Tattered Past

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sixth Cousins Once Removed

Genealogy can lead to some amazing and often fun discoveries. I've been working on mine off-and-on since about 1976. 

Imagine my surprise when I found that my great grandparents were actually distant cousins: Sixth cousins once removed to be exact. 

They both descend from Ralph Cowgill (born about 1635) his wife Ellen Stackhouse (born about 1639) who lived in Yorkshire, England. Ralph was executed for his religious views (they were Quakers) and Elizabeth and her children came to America. Two of those children were John Cowgill and Jane Cowgill. 

John's family stayed in Pennsylvania for a time, then descendants moved over into Kentucky and up into Illinois where Nellie Grace Keith was born in 1878. 

Jane Cowgill and her husband Stephen Sands moved into Virginia then up to Ohio and finally Wisconsin for a short time. William Albert Martin was born there in 1876. 

                                                   Ralph Cowgill - Ellen Stackhouse

John Cowgill - Bridget Croasdale                              Jane Cowgill - Stephen Sands   
William Browne - Elizabeth Cowgill                         Edmund Sands - Rachel Clowes

Edward Norton - Elizabeth Brown                             Isaac Sands - Mary 

Messor Norton - Martha Higgens                              Abijah Sands - Elizabeth Grady

James Thompson - Margaret Norton                         William Martin - Ury G. Sands

Solomon Thompson - Jane Malone                           Francis M. Martin - Catharine J. Curry

John Riley Keith - Nancy Ann Thompson                 William Albert Martin 

Nellie Grace Keith
William Albert Martin with his father Francis Marion Martin. 

Nellie Grace Keith Martin

Jennie Viola Martin with her mother Nellie Grace Keith Martin.
Nellie's family moved to southwestern Kansas around 1884. Later her father hired William Albert "Bert" Martin and that is how my great grandparents met. They had one surviving daughter, Jennie G. Martin, in 1903. 

I'm sure Nellie and Bert had no idea of their backgrounds. Their own grandparents stayed in the same areas for a time. They might have known where the families came from before that but I doubt they had any idea they both came from the same early beginnings.

There is a lot of debate in the genealogy community about Ralph Cowgill and whether or not his wife was really a Stackhouse. I left it that way here as it seems to be the most accepted stance at this time. Nothing seems to be known about their parents.

There are always more questions and mysteries in genealogy. As the saying goes, a genealogy is never done.

You just never know who you might be related to. (Does this make my grandmother Jennie her own cousin?)

You can find some good relationship charts here:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Doggie Heaven

Our Maggie has always liked her toys. When we give her a new one she parades it around the house, hangs on to it for a couple of days, and then mostly forgets about it. 

Then we found these bacon scented balls. It was love at first scent. Now she is seldom without one of them in her mouth or by her side. 
The first one disappeared after a few days so we got a backup. Then a backup for the backup. We now have a few extras (because you never know when they will quit making them.) 

As I was thinking about Maggie and her favorite toys I thought about a friend's dog. I made him a fuzzy blanket a year or so ago and he carried it around all over the house. 

 Kenneth and his "blankie." 
All people with fur kids think they are the greatest things on earth. We buy them toys, take good care of them, and share their pictures. After I thought about doing this post two more friends posted photos of their own furry friends and their favorite toys.

One friend shared this photo of her fifteen-year-old boy. 
He gets lots of tender loving care and his special "snakey baby." 

Of course, there are always the ones who just can't make up their minds. 

Dudley and his collection. Another well-loved fur baby. 

Maggie has always been camera shy. It was quite a job getting this one. 

Hope you enjoyed meeting our special fur kids? 
Do you have a special fur kid and toy story?

Monday, July 31, 2017


I belong to a number of Facebook groups centered on areas I have lived and the memories of other people who want to share their own memories. One is for the Kansas town I grew up in and one is for the town my husband's family is from. 

Two of them are Vintage Phoenix and Arizona Memories. I love these because I can see photos of places I remember or, sometimes, places I want to visit. They bring up restaurants, movie drive-ins, and other places full of memories. Some share family photos and others found photos or postcards of special places. 

One thing I like about these sites is the challenge. People will post a photo and ask if any one knows where it was taken. The challenge is met with people posting their ideas and some doing research to answer the question. I tend to get caught up in solving the mysteries, perhaps too much so. 

Last week I received a message request from a lady, Joyce, who had noticed my profile photo. I usually post an item important to me, rather than a photo of me. Right now it is a blossom from my night-blooming cereus a cactus that blooms only at night and then the bloom shrinks away and disappears. 
your Profile Photo, Image may contain: flower, plant and nature

My cereus came from my mother who passed away in early May 1990. Since that time it has often bloomed around the time of her birthday in early March or near her death date or even Mother's Day. I have many babies from the original and my daughter has some at her home in another state. 

Last week it had eight blooms at once. I didn't get a picture. 

Anyway, Joyce said she had a cereus and would like to exchange babies, as I call them. We messaged back and forth and realized she is in a different part of the state so we would have to mail them. I know cacti are shipped all the time but I had a hard time imagining how I would do that. 

She wrote back and gave me ideas on how to ship a baby and then sent a photo of her cereus. 

It was then I remembered I had enhanced the image on Facebook. I sent her another photo of my cereus and we decided we had the same one. 

Then Joyce told me the story of how she received hers. A man she knew, who was about 90 at the time, gave hers to her. He died at 105 and the flowers help her feel like she still has a part of him. Kind of the same feeling I get with mine; that it is a message from from Mom.

She also said she gravitates to people with the name "Rita" because that was her mother's name. I can count on one hand all the people I have known in my lifetime with the same name so that is an odd coincidence in itself. 

We won't be sharing "babies" but we are still friends on FB and I feel a little connection when I see her pop up on one of the groups. Maybe someday one of us will visit the hometown of the other. Maybe not. But we will always have our night-blooming cereus.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Prairie Newspapers

I LOVE old newspapers. I use them constantly in my historical and genealogical research. 

Our Keith family settled in Cash City, Kansas in the early 1880s. They were there for the building of that town and are mentioned a lot in the newspaper. The town only lasted a few years and they moved to other towns and the next county.

When I was first doing genealogy, back in the late 1980s, I tried to get copies of the early newspaper and they weren't available. Then in 1990 when my daughter and I went back there we went into the the library at the county seat. When I told them who I was and what I wanted and the librarian said, "I remember you. After I got your request I asked to have the Cash City Cashier put on microfilm so we have it now." 

So we sat down and started making copies of anything that mentioned any of our family. These are some of the copies we made that day. You can see they aren't very good. Between that and my older eyes I'm having a hard time transcribing them, but here's some of the things I found today.

(Many of these people are cousins. Most of the Keiths came from Illinois at the same time.)

Cash City Cashier, Cash City, Kansas

Friday, Dec. 31, 1886
Mr. Harry Keith called to-day.

Cash City real estate changed hands lively this week. Verily, this looks like a boom.

Mr. Harry Keith has returned home from Hutchinson, where he had been teaching school. We understand that he was compelled to give up his school before the expiration of the term on account of sickness. Mr. Keith has the name of a first-class teacher.

Friday, Jan. 7, 1887
Harry Keith is endeavoring to organize a night and day school in Cash City. This is something that should interest every one, and Mr. Keith is to be encouraged in every way. Mr. Keith has the highest testimonials as a teacher. 

Jake Heape came in from his country home to see the new electric light system.

Friday, Feb. 11, 1887
Riley Keith is at work getting out an immense lot of building stone, and is prepared to furnish estimates to those wanting to put up buildings of this material. The stone is of an excellent quality, and it is sure to bring him good figures in the spring with the beginning of the building boom. J. H. Clay is also getting out stone to turn in on different contracts. (This is my great great grandfather John Riley Keith.)

Friday, Feb. 18, 1887
Windy Items: (damages from a wind storm) 
Harry Keith and his sister Dora, becoming fearful of their building, took refuge in a neighboring store.

Friday, Feb. 25, 1887
We neglected to mention in our last issue the fact of the Star Restaurant having been reopened. Mr. F. G. Keith closed the house some time ago during a depression in business. It has been reopened under the management of his son and daughter. Harry and Miss Dora, who start out with every prospect of doing a good business. The Cashier wishes the house and its new management all the success possible. 

Fine Building Stone
Probably some of the finest stone quarries in the state are to be found in Clark county, near Cash City. This is an important and necessary factor in the building of towns, and we have enough of this excellent material right here to build a city. It is a well known fact that plenty of building material, easy of access and easily procured, is one of the prime necessities, and certainly Cash City should feel proud in that she is abundantly blessed with this requisite. One mile south of town on the land of F. G. Keith is a quarry of an inexhaustable amount of stone. Mr. J. H. Clay is developing the quarry, and . . . (unreadable)

Friday, March 4, 1887
 Notices of Publication (Land sales filed at Garden City, Feb 21, 1887)
Jane Thompson, lots 1 and 2 and a half of northeast quarter, section 5, township 88 south, range 25 west (This is my great great great grandmother, Jane Malone Thompson)

Oct. 15, 1887
Following is the report of the Cash City school, for the month ending Oct. 7: 
Number of pupils enrolled: 22
Average daily attendance: 16
Those neither absent nor tardy during the month are as follows: 
Jennie Heape, Fannie Keith, Fannie Heape, George Hendricks, Perry Keith, Ben Hendricks, Louie Miller, Nora Miller
Following is the standing in scholarship and deportment of each pupil:
                                         Scholarship    Deportment
Jennie Heape                     80                  100
Dora Heape                       76                  100
Fannie Heape                    80                  100
Gussie Hendricks              85                  100
Ben Hendricks                  85                  100
Perry Keith                       92                    90
Fannie Keith                     90                  100
Nellie Keith                      88                  100
(Not all copied.) (Nellie Keith is my great grandmother.)

Nov. 11, 1887
Following is the report of the Cash City school for the month ending Nov. 4: 
Whole number pupils enrolled, 20.
Average daily attendance, 14.
Those present every day of the month are: 
Fannie Keith, Gussie Hendricks, Ben Hendricks, Fannie Heape, 
Following is the standing in scholarship and deportment of each for month:
                                        Schol.     Deport.
Jennie Heape                   65            95
Dora Heape                     60            95
Fannie Heape                  85            90
Perry Keith                      93            90
Fannie Keith                    81            95
Nellie Keith                     85            95
Gussie Hendricks            90            90
Ben Hendricks                90            90
(Not all copied.)

Jan. 20. 1888
Mr. J. R. Keith has made a survey for an irrigating canal. At but little expense he can be independent in regard to rains. Anybody who has ever seen the enormous crops of "root sass" grown on irrigated land will appreciate the advantage of such cultivation in any country.  

Friday, Feb. 3, 1888
Local Jottings:
Mr. Keith has built a ditching machine which he will use in cutting his irrigation canal.

J. R. Keith, Esq., has received his commission as Justice of the Peace, and is fitted out with a complete set of books, blanks, etc., ready for any legal business in his line.

It is sad that these newspapers are becoming less common, not to mention the fact they don't mention these little things that helps us make our ancestors come to life. 

On the flip side, many old newspapers are being digitized and made available to researchers. Some through Ancestry, Genealogy Bank, Chronicling American Newspapers or state and local historical libraries. 

Have you tried finding your ancestors in the news? 

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.