Saturday Fun: What is this?!

I have another ‘what is this?’ post for you all! Anyone who knows anything about antique jewelry – likely connected to the military – may have fun with this one. I have a friend looking for any history or context possible on this piece of jewelry:

My friend has this to say:

“My grandmother gave me this today… She wasn’t sure what it was, but as soon as I recognized the emblem I knew it was the US Navy…Once I said Navy, she knew it must have been her uncle’s. He died in the late 1930s at a young age it seems, so this probably dates to around then. The inscription in one of the links says “American Queen Pitman & Keeler.” I’ve tried googling information but I can’t find one that looks just like this.”

Anyone have any suggestions or leads for her? Thanks!

Getting My Geek On, pt. 3: The McDonalds in the 1940 Census

In the first two posts on my series about my forays into the 1940 census, I wrapped up my paternal grandfather and grandmother’s families. In this, the third in the series, I’ll be moving on to my my maternal grandfather’s family, the McDonalds.

While growing up, I was constantly reminded of the dichotomy of my parents, even before they divorced when I was ten, but especially since then while doing family history research. My mother was born in California, while my dad was born in Texas. When my mother moved to Texas in the 1970s, she met my father through the company they worked at and started dating. Though born in D.C., my father had lived his whole life in Texas pretty much, save for occasional jobs that took him elsewhere. He was the son of a long line of southern folks, and when I look back in the records, I see this clearly. Virginia, the Carolinas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas…all of these places feature prominently in their history. Most of them were slaveholders and coming west to them still meant staying in the western part of the south. Sweet tea, front porches and cornbread all the way. This heritage was clear even in the 1940 census, with the families remaining in towns they’d been in for much of the century.

My mother’s side of the family, meanwhile, were rather footloose. They weren’t always like that – they settled for a generation or so back in the early 1800s. But come the 1900s, this Midwestern folks just kept moving father west, and often within a short span of time. Within about one hundred years, I traced families from Ohio to Illinois to Nebraska to Kansas to South Dakota, back to Kansas, to Utah and then to California. Part of this move was due to the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, which my maternal grandmother’s family was right in the middle of. I’ll cover that in my next post as I look for her family. For now, we’ll stick with my maternal grandfather’s family, who ended up following railroad work initially and then just looking for a better place in the 1900s in California.

Since my grandfather passed away in 2006, I relied on the memory of his wife, my grandmother, and my mother to help me narrow down where he would be. I was told he went to high school in Napa, but they couldn’t get any more specific than that. I started out with that and in my third enumeration district, I hit paydirt:

Craig McDonald, 52, son of Frank and Fidelia (Frazier) McDaniel/McDonald, is listed here with his wife, Maude Edna (Goble) McDonald, 53, and two of their three sons, Franklin, 19, and Keith, 15. Their eldest, Craig Wyman is already out of the house and I have yet to locate him in the 1940 census. I may wait until the index comes out to try, since it’s really a needle in a haystack for him. One can see the familial migrations here, though, in their birthplaces. Craig’s parents were born in Illinois – he and Maude were born in Nebraska, and their own children in Utah, but they were all in California at this time. Even more fascinating is the 1935 residence description – apparently, they were all in San Francisco. I don’t know how long they were there, but it was news to me. I wonder if perhaps the eldest son was still there, or what other records might exist from their stay there. I will need to look into it.

Something else that was intriguing was looking at how hard the entire family was working. All of them were employed in some aspect or another, even the youngest, Keith (my gpa!):

Craig, the father is seen as working 44 hours a week for about 50 weeks in the year as a farm hand at the state hospital. I’ve heard many stories about him working there from my grandmother over the years. I really would like to look into this more. Just a cursory glance at the historical section of the Napa State Hospital website includes the following quote:

“Initially, 192 acres of land were purchased for $11,506 from Don Cayetano Juarez. These acres were part of the Mexican Land Grant, Rancho Tulocay, received from General Mariano Vallejo. Additional land was acquired over the years bringing the total to over 2,000 acres. The land extended from a wharf on the Napa River to the eastern edge of Skyline Park, allowing for the development of dairy and poultry ranches, vegetable gardens, orchards and other farming operations necessary to make the hospital as self-sufficient as possible. Farming operations ceased in the late 1960’s.”

Maude was employed about 30 hours a week for about 13 weeks of the year as a cook at a local high school, and then Frank, my great-uncle,was working as a waiter in the college cafeteria for about 28 hours a week about 34 weeks of the year. Finally, my grandfather was working as a janitor at a church about 10 hours a week 12 weeks of the year. In sum, they brought home $1930 for the year, slightly more than my paternal grandfather’s family did with their family-owned tailoring business in Texas. I can’t speak to the living costs of either place, but just noting it was similar at least in take-home money.

My grandfather worked hard all of his life, and I can see it started young. He later was in the military for WWII and then became a policeman. Even when he retired from that and owned his own business and other things, he was a driven individual. It’s fascinating to see this glimpse of him early in life. I only wish he were still here for me to show him.

In my next post, I’ll share more about my search for my maternal grandmother’s family – the trickiest of them all!

Source Citations:

1940 U.S. census, Napa County, California, population schedule, Napa, enumeration district (ED) 28-12A, sheet no. 2-B (penned), dwelling 53, Craig McDonald household; digital images, ( accessed 27 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627.

“History – Napa State Hospital.” California Department of Mental Health. 2011. Accessed 27 Apr 2012.

Getting My Geek On, pt. 2: The Perretts in the 1940 Census

In Part 2 of ‘Getting My Geek On’, the recap of my adventures looking for family in the 1940 census, I want to move on to my next easiest to find relatives, my paternal grandmother’s family. Like the Elliotts in Part 1, the Perretts lived in pretty much the same town and area for several decades – Arlington, Texas – which made it much easier to look for them. My mother’s side of the family was a special problem unto its own and I’ll address those in future posts.

I expected the Perretts to either be in the same place as the 1930 census or pretty close to that, so I started here as I did for the Elliotts, by using the 1930 enumeration district (ED) to find the approximate 1940 ED via Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub’s Unified 1940 Census ED Finder. It suggested Tarrant County, Arlington, 220-13 for the ED. Excited, I started scrolling through the 32 pages (not much, compared to some groups I’ve had to scroll through), but without luck. No Perretts. I went back to the ED descriptions, though, trying to figure out if I should try 220-11 or 220-12 next (I would have gone through them both if necessary, but I was trying to be methodical and save some time). I noticed ‘Pecan’ St. on 220-12 and remembered the Perretts had lived on the corner of Pecan and another street, so that seemed the next most logical choice. Though parts of Pecan were in 220-13, it wasn’t the right part of Pecan. And sure enough, there on p. 13, I found the family I was looking for:

Will Perritt (Perrett), the head of the family is 52 and born in Tennessee, married to Medey (Susan Almeda Abigail Scott), also 52 and born in Tennessee. Their oldest two children, Stanford and William Karagan/Kargan were already out of the home, but Carl is there, as is ‘Geneve’ (Jenny Vesta – gma!) and Roy, their youngest.

I felt better about them not being where I expected them to be – 5 years prior they were living in the ‘same place’, but not the ‘same house’, so they may have moved down the street. Pecan is a really long street, so it’s very possible – or I was just remembering Pecan from a later time.

Though Will was a carpenter, like his father, he wasn’t working at this time. In fact, he was listed as ‘U’ or unable to work. In his later years, his eyesight degenerated significantly and I wonder if that was affecting him even then. That’s only a supposition, though. Medey/Meda was involved in housework, Carl was working as a carpenter also, and both Jenny and Roy were in school still. Will and Medey are both listed as receiving income from other sources, though. Which brings me back to the same question from Pt. 1 of this series – what is this money they’re receiving? Was it benefits from the government? Someone else? If one of my readers has a clue, please leave me a comment!

All in all, nothing too surprising here. None of these individuals won the ‘census lottery’ and were asked the supplemental questions. However, several of Will Perrett’s brothers and nieces/nephews also lived in the neighborhood, including Charles Morgan Perrett and George Perrett, the eldest brother. George Perrett won the census lottery, meaning more information about his parents!

This was so very important, as his father is one of my biggest brick walls – George W Perrett, whom I wrote about in a previous post. In that post, I indicated George W. Perrett himself had always claimed Mississippi as his place of birth. I hoped to find a match here, even though it wasn’t George himself who answered the questions, but his wife, Lou. So what did his wife have to say?

His father was born in Illinois?!

Well, ok, there is a family legend that George W. Perrett was born in Illinois, but I’ve never paid it much mind because I have absolutely no proof. Also, G.W. himself always said Mississippi. Was this true? A misunderstanding by the man’s wife? It also says his mother, Mary Elizabeth Bell, was born in Tennessee, but that wasn’t right. She was born in Mississippi, like her husband. Hmm. I guess I can trust the part about the English language being spoken at home, and the ‘no’ for veteran status. But the rest? This has only raised more questions and doubts than it answered.

Curse you, G.W. Perrett! Even now you elude me! But at least finding his children turned out to be relatively easy. We’ll get into the more difficult stuff – my mom’s side – in future posts.

Source Citation: 1940 U.S. census, Tarrant County, Texas, population schedule, Arlington, enumeration district (ED) 220-12, sheet no. 7-A (penned), dwellings 150, 156, & 159, Will Perrett & George Perrett & Charles Perrett households; digital images, accessed 23 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627.

Getting My Geek On, pt. 1: The Elliotts in the 1940 Census

Three weeks ago today, like most other genealogists and lots of other random people, I set out to get my geek on and make a website go haywire.

Ok, well, not really. We meant to get our geek on, but we didn’t mean to make the 1940 census website go haywire or slow down like molasses or even crash. We kinda did, though. All 22 million of us in the first four hours. Though I regret that our excitement caused them such difficulties, deep in my genealogy heart, I beamed and applauded how geeky we all were. Myself, included. While things were being fixed at the 1940 census site, I spent some time on looking at their images. (And as a side-note, I have to say, I really like their new census beta reader.) As the states were uploaded, I began wandering through them, hoping that one of my ancestors would win the census lottery and be one of the 5% of the population asked those supplemental questions. In some ways, I won and in others I lost. But one thing at a time.

Today I want to introduce my easiest success in the 1940 census: finding my paternal grandfather’s family. I knew exactly where this family was going to be pretty much because they had lived and continued to live in the same small town – Stamford, Texas – for almost a century. Using the Steve Morse Unified 1940 tool (thanks Steve Morse!), I found my 1940 ED using the 1930 ED from this family. And though they had moved houses, the town was small enough that it didn’t hurt my search in the least. Really, the easiest of my four grandparent-al (is that a word?) families. I give you, the Marvin Elliott family:

Though an example of one of the handwriting-challenged enumerators, this gives me exactly what I expected: Marvin, 53, is the head, with his wife Fredie (Freddie), 48. They had three sons, all at home at the time: Dewane (gpa!), 19, Julian, 16, and Tom, 10. The family business then and for many decades to come was a dry cleaning and tailoring business, and that is also written as expected. Marvin and Freddie spent 48 hours a week, 52 weeks a year working that business and it provided them with an income of $1800/yr. It also says they received additional money, though, and I’m wondering what that meant…

At the bottom, a lodger is listed: Maurice Salmon, single and 30. This is a great example of why you should never discount lodgers as non-family – Maurice was Freddie’s younger brother (providing, of course, her maiden name, too!). In fact, he was 18 years younger, and she practically raised him when their mother died young. He was living with his sister and brother-in-law in 1930, but also still in 1940. In 1930, he was listed as a brother-in-law, but in 1940 as simply a lodger. Don’t assume they aren’t family without double-checking! But I do have to shake my head at him – he has no profession listed at all. Come on, Maurice! Great Depression aside, go help out in the shop or something! (He did later start his own dry-cleaning business in Tarrant County, but it was much later. I guess we have a ‘failure to launch’ situation here.)

I didn’t learn anything shocking from this census; in fact, I learned exactly what I expected to. Still, it’s nice to have corroborating evidence. A few things were new, such as how much schooling they had each had. And it’s interesting to think that in just 2-3 years, Dewane would be getting married and joining the army in WWII, and Julian would soon follow in the navy. It’s the last census where they are all together in the same household.

I’m giving my very first shot at doing a source citation in a blog post, thanks Michael Hait for the assistance.


Source Citation:  1940 U.S. census, Jones County, Texas, population schedule, Stamford, enumeration district (ED) 127-5, sheet no. 25-A (penned), dwelling 571, Marvin Elliott household; digital image, ( accessed 23 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627.

A New Look and A New Start


As the title says, I’ve done a little reworking of my blog with a new theme and a new look, though not TOO new. I rather liked the old one! But a little spring cleaning is good!

I’ve got new blog posts planned in the next few days about my 1940 census discoveries and other things, so be on the look out for fresh content to go with my new look!

Reclaiming the Mojo

I’ve been absent from the blogging world since November, more or less. Part of that was due to holidays and dealing with my parents’ health issues, but part of it was pure writer’s block. But I am here to tell you a cure has been found for writer’s block! That’s right, a CURE!

Every Friday night, Thomas MacEntee hosts a wonderful geneabloggers radio show – it’s approaching its 50th in fact! Tonight’s was a great show on handling information overload. And then, as usual, folks gathered at to play music and hang out. To these lovely people, I wave and thank them for helping me rediscover my blogging mojo. You see, the world absolutely must know the following odd and interesting facts:

  • Thomas MacEntee asks, “What do gay horses eat? -> “Hay, girl!”
  • Did you know that increased oxygen flow can actually alleviate heart issues, like arrhythmia?
  • GeneaBloggers don’t die – they just become geneaphantoms on the channel, including Barbara Mathews and Joshua Taylor, who logged in and never logged out, appearing yet to this day!
  • An all-bacon diet is endorsed by 1 out of 4 geneabloggers, but don’t end up like Paula Deen, pelted with ham.
  • Thomas is very good about keeping secrets about conference locations in 2014. :(
  • Lisa Alzo safetydances!
  • And last, but not least, you, too, can re-find your muse at the GB radio show after-party! Join us next week!
(This was all meant in fun, and a major thank-you to the folks I got to hang with tonight – I feel reinspired. Thank you! :) )

© 2011, copyright Genealady & JustFolks

Society Saturday: Help! What is this?

Goodness! Being ill and work craziness and oncoming holidays all add together to make for one very absent blogger! But I’m back! And being that today is Saturday and I’m assisting the historical society with their accessioning again, I have a very important question for you:

What IS this?







It resembles a pair of wooden scissors, but there is an inner track system that allows the two pieces to glide back and forth. You can, by gripping the handles, make the two sides slide back and forth easily in order to make the end do what the second photo shows. There are two prongs on the end. The lower one resembles a forked tongue and the top one is like a needle with a hole inside. There are also places to adjust pins perhaps, as can be seen in the photo. On both sides it has been stamped: ‘Jas. T Roberts, Patented September 22, 1908, Anderson, S.C.’

Initially, I thought it was shears. Or maybe an early hand-held sewing machine, or even something for making lace. But none of the sewers in my family can identify it exactly, and a google patent search has not been kind to me – so I ask for your help in identifying this item! What on this green earth IS this thing? Any leads or suggestions are appreciated!

© 2011, copyright Genealady & JustFolks

Society Saturday: Volunteered Lately?

A few weeks ago, I attended the Idaho Genealogical Society’s annual meeting in a nearby town, and I carpooled with several ladies from the local genealogical society, which I had heard of, but not managed to connect with yet. Their monthly meeting was this week, so I attended, a bit nervous, but glad to see some of the ladies I’d met and curious to learn more about the group. There was some general haphazardness going on that is found in any group that is both social and business, but I had a very good time and I definitely plan to go again. The evening’s program was a presentation from the local committee/group that is working to reconstruct Idaho’s First Territorial Capitol. You see, every school child that can name their capitols will know that Boise is our state’s capitol, but it wasn’t the first capitol in Idaho. No, in fact, Lewiston was, and the seal and other documentation was stolen and has never been recovered. That is another story, however. This presentation was about the plans to rebuild a replica of the original building that served as the Territorial Capitol building. The original one was lost in the 1910s when heavy snows collapsed the roof during the drafting of plans to refurbish it. Instead, it was chunked for firewood. This group is working hard to raise funds to buy the land and materials to create this replica, which will also house a learning center. If you’d like to read more about the project, you can take a look here.

After this wonderful presentation and the society’s business, one of the members asked for help with an indexing project of chattel mortgages that belonged to the Historical Society. Well, I already volunteer for them, and I thought this would be good experience with another type of original records, so I volunteered. I checked in with her on the afternoon of the next day, but she had a meeting, so things would begin in earnest on Saturday. This was fitting, since Saturday seems to have become my ‘volunteering for the societies’ day. In fact, it’s what inspired this blog prompt.

Here is what this weekend’s Saturday Schedule looked like:

A red gingham apron with labelling card

11-1:30pm – Historical Society: I spent 2.5 hours in the basement with the dark and the creepy sounds and my iPod drowning it out while I sorted and labelled various items. There was a lot of clothing from the mid-1900s, as well as tools, toiletry items and so on. And then there were the things I simply could NOT identify – if you recognize any of the things in the second photo, do leave me a comment and help me out.

While down there, I tried to find the pencil sharpener in another room off to one side, but only ended up finding a couple cabinets of old pill bottles with the medicines still inside. That chemical-laced air was certainly acrid, and I could’ve done without inhaling it.

So, today’s lesson – be careful when opening doors you probably shouldn’t – YUCK.


What the heck?

2-3pm – After I finished at the Historical Society, I went over to visit the new Library location, which is in pre-demo. They were having an open house to look at the blueprints, and it’s all very exciting. The Library has been in a too-small building for far too long, and now it’s being moved to the downtown historical district in a much larger building, with room to expand and really help draw people to the heart of the old center of Lewiston. I picked up the print I’d been eyeing from the

Sesquicentennial committee (which is a museum-quality reproduction of the first known photo of Lewiston taken in 1862), signed up for a new library card with a snazzy design, and then I was off to my other project.

4-6pm – It was time to begin that new indexing project! As it was being hosted at the lady’s house, I showed up shortly after 4pm and we got to work indexing. Her eyesight is failing, so I moved quicker than she did, but I never doubted her determination. She also had wonderful stories of the people’s names we were seeing, which helped them come to life for me. I have no ancestors from the area, although I do have an obsession with the prominent Howe family that features in the letters the Historical Society let me borrow, so learning more about the people in the area from the early 1900s (the era of these chattel mortgages) was good for me. It was also exciting to see the signature of J. Howard Howe scrawled across many of them, as he was serving as the deputy clerk at the time – I keep finding the Howes wherever I go, like a reminder – don’t forget to tell our story!

The project was off to a good start, but this poor lady only has one other individual assisting her who comes Tuesday mornings. While they had done the necessary part of labeling folders and setting up boxes, all of the mortgages are only sorted by As, Bs, Cs, etc. Our first job is to alphabetize and then we’ll be making the index. I got through part of the Bs in two hours. There’s…well, there’s a lot. Someone told me about 1000 items, but I’m wondering if that’s a high enough number, or if there were simply a LOT of Bs. If there’s that many for all the letters…we may be at this for months. But it was very interesting and I cannot wait to continue. Chattel mortgages, crop mortgages, etc…not a resource I’ve ever worked with, and it’s very intriguing. We’ve even found a few marriage licenses tossed in, and we set those aside for special handling. I intended to return to it this afternoon, but a cold has sprung up out of nowhere. Not sure if it’s from stress, those chemicals in the closet at the Society or handling too much old-y, mold-y stuff, but moi is sick. In a couple days, when I’m feeling better, I’ll pick up with it again.

Am I sorry I opened all these doors? Well, the chemical closet one, surely. But the volunteering doors? No. I’m thrilled, actually, to be of use and assistance in important projects. In fact, if you have time, I would highly suggest you look into volunteering for similar projects or organizations. Knowing that I’m helping to make something accessible that would otherwise be moldering in a box is a great feeling – you can do the same with FamilySearch indexing if you don’t have a local society to hang out with or the times don’t work for you. Plus, FamilySearch indexing can be done in small chunk in the comfort of your own home, helping to make more resources available online to all of us for free. So, be it your local society, or FamilySearch indexing, get out and volunteer – what are you waiting for?

© 2011, copyright Genealady & JustFolks

Society Saturday: The Stylin’ J.M. Howe

I finally was able to get back to volunteering at the Nez Perce County Historical Society today after several weeks away due to vacations, family problems and simple scheduling problems. I spent two hours down in the basement again, but I wasn’t de-framing photos this time. Instead, I was sorting and labelling items that had been donated to NPCHS over the years  – you would not believe the range of things! Some people figured if it was old, it deserved to be in there, including machetes and whale bones with no connection to our region. Some of that, depending on condition, will likely be donated to more fitting repositories, so someone has to go through and sort stuff before the decisions are made. That was me. I’ll be continuing it next week, but it doesn’t make for the most interesting snapshot, so instead, for today’s Society Saturday, I present you with the promised photo of Jonathon Morris Howe that I got from Steven Branting at the Idaho Genealogical Society’s Annual Meeting (covered in depth here).

Mr. Branting found this photo of J. M. Howe, the first I had ever seen, not in a local newspaper, but  in the City of Portland, Oregon. It was found in the publication “The Oregon Souvenir” (1892), p. 171. Presuming the photo was contemporary, he was in his mid-40s when this was taken, and would die only two years later, leaving a widow, Ella M. (Ritchie) Howe and a daughter, Idene, still in childhood.

J M Howe, courtesy of Steven Branting

© 2011, copyright Genealady & JustFolks

I Lied – I’m Pulling This Bus Into the Next Rest Stop

In my last post, I wandered tangentially through the ideas that have been percolating in my head about the public image of genealogy, the place of professionals and companies like It was, and is, a humble rambling of my own thoughts, an attempt to clarify them, and also an attempt to engender discussion about them. Taking my turn at the wheel of the bus, if you will, to ask some deeper questions about our favorite obsession and where it’s going as an industry. I think I may have hit a couple of potholes, though, and I wanted to pull over for a break and take a moment to clarify.

First, I have utmost respect for and I happen to be a subscriber. Have been since I started my genealogy, in fact, four years ago. Their ads are what got me into it, and they are what sucked me deeper. The service they provide brought me firmly and inexorably into this hobby, and I am utterly grateful for it. In fact, I made it by on’s online trees for my GEDCOM until my recent love affair with RM4 took over. I switched to RM4 because it offers additional features I need, but I still use and turn there often for the products and services they provide. Being a paid subscriber, I figure I’m entitled to my opinions about how I’d like to see things offered in that service, but they are still just opinions, and I obviously like quite a bit or I wouldn’t still be a subscriber. I hope no one finds my opinions about what they do offensive.

Second, I want to make clear that I am not a professional genealogist. I don’t earn money for it, I have no credentials and I don’t do it for a living or a business. I aspire to that realm, and I have a LONG way to go, so I am honored by the professionals who have indeed stopped by to comment and help educate me further about this field we are all passionate about. I am not qualified to make commentary on any professional aspects of the field, really, but I feel like if I don’t ask questions and stretch my brain to understand it, I will never make it there. So I hope no one finds my delving into that offensive, either.

Finally, one of my commenters pointed out the error I made in my reference to ‘anyone doing genealogy’ and I wanted to apologize for that, as well. I also want to make clear that I am very much a beginner myself. There is TONS I do not know, tons I have left to learn – this is why I’m taking classes, of course! What I love about genealogy is that there will always be a new aspect to explore, a new realm to find out about. I have as much fun discovering the methodology as I do applying it to my family. I love the hobby, and I want everyone to have the opportunity to explore it and learn it.

In my last post, I meant to point out my OWN shortcomings in not branching out more, not to imply others were at fault for not being aware of every single aspect of everything. I find I’ve isolated myself too much in the circles I move in, so I’m trying to rectify that by joining my local societies, getting involved in more things and reading more. I meant to hold up my poor example to help others reflect, if inclined, not to criticize.

There, clarification over – use the bathroom and get back on the bus – we pull out in five! (But we’ll totally wait for you because this is a group venture – genealogy’s no fun alone).

A last note: I’m honored to be part of the geneabloggers community, so thank you to all my readers and anyone who’s ever stopped in or commented. Now, back to the research!

Oh, and if you haven’t yet, please head over to Mel’s blog and read this post  and then over to Lynn’s and read this one – they’re eloquent and excellent.

© 2011, copyright Genealady & JustFolks