Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Sometimes you dream something, or do something for many years and then some of the magic disappears. There may not be a reason you can put in words. Or there may be a lot of reasons.
Sometimes it's just time to move on.

I've been in that place for awhile with my writing. I've taught classes, lead workshops. and lead groups for years. I enjoyed it all.

I've written many stories in the groups in which we had a prompt and then spent 10-15 minutes writing whatever came to mind. I loved doing that.

Here are some of the journals I've filled over the last few years.

A few months ago I started noticing that I wasn't enjoying the process any more. I wasn't interested in  reading articles or books or even listening to speakers on the subject.

Finally had to admit to myself that writing fiction just isn't what I want to do. I've never done anything with all those stories so those journals are going in the trash. Another part of the changes is clearing out.

I do want to continue researching and writing history. To me, that is a totally different thing, although there are some things that carry over.

So, I am letting go of the last of the groups I belong to and giving up the leadership of a group I started about a year ago. I took a lot of time to make this decision. I didn't want to let the group down, but I don't feel like I'm doing as good a job because my heart isn't in it.

One of the ladies asked what I am going to do. Genealogy seems to have popped back up on my radar and I've been spending quite a bit of time helping a distant cousin who wants to get in to DAR. I may or may not have the records she needs but I'm having fun looking.

I will continue with my articles and the book which will combine a number of them in one place.

I hope to get back into my art which has been completely ignored the last few months.

Changes are happening and although I'm always a bit leery of change I think these will be good ones.

Maybe I'll even spend more time training Lucky. He's been ignored a bit too. Getting a photo of him has always been a problem. I finally got this one of him standing still, but his eyes are closed. He takes after me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Things To Think About

I've been working on my genealogy off-and-on for about 40 years. I have some lines stuck around 1830 and others connect to the royal lines and go back "forever." I'm also doing my husband's line and have worked on my son-in-law's. 

Sadly, most of that information has not been put into the computer. I tried at one time to keep up as I went along but then I lost that information. It's a lot more fun to do the research than to sit and input all those details. 

So most of my research is still in books. 

Or boxes and file cabinets.

Not to mention the photos. Old ones in archival boxes and newer ones in those cheap boxes from Michael's. (Even though I hate to admit that.)

I've been thinking a lot lately about what will become of this information, not to mention the family heirlooms.

My daughter and I talk about this often. She lives in a small house and has two boys. She doesn't know if they will eventually be interested in this stuff. So it has to be narrowed down. We've talked about the "dish avalanche" as each generation seems to add a set of dishes. She already has her own, plus a set from her paternal great grandmother, and a set from her husband's family. I have my mother's set and my own.

Last week I had lunch with a genealogy friend and we were discussing this dilemma. Technology has already passed us by many times as computers and genealogy programs have changed. It isn't always easy to keep them updated. It has me concerned.

So, I came home and asked about that on one of the genealogy blogs I follow. Randy Seaver has a great blog that covers all aspects of genealogy with great links and tips. He wrote a blog post about my concerns, which he is concerned about too: GeneaMusings   (Thank you, Randy.)

I have never felt comfortable putting my genealogy onto the Internet. As you will notice if you read the comments, others are concerned about their work being taken. I'm also concerned that so much of the information out there is incorrect. So many things to think about.

For now, I just need to get it put into some format. I need to scan the main documents and transcribe others. I need to scan those boxes of photos, identify them, and make them available to others. I need to clear stuff out so my daughter won't have to deal with it when the day comes.

It is daunting. Especially when I'm also doing historical research and spending hours at the computer writing articles and working on a book.

As hard as it is to think of these things it must be done.

How are you preparing for the future of your family data and heirlooms?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Early American Recipes

I found this book "The Cooking Collectarium" at a local used book store and got it for my hubby for his birthday. As I went through it I found it more and more interesting and almost didn't give it to him. However, I do still get to look at it. lol

It has recipes from around the world and back through history. Just about anything you could imagine. I love to read historical fiction so finding some of the recipes for things I've read about was a treat. 

The clear plastic cover had to come off and although I tried to make a new one it didn't work out. 

My husband has Italian ancestors so the Marengo from that town in Italy where Napoleon fought one of his most important battles was interesting. (I apologize for the quality. The printer/scanner I got to replace the old one just doesn't do as good a job.)

A Flummery was one of the things that originally caught my eye. What a fun word. It is interesting, too, that I have many ancestors from Old Virginia back to the earliest settlers. An interesting thought as I write this on our nation's Independence Day. I know I had Patriot ancestors but I'm guessing there were a few Loyalists too.

Who hasn't heard of Johnny Cakes? Another early recipe from Virginia although it seems to have been all through the country. Reminds me of the time we went to a Civil War Reenactment and were given some Hard Tack. Those cracker like things are well named.

Hoe Cakes are another thing I've read about. Mostly from the south. Who would think they were actually baked on a hoe.

So there you have a few things from our ancestors and the settlers of our great nation.

Hope everyone has a very safe and happy Independence Day.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Second Great Grandfather: John Riley Keith

I was scanning the newspapers and was reminded of my second great grandfather's obituary. This was published in the Meade News, of Meade, Meade County, Kansas on June 17, 1915. 


John Riley Keith was often listed as Riley or J.R. in the papers, probably because he had a cousin John Owen Keith in the same area. They all came from Illinois around the same time and helped build that area of southwestern Kansas. 

John Riley made bricks and built many houses and businesses throughout the area. He also farmed. 
This is from a pile of unidentified tintypes. I don't know for sure if it is John but in studying others with it I think it's a good possibility. 

John was buried next to his wife in Graceland Cemetery in Meade, Kansas.

This is a photo of his brother Marshal who is mentioned in the obituary. Quite distinguished isn't he?

This photo is identified as being in Fowler. John may be one of those men standing on the roof. There was another article in the paper noting he was building the "well house" in Meade. 

The brick yard was next to the family home (in the background) which is still known as the "Keith House." Here's John, with the wheelbarrow. The people in the buggy and the boys aren't identified. 

Fowler Christian Church where the family attended for many years. One story my grandmother told was John would have his eyes closed during the services. When they pointed it out after church he would say he was just resting his eyes. He was snoring. 

When I was first learning to do genealogy I went to hear a lady speak at a big conference. She pointed out that names, places, and dates get boring fast. It takes determination to put flesh on those ancestors by filling in their lives. I've worked very hard to fill in the lives of my ancestors. 

Another speaker said to get at least one tidbit of information from each year of an ancestor's life. I gave up on that notion quickly. These days it is a lot easier to fill in the details because of so much information, especially newspapers, on line. I still think that speaker was a bit crazy. (grin)

Hope you are enjoying these family stories and the peek into history they provide. 

Friday, June 23, 2017


My daughter had her birthday last week and her anniversary is this week so I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. I'm NOT mentioning years but there have been quite a few and sometimes we just need to look back and remember the little things.

When she was here in March we noticed some of her baby pictures are starting to fade. Bad developing techniques mostly. So I'm on a mission to get them scanned and dated.

Here are a few highlights from her first year on this beautiful planet.

Four days old with her great grandmother, Jennie. That lion was the first thing I bought for her. It played "This Old Man" a little song I have loved since kindergarten.

Seven days old with Nana, my mother. She doted on that baby.

"Swimfants," one of the first infant swimming classes as far as I know. Jessica was three months old. A year or so later the "team" was filmed by the television show "That's Incredible."

The same month. Sandy, a friend from high school, made that panda for Jessica. She obviously thought it was pretty special. She had it for many, many years.

This was about a month later. I don't remember the occasion but she was all dolled up for something. I'm sure her Nana bought that dress.

When Jessica was about five months old I was part of the wedding party for my cousin. This photo of our little family was taken at my aunt's house.

Not only did I ride Blaze through eight months of pregnancy Jessica got to start early on horseback. She was about seven months old. (My mother came unglued when she saw this.)

I won this "Dino" at the state fair a couple of years before Jessica was born. She naturally thought it was just for her to ride. She'd really get to going until finally his neck gave out. This was shortly after the photo above.

Jessica is about nine months here. I'm including it just because it is cute. 

 And happy first birthday. It's funny we don't have any of that furniture or those drapes. It's easy to forget how much things have changed over the years.


 Hope you've enjoyed this little trip through time. I have.

Jessica was born at 6:36 pm so on her birthday I texted her "Happy Birthday, on the dot." on that minute. She got a kick out of that.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ancestral Fathers

Since I did all the mothers in my ancestral line last month I thought it only fair I give equal acknowledgement to the men.

I never knew my dad. My parents were divorced when I was very young and I have no real memories of him. By the time I was old enough to make contact he had died in a car accident. 

So growing up in a household of women I never think of the men in the ancestry as much as the women. I was pleasantly surprised as I started looking at photos to realize I have more photos of the fathers in my direct line than I realized. 

Starting with my dad I realized I had a few photos of the men with their cars. Seems appropriate. I think he was rather proud of this one. 

Here are four generations. My paternal grandfather, Sam, in the middle and his father on the right. 
That is my uncle and one of his children. I'm happy to be getting to know a cousin on this line who is telling me about these people. Sam was born in Arkansas and moved to Kansas. His father, Thomas did the same. Thomas was born in 1868. 

This is another photo of Thomas. I had to include it because of the car. 

Thomas' father, Sam, fought in the Civil War. This photo was taken by one of my aunts of Sam and his wife Mary. They were married in 1866. 

My father's mother's father was Isaac Tandy Waggoner. He was born in Tennessee in 1864. His father was killed in the Civil War.

This is my maternal grandfather, Cecil. He was a barber and we all loved to visit the barber shop. He would give me Juicy Fruit gum or sometimes a dime to walk down to the corner grocery for Cracker Jacks. 

Cecil's father was John Lyman Covey who was also born in 1868. He was born in Minnesota and later farmed in Harper County, Kansas.

John Henry Covey lived in Minnesota before heading west. He was a minister, ran hotels, and various other jobs. He lived in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Colorado where he died in 1914. He was born around 1833.

John Lyman Covey married Nancy George and this is her father, James W. George. He was born in Virginia in 1839 in an area that later became West Virginia. He moved to Kansas and became a farmer.

My maternal grandmother's father was Bert Martin, on the right. He left when she was young but she told me about him riding the horse to pick her up from school. His father, on the left, was Francis Marion Martin. He was was born in Ohio in 1844 and also lived in Kansas and then moved up to the Salem, Oregon area. He is buried in Portland. 

One last male ancestor is John Riley Keith. He was my 2nd great grandfather on my mother's side of the family. He was born in Illinois in 1843 and moved his family to southwestern Kansas around 1883. They settled in an area still known as "Keith Canyon" and eventually moved into town. Grandma would say they would all go to church and he would be sitting there with his eyes closed and when they questioned him after wards he said he was just resting his eyes. They knew different because he had been snoring. 


None of these men became famous. They were farmers, builders, barbers, and hotel keepers. They all helped build our country as many thousands of others; by working hard and raising their families.

I started doing my genealogy in 1977. I was totally addicted for many years and then moved on to other things although I still work on it when I can. I'm proud of my ancestors and happy I have so many photos and stories to share with the younger generation.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Early Telephone Operator

My great grandmother, Nellie Grace Keith Martin, was born in Illinois in 1878. She traveled with her family to Kansas around 1883. They were in covered wagons and settled in a newly opened area south of Dodge City. 

There she grew to be an adult and for a time taught school. The family moved around the area spending time in Clark and Meade Counties finally settling in the town of Fowler. Meantime, Nellie married William Albert "Bert" Martin on Dec. 5, 1900 at her parent's home. 

They had two children: Jennie Martin in 1902 and William Albert Martin in 1910. He only lived 11 days. Not long after the death of William Jr. "Bert" went into the hospital in another town and just never came home according to Jennie. Nellie eventually filed for divorce. 

With a young daughter to support Nellie ran a boarding house, baked bread to sell in the local market, and became one of the first telephone operators in the area. 

On June 13, 1912 the Meade newspaper had the following announcement: "Mrs. Bert Martin has accepted a position with the Southwest Telephone Company." 

The telephone company was organized one or two years earlier by Mr. Roscoe Gerow and sold to Robert A. Brannan, Frank J. Bennett, and Harry V. Williams with the main plant in Meade and an exchange in Fowler. 

This is a photo of Nellie at the switchboard. 
On March 13, 1913 when Jennie was 10 1/2 years old they moved to Fowler. This would have been a wonderful thing for them as that is where Nellie's father had built a house (still known as the "Keith House") and her sister Laura still lived. 

This article is a bit confusing with the note Nellie had been with the company for several years but it was less than a year according to the first article. Since the company was only about three years old the reporter probably just didn't have a very good memory. 

This photo was taken about 1930 in the Fowler office. The little boy is one of my uncles. 

This is the front of the Fowler telephone office on Jennie's wedding day in 1922. She is off to the left. Laura Keith is in the center and Nellie on the right.

I love finding these stories that bring my ancestors to life. Grandma Jennie told me many stories over the years but I don't have them all recorded except in my memory. It is exciting to find these newspaper articles to confirm the memories and add details to the lives of these women. 

You can find many articles like these at Chronicling American History through the Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

 I hope you have fun searching for your ancestors.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Art Journals

I'm not sure when I got out of the habit of art journaling. I haven't done it consistently for a very long time . . . a couple of years, at least.

I've started some new journals but a few pages in I've given up, moved on, just quit doing it.

This was the first page of the first art journal I ever did. A bit of paint, some gesso, some magazine photos, an ink stamp, and a quote sticker. I remember thinking how fun and rewarding the experience was.

I think this page was from the same journal. More experimentation with paint and collage and more writing. The red is from another page when I forgot to put wax paper between the sheets.  

 One year I joined a group of on-line art friends and we did round robin journals. We sent our journal to another member and she did a spread in it and sent it on. Eventually we got our books back and had wonderful art from friends across the country. We chose a word or phrase that we wanted to be the theme of our journal. This was mine.

We met through another group that was doing a journal project from New York. The name of the program is The Sketchbook Project. It's kind of weird to think my journal could be there on the shelves they show on the Web site. For a few dollars you could order a specific blank journal, fill it with your own work and send it back in. People could then go to the library and browse the books and see every body's work. It was very inspiring.  

This was one of the spreads in the journal I submitted. I can't remember if there were prompts or I just did my own thing. 

Sometimes, I just do fun things like showing off a new box of crayons. I used to LOVE the smell of new crayons but I've noticed they just don't have that smell anymore. 

A few months ago I cleared my shelves of many of the art journals I'd done over the years. I kept that first one and a couple of others. Many of them I hand made which is another thing I learned to love to do over time. Either with rings like the book above or hand stitched. 

I've been missing the time with my art supplies, but so far not enough to get involved in the process again. I'll let you know if that changes.