Saturday, March 29, 2008

DAR Workshop

I went to a "join DAR" workshop today at the local genealogical society, and I'm glad I decided to go. I thought about skipping it, since I'm almost a member already, but I went anyway. It was a four-hour workshop, and the first two hours were instructional. I learned about some new websites and perks of belonging to DAR and offered my favorite two cents about and (good for finding headstones, which can be used for proof of death information).

I met a lady named Joy, who might be related to Bri, and another lady named Becky who will start working at the FHC on Wednesday nights. I mentioned to two of the "head honcho-ettes" that we could meet at the FHC sometime as a group, on a Saturday maybe, and we could take a very short tour and hook up our family history information and see how many of us are related. It's nice to be hooked up with keys and access to the place.

I'm very happy I did this. I may not have enjoyed it and understood the value of being a member when I was younger, but I've discovered that it's basically a genealogy and service group - and I can totally get behind that. The women are nice, they seem to have good hearts and good reasons for being there, and the genealogical hints and helps being thrown around the room were very informative - I enjoyed the feeling of helpfulness and generosity. One lady gave a presentation about Salt Lake City and all the genealogical wonders to be found there, and it was fun to feel the excitement in the air. EVERYONE wants to go to Salt Lake.

I also found out that I'll receive my D.A.R. number on April 17, and I'll have an induction ceremony in September. I'm very excited and I imagine Grandma Dot and Grandma Keen would be too. Genealogy Geek Girl has finally found more of her own kind.

Countdown Clocks at

Friday, March 28, 2008

It Just Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

Here's the awesome day I had today, genealogy-speaking.

1) Aunt Dott's Findagrave picture request - FULFILLED (see "Generous Genealogists")

2) A very distant cousin I've never met, but whose name I've seen in a book called Steinhilber since I was eleven - emailed today, and sent updated family information and two darling pictures

3) The funeral home called me back today about Cousin Keith, who actually IS my cousin Keith (we verified it over the phone), and they're sending me his funeral and burial information in the mail

4) Not to speak ill of the dead, but Grandma Hattie and her second husband Frederick Golden might possibly have fudged their wedding date just a little bit. Cousin Susan found the real McCoy marriage record today, in another state, no less. Susan said "EEEEEE HAWWWWW" in the subject line of her email, and I agree whole-heartedly.

Boy, when it rains, it pours. I'm a big believer in getting family history information in order, and then posting it online (safely and securely), so PEOPLE CAN FIND YOU and offer you wonderful genealogical goodies. Cast your bread upon the waters, folks!

Mmmmmmmm... bakery-fresh.

Generous Genealogists

I love them. I love them, I love them, I love them. A few examples:

1) Darla, who at least weekly posts a message on my Rootsweb family tree that comes to my email. Usually her messages contain information from a book called Tombstone Hoppin', showing where family members are buried, adding to their birth, death, or relationship information. Darla is no relation, but she has this book, and she goes through my list of people and finds them in her book, and tells me what the book says about each one. Her thoughtfulness and kindness are amazing.

2) The cemetery caretakers, office workers, and funeral home employees who answer my many phone calls. "Is so-and-so buried in your cemetery?" Bless them all for their patience. They are ALWAYS nice. I'm sure they get quite a few of these requests and they must be used to it by now, but I always appreciate their kind manner and willingness to look people up for me - and then make copies and mail me stuff. Not one of them has ever asked a cent. Maybe they hope I'll throw some funeral business their way.

3) Volunteers at If you're thinking, "Here she goes with the Findagrave thing again -" too bad, because those people are made of gold. I love the networking factor: if I want a picture of a relative's headstone but don't live anywhere near that area, I can place a photo request. It's so easy. I just click on a button and my request is automatically sent out to people who have signed up to be volunteers in that area. The wonderful volunteers, like Joanne and Tracy and Donna, after accepting these requests, take time out of their busy lives to go to the cemetery, find our relatives' headstones (or lack thereof), take pictures and post them online. How Heaven-sent is that? We can't all get around to all the cemeteries we'd like to go to, but we have this website and great people to connect us with our loved ones in that way.

More than providing a way to see our ancestors' final resting places (and a chance to leave "virtual flowers" for them), the memorial pages at Findagrave very often provide valuable genealogical information - names, dates, places, parents' names, spouses' names, life histories that point us in the right direction. Also, seeing the headstone of someone whose name I've only seen on paper makes that person seem more "real" to me. I feel closer to her, knowing that I am looking on the ground where she was last seen by her dear family.

Just this morning I received another email saying a photo request had been fulfilled, for my very elusive Aunt Dott. What a blessing to finally find her, to know when and where she died and where she was buried.

Bless you all, you wonderful sharers - may I be counted among your ranks.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Famous Dead People

I've decided we could all experience a few more famous dead people in our lives. I don't see how anyone could NOT come to that conclusion. It's staring us right in the face. Famous dead people are fascinating. Who hasn't sat on the couch with a can of Nestle's Quik and a spoon on a Monday afternoon, and pondered such questions as, "In what interesting places are these famous dead people buried?" "What were their real names?" "What did they die of?" "What do their headstones look like?" "If I wanted to visit Jimi Hendrix' grave, to which major U.S. city would I travel?" and "Am I really related to Elvis?"

Well, we're all in luck. is not only one of my favorite sites ever because of what I can learn and what I can add, but also because it was started by a guy who had a strange and macabre hobby of visiting celebrities' graves, and suspected he wasn't the only weirdo out there. Any kind of celebrity - good, bad, ugly, drugly, kind of famous or Al Capone - who was famous for anything, like acting, military conquests, scientific discoveries, dying in the 9/11 attacks, music, or for being the Three Stooges' mom (I had no idea they were brothers) - has probably been visited by this website's creator. I bow to his genius for creating such an interesting spot for me to kill some serious time online.

Here's just a sample of famous dead people at

Eddie Albert - at rest in his own Green Acres
Louisa May Alcott
Johann Sebastian Bach
Lucille Ball
Bart the Bear, who killed Tristan in Legends of the Fall. It was a good death.
Blackbeard the pirate... did you know he was real? I didn't.
Karen Carpenter
Cuauhtemoc (bless you), last of the Aztec emporers, killed by Cortes
Chief Joseph
Chris Farley - can't forget my Chris!
Marty Feldman, of "EYE-gor" and "Abby Normal" fame
Carlyle Harmon - never heard of him? If you're a mom, you should be thanking him in your prayers.
Martin Harris... I wonder if he ever figured out what he did with those 116 pages.
Jimi Hendrix
Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter
Marie Antoinette
Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis
Pocahontas, who is now painting with all the colors of the wind
Princess Diana
Gilda Radner: "Comedienne, Ballerina"
John Ritter
Scaramouche: "Scaramouche! Scaramouche! Will you do the fandango?" I didn't know who he was, either. I figured Freddie Mercury made it up.
Anna Nicole Smith
Joseph Smith, Jr.
Laura Ingalls Wilder

And... who would you add to our list?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Important Notice

I received this in an email today. This affects me and anyone who has uploaded his family tree to

RootsWeb to be Moved to
The following was written by Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network, Inc. and is posted here at the RootsWeb blog.

As you know, The Generations Network has hosted and funded the RootsWeb online community since June 2000, thereby maintaining RootsWeb as the world’s oldest and largest free genealogy website. TGN remains committed to this mission and believes that RootsWeb is an absolutely invaluable and complementary resource to, our flagship commercial family history site. We believe in both services and want to see both communities prosper and grow.

As part of this goal, we have decided to “transplant” RootsWeb onto the domain beginning next week. This move will not change the RootsWeb experience or alter the ease of navigation to or within RootsWeb. RootsWeb will remain a free online experience. What will be different is that the Web address for all RootsWeb pages will change from to Again, the RootsWeb experience is not changing.

The decision to host RootsWeb on is being made for one primary reason: we believe that the users of each of our two main websites can be better served if they have access to the best services available on both. Simply stated, we want to introduce more users to RootsWeb and vice versa.

Today, despite the fact that and are the two most frequently visited family history sites on the Web, only 25 percent of visitors to visited RootsWeb in January 2008, while only 20 percent of visitors to RootsWeb visited (according to Comscore Media Metrix). We think we will serve our users best by doing a better job of letting them know what is available on both and RootsWeb. Hosting RootsWeb on is the first step towards making this happen, but we will absolutely look for more and better ways down the road to advance this goal.

Hosting RootsWeb on will also make it easier for us to make changes and improvements to the RootsWeb experience in the future.

All old RootsWeb URLs will continue to work, whether they are bookmarks or favorites, links to or from a hosted page or URLs manually typed in your Internet browser. We will have a redirect in place so that all old URLs will automatically end up on the appropriate new RootsWeb URL. You will never need to update your old favorites or links unless you want to. We have worked to make the transition as seamless as possible for our users, and this change should have a minimal impact on your experience with the site.

RootsWeb will remain a free online experience dedicated to providing you with a place where our community can find their roots together. If you have questions regarding this change please email them to


Tim Sullivan
The Generations Network, Inc.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Went to my Family History Center staff meeting tonight...

[Originally, I posted a countdown calendar showing how many days were left until the new Familysearch would be available in my area... as of 4/11/08, there were 108 days left.]

And while I'm happy about this, I was a bit impatient to see that the following areas will be getting New FamilySearch before we will:

Tri-Cities, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Spokane, Washington
Medford, Oregon

I have family members who don't even care, and they'll be able to log on to NFS before I will. My husband was mocking me tonight: "How DARE they throw pearls at those swine in Tri-Cities!"

Amen, babe. Amen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

They'll Live Forever As Long As Someone Knows Their Names

Mom called last night and we chatted about - guess what! - dead people. She loves sharing her memories, and I love writing them down. Here’s a sampling:

~ Even with the hard life Grandma Keen led, she was always kind and sweet. She would tell my mom (her granddaughter), “Kindness is free. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind.” She was an excellent seamstress and sewed wedding dresses for the local girls. With the money she earned, Mom said, Grandma and Grandpa helped put Uncle Ralph, their son-in-law, through medical school. Here are Grandma and Mom with a doll Grandma made for Christmas. Mom looks politely excited - she was a tomboy and didn't play with dolls, but she loved her Grandma.

~ During summers, Mom used to visit Aunt Marguerite and Uncle Ralph in Portland. They were quite "comfortable," and Mom observed Marguerite's shopping habit of calling up local department stores like Nordstrom or Meier & Frank and having clothes delivered to her home. She’d pay for the ones she liked and send the rest back. If Aunt Marguerite found a blouse or dress she liked, she bought one in every color. She had huge drawers full of nylons, etc. She always wore sunglasses and beautiful jewelry and kept her eyebrows immaculately plucked. Mom said Uncle Ralph must have visited China during some part of his World War II service, because their home was decorated like a Chinese restaurant, down to the red-fringed lamps. Here's Aunt Marguerite in 1962.

~ Uncle Ralph could be really funny. My grandparents were fighting one day, and Uncle Ralph (Grandma’s brother-in-law) turned on a tape recorder and set it behind the couch and recorded their quite lengthy argument. Uncle Ralph played it back for them later. Grandma was ready to kill him, Mom said. He bought Mom a parakeet when she was six, whom she named “Trixie,” and Mom had the bird until she was about sixteen. Here we have Uncle Ralph with his daughters, Patricia and Chickie, and Grandma Dot.

~ Here are Grandma Dot and her sister Kathleen in the 1930s, outside the family home in Walla Walla, getting ready to go somewhere. Kathleen, it turns out, was something of a backseat driver. Mom remembers driving to Wallowa Lake with Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Mel one summer, and it was "Melvin! Melvin! Turn here! Melvin!" all the way there. To her credit, Kathleen did have a Ph.D. and an important job and was pretty darn smart, so I imagine she was someone worth listening to. You can read more about her here.

With these pictures and stories in mind, I hope we're all working on two things:

1) Take time to write down something about your life. Someone will be interested in hearing about you someday - wouldn't it be nice if they could hear it in your own words? (Instead of hearing, "She was a backseat driver" - or worse - from someone else?)

2) If you can, interview older family members who remember a generation or two farther back than you do, and write down what they say about these loved ones who have left us. Though they may be scanty or imperfect, these records are precious.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Photo of the Week: 9 March 2008

Grandma Keithler (my great grandmother) and me, in the living room of her little house up on 102nd Avenue in Vancouver. I see this little home quite often while we're driving around town, and while I don't have any memories of being there, it makes my heart go pitter-pat to think that people I loved once lived there. Poppy, Grandma's husband, planted a sequoia tree in their front yard - if I'm not mistaken, that's the same tree in the window - which is still there and now huge. My memories of Grandma are still pretty tender - she died when I was twelve, and I still remember her voice and what she smelled like (pretty).

Some things I've heard about Grandma are that when she was young and lived in Montana, her father owned a livery barn in town. When new people moved into town, it was Grandma's job to drive them to their new property in the old Model T her dad owned. She had to drive backward whenever they went uphill, because if she drove forward, all the gasoline would go to the back of the tank and the engine died. Grandma also played the piano for the silent movies at her local theater.

Grandma's mother Lena died in the influenza epidemic, her father John died five years later, and two of her three brothers died at young ages; as a mother, she lost two of her three children within seven years of each other, also relatively young. She was a tough lady, quite used to having to work hard, and didn't put up with much nonsense. Yet she was sweet. When I was a little girl, about seven years old, we all took a trip to the beach and we kids took our shoes off to play in the sand. Afterward, I had sandy feet I had to wipe off before I could put my shoes back on. My aunt's younger sister, Dena, sat me on the car and wiped my feet off for me. Grandma noticed us, smiled big and said to me, "Spoiled!"

She put butter in her tomato soup and only ate "Hollywood" bread. She owned a little pink plastic Ferris wheel for her spools of thread and a green flocked turtle pincushion with tiny black plastic glasses and a knickknack of small, rainbow-colored birds flying above a plastic base and a paperweight of clear plastic with a red rose inside and a green metal stool with a pull-out step. I loved visiting her home and seeing her little "treasures." We watched Lawrence Welk at her home on Saturday nights. Sometimes she would watch us out her little hallway window, when she lived next door.

I miss her.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Life of William Ricketts Smith, Part 11: "I squeezed"

(Part 10 is here.)

I shipped out on the battleship Colorado a few days before the first of December. We were five days from Honolulu to San Pedro, and I thought I would be in Vancouver [Washington] long before Christmas. They picked us up at San Pedro and took us to Camp Anza, California, in the middle of the Anza Desert, to wait until there was a ship to take us to Camp Stoneman at San Francisco, and Fort Lewis, Washington. I was at Camp Anza a week or ten days, they loaded us on a ship and we docked at San Francisco where we spent the night. We were two or three days to Tacoma and were loaded on trucks and taken to Fort Lewis.

Having come from Oahu, I did not have a dress uniform, so it was necessary to get one before I could be discharged. They had a complete uniform, except for a blouse (coat), but the supply sergeant said he had them on order and should arrive shortly. I checked with him daily, as I had to go by the supply room on my way to the mess hall. It was about a quarter mile from the barracks. The morning of the 17th of December, when I stopped by, he said he still didn't have the blouse, but he said he had a size smaller than I wore and if I could squeeze into it, I could have it. I squeezed.

The 19th day of December 1945, I met with Colonel Taylor and received my discharge papers. There were some other GIs there and they were on their way to Castle Rock, Washington, and said I could ride with them. I figured that was better than waiting for the bus, so I went. I had to wait in Castle Rock till midnight to catch the bus and continue my journey to Vancouver, where my family was. I arrived in Vancouver about 2 AM. Having sent a telegram to my family the day before, I expected them to meet me. I didn't know where they lived, as they had moved, and all I had was a route and box number.

After a few minutes, a cab driver came into the bus depot and asked me where I was going. Meanwhile, no one was there to meet me and I thought they were probably on my way. The cab driver came back after about two hours (4 AM) and insisted on taking me out to find them. I had a general idea of the part of the country they were in, so I finally agreed to go with him. We drove around for some time, he would stop once in a while and knock on somebody's door and ask if they knew where the Keithlers lived. It was almost daylight when we finally located them. By that time I was so disappointed and disgusted that I was about to go back to Fort Lewis and re-enlist. The problem was that the telegram was not delivered until the next day. I have never sent another telegram to this day!

The End

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Photo of the Week: March 2, 2008

(Click on the image for a better view)

A couple of hotties get married in 1942 (you can read more about that here).

My Neenaw is one of the most beautiful brides I've ever seen. I am lucky to look anything like her. Gran's no slouch, either.