Wednesday Nostalgia

Who remembers the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle?

Or perhaps the World’s Fair in Spokane, aka Expo ’74?

If you did attend these events, or any other similar, have you written down your experiences there for your posterity??? All you have to do is Google the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and see the images and write-ups about all the new and fabulous technology shown there to realize that our two world’s fairs did exactly the same thing: Showcased new technology. So do, for the sake of your grandchildren, do scribble down your memories. They will be so glad you did.

Wednesday Nostalgia

Do you have a little something like this in the box of “old stuff” from Great Aunt Gertrude?? Any idea what it was used for?

All during the 1800s, women had long hair and when they brushed their hair, and long strands clogged the hairbrush, they’d pull it from the brush and stuff it into boxes like the one above. So what for, you ask?

During the 1800s, women would then take that hair and fashion it into astounding art such as the one above. Hair keeps its color but does become brittle with time. So such masterpieces were kept under glass.

Think of the time such intricate work took! And the ladies did not have those magnifying lights like we use today for crafts.

Wednesday Nostalgia

Did you have an ancestor that helped take one of the U.S. censuses?

My grandfather, Henry Melville Potter, was an enumerator in his little town of Ashley, Illinois, for the 1910 census. This was his silver badge. I even had the little pocket notebook where he wrote down the census info for his neighbors in the town…… a clearly illegal thing to do but oh so fun to find today. And since the census was handwritten, I have several pages written in his handwriting which is also such fun.

If your (male) ancestor lived in a rural town, is it possible that he was a Census Taker for that town? Have you looked?

Wednesday Nostalgia

Ever used the website This is a realty website for those selling and for those buying a house. But what’s so fun about this website is that you can type in the address of the house where you lived as a child. Here is my house on 311 Great Jones Street, Fairfield, California, as it looks today:

And to my happy eyes, it doesn’t look very much different from when I lived here in 1949 to 1950. In the back, my dad built for me a little playhouse and put the numbers “312” on it. Guess that’s long gone.

Go look for a photo of your childhood home…… if you can remember the address.

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????