Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sepia Saturday 238, 2014 July 26:South Street Seaport, New York City, circa 1900

I really liked this 1935 photograph of Broome Street in Manhattan  --- and I was sure I had the perfect photograph for this theme. I went through my uncharted photograph collection to no avail.  I really must do some organization of my collection!

South Street Seaport and Brooklyn Bridge, New York City

Courtesy of the Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection, Library of  Congress
My offering for this 238th Sepia Saturday is a circa 1900 photograph of South Street Seaport with the Brooklyn bridge as a backdrop.  Although I couldn't find the family photo for which I searched and searched, this picture put me in a mind of the life my McPherson/Burns family lived in New York City.   My great-great grandparents left New York City in 1850.  However, his brother-in-law Jabez Burns remained in the City.  In his early days after immigrating he made horse and wagon deliveries. By 1860, he was engrossed in the coffee trade, and became a well-known inventor of the Jabez Burns & Sons Coffee Roaster.Scenes like the one above would have been very familiar to him as one of his early jobs was to buy and transport loads of coffee from the ships in the moored in the harbor.

I also liked the variety of subject matter in  this photograph. Signs, horse drawn wagons, early automobiles,  dock workers and business men in suits, ships and riggings --- all give this photograph a sense of purpose and life. This area now houses the South Street Seaport Museum.

Now go "sign" in and see what our fellow Sepians have to offer in the way of signs, fellows with their hands in their pockets, or whatever takes their eye.

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Synopsis: 2014 July 20th

Over the past years, my Sunday Synopsis has taken many forms.  A whine sheet, a brag sheet, an endless ToDo List, and during the past five years, most valuable to me, a checking in time with myself to see where I'd been, where I was going, or if I was going anywhere.

Now it is time for the Sunday Synopsis to once again morph to another level -- perhaps just JGHs musings. This morning as I was writing in my journal, a thought or theme kept showing up.  I have always been a proponent of the concept that one should do what one loves.  In that, I have been fortunate.  I have really enjoyed every job I ever had, from flagging for my father's spray planes when I was 14 and 15, to life guarding and teaching swim lessons as a teenager.  I even enjoyed working at the WSU Audio-Visual Center when I was in college, even though the tediousness let my mind wander to places far away,which often got me into trouble).  I was thrilled to edit masuscripts for the Annals of Mathematical Statistics, and later excited to work for the State of Oregon's AFS.  Founding, owning and running our business, Industrial Counsulting Services, with my business partner was truly a wonderful experience that I value to this day.

As I was thinking about the the benefits of doing what you love, I realized that there is a corollary that is just as important  --  Enjoy That Which You Are Doing.  This was  like an epiphany for me.  So many times, I race through the day, checking off things to do, places to go, people to see, without ever stopping to enjoy the time I spend doing these every day occurrences.  So instead of dashing down to feed the fish, or peacocks -- and marking that off of my list,  I realized that I really enjoy feeding the fish and the peacocks.  I really enjoy writing in my journal, or even washing dishes.  So instead of just mindlessly charging through the day and checking things off of  my list, I am switching that mental gear to enjoy  that thing I am doing in that moment.  Now going grocery shopping is as much as an adventure as  taking Colldubh down to the lake and seeing our goose, duck, heron --and dog -- friends.  A simple change of perspective, enjoy that what you do.

I hope I keep remembering this epiphany.

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sepia Saturday 237, 2014 July 19: Irish Dancers, Klamath County Style

Alan chose this rather nice 1909 photograph which features in the Flickr stream of the National Archives of Norway. He noted that if one is of a theming disposition, you might want to go to the ballet, or the dancehall, or the theatre or anywhere you find lots of chiffon and over-dramatic poses.   I have some of those, but I kept going back to  a more simple life. So for this 237th Sepia Saturday offering, I present the following 1930 photo.

Fifth Grade Irish Dancers from Altamont Elemetary School, Klamath Falls, Oregon
May 7, 1930

To me, this has always been an interesting photo that was taken at the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.  My mother, Ruth Sigford,  was the dark-haired girl, 2nd from the right.  At this time, my mother lived with her parents, her younger sister Gail, her older brother Clem, and one of her older twin sisters on what they called the "McQueen" place.  This was a nice little farm located a few miles southeast of Klamath Falls and a farm where they could grow or raise most of their food. 

My mother and aunt Gail told a number of stories about living at the McQueen place.  Evidently, during the Prohibition years liquor was "run" out of the McQueen place and both my mother and aunt remember the basement storage for jugs of whiskey.  I am sure that this was an irritant to my tea-totaling grandmother.   Mother and Gail were the youngest of the family, and they remembered snuggling in their upstairs bed,deep in the quilts that Grandma pieced, and enjoying the aroma of Grandma's fresh baked bread or biscuits, and sizzling bacon. It seems that the years at the McQueen place were good years for the Sigford family.  A welcome reprise from the difficult years after losing the only home they ever owned to fire, followed by several  years of subsistence farming only to be wiped out by a year with no rain.  Such was the life of dry-land farmers in the Klamath Basin.  

The family had had a good summer of 1925, when Grandpa with his team of horses worked on "rocking" the road from Agency Lake to Klamath Falls.  When they got back to Klamath Falls, Grandpa had enough money to get them situated onto the McQueen place. Grandma's life too must have been a bit easier as the children were older.  During this period she had time for luxury sewing and a number of doll quilts, rugs, and such were made for my mother and aunt Gail.  But all was not perfect.  My uncle Clem loved football, but they lived far enough from the high school so that he couldn't get to football practice.  According to his younger sisters, his life was ruined and he ran away  --- tho not far.  Grandpa found him the next day up, some twenty miles or so north,  near Algoma, where he had "hopped" a freight train.  Once Grandma's beloved Clemmie was back in the fold, she started lobbying for moving in town where Clemmie could play football -- and hopefully not run away again.

And so this picture taken at the end of the school year of 1930 marked the last year the Sigford family lived at the McQueen place.  They did move to town, and although the Wall Street Crash which occurred six months before had not yet affected this part of southern Oregon, everything would again change for my mother's family. The family would no longer live on a farm with chickens, a cow, and a garden. Work became hard to find.  My grandpa, nearing sixty years of age, could only find work at the CCC camps. Grandma depended on county assistance for food and clothes for her children.  Their lives, like so many others, spiraled downward into poverty. 

Seventy years later, on my mother's 80th birthday, our family threw yet another annual birthday bash for our mother, complete with skits by grandchildren and great grandchildren.  One of the acts, was a re-enactment of these Irish dancers of my mother's childhood. She laughed and told stories, and commented that our quick- homemade-makeshift costumes were not quite like the one she remembered.  However the circle was brought full close in the joy and laughter of the Irish jig.

Now twirl, leap, or tap on over and see what our fellow Sepians have for our entertainment. 

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications 

Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 May 19th: Blase' : No Way! The Book is listed on!!

Front cover of
My Uncle Ralph Never Wrote to Me
I'd like to be so nonchalant and oh, so sophisticated, about seeing the culmination of my work so easily accessible on  I'd like to pretend it's an "old hat" sort of thing to google my name and to see my name come up with the title of the book on which I have spent hours and hours of work over the past several years.  But no, not the case!  I googled!  Ran screaming with excitement to drag my granddaughter into my office to view the computer screen!  There it was on the screen - my book!  My Uncle Ralph Never Wrote to Me!  Fortunate I am, to have a granddaughter who was duly impressed and only giggled just a little bit at her Gram's weird antics.
As I dance around in glee, I know that I have been very lucky to have had my sister Sue's support and help very step of the way.  She read and re-read letters and edited draft after draft with dedication and love.  Then, when I was stuck with the setup mechinations that would take my notes to reality, along came Lenora, who brought the book to life just as I had envisioned it.  I can't forget the late night transcribing sessions, when my Uncle Ralph seemed to step out of the pages that he wrote long ago.  It often felt like he was indeed sitting beside me and reading the letters to me.  And there would be no book, at all if  my Aunt Verna and Aunt Olive Lorraine had not kept theses letters, these family treasures.  It has been a journey   --- and I traveled in such good company.   

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sepia Saturday 218, 2014 March 8: Fenceless

We have Sepian Wendy Mathias to thank for our theme image this week. It is from a series of images showing the areas in Sydney affected by the outbreak of Bubonic Plague in 1900. Wendy suggests fences, back yards or bubonic plague as possible theme suggestions, but, as usual, the choice is ours to make.  So, I went with a feeling of desolation, eeriness, and  fenceless.


The Abandoned Michaelson Place, Hildebrand, Oregon
circa 1960
Courtesy of JGH and the Roots'n'Leaves Archives
We were in our twenties, when Doc and I moved to the ranch in Hungry Hollow.  In fact, the ranch was parts of three old time homesteads and ranches, but as newcomers, Doc and I just knew it as the ranch in Hungry Hollow. A few months ago, I wrote about the old ranch house in which we lived.  However, the old house in the above photograph, which our neighbors told us was the old Michaelson  place, always drew me to it, like an eerie magnetic field..  When we arrived in Hildebrand the old house was as you see it in this photo. Sage brush growing all around and right up to the front door. The fences around the house had been torn down and rolls of barbed wire hung on posts.  To me, there was always a sense of sadness and desolation about this old house, standing alone on the hillside.  Fenceless and defenseless.

 When we went up to the house, the door was hanging off of the hinges and you had to lift the door up to open it enough to squeeze through to spider webs,to be greeted by the odor and  remains of vermin and varmints.   As I remember it (and it has been a long time ago), there was a what appeared to be a screened porch, or possibly a washroom and a lean-to added on to the side.  Inside on the main floor there were two rooms -- not large rooms. The stairs to the upstairs sleeping area was very, very steep and the steps very narrow.  The walls had old newspapers as insulation, which my daughters found strange, but I was mesmerized.  The house was of the same vintage as our in the Hollow, but much smaller -- almost like a doll house.

Now that I think about it, I believe that my curiousity about the folks that lived in this house on the hillside drew me back to our many afternoons at the house.  How many folks were in this Michaelson family? Where did they come from?  Where did they go?  Now all of these years later and  with all of my genealogy tools, I have found that there were ten in the Michaelson family.  According to the 1920 Federal Census report for Hildebrand Precinct, Klamath County, Oregon, the family included, John,  58;  wife, Anna, 42: Oletta, 17; Minnie, 15; Anna, 12; Esther, 10; Hazel, 8; Edna, 5; Lillian, 3; and Vernon, 1.5.   I was surprised  that ten people lived in that tiny house.  John and Anna were born in Norway and came to the US in 1898. The older children were born in Minnesota, but ten year old Edna was the first born in Oregon, so the family might have lived in this house as early as 1915.  However by the 1930 Federal Census the family has left Hildebrand and moved to Klamath  Falls, Klamath County, Oregon  -- and another son, Franklin, has been born to the family.   

Our young daughters were fascinated by the Michaelson place, and found the old log fences between the Hollow and the Michaelson place a great place to play and make forts -- possibly like the Michaelson girls of long ago.  

Circa 1961, Hill girls playing on old log fence,
Hildebrand, Oregon
Courtesy of JGH and the Roots'n'Leaves Archives

Now wander over and see what is behind the fences and buildings of our fellow Sepians    

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Monday, February 17, 2014

Writing Workshop:Memoir, Family History & Sharing Memories

Now, my friends, what can be more fun for a storyteller, than to be surrounded by folks brimming with stories to tell.  Genealogy folks not only have their own memories and stories to tell,  but they have stories from generations back, stories from across the ocean, from continents far and wide.

Am I excited about hearing and sharing stories with these folks?  You betcha!

The workshop is also open to the public, so if you are interested, call RVGS @ 541-512-2340 to join the workshop of writers and storytellers.  It's going to be fun!  So join us on March 6th, 10:30 AM at the RVGS Library.
 ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sepia Saturday 215: 2014 February 15 -- Oregon Statehood, February 14, 1859

    The theme image for  this week features a picture postcard view of Jamaica Street, Glasgow (from the National Gallery of Scotland stream on Flickr Commons). Reaching for connections?  My granddaughter is going to the University in Glasgow. Interesting to me, but no relevant pictures and not really on theme. As with our Sepian masters, the thing that came to my mind when I first saw the image was the crowds  -- horses.  And we have a topic that probably only relates in my mind - crowd in a street scene.  Of course, crowd is a relative term..


A Mural in the Senate Chambers at the State Capitol
Courtesy of Oregon State Archives

Frank H. Schwarz painted this street scene of Salem where a crowd gathered on February 14, 1859 to received the news that Oregon had become the 33rd state in the Union.  The excitement was high both in Salem and the Willamette Valley, as well as throughout the rest of the sparsely settled state.  As I said,  a crowd of people is a relative thing.

To fully appreciate this mural, one really has to view it in the Senate Chambers in the Capitol in Salem as shown below:


Now wander on over to see what the crowd of Sepians have to offer on this February 15th.

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications