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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Decoration Day Weekend

Growing up we always celebrated "Decoration Day" on May 30 (my brother reminded me). It wasn't so  much that I had forgotten that, but hadn't really thought of it.  But I always thought that the day was celebrated due to WWI -- but I am wrong -- it was shortly after the Civil War that this day was set aside to honor the war dead and has continued to today to honor all war dead.

Above is the flag waving in front of the house along with some of the yard "decorations" for this day and all others as well. The Irises (far right) are particularly beautiful as they pick and choose when they will simultaneously appear around the yard.

The weather is cooperating the last few days with temperatures in the high 80s and a warm streak forecast along with at least one day next week over the 100 degree mark . . .

So, what to do on this weekend -- all the local down-home celebrating is pretty much finalized with the FFA exhibits and attractions along with the food booths taken down for this season.

But the 500 mile race is on as I write this post and since we record it, we'll probably watch at least some of it while lunching.

It is the 100th anniversary of the "running" of the race this year taking into account the years that there was no race, so 1911 -- 2011 was the other anniversary.

As I have mentioned before, the 500 mile race was always a big attraction for us in the Midwest. And for at least one cousin of ours (Bruce Hiles) remembering living in Indianapolis.

 Going from the "Brickyard" to the brickwall is how my week went.

It seems that this is the time for running into that proverbial wall. Almost every branch that I ventured into brought me head first into the wall.

However I did have one success this week and that had to do with making a connection to a family that I knew very little about.

I'll share more details of that connection when I firm up all the sources but suffice it to say that after investigating numerous individuals I eventually found a marriage that seems to have linked our family with a previously unknown family. It was rewarding to find that "needle in the haystack".

While all the above was going on, Dino, our yellow Labrador retriever was caught pondering his reflection in the pool.

A pool that in almost five years he has never been in . . . he looks at it like in the picture, but declines all invitations to "jump in".

So, not all labs are water dogs, but then again neither are we at times.

For me, all the searching and addiction to family history came about because of a certain eight day TV event back in the 1970s -- and of course I am referring to the "Roots Mini-Series". That show had my family riveted in front of the TV for eight straight nights. And when it was over I came to the decision that I could trace our "roots" . . .

That show changed my life and guess what, there is to be a new "Roots Mini-Series" starting tomorrow night on the History Channel:

The new series is scheduled to be on four nights starting tomorrow night for a total of eight hours.
I plan not to miss it. But unlike 40 years ago, this series I can record and watch at my leisure. Maybe this series will also have a life-changing impact as well.

And lastly, no explanation required, just something that is "the sign of the times".

And that is a bit of our week. Sunday dinner is to be a surprise . . . see you all "in a few".

Happy Decoration/Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend -- Comin' Up

Even though Memorial Day is not until a week from Monday, our town combines the celebration with the Future Farmers Parade and a down-home Country Fair. To keep the celebration more for the local folks, the parade is a twilight Thursday evening event (26th) ssshhh . . .

Growing up, Memorial day was always associated with "Poppies", not so much anymore, though there are plenty of us around who do remember that association

This week again was a strange weather one -- hot, cold, rain, sun, a mixture of everything. And inside, A/C, heat, fans, windows open, windows closed . . . we just roll with it.

Back to the parade and fair:

The parade itself is no "little deal", it usually goes for over two hours and features as much agricultural and farming equipment as possible AND numerous live bands with a focus too on the various military units and equipment from the area.

We have sat and watched the parade, rode on a float (as shown in the upper right, Gail) and walked the entire parade route -- dog on leash . . .

If the weather is right and the inclination suits us, we will attend this year's event. Everything winds up about two blocks from our house, so we will wander over to view the festivities there as well. It
continues for a couple of days.

Genealogy -- well, it seems that I have hit a slow-spell for right now. I did do a lot of searching, but it was random and all over the tree. I participated in a couple of Webinars and they were great.

I watched the first show of the returning "Genealogy Roadshow" and that was fun. There were many folks who found out facts about their families that they had no idea of prior to the show.

I also watched "Long Lost Family" which is another really well-done show about usually the story of finding an adopted baby or finding the parents of someone who is adopted. They feature two such stories each episode and they are excellent to watch.

Some sites like Ancestry, RootsMagic, Findmypast, and many others, search for ancestors for us even when we are not on the site. And Geni is another site that does that as well:

And so, surprise, surprise. Jimmy Stewart is a cousin. It would have been nice to know that earlier but it's still fun to know now.

It is interesting to follow the path to the connection. As so often is the case with my branch, it is through the Gillett side of the tree that the connection opens up to the world . . .

Anyone related to me then is related to Jimmy Stewart -- check it out.

And lastly this week -- a peek at what it might be like over at the HFFCF again this year:

Where's the blanket?  Actually, ironically it was bacon for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, and ham steak for dinner . . .  what more can I say.    

That's a bit of our week. See you all "in a few".

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Outfront Color -- No Birds . . .

What does it mean that we have observed NO birds in our yard this year. Every year prior to this we have had so many birds that it seemed that we were making special trips for bird seed and hummingbird liquid.

This year the seed level has not decreased in the feeder nor has the liquid gone down one bit. We have seen some crow type birds a couple of times picking at things in the street but none of the usual birds like Jays or Sparrows or Robins. What is going on?

The above collage shows some of the color in the front yard with some appropriate bee action, not too much but some. The thought crossed my mind to maybe add some bee hives out back for fun -- until the report from yesterday's news about killer bees taking over hobby hives . . .

Speaking of numbers and busy-as-bees, the election candidates continue
their activities like crazy.

California, for the first time in many elections may play a role in the Primary. We just sent our mail-in ballots for the June 7th voting day here in our state.

All the news-persons are commenting on how different this election has been so-far -- it may get even more-so in the General Election.

What surprised us on the ballots here were the amazing number of people listed that we have no idea of "who they were" . . . for Presidential candidates.  Then, not to be outdone there were ten times that many of "who are they" folks running for the Senate . . .

For me, I try to escape the issues of the day by doing genealogical searching and it usually starts with working on my iPad using the mobile app for I eventually get to the desk-top app and continue my searching -- below is an example of how Ancestry displays part of our tree:

This is just a tiny snippet of the tree which as of this morning had 12,983 folks in it. I guess it would take quite a bit to display that. But if any of you would like to view this tree in please let me know and I'll send you an "invite".

This is how Family Tree Maker displays the snippet of the tree.

And, since I now synchronize the two trees through that feature, the FTM tree at this moment has 12,938 folks in it as well.

I can work on the iPad, and the website and in Family Tree Maker and have the trees be synchronized.

That is a big time-saver, though there is some lag time when the sync process is taking place.

One of the really great features is that in both Ancestry and in Family Tree Maker, hints are offered and I can't keep up with the number of them.

I also use RootsMagic and they offer hints as well -- that is nice that while I'm working on something else, these programs are digging around for clues and documents substantiating the folks in the tree.

Lastly, is a picture of how my own website, displays some of the tree.

The big difference here is that there is no syncing up with this tree, though I could utilize a gedcom created from FTM and upload it to the site.

On this site there are just under 5,000 folks in the tree AND it does not offer hints as it does not search like the other sites do.

But there are so many other benefits to having your own site -- it all takes greenback $'s  time . . .

Earl, from "Pickles" has a good way of illustrating the dilemma of the numbers in the tree:

And so it goes. Coming up this week is the return of another favorite genealogy TV program:

It returns on Tuesday night on your local PBS stations. It is loosely a format like "Antiques Roadshow" but the preparations are done in advance and are very thorough and often very revealing.

That is bit of our week, it is Sunday and that means another roast for dinner, this time a beef pot roast along with rice and broccoli.  See you all "in a few"!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

It's All About the Moms

It is a day to reflect on who brought each one of us here to this tree. For some we can talk directly to those Moms, for others we have the memories.

The last few days here have been rainy type ones. Sometimes that is just right because it matches the mood for some reason.

Above are just "some of the Mom's" from our tree. There are many more that are not pictured here and we'll try to include them in another collage at a later date.

It is amazing to see just how many photos that have been accumulated over the years and now that there is "digital" photography -- watch out in the future as space management and organization becomes critical.

We have some new reading material for the coming weeks (maybe take a break from our current read on Sinatra . . .) AND we have some new viewing material that is pleasing to us.

The photos on the bottom are of Dino at 10 weeks and on the day we got him in 2011 -- he has hardly changed, well in spirit that is. He weighs about 70 pounds more than those first pictures.

Our menu for tonight's dinner includes one boneless center-cut pork loin roast, a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes and a generous portion of steamed snow peas. I'm hungry already.

The week has also been filled with searching in the branches, participating in online webinars and watching the finale episode of "Who Do You Think You Are". And we did watch the Giants win and lose some.

That's a bit of our week, we wish you a "Happy Mother's Day"! See you all "in a few".

Sunday, May 1, 2016


It be May for sure. In many places around the world this is May Day and is celebrated in a variety of ways.  Growing up, I can not remember any celebration connected to this day -- that doesn't mean that there was none -- I just do not recall any.

Currently in our part of California, today will be the warmest day of this week and to mark that we do have the a/c on. It is a beautiful sunny and bright day. The colors are brilliant and the yard plants full.

Inside there are many colors as well. And as we look outside we see a lot of green leaves and a lot of seedlings blowing around as it is very windy. This probably is a favorite time except for those other times as well.

This time of the year -- for some reason -- is associated with cleaning and reorganizing and the like. I remember growing up that Saturday was THE day for cleaning around our house and once I left home I failed to embrace Saturday as a day of cleaning.

This week though, I actually felt that yesterday, Saturday, would be a good day to clean and to organize, I failed to complete that mission, but got a good start at it. I made a promise to myself that I would not start searching in the family tree until I completed at least some of the cleaning that I envisioned.

While I have a "lot more" to do, I feel good about what I did get done prior to any searching. There is once again a "sense of order" when I do finally sit down to search.

Thinking back to the beginning days of my family searching, I remember that there was one picture in particular (and a comment by my father) that motivated me to continue:

The above photo was one of the first family related public photos that I obtained. I first saw it when
a very helpful worker at the Salt Lake City Family History Center randomly pulled a book from the shelf connected to Wisconsin Counties and opened it up -- there was a picture of my Grandfather, Lloyd Hampton Hiles Sr., in a group school photo.

Lloyd can be seen in the top right and was probably one of the older and taller students. What I did not realize at first was that there were a lot of relatives of ours in that photo -- I have underlined the many Gillett kids that are pictured and I'm sure there are others that I have missed.

In my excitement, the next day I called my father and mother who were living in Florida at the time and I related to my dad that I saw a picture of his dad when he was in school and how neat that was to see and that I was anxious to see what else I could discover as I searched.

My father's response was  " . . . why on earth would you want to do that?"  That pretty much sealed the deal for me, I was off looking for "stuff".

Speaking of Lloyd Sr., I have accumulated many photos of him and his family, here are favorites:

The bottom photo is when Lloyd was 17 years old and a telegraph operator. I love the details of the office that he is working in and can imagine the activities taking place. I suppose that he is just a year or so older than the school photo.

Top left, a dapper picture probably taken in his thirties and top right a dapper look from a photo taken at my sister's wedding in 1958 when he would have been about 75 years old. Lloyd lived to be 82 and passed away 50 years ago last month.

Tonight is the Season Finale of "Who Do You Think You Are". This season went by so fast. They are going to have a double play tonight featuring two folks and their stories:

Two folks that I do not know very much about -- but their stories I'm sure will be fascinating. So that means tonight there will be about 84 minutes of pure genealogical fun. If the shows aired without commercials, it would be close to 120 minutes . . .

This season I have to say that I have learned quite a bit about the searching methods of the teams that do the work AND gained a lot of insight into other folks' family histories.

And later today we'll be watching the third game in the Giants/Mets series. I actually thought that it was the "season finale" for the Giants in the first game with the Mets when the Mets scored 12 runs in one inning . . . embarrassing.

Maybe today they will recover -- they almost recovered yesterday but lost that game as well. This is an "even" year and is supposed to be a "Giant" year . . .


I'm not quite sure how to interpret the quote, but I'm sure it will come to me in time.

Enjoy May!  It is Sunday, it will be "dogs & chips" while watching the game. See you all "in a few"!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Purple Range

It is a perfectly sunny, windy day in Northern California. We have experienced a huge variety of weather this week necessitating the heater in the early morning and then by mid-afternoon, the a/c.

One of our favorite flowers (the Iris) appeared this week for the first time since last year. We were sitting outside when Gail noticed this beautiful purple blossom across the yard. Then we noticed that a deeper intensive color purple blossom had also appeared -- an appropriate tribute for this week.

It is interesting that, first of all the two blossoms on either end of the above collage appeared this week, but also in that there were only one of each. The flowers in the middle have been here all year and are shown to represent the range of purple.

We await the blooming of the rest of the Iris' both in the backyard and in the front yard, where normally we see them. Last year we planted a variety of bulbs and this is now the "fruit" of that.

It is always fascinating to me about where the searching on our tree takes me in a given week. This week was no exception. I have been across the country and even to some familiar and "connected" areas.

By "connected" I refer to the fact that I found a relative, a second cousin that I never knew of but wish that I had known of AND living in a location where other of my immediate family live -- and they did not know either.

I refer to our branch of the "Allen" family. It is a large branch and one that I am getting to know more about as time goes on.

I direct attention to Edna Mae Allen, above, who married Dewel Paul Walters and both of them were born and raised in Monroe County, Wisconsin. Edna was born in Warrens where so many of our folks were born. Dewel, born in Tomah, Wisconsin, also a popular birth location for our tree folks.

And guess where they wound up -- in Barrington, Lake County, Illinois -- where my sister and family live today (part of the year anyway). Edna just passed away in 2013, Dewel in 2005, so could have easily crossed paths with relatives that neither knew of . . .

I've learned some interesting facts about them, e.g. Dewel was a butcher in 1940 in  Walter's & Son Meat Shop in Tomah, but wound up as the Fire Chief at Fort Sheridan, Illinois (where my father was stationed in the 20s and 30s). Edna worked in Civil Service at the Fort as well retiring in 1975.

Dewel lived to be 90 and Edna to be 100, had two daughters, one of whom may still live in the area with her family.

Very interesting  and I'll be doing more research on this branch, for sure.

Another branch that I found myself in again this week was the "Butler" branch. The Allens are from my father's side, the Butlers are from my mother's side.  But specifically I was checking into the life of Emma Butler.

Emma Butler is more distantly related and in a more round-about-way than Edna Allen is, but related none-the-less.

I found Emma interesting because she introduced one of the most unique surnames into our tree:
the "Wackernagel" family. We have several "Wackernagel" members now. I tried to see if there was a definition to the name but did not find any. Nagel could refer to "nail" in German and "Wacker" is self explanatory . . . but no official definition was found.

Emma, is found in the William L Butler branch (as I am) and I will certainly be checking more into this branch as well -- I already have found several news articles about a Wackernagel, I just have to make the connection and as I do, I will post.

Coming up tonight on WDYTYA is the episode featuring Molly Ringwald -- should be interesting.

The other two genealogy related shows on currently are the "Long Lost Family" which is really impressive to watch. And the "Relative Race" which is fun as well.

Soon returning will be "Genealogy Roadshow", I look forward to that.

An addition to the "on the nightstand books" is "Passed and Present" which I am reading in between reading "Frank Sinatra".

I have just started reading this so I look forward to getting some good ideas that may be of use.

It sounds like it may contain novel ways in which to recognize and to remember folks from our tree.

Actually, I have a few other genealogy books that are on the nightstand as well that I alternate reading.

Someday, I will actually catch up with these and maybe post about . . .

And lastly, though "Unger" has passed, his humor lives on via "LaughingStock Licensing, Inc".

This particular comic has the "feel" of an original Unger and it reminds us why we do not have a cat any longer -- though we loved "Ms Kitty" when she was here . . .

In a mall years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Unger at a book signing event and enjoyed that thoroughly and bought several autographed books.

Ant that is bit of our week, It is Sunday night, dinner will be a surprise . . . see you all "in a few"!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rings of Flowers

This has been a terrifying week for many around the world and specifically for locations found on the so-called "ring of fire".  My family resides in locations found on that ring and that fact is ever in our minds.

I choose to think more of flowers than of fire. Our backyard is in full bloom and that helps us focus on these colorful displays as opposed to the other displays around the globe, be they volcano eruptions or mid-spring snow storms.

If you look at the "ring of fire" to the right it is apparent that "we" have been skipped in current activity.

Quakes in Japan have been powerful at 6.2 and 7.0 with numerous aftershocks happening constantly.

Then, yesterday, Ecuador with a 7.8 quake . . .

Having experienced a few quakes while living in California I must say to feel the earth move under ones self is very disconcerting, so I can only imagine the horror being experienced in Ecuador and Japan at this time.

For now I'm blocking those images and choosing to look at Dino (sculpture) among the flowers out back.

Now for the efforts in the everyday searching of our family tree:  habits are just that but this week I have reduced one habit that has been eating up a lot of my time.  When I search the web for information and details of folks in our tree I enter that information into and the HILES Family Tree located there.

Then I put that detail into my desktop program of Family Tree Maker. This process is so time-consuming. And to make it even more time-consuming I then enter it into
But that third step is often delayed for quite a while just due to the time, so the bottom line is that the trees were never in sync.

This week I have solved part of that dilemma by having automatically sync with my Family Tree Maker tree -- why I have waited so long to do this -- I do not know -- other than "habit".

So, when I work in either or in Family Tree Maker those trees will match one another. And the bonus too is that when I work on the mobile application for Ancestry on my iPad, that tree as well syncs. What a deal, what a feature! I feel so liberated . . .

An example of this is found to the left with Christiopher Hiles, my 1st cousin 4 generations different than me.

This Christopher is the son of another Christopher Hiles ( a 4th Great Uncle) and I knew of neither of these Christophers when we named our son "Christopher" Hiles.

You can see where the current Christopher fits into our tree.

So, while working in Family Tree Maker earlier this week, I stumbled across the documents seen to the right.

It is the probate of Christopher Hiles' Estate. He died during the height of the Civil War and left a wife and
a few minor children.

The document to the right (click to enlarge) shows that his net estate left to his wife Mary, amounted to $128.13.

Granted, that amount would be so different in value as to what it would be today, but it seems like such a minuscule amount.

The fact for me, finding this information while working in Family Tree Maker meant that the information would be automatically sent to the tree as well.

I think back to the early days of my researching and what a difference there is in today's environment.
Now, if I could only find a way for these two trees to automatically sync with that would be the absolute pinnacle for me anyway.

So, the week was filled with a lot of tree updating (all synced too) and we watched baseball, some good, some not-so-good.

And, we renewed a fun past time by playing Quiddler -- both inside and "on the deck".

A few years ago we used to play every afternoon (when our chores were done of course) but for some reason we stopped.

Now we have resumed, and even though Gail has won most of the games so far, I know I'll catch up at some point. It is just a matter of what cards get dealt . . .

That's a bit of our week. It is Sunday, and that means Chinese food for dinner, so good!

See you all "in a few"!