Monday Mystery

Reading this article was laughable, mysterious and terrible all at once. The Oct-Nov 2018 History Magazine carried this article: “A Weighty Issue-Mailing Babies,” by David McCormick. Yes, this really happened!!

(Smithsonian image)

McCormick wrote: “Starting in 1913, people legally sent babies and toddlers through the mails. The rate of postage was far less than the price of a train ticket.  The U.S. Postal Service initiated its parcel post service on 1 Jan 1913, thus allowing millions of people throughout the country access to any and all manner of goods. An Ohio couple was the first known to have availed themselves of the new Parcel Post to ship their child. James, then eight months old was sent from Glen Este, Ohio, to his grandmother in Batavia, Ohio. James weighed just under the 11-pound maximum requirement at the time. The price of postage for James’s delivery was fifteen cents. And in an off-handed aside, they insured their son for $50.00.

Can you imagine? Did you have an ancestor who was mailed like a package via the U.S. Postal Service?

Monday Mystery

To me, and perhaps to you, this is a real mystery………. but a non-genealogical mystery.

We’ve been watching a good many TV shows about space and the mysteries thereof. There have been several shows exploring the dynamics of each of our planets in turn. All have been fascinating.

The mystery here to me is this: If we were to think of them as siblings, all created to be part of THIS solar system, then why are they so very different??

A mystery for you to ponder upon as you pause before sliding into the holiday frenzy, eh?

Monday Mystery

Did you know that if Benjamin Franklin had had his way, the turkey would be our national bird and symbol and not the eagle? Quoting from HISTORY News post by Christopher Klein, 16 Nov 2016:

“The story that Franklin proposed the turkey as the national symbol began to circulate in American newspapers around the time of the country’s centennial and are based on a January 26, 1784, letter in which he panned the eagle and extolled the virtues of the gobbler to his daughter, Sarah. In doing so, though, he was not delivering a critique of the Great Seal but a new medal issued by the Society of the Cincinnati, an association of Continental Army veterans. “For my own part I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country,” he wrote. The Founding Father argued that the eagle was “a bird of bad moral character” that “does not get his living honestly” because it steals food from the fishing hawk and is “too lazy to fish for himself.”

“In contrast, Franklin called the turkey “a much more respectable bird” and “a true original native of America.” While he considered the eagle “a rank coward,” Franklin believed the turkey to be “a bird of courage” that “would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.” While the private letter was a spirited promotion of the turkey over the eagle, Franklin never made his views public, and when the chance had been given to him to officially propose a symbol for the United States eight years earlier, his idea was biblical, not avian.”

Monday Mystery

Names. Names are all-important in doing genealogy. Where did our ancestors get their names……… or our names?  Surnames just came with birth in most cases but many times were changed somewhere along the way to adulthood and for a hundred reasons.

What about first names? Our ancestors didn’t have the “search for baby names” on the Internet or even baby-names books (pre-dating the Internet, right?). They had the Bible. That’s why so many of our ancestors have biblical names.

My lineage includes a distant uncle named Deloss Carr, 1876-1954, born and died in the midwest. Always thought that was an odd name and was fairly certain it was not a Bible name. Then, WOW. Doing some SCRIBE indexing, I came upon a Deloss Clement, born in 1907, enumerated in the Yakima county school census.

So I asked Grandma Google for the meaning or origin of that name and by golly, I stumped her. She had no clue except to state that it was a male name.

Anybody else have a Deloss in their family??? Any clue as to its origin?

Monday Mystery

Our very recent EWGS Fall Workshop featured Dave Obee from Victoria, BC, who is a recognized expert on Canadian research. (He’s the founder of

One “mystery” thing he explained to us was how our ancestors thought nothing of going back-and-forth across the Canada-U.S. border and did so multiple times during their lives. I never thought about that. Asking “Grandma” Google, I found there are 29 official border crossing points between the two countries along WA-ID-MT with British Columbia and Alberta. This explains why an ancestor of my dau-in-law’s came to and lived his life in Washington but married a lady from Victoria IN Victoria. It was no big deal in those days.

If you have Pacific Northwest connections, have you double-checked to see if you have Canadian connections too?


Monday Mystery

Who built the Peace Arch at the border north of Bellingham?

The builder was none other than Washington’s famous Sam Hill, businessman, road builder and philanthropist. The Arch was built between 1914 and 1921 and was one of the first structures built with earthquake resistance in mind. The name Peace Arch denotes the friendly relations between Canada and the U.S.

If you’ve driven I-5 north, heading for Vancouver, Canada, you’ve gone through the checkpoint at this famous place. It sits in a lovely park; did you ever get out and walk around in that park?

(From Washington Curiosities, by Harriet Baskas, 2008.)

Monday Mystery

These are not Washington-related mysteries but are certainly genealogical mysteries. Ever heard of burials in Iron Coffins or Quaker guns??

A Quaker gun is a deception tactic that was commonly used in warfare during the 18th and 19th centuries. Although resembling an actual cannon, the Quaker gun was simply a wooden log, usually painted black, used to deceive an enemy. And I guess they worked!

Watched a fab show on PBS called “The Iron Coffin Woman” about a mid-1800s burial in Queens, New York. Yes, such vessels were used for a short time before the Civil War when there was no embalming. Here’s a link to more about the show which delved into the history of such coffins and researched the probable history of the long-deceased lady.

Death, Burial and Iron Coffins

Monday Mystery

Here’s a crazy question for you……. a “mystery” question, if you will.

How many museums are there in Washington State? Give a guess…..

The answer: LOTS! MANY! I don’t really know how many!! But two things I do know. Almost every town, from bitty to big, is proud of its heritage and has a museum of some sort. And a new Museum Listing Database is now posted on our WSGS website!

The initial list was compiled by EWGS member Duane Beck and then turned over to Donna Phillips who then turned it over to our WSGS most-capable webmanager, Heather Murphy and viola! It’s there for all to view.

That’s not all; if YOU know if a museum or historical site or fort or any some such that is not on the list, you can click to send that information to our webmanager and she will get the list updated asap.

WSGS offers this to you for your traveling planning and for hometown researching. After all, isn’t it the stuff and artifacts of the pioneers of that place that fill those museums???