Monday, March 20, 2017

Genealogy Saturday

Saturday my friend, Kay, went with me to a Genealogy seminar, which was hosted by the Williamson County Genealogy Society at the Round Rock United Methodist Church. The presenter was none other than Josh Taylor, host of TV's Genealogy Roadshow.

There were at least 200 people in attendance. The Methodist Men's Group cooked and served lunch - homemade lasagna - and cleaned up afterward. Way to go MEN! The facility was a perfect place for a large group like this, and the outdoor grounds were beautiful. At every break Kay and I strolled around outside. The weather was sunny and warm.

Our own Bell County Genealogy Society had eight members who attended the seminar.

This massive tree gave shade to the courtyard

Both Kay and I fell in love with this statue of a little boy reading

Just Call Me "Admiral"

Friday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day, was a special day for me. In my mailbox I found my copy of the book that I prepared for the printer (See here), Minatare Memories: A Historical Account of the Tabor-Minatare Community of Western Nebraska. I was so relieved, after sending off a flash drive with the entire formatted book, to be told by the print shop that it was perfectly print-ready! And now I have the finished product in my hands.

The authors are having their book launch this coming Saturday, and they are quite excited. There will be book signings, newspaper articles, radio and TV interviews, and public meet-and-greets. They already have so many pre-sales that they believe they will have to do a second printing right away.

Along with my copy of the book came a surprise. It was a certificate, signed by Nebraska's governor, Pete Ricketts, appointing me an "Admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska." This is an honorary title bestowed, by the Governor, upon individuals who have contributed to the "Good Life" of Nebraska. I consider it an honor :-).

The text of the certificate describes my authority this way:
And I [the governor] do strictly charge and require all officers, seamen, tadpoles and goldfish under your command to be obedient to your orders as Admiral - and you are to observe and follow, from time to time, such directions you shall receive, according to the rules and discipline of the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Last night we met for dinner, at Olive Garden, with two other couples from church and then went to the Willie Nelson concert at the Expo Center. In honor of the Bell County Expo Center's 30th anniversary, they sold all tickets for only $30 apiece. The tickets went on sale on December 2, and were gone 11 days later. Sadly, Dan and I were too late, and missed out on tickets.

But thank goodness for good friends! Andy and Kay had bought tickets for themselves and two other couples from church, but in the end, one of those couples couldn't make it, so we got to buy their tickets from Andy.

I was really looking forward to it. I wouldn't call myself a huge fan of Willie, but over the years he's done some songs that I really love - Always on My Mind is at the tip of my list. And, as I've said several times, "He's almost 84 years old, and he's a legend who won't be around forever." 

I guess he's already been "killed off" by Facebook and the Internet a number of times over the past few years. Those hoaxes prompted him to write one of the fun songs that he sang last night: "Still Not Dead Again Today.":
I woke up still not dead again today
The internet said I had passed away
Well if I died I wasn't dead to stay
I woke up still not dead again today.

I showed up to the Expo Center with my compact Sony camera, with a fully charged battery and its incredible zoom lens. Willie stepped on stage and I pulled it out to take my first shot . . . and that's when my camera gave me the sad message: "No Memory Card." I had left it at home (not the first time I've pulled this trick). I was so disappointed. Our friend, Andy, overheard me tell Dan that I forgot my memory card, but apparently misinterpreted what he heard. He said, "I think Kay may have one in her purse." Yea! Strange that she'd carry one in her purse, but what a lifeline that would be. Andy leaned over to Kay and whispered to her, and next I saw her digging in her purse. In no time she proudly held up . . . an emery board! I actually started to reach for it, and then burst out laughing. That Emery board just wouldn't fit in my camera's card slot! Ha! It was sort of like playing "gossip."

So, long story made short, all I had to take pictures with was my iPhone. I didn't get any good pictures of Willie, but got a few rather fuzzy ones.

The concert was really good. I had come with fairly low expectations, but he definitely exceeded them. He sang song after song, with almost no break between them. It was over an hour's worth of pure Willy Nelson. He did sing my fav, "Always on My Mind," along with some other old favorites, "Georgia on My Mind," "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," "Funny How Time Slips Away," and, of course, "On the Road Again." I was tickled at how he juxtaposed some great gospel music alongside of "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die." LOL

I'm really glad we got to go. Thank you Bell County for selling such reasonably priced tickets to everyone. And thanks to Willie & Family for a pretty amazing concert.

The Expo Center was filled to capacity. We had pretty good seats, just to the left of the stage.
Our seats were just to the left of the stage. This picture was taken from my seat.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Ghost Town and Mother Neff State Park

Dan is gone for the weekend. He is at a vintage car race, working with the tech crew. He really enjoys these race weekends, and I don't mind them at all. I usually try to do something a little different with my time while he's gone. So this morning, with the thermometer reading a pleasant 70 degrees, I headed about 20 minutes west to the old ghost town of "The Grove." I think someone actually gives tours on weekends, but today I was alone with the ghosts.

From what I read, The Grove started as a town in the early 1870s, and was sustained by farming and ranching. It seems to have prospered until the 1940s, when it had a little more than 100 residents. Highway 36, which bypassed the town, was partly responsible for the little town's demise.

In the center of town still stands a 28-foot-deep well, reportedly hand-dug by resident Jim Whitmore in 1872. I've read that there is still water in the well.

Jim Whitmore's well, which served the entire downtown of The Grove.
A few years ago the entire downtown was sold for $200,000 to Fran Moyer, the granddaughter of W.J.Dube, who owned the W.J. Dude General Merchandise store and was one of the town fathers.

The center shop in the red brick building was W.J.Dube's general merchandise store

The barber shop

Different cattle brands are carved all over the front of the blacksmith's shop

The saloon. I'm sure it was a booming business in The Grove.

I strolled down this sidewalk, arm in arm with a couple of ghosts

These are the doors to the US Post Office at The Grove. Notice the stained glass panels.

Since I was only about ten minutes away from Mother Neff State Park, I decided to go take a few pictures there, as well. I hiked the relatively easy trail - probably about a mile each way - through the woods to the rock water tower that was built by the CCC in the 1930s. Climbing the stairs puts you above the tree tops. The hike was really pleasant. It was mostly flat ground, and it was comfortable T-shirt weather. The birds were singing and the butterflies were flitting everywhere.

Looking down on the stairs from the top of the tower. The shadows made an interesting abstract pattern.

On the road between home and Mother Neff I stopped and took a few more pictures.

Across the road from the Lutheran Church at The Grove were these crosses and a sheep pasture.

The sheep were really curious when I neared the fence. They kept coming closer and closer, and one of the rams was trying to poke his nose through the fence.

And closer to Mother Neff I stopped to take this big guy's picture. He was quite happy to pose for me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Task Completed . . . I Hope!

Last summer, when I went to Nebraska to meet the committee of ladies who were writing a book on the history of Minatare, Nebraska, the little village where my great-great-grandfather and other ancestors homesteaded, I realized that the ladies were going to have to pay someone an awful lot of money to make their self-published book print-ready. After returning home and thinking about that some more, I offered to take on that task for them. I honestly didn't expect it to be the monumental project that it turned out to be, but I don't regret having offered to help them out.

For seven months I've been receiving chapters, one after the other, in the mail and turning them into a unified manuscript that could be taken to a printer for publication. It turned out to be 15 chapters and 350 pages. Nearly every page had at least one photo, which had to be scanned, edited and inserted into the text. My software didn't handle photos well at all. I had trouble anchoring them in place. And once the chapters were finished there was the front matter and the index to be created. Indexing a book that size is a huge job in itself, but it appears to be complete and accurate now.

Yesterday I mailed off a flash drive with the entire book on it - a little tiny flash drive held seven months of work! I sent it off with a sense of apprehension and with my fingers crossed that the print shop will be happy with the formatting. For so long, every spare moment has been spent at the computer working with the book, and now . . . it's done! It feels a little like the empty nest syndrome. My most recent "chick" has flown the nest! (And I'm praying it doesn't come back.)

The ladies are hoping for a completion date in March. I wish them all the best as they move forward with the printing.

Friday, January 20, 2017