and onto the beach”.[4] The most dramatic result of this was along that former beach, filling the land that constitutes today’s Central Waterfront. Today’s Western Avenue and Alaskan Way lie on this landfill.[4]”  
I do suggest that you click to Wikipedia to read the rest of the story about the regrading of Seattle’s hills. 

Let’s Talk About: Free Brick Wall Busters Book

Genealogy Brick Wall Busters Free eBookFamily Tree Magazinehttps://familytreemagazine.com › Resources › eBooks

Family Tree Magazine offers all sorts of good stuff, some for pay and many for FREE. Such is this offer…….. a 32-page guide that can be yours for FREE to download.
This book is comprised of reprinted articles from the FT Magazine, all helpful, insightful and How-I-Did-It articles. Why not go see….. it’s FREE! We can always learn something new and a review is also always helpful.

While your at the www.familytreemagazine.com website, check out their other offerings and consider subscribing…………. why not give yourself a November treat? 

Let’s Talk About: Salem Witches

Can you imagine being dunked to prove your guilt or innocence? The poor man or (usually) a woman was tied to a chair and dunked into deep water until they confessed. If they could not recite the Lord’s Prayer without any error, they were a witch and dunked for good. 

Dunking was only one of seven “tests” administered to determine witches. One other was:

As part of the infamous “swimming test,” accused witches were dragged to the nearest body of water, stripped to their undergarments, bound and then tossed in to see if they would sink or float. Since witches were believed to have spurned the sacrament of baptism, it was thought that the water would reject their bodies and prevent them from submerging.

According to this logic, an innocent person would sink like a stone, but a witch would simply bob on the surface. 

Much research has been done on the genealogies of these twenty poor souls. If you suspect a connection to one of these twenty, here are some resources for you:

  • review your family tree for relatives living in Essex County in 1692-3
  • further build your Essex Co lines using verified sources (probate, journals)
  • compare surnames of the witches, and their children, to your own genealogy
  • consult the titles below:
    • Associated Daughters of Early American Witches Roll of Ancestors, by Kimberly Ormsby Nagy, 2012
    • The Witch hunt of 1692: A Tragedy in Massachusetts, by Marjorie Wardwll Otten, 1990
    • The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community under Siege, by Marilynne K. Roach, 2002
  • AmericanAncestors.org provides a variety of resources
  • FamilySearch.org/wiki has pages and pages of resources for Essex County

Thanks to David Allen Lambert’s article in the American Ancestors Magazine for this information. 

Let’s Talk (Again!) About: SCRIBE

We realize that all these genealogically-wonderful digital records we so eagerly seek and use are made available to us by “somebodies,” right? Is there a space in your life to be a SOMEBODY and help pay it forward by helping transcribe Washington’s historic records? 

The Washington Office of the secretary of State, in an effort to increase accessibility to the historical records of our state, initiated the Historical Records Project (HRP) in 2002. Staff from the State Library and State Archives identified records from their collections for inclusion in the project, as well as those held by numerous local museums, genealogical and historical societies. 

Currently millions of searchable records are available free of charge on the Washington State Archives website (www.digitalarchives.wa.gov). Yet much work needs to be done. Countless numbers of records need to be transcribed and indexed in order to be beneficial to researchers. 

THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN! You can most definitely help!! You can help by signing up to help index these digital records via SCRIBE………. and you can work from home, at your own pace and with NO pressure and lots of tutorials and helps.  What sort of records, you ask?  Birth-Cemetery-Census-Death-Institution-Land-Marriage-Military-Naturalization and more. 

Click to https://scribe.digitalarchives.wa.gov to create an account and become a “scribe” today!!   P.S. View the User Guide to help get you started. 🙂