Tattered Past

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

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.