Tag Archives: blog posts

Celebrating 2017 at Ancestors in Aprons

First Things First

THANK YOU! My mother and father thank you. My grandparents and great grandparents to the 14th X thank you.

I am so grateful to the ever-increasing number of readers who find Ancestors in Aprons.

Some of those readers turn out to be relatives. I won’t list them all here, but hardly a week goes by that I don’t get a contact from someone who is related. I love the sharing.

And I must thank the wonderful folks at the Facebook Group, Killbuck Gang. They answer questions about our old home town, share photographs, and frequently come and read posts here,

Another Facebook Group provides encouragement and sharing with other people doing the same thing–research and writing. That is the great group of people at Genealogy Bloggers.

Thanks to every library or organization that has digitized records, newspapers, and books.

Thanks to my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and various cousins for being pack rats and story tellers.  You’ve given me a great treasure to work with (even though sometimes it may seem like a curse).

Most of all, though, thanks to the faithful readers.  Thanks for commenting, thanks for sharing links to posts, thanks for correcting my errors (whether typo or fact).  This blog is for you.

Taking Stock

What I Said Last Year in January

Last year, I warned that I would be concentrating on research and that would mean fewer posts. Indeed, the number of posts in 2017 came to just slightly more than one a week–60 in total. Compare that to 2016 with 86 posts. Also, food posts continue to beat out ancestor stories, but in 2017, I did fewer food posts, and still drew more readers.

If you doubt the value of older posts, consider that in June 2017, I posted nothing-zip-zilch. And yet June 7th was the best day ever for drawing readers! Because Ancestors now has four and a half years worth of posts, overall content continues to grow, and slowly, slowly, more people discover the stories and recipes.

I also started the “Slice of My Life” series in 2016, which has slipped in importance this year, as I shared so many family letters, heirlooms and new research.

Last year I mentioned playing with the Ancestry.com app, We’re Related.  I found I could use it to jump start research on a line, but all together it is not very accurate.  For the time being, my plate is full, so I am not looking at that app these days.

Your Favorites Last Year

Former food posts on food, particularly Perfect Pie Crust, Baked Beans with Molasses, Corn Pone, Corn Meal and Hominy,  American Fruit Desserts, Raisin Pie, and Apples in Nightgowns continue to make the top twenty.  But in 2017, the only food post that shows up was about my Grandma Vera Anderson’s lemon pie.

Other older posts that attracted your attention were the all-time favorite, my sister-in-law’s post on the Dalton Dariette, owned by my husband’s uncle and the story of Hepzibah Death.

The 2017 Top Ten

  1. Scandal Comes to Killbuck Bank (December) I pieced together the story of an ebezzelment from my Grandmother’s December 1943 letter to my mother and newspaper articles from the Coshocton (Ohio) Tribune. I suspect people were attracted to the word “scandal”, but I also shared it with a group on Facebook of people from the small town of Killbuck, Ohio.
  2. This Old House  (October) When I discovered a rare photo of the home of my great-great grandmother, I combined it with other family houses for a photo essay on where ancestors lived. Again, I believe the Facebook group of Killbuck people may have pushed this post to the top.
  3. Dreams Crushed when Mame Kaser Died This sad story revealed a part of my father’s history as a young man. (July)
  4. Who Is This Man?  I discovered a picture of my grandfather as a young man.   (October)
  5. Great Grandma Baked Cakes  A delightful slice-of-life letter from my Grandmother Hattie Morgan to her daughter, Maude gave me new insights into her life. (November)
  6. Which Lemon Pie? In a rare food post, I compared a recipe in my grandmother’s handwriting with another lemon pie and asked people to choose their favorite.(February)
  7. Bless the Census, Curse the Census Taker.  This post aims at fellow researchers as I give an example of unraveling the errors made by a census taker to get the true story.
  8. The Doctor’s Daughter and the Medicine Show  A very precious letter from my grandmother as a young girl to her grandmother, reveals traits that stayed with her all her life.  This may be my favorite heirloom letter. (October)
  9. Martha Bent, American Born  When I wrote about my seventh great-grandmother, Martha Bent, I learned that her family had many fascinating stories, so I spent several weeks researching and writing about her siblings and others. (March)
  10. John Bent, Sr., Father of the American Bents (April)  My 8th treat grandfather, and a founder of Sudbury. Much of the research on John Bent in Sudbury came  from the wonderful book, Puritan Village by Sumner Chilton Powell.

The Positivity

I’m also going to snitch a few of the prompts from Geniaus blog in the “Accentuate the Positive” list.

Elusive Ancestor I Found

Milton Kaser, my father’s brother who died at 16. When I found a letter from Milton, just months before he died, it revealed a lively, ornery teenager.

Other elusive ancestors–all on my father’s side–began to take shape when I spent days at the Family History Center at a nearby LDS church and poured over microfilms of church records from Pennsylvania in the 1700s.

Most Helpful Newspaper Article

I enjoy reading the personals in the Coshocton Tribune, because it tells me about the lives of my Holmes County, Ohio ancestors.  My big find this year turned out to be a date. I had a picture of a family gathering during World War II, and a cousin had identified a date, but the newspaper wrote about the party and solidified the actual date.

I also found in a stash of papers saved by my great-grandmother, a newspaper from the late 1877 that includes an ad for my great-grandfather W. C. Stout’s medical practice. Limited office hours because he spent most of his time making house calls.

Dr. William Stout ad

Holmes County Republican 1877 Doc Stout Ad front page croopped

I Found an Important Record

I am still scratching my head over this one.  While researching the Bents, I dsicovered a foonote in a town history that helped. But the most unexpected summary of a trial that involved family members turned up in a book of passenger lists!  Bless those footnotes.

Newly Found Family Members

If I take this to mean current family members, many, many people have contacted me through emails or Ancestry.com messages this year to share information or ask questions about mutual ancestors.

The Stone Cousins

Mary, Frank and Harriet /Hattie Stone, from collection of pearson 1295 on Ancestors.com

If I take this to mean ancestors, my most interesting find has to be the discovery of information about the Stone sisters from Guernsey County.  They had signed my Great Aunt’s autograph book, but I knew next to nothing about them.

I Got Surprises

We moved our home in August, and I am still finding heirlooms, letters and pictures that I had forgotten or never seen.  The most exciting discovery has to be a photograph of the Switzerland home of my husband’s great-grandparents. I knew it existed, but I had misplaced it and given up finding it.

Second most exciting –the many family letters that will keep me scanning, transcribing and posting on Ancestors in Aprons for the foreseeable future.  These include letters from World War II soldiers, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, my great-uncle.  Those last two are the ONLY things I have in their hand writing.

I quickly shut one box, because I would have been sifting through for weeks.  So I have many more surprises waiting.

One Terrific Find

Autograph books

Vera’s large and Maude’s smaller autograph books

Of all the heirlooms that I have dealt with during our downsizing, the most precious to me may be the autograph books of my Grandmother and her sister.


I promise to dig up and test out and share more family or vintage recipes next year.

I will continue to try to sort out my father’s ancestors, who continue to be elusive.

I will try to stick more closely to my pedigree list and save the “peripherals” for later. (Lots of luck with that one! I never can resist a good story.)

On my wish list –a trip to Columbus, Ohio to the Ohio History Center, and to Holmes County,Ohio to look for more records there.

But number one BIG DEAL in 2018 involves….nah, I am saving that for my first post in this year’s #52Ancestors series.  Stay tuned.  I will share that project in a couple of days.

Keep those comments coming!


Best of 2016, Politics, Baby, Heirlooms and Food

I have published 420 posts since I launched the blog in April 2013, 89 of them in 2016. I tend to write what I am interested in, assuming that surely somebody else must be interested in the same subject, or curious enough to read a bit. What is the Best of 2016?

There are always surprises when I turn to Google Analytics at the end of the year to see what you’ve been reading throughout the year.

The Ten Most Popular Kids on the Block–Best of 2016

Politics tea

Harriette Anderson attending a tea for politician John Bricker. June 1936

10: Family Politics: My Mom and Dad’s Political CourtshipPublished in March as part of a series on family members who have been involved in presidential campaigns for James Madison, William Henry Harrison, Alf Landon, George W. Bush.

tea and scones

Tea and Cranberry Scones and Lemon curd.

9: Cream Tea and Scones, from May, discusses the fine points of proper tea and shares some heirlooms.

8: Colonial Orange Cake, borrowed from the book, The Midwife’s Revolt, in April. I must say I LOVE this cake. And the post also presents my review of the book, which I also recommend highly.

7: Welsh Skillet Cakes, part of my research into my Welsh ancestry, published in August.

Calendar pencil polished

Calendar propelling pencil after polishing

6: The Propelling Pencil–a mysterious object my siblings and I discovered in our great-great-grandmother’s chest of antiques. Another in my occasional posts on heirlooms appeared in June.




Skylar Ross Walters

Skylar September 2016 Prescott

5: Meet the New Twig: Skylar Rose. The birth of our first great-grand daughter in Janaury (after two earlier great-grandsons) warranted a little meditation on the meaning of her name. As you can see, she had changed a lot by the time we visited her in September.

4: Why Genealogical Research is Never Done.  I don’t often write about the nuts and bolts of research, but sometimes the reader needs a warning label–“this work not complete”. Published in July.

3. Invalid Cooking – Rice Pudding. This article about how our ancestors in the 19th century through the early 20th coped with illness appeared in March at the end of flu season. The rice pudding is one of my family favorites. This post followed a more informative one that includes several suggestions for food for the sick. Sick Food – Barley Water. Even though you understandably might not be attracted to barley water, this post gives a worthwhile picture of the sick room of yesteryear.

After School Peanut Butter Cookies

After school snack of peanut butter cookies and milk. Harriette Kaser’s china, vintage Daffy Duck glass and Grandma Vera Anderson’s apron

2. Peanut Butter Cookies. Mothers have shoved aside the beloved treat of my childhood. The increasing problem of peanut allergies forced a change in after-school treat. But I learned that many people share my nostalgia when I published this in April. (Some heirlooms make their appearance in this post.)

1. The Story of a House, The Home of Jeddiah Brink.   I experimented with the Adobe Spark tool that presents a flashy slide show. It provided a good way to show off pictures of this ancestor’s farm house. Newly discovered cousins, the present owner of the house, a Facebook community site, and a fellow ancestor seeker collaborated with me in this June production. I name them all at the end of the post.

Some posts have legs, we say.  Just like in 2015 and 2014, you continued to love the post about Perfect Pie Crust. Another post with legs, about my Grandmother’s Corn Meal Mush (Not Polenta), also first appeared in 2013, but both still earn a place on the best of 2016.

Searches on the site focused mostly on food, with the exception of people looking for Peregrine White and  Jerusha Howe. Otherwise, an overwhelming number of you searched for German desserts. You also looked for Amish buttermilk cookies, Birds’ Nest Pudding, Creamed Celery (REALLY??), Buckwheat Pancakes, Joy of Cooking cookbook, food grinder (Maybe when Cuinsineart recalled the blades on their food processor?) and a recipe for Harvard Beets.

New This Year at Ancestors in Aprons

I launched a new feature called A Slice of My Life, in which I talk about my own experiences.

I increased the number of posts about heirlooms and have been labeling and photographing as fast as possible so that I can share more of them here.

I made a book for siblings and children based on family group pictures and stories I had used at Ancestors in Aprons, dating back as far as the mid 1800s and up to last June.  This is a first step in finding ways to share this famly research with immediate family.

I began to experiment with the new Ancestry app, We’re Related. An addenda about that app below, in case you are curious about it.


Sometimes my idea of the best of 2016 is not the same as yours. My wild great-grandfather Jesse Morgan who ran off to California and got killed on the street in Sacramento did not fascinate you as much as he did me. One of the letters Jesse wrote to his wife to tell her “that I am alive” came in twelfth in the popularity list. Still, I feel blessed to have photocopies of a bunch of his letters to his wife from the period just before his trip to California. I wrote several posts on Jesse, plus some on his family.  I encourage you to seek out his saga.

Coming Next–Fewer Posts

So much for look back–what’s in store for 2017?

I’ll be doing a lot of research, and cleaning up loose ends on the work I have done in the past three years. Plus I have expanded some of my searches into Europe, and would like to wrap that up within six months, so I do not have to continue to pay Ancestry the extra amount for World coverage.

In order to do that, I’ll be writing far fewer blog posts.  Rather than letting the blog rule my life with scheduled posts on Tuesday and Thursday each week, I’ll only be writing when I have something particular to say. So you may not hear from me for stretches of time. Don’t worry. I’m here, and  you can always catch up on things you have missed in the past.

A very Happy New Year to you from Ancestors in Aprons.  Have a piece of Swiss New Year’s Bread, or Scottish Black Bun, or Dutch Olibolen (sorry, no picture available).




The New Toy

Ancestry.com launched an app called We’re Related that pops up with people they calculated as cousins.  Most of my “relatives” were 6th cousins. And the first ones to show up were both Clilntons–Hillary and Bill; plus Barak Obama, which sent my Republican ancestors whirling in their graves. I don’t get excited about the matches with pop stars, but match me with Ralph Waldo Emerson, or Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Winston Churchill and many others and I’ll pay attention.

Controversy arises mainly because Ancestsry bases conclusions on a compilation of family trees. Those trees often contain faulty information.  No evidence attached to conclusions breeds serious doubts about truthfulness. (Garbage in, garbage out.)

However, I follow the theory that a monkey can compose a symphony if he bangs on a piano for a thousand years. Some people carefully research their trees. The task calls for a quest to prove or disprove. And I’m learning some valuable things that add to my knowledge of my own line.

I cannot claim Helen Keller, it turns out, because the Ancestry equation links her through my Brink line. They use a great-grandmother whose maiden name I cannot confirm, and the line they assign to that woman doesn’t prove to my satisfaction.

On the other hand, Kevin Bacon, Winston Churchill, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, Henry David Thoreau and John F. Kennedy all seem to check out.  “Seem to” because I can only check my own side of the line in most cases. Since most very famous people have verified lines, this turns out not to be a serious barrier. The problems arise when I am allegedly connected to a famous person through a remote overseas ancestor.

Most people recommend using the app  for entertainment, not serious research, but I have chosen to use it as another research tool.  Have you used this app? What do you think? Can you find a way to make it useful?