Monday, August 29, 2011

Grandma's Washing Machine and Stove

Grandma Kelly (Hellen Gertrude Zeller Kelly 1894 - 1985) loved her major appliances. She came up when all things domestic were done by hand with lots of hard work. Washing clothes and cooking were beyond our present day imaginings and grasp. I remember when I was little her proudly showing me her washing machine. It looked kind of like this if I remember it correctly. She explained the old way of washing clothes in a wash tub over an open fire in the yard. She taught me the proper way to hang clothes on a line with clothespins too.

Cousin Linda emailed the other day to inquire and chat about grandma's old stove. There were three that I remember. First was a coal stove. I tripped when I was about three years old and burned my wrist on the black beast... still have the little scar. The stove looked something like this, only hers looked better.

Then she had a very eye-catching one that looked something like this.

Last, she had a Kenmore that was her pride and joy!

When Grandma passed I went with all the family to the reading of her will. She left her washing machine, brand new at the time of the drafting of the will, to her daughter. By the time she passed it was very old. We all had a nice comfortable laugh that she loved and prized it so much that she wanted her daughter to have it. Grandma did love her major appliances!

Mom sent this by email this morning and it made me think of Grandma and her washing machines.

"Warshing" Clothes Recipe
Never thought of a "warsher" in this light before...what a blessing! "Warshing Clothes Recipe" -- imagine having a recipe for this! Years ago, an
Alabama grandmother gave the new bride the following recipe exactly as written and found in an old scrapbook with spelling errors and all.


Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water.
Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert.
Shave one hole cake of lie soap in boilin water.
Sort things, make 3 piles -- 1 pile white, 1 pile colored, 1 pile work britches and rags.
To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with boiling water.
Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and boil, then rub colored don't boil just wrench and starch.
Take things out of kettle with broom stick handle, then wrench, and starch.
Hang old rags on fence.
Spread tea towels on grass.
Pore wrench water in flower bed.
Scrub porch with hot soapy water.
Turn tubs upside down.
Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs.
Brew cup of tea, sit, rock a spell, and count yore blessings.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Call Me "The Administrator"

Last Saturday I attended the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego meeting and a presentation by Hal Horrocks on using Rootsweb message boards. It was really good as their meetings always are. I asked what to do if there's no surname board for the name I'm seeking, and that would be Newans and all the variations. Hal said to request a new board for that surname but be ready to step forward as the administrator.

OK, so I'm the newbie here and don't know if I can be trusted with that kind of responsibility. So I talked it over with Mom and she told me what I'd need to watch out for if I did it. And she encouraged me to go ahead. So I did.

Meet the new administrator of the Newans Surname Board on Rootsweb! Boy, am I surprised how that worked out;) Guess I'll do almost anything to get new information. Ha!

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Genealogy "Job Descriotion"

I've been at this genealogy stuff for under a year. Well, taking it "seriously" for that long. And by seriously, I mean there's not too much "serious" about it. It's just all-out fun to me! OK, OK sometimes the fates of our ancestors are sad, and yes, well they sometimes didn't make good decisions along the way and times were hard and all. But it makes me see how very funny life is and how you just gotta enjoy the daylights out of it while the ride lasts. I've probably earned my "N" in Newbie, but Alex, can I buy a vowel?

So I've been thinking lately (Mom, do not make the obvious joke here) that since the afore mentioned Mom, now 93 and going strong at life and genealogy, has attached close to 60,000 ancestors to our particular tree, what might my own personal job be in relation to genealogy. Guess you could say I'm second generation genealogy: what's left for me to find? Ancestors back to Adam?? Really?

So I'm working on my Genealogy Job Description. Here's what I have so far.

The job title is Family History Liaison. I'm to "liaise" between the fine and extensive work Mom has done to the other cousins and their kids, thus insuring others in the family are increasingly interested in this sport:)

Here's my task list so far and it's growing:
1. Double check sources and add Notes. A person can't be too sure.
2. Get GEDCOM to as many people as possible.
3. Make the lives of the ancestors as "real" as possible: put flesh on the bones on names, dates, and places.
4. Find and tell family stories. Keep the stories and oral tradition already strong in our family even stronger. And turn this oral tradition into a written tradition so the stories aren't lost.

I know there's more to my job description but it will grow over time, just as Mom's GEDCOM grows, my picture file grows, and my unruly stacks of papers grow.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's Like Looking For Eleanor Roosevelt and Finding General Custer

No, really. That's it exactly! Was talking to Mom who has been at this genealogy stuff since about 1970, on the phone a while back and she mentioned that we are related to George Bush. She told me how and I wrote it down and charted it out for the family history newsletter.

I asked her a couple of days later if we were related to anyone else famous and she said, oh so casually, that we are related to General Custer. WHAT?!!! Seriously? MOM! So she outlined that for me.

Custer Portrait Restored.jpg
General George Armstrong Custer.

Mom, I pleaded, can't you go find that we're related to Eleanor Roosevelt just to balance things out? She said she'd try ... and then Mom said, Did I ever tell you about the twin brothers in the family who were counterfeiters?

Mom, all dressed up for some big event in 1972,
about two years after she got interested in genealogy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Trip to The Local Family History Center

It's Thursday so I know that the resident British expert will be at the San Diego Family History Center so off I went with my document binder and lots of questions. She's very kind, gentle and patient to this newbie so I can ask her the most basic question and feel comfortable about it.

I catch her up on my recent work looking into the British Archives online (see below.) She points me to FamilySearch's Library Catalog to check for a Place Search on England. Then we drill down to Army Military records. She turns me lose on the listings to sort and select. I can print out the ones I think might be a good fit for me with the click of a mouse and collect them at the reception desk printer.

Of course, as Randy Seaver of GenaMusing blog at has pointed out in one of his posts, you can do all of this from the comfort of home and the Center will call and let you know when the films you ordered are in... if you know how to do that. Since this is my maiden voyage it was comforting to have my expert guide me through.

Once my selections were printed out I prioritized them based on relevancy and showed my expert. She agreed that the two I picked should yield results. "You'll find him, "she said encouragingly. It was a good morning:)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bumbling Around Britain

This newbie is looking for records of my Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newans. Reportedly from a family history (see tabs above) his family purchased a commission for him and he served with General Braddock but I need proof. So I've spent the morning on the British Archive web site trying my best to find records. Found out that what I need is under WO 12 (War Office) where the colonial muster and pay records are. Did not find it online so posted a note to them through their web site... it will be replied to within 10 working days the site says.

Have been enjoying my time researching Braddock and Washington before him in what's now Western Maryland, where my people come from. Found a downloadable book published in the mid-1800s containing all manner of details. Was delighted to read even more about the Braddock Expedition, but mid-read I sort of hit myself on the head and said to myself: was Newans even there?!

After all the only evidence we have at the moment is what's written in the printed family history entitled, "Ancestral History of Thomas F. Myers". That's pretty flimsy if you ask me. I'm at the point where it's evident that I need proof. Thus my foray into the British Archives. Keep your fingers crossed for me that the archivist who replies has good news:)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fruits of Summers Past

Chatting with Mom this morning during one of our marathon calls from me here in San Diego to her back in Western Maryland. We got to talking about how great tomatoes from the garden taste this time of year, still warm from the sun... so good! I recall taking a pepper shaker out to the garden and helping myself to lunch right on the spot:) You ever do that?

Mom loved her granddad's apricot tree, but with so many grandkids buzzing about he limited their intake of the precious fruit to one each. To this day Mom confesses to loving apricots above all other stone fruit!

I recalled going to work with Dad and him passing me off to someone at work who would drive me a short distance to a farm, the owner of which worked for Dad. I'd hang out all day with the farm kids picking wild blackberries in the brambles. We each got tin pales and would eat our fill. Only then did we start picking for the pale. I'd come homes with purple hands, lips and tongue! And a sunburn;) Good old times.

Mom's Mother Emma Susan Whetstone Williams, as a girl in summer.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

First Shot at Using Google Earth to Find the Eckhart Mansion

Last Tuesday went to a North San Diego County Genealogical Society presentation on using Google Earth for genealogy. I had fiddled with GE but hadn't a clue as to how to put this awesome tool to work for me.

As the presentation came to a close it popped into my newbie head that since I already knew where my ancestor, John Eckhart (1768 - 1835), son of George Adam Eckhart (1729 - 1806), had his home and land called the Eckhart Mansion I could fly over using GE. So off I went to fly over the south side of Frostburg, Maryland, down the hill from the Foodline, and high above the village of Eckhart and Eckhart Mines!

Here's the screen capture, saved and punched up in PhotoShop. See for yourself.

Here's a screen shot of the left hand section of the above image.

Is it just me or does that look like the footprint of a house and two out buildings in the upper left quadrant? The two out buildings would be to the left of the house and smaller. The Eckharts owned slaves, sad to say, and the reports of the time mention slave quarters. Wish I was an archaeologist and knew what I was looking at!

I emailed my brother and asked him to check it out and he did. He says that next time I'm in to visit Mom we'll take his Tahoe 4-wheel drive vehicle and ride down there.  What I'm really curious about is the center of the green mound on the right of the second image above. Is it a target for archery or shooting (folks do own guns there and enjoy target practice) or some other stone structure?

There was also on old family cemetery there and subsequent owners dozed it all over demolishing the old stones. (Don't ask me if I'm bitter... the answer is yes. People, you know who you are!) I'd really like to take that Tahoe and go looking for it.

Last time I was visiting Mom I tried climbing down from Foodline, but alas, I have a bad knee so felt like at least two of the Three Stooges sliding on down and crawling back up;) Tahoe, here I come!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Randy Seaver's Forum Pointers

So as you can tell, I'm kinda new to this genealogy thing and very enthusiastic. I was slowing down a while back and took a look at Randy Seaver's recommendations on what to do next. He's the guy behind the stimulating and informative blog, GenaMusings at

Here's what I posted to this blog when I was stuck: 

"Think I'll go back and look at Randy Seaver's list of what to do next, posted to his GenaMusings blog not too long ago, titled, "My Research Problem Solution Advice". Here's the link: "

One of the things Randy suggested was using forums so off to the forums I went. Only problem, where are they and which are the best if you're only going to use a couple so you can keep on top of them? No problem... I'll email Randy!

Here's what he replied and it's so clear and concise that even this newbie can follow it. Thanks a million, Randy! 

1)  The Rootsweb/Ancestry Message Boards at  This has surname, locality and topic boards and is the biggest.
2)  The GenForum message boards at also have surname, locality and topic boards.  different format and selection.  Lots of cross-posting with the other board.
3)  The FamilySearch Forums ( has locality and topic message boards, and how-to boards.  This will be a big forum suite in years to come.
There are other forums and message boards but none have the volume that these three have.  The Rootsweb and Genforum message boards are easily searchable , and Google picks up content.  I doubt that there is a decent search capability yet on the FamilySearch forums, and I'm pretty sure that search engines don't crawl it yet.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marching With General Braddock

OK, so I pretty much trashed General Edward (see he does have a first name) Braddock a couple of posts ago. And while this newbie still struggles with military history, I am getting the hang of it: learned that it must be read with utmost attention to all details and pictured in the mind's eye.

The way Braddock ties in to my family history is that one of our Revolutionary War ancestor's Nehemiah Newans came to the colonies under Braddock's command, or so it's thought. I'll know it for sure when I see the paperwork;)

The crazy part about this genealogy research thing is that often I find that just when I'm looking for one item a related item pops up out of nowhere in some unexpected place. Or information bits cluster around the same topic and appear in the same time frame. You ever open a book and find exactly what you're looking for? Like that: serendipity.

So I'm Googling around looking for Martin's Plantation. When I was back east and visiting Mom in Western Maryland this spring I noticed a historical site marker about Martin's Plantation. I must have passed that marker a thousand and one times throughout my life. But out of the blue I thought about it last night and wondered what Martin's Plantation was. Was it a real working plantation? 

I Googeled "Martin's Plantation" just for fun. Here's where I went: and "The Search for Braddock's Road Through Frostburg, MD". Here's a picture of the historical marker:

See how that worked out? I'm interested in General Braddock right now and then happened to Google Martin's Plantation out of nowhere and find it's related to Braddock in a very personal way for me. That's exciting!

It's funny how my interest in genealogy takes me down many lanes into history. And this particular history adventure was about Braddock and his road and how he had to build it as he went along so that the cannons and supply wagons could get to where they needed to go. Braddock built the road out of the wilderness -- a hundred and ten miles long starting in Cumberland, MD-- and built it well enough that it could stand a real beating by the supply wagons and artillery. And guess who his aide-de-camp was? George Washington! Why? Because The Father of Our Country knew the territory. And if that's not enough excitement for you, then know that Daniel Boone was one of Braddock's wagoners! Cool, huh?

The funny part is that Braddock's road likely took him right the heck through my old home place! So my ancestor Nehemiah Newans saw what was later to be the little town of Frostburg in Western Maryland and home place of all my people. So for that, much respect to you, General Edward Braddock and your wonderful road, still called to this day, "Braddock's Road". Way ta go!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Poor Sad General Braddock

This newbie is into the military thing a bit. (See yesterday's miserable post.) Have been reading about the life of General Braddock and a couple things are clear. First, does the man even have a first name? Poor guy is always referred to as simply "Braddock". And not fondly either.

Poor guy: he landed with his two regiments of British regulars at Alexandria Virginia on 20 February 1755 and the guy was dead and buried in the road by 13 July of that same year. That's just 5 months for pitty's sake! Plus, consider that he spent a lot of time at Fort Cumberland in western Maryland, drilling the life out of his troops so that they could march smartly into battle in formation in the British way. Guess they were trying to impress the French and Indians;)

The story goes that Braddock was "hampered" by lack of support from the colonials, mainly supplies. On the plus side, he did have George Washington as a field officer. They crossed the Monongahela River on 9 July and ran smack into the French and Indian force. Yikes! So they back-tracked, got confused and got caught in cross-fire. In a short four days Braddock met the opposition, retreated, was cut down and died.

Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin included a bit about the Braddock Campaign events in his Autobiography, and not in a flattering way. Franklin warned Braddock that his plan would be disastrous.

See, I'm wrapping my arms around this military stuff:)

Mom's Uncle Jimmy Whetstone,
in his WWI uniform.
Mom says that Uncle Jimmy suffered gassing during his service.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Military Conflicts

Even though I'm a newbie to this genealogy stuff, I really do love it all... well, all except for the military stuff. I'm conflicted about it. Have to keep asking my husband which rank is higher than which and so on. It's way beyond me to keep up with campaigns and battles. Picket's Charge is like algebra to me... and that's so obscure I haven't a chance with it.

I only bring this up because I have a little side project going to write up my notes on the life of my Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newans. I have the first couple of sections done and am up to his service in General Braddock's British Regulars, either the 44th or the 48th. As of yet I have no proof that he served there. Would very much like to find my way around the British Archive to see him on a muster roll. That hasn't happened but it's not keeping me from plugging in some framework for that section of my project.

Thing of it is that my mind goes mush when I get to the details of the Braddock Campaign or any military campaign. I get it that it was pretty much of a disaster and then Braddock went and got himself killed, so it didn't end well.

As a kid I remember going on rides past Fort Necessity and the memorial near where Braddock was buried and hearing the story of how Braddock's men buried him under the roadway so the French troops wouldn't dig him up. Cool then, cool now. Check it out at

But I'd like a better understanding of exactly what happened in the Braddock Campaign. And how George Washington came to take over from Braddock. And then after all was over and done, how and why my ancestor ended up settled in York Pennsylvania. Guess I'm going over to the San Diego Genealogical Society and crack open the books. Hey, San Diego is a military town ... there should be someone around to explain this to me:)

Enoch Clise, married in to the family, and served in the Civil War.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Enumerator Heaven or Hell?

Mom and I were chatting by phone this morning while she perused the 1850 US Census online. "Oh, this enumerator wasn't so great cause I can hardly read a word. You should see what he did with Hartley," she moaned.

I'm new to all of this but one of the first things I did observe while working on the 1900 census for Manhattan was how there could be three enumerators in the same number of blocks if you hit it just right... or wrong. Just when I'd get the hang of reading one guy's writing the ED would switch and some other guy would torture me with his script! Yikes!

Mom and I agreed that what we'd really like to do is sort enumerators into piles and do something with them all. You can tell by the writing that some enumerators took the job seriously and tried to get it all letter perfect, listened to names real hard, and counted correctly. Those are the good guys and we'd send them to Enumerator Heaven. In Enumerator Heaven there would be the most exquisite of quill pens and little cherubs flying all about to grind the fine ink, sharpen the pens, and prepare parchment. And there'd be snacks. Plenty of yummy snacks. They love it in ED Heaven:)

The next group kinda tried - a little - but you can tell they thought it was just a job... a paycheck. That's it. We'd send them to Enumerator Purgatory to think about what they did and about how hard it makes life for all the genealogists who will look at their work! We know they had it hard out there but any job worth doing is worth doing well... right Mom? We'd make them continue enumerating, listen to lectures for hours on the fine points of being an excellent enumerator, and practice cursive writing... like in Sister Mary Joseph's class. No snack time in ED Purgatory! They wouldn't get out until they got it right.

The last group goes to Enumerator Hell. I remember clearly while looking for my husbands grandmother's people in the Lower East Side of NYC that the enumerator must have been drunk while on the job. Seriously, there could be no other explanation for the handwriting! These enumerators are hopeless. They're gonna stay there forever... or at least as long as there's still one poor tired genealogist left on earth trying oh so hard to read their writing.

Here's my brother, probably in the 1960s.
I'll just post this here and see how long it takes him
to tell me to take it off;)
He's a big deal trial attorney now!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cluless No More!

I have an inside track to all genealogical mysteries. I can get clues in a moment! Want to know how? OK, I'll tell you. But first a story.

I love Kerry at Cluewagon. Her blog keeps me moving and she brings ups stuff I need to know about as a newbie. Heck, she is a good read for anyone. So I took some time I really don't have to read an old blog post about a genealogy psychic. Read it here:
It's a two-parter and you really do need to read the whole thing... it's good stuff.

Was reading the comments to her post and someone mentioned a link to the I Ching online! Here's the link:

So why not give it a try? The Ching has entertained many of us during our college years so it might work now for burning questions springing from our genealogy work.

I plugged in the question as follows: "where to look for more NN records?" If you remember, or OK so maybe you don't, I've been working on my ancestor Nehemiah Newans and he's about driving me nuts. He disappears after the Revolutionary War from about 1783 (the end of the war) to around 1790 when he is found in the 1790 US Census in Northumberland PA. And I don't know where to look, thus the I Ching question.

Here's what the Ching said and it sounds about right:

Cast Hexagram:
56 - Fifty-SixLu / The Wanderer

Fire on the Mountain, catastrophic to man, a passing annoyance to the Mountain:
The Superior Person waits for wisdom and clarity before exacting Justice, then lets no protest sway him.
Find satisfaction in small gains.
To move constantly forward is good fortune to a Wanderer.


You are a stranger to this situation.
It is your attraction to the exotic that has led you here, but you will move on to a new vista when this one has lost its mystique.
Because much of this environment is foreign to you, you must exercise only the best judgement.
You don't know the custom here, and it's too easy to cross a line you don't know is there.
Because you are the foreigner in this setting, you have no history to acquit you.
Watch, listen, study, contemplate, then step lightly but decisively on.

As best I can determine Northumberland seems to be the place where Nehemiah Newans got his life together. My guess is that he met his second wife there, had a second son there, and became after all what he'd wanted to become when he was young and living with his family in England: a stone mason.

From Northumberland he moves up to the Fingerl Lakes region of New York and settles in the town of Canandaigue. So the Ching sort of nails it. But the Ching always nails it... if you read it just right:)

Oh, by the way, that bold type above is something strange going on right now with Blogger and I can't undo it. Or maybe it's the magic of the Ching! Yikes!!