Tattered Past

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Soldier Ancestors

As Memorial Day approaches I have been thinking of my ancestors who served in our country's wars. I am saddened that the Civil War memorials are being torn down. Saddened that there are people who say we should not honor the fallen on this day. Saddened by those who only see this as a three-day holiday. 

I only know of one ancestor who died during a war: Joseph Waggoner was born in 1836 and married before joining the Civil War and when he disappeared. Although I have found records of two men with that name who served for the Confederacy I don't know if either one is him. I do know he left a young son, my ancestor, Isaac Tandy Waggoner. 

Samuel Wilburn and his wife, Mary. He went off to fight in the Civil War before they were married. Thankfully he returned although at least one of his brother's died in the War. He served in Clarkson's Battalion, Confederate Cavalry, and Clark's Regiment of Missouri Infantry. He spent some time in the Rock Island, Illinois POW camp. 

John R. George was born in 1839 in what later became West Virginia. He served in Co. F, 15 Regiment of West Virginia Infantry from 1862-1864. He was captured near Richmond and spent three years in a Confederate prison. 

 James W. George's stone in Kansas. 

John Henry Covey served in Company E of the 11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. He spent much of the War guarding railroad connections. 

Other soldiers:

Reuben George fought in the Revolutionary War. He enlisted in 1777 In Culpepper County, Virginia in the 10th Regiment of Virginia and served until 1783. He was in the Battles of Germantown, Brandywine, and White Marsh. 

John Roush/Rausch came from Germany. Although he didn't serve directly he lent a great deal of support to the Patriots during the Revolution. Two of his sons were reportedly with George Washington when Cornwallis surrendered. One served at the Battle of Point Pleasant, Virginia (West Virginia) in 1774. 

I will be remembering these men and their fallen comrades this Memorial Day. 

Memorial Day celebration 2016, Pioneer and Military Cemeteries, Phoenix, Arizona.

"Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Art Abandonment

I haven't done much art or crafts in a long time. I finally decided to do a couple of things for the Art Abandonment group.

Founded by Michael deMeng, owner of Michael deMeng Art, the Facebook group is based on the premise of making a piece of art and abandoning it into the world for someone to find. Members are encouraged to take a picture of "the drop" and then just move away, leaving the art completely on its own. A tag is attached so the finder can contact the group with their story.

Some of the stories shared by finders are quite heartwarming. From just having a bad day to being homeless the stories show what just a little bit of random kindness can do to help a person.

Photos of ceramics, crocheted objects, mixed-media art, journals, jewelry, and painted rocks can be found on the Facebook page and are inspiring in themselves.

Some of the photos and stories have been gathered into a book available on Amazon:


There are over 39,000 members on the Facebook page:


I abandoned these little canvases this week:

In the past I have abandoned a number of different things all the way from Arizona to Washington State.

No matter what you enjoy making, or even just want to try your hand at, join the movement and spread a little kindness.

More information about the Art Abandonment Movement:




Sunday, May 14, 2017


A FB friend has been posting photos of the mothers in her family all week. I have enjoyed seeing the women of her family, even though I never knew any of them. 

So here is my offering of mothers who came before me.

I grew up in a small family of women. Since she was ten years older my sister was often more of a mother than a sibling. This photo is my grandmother, mom, sister, and her first child. Four generations of women. 

Both of my grandmothers (and an aunt by marriage). My mother's mother, Jennie (center), and my father's mother, Carrie, on the right. 

Three generations this time. My paternal grandmother, Carrie, is the baby. Her grandmother, Sarah, is holding her and her mother, Salenia, stands behind her. These women lived mostly in northwest Arkansas. Sarah was born around 1828 in Georgia.

One of the second great grandmothers on my father's side is Orpha Ann. She lost her first husband, and my ancestor, in the Civil War. She was born in 1844 in Tennessee.

 Nancy Ann was born in 1846 in Illinois. She is a second great grandmother on my mother's side. Grandma said she didn't remember that window pane ever being replaced; that pillow was always stuffed in that hole.

Mary was born in 1841 in Arkansas. She was going to get married but her fiance, Sam, 
joined the Confederate Army. He returned and they were married in 1866 and became my 
paternal second great grandparents.

Mary and Sam had a number of children, one of them was Thomas. 
He married Nancie Jane and they became by great grandparents. They made the move 
from Arkansas to Kansas. 

Of all those greats, and second greats I only remember Nellie. She passed away when I was 9. She moved from Illinois to Kansas in a wagon train when she was about 6 or 7. 

My Mom, Viola, at her eighth grade graduation. Her strength carries down to my daughter. 

We all have eight second great grandmothers. I'm amazed in pulling this together to see that I have photos of four of them. I have photos of all of my great grandmothers. 

As I was adding up the numbers I realized I'd missed one great grandmother. On the right 
is Nellie again. On the left is another Nancy, born in West Virginia in 1866. Both are 
maternal great grandmothers.

I has taken many years of doing genealogy, writing letters, and researching books to 
find all these photos. It was worth every minute. 

So there you have them. The women who came before. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Vegetable Soup

Thinking about my mom. Missing her.

They say that grief eases with time. That is true. It also comes and goes. Even after 27 years I have the bad times when I just want to talk to my mom.

I started a story in my writing group a few weeks ago about her vegetable soup. I thought at the time it might evolve into an essay I could submit somewhere. It didn't.

The basis was that mom made the most amazing vegetable soup. She managed to have all kinds of different vegetables in there but I don't remember her buying all that stuff. It would have taken small quantities of such a wide variety of things: corn, green beans, okra, tomatoes, peas, carrots, celery, onion, and more. As I was writing I started wondering how she did that.

So I think, perhaps, she had a plastic container in the freezer and kept adding our leftovers to that until there was enough. Then she made a pot roast and whatever was left from that was the basis for the vegetable soup.

Then I started thinking how vegetable soup kind of signified our lives. Mom was raising two girls and often working two jobs. Our home was always immaculate if small. The furniture wasn't new but she made it shine. She scrimped and used up and made do with whatever she could.

Somehow it all came together to make a home.

Thanks Mom. I miss you.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Grandma Great"

Every Friday evening I attend a writing group at a local used book shop. We have a lot of fun and if there isn't a speaker we learn from each other. 

Last Friday I arrived early and was able to sit and chat with the speaker for awhile. Kiki Swanson is a genealogist, novelist, and writing instructor. One of her novels is based on her grandmother and we got to talking about the lives our ancestors lived and how similar they were in many ways. She turned her grandmother's story into a novel because she didn't know enough to make it her own story. 

Her grandmother is pretty much the same generation as my great grandmother who my sister dubbed "Grandma Great" when she was little. Her name was Nellie and she was born in Illinois and moved with her parents and siblings to southwestern Kansas in the early 1880s by covered wagon.

There she lived in a soddy, a barn, and in town. Her husband deserted her and her young daughter and Nellie survived by working in the first telephone office in the area, running a boarding house, and even baking bread for the local store which grandma delivered in her wagon. 

I have long wanted to write about Nellie but always get sidetracked. Last night I was having trouble getting to sleep and it almost seemed like Nellie was telling me to get busy and to get this done. I decided to gather all my notes and photographs and then contact all my relatives who would remember her and ask them to send those memories. I want to put all this into a small book to make available to those who are interested for a nominal fee. 

I'm already writing articles and a book on history but I need to get started on this. The plan was reinforced today when these photos popped right up when I was searching for blog ideas. Okay, Grandma Great, I hear you. 

Probably a church group in Fowler, Kansas. I recognize some of the faces from other family photos Nellie is right in the middle with the v-shaped collar. 

Nellie Grace (Keith) Martin

Nellie in black and her daughter (my grandmother) sitting second from right. This may be another church group and might have been taken in Montezuma.

Is there somebody you need to write about?
Now is the time.

PS. To my family members who read this, please pass it on to others. I can't do this without everybody's help. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Friendly Visitor

As most of you know I never knew my dad, or any of his family. I have no memories of him except one time when he came to visit when I was around eight years old. 

This photo, I believe, is around the time he left. It's Dad, Mom, and the puppy he brought us, Smokey.

Dad had two brothers and three sisters. (Strangely, my mom was one of six siblings. Three males and three females.) As I got older when any of them visited Arizona they made sure to get in touch with me. Now one of my first cousins comes here regularly because her son married a local girl. 

So I've been lucky to get to know the family. One of my aunts had a puppet ministry which another cousin has since taken over. When Jessica was tiny they were in town and brought one of the puppets in to visit. I don't remember the puppet's name but I'm sure one of my cousins will fill that in. 

This is my cousin, Pam, and Jessica getting to know the special visitor.

I was afraid she might be afraid of him but she thought he was great.

On another visit my aunt bought Jessica a Lamp Chop puppet and taught her some ventriloquism but she didn't keep up with it. I think she still has Lamp Chop though.

Such fun memories.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Around Town

I have always loved photography. I would carry a camera everywhere if it was easier. I started taking photography classes in high school and have had many cameras over the years. 

The main reason I finally went with a smart phone was so I could have a camera with me all the time. Although I'm not thrilled with the quality sometimes. 

I find that roaming around town with a camera in hand makes me more aware of the beauty 
and quirkiness of the places I visit. 

I thought it would be fun so share a few of the photos I've taken around Phoenix. 
I don't like to touch things up with Photoshop. 
To me photos should be left as taken, at least this type of photo.

So enjoy the tour!

In front of the federal building on Central Avenue.

The Irish Cultural Center.

A fun coffee shop on Seventh Avenue.

Desert Ridge Market Place.

Clarenden Hotel.

Japanese Gardens.

Japanese Gardens. 

I hope to go roam around town, camera in hand, before summer is upon us. 
There's so much to see in this beautiful city. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring Has Sprung

There have been some posts on FaceBook about how we used to dress for Easter. 
It shows little girls with fancy dresses, lacy socks, white patent 
leather shoes, hats, and, yes, even gloves. 

I'm not sure this first photo with my mom was Easter. She loved frilly dresses, bonnets, 
and dressing me up. She carried that over to my daughter. 

The second photo is my sister and I. Betty was old enough by then to put her foot down about how she dressed. She was never a frills and lace kind of girl. I remember that little cloth coat; it was turquoise.

A few years ago Betty and I were looking at photos and when this one came up she said she was so mad that day. I was really sick and she didn't like that we had to get all dressed up like that. She always looked out for me.

Jump forward a few years to my daughter's first Easter. If I remember right this was the first day she took off walking. A little bit of frill and the white socks and shoes, but not as much as I'm sure her Nana would have liked. 

This is about a month earlier and is in honor of spring. Jessica's favorite flower is still the tulip and she grows many of them in her own yard. 

A woman kept going on-and-on one day that you can't grow tulips in Arizona. I proved her wrong. These came up every year for a long time. Then suddenly they stopped.

Here's another nod to spring. This was the house I grew up in. My favorite spot was in that crab apple tree. There was a branch that was perfect for sitting and I spent many an hour thinking up on that branch. Or as Christoper Robin said to Pooh, "Doing nothing." I'd also sit up there and wait for mom to come home from work. It was a beautiful tree and smelled so sweet. 

Do you have some special Easter or spring memories to share? 
What is your favorite flower?

(My favorite flower is the tulip too with a close second or maybe even tie with sunflowers.)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Tombstone Fun

While our daughter and her family were visiting we took a whirlwind trip to Tombstone. The boys hadn't been there in their memory time so they had a great time.

Saw a few friends and enjoyed the sites all anew through the eyes of the boys.

Performers before the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Boothill Cemetery 

Street scene. Corner location was once the famous Can Can Restaurant and, for a time,
 the Piggly Wiggly store. 

A quiet moment.

We got two cuttings from the Rose Tree Inn Museum. The Lady Banksea rose bush has been in Ripley's Believe It or Not and the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest rose bush in the world. We'll see how we do with cuttings in Washington and central Arizona. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Long-Time Friends: Remember When

 My daughter was in town a couple of weeks ago. We always spend some time looking at old photos and reminiscing.

This time we had a cohort in the memory searching, my friend Connie. We met back before we had kids. Now both our kids are married and living in other states.

I found some of the photos of my daughter and her son over time. It was fun remembering when.

Halloween at the park. I'm not sure about ages. 

Jessica's fifth birthday party. 

Sometime after that we lost contact. Connie moved away for awhile and the years slipped away.
Then about three years ago she found me again through FaceBook. 

One thing we wanted to make sure and do was all get together for coffee. Here's Jessica and Connie at the local Starbucks. Connie made the beautiful crocheted blanket for her. 

New friends are wonderful, long-time friends are the best.

Do you have a long-time friend who is special to you? Or is there somebody you've lost touch with? Take the time to find them again and make new memories. You'll be glad you did.