Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grant Town in Palo Pinto County, Texas

 I wrote this in January of 2012, but since I was asked about Grant Town, I thought I would reprint it here.

Our name was the only odd name in the Stephenville telephone book before World War II. Oh, yes, there were the Welsh Joneses, the Irish Clevelands, the English Smiths, and the Scots Buchannans. Of course there was Mac spelled Mc, or vise versa, which could be either Irish or Scots, depending on how it came to be spelled after the family arrived in the States.

Now after World War II, that business about the phone book wasn't exactly true as the Kunishige family had moved in from California making this Ficke girl feel somewhat less out of place in the midst of the Crains, Hallmarks, Whites, and Rasberrys.  (And an aside, my friend Toby Kunishige and I just had a great visit...more on that in another blog post.)

But, oh, was that all to change. We moved to Palo Pinto County in 1958, and Ficke was just as ordinary as could be sandwiched in with Wolgamott, Kryskanowski, Teichmann, Fouche, Beauregard, Buschow, and Brandenburg, as well, of course, as the British names of Jones, Smith, Clark, and Taylor!

We moved to Mineral Wells, but if I had only known I might have recommended the southern end of the county around Gordon, Strawn, Santo, Mingus, and Thurber to my parents, for there I have found, along with many other nationalities, the Italians and Poles--along with British Gordons, Johnsons, and McCleskeys, and Ficke seemed ordinary when compaired to those names Italian names!

But, hey, guess it depends on where you grew up. My husband's Piscataway, New Jersey, high school annual has names that to my Texas ears appear to be as unpronouncable as Ficke was to many of those folks in Erath County in 1940!

While chasing a tale in the northwestern part of Palo Pinto County I came to the subject of this column through an internet link and disovered a particular town in Southern Palo Pinto County which isn't a Ghost Town like Thurber. It is a no town at all. I had never heard of it, but those old timers in Mingus and Thurber sure have. But its reminants are not listed on any map that I have, even the USGS map.

I found this particular town while browsing the Palo Pinto County Landmark listings located that isn't there any longer. Scanning down the list I found: Grant Town TX Palo Pinto pop place 32.536829 -98.423928; Historical community where some miners moved after Thurber coal mines were closed. It is located between Mingus and Thurber,and just outside the property owned by the coal company. This had a link to on Louis S. Scopel, so I emailed Mr. Scopel and asked about Grant Town.

Louis' reply came: "My mother and grandparents came to Thurber from Italy to work in the coal mines. When they shut down, my mother's folks moved to Grant Town and my dad's, along with many others, moved to Manvel south of Houston.

"My Mom's parents name were Luigi and Carmella Biondini. There is a lot of great history in the area including the Thurber Cemetery recently named a Texas Historical Cemetery. To really get a true picture and flavor of the community I suggest you contact Leo Bielinski who lives in Aledo. Leo is a writer, historian and 'Mr. Thurber, Mingus and Grant Town'. He lived there much of his life and would be a resource for an excellent series. Along with that, take a drive to New York Hill Restaurant in Thurber to see the pictures and enjoy a good meal. And plan to attend the annual 'Homecoming' in June.
"My mother, Maria, came over as a baby and later became the star of the Mingus High girls basketball team. I have been told they played professional teams out of Dallas as well."

In the mean time, before I could contact Mr. Bielinski, I had an email from him, and this is what he said, "This is in response to your request forwarded to me via Louis Scopel. Jimmy Grant opened a saloon just outside the city limits of the T and P Coal Co. [Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, now owned by Sun Oil] owned Thurber. His saloon was frequented by miners who could talk freely about unionization without fear of company intimidation. Some immigrant Thurber miners moved out of Thurber to Grant Town to own homes and small businesses. The area became known as 'Grant's Town' shortened to 'Grant Town.'

"Today it is part of Mingus, but the locals still refer to it as 'Grant Town'. During Prohibition, there was bootlegging in Grant Town, and after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, several 'Honky Tonks' opened up.

"Johnny Biondini, Louis Scopel's uncle, summed up the family's move from Thurber to Grant Town after the coal mines shut down in Thurber: 'In Thurber we had all the modern conveniences like running water, gas heat and electricity. But when we moved to Grant Town, just a quarter mile away, we had to adjust to coal oil lamps, well water and wood stoves.'

"There are just a few left who lived in Grant Town before WWII."

I later heard from Leo again, "Thurber had a barbed wire fence around it to keep Thurberites buying in the company store. Jimmy Grant's saloon was just outside this fence. The immigrant Italians made up a fourth of Thurber's population, but the company store did not stock the different salamis, cheeses, olive oils etc.(which the Italians wanted). So in addition to Grant's saloon, there were several Italians who set up small combination grocery store/saloons in Grant's Town, just outside of the barbed wire fence to cater to the Italians on Thurber's nearby 'Italian Hill'. Sealfi, Ronchetti, Mezzano, Corona, Castaldo and Raffaele [were some of these families].

"Dan Raffaele was an interesting guy. He was also a band director in Thurber and Thurber Junction (Mingus). (Italians have an inherent musicality.) In the late 1930s, Dan moved to Mineral Wells and opened Dan's Venetian Club on the west side. (The building is still there.) It was a good Italian Restaurant with drinks and very successful, especially with Camp Wolters in WWII.

"There were several prominent bootleggers in Grant Town during the Prohibition era. Not just Italians, but all nationalities were involved in bootlegging. When the mines began shutting down in the 1920s, bootlegging was a way of surviving and had none of the Chicago style gangsterism. There was little stigma if you bootlegged. The nearby Ranger Oil Boom was profitable for the bootleggers."

You can also get a copy of Leo's book either through the Thurber Historical Association or at New York Hill: THE BACK ROAD TO THURBER, by Leo S. Bielinski 282 pp. historical fiction on the growth and decline of Thurber from the immigrant's perspective. Dr. Bielinski's family has been a part of the Thurber locale for over a hundred continuous years. Recounts the unionization and fight for two UMW Locals, the "English" and the "Italian." HB $23.00. PB $16.00.

Now, hasn't that just whetted your appetite, not only to know more about theItalian immigrants to our county, but also for some of that salami, cheese, and olive oil?

Leo has a wonderful website with loads of information on the Thurber area at http://www.thurbertexas.com. This site included history, Thurber today, sites of intereste, photos, Ranger, maps and events, and merchandise. In the merchandise link you can purchase books, tee-shirts, caps, and even an engraved brick which the Thurber Historical Association is using to pave a walk to the site of McCleskey No. 1 Discovery Well of the Ranger Oil Boom. The photos and history are wonderful, and you can assist with historical preservation by purchasing a brick!

Address for the area historical associations are Thurber Historical Association, Box 192, Gordon TX 76453; Ranger Historical Preservation Society, P. O. Box 320, Ranger TX 76470.

Now let's look at some of the names associated with Grant Town.

In researching some of the names Leo gave me, I have found that Ronchetti comes from the Salto, Alpette, San Benigno, Crotte, Prascorsano, Pratiglione area of Italy. While the Corona families came from Sicily, Abruzzo, Molise and Castaldo came from Campania and Napoli.

Just looking through the county telephone book I discovered three Raffaele families, three Bielinski families, and one Biondini family. However, there are many interesting Italian and Polish names in the area.

Interestingly St. Barbara's Church was first St. Thuribus and was established in 1892 in Thurber. With the recruitment of Eastern and Southern European miners, the immigrants felt a communion with home and loved ones through the Mass. The Italians and Poles were two of many ethnic groups in Thurber. Everything was company owned in this coal mining town of Thurber. That is one reason Grant Town held such interest for people who wanted to stay in the area but out of the company owned town.

One thing which troubles me some is that there is not a lot of information on the internet about the Thurber area, and with its rich history I can only hope that descendants of that area get busy with their family histories.

Here are some queries specifically about the Grant Town area. If you can assist these folks, I certainly hope you will. Perhaps they can help you, too.

"I'm looking for relatives of John Monroe WILSON born 15 Oct 1849 in Arkansas (some family say VT?) son of William Rance/Raines WILSON b. ca 1822 in Scotland ? John Monroe WILSON was the first Postmaster and Merchant of both old and new ZEPHYR, Brown Co., TX ... (ca 1872) also the first Worshipful Master of Zephyr Masonic Temple. John's wife was Lucinda Emma "Lucy" ABBOTT (1/2 Cherokee) b. 1854 in MO. John Monroe Wilson aka JM Wilson was killed in a one man mining accident in Thurber Mines, Erath Co., TX. His family continued to live in the Mingus/Grant/Strawn area of Palo Pinto Co., TX. Children of JM and Lucy Wilson are Leslie Ervin, (stillborn son buried in Zephyr Cemetery, Brown Co., TX), William R. m. Mary Alice Wells, Estelle Marge m. Jerome Vance WALLING, Talmade Dewitt m. Nora Emma LASSITER, John M. Jr. m. "Octavia/Dotsy". Estelle Marge (Wilson) WALLING died in 1961 in Mineral Wells, Palo Pinto, TX. Looking for her descendants also! -- Peggy Sue Wilson

Palo Pinto County Texas was the home to Herman Boyd, Sr. and wife Docia Boyd (Looney). I am looking for information on either of them, their parents, and also information on the coal mining community of Thurber (circa 1920). -- James Boyd
I am looking for information about the miners, and the mines of Thurber. My Grandmothers, Father, and her Grandfather, were killed,or died in the Coal Mines there. Are there any list of Miners who died in the mines around there any where? -- Tricia Hopkins

Atop New York Hill, a large brass plaque shows the location of significant structures when Thurber thrived. The restored 100-year-old St. Barbara's Church, Thurber Cemetery, a furnished miner's house, and an authentic Italian bocci ball court give a glimpse into the past.

New York Hill Restaurant displays photos of Thurber in its heyday and is headquarters to the Thurber Historical Association. Thurber was founded in 1888 and, after the mines closed in 1921 and the brick plant in 1930, it was abandoned in 1933 and was almost entirely razed.

An annual Thurber reunion is held on the second Saturday in June. The site is some 70 miles west of Fort Worth on 1-20 at Texas 108.

Interestingly, Thurber is in Erath County, but Grant Town is in Palo Pinto County.
For genealogical information from Italy, the best place on the web is Italy WorldGenWeb at <http://www.rootsweb.com/~itawgw>. And for Polish genealogy, go to PolandGenWeb at <http://www.rootsweb.com/~polwgw/polandgen.html>. For researching surnames from around the world, I suggest you try Rootsweb/Ancestry at <http://boards.ancestry.com/mbexec?htx=main&r=rw>.

This has certainly got me thinking about future columns concerning this most interesting area of our Cross Timbers Hill Country.

Monday, July 29, 2013


The following was sent to me by our friend and correspondent, Noel Garland


You have to be a certain age to appreciate this. I can hear my mother

1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes-walk
the whole length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang
"whites" with "whites," and hang them first.

3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders - always by the tail! What
would the neighbors think?

4. Wash day on a Monday!...Never hang clothes on the weekend, or
Sunday, for Heaven's sake!

5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide
your "unmentionables" in the middle - perverts and busy bodies,

6. It didn't matter if it was sub zero weather...clothes would

7. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins
left on the lines were "tacky!"

8. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each
item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins
with the next washed item.

9. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the
clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

10. IRONED?! Well, that's a whole other subject!


A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by.
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link,
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the fancy sheets
And towels upon the line;
You'd see the company tablecloths
With intricate design.

The line announced a baby's birth
To folks who lived inside,
As brand new infant clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.

The ages of the children could
So readily be known,
By watching how the sizes changed,
You'd know how much they'd grown.

It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.

It said, "Gone on vacation now,"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged,
With not an inch to spare.

New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy gray,
As neighbors raised their brows,
And looked Disgustedly away.

But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make work less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess.

I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign,
When neighbors knew each other best,
By what hung on the line!

(Author Unknown)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ol' Bob Routh, a story based on fact

“You ‘member Uncle Bob Routh, don’t ya?  He rode with the Texas Rangers down in Brown County durin’ the Indian troubles in the 1870s, right?” 

“Yup, he did that, and he sure had hisself an opinion on most anything you wanted to ask him ‘bout.  Even give his thoughts to the Brownwood Bulletin on more’n one occasion, and let me tell you, he was somethin’, that ole man.  He was somethin’.”

“Shoot, I ‘member when he whupped that preacherman from here to yonder. Rode his hoss right into the little Methodist Episcopal church, roped the feller, and drug him right outside in front of God and everbody.  Never did understand ‘xactly what happened there, but the rumor was that ole circuit rider had done messed with Uncle Bob’s oldest daughter, Mz. Bee.  Guess the reverend deserved the horse whippin’ he got, and that sure put the icin’ on the cake far as stories about ole Uncle Bob is concerned.” 

“Least-wise Mz. Bee married that Bowden boy what owned the furniture store.  Hope she had a happy life, but I heard she never was right after that, whatever that was.”

“Say, do you ‘member that time, back ‘bout 1875, when Dick Cheatham and Dick Smith run ‘crost that Comanche raidin’ party what kilt the whole of Bill Williams’ family whilst he was in town buyin’ supplies and what not?”

“Yup, ole Bill was one of them fellers what believed Comanches was jest misunderstood, peaceable folk with not a mean bone in their bodies.  Otherwise he’d never ‘ve left Mz. Williams and those two little mites there without some sort of protection.  Why I heard tell he didn’t even leave her with no gun!”

“That’s what I heard, and when he come home to his ranch, ‘member it was up on the Jim Ned, he found poor Mz. Williams a dyin’, one of the children dead, and the other poor little thing probably carried off by them blood-thirsty Injuns.  Never heard from her again, ‘s the way that story goed.”

“Times back then was dangerous, that’s for shore!  Times is better now.”

“Well, maybe so, but ole Bob Routh’s still a purty dangerous feller, and he’s, what, 91 or so.  Sure wouldn’t want to be held in jail there with him the jailer and Mz. Jenny cookin’ the food.  Heard she’s one terrible cook and meaner ‘n a snake on Sunday, you ask me.  But not meaner Uncle Bob!”

“Yeah, well, back to that raidin’ party o’ Comanches.  ‘member that there was the last Injun fight in Brown County, or so they say.  Took place, it did, up on Clear Creek, when Smith and Cheatham run acrost them Injuns.  Think it was right after they’d kilt Mz. Williams, but I knows for certain sure they didn’t have no children with them.”

“Yup, that fight didn’t last too long neither, and, ‘cept for one or two, all the Injuns was kilt, and Smith brought one dead Injun back into Brownwood and done set him up in the winder of Mr. Dave Hutchinson’s blacksmith shop.  They kept him there for a few days, ‘til the stink was God Almighty awful.  Then all the businessmen in town took that body out on the old Comanche Road and stuck it up in the big ole liveoak as a warnin’.”

“Oh, yeah, I ‘member what happened then.  The body finally fell outtin’ that tree down onto the ground and some of them roamin’ hogs done et it up.  Think that showed them Comanches who’s boss.  Never were no more raids after that.”

“But do you ‘member the time that old man, can’t ‘member his name, who kilt once too many times.  Shot his brother-in-law, carved a second notch on his gun.  Why, I hear tell he shot that feller in the mornin’ and went to a church picnic that afternoon.  Onliest thang was, Uncle Bob and ole Captain James found out all ‘bout it, and they shore went down to that picnic and arrested that old man.  77 he was, too, but meaner a snake.  Believe they hanged him before the next Sunday.  ‘course, Uncle Bob weren’t ‘fraid to bother church people, ‘specially after he horse whipped that preacher man.”

“Now, that Captain Jason James was a fine man, weren’t he?  Didn’t take nothing offen no body.  Not even ole Bob Routh!  Why, you know ole Captain James may ‘ave been a member of Quantrill’s Raiders. After all, his first cousin, Jesse, and Jesse’s brother, Frank, were both part of that band with the Youngers and all.”

“Yup, they surely was, but I don’t know about Captain James.  Mean as he was, he was always on the right side of the law, if you know my meanin’, and him and Uncle Bob was in some mighty scary situations, but they’s always after them Injuns or some other sorta bad guys.”

“One thing is for shore, Captain James looked ‘xactly like his cousin, Jesse.  Why they coulda been twins!  And he always carried a photograph of Jesse in his shirt pocket.  He told Uncle Bob onced he hoped he’d never have to go after Jesse, but I ‘spect he would if he hadda.”

“ ‘member the time James went down to Pecan Bayou to arrest that feller who was camped down there?  Believe that feller was a horse thief or some such, but Captain James went alone, way those Ranger always do.”

“Yup, he got down there to the Bayou, and the feller seemed all peaceable and such.  He told James he’d surely ride into town with him, and he asked James if he coulda got his coat outta his wagon.” 

“I ‘member.  James was bein’ particularly nice that day, I guess, and he didn’t cuff him or nothin’, let the feller go into the wagon, and the next thang he knowed the feller reached under the wagon seat, pull out his hand gun, and fired at James.” 

“ ‘course if was real close range, and James was hit hard, but he pulled his gun and shot back, and he kilt that sorry so-and-so.” 

“Yup, and Uncle Bob come along about then and carried James back to town.  James stayed at that roomin’ house over on Fisk what was run by Mz. Hattie Bowden, and it took him a few months afore he was back in the saddle and off rangerin’ again with Uncle Bob.”

“I think Uncle Bob took that shootin’ hard, and when his enlistment was up is when he gave up rangerin’ and went to runnin’ that general store with Mz. Jenny.”

“Well, one thing’s for shore.  Uncle Bob were one interestin’ feller.  Wish I knowed him better, but when I was a little ‘un I was plum skeert to death of him.  And I shore don’t want to get to know him from a jail cell!”

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Taking a Break

I'll be back with a new, revised schedule of blogs in a few days!  Have a great summer (or winter) depending on your location!

Turtle says, "Come back and see us real soon, now!"

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Splash Ink

I've been under the weather a little today, so the only crafty thing I have done is some more crochet...I am mixing purple and lime green to make a very interesting shawl.

But I received a package in the mail.  I had ordered Splash Ink from Yasutomo.  Now, I had to go to the grocery tonight...or we won't eat tomorrow, and I had seen a video about using the ink with liquid starch to make marbled paper.  However, there was no liquid starch at Wally World, so I don't know what I will substitute. 

Do you have any ideas?  Let me know!!!

An example from Yasutomo.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread and Good Friends

We've had a great weekend and beginning of this week.  We ate a lot of good food and visited with good friends.  All around, it was a lot of fun!

I had found this recipe on Facebook...one of the best sources I have found for recipes.  Because I am usually reading Facebook on my iPad, I usually share recipes, etc., so that later I can go to my desk top computer and print them out.

This recipe caught my eye for simplicity, and it looked very tasty, so I made it!

 As you can see, it bakes well in one of those disposable round baking pans that can be left somewhere to be thrown away later.

Cheesy Ham Biscuit Pull-Aparts 

1 (16.3 oz) Pillsbury Grands Flaky Layers Biscuits
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup diced ham
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 11 x 7 or 12 x 8 glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat egg and milk with a wire whisk until smooth.  

Chop the ham and measure out the cheese and onion, to be ready to put into the bowl.

Separate dough into individual biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters. Gently stir biscuit pieces into egg mixture to coat evenly. Fold in ham, cheese, onions and granulated garlic. Spoon mixture into prepared dish, arrange biscuit pieces in a single layer.  And be sure they are in a single layer, or it won't bake through!

Baked at 350 for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. You can either cut into squares or just pull apart and serve.  Pull apart works great!

We took this to a welcome home party for a student Raf had years ago who now lives far away and works as an engineer.  Everyone seemed to like the food, but the visiting was the best part of the get together.

The next day we were guests of friend at a dinner of the Confrerie St. Etienne.  We had a marvelous time with friends, old and new, and ate and drank things from Alsace.  Here I will share a few of our moments.

And, thank the good Lord, we have had rain since Sunday.  I guess our Texas trees were not expecting rain, because one of our neighbor's trees just fell over!
And yesterday on Facebook someone around here noted that it was bean weather.  I agreed, so I made a crock pot of pinto beans with fresh tomatoes, fresh onion, fresh basil, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper.  Combined with Italian sausage, fresh tomatoes, and raw onions!  Yummy in my tummy again!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Genealogical Websites - Free or Commercial

Sadly, more and more genealogical websites are pay-per-view.

When I began working in genealogy in the 1980s and on into the 1990s, as we opened up genealogical websites, they were free to anyone desired to use them.

Here is a photo I am sharing.  These are my seven aunts, daughters of John Ficke and Harriet "Bess" McBee Ficke.  The back row shows Silva, Marguerite, Ferrol, and Lois.  The front row shows Leona, Fay, and Bessie Mae.  My father was the only boy.

Rootsweb was one of the first free to the public genealogical sites, and I was an early contributor to Rootsweb.  Now, as you can see by the web address, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ , they are associated with Ancestry. com which is anything but free.  They are a good source, and I do use them, but they are expensive.

After Rootsweb had been going for a while and was being quite successful, and, even though we had all pledged to keep this genealogical source free and open to everyone, some of the "powers that were" decided to cash in on our success and turn the Rootsweb information into a commercial site...and so they did.  

To me that was a sorry thing to, but they did it anyway, and they took a lot of our carefully sought out research with them when they went.

Now there are not many free genealogical websites.  And Rootsweb ain't what it used to be because it is not-for-profit and unable to get the information that was free to begin with.

Don't get me wrong.  I am certainly not against free enterprise, but we had a sort of "hand shake" understanding that we would keep our information open to everyone.

This is right up there with the families, who, when one relative has genealogical information such as a birth certificate, a marriage license, the family Bible, or whatever, and they refuse to share the information with the rest of the family.  How does that help anyone?

That's keeping history from, not only the family but, anyone who might benefit by it or be interested in it.

Reminds me of the kid who says, "I know something you don't know!"

How childish is that, anyway?

So, I urge everyone reading this to

             a.  research your family
             b.  write up your research
             c.  give everyone in your family a copy
             d.  post it on the web for those people you don't even know who might be interested


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hear, O Israel! Hear You Whole World!

Hear, O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.  Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.  Drill them into your children.  Speak of them at home, and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.  Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.  Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I do believe the Lord wants us to speak out our faith, to not hid it under a basket, but to show its light from the highest hill we can find.

I try to do that.  I am often not successful in my actions, but I do endeavor to do it.  I am more successful in my words.

When I write about my faith, I am blunt and to the point - as in the case of the abortion issue in the Texas House of Representatives and Senate.  I believe abortion is murder, no matter at what stage one has an abortion.  And I believe that God commanded us to not murder anyone!  So that is what I said and will continue to say.

I found an apologist...not in THAT sense...a real apology, on Facebook, from a person who said they believe abortion is murder but didn't want to make anyone mad but, rather, chastised those who, well, called it what it is!  Amazing.  They also said as Christian we have to show love.

Yes, I believe "love the sinner, hate the sin", but I can't just step quietly away and think it!

What is that modern saying?  "If I don't stand for something, I will fall for anything!"  Yep, I believe that's so!

So, whatever it takes, we as Christians must stand up and be counted.  We cannot cower under that basket.  We cannot call ourselves Christians and to nothing...say nothing!  We must "write it on our doorposts and our gates" for all to see.  We must show that light on the highest hill.  We must love, as Christ loved us!

May God keep us firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Danielle, known to all as Dani or Dan, is our oldest granddaughter.  She is attending Texas A&M in College Station, Texas,

Today her mother was cleaning out the house after a move and found this first photo.

I then found this second photo of Dani and her mom.
And here is Dani today!
Ain't she sweet!  And beautiful!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Our Tiny Garden and the Birds

For many years, from many sources, I have heard pros and cons on feeding wild birds all year round, but no matter what anyone has told us we continue to feed our wild birds all year long.

This year our wild birds have particularly benefited, as, now that Turtle is an indoor car, they are less likely to loose their lives in our back garden! 

For you see, the only outdoorness Turtle is allowed is her little plot of cat grass in the sun by the French doors.

That isn't to say that an occasional bird isn't eaten by a passing puss, but mostly I think our back garden birds feel safe.

In summer we put out a cake feeder cake.  I have discovered that if the lid is not on, the birds get to it easier.  We also fill a flat feeder with millet, corn, and sunflower seeds.  We have a water dripper, low to the ground, and a tall bird bath.  (Our yard men complain about the humidity when they work in the garden.)

 See the titmouse on the cake feeder?

See the house finch above the log?

Our garden flowers attract a lot of hummingbirds...which we never got when we hung a red sugar water feeder.

We also get tons of butterflies, moths, ladybugs, and various other insects, which, of course, are more food for the wild birds.

This summer we have had several clutches of Northern Cardinals, but we also have mockingbirds, blue jays, chickadees, woodpeckers, a variety of wrens, doves (mostly white wing), English sparrows, house finches, and the elusive painted bunting.  And twice this year we have had cedar waxwings.

We also have the occasional small hawk, and various other birds...sometimes even an Eastern Bluebird.

So, all-in-all, I believe our summer (and winter) feeding of wild birds is a great success.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Johann Jacob Shrum

My next ancestor, which I am trying to prove for a supplemental application for the Daughters of the American Revolution, is Johann Jacob Shrum, called Jacob on the DAR roll.  My other two patriots are Captain Charles McAnally of Virginia and Bryan Ward Nowlin, patriot of Virginia.  They are both on my mother's side of the family while Shrum is on my father's side.

Shrum fought the Revolution from York County, Pennsylvania, where he was private under the command of Captain James Johnston of the York County Militia.

I have now submitted my supplemental for the second time with much more detail, and, hopefully, the DAR will now accept it.  If you are related, please let me know!

Here is a copy of the ancestry back to Jacob Shrum.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mixed Media and ATCs

I mentioned that I was in a swap group in Willowing.ning created by Tam Laporte.  She has a lot of really neat art going on at her site, including Life Book.  I did Life Book last year, but this year it's going strong, too.

Anyway, I participated in the monthly ATC swap, the theme of which was Keep Calm and . . .  Here are my ATCs, which I have already sent to my partner.

The technique uses pan pastels, Stencil Girl stencils, and Gelli Plate, Lindy's Stamp Gang spritz, along with colored pencil, acrylic paint, pen, and collage papers.  Stencil Girl has some fab videos that show wonderful techniques, which is what I based these two ATCs on.

I then decided to experiment further, so I prepared a series of photos to show you my process.

 Here I used a stencil on the Gelli Plate on heavy drawing paper.
 I next painted Pan Pasel on top followed by using the Gelli Plate and bubble wrap.
 Next, I stenciled a bit.
 Now I sprayed with Lindy's Stamp Gang spray...here it was still wet.
 Here is it dry.

 Here with some my my various tools.
And here is the final product. 

It was a lot of fun playing with the various techniques.  I'll probably use this is something very soon!

Have fun, KEEP CALM & PAINT!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Yummy...yummy in my Tummy!

This is a casserole my father and mother-in-law brought to us years ago when we were ill.  It is absolutely delicious and so easy to make!

Pork Tenderloin Noodle Casserole

Cook 1 3/4 cups noodles (for 2) rinse and drain.  Slowly borown 1 1/2 lb pork chops 1/2” thick in hot fat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Combine noodles and cheese sauce and 3 Tablespoon each of chopped green pepper and chopped pimento.  Turn into a casserole, top with pork chops, bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.

Cheese sauce:  Melt 3 tablespoons butter, blend with 3 tablespoons flour, salt, and pepper to suit.  Add 1 cup milk.  Cook until thick and bubbly.  Remove from heat and add 1/3 cup cheese.  Use small casserole for 2 people.


Also, I thought you writers out there might enjoy this joke...or maybe it's the truth!

See ya tomorrow!

Monday, July 08, 2013

July 8 - The Bell May have Cracked!

Many, many interesting things have happened on July 8 in American history through the years.  Here are a few examples;

In 1693 New York City issued the first police uniforms in the United States.
In 1777 Vermont became the first state to abolish slavery.
In 1816 there was a frost in Waltham, Massachusetts, and in 1835 the Liberty Bell cracked for the second time!

There seems to be some confusion about when the bell cracked for the first time.  The year was 1824, but there seems to be some sort of mystery about when in that year it cracked.

Some historians say it cracked during a visit by Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette came to visit Philadelphia, but other historians say it cracked later the same year while tolling a signal that there was a fire.

Another story tells that during the tolling of the bell for the funeral of Chief Justice John Marshall on July 8, 1835, the bell cracked for a second time.  However, later accounts in Philadelphia newspapers made no mention of that cracking.

Any or all of those stories many be true, but it was definitely damaged by 1846 when, according to Philadelphia city records, the mayor requested that the bell be rung on George Washington's birthday.  It was repaired, and it tolled loud and clear at first, only to crack beyond repair later that day and was taken out of service

After being moved to a pavilion near Independence Hall in 1976, the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence, in 2003 it was again relocated to Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historic Park, where millions of visitors view its famous crack each year.

So -  when did the Liberty Bell crack?  Well, 178 years ago today may have been one of those occasions!  Who knows?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Me Worry?

 Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Matthew 6:27

I have, no doubt, told you many times about the Methodist minister in Stephenville, Texas, John Wesley Ford (1908-1970), who gave my mother a clipping from the newspaper which was titled "Ten Ways to Worry Scientifically".  My mother was a worrier - and so, I am afraid, am I.

What a sin, and what a waste of time and energy, and, yet, I seem to do it, anyway, while I endeavor not to!

Today's sermon, preached at St. John's in Fort Worth by our "adopted" son, Father Bill Estes, stressed the type of love we are to have in our lives, if we are to be true to Christ's teachings.  He explained that it isn't the warm, fuzzy we feel for close friends.  It isn't the marriage or family sort of love, but, rather, it is a love manifested in us by our following the Ten Commandments

plus loving each other as He loved us when He gave His life for us on the cross.

In His act of love, Jesus took all of our sins upon Himself and absolved us of those sins, even though he had been absolutely free from sin.

Bill also said something else that truly hit home.  He said we should love even those people that aren't very nice, those people that are aggravating to us, those people who just plain make us mad - and he said, correctly, we are often those very people to our friends and neighbors.  We are those aggravating, maddening, not very nice people.  I surely know I am!  But sometimes I just plain don't want to admit my faults.

And yet, if we are to do as Christ told us, we must own up to all our sins, our mistakes, our wrong-doing.  We must follow Christ as He told us to follow Him.  We must abide by all the commandments, and we must love everyone!!  Everyone!

Bill ended his message by stating that, although our world does look bleak and he doesn't know what's going to happen to our state, our nation, our world any time soon, he does know the end of the story! 

Do you know the end, too?  I do!  And if we believe, follow, love, we will be there at the End to celebrate it with our Risen Lord.  Amen!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Family Traditions and Independence Day

Thursday was Independence Day.  I often think we have fun but we don't ponder why we are celebrating...our forefathers gave their lives for our freedom, and we just run around shooting off fireworks and eating a lot.  We don't take time to realize that if it hadn't been for those great heroes like George Washington, and all the heroes under him, and the heroes like my father in World War II, we would not be able - or, in some cases, allowed, to do those things we so easily take for granted!


John McBee Ficke in 1945 in France

But because of these heroes, our family celebrated last Thursday, eating, talking, having fun, boating, and shooting fireworks at Lake Graham, Texas, which is our tradition.

 Raf's sister, Mary, enjoying the 4th...
 along with my life-long friend, Jack,
 our oldest daughter, Kathi (Kati), with her daughter in purple, her son in white, daughter's boyfriend in maroon, and a little friend,
our second oldest grandson, Joey, and his friend,
 our daughter, Christi, in whose home we always celebrate Independence Day,
 Raf by our oldest granddaughter, Dani,
 our middle daughter, Carolyn,
 Christi's husband's cousin and Raf,
 and lots of photos of Lake Graham.

 And some movies of the fireworks.

It was a wonderful, but exhausting day.  Everyone had a ball.

I pray, O Lord, that You bless is country and that You help us bring our country back to being the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Please keep our enemies at bay, and please help us to see what we need to do to again make America great.  Amen.


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