Tattered Past

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Long-Time Friends: Remember When

 My daughter was in town a couple of weeks ago. We always spend some time looking at old photos and reminiscing.

This time we had a cohort in the memory searching, my friend Connie. We met back before we had kids. Now both our kids are married and living in other states.

I found some of the photos of my daughter and her son over time. It was fun remembering when.

Halloween at the park. I'm not sure about ages. 

Jessica's fifth birthday party. 

Sometime after that we lost contact. Connie moved away for awhile and the years slipped away.
Then about three years ago she found me again through FaceBook. 

One thing we wanted to make sure and do was all get together for coffee. Here's Jessica and Connie at the local Starbucks. Connie made the beautiful crocheted blanket for her. 

New friends are wonderful, long-time friends are the best.

Do you have a long-time friend who is special to you? Or is there somebody you've lost touch with? Take the time to find them again and make new memories. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Remembering the TV Westerns

I met with a friend for coffee the other day and we got to talking about the old westerns. Neither one of us keep up with actors much but I was rather stunned when I did check on some of the names that came to mind.

One was Lee Van Cleef. He passed away in 1989. He came up because I occasionally take a break from writing and research and watch an old western on tv. He was in an early episode of "The Rifleman" playing a very young bad guy. I judged that it was early because of how young Johnny Crawford was.

That brought up Chuck Connors who I knew had passed because I had read how much Johnny Crawford had thought of him. Chuck Connors died in 1992.

My sister, Betty, loved anything to do with horses and the West. Being ten years older she kind of ruled the television so I grew up on westerns. I think my first big movie star crush was Johnny Crawford so it was a real treat when I finally got to meet him a few years ago. He's a very nice person.

When my husband and I were involved in a lot of events in Wilcox and Tombstone we met a lot of the western stars like Robert Fuller, Robert Horton, Hugh O'Brien, Bill Smith, Buck Taylor, Dirk London, Jan Shepherd, and Peter Brown. 

How many do you remember? 

I'm never sure if I should post photos I've had signed although I see others doing it. I have collected a lot of autographs in a book, "TV Western Round-Up."

It has publicity photos from all the westerns and I've been so lucky to have many of them signed. I've also been able to talk to some of the people at length. If I met someone who wasn't in the book I asked them sign the front pages.

 A lot of memories. One year my sister came down for the event in Tombstone. The joy on her face when she met the people she'd watched for so many years is unforgettable.

Peter Brown, Betty, Robert Horton

I was thinking I really got off the subject through this post, but maybe not. My sister is gone now too. She died a couple of years after this event. She never quit talking about it. 

An era ended when those old westerns were taken off the air. None of the new westerns have the honesty and integrity of those shows. Perhaps they weren't true to history or clothing or how things were really done, but they gave us a basis for being good people. I miss them. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom's 94th birthday. It's hard to imagine what she would be like today because she passed away nearly 27 years ago. Really? How can that be?

That fact came home to me the other day while I was going through a couple of boxes of photos. Most of them were my daughter's childhood, but a few strays sneaked in over the years. I was looking for some particular photos and noticed there just weren't many of my mom and daughter together. Then I remembered. Jessica was only ten when Mom passed away.

No wonder she doesn't remember her voice or a lot of other things about her nana.

Mom as a baby. 

Mom, me and my sister when I was four. Betty was fifteen.

Mom holding my daughter. She was so proud of that baby. 

When I went to the hospital we decided not to call her until we had some news. Finally,
eighteen hours later, the little one arrived. By then mom had figured it out and came to the hospital. When they wheeled me out I could see her through the windows and she was bursting with pride. I think the baby was in a nursery in between at that point, but I'm not sure. 

I know she was at our house the first chance she got. 

The first time we went out without our daughter was to a movie and mom babysat. I swear she couldn't wait for us to get out the door so she could have her all to herself. 

Besides loving her grandkids to pieces, mom loved her garden (she could grow anything), her home, decorating, shopping, cooking and baking, and Jim Reeves and Nat King Cole. 

She didn't like antiques ("Who'd want somebody else's junk."), or dirt in any form (unless perhaps it was in her garden), or cold weather. 

So again I say, "Happy Birthday Mom."

Monday, March 6, 2017

Return to Tombstone

As I mentioned in the last post, our daughter and family are coming to visit next month. Our son-in-law is adamant that they go to Tombstone so we will be traveling south for a couple of days. 

The main thing I want him to see is the Gunfighter Hall of Fame. This is a relatively new attraction in the town and one I know he will find extremely interesting.

Owner, Richard Ignarski, has an amazing collection which he has arranged in wonderful display cases.

There are some great items from throughout the West including my home state of Kansas. Some of the displays include Bill Tilghman, Buckskin "Frank" Leslie, The Texas Rangers, and the Earps.

Hubby and I visited in October and Richard was wonderful at pointing out special items and telling us stories about some of them. We shared ideas on a few local history events and had fun reminiscing a bit about some people we know.

Richard is also an artist and actor. I'm sure he could add a lot more from those aspects of his life also.

See you soon, Richard.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fiddler On The Roof

One of our favorite movies is "Fiddler On The Roof." It seems, although there are sad parts, it is always heartwarming and uplifting. 

Hubby saw the Broadway play in his younger years and I saw it done by a local theater a few years ago. We never grow tired of the story or the music. 

When I learned that a man I went to high school with would be playing Lazar Wolf at another small local theater I immediately asked Hubby if he'd like to go. I was somewhat concerned he might be disappointed in this type of venue, but I shouldn't have been.
We got our tickets for the Don Bluth Front Row Theatre and looked forward to a night out. 

The theater is owned by Don Bluth who used to have performances in his living room. He now owns the theater in north Scottsdale. There are no more than three rows of seats on three sides of the stage so each guest feels a part of the action. We were greeted by the owner/director which will give you an idea of what kind of atmosphere the theater has. 

To say we had a wonderful time just doesn't give the evening justice. Hubby leaned over once and said he had goosebumps. I just smiled. I did too. We both laughed, shed a few tears, and just sat back and enjoyed a group of actors who obviously love what they are doing. 

After the show, we got to talk to Doug who played Lazar Wolf and learned his wife, Lisa, played Yente. 

It was dark outside but Hubby snapped a couple of photos for me. 

We also met their daughter who will be in the April performance of "The Little Mermaid" in which their son will play Eric. I just love that the whole family is involved. 

Our daughter and family are coming in from out-of-state in a couple of weeks and they have already purchased their tickets. I think we went on a bit about how much we enjoyed the show. 

Go check out the web site. There is a video of the scene where Tavye's daughters sing about the Matchmaker. 

My favorite song in the movie has always been "Miracle of Miracles." What's yours? 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Friends and Arizona History

Almost thirty years ago I put my name on the researcher list at the Arizona State Archives. I was mostly looking for genealogy clients at that point and had no idea where it would take me.

I have since worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, some filmmakers, attorneys, and quite a few authors.

Some of them have become good friends. One of those is Jeff Richardson. When we first met he lived in Alaska but he'd come down to Arizona so we had coffee a few times. He was researching the first Phoenix marshal, Enrique "Henry" Garfias.

Henry became one of the most notable lawmen in Arizona serving numerous terms as city marshal, constable, Maricopa County deputy, and US deputy marshal. He was known for always getting his man; one way or another.

Jeff and I kept in touch by email and phone calls as his research progressed.

One year he came to one of the western history events in Tombstone, Arizona. Here he is with well-known author, Leon Metz (on the left.)

Last month Jeff's book on Henry Garfias came out. It is an amazing journey through early Hispanic history in California (his father once owned the land where Pasadena and neighboring cities now stand) and Arizona. 

Jeff has a way with blending his narrative and thoughts with real accounts from documents and early newspapers. 

Published by Goose Flats Publishing in Tombstone the cover is a work of art in itself. Copies can be ordered from the publisher and through Amazon.

I will be posting more about Jeff as his visit to Arizona in the fall is finalized. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

"Grandma Thompson": Remember When

In 1981 we took a trip to Kansas so I could introduce my husband to where I had grown up. He is an Arizona native so I had seen all of his memory places. 

I also wanted to do some genealogy, so one of the places we stopped was the Graceland Cemetery in Meade, Kansas. 

I found my great grandmother's grave along with other members of the family. I remember Nellie and her funeral. 

The sad part of this story is her son who died at about ten days old. At that time there was just a wooden marker. I don't know if it is still there. 

Near them lies Nellie's sister, Laura Bell, who never married. 

At some point she turned the family home known as the "Keith House" into a boarding house. 

Then came the frustrating one: Grandma Thompson 1811-1900.

I knew Nellie and Laura's mother was Nancy Ann Thompson so I figured this might be her. At some point I learned she also came out from Illinois after her husband, Soloman Thompson, died. But what were her first and maiden names?

She remained "Grandma Thompson" in my mind and on the genealogy charts for a long time. As I learned more about doing genealogy and also as records became available I would occasionally returned to the search for this lady. I finally found out her name was Jane and much later that her maiden name was Malone but that is about all I know.

She was illiterate as she signed her land records with "her mark."

She lived in Clark County in a small sod house as described in her land record. She also had an "idiotic" son who lived into adulthood and probably helped her farm. His name was James and I haven't found anything on him after she died.

Jane's death was another problem. I couldn't find an obituary or any other record. Finally, I don't remember exactly how, I learned she died in 1903 instead of 1900. My theory is the stone was put on much later. If you compare hers to Laura's you can see they are the same so my guess is that is when her stone was put on the grave and whoever gave the information (probably Nellie) remembered wrong.

Here's the obituary I finally found for Grandma Thompson:

"The Meade County News", Meade, Meade County, Kansas.
Thursday, October 8, 1903.
Two aged soldiers of the Cross have fought the good fight of faith and gone home to rest.
Grandma Thompson, sister Keith's mother, passed away Friday p.m., Oct. 2. This Sainted mother in Israel was born ninety-eight years ago, living with her children until the day of her death. Grandma Thompson united with the Baptist Church more than 70 years ago. The writer visited her several months ago and held services in her room, she expected a desire to unite with the Meade church, stating that she desired to die in the church. She enjoyed her religion and was always able to give a reason of the hope she had in Christ.

We laid her to rest in Graceland cemetery on Saturday afternoon to await the voice of the resurrection.

"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God."

The search for Jane Malone Thompson's ancestry continues. Meanwhile, it is rewarding to go back over how much information has been found in the past 36 years.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Imagining My Mom as a Child: Remember When

It is hard to imagine our parents, who we only knew as adults, and possibly now as aged men and women as children. I just can't picture my mother running around playing tag or hide-and-seek. 

It is a little easier to imagine her playing house because she loved keeping up her home and caring for my sister and I, and later the grandchildren.  

Mom was the oldest of six; three boys and three girls. I'm sure a lot fell to her shoulders as she got older. 

Here she is at a family gathering. That is her on the left sitting on her father's hip. He was always a stern man and seeing him holding my mom is kind of funny for some reason. The woman to the right is Grandma Jennie holding Aunt Marie. I have to wonder what had Marie's attention, or was she just squirming and ready to go play? 
To the right is Nellie Keith Martin, Jennie's mother. She raised Jennie by herself in southwestern Kansas. Another thing that is hard to imagine. 

The two ladies are grandad's sisters and the men are their husbands. I don't know who the children are. This was taken at one of the sister's homes a few counties to the east of where my grandparents lived. 

Another bit of imagining: What brought the families together? What did they have for dinner? My guess would be fried chicken with lots of mashed potatoes and fresh tomatoes from the garden. 

Here's my mother a little older. I'm terrible at ages and there aren't any dates but my guess would be third grade.

My mother has been gone for almost 27 years. That doesn't even seem possible. I asked a lot of questions growing up, especially after I started doing genealogy in 1976, but there was never enough time and too many questions. I didn't always write them down. 

Mom didn't talk a lot about her childhood. She grew up to be a strong woman who raised two of us on her own. 

Have you thought about your own parents as children? 
Have you asked the questions? 
Have you written the answers down? 

Hmmm. Maybe they had a pot roast for dinner. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Essential Oils: There's Always More To Learn

I remember first discovering essential oils about twenty years ago. My niece and I bought the little bottles that just smelled good. We dropped the oil on clay diffusers and thought we were doing good. Now I know most of those types of oils are mostly alcohol and have very little actual oil in them.

About fifteen years ago I was introduced to Young Living at the yoga studio. One of the members was a doctor who swore by the use of these therapeutic grade oils. What a difference. Try these and you'll never go back. 

This is my box of oils. I use them for pain, relaxation, cleaning, and so much more. 
I thought all these years I was using them correctly. I applied them topically, ingested some (like peppermint), and smelled them. 

Then I found the Alchemist's Guild and have learned there isn't much that YL oils can't do. I've learned to make skin cleansers and creams, blends for better pain control, cleaning products, and even cooking ideas.

Now the Guild has a book that I wish I'd had twenty years ago. Or even five years ago. This book is geared to the oils that come in the beginner's kit. It has a bit of history on each oil or blend and the uses for each. The oils in this kit include Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon, Copaiba, Frankincense, and blends; Purification, Di-gize, RC, PanAway, StressAway, and Thieves.

There is a section in making blends using carrier oils to dilute and stretch the use of the oil. The different types of diffusers are covered and how to best use them. The best part and where I hadn't used the oils to their fullest potential is recipes to make things like an anti-bacterial type foaming hand cleaner, mouthwash, moisturizers, and lip balm.

I've made wool dryer balls and gotten rid of those dryer sheets. Glass cleaner, floor cleaner, and air fresheners. In other words detoxing my home.

On the side of there's always more to learn there are spaces for writing in your own recipes and ideas. There is also an accompanying journal to keep more information.

I have read the entire book and am now going back and studying more things, besides using it for reference. I'm finding it invaluable.

If you haven't discovered top quality essential oils ask around. You probably have friends who have. There are numerous books and web sites on using oils. "Basic Alchemy with Essential Oils" is a great place to start.

You can find it here:

Or if you are in Phoenix it is available at Dog-Eared Pages Used Books near 40th Street and Bell Road. http://www.dogearedpagesusedbooks.com/


Monday, January 23, 2017

Smiles in "True West Magazine"

Finally over the cold enough to get out a bit on my own. Second stop was Barnes & Noble so I could get extra copies of the current True West Magazine. 

I hang out there enough that many of the employees know be by name and when I went up to pay for three copies Chris commented that he had recently heard the publisher of True West is local. I was able to confirm the offices are in Cave Creek, Arizona, right on the main street. 

Of course, I then pointed out that I have a feature article in this (February) issue. 

He gave me a big smile and said something like, it's great to be a writer, but to be a published writer is even better. Yes it is. 
(Thanks, Chris.)

With around forty years experience as a genealogist I have often heard people ask about why our ancestors didn't smile. I've also heard comments during Old West events and in museums. There have been many theories over the years. 

I happened to notice a blog post by Bob Boze Bell, president of True West about those stern westerners. I commented that I happened to be working on an article about that issue and he put me "on assignment." 

It was a fun frolic through numerous web sites and a not so fun search through hundreds of photos looking for some that proved the "no smile rule" didn't always apply. 

After I submitted the article Bob blogged a few more times on the subject. Here are the links:



It has been an interesting article to write. 
I hope you all enjoy reading it too. 

I'd love to hear your comments.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thinking About Mom

Getting sick is no fun. I've had that cold that is touring the country for over a week now. I keep texting hubby to stop and get something different try for the sniffles, coughing, sore throat, etc. (Yes, I feel like a commercial,)

Of course, I got to thinking about my Mom. I was talking with a friend and we both have fond memories of our Moms caring for us when we were sick and the ever present jar of Vicks VapoRub. 

When I was young Mom was usually working two jobs so I don't have a lot of memories of her being there. It's just the way it was. I do remember her soothing touch with the VapoRub and especially her pot roast and potato soup. 

Which, reminds me of a funny story. When we were first married we were renting a great old rock house in south Phoenix. The only heat was a wall furnace in the living room and a fire place. We were both about as sick as I've ever been. Mom would call and ask if she could do anything and I requested her potato soup. When she brought it by she put it by the door, knocked, and backed off the porch. When I answered the door she was a good fifteen feet away, she didn't want that bug. That was the best potato soup I've ever had. We still talk about it. 

Anyway, I wonder how much healing was just from the gentle touch of our mothers when we were young. 

Here's a photo of my mom during that time. She was a dispatcher for the police/fire department. 

Today, besides the Vicks I'm diffusing essential oils like crazy. Young Living brand Thieves and Purification to clear the house and eucalyptus, RC, tea tree, lemon, and, and oregano for all the symptoms.

Yes, I love my essential oils but there is something about Vicks VapoRub and the memory of my mother's gentle touch.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Distant Cousins . . . Remember When

I've been corresponding with a distant cousin on my McFerran line for many years. A couple of weeks ago he put me in touch with another cousin who he thought knew something about my Wilburn line (Samuel Wilburn married Mary McFerran in 1866.)

Ken called me one evening and we talked for at least an hour. He once lived in "Old Man Wilburn's" house in Franklin County, Arkansas. He remembered his father sending rent checks to him in Kansas. I'm pretty sure that was my great grandfather, Thomas W. Wilburn. Thomas was born to Sam and Mary in 1868. He married Nancie Jane Reed in 1890 and they were in southwestern Kansas by 1930. Here's a photo of him and his wife. He died in 1944 and Nancie in 1946. In 1930 he was living on a farm in Meade County, Kansas with one of their sons.

Ken told me about the area where our ancestors settled and even knew where the old homesteads were. He said that if I ever made it to Arkansas he would take me out there. I would love to do that, but I kind of gave up on going there many years ago. 

I tried to ascertain exactly how we are related and it turns out he is descended from Mary McFerran Wilburn's brother, Thomas. 

That is Mary on the far right. Thomas is next to her and his wife is standing behind. The other two women are Mary and Tom's sisters. 

I didn't realize while we were talking I had a photo of his ancestor. Ken doesn't own a computer so I dug through the files and today I went and had copies made of the photos so I can mail them to him. 

I don't know if he will recognize the photo when he sees it, but I felt so excited that maybe I can share with him something from his past. 

Ken was once in law enforcement and while at a conference in Colorado met a man named McFerran from Ireland. He was told that if it was MacFerran it would be Scottish but our McFerrans are Irish. (My DNA test did show I am 96% from the British Isles.) He didn't get any specific information about where the man was from. Our earliest, probable, ancestor is John McFerran who died before 1776 in Virginia. Looks like I need to work on this line a bit. 

It was wonderful hearing Ken tell how no matter how the family went from town they had to cross a creek (no bridges) to get home. They lost a huge number of acres after the Civil War and there's just a small amount left in the family. 

He also confirmed a story I was told: After Samuel McFerran's first wife, Esther Kennedy, died he married Catherine Dunn. When the bushwackers went through Arkansas they were at the house and shoved her towards the fireplace. My family said she was shoved into the fire but he didn't know that, so I don't know if that might have been a bit of exaggeration. She was attacked and survived

An added bit of information is Sam Wilburn and Mary were supposed to be married when he joined the Confederate Army. She had the slave woman wrap her wedding dress in a piece of oilcloth and hide it in a hole in the tree so the bushwackers wouldn't get it. When he returned they were married. 

I can't wait to hear from Ken when he receives these pictures. What a joy to hear from very distant cousins. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fairy Portals Hidden at Local Bookstore

Dog-Eared Pages Used Bookstore in northeast Phoenix is a magical place on a usual day. On first entering the nearly hidden location the reader is met with displays of books by local writers and the beginnings of the multitude of used and collectible books. 

Proprietors, Thom and Melanie, will go out of their way to help you find that special book on your list or direct you to the back where you will enter a maze of books of every description. 

During January there will be a different kind of magic through fairy portals and mini-story books by the creative team of Ann Videan and Cherie Scott. 

The art wall at DEP with the display of fairy portals and books. 

Cherie designs and creates the fairy portals and Ann writes a special story for the wee inhabitants. 
Ann is also the author of Song of the Ocarina about Lark, a New Zealand teen who learns she is the "Maestra" of the realm of Delfaerune, "the only Noble Fae with the musical prowess and Earth connection to save humans from Dark Fae magic." 

Ann also has a coloring and writing prompt book based on the magical fairly portals Cherie creates. 

Also available are colorful or color-able notecards and other gifts. 

On January 12 from 4:00 to 6:30 there will be an artist reception at Dog-Eared Pages with food, smiles, magic, and fun. Learn more and find a map in the links below. If you can't it make that day, stop by the store and join in the search for a wee fairy portal hidden somewhere midst the books. Take it to the front and receive a mini book about the wee fairy that lives within.

You will be enchanted. Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Looking Forward . . .

The New Year always brings about changes. I don’t do resolutions, but I do try to set goals. One of mine for this year is to revamp my blog (and to be a better blogger.)

I’m going to redo the banner so watch for that. I haven’t even made a final decision yet, so it will be a surprise for all of us. Lol

The next decision is what direction to take the writing. In the past I have tried a variety of things: travel, art journaling, “remember when” about my family history, and just stuff about me. What I’d like to do is have departments.

If you are an avid blog follower you have probably noticed things like “throwback Thursday” when people post photos of themselves or their family from the past. Or maybe that is just Facebook, I’m not sure, but you get the idea.

With all the other writing I plan to do I can’t do a blog post every day. Most people don’t have the time to read that much anyway. I would like to do some regular type posts.

So, here’s your chance to tell me what you would like to read about. Here are a few of my ideas:

“Remember when . . .” family history, memories, and an idea to write your own stories.

Journaling prompts for self-awareness OR prompts for fiction writing OR both traded off?

Art journaling ideas and prompts. For those not aware of the art journaling craze it is taking a journal or book, and using mixed media (collage, paint, markers, stamps, stickers, etc.) to PLAY and journal about yourself and your life.

General life: my travels, pets, photography, reading, and life in Arizona. 

As you can see, there are a wide variety of possibilities; mainly because I have such a wide variety of interests. Perhaps this would be a good time to list some of my activities:

I lead a writing group based on the book Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I was part of another group for 11 years and have moved on to start a new group. We meet weekly to write a story from a prompt and then we share what we’ve written.

I write Arizona and Old West history for various magazines, journals, and an upcoming book.
I journal daily in either an art journal or regular hand-written journal.

I attend a variety of writing groups and attend conferences and workshops. I have also taught several workshops on research and writing.

I’ve been doing my own genealogy since 1976 and, also do some research for others.

I read constantly. My goal on Goodreads for 2016 was 65 books and I have exceeded that.

I am involved in learning vibrational healing. I also work with therapeutic grade essential oils.

My husband and I do paranormal research with various groups.

I do some sewing and other crafts. I’m getting the itch to get back into making 1/12 scale miniatures. (I have a huge Victorian style house with three stories and the big doors that open in the front.)

Okay, Dear Readers, what do you want to read about? What have been some of your favorite types of posts in the past.

One other comment, many say they can’t make comments on the blog itself. I have it set up that anybody can leave a comment, however I must moderate the comments so your comment won’t show up immediately. I hope this fixes the problem. (For my FB friends, I will be back after the holidays.)