Tattered Past

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Clan Keith

My great niece has taken an avid interest in our genealogy since visiting a Scottish Clan Gathering. 
She traced down a few of our Keith ancestors on line and has been appalled at the state of some of the cemeteries in Find-a-Grave on the Internet. 

I thought I'd share a few more from pictures distant cousins have sent me over the years.

The first is Abner Keith. He is my fourth great grandfather and was born in Pennsylvania in 1778. He died and is buried in Perry County, Illinois in 1866. He served in the "Cornstalk" militia in Kentucky in 1803. 

 He is buried in the Nine Mile Baptist Church shown below. 

Abner was married to Magdalena Hunsaker. She passed away young and is buried in another county.
Their grandson, John Riley Keith married Nancy Ann Thompson. Many members of her family are buried in this cemetery including her grandmother, Margaret Norton Thompson who was born in 1784 in South Carolina and died in 1857. She married James Thompson who died in 1861.

This is James' sister, Martha Jane Thompson, who died at age 19. So many people died young in those days.

The files I can get to right now don't show who this is and I don't have time to search the records down. I'm putting it in to show the bad state of these stones.

The Keith's can be traced back to Alexander Keith who was born in Scotland 
around 1661 and immigrated to Maryland. 

I'm always excited to have younger generations get interested in our family history. 
I know all the work will be saved. 

Now I need to make sure it is in better state than it is.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Coloring and Claiming Space

I'm still working my way through the adult coloring book I found in the magazine section at Barnes & Noble. 

I decided to try watercolors and pulled out my KOI travel set.

The main thing I have learned is that this paper doesn't take to water very well. So if you go looking for a coloring book and want to use watercolors or watercolor pencils check that the paper is made for that medium.

I also used my InkTense pencils. They are made for water but I thought I'd try them dry. They did okay and really are intense. The problem I've always had with them is the tips and the colored ends don't portray the color you will get on the paper; wet or dry. 

Some of my InkTense pencils.

So, I will be going back to my Prismacolor pencils for this particular book. 

In the meantime, I have been looking for a very narrow shelf thing to hang between the door and the shower in our bathroom. I finally found one on the sale rack at Michael's. Since I have other sewing notions displayed around the room I started finding fun things to put in the little shelf. 

Imagine my surprise when 
Doug decided to claim a space on the shelf with one of his little jeeps. 

He said he was looking around the house and realized everything is feminine so he wanted to put something of his up. Actually it looks kind of cute. He also tried to fit one of his antique oil cans - a little one that might actually have been for sewing machines - but it didn't fit. 

In case somebody is wondering, those red and blue things are for threading needles. The needle goes in a little hole and the thread through a slit. When the button is pushed the thread is pushed through the needle. Handy-Dandy. 

What are some little things that made you smile this week? 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mother-In-Law's Tongue

We all have some unusual memories from childhood. Some we try to hang on to. I remember Mom always had mother-in-law tongues in the house. These tall skinny plants are also known as snake plants, Saint George's sword and officially sansevieria trifasciata. 
I found this photo of out dog next to an old filled-in well. 

There, I believe, are some of Mom's mother-in-law's tongues. The date is May 1961 so this photo was taken about the same time my sister graduated from high school.
This photo is of an old friend of the family and her son. 

I put it here as that bookcase in the corner, behind the front door, always had a pot of mother-in-law's tongues on it. I'm not sure there is one in this photo. For many years there was  also a fish bowl with what we called guppies. They were small little silver fish; nothing like the fancy ones found int he stores now. 

It looks like some of my sister's horse collection is on the top shelf. I wish I could see more.

I've had these plants in my house forever. A couple of weeks ago they flowered. I didn't remember it ever flowering before. They were pretty and very sticky. Surprised by the flowers I did a little research and learned they only flower when in stress, as in being root bound.

These plants are very good for cleaning the air and are very easy to care for. In Africa it is used as a protective charm against evil or bewitchment. The strong fibers were once used to make bowstrings. 
So a little history, a few memories, and more stories to share. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Coloring Books

I love to color. I love the smell of a new box of crayons. Coloring opens up my imagination, wakes up my muse, and is a great stress buster.

Now it appears the rest of the world has figured out the magic of coloring.

While most fads and crazes are geared to younger people this one is geared to adults.

This is an adult coloring book I found in the magazine section of B&N. I also found special displays throughout the store. The selection seems to be endless with more being published every day.

I bought those Crayola colored pencils and they are okay, but for many of these pages sharper pencils are needed.

 So I have gone back to Prismacolor colored pencils and I usually keep them very sharp.

I did this mandala with the Prismacolor pencils.

I even saw one of those television ads for adult coloring books for de-stressing. But wait! You can get two and even order a set of colored pencils, watercolors, and other coloring options.
 (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Here's the page I'm doing now. 

Please, get an adult coloring book and something to color with and spend 
some time getting rid of the stress and having fun. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Happy Anniversary

My mother passed away in 1990 when our daughter was just nine-years-old. One of the things I brought home from her house was a night blooming cereus. Not that it especially meant anything, but I couldn't leave it there to die. It was in a pot on her patio and has been in a pot at our house since.

The amazing thing is every year it blooms at significant times. In the early years, it was usually Mother's Day. The last few years it has been blooming more than once: Mom's birthday, the anniversary of her death, and other family dates in the spring.

Early this morning/last night it sent out two beautiful blooms. 
Today is our daughter's twelfth wedding anniversary. 

Happy Anniversary, Jessica and Matt.

Wishing you both love and caring from Nana,
Your Dad and I.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Long Lost Friends

Sometimes I wonder what happened to the kids I knew growing up. Other times I see photos like this one and wonder who that other girl is. This appears to have been taken in my grandparent's home town so I was only visiting. (I'm the one on the right in case anybody is wondering.)

Then there are life-long friends even though time has taken us to opposite sides of the country. This is my friend Lydia (on left) and I when we both still lived in Kansas. This is at the Long Branch Saloon at Dodge City's Boot Hill. We were around 13 at this time.

Stepping back in time, this photo was at our church. I'm the little girl in the middle peeking over the head of the little boy in suspenders. In the middle of the top row you can see my sister's head as she tries to hide behind another young man. Just that tells you about our personalities, doesn't it? BTW, Mom is in the back right-hand corner. I don't remember any of the other people.

And last, but not least, is a photo of my high school graduation. I can a few familiar faces and some I'm even still in touch with. Facebook has made a difference in those connections and I think is its main good point.

I often wish I had the time and energy to get all the photos scanned and identified. Then to try and find some of the people who have been lost along the way.

I suppose this is a start.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Memories in the Mountains

Saturday Doug and I drove up to the Globe/Miami area in the mountains east of Phoenix. It was a beautiful day if a bit warmer than we expected.

Doug has three or four generations who lived in that area which is full of history in its own right.

Globe was a silver/copper mining town and the county seat. Two state governors were from Globe along with other notables.

Doug's grandparents. 

His maternal great-grandmother. Lucy was born in Washington near where our daughter now lives.

We stopped at the El Rey Mexican Restaurant in Miami. It is right across the street from the pool where Doug often went as a child. Up on the hill the white house to the left of the blue one was his grandparent's house. He has so many memories of the house and falling down the hill. 

At the bottom of the hill are the railroad tracks. Granny hated him being down there and she caught him down there one day throwing rocks at a centipede. She told him he better watch out because centipedes will throw rocks back at him. He still avoids centipedes. 

Many family events occurred in this church, including Doug's baptism.
It is a beautiful old building.

Down in the old Miami shopping district we passed the old Franco Furniture Store. The yellow building on the left. It is so sad that most of the buildings are empty. The loss of mining and the economy has hit this little town very hard.

The store took the blue and yellow buildings in this photo. 

The Gila County Courthouse in Globe is now an arts center. The family would have visited this building many times for deeds, registrations, and other important documents. Doug's Grandpa Franco was the Miami mayor so he would have had many reasons to visit the county courthouse. 

We had a great day of being together, sharing memories, a good lunch, and learning history. 

The best part of the digital age, for me, is being able to take photos of everything. 
They will be special to our descendants. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

At The Movies

This was/is the theater in the town I grew up in. This photo was taken during a visit in 1990 many years after we moved to Arizona. I was in Great Bend one other time after we moved. That was 1969. I'm so glad I thought to take a lot of photos when I was there.

This theater was the classic style with the red plush seats and a balcony which was a favorite place to be as I got older. I saw Disney's "Snow White" and "Bambi" in this building.

I remember going to see "The Greatest Story Ever Told" with my mother. I still picture that actor's face on the big screen when I think of Jesus. So many beautiful scenes.

They also had various programs for the kids. The only one I remember was a magician with a cute little dog. He called some children up from the audience and asked them some questions as the dog sat up in front of him. The dog straightened his front legs to answer "yes" or "no." I was devastated when he told us he had talked to the kids before the show and he was pushing on the dog's elbows to make him give the answers.

Magicians should not give things like that away to young kids. It can alter their whole outlook on life. Well, at least their view of magicians. It surely says something when that is the only program I remember.

From what I understand the theater has been refurbished and is now used for local acting groups and such. There is a mall on the other side of town with mega theaters. Or maybe more than one by now. All we had was the downtown area around the county courthouse and the Crest Theater. I think we were the lucky ones. (And the drive-in theater which will be another post.)

What movie memories do you have from your childhood?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Memories in the Background

This is my grandfather: Cecil Covey. He had a single chair barber shop in the tiny Kansas town I was born in. This photo caught my eye today because I wanted to study the things around him.

My grandparents lived in the same town for as long as I've been around but they did live in a few different houses. I'm not sure which one this is. 

He loved pickled pigs feet and I remember him standing there with the fridge door open as he pulled one out of the jar. I see them in the store every so often but I haven't talked myself in to trying them. lol

He always wore a white shirt and suit to work or for outings but when at home or heading out to the local fishing hole he wore overalls. Overalls always make me smile. 

As for the picture itself although there are many items in the background the only one that really stands out is the mustache man plate. There was a matching woman. I wonder what happened to those plates. I can see a corner of the metal breadbox. I wish I could remember what color it was. Most of the ones I see in antique stores are turquoise. 

When looking at family photos always pay attention to the background. There are so many memories hiding out in the space around the people being photographed, 

Even more important is to write those memories down somewhere and link to the photo. Some day our kids and grand kids will appreciate our efforts. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Movie Experience

Back in 2002/03 a friend was working for an agency that cast local talent for movies, television, and whatever else came along. One day she asked me if I wanted to do an infomercial that actually paid.

I learned a lot that day. Infomercials aren't what they seem. Filming for a full day and listening to a guy give his talk over and over is BORING. Of course, you have to appear attentive at all times. Don't move when the camera comes near you because they may hit you in the head.

No, I don't remember who the guy was or even what the infomercial was about. I never saw it.

Another time she called and asked if I wanted to do a walk-on for a movie. No pay. Sure, I said. I'm always open to new experiences. We were supposed to be people in downtown Phoenix walking along while the star sat on the side of the street and played his guitar.

I dressed in a nice blue dress and flats (thank heavens). There were about eight of us that walked up and down the street as the director, Susan, got the shots. After awhile my feet were killing me and I was sure the little rocks on the sidewalk were going to come up through the soles of my shoes.

But it was interesting. There were some serious actors there and little ol' me who didn't have a clue but I guess I did okay. I think my mouth dropped when one of the men flipped out his compact. Serious actor.

The movie was finally released and Hubby and I went to the theater in Tempe to see it. I had no idea what it was about and was somewhat aghast when one of the opening scenes had some nudity. Oh dear. We watched and watched and finally near the end of the movie there I was. Blue dress and all. It's amazing how different you look and feel on the big screen.

As we were leaving the theater we ran into Susan and I went up and reminded her I was the "lady in blue." She started laughing and gave me a big hug. I may not have my name on the credits but I did stand out. lol

So "Greasewood Flat" won a few awards and eventually we got our DVD of it. It is somewhere in the shelves of Hubby's collection. As time went on I more or less forgot about it until there was a bunch of hype about the restaurant where it was filmed.

Greasewood Flat was a restaurant in north Scottsdale with a local following and many memories for many people. It closed a few weeks ago and somehow my husband got me a movie poster for Mother's Day.

Cindi had to give up her job with the agency because of health problems but she had a great time up in Superior, Arizona with the filming of "Eight-Legged Freaks."

In the excitement of receiving the poster I posted it on FB and quite a few people commented. Sure, I have lots of friends who have been in movies and on television but it's still fun to have my little moment on camera.

You can see the "Greasewood Flat" movie trailer and apparently watch it through Amazon.com. We aren't signed up for that one.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Tribute

Today I'm missing Mom. She passed away on May 6, 1990 at age 67. My daughter is on her way to Oklahoma to visit her paternal grandfather and will stop in Kansas to visit with Mom and my brother.

Jackie Lynn was born before me and only lived a few days. They are together in Kansas.

This is Mom as a girl. I wonder what she thought of her hairstyle. She was always curling mine.

Here she is with curled hair. I didn't have enough to curl which I imagine drove her a bit crazy.
After my father left Mom worked for the Great Bend, Kansas police department for many years. I was always so awed by her uniform and always wanted to become a policewoman. Didn't work out but I still admire women and men in uniform.

Mom's happiest moments were with her family and the grand kids were top of the list. This is Mom and my daughter.

 And one last photo of Mom, my sister and I. Others think I look like Mom but I don't see it although I did have her hairstyle here.

What do I remember most about my Mom?
An amazing cook
Hard worker
Loved the holidays - and family
Took great pains to always look nice
Loved flowers and gardening
Favorite color was orange
Favorite performer was Eddy Arnold - played his records constantly
Loved It's a Small World at Disneyland

Thank you, Mom, for all the wonderful memories.
I miss you. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Playing With Dolls

It's so fun to see these photos of my mother and her sister playing with their dolls. 
Do little girls even play like this anymore? 

They seemed to always have their babies. And since my mother was the eldest of six she was able to take care of real babies.

 None of these dolls, as far as I know, survived. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have one of those dolls?
I do have some of my dolls and one of my daughter's.

Little girls pretended to be like the adults around them. Can you imagine what the conversation over that little tea table were like? Perhaps my mother was saying her child in the buggy had kept her up all night. My aunt might have commiserated and then talked about the three children by her side. (Or the other way around.) I'm not sure which is which.

Spend time with your family photos. Use your imagination to get to know those people in other times.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jennie and Nellie

This is my grandmother, Jennie, and her mother, Nellie. There are no dates but I'm guessing around 1915. That would put Jennie at about 12. I've never been good at judging ages.

They lived in southwestern Kansas either in Meade, the county seat, or Fowler a smaller town nearby. Nellie's husband had deserted them a year or so before and so Nellie was left to support her daughter on her own. I asked Jennie once for a few words to describe her mother. I don't know where those notes are but I remember her saying "strong" and "determined."

Nellie was born in Illinois in 1878 and took a wagon train with her parents and other family members to the area southeast of Dodge City, Kansas. There they built dugouts in a place still called Keith Canyon after the family.

This photo was taken in Keith Canyon in 1990. You can see where the dugout collapsed over time. Part of the "house" was dug into the canyon wall and then a partial roof and front were added in wood and stone.

I found this photo either at a local museum or a local history book.
It says it was taken in Keith Canyon.

Being a genealogist is like being a detective. Gathering clues here and there. Talking to people. Comparing evidence. That's what makes it so thrilling.

Do you have a story of finding some interesting things in your family history and being able to fit them together?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Sometimes I don't have an idea for a blog post so I browse through the photos I have scanned into my computer. (And always feel guilty that there are hundreds more to do.)

This one of my Mother pushing Jessica on the swing set caught my eye. This might have been an Easter Day. 

This picture of my mother (on the right) at about the same age followed. 

Jessica and her Nana had many fun times swinging, working in the garden, picking 
flowers, and having tea parties. 

When my sister became a grandmother she said she wasn't a banana and didn't want to be called grandma. So she became Granny. When my day came I became Grammy. It helps keep us all straight.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Saving History

This is near the entrance to the Phoenix Pioneer and Military Cemeteries at 15th Avenue and Jefferson in central Phoenix. Numerous volunteers have worked for years to preserve and extend the records on this group of early cemeteries. They cover eleven acres and it is thought there are about 3,700 buried here but only about 600 have markers and those are deteriorating.

When they put out a call for people to train in assessing the remaining stones I volunteered Doug and I. I thought it would be interesting and fit in with our love of Arizona history and cemeteries. On Saturday we joined a large number of people at a local library to learn about gravestones. What they are made of. How they are made or perhaps have been repaired in the past. What the emblems and different styles mean. How to assess if they need immediate care, can wait a year or so, or are should be reassessed down the road.

What the planners and volunteers didn't expect was that we would be hitting record temperatures for this time of year. After lunch we all trooped to the cemeteries. Each team had a photographer, recorder, and two others to help assess and measure each marker.

This was the second Phoenix city cemetery. A part of it was bought up by Mr. Loosley but they aren't sure which parts were his so it now carries both names. As you can see, shade is minimal. This was the headquarters where they kept us well supplied with water and even gave us bandannas to wet down to wrap around our necks.

I snuck off for a minute to take this photo of our team. 

We are both very proud of having been a part of this project and have our names down for future work.

I know people have worked hard to save the cemeteries where some of my ancestors are buried. I have records and photos from Illinois, Kansas, Tennessee, Arkansas and other states because of those people. This is my way of giving back to them and to the state I have grown to love.

Have you visited your local cemeteries or those where your ancestors are buried? What are some interesting stones you have found? Do you have photos to share?