Friday, October 2, 2015

Serendipity Friday - 2 October 2015

Did your ancestors settle in western states and were first landowners? If so, you can find the information about their land at Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming land records were recently added to the database. I don’t have ancestors in those states but I did find great-great-grandfather in Kansas. Doing a search on some surnames of those I know settled in these areas produced a lot of results. Check this database for your ancestors. Read the article about these 3.3 million original landowners added to -

(Jeanine Barndt is the Head Librarian for the Heritage Quest Research Library in beautiful downtown Sumner, Washington; this bit is from the HQRL Newsletter for Fall 2015.)


I learn history best from historical fiction. And to my ken, some authors of this sort are better than others. Edward Rutherfurd is one of the best, in my opinion. The following blurb from his book New York gives a brand new insight into those old Civil War soldier photos that we prize so highly…. The year is 1863 (page 413) and then 1871 (page 488):

 “His photographic  studio  was well equipped….. like the other photographers on the Bowery, his bread-and-butter business in recent years had been taking quick portraits of young men standing proudly, or sheepishly, in their unaccustomed uniforms, before they went off to fight again the South. Quicker than the old daguerreotype to take, easy to reproduce on paper, he’d  get thirty a day sometimes. It paid the rent. At first, these small “carte-de-visite”-size portraits had seemed jolly enough, like taking someone’s picture at the seaside. Gradually, however, as the terribly casualties of the Civil War had mounted, he had realized that the dull little portraits he was taking were more like tombstones, last mementoes, before some poor fellow vanished from his family forever. And if he tried to make each humble one as splendid as he could, he did not tell his customers the reason.”
 The character was explaining why he didn’t get a photo of Lincoln speaking the Gettysburg Address…… Lincoln was so brief and:  “It had been no easy business getting a picture in the Civil War. The photographs were always taken in 3-D, which meant that two plates had to be inserted simultaneously into a double camera, one to the left, one to the right. The glass plates had to be quickly cleaned, coated with collodion, then, while still wet, dipped in silver nitrate before being put into the camera. The exposure time might only be a few seconds, but then on had to rush the plates, still wet, into the mobile darkroom. Quite apart from the difficulties of having people in motion during the seconds of exposure, the whole process was so cumbersome that taking pictures of battlefield action was almost impossible. “


Next is a great little bit from my friend, Barbara Zanzig; the Ten Commandments according to Norwegians:
Da Ten commandments
1. Der's only one God, ya know.
2. Don't be idolizing dat fish on yer mantle.
3. Cussin' ain't Minnesota nice.
4. Go to church even when yer up nort.
5. Honor yer folks.
6. Don't kill; Catch an' release.
7. Der's only one Lena fer ever Ole.  No cheatin'.
8. If it ain't yer lutefisk, don't take it.
9. Don't be braggin' 'bout how much snow ya shoveled.
10. Keep yer mind off yer neighbor's hotdish.


If you want to Show-and-Tell your grandchildren into better behavior, take them to the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum in Port Townsend……….. this organization is housed in the old city hall and in the basement are the scariest jail cells I’ve ever seen. I visited with three teenagers and they were impressed and vowed never to have to be put in a place like this. 

This is the solitary confinement cell. Notice the leg irons in the back. Believe me it was cold and dark and awful. Notice the little “trap door” on the wall where the food was pushed in to the unfortunate person…. and then the trap door was closed, leaving the person in almost total darkness.

For more information on the Jefferson County Historical Society and Museum in Port Townsend, click to


If you do travel to the peninsula, after your visit to Port Townsend continue on to Port Angeles, the home of the Clallam County Genealogical Society.  This little-but-very-active society supports a dandy library. Here is CCGS president Ginny Majewski in front of their library:

They have several shelves full of local, one-of-a-kind material, like these binders of the several censes of the Makah Indians who live further out on the peninsula in Neah Bay.

Another thing that really impressed me was this rack of nametags……… each nametag on this rack belongs to a library volunteer. Clallam County Genealogical Society surely does support their local 

(genealogical society) library!         

No comments: