Tattered Past

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Looking Forward . . .

The New Year always brings about changes. I don’t do resolutions, but I do try to set goals. One of mine for this year is to revamp my blog (and to be a better blogger.)

I’m going to redo the banner so watch for that. I haven’t even made a final decision yet, so it will be a surprise for all of us. Lol

The next decision is what direction to take the writing. In the past I have tried a variety of things: travel, art journaling, “remember when” about my family history, and just stuff about me. What I’d like to do is have departments.

If you are an avid blog follower you have probably noticed things like “throwback Thursday” when people post photos of themselves or their family from the past. Or maybe that is just Facebook, I’m not sure, but you get the idea.

With all the other writing I plan to do I can’t do a blog post every day. Most people don’t have the time to read that much anyway. I would like to do some regular type posts.

So, here’s your chance to tell me what you would like to read about. Here are a few of my ideas:

“Remember when . . .” family history, memories, and an idea to write your own stories.

Journaling prompts for self-awareness OR prompts for fiction writing OR both traded off?

Art journaling ideas and prompts. For those not aware of the art journaling craze it is taking a journal or book, and using mixed media (collage, paint, markers, stamps, stickers, etc.) to PLAY and journal about yourself and your life.

General life: my travels, pets, photography, reading, and life in Arizona. 

As you can see, there are a wide variety of possibilities; mainly because I have such a wide variety of interests. Perhaps this would be a good time to list some of my activities:

I lead a writing group based on the book Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I was part of another group for 11 years and have moved on to start a new group. We meet weekly to write a story from a prompt and then we share what we’ve written.

I write Arizona and Old West history for various magazines, journals, and an upcoming book.
I journal daily in either an art journal or regular hand-written journal.

I attend a variety of writing groups and attend conferences and workshops. I have also taught several workshops on research and writing.

I’ve been doing my own genealogy since 1976 and, also do some research for others.

I read constantly. My goal on Goodreads for 2016 was 65 books and I have exceeded that.

I am involved in learning vibrational healing. I also work with therapeutic grade essential oils.

My husband and I do paranormal research with various groups.

I do some sewing and other crafts. I’m getting the itch to get back into making 1/12 scale miniatures. (I have a huge Victorian style house with three stories and the big doors that open in the front.)

Okay, Dear Readers, what do you want to read about? What have been some of your favorite types of posts in the past.

One other comment, many say they can’t make comments on the blog itself. I have it set up that anybody can leave a comment, however I must moderate the comments so your comment won’t show up immediately. I hope this fixes the problem. (For my FB friends, I will be back after the holidays.) 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Busy Writing the Old West

My poor blog has been languishing in the background again.

However, I have been getting a lot of Old West writing done.

I had an article in the August issue of Wild West magazine about W. A. Clark who founded Clarkdale, Arizona and left his mark throughout the West. If you read the book Empty Mansions you will know about this fascinating character.

My latest article in Wild West magazine is about a hanging in Goldendale, Washington where my husband’s ancestors settled. Here’s a link to the magazine and this particular issue:
The Presby Museum and Historical Society in Goldendale, Washington. 

As a genealogist and historian I have long wondered about those somber photos in my collection. I’m not the only one, so when True West publisher, Bob Boze Bell, asked about it I happened to be researching that subject and it led to an upcoming article which he discussed on his blog:
(You can go to each link or just scroll up from the first one.)



One of my favorite family photos. Mattie and John Keith with their daughter, Dottie. When I began my genealogy I corresponded with Dottie. That was back in the 1980s.

I’ve been writing for the Tombstone Times for about eleven years. I write a monthly column about the buildings, people, and history of the historic town of Tombstone, Arizona. The publishers have archived a couple of my articles here:  

The Birdcage Theater during our visit to Tombstone in October. 

Another place I’ve been published is the historic Epitaph National Edition. The Tombstone Epitaph was first published in 1879. It has been continuously published ever since; sometimes as a weekly and sometimes a daily. The local edition is put out by the journalism students at the University of Arizona. The national edition deals with the history of the town and the Old West. They don’t have any of my articles archived but you can learn more about the paper and the museum here:

I’m working on more articles for some of these publications. My latest major project is a book based on some of my Tombstone Times articles. The deadline I set for finishing the first draft is the end of January.

Yes, by putting that out there I’m putting the pressure on myself to meet that goal.

That’s part of my excuse(?) for not keeping up the blog. I’m working on a schedule of posts on things like writing, reading, genealogy, art, travels, and whatever else might come along. Like the phone call I received last night from a distant cousin who lives near where our family first settled before the Civil War. Intrigued?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Travel Ettiquette

Travel Etiquette

Being able to adjust to strange situations, a quiet manner, and consideration of other people are the most important of all travel manners. Complaining about accommodations, boisterousness, and carrying off souvenirs will make a bad reputation for any one who indulges in them. Many travelers commit the error of comparing any place they happen to be with their home town, or their home state, and discover innumerable faults with the place they are visiting. This should be avoided, for it is discourteous and discouraging to any one who is in any way responsible for their happiness.

Inexperienced travelers should seek information from persons authorized to give it, never from strangers.

The Household Searchlight Homemaking Guide, "The Household Magazine," Topeka, Kansas, 1937.

Travel has changed drastically especially in the last few years. I never did much traveling as a child and was never more than 100 miles from where I grew up. After we moved to Arizona in 1967 that changed with a few trips to Colorado to visit my sister and to California to visit Disneyland.

 When we moved to Arizona everything we owned fit in this car and U-Haul trailer. It was quite an eye-opening trip and the first time I remember ever staying in a hotel.

This photo is from a collection of photos from my Martin line. This is at the Wisconsin River Dells. You can get a glimpse of a man in a boater hat. I believe that is my great grandfather, Bert Martin.

And a postcard from my grandfather's collection. Even travel postcards have gone
through major changes. 

The world will always change, not always for the best. Wouldn't it be nice is some of the basic travel etiquette from the '30s was still in use? 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Household Management, 1937

My book discussion group did Jacqueline Winspear's book The Care and Management of Lies this 
month. I have loved this author for a long time by reading her Maisee Dobb's series. This book is a stand alone and was Wonderful. 

Product Details

The book is first set in Kent County and London, England at the beginning of World War I. The author was intrigued by a book she found about homemaking published in 1914, the year the war started. 

As I read I remembered a book my mother had that was hidden on the top of my bookshelf since she passed away. I dug it out and found it as intriguing as the one Ms. Winspear quoted from.

Mother's was The Household Searchlight Homemaking Guide published by The Household Magazine in 1937--ironically just two years before the start of World War II. 

There aren't any notations in the front except this stamp: "Fowler, Kansas, Feb. 7, 1938." My parents were married in Fowler in 1941, and lived there for a time. I have to wonder how Mom got this book and why she kept it all those years. She wasn't one to keep things, especially when we made the move to Arizona with what fit in our car and a U-Haul trailer.

There are a few items underlined such as this wedding advice:

I don't know if Mom did this underlining. She didn't have a large wedding. In fact I think it was just Mom, Dad and the witnesses.

On the section for "The Home Medicine Chest" there is this note, "true I tried it." Again, I don't know who wrote it.

Here's the complete list: 

On the next page other bits are underlined including fainting is caused when there is "lack of blood reaching the brain." And, under frost-bite underlined is "Never apply heat to frost-bitten flesh." I found that especially interesting because I had frost-bitten fingers when I was thirteen. It still bothers me to handle ice. I don't remember how it was "treated."

While looking for the notation above I found another one in pencil. The section is titled Termites and somebody wrote "That's me." How I wish I knew who did these things. 

The book covers etiquette, weddings, setting a table, serving meals, menus, quantity cooking, health and beauty, the sickroom, physical care of the baby, mental health of the child, floor coverings, wall coverings, curtains and draperies, color: the home, furnishings, equipment, woodwork furniture, textiles, the laundry, stain removal, dyeing, household pests, the lawn, club activities, and entertainment. 

I thought it would be fun to share some of these things. Some of them are silly in our time; others I wish were still in use. Here's a paragraph from etiquette on the street:

     "The best-mannered people are least noticed on the street. They do not talk loudly, or discuss personal matters, since they may be overheard by strangers. They do not carry parasols or packages at such angles that they will strike other people. They do not attempt to dash through a crowd of people, jostling every one in their path. If two people stop to talk on the street, they step outside the line of traffic so that others will not have to detour around them. . ."

Monday, August 8, 2016

Memories of the Manor House

I was quite surprised to receive this photo from my daughter this weekend along with the message that she had found this in an antique store

I called her and asked how much it was ($18.00) and why she was thinking about buying it, because I always thought she hated mine. 

With that lead in allow me to explain. We had one of these little planters in our home when I was growing up. I would spend hours picturing the little people who lived in that old manor. They would walk around the pond, over by the trees, then over by the waterwheel. The door is ajar and they went in and out. Stories abounded. 

When mom and I moved to Arizona it disappeared. My sister had it, as I later learned, and again I was surprised my niece did the same thing. Stories of little people who lived in the manor house. My niece was 9 years younger than me and so closer to me in many ways than my own sister. 

Meantime, I had found one in an antique store. Never knowing that my sister had it (and hated it.) I think we found a third one for my niece years or maybe my sister just said she could have the original.  

So this weekend I learned my daughter made up stories, too. She didn't buy this third (or fourth) manor house because I told her it would be hers one of these days, as long as she wasn't in too much of a hurry. 

So whatever your opinion of this vintage planter it has a history. And an interesting little side note: the three of us who grew up making up stories about the tenants of the manor house became writers. 

It's these funny little stories that make family history and memoirs so interesting. 

Ask around. Your family may have interesting little stories, too. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Remember When: Childhood Home

We lived in this little house from when I was about 4 until I was 12. It was a simple house, but Mom kept it spotless, even though she was often working two jobs to make ends meet. 

That 's my sister, who was ten years older, me, and Mom. Just us girls. The front windows were the living room. I don't remember those curtains. I only remember drapes. The window on the left was Mom;s room until my sister left home and Mom took the bigger room. There was no closet so my clothes were in a metal cupboard/closet. I don't know how mom kept her clothes and at one time her police uniforms in that tiny thing 

By the back door was this old filled-in well. Mom always planted it with flowers. That's our dog, Smokey. We had him from when I was about 3 until about 14. He was quite a dog. We didn't have fences so we just let him out and he roamed the streets. Mom put his food and water dishes on newspapers and we always knew when a storm was coming because he would try to push the papers up with his nose to cover his food. 

The only heat was this wall heater between the living room and the kitchen. Funny I don't remember being unusually cold. (We lived in Kansas.) I think eventually we did get a little portable heater for the bathroom but Mom warned me so much to be careful around it that I actually became afraid to have it on. 

This was my favorite spot. The old crab apple tree. It had little crab apples that never seemed to reach a point where they were good to eat. Our house is on the lift and you can see the kitchen window. I have long thought it was actually two small houses put together at some time. See the differences in the roof lines?

The well is under the tree and the yard goes back to the alley. There was a big oak tree where I had a rope swing at one time. Also a little cherry tree. 

I would get on that branch where I have my hands and see the neighborhood or watch for Mom to come home from work. 


This is my sister, Grandma Jennie, and I under the cherry tree. Funny how we took photos of blooming trees even with black-and-white film. We burned out trash in that black drum. 

 This photo is the front yard looking across the street. Nobody had fences so when all the neighborhood kids got together we could go from yard to hard and had a huge play area. For the most part we met at the corner house for hide-and-seek, tag, and catching lightning bugs. 

I hadn't really thought about pulling the house and yard together through photos before but I'm glad I did. I think with more time I could do even more. (My photos aren't exactly organized.)

I once drew a map of the house which I'll share another time. I don't have it scanned. 

What can you pull together? Have you tried drawing a map? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

You look like . . .

I've always been surprised when people say a baby has his father's eyes or her mothers nose. I just don't see resemblances like that. 

When I posted a photo of my younger self on Facebook most people who know me well commented how much my daughter looks like me. When I look at her I don't see myself at all. It wasn't until a few years ago that I started seeing glimpses of my mother in the mirror. 

I thought it might be fun to take a closer look. Here's my daughter in one of my favorite photos. Don't even ask how old she was. I can't remember. 

And here I am in my Easter outfit. 

We both have very fine, thin hair. We were both small. We both love history, books, and paranormal research. Oops, that doesn't count, does it?

Just for fun, here's my mother and sister.

I guess I do see some resemblance between Jessica and I and even Mom, Betty, and I but it doesn't jump out like it seems to for other people.. 

I do see people who look like famous people all the time. Nobody ever agrees with my assessment. 

Have a great week and watch out for those lookalikes. 

Monday, July 11, 2016


Had a wonderful therapeutic massage today. The music was more calming than usual.

There's so much negativity right now, not only for the world, our country, but among some of my associates. It makes me sad.

So for today I am sending calmness. I will close with the angel card I drew today.






"You will more easily hear and receive our messages if you daydream regularly. Relax and open your mind to receiving, without directing your thoughts. Just notice any feelings, visions, or ideas as if you were watching a movie. This is the seat of creativity."

Photos are from the Japanese Gardens, Phoenix, Arizona a few years ago.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mrs. Wyatt Earp: Laughter and Tears

Meet Mrs. Wyatt Earp.

We went to the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix today for the performance by Terry Earp of Mrs. Wyatt Earp. Terry not only performs as Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, she wrote the play which has been performed throughout the country and is married to Wyatt Earp who also performs as the historical figure he shares a name with.

Terry put on an amazing performance which brought out laughs and a few tears as Josie who is rememberin- Wyatt a few years after his death in 1929. In the one-woman play she tells a feral cat about her memories of Wyatt and how she tried to get the story right.

Friends and fans of Terry and Wyatt Earp were stunned in 2006 when they learned Terry had been struck by a red light runner in north Phoenix and left with a severe spinal cord injury. Wyatt stayed by her side as she fought to recover. We were there when she returned to the stage at Schieffelin Hall in Tombstone, Arizona. Everybody left that evening with tears from the performance of husband and wife as Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt Earp.

I was a little surprised today to find myself teary eyed as I watched Terry perform again. I never tire of watching either of these wonderful people perform.

Terry will be doing her play as "Doc" Holliday's woman,  Big Nose Kate, at the Herberger starting October 3.

Lots of memories.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Remember When: Cowboy Love

I grew up watching all the television westerns: The Legend of Wyatt Earp, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Cheyenne, The Man From Shenandoah, Rifleman . . .  Well, you get the idea.

I still love Westerns, Cowboys, and the Old West. So do many of my friends. Some of those on Facebook have been posting photos from their childhood of the western outfits we all cherished.

My sister got me my outfit complete with black boots and hat. We never went for the frilly stuff so my duds weren't the Dale Evans style with the little skirt. I remember wearing the outfit to a rodeo with my sister and her date. Later we were walking through town and I had a very big blister which caused a limp. He called me "Chester" all evening. (You have to be one of those who watched those westerns listed above to understand that one.)

Here are the only photos I have from a fishing trip with my Mom and of her men friends. I don't remember anything about him, but I'm thankful for the photos.

I believe we were at the old sandpit outside of Great Bend, Kansas. Perhaps some of my friends from that area will be able to tell.

We did pretty good that day. It must have been a long one, I can feel how tired I was just from looking at this photo. Wind has always tired me out and it looks like we had a lot of the old Kansas wind that day.

Another story from the sandpit.

I was there with my sister and her girlfriend. They were sitting on a blanket talking and admonished me over and over to stay where it was shallow. I did, but a boat went by too close and pulled me out over my head. I managed to push myself up and could see them sitting up there talking but I was afraid if I yelled Betty would be mad at me. So I paddled my way back down and crawled a ways. Then pushed myself up to get air, then back down again. I finally found the ledge I had been pulled from and got up onto my feet and on to shore. I remember making my way to the blanket and lying down totally exhausted.

I don't think Better ever knew what happened that day.

Lots of memories here. Do you have memories of the television westerns? Fishing? Or perhaps nearly drowning?

Write them down and share a bit of your memory here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

My Sister's Art

My sister was ten years older than I. Here we are when she graduated from high school. More often than not she was more like my mother since Mom was trying to raise us both by herself and working two jobs. 

Betty was an amazing artist. One corner of our shared room was set up with her easel and a table covered with oil paints and related chemicals. Those smells always bring back a flood of memories. 

While still in high school she sold quite a few paintings and I remember her doing the door of some company's pickup in hand lettering. 

As she got older she dabbled in everything. Pen and ink (always my favorite), acrylics, carving, glass etching, ceramics, and so much more. She mastered each one in record time. 

She did this painting of raccoons on leaves. She seldom needed something to draw from. She just sat down and did it. 

One time while we were visiting them in Colorado she whipped out this pair of leaves for our mom. She said to never take the glass off as they crinkled as she pressed them in.

I cherish both paintings.

Betty loved to draw Western scenes. Lots of cowboys and long horned cattle. Her love was horses and her drawings were always amazing.  

She taught me a lot about art. Sometimes getting quite frustrated, possibly forgetting how much younger I was. Perhaps some day I will try painting on leaves. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Remember When: Fishing Hole

In my writing group last week we were told to write about summer. Big surprise.

We are only allowed around ten minutes to do each prompt so there is no way to add all the description and information to tell the whole story. I chose to write about going fishing with my grandparents. I don't think most of them understood what I was trying to portray.

We lived in southwestern Kansas. Hilly country with lots of creeks and county roads built on a grid. The countryside is split off into farms and cattle ranches. We always fished at the creek in Greene's pasture.

Before we left Grandad tied his cane poles to the side of the car. Much like this one.

The poles were tied to the door handles and over the side mirror. They pretty much reached 
from one end of the car to the other so whomever was in the passenger side couldn't get out
unless they slid all the way over. 

Grandad would pull up to a gate, get out, open the gate, get back in, drive through, get out, close the gate, and drive on to the next one. One of my uncles once counted over 20 gates to get to the creek. 

When other family members went with us there were others to help with gate duty. Mostly I remember Grandad, Grandma, and me. 

I loved to watch the prairie dogs standing on the edge of their holes watching us pass. To the ranchers  and farmers they were varmints needing to be exterminated. To a child they were magical as they guarded their villages. 

We'd pass bushes and bushes of sand plums that we would go out and pick in the late 
summer so family members could make plum jelly. 

The main catch at Greene's was catfish; like this prize catch held by Grandad. 

We also caught perch and frogs. One time Grandad caught a snapping turtle and let out a whoop that echoed off those hills. If Mom was there she seemed to get cleaning duty and spent hours at the kitchen sink getting our catch ready for the table. 

Our family settled that area in the early 1880s. They lived in dugouts and later lumber built and then block homes. They lived off the land as much as possible. It's heartwarming to think about my ancestors back to my great, great grandparents picking sand plums and catching fresh fish for dinner. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Remember When: The Greats

A few months ago a cousin on my mother's side started a "secret" Facebook page for the 
cousins on that line. I've been busy posting photographs as have others. 

It has been a great chance to get to share memories and to catch up on some of those that are 
far away or in the next generation. 

Today I posted this photo of my gr. gr.grandfather Francis Marion Martin and my gr. grandfather William Albert "Bert" Martin. Frank was born in Ohio in 1844. He lived in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kansas and Oregon where he died in 1925. Bert was born in Wisconsin in 1876 and died in Los Angeles in 1952. He left when grandma was young and she didn't see him again until he was very old. He was married at least 3 or 4 times. 

We have visited both of their graves. I was very disappointed that Frank didn't have a headstone although he is buried near his daughter and her family. 

The next greats are Salenia Alzadie (Freeman) Waggoner who was born in 1870 in Arkansas and died in the same state in 1948. Her husband was Isaac Tandy Waggoner who was born in 1864 in Tennessee and died in Arkansas in 1949. Isaac's father was a Civil War soldier and either died or disappeared during the War. His mother went on to marry again and live to a ripe old age as the saying goes. Salenia and Isaac were my great grandparents on my father's side.

After I became involved in the Facebook page on mother's family I decided to start one for my father's side of the family. I never knew my dad and haven't been in touch with most of the family so it is slower getting started because I don't have the contacts. I hope it will expand and grow so we can become acquainted.

A cousin on Daddy's side was here last week and we had lunch together, twice. One day we sat in 5&Diner going through a box of old family photos as she tried to help me identify and learn about those people. We've gone from not knowing each other to becoming friends.

Linda and I last week. 

Think about gathering your family through a secret FB page. Only those you invite and who join will see the posts. Reconnect with your family and share photos and memories. Don't them fade away in a box some where. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Time Flies

We all comment about how time flies, the weeks, the months, and then the years. It seems to fly even more for me when I realize I've gotten out of the habit of posting to my blog.

I do have a good excuse. Kind of. I've been really busy working on western history articles for four different publications. Some of them take hours and hours of research. Especially if I get diverted into other channels and make notes for future article ideas.

That is all for a future post.

I'm happy to say that we finally got out of town for three days to one of my favorite little places: Pioche, Nevada.

I discovered Pioche during one of my driving trips to Washington State and fell in love immediately. I've stopped on other trips but only for an overnight rest. I've told Doug so much about it he wanted to go too. It's hard for him to get any time off from work but we managed a three day weekend and off we went.

Pioche was founded after a silver strike in 1863. From 1870 to 1877 more than $20 million of ore was mined. It became the Lincoln County seat when that county was formed. The name was named after it's founder, F. L. A. Pioche

The highway passes this beautiful wildlife area that goes on for a couple of miles at least. As you can see the area is desolate and dry, part of the Great Basin, so the water is nice to see.

We stayed at the Overland Hotel. A wonderful old place which was featured in a "Ghost Adventures" episode a few years ago. It was built in 1948. 

We had a lovely suite which we hadn't even realized when we made the reservations. 
My only complaints about this place is it is over the bar and smoking is allowed in Nevada. 
Also the stairs are rather steep. 

The view is interesting for old building buffs like us. I don't know what that first building was but next to it is the Gem Movie Theater, now closed. On the other side of that is the Thompson Opera House which we toured and enjoyed. It has been refurbished and they have various programs throughout the year. 

Pioche has two hotels, two museums, a few shops, one restaurant, and kind of a coffee shop/cafe. 
We had all our meals at the restaurant. Of course Flat Stanley joined us. 

The Million Dollar courthouse was started in 1871. It was originally supposed to cost $26,400 but because of graft, political corruption, and delayed payments the cost grew to almost one million dollars. By the time it was paid off in 1936 a new courthouse was needed. 

Those who saw that episode of "Ghost Adventures" may remember Zak sitting on this bench in front of the courthouse. See Flat Stanley waving from the back of the bench? 

Flat Stanley visited the jail behind the building.

 Next door is the Old Mountain View Hotel built in 1895. It is now closed and run down 
as most of the old part of town. 

Pioche claims 72 men were killed violently before one died of natural causes making it one of the deadliest towns in the west. Here's part of the old Boot Hill Cemetery with the ore tram overhead.

 While driving around the outskirts we found a street with a very special name. 

 Main Street.

Inside the Thompson Opera House. The ground floor was a merchantile with cold storage reached by ore car.

We took one little side trip to the Cathedral Gorge State Park. Actually we found it by accident and it was late in the day so we didn't go in but saw some of the scenery.

 The Lincoln County Museum is full of amazing items donated or loaned by local families. It is a mile high so the weather was nice except for the wind that plagued Arizona and Nevada that weekend.
A restful, if busy, weekend. The people of Pioche are friendly and the pace slow. 
A wonderful retreat from the city and modern day.