Tattered Past

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ancestral Fathers

Since I did all the mothers in my ancestral line last month I thought it only fair I give equal acknowledgement to the men.

I never knew my dad. My parents were divorced when I was very young and I have no real memories of him. By the time I was old enough to make contact he had died in a car accident. 

So growing up in a household of women I never think of the men in the ancestry as much as the women. I was pleasantly surprised as I started looking at photos to realize I have more photos of the fathers in my direct line than I realized. 

Starting with my dad I realized I had a few photos of the men with their cars. Seems appropriate. I think he was rather proud of this one. 

Here are four generations. My paternal grandfather, Sam, in the middle and his father on the right. 
That is my uncle and one of his children. I'm happy to be getting to know a cousin on this line who is telling me about these people. Sam was born in Arkansas and moved to Kansas. His father, Thomas did the same. Thomas was born in 1868. 

This is another photo of Thomas. I had to include it because of the car. 

Thomas' father, Sam, fought in the Civil War. This photo was taken by one of my aunts of Sam and his wife Mary. They were married in 1866. 

My father's mother's father was Isaac Tandy Waggoner. He was born in Tennessee in 1864. His father was killed in the Civil War.

This is my maternal grandfather, Cecil. He was a barber and we all loved to visit the barber shop. He would give me Juicy Fruit gum or sometimes a dime to walk down to the corner grocery for Cracker Jacks. 

Cecil's father was John Lyman Covey who was also born in 1868. He was born in Minnesota and later farmed in Harper County, Kansas.

John Henry Covey lived in Minnesota before heading west. He was a minister, ran hotels, and various other jobs. He lived in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Colorado where he died in 1914. He was born around 1833.

John Lyman Covey married Nancy George and this is her father, James W. George. He was born in Virginia in 1839 in an area that later became West Virginia. He moved to Kansas and became a farmer.

My maternal grandmother's father was Bert Martin, on the right. He left when she was young but she told me about him riding the horse to pick her up from school. His father, on the left, was Francis Marion Martin. He was was born in Ohio in 1844 and also lived in Kansas and then moved up to the Salem, Oregon area. He is buried in Portland. 

One last male ancestor is John Riley Keith. He was my 2nd great grandfather on my mother's side of the family. He was born in Illinois in 1843 and moved his family to southwestern Kansas around 1883. They settled in an area still known as "Keith Canyon" and eventually moved into town. Grandma would say they would all go to church and he would be sitting there with his eyes closed and when they questioned him after wards he said he was just resting his eyes. They knew different because he had been snoring. 


None of these men became famous. They were farmers, builders, barbers, and hotel keepers. They all helped build our country as many thousands of others; by working hard and raising their families.

I started doing my genealogy in 1977. I was totally addicted for many years and then moved on to other things although I still work on it when I can. I'm proud of my ancestors and happy I have so many photos and stories to share with the younger generation.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Early Telephone Operator

My great grandmother, Nellie Grace Keith Martin, was born in Illinois in 1878. She traveled with her family to Kansas around 1883. They were in covered wagons and settled in a newly opened area south of Dodge City. 

There she grew to be an adult and for a time taught school. The family moved around the area spending time in Clark and Meade Counties finally settling in the town of Fowler. Meantime, Nellie married William Albert "Bert" Martin on Dec. 5, 1900 at her parent's home. 

They had two children: Jennie Martin in 1902 and William Albert Martin in 1910. He only lived 11 days. Not long after the death of William Jr. "Bert" went into the hospital in another town and just never came home according to Jennie. Nellie eventually filed for divorce. 

With a young daughter to support Nellie ran a boarding house, baked bread to sell in the local market, and became one of the first telephone operators in the area. 

On June 13, 1912 the Meade newspaper had the following announcement: "Mrs. Bert Martin has accepted a position with the Southwest Telephone Company." 

The telephone company was organized one or two years earlier by Mr. Roscoe Gerow and sold to Robert A. Brannan, Frank J. Bennett, and Harry V. Williams with the main plant in Meade and an exchange in Fowler. 

This is a photo of Nellie at the switchboard. 
On March 13, 1913 when Jennie was 10 1/2 years old they moved to Fowler. This would have been a wonderful thing for them as that is where Nellie's father had built a house (still known as the "Keith House") and her sister Laura still lived. 

This article is a bit confusing with the note Nellie had been with the company for several years but it was less than a year according to the first article. Since the company was only about three years old the reporter probably just didn't have a very good memory. 

This photo was taken about 1930 in the Fowler office. The little boy is one of my uncles. 

This is the front of the Fowler telephone office on Jennie's wedding day in 1922. She is off to the left. Laura Keith is in the center and Nellie on the right.

I love finding these stories that bring my ancestors to life. Grandma Jennie told me many stories over the years but I don't have them all recorded except in my memory. It is exciting to find these newspaper articles to confirm the memories and add details to the lives of these women. 

You can find many articles like these at Chronicling American History through the Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

 I hope you have fun searching for your ancestors.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Art Journals

I'm not sure when I got out of the habit of art journaling. I haven't done it consistently for a very long time . . . a couple of years, at least.

I've started some new journals but a few pages in I've given up, moved on, just quit doing it.

This was the first page of the first art journal I ever did. A bit of paint, some gesso, some magazine photos, an ink stamp, and a quote sticker. I remember thinking how fun and rewarding the experience was.

I think this page was from the same journal. More experimentation with paint and collage and more writing. The red is from another page when I forgot to put wax paper between the sheets.  

 One year I joined a group of on-line art friends and we did round robin journals. We sent our journal to another member and she did a spread in it and sent it on. Eventually we got our books back and had wonderful art from friends across the country. We chose a word or phrase that we wanted to be the theme of our journal. This was mine.

We met through another group that was doing a journal project from New York. The name of the program is The Sketchbook Project. It's kind of weird to think my journal could be there on the shelves they show on the Web site. For a few dollars you could order a specific blank journal, fill it with your own work and send it back in. People could then go to the library and browse the books and see every body's work. It was very inspiring.  

This was one of the spreads in the journal I submitted. I can't remember if there were prompts or I just did my own thing. 

Sometimes, I just do fun things like showing off a new box of crayons. I used to LOVE the smell of new crayons but I've noticed they just don't have that smell anymore. 

A few months ago I cleared my shelves of many of the art journals I'd done over the years. I kept that first one and a couple of others. Many of them I hand made which is another thing I learned to love to do over time. Either with rings like the book above or hand stitched. 

I've been missing the time with my art supplies, but so far not enough to get involved in the process again. I'll let you know if that changes. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Soldier Ancestors

As Memorial Day approaches I have been thinking of my ancestors who served in our country's wars. I am saddened that the Civil War memorials are being torn down. Saddened that there are people who say we should not honor the fallen on this day. Saddened by those who only see this as a three-day holiday. 

I only know of one ancestor who died during a war: Joseph Waggoner was born in 1836 and married before joining the Civil War and when he disappeared. Although I have found records of two men with that name who served for the Confederacy I don't know if either one is him. I do know he left a young son, my ancestor, Isaac Tandy Waggoner. 

Samuel Wilburn and his wife, Mary. He went off to fight in the Civil War before they were married. Thankfully he returned although at least one of his brother's died in the War. He served in Clarkson's Battalion, Confederate Cavalry, and Clark's Regiment of Missouri Infantry. He spent some time in the Rock Island, Illinois POW camp. 

John R. George was born in 1839 in what later became West Virginia. He served in Co. F, 15 Regiment of West Virginia Infantry from 1862-1864. He was captured near Richmond and spent three years in a Confederate prison. 

 James W. George's stone in Kansas. 

John Henry Covey served in Company E of the 11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. He spent much of the War guarding railroad connections. 

Other soldiers:

Reuben George fought in the Revolutionary War. He enlisted in 1777 In Culpepper County, Virginia in the 10th Regiment of Virginia and served until 1783. He was in the Battles of Germantown, Brandywine, and White Marsh. 

John Roush/Rausch came from Germany. Although he didn't serve directly he lent a great deal of support to the Patriots during the Revolution. Two of his sons were reportedly with George Washington when Cornwallis surrendered. One served at the Battle of Point Pleasant, Virginia (West Virginia) in 1774. 

I will be remembering these men and their fallen comrades this Memorial Day. 

Memorial Day celebration 2016, Pioneer and Military Cemeteries, Phoenix, Arizona.

"Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Art Abandonment

I haven't done much art or crafts in a long time. I finally decided to do a couple of things for the Art Abandonment group.

Founded by Michael deMeng, owner of Michael deMeng Art, the Facebook group is based on the premise of making a piece of art and abandoning it into the world for someone to find. Members are encouraged to take a picture of "the drop" and then just move away, leaving the art completely on its own. A tag is attached so the finder can contact the group with their story.

Some of the stories shared by finders are quite heartwarming. From just having a bad day to being homeless the stories show what just a little bit of random kindness can do to help a person.

Photos of ceramics, crocheted objects, mixed-media art, journals, jewelry, and painted rocks can be found on the Facebook page and are inspiring in themselves.

Some of the photos and stories have been gathered into a book available on Amazon:


There are over 39,000 members on the Facebook page:


I abandoned these little canvases this week:

In the past I have abandoned a number of different things all the way from Arizona to Washington State.

No matter what you enjoy making, or even just want to try your hand at, join the movement and spread a little kindness.

More information about the Art Abandonment Movement:




Sunday, May 14, 2017


A FB friend has been posting photos of the mothers in her family all week. I have enjoyed seeing the women of her family, even though I never knew any of them. 

So here is my offering of mothers who came before me.

I grew up in a small family of women. Since she was ten years older my sister was often more of a mother than a sibling. This photo is my grandmother, mom, sister, and her first child. Four generations of women. 

Both of my grandmothers (and an aunt by marriage). My mother's mother, Jennie (center), and my father's mother, Carrie, on the right. 

Three generations this time. My paternal grandmother, Carrie, is the baby. Her grandmother, Sarah, is holding her and her mother, Salenia, stands behind her. These women lived mostly in northwest Arkansas. Sarah was born around 1828 in Georgia.

One of the second great grandmothers on my father's side is Orpha Ann. She lost her first husband, and my ancestor, in the Civil War. She was born in 1844 in Tennessee.

 Nancy Ann was born in 1846 in Illinois. She is a second great grandmother on my mother's side. Grandma said she didn't remember that window pane ever being replaced; that pillow was always stuffed in that hole.

Mary was born in 1841 in Arkansas. She was going to get married but her fiance, Sam, 
joined the Confederate Army. He returned and they were married in 1866 and became my 
paternal second great grandparents.

Mary and Sam had a number of children, one of them was Thomas. 
He married Nancie Jane and they became by great grandparents. They made the move 
from Arkansas to Kansas. 

Of all those greats, and second greats I only remember Nellie. She passed away when I was 9. She moved from Illinois to Kansas in a wagon train when she was about 6 or 7. 

My Mom, Viola, at her eighth grade graduation. Her strength carries down to my daughter. 

We all have eight second great grandmothers. I'm amazed in pulling this together to see that I have photos of four of them. I have photos of all of my great grandmothers. 

As I was adding up the numbers I realized I'd missed one great grandmother. On the right 
is Nellie again. On the left is another Nancy, born in West Virginia in 1866. Both are 
maternal great grandmothers.

I has taken many years of doing genealogy, writing letters, and researching books to 
find all these photos. It was worth every minute. 

So there you have them. The women who came before. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Vegetable Soup

Thinking about my mom. Missing her.

They say that grief eases with time. That is true. It also comes and goes. Even after 27 years I have the bad times when I just want to talk to my mom.

I started a story in my writing group a few weeks ago about her vegetable soup. I thought at the time it might evolve into an essay I could submit somewhere. It didn't.

The basis was that mom made the most amazing vegetable soup. She managed to have all kinds of different vegetables in there but I don't remember her buying all that stuff. It would have taken small quantities of such a wide variety of things: corn, green beans, okra, tomatoes, peas, carrots, celery, onion, and more. As I was writing I started wondering how she did that.

So I think, perhaps, she had a plastic container in the freezer and kept adding our leftovers to that until there was enough. Then she made a pot roast and whatever was left from that was the basis for the vegetable soup.

Then I started thinking how vegetable soup kind of signified our lives. Mom was raising two girls and often working two jobs. Our home was always immaculate if small. The furniture wasn't new but she made it shine. She scrimped and used up and made do with whatever she could.

Somehow it all came together to make a home.

Thanks Mom. I miss you.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Grandma Great"

Every Friday evening I attend a writing group at a local used book shop. We have a lot of fun and if there isn't a speaker we learn from each other. 

Last Friday I arrived early and was able to sit and chat with the speaker for awhile. Kiki Swanson is a genealogist, novelist, and writing instructor. One of her novels is based on her grandmother and we got to talking about the lives our ancestors lived and how similar they were in many ways. She turned her grandmother's story into a novel because she didn't know enough to make it her own story. 

Her grandmother is pretty much the same generation as my great grandmother who my sister dubbed "Grandma Great" when she was little. Her name was Nellie and she was born in Illinois and moved with her parents and siblings to southwestern Kansas in the early 1880s by covered wagon.

There she lived in a soddy, a barn, and in town. Her husband deserted her and her young daughter and Nellie survived by working in the first telephone office in the area, running a boarding house, and even baking bread for the local store which grandma delivered in her wagon. 

I have long wanted to write about Nellie but always get sidetracked. Last night I was having trouble getting to sleep and it almost seemed like Nellie was telling me to get busy and to get this done. I decided to gather all my notes and photographs and then contact all my relatives who would remember her and ask them to send those memories. I want to put all this into a small book to make available to those who are interested for a nominal fee. 

I'm already writing articles and a book on history but I need to get started on this. The plan was reinforced today when these photos popped right up when I was searching for blog ideas. Okay, Grandma Great, I hear you. 

Probably a church group in Fowler, Kansas. I recognize some of the faces from other family photos Nellie is right in the middle with the v-shaped collar. 

Nellie Grace (Keith) Martin

Nellie in black and her daughter (my grandmother) sitting second from right. This may be another church group and might have been taken in Montezuma.

Is there somebody you need to write about?
Now is the time.

PS. To my family members who read this, please pass it on to others. I can't do this without everybody's help. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Friendly Visitor

As most of you know I never knew my dad, or any of his family. I have no memories of him except one time when he came to visit when I was around eight years old. 

This photo, I believe, is around the time he left. It's Dad, Mom, and the puppy he brought us, Smokey.

Dad had two brothers and three sisters. (Strangely, my mom was one of six siblings. Three males and three females.) As I got older when any of them visited Arizona they made sure to get in touch with me. Now one of my first cousins comes here regularly because her son married a local girl. 

So I've been lucky to get to know the family. One of my aunts had a puppet ministry which another cousin has since taken over. When Jessica was tiny they were in town and brought one of the puppets in to visit. I don't remember the puppet's name but I'm sure one of my cousins will fill that in. 

This is my cousin, Pam, and Jessica getting to know the special visitor.

I was afraid she might be afraid of him but she thought he was great.

On another visit my aunt bought Jessica a Lamp Chop puppet and taught her some ventriloquism but she didn't keep up with it. I think she still has Lamp Chop though.

Such fun memories.