Monday, April 30, 2012

Any Quality Copy Is A Good Copy, If...

March 7, 1896 issue of the Frostburg Mining Journal, above, carried the obituary of the sister of my Great Grandfather, Joseph E. Whetstone. Mrs. Elizabeth J. Clise (nee. Elizabeth J. Whetstone) was, according to my Family Tree Maker relationship calculator, my great grand aunt. I don't have a photo of her, although I sure wouldn't mind having one. Bet there's one floating about in some relatives closet:)

If you happen to scroll down you'll see older posts about the Frostburg Mining Journal. It has not been available online until now, but quite recently the Maryland State Archive began the task of scanning all 10 rolls of microfilm. Good for them... and a blessing for the rest of us who are from Western Maryland and find in it wonderful bits about our ancestors! I've been having a load of fun parked on their web site looking through page after fascinating page, soaking up the place and time of the late 19th Century in Frostburg and vicinity.

The only problem I'm having is one of quality. Above you'll see what I mean when I titled this post, "Any Copy Is A Good Copy, If...". If it's the only copy you have access to.

Today's photo from my Archive, such that it is:

Enoch Clise, Husband of Elizabeth J. Whetstone,
Mentioned in the above obit,
in his Civil War uniform.
He was mayor when his wife passed.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Frostburg Mining Journal Online: A Dilemma

Can your read that? It's difficult, right? That's the quality of the Frostburg Mining Journal online at the Maryland State Archives based on the Baltimore microfilm. (See below.) Some bits are better than that and some much worse. Mom and I decided that it is not as clear as the microfilm over at Frostburg State University's Ott Library's Special Collections.

So the dilemma is this: wait for the FMJ to be put online at some future point by Frostburg State University or go ahead and sponsor pages at the Maryland State Archive. Something is better than nothing, I guess. And I did find the mention of my GGF, Gus Zeller seen above. That's worth a lot, although I don't think I'd be able to make out the words if I didn't already have that text from my file on him... taken from the Frostburg State University's library microfilm.

The URL of this post is:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Two things to report and then I gotta get goin'. First, both of the films I ordered from the Family History Library have arrived at the local Center. The last time, the order process happened at mid-change over in the way they do it so it kinda got messed up. But this time, super fast and efficient!

The second item is a biggie for me, Mom, Aunt Betty! The good old Frostburg Mining Journal is going online!! First I need to explain what the Frostburg Mining Journal is. It was a small newspaper that chronicled life and times in the Frostburg Maryland area during the boom-time of regional coal mining in Western Maryland. From small news to big events, joyous and tragic, the FMJ covered it all. The FMJ was published from 1871 to 1904 and a good many of the original issues and the microfilm of those issues reside with Frostburg State University's Ott Library's Special Collection. They are preserved as best they can be but time is the enemy.

The library admin and staff know how important the FMJ is to researchers. They located the original masters of the film and that was the last I heard of progress toward getting it online... until yesterday!

From the FMJ, January,1898

Long story short, The Maryland State Archives is doing it from the City of Baltimore microfilm! And individuals can sponsor a roll for $60! There are 10 rolls and two have already been sponsored. Think I know what I'll give Mom for Mother's Day;)

Here's a link to the inventory of films and FMJ issue dates. As you can see, two have already been digitized and are ready for browsing:

If Western Maryland history is your interest, here's the link to the sponsorship form:

Print out the form and fill it in then mail to:
Allison Rein
Special Collections Manager
Project Director, Maryland Newspaper Project
(410) 260-6477
Maryland State Archives
350 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21401

Photo of the day from my archive:

My GGF, Gus Zeller, often mentioned in the FMJ

Me and Grandma Williams, Emma Susan Whetstone Williams.
Not relevant but I just like it:)

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Reading A Probate Sale List is FUN!

Have been reading the probate sale list of the possessions of John Eckhart, 1768 - 1835. He was born and died in Western Maryland and lead, from what I can tell, an interesting life as a farmer and roadhouse owner on the National Highway which was the main route west.

His father and the start of the Eckhart line here in America, was George Adam Eckhart, 1729 - 1806. Adam was born in Germany and died on his own 650 acres of land in what would become the town of Eckhart and later Eckhart Mines. Reportedly he was an indentured servant when he came here, but I haven't seen any records yet so it remains just a theory. John was his prosperous son.

John must have died without a will because his belongings were sold at probate. (Am I using these terms correctly? My newbie colors are still strong;))

The sale list included slaves... will I ever get over that, not likely. Just found a group online Come To The Table for descendants of slaves and slave owners. Think there's a real need out there for all of us to chat about our relationship to all of this information, especially if it's new to us. Remember, I would have bet the farm that there wern't any slave owners in my heritage as we wern't in plantation country. Finding out that there were slave owners is difficult to process. Comments such as, "That's just how it was," and "You aren't responsible", while having a vein of truth to them don't begin to cover it.

But I digress. The probate sale list covered so much stuff! I once had a researcher working on her dissertation about New York upstate agriculture contact me looking for a probate list for Nehemiah Newans. I was perplexed at her wanting it until now when reading John Eckhart's probate list. It really gives you a picture of life based around agriculture!

Here's a bit of it. Left column is the item sold, middle column is how much it went for and the right column is who bought it. Notice that John's widow, Mary Eckhart had to buy back her own stuff... and then split the proceeds of the sale with other heirs! Crazy! And sorry about the spacing but this is just cut and paste gone wild:)

pots & kettles                                    $1.68                              Mary Eckhart   ;

waggon/coal bed                              $ 31.50                           Mary Eckhart   ;

pot hook                                             $.18                                 John Mcgittigan;

102 bushels rye                                 $ 68.67                           Mary Eckhart   ;

2 pot holders                                      $.87                           Mary Eckhart   ;

rye & wheat                                       $ 34.00                           John Neff      ;

bundled straw                                    $11.39                        John Porter    ;

lot of flax                                           $  2.12                            John Neff      ;

stack of oats                                      $ 12.62                        Robt. ?Lowry   ;

stack of hay                                      $ 15.40                           Wm. Ridgely    ;

stack of hay                                      $    21.00                        Mary Eckhart   ;

hay in mow                                        $ 41.00                           Jos. H. Logsdon;

auger/coal                                          $    71.67                        Thos. A. Cheney;

sow & 4 pigs                                      $ 11.00                           Mary Eckhart   ;

5 sows & pigs                                     $    30.50                        Mary Eckhart   ;

3 sheep/whte cow                             $ 24.42                           Mary Eckhart   ;

red milk cow                                      $    19.00                        Hannah Eckhart ;

black cow                                           $ 16.25                           Danl. ?Quilly  ;

white cow                                           $    13.25                        Wm. Ridgely    ;

rye in the field                                   $ 35.00                           John Eckhart   ;

black mare colt                                 $    40.00                        John McGittigan;

sorrel horse                                         $ 31.50                           Mary Eckhart   ;

tan horse                                            $    50.00                        John McGittigan;

black mare                                         $ 18.00                           Josiah Porter  ;

old gray mare                                    $     2.01                         John H. Logsdon;

black horse                                        $ 22.50                           Danl. O'Brian  ;

blk smith tools                                   $    11.62                        John McGittigan;

hay fork                                             $   .22                              Josiah Porter  ;

copper stick                                       $    36.10                        Jese W. Cheney ;

hay fork                                             $   .32                              John Neff      ;

shovel plow                                        $     1.46                         Mary Eckhart   ;

cockery ware                                     $  1.25                            Edw. W. Donato ;

old slate                                              $      .20                           Mary Eckhart   ;

axe/pewter/iron                                 $  1.50                            John McGittigan;

Durkely Gotes                                   $    50.69                        Mary Eckhart   ;

Durkely Gotes                                   $ 57.97                           Mary Eckhart   ;

dining table                                        $     5.00                         John McGittigan;

bedstead                                             $   .50                              Hannah Eckhart ;

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Remembering Summer Picnics

Ah, the summer picnic! Oh I know, it's early... not even Memorial Day... and here I am thinking about Summer picnics. Hey, it was a warm winter:)

All the food stuffs would be packed in coolers and boxes and off we'd go to a previously decided on location! The cousins would be there and we'd have fun at games or just sitting in the grass. Ever try to use a blade of grass between thumbs to make a whistle? Bet you could still do that!

Mothers and grandmothers busied themselves around food. Then they'd sit and "chat a spell". The men would get going right away at horseshoes or baseball. But eventually the cold drinks would come out and then they'd sit talking.

The food was greatly similar at every event. You could probably count on hot dogs for kids and burgers for adults. Baked beans or chili could go on the dogs if you wanted. Aunt Dot's pineapple upside-down cake. Someone always made "ambrosia" which was cherry jello cubes, whipped cream, coconut, and pineapple chunks. Mom often made coleslaw or potato salad or both. Some auntie was sure to make a devils food cake. Mom also made a really good German chocolate cake too. Mom always was and still is a great cook!

Lazy afternoons turned into evening when the lightning bug or fire flies came out. If you were gentle you could catch them and put them in a jar with holes punched in the lid. They'd stay like that until you got home and then you could open the jar and see them fly out into your own yard.

Sometimes I'd fall asleep on the way home. Life was good. Did we even know it?

Today's photo from my archive:

Kelly family picnic in a backyard. Date unknown.

Congregational Church, Ladie's Aid Society picnic, about 1930s.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When In Doubt, Make A Timeline

Have been enjoying the facebook group for the descendants of George Adam Eckhart, a LOT! It's fun to see what cousins, however close or distant, know and remember.

We all got started talking about the Eckhart land and the mining that eventually got done on it. (See posts below, if you feel like it:) Someone said, we need a timeline and I agreed. Then it came up again. I was thinking of doing one anyway. The history of the Eckharts and their land is complicated so a timeline would be helpful. So I started a new page here in hopes that a cousin or two will chime in.

It's messy, at least for me, to build a timeline: items get added willy-nilly with no apparent order. Guess the nature of it is that order comes later and out the accumulation of items listed. It's only then that you get a sense of the flow of events that form a life or a generation.

The timeline for Nehimiah Newans took forever! But it was very worth it. I had it just about resolved before I put it on the blog. But this time I think I'll just jump on in and build the Eckhart timeline out here... mess and all;)

Photo of the day from Cousin Rich via the Eckhart descendants facebook page:

Thanks Cousin Rich!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Paranoid, Or Was Someone Really Stealing from Them?

Am working on the Eckhart bunch right now... the Eckharts, descendants of George Adam Eckhart of Eckhart and Eckhart Mines, Maryland. Down through the decades, they have been telling a tale of intrigues and rumors that "someone stole our land." (See posts below.) Here I am over 200 years later sitting at the computer trying to piece together what really might have happened back then. To be completely candid about this matter, have to say, I get two pictures: one of double dealing and one of paranoia. Here's what I'm finding so far.

George Adam Eckhart came to this country about 1750. He acquired through purchase and whatever, in total almost 650 acres of land. Some of this land was used for farming and his family and children settled on some other parcels. He died in 1806. His will left a third of the estate to his wife Anna Marie and two-thirds to his son John who was named executor of the estate.

I'm getting a feeling that John was quite the business man, and it was written that he "became quite wealthy". In 1830 he ran a roadhouse where one of the four stagecoach lines that serviced the National Road (that was built in 1812 or so) stopped. That was pretty big business then. He also owned 8 slaves.

Coal was found on the Eckhart property along about the same time as the National Road was built. Some sources report that John had already found coal on his land and was already offering it to local residents to heat and cook with. It's also written that he dug the first deep mine on his land about this time.

John married a woman named Mary Ann, whose surname is not yet known. John died in 1835. Ten days later, more or less, she sold the land to Matthew St Claire Clarke. (See post below, "Cousin Rich, The Sleuth".) Clarke was an agent for a mining company and had already had the land surveyed and the minerals assayed. He also wrote a report for the mining company.

Mary Ann accepted the tidy sum of $20,000 for the land. What is that in today's money, I thought? Go to: 

Here's what it said when I plugged in $20,000 in 1835:

If you want to compare the value of a $20,000.00 Income or Wealth, in 1835 there are three choices. In 2011 the relative:
historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is $527,000.00
economic status value of that income or wealth is $10,900,000.00
economic power value of that income or wealth is $227,000,000.00

As for John's slave's value, it was listed in probate as $3600 in 1835. Back to the Measuring Worth Calculator again to find this, values of commodities, which sadly, slaves were at that time:

If you want to compare the value of a $3,600.00 Commodity in 1835 there are three choices. In 2011 the relative:
real price of that commodity is $94,800.00
labor value of that commodity is $810,000.00(using the unskilled wage) or $1,790,000.00(using production worker compensation)
income value of that commodity is $1,960,000.00

That's a fortune!!

After her husband's death, it's said that Mary Ann wanted to free her slaves, but the sons stepped in. In 1836, a year after Mary Ann came into a considerable fortune, her sons filed a Writ of Lunacy against Mary Ann. A trustee was appointed. She appealed from her home now in another state, West Virginia, living with her son Adam.

I'm wondering how long the negotiations with Clarke went on. Were they going on as John Eckhart lay dying? Or was he kept in the dark? There's no way of knowing.

Additionally, Mary Ann's oldest son, Jacob, died either within five days of his father or within the next year. Suspicious?
Was $20,000 a fair sum? Did Mary Ann know about the mineral wealth sitting right under her and her family? Did Mary Ann's sons have a legitimate concern for her mental health after the death of her husband (and one other son, close on) and the pressures Mr. Clarke possibly might have been making on her?

As the years passed, might not her sons and grandsons who stayed in Eckhart Mines not have felt some bitterness as they saw the Big Vein of coal on their ancestral land being mined by large coal conglomerates only interested in profits, leaving them in the coal dust? It would make me mad, I must say!

With this picture in mind it's easy to see how down through the years family oral tradition came to tell of land being "stolen" from us. The real-life Jenkins didn't come into the picture until the 1940s as far as I can tell, yet I heard my grandparents tell of "Jenkins" paying off the court clerk in Cumberland to get rid of the original Eckhart deed. Not likely.

Other branches of this family also tell stories, similar yet different, of wrong doing when it comes to clear title of the Eckhart land.

On a side note, the Jenkins firm did tear down the old home place and as I hear it, bull dozed most of the old family cemetery. That right there is enough to make a person super angry!

NOTE to Cousins: If I got any of this wrong, please tell me! It's complicated:)

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whetstones vs. Eckharts

Having recently announced here that I was declaring a new project for myself, that is the pursuit of all information about Capt. Jacob Whetstone of the American Revolution, on my mother's side, the Eckhart bunch on my father's side jumps in demanding attention! (See posts below, if you want.)

I had a nice blue binder started for the Whetstone project and was up and running. Had a work plan and everything.

Then Cousin Cynthia sent Mom some posts from the facebook page of a group, Descendants of George Adam Eckhart of Eckhart MD ... and I was off task. Way off task! But it's been fun too. Met a lot of cousins and learned a ton of stuff.

Now I have yet another blue binder for the Eckhart thing - see, I can't even call it a project yet. Funny, that, because as a relative newbie my first big project was on my Dad's side, Nehemiah Newans who also served in the Revolutionary War as did Capt. Whetstone... and my Eckhart connection, one Mary Myers Eckhart, was great granddaughter of Nehemiah Newans. I've learned a lot about Newans and his great grandson, Thomas F. Myers, Mary Myers Eckhart's brother. It would be good to tie it all together and get a better picture of that side of the family.

So I'm off taking slave inventory to try and figure out where the Eckhart slaves went to after Mary Ann, wife of John Eckhart (son of George Adam Eckhart), died. John died in 1835 and his estate went to Mary Ann... but I haven't seen his will yet. Anyway, the land was sold almost immediately to the representative of a mining company, so we know where the land went and the story behind that. (See post below.) But what about the slaves? So how could I not follow that up?!!

I guess that no matter how well you plan your genealogy projects, there might be an opportunity you have to jump on:)

Picture of the day from my archive:
Mary Catharine Myers Eckhart
(1837 - 1909)
My Myers/Eckhart connection

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cousin Rich, the Sleuth

Have been reading facebook post by cousins in the Descendants of George Adam Eckhart of Eckhart MD group with great interest. As time goes by the flurry of posts has fallen off but there was Easter and all too. (See posts below to catch-up.)

Where we are now is that Mary Ann's husband, John Eckhart (1768 - 1822?), son of George Adams (1729 - 1806) died and The Consolidated Coal Company's man finessed the sale from the Eckharts. What actually went down is left to CSI investigators.

The operative for the Consolidated Coal Company was a man with the improbably theatrical name of Mathew St. Clair Clarke... perfect with which to paint him the villain in this narrative!

Cousin Rich posted the following to the group's facebook page. Can you read anything into it? We sure could... bet then maybe that's just family lore of the Consol. "stealing" the Eckhart land coming forward;)

Again, so sorry for any strangeness with the fonts as I'm cutting and pasting from sketchy sources.

It's interesting to note that Mary's two sons tried to have her declared "crazy" after the death of her husband. I don't know the laws back in 1835, but nowadays, the sons could have challenged the sale of the property, based on the fact that Mary could have been under mental duress. If the laws were similar back then, that might have been their only hope of getting the land back - having her declared insane at the time of the sale, thus voiding the sale.

Here's the Wikipedia history of Matthew St. Clair Clarke (the person who represented Consolidated Coal Co. during the purchase of the Eckhart land. He is also the "author" of a book about "Our New Land Purchase in Eckhart Maryland").

Matthew St. Clair Clarke was admitted to the bar in 1811, and practiced in Greencastle, PA. Later he removed to Washington, D.C.

On December 3, 1822, he was elected on the 11th ballot Clerk of the House of Representatives in the 17th United States Congress, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Clerk Thomas Dougherty. He was re-elected five times, serving throughout the 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd United States Congresses, and opened the proceedings in the House of the 23rd United States Congress on December 2, 1833, when he was succeeded by Walter S. Franklin.

On May 31, 1841, Clarke was again elected Clerk of the House of Representatives in the 27th United States Congress. Clarke opened the proceedings of the 28th United States Congress on December 4, 1843, but was defeated for re-election by Caleb J. McNulty two days later.

In 1843, he was appointed Sixth Auditor of the United States Treasury and remained in office until 1845.

In 1852, his daughter Anna L. Clarke married Gen. William B. Franklin, the son of Clerk of the House Walter S. Franklin who had succeeded Clarke in 1833.

*** My observation: Clarke was out of elected office between the years 1833 and 1841. From 1834 to 1836: he had the land in Eckhart surveyed; he had the underlying mineral composition determined; he wrote a book extolling the land's great mineral value (primarily COAL); he represented the Consolidated Coal Co. during the purchase of the land; and who knows what else he was involved in.

Maybe he was the one who applied pressure on Mary Eckhart to sell her land (within 5 days of her husband [and maybe her son] dying). Maybe he was responsible for her having a mental break down and her sons trying to have her committed to a mental institution. We can only speculate as to what really happened and why the Eckharts sold their land.
Well! The plot thickens. And maybe, as Rich wisely points out, we never will know what really happened. The Eckhart people aren't talking from their graves above the little place called Eckhart Mines.

Friday, April 6, 2012

"Idiots" and Slaves

This will be a long-ish post as I want to copy and paste the post from Cousin Rich of the "Descendants of George Adam Eckhart, of Eckhart MD" group on facebook. He's done a marvelous job of keeping the information flowing!! Thanks, a thousand thanks, to Cousin Rich!!!

Here's what he posted about our shared ancestor, George Adam Eckhart's son, John Sr. and what happened to the slaves as can be seen from documents. Note that Mary Ann's son David had been listed as an "Idiot" on the 1850 census. Who knows what that really meant and how it would be described in today's terms. But she "sufficiently provided for him", the will states. I wonder in what way.

The 1830 Md. census showed that John Sr. owned 8 slaves, 4 males under 10 years old, 3 males 10 to 24 years & 1 female 10 to 24 years. He also employed 1 free colored female age 24 to 36 years old.
John Eckhart was an early slaveholder as evidenced by a transaction recorded in Allegany Co., MD on 23 Oct 1805 in which John J. Buch & Christian Deetz of Alahany Co., MD bound themselves for "the full sum of $240" for the negro girl Jill.
Slaves appraised in the 1835 estate inventory included:
Black man (Harry) $600.00 - sold to John Eckhart.
Black boy (Bile/Rile) $600.00 - sold to Hannah Eckhart.
Black boy (Levi) $400.00 - sold to Adam Echart.
Black boy (Mandy) $350.00 sold to John McGittigan.
Black boy (Tom) $400.00 - sold to David Eckhart.
Black boy (Dennis) $250.00 - sold to Mary Eckhart.
Black boy (William) $100.00 - sold to Mary Eckhart.
Black girl (Lyndy) - sold to Mary Eckhart.
Black girl (Milly) $450.00 - sold to John Hansel.
In August 1850, Mary Ann's slaves were appraised thus: Dennis (23 yrs), William (17 yrs) & Fielding (10 yrs) at $220 each. Lucinda was appraised at $200. All were handed over to son, Adam. Approximatley $350 was owed the estate by Evan Ellicott & Richard Grays for purchase of unnamed negroe children (Lavinia, Martha, & Matilda ?). The notes were judged worthless because Ellicott was insolvent and Grays was a blackman without property.
The notes were marked 'B' and returned to the court.

Mary Eckhart left bequest to them in her will dated July 3, 1843, which was probated July 1850 and read:

In the name of God amen, I Mary Ann Eckhart now of Monongalia County, Virginia being weak in body but sound of mind and memory, am calling to mind the uncertainty of life and the necessity of arranging my worldly affairs do make this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all other or former wills and Testaments.

First I hereby direct that my just debts shall first be paid, and after payment of the same and my funeral expenses I hereby devise and bequeath as follows vis:

Secondly - That after my decease I direct that my black woman Malinda shall be free and that all necessary papers showing her freedom be furnished to her.

Thirdly - That the children of said Malinda shall be free in manner following to Vz the boys at the age of thirty five and the girls at the age of twenty five Vs. Dennis of the age of 16 on the 5 of August 1843 - William 11 year old 4 February 1844 - Matilda 8 year old 16 of June, 1843 - Lininia 6 year old the 16 May 1843 - Fielding three years old the 22nd February 1843 and Martha one year old the 22 August in the year 1843.

The above named being the children of said Malinda and any further increase that said Malinda may have previous to my decease shall be freed in like manner at the ages of 25 and 35 years.

Fourthly - to my Sons Adam Eckert and John Eckert I hereby give and bequeath the before mentioned negroes and increase until they shall by this will become free, and all the rest of my Estate of all kinds whatsoever, believing that the said Adam & John Eckart have greater claims upon me than any of the rest of my children except my afflicted son David (1850 census listed David as an Idiot) who is sufficiently provided for - But I hereby direct that of my Estate, my son John shall have my household & kitchen furniture to himself.

Fifthly I hereby appoint Edgar C. Wilson Executor to this my last will and testament. In Testimony whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal this 3rd day of July in the year 1843.

Mary Ann Eckhart

See why I'm stumbling all over the place thanking Cousin Rich? Mom has this information in her file with a copy of Mary Ann's will. But Rich put it together in a time flow and that makes it easier to understand. I think it's easier to comprehend a lot of information this way.

And, it makes the information dynamic in a contemporary way. Cousins can comment and add to it on the group facebook page. It gets us thinking here and now about what happened long ago.

I'm wondering how my cousins feel about our ancestors owning slaves and if they ever had a troubled heart over it as I did when I found out.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

A Thrill! My First Look at The 1940 US Census!

Was hot to take a first view of a page, any page, of the 1940 US Census so I popped on over to and just drilled down to a random page from Washington DC. And yup, I was thrilled! The image is clear and has good contrast which gives a girl half-a-chance to read it clearly. Plus the new reader interface let me drag the image all over the place... and... drum roll... use the mouse wheel to zoom. Nice!

I'm ready to index and ready to look up. More pages, if you please:)

Photo of the day from my archive:

Mom and her sister, Dot.
Hey, Mom, what year is this?