Monday, July 26, 2010

Jacob Versus the Dilly Bar and Salamanders

David called me today, just to see how I was doing. After talking for a time, he asked if I had checked my email today. I hadn't. He told me that he had emailed me a picture of Jacob that was taken last Friday. The stick in his hands used to hold a Dilly Bar. Most of the Dilly Bar can be seen on Jacob. But it sure looks like he enjoyed it.

A couple of hours later, I got another phone call from David. He told me to check my email again. He had just sent me pictures of Jacob with a salamander. David added a deck to the back of his house earlier this summer, and was doing some landscaping around it. While digging holes to plant some bushes, he found a couple of salamanders. Thinking that the kids might like to see them, he put them in a bucket. Looks like Jacob is having a pretty good time with his little friend.

I gotta admit that my mind wanders off in strange directions now and then. While looking at these pictures, all I could think of was a line from an old Bugs Bunny - Daffy Duck cartoon, where the Abominable Snowman says, "I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him." Perhaps I will completely grow up one day, but not today.

Good luck to you, George the salamander.

A Grandson With a Car - It's a Good Thing

My grandson Chris has his own car now. This came in really handy for me yesterday. I have been having some minor problems with my back and neck. The term, "A pain in the neck" has become personal. I realize that I can be a pain in the neck, and have been from time to time. Probably will be again. Consider yourselves warned. However, this particular pain in the neck and back made it impossible for me to lift or carry anything. And I needed groceries. I was nearly out of dog food and cat food. Without them, things could get ugly. The pantry was getting pretty bare as well and I needed help.

So Chris picked me up Saturday afternoon. Took me to Cub. Pushed the cart and lifted heavy stuff off of shelves for me. And if that wasn't enough, he hauled them all up the stairs for me when he brought me home. Nary a complaint. Was still smiling after all of that.

Yep, a grandson with a car is a good thing. Especially when that grandson doesn't mind helping out his Grandma. Thanks, Chris.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Gaggle of Geese - A Snit of Yorkies

I have had dogs in my time who could pout. Did it pretty well. Barney the Cocker Spaniel comes to mind. When I refused to share my meal with him, he would turn his back to me and grumble. Seriously. Other dogs over the years have expressed their displeasure in various ways. But my Yorkies do it best, hands down. They win. They are good at it.

Early last evening I decided that Lily was in desperate need of a bath. Yorkies have beards. Beards collect food. As she dives head first into her food bowl each day, her beard had collected enough to feed a family of four. So into the kitchen sink she went. Lots of nice aloe vera doggie shampoo. Pretty smelling conditioner to keep her skin from drying out. Should have made her feel better. A nice warm bath makes me feel better. Didn't quite work out that way.

Lily was in a snit.

Noun 1. snit - a state of agitated irritation; "he was in a snit"
annoyance, botheration, irritation, vexation - the psychological state of being irritated or annoyed

Yep. It was a snit alright. Stayed as far away from me as she could get. Wouldn't take a toy when offered. Wouldn't chase a ball. Just kept her head turned away from me a lot.

The snit quickly turned into a pout.

pout 1. To exhibit displeasure or disappointment; sulk.

Stalked across the living room, crawled into her little doggie bed, gave me the Evil Eye and stayed there the rest of the evening. The girl knows how to pout. No amount of sweet talk or cajoling would move her. Even the well loved chicken strip treats wouldn't budge her. So I went to bed, leaving her to think up ways to speed up my entrance through the gates of Hell.

And this morning she was right back diving head first into her food bowl, begging for a treat after, barking to keep the bad trucks on the street outside away from me and in general, back to her same hyper, saucy self.

I love Yorkies.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Picking Blueberries

Jackie posted on Facebook today about how she and Cody had picked blueberries, and her blueberry pie was about ready to come out of the oven. This prompted an exchange about blueberry picking and gardens. Brought back memories of the many hours we had spent picking blueberries when we lived up north. Liz chimed in with a story about Jim eating too many blueberries when he was just a little tad. They worked as nature's laxative while Aunt Etta and Curt were babysitting him. I'm thinking that the story was probably repeated for years after, as are most stories that we would like to forget!

All the talk about blueberries prodded my memory for a story that Dad told me years ago about his family picking blueberries. I may have written about this before, but indulge me. The more of my memory cells that go by the wayside, the more I am apt to repeat myself. Get used to it. It's not likely to get any better.

Dad talked of picking blueberries in what he called the "blueberry bog." I have never seen a blueberry bog. I've just picked berries in patches in the woods. According to Dad, the bogs were somewhere up around Big Falls and the land was covered in blueberry bushes.

Dad said that our Grandpa would hitch a team of horses to a hay wagon. Then he and the biggest of the boys would load a cast iron cook stove on the wagon, along with boxes of canning jars, canning kettles, berry picking buckets and whatever else they needed for several days of berry picking. And off the whole family would go to the blueberry bog.

When they reached their destination, they would gather wood to keep the cook stove going, and then grab their pails and head out to pick berries. Dad told me that the berries were so thick that sometimes they would use a tool that looked like a big scoop with a handle like a sugar scoop, but with times like a fork. They would rake the bushes with this scoop and then dump the berries from the scoop into a pail. He said it was lots quicker than picking by hand. This photo I found online most resembles his description of the blueberry scoop he used.

Most of the kids would pick blueberries. Grandma and a couple of the older girls would clean them, pack them into jars and can them on top of the wood stove. They kept this up, picking berries during the day and sleeping either on the hay wagon or under it at night, until Grandma decided that she had canned enough blueberries to last until blueberry season the following year. Dad said that it usually took several days to get enough berries to satisfy Grandma. With nine children in the family, it took a whole lot of berries.

I remember when I was where I could pick blueberries, I always thought that I processed a lot of berries. But for me it was so much easier than for Grandma. Most times I would just clean the blueberries, pack them into freezer bags and pop them into the freezer. I canned some for sauce and made jam from some, but there was no canning berries enough to feed eleven people, using a wood stove sitting on a hay wagon out in the middle of a blueberry bog. Grandma was amazing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Good Old Freezer - Rest in Peace

It was a good old freezer. Not too big. Fit nicely into the kitchen of my rather small apartment. Gave me over 15 years of faithful service. Kept frozen gallons of ice cream, many pounds of meat purchased on sale, countless loaves of homemade bread and bags of veggies. It made the trip from Missouri where it first came to live with me, to Minnesota, without a whimper.

And then it hiccuped.

Just a small thing. A couple of days ago I was reading blogs that I follow when my computer screen went black - just for a second or two. Not enough to even shut down the computer. I thought it was just a little glitch in the electricity in our town or in my building. I live in an old building in an old town. Little glitches happen now and then. Nothing to worry about.

Then yesterday, another two second screen black-out. Now I was beginning to wonder what was going on. Checked connections and outlets and discovered that the outlet where the freezer was plugged in, was not working. Hit the reset button and it still wasn't working. Went to the breaker box, reset the circuit breaker and Ta-Daa - everything worked. I am so smart!

Well, not all that smart. While pulling the freezer away from the wall to check the motor to see if dust bunnies were raising large families in it, I found that the side of the freezer where the motor is, was hot. Not warm. Hot! Fry an egg hot. Probably should have checked that first. Upon opening the freezer door, I discovered a lake in the bottom and bags of thawed food. Yep. I was staring into the face of a dead freezer. Lucky for me, it was a nearly empty dead freezer. And even luckier, I found out it was dead before it burst into flames.

Enter my youngest son, riding his white charger. He had planned to take me to Sams Club so I could stock up on food for the freezer. He even said that he would haul it all up the stairs to my apartment for me. I don't do stairs too well any more. Especially while burdened down with bags and boxes of frozen food. (Ask my oldest son about this. He has been my pack mule on many occasions - huffing groceries up my stairs. Without complaint. Bless him.) I called youngest son and told him about the demise of my freezer and that I would have to postpone our food buying excursion. An hour later, my phone rang. It was said son on said charger. He had found a new freezer for me, just the right size for one person living alone, and at a price that would fit into a fixed income lifestyle. Not only that, but there was free delivery involved as well as free disposal of the now dead old freezer. He would take care of the details for me and let me know when delivery would take place.

So good-bye old friend. You have served me well. And thank God for adult children who ride in on their white chargers to save the day.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Murders in Our Family

Usually, genealogy research consists of finding names, dates, places, census records, cemetery records and the like. Pretty tame stuff. But now and then something will pop up that is a total surprise. The two murders within our family was one of those surprises.

By way of background information, my grandmother on my Dad's side of my family was Rachel Alzora "Allie" Olmstead. Her father was Alonzo Olmstead. Alonzo had a sister, Elizabeth Olmstead who married, in 1866, Joshua Lee Foster. Elizabeth and Joshua had four daughters, the third of these being Electra Annie (Fannie) Foster and the fourth, Cora May Foster. The family lived in Jackson County, Indiana.

(Left to right: Elizabeth Olmstead Foster, Cora May and Electra Annie Foster, Joshua Lee Foster)

In 1889, Electra Annie married Clinton B. Jordan. Mr. Jordan was a man of questionable reputation, and according to the newspaper accounts of the time, was known for being quarrelsome and in general, a disagreeable man. Electra and Clinton's four year marriage was marked by many arguments and possibly violence. In November of 1893, Electra had had enough of Clinton's abuse, and she left him to return to the home of her parents. Her younger sister Cora, 17 years of age, was also living with her parents at that time.

It seems that after several unsuccessful attempts at reconciliation with his wife, Clinton Jordan made threats heard by others that if his wife would not live with him, then she would die with him. This was quoted in one of the several newspaper accounts of the murder.

The following is a transcript of the newspaper article that best describes what happened on November 27, 1893.

Five Persons Killed in Jackson County.

A Jealous Husband Kills His Wife, His Sister[-in-Law], His Father-in-Law, Mother-in-Law, and Then Pointed the Pistol at Himself.

Seven miles east of Seymour, in Jackson county, was the scene of a wholesale slaughter on Sunday night.

Clinton Jordan married a daughter of Joshua Foster, a prosperous farmer of Jackson county, four years ago. The couple did not get along very well, frequent quarrels and a separation of a week or ten days ago resulting.

Jordan met his father-in-law on Sunday and went home with him. Soon after his arrival at the home of Jordan's wife a quarrel ensued and the angry husband was ordered from the house. He refused to go and opened fire on the family. The first shot, which was intended for the father-in-law, missed him, but struck Miss Cora Foster, aged 17, causing her death in a few minutes. The second shot struck Mr. Foster in the temple, knocking him down. He was able to rise and ran to the home of his son-in-law, Wm. Powell, where he died, after suffering terribly for a few hours. The third shot struck Mrs. Foster, the wife's mother, in the neck, from the effects of which she died in a few hours. Jordan then turned his attention to his wife, who was trying to defend her mother, but he made short work of her with a knife and pistol. After viewing his bloody work the desperado opened his vest and fired a shot into his body that killed him instantly. His clothing took fire and the body was horribly burned.

Jordan resided at Seymour, and has not born a good reputation as a quiet, peaceable citizen. It is conceded that had Jordan not succeeded in killing himself the people down there would have made quick work of him.

J. N. Foster, who resides near Petersville, we understand, is a son of the murdered old people. The murder has created intense excitement in all parts of the state."

[Note: The J. N. Foster mentioned should have been F. M. (Frank Marion) Foster, son of Joshua Lee Foster and his first wife, Jane Bedel.]

The second murder in our family was that of Frank Elliott Morehouse, brother of my Grandmother, Gladys Morehouse Paul.

(Frank Elliott Morehouse)

I don't recall ever hearing anyone in our family mention his death. It wasn't until I had been researching my Morehouse ancestors for a number of years that Dad gave me, along with some other family papers, the transcripts of the first two newspaper articles concerning the death of my Grandmother's brother. Another cousin found the remaining accounts of Frank Morehouse's murder, and was kind enough to share them with me. The newspaper articles below are arranged in the order that they were published.

From the Sanish, North Dakota newspaper (date unknown)


Another sad death occurred at Frank Katcer home northeast of here Saturday afternoon. Frank Morehouse had been in Sanish Friday and went to Van Hook on the train Saturday morning and started to walk to the home of his parents. He stopped at Frank Katcer's, being sick and wanting to rest.

Left alone in the house, no one knows what followed, but when a shot was heard in the house people rushed in, finding him dead on the floor. A big rifle was on the floor and a bullet hole near his left temple and another near the back of his head. The Coroner and the State's Attorney were called and said it was an accidental shooting. The funeral will be at the house and burial to be made at Amanda today."

From the Stanley Sun newspaper - Thursday, February 24, 1916


Frank E. Morehouse, one of the prominent young farmers living 25 miles south of Stanley, was found dead last Saturday, February 19. The Coroner's jury found that he had been murdered.

He had been shot through the head twice by a 38-5- high power rifle. The bullets entered his head just back of his ear and came out of the top of his head. The top of his head was blown open. The rifle was found lying on the floor beside the body.

It appeared as though the murderer, whoever it was, laid the gun near the body to make it look like suicide.

So far they have no clue as who did the awful deed. The murdered man was 24 years old and was to have been married in three weeks.

Shortly before his death it is stated that he had quite a sum of money on his person but when the body was found the money was gone.

The young man leaves a father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Chester A. Morehouse, who live south of Stanley, and several brothers."

The Grand Forks Daily Herald - February 25, 1916


Van Hook, N.D., Feb. 24 - Frank Morehouse, a farmer living eight miles north of town, committed suicide by shooting himself behind the right ear this afternoon. The deed was done at the home of Frank Kaczor who lives four miles north of town. Mr. Morehouse had been in town the day before after medicine and started to walk home, but became quite sick and stopped at Frank Kaczor’s home to spend the night. About 12 o’clock he became despondent and at 4 a.m. he was found dead with the gun beside him.

Mr. Morehouse was a single man 25 years of age. He was a farmer and well thought of in his neighborhood."

Aberdeen Daily News - March 6, 1916

Cause of Killing of Frank Morehouse in North Dakota Unknown

Sanish, N.D., March 6 – In the case of Frank Morehouse, who was found dead in the house of Frank Kayzer, who lives five miles northeast of Sanish, Saturday afternoon, February 19, a mystery remains uncovered.

Morehouse arrived at the Kayzer home about 10 o’clock Friday night, complaining of being very ill. Dr. Blatherwick was summoned from Van Hook by ‘phone and found the young man’s temperature 101, and gave him some medicine.

On Saturday afternoon, about 2 o’clock, Mrs. Barron, who lives across from the Kayzer home, heard a shot and, rushing over to the Kayzer house, found Morehouse lying in a pool of blood and a rifle alongside of him.

The bullet had entered back of the right ear, coming out of the left temple, killing him instantly.

A coroner’s jury was empaneled, who brought in a verdict of accidental death. On Tuesday another jury was called and the verdict was foul play. Sheriff Slaughter and deputies are at work on the case and it is probable that new developments will be brought to light shortly.

Frank Morehouse bore a good reputation in Sanish, was not a drinking man and was engaged to be married shortly to a prominent Van Hook young lady."

The Aberdeen Sunday American - December 29, 1916

Stanley, N.D., Man Faces Charge 10 Months After Crime

Stanley, N.D., Dec 28 – Special – The murder of Frank Morehouse in his homestead shack near Van Hook, this county, last February, is laid at the door of Frank Kaczor, just arrested at the insistence of county officials after a long extended inquiry into the crime.

At the preliminary examination held in this city, Kaczor was bound over to the district court for trial, first degree murder being charged.

C.A. Morehouse, father of the murdered man, has prosecuted a vigorous inquiry into the death of his son, and his efforts were partially responsible for Kaczor’s arrest.

Morehouse was found dead in his home, a bullet wound in his head. The coroner’s jury declared it murder, but couldn’t name the guilty party.

Now, ten months later, Kaczor faces the charges."

Grand Forks Herald - August 9, 1917

Stanley – Frank Kaczor, who had been on trial in this city for the murder of Frank Moorhouse, was found not guilty."

Although there are some discrepencies between the newspaper articles of the time, the accounts give a pretty good picture of the events surrounding the death of my Great-uncle.

With the acquittal of the man accused of the murder, Frank Morehouse's death still remains a mystery. Perhaps a trip to the local courthouse or historical society in that part of North Dakota might reveal more information, and that is a trip I would like to make sometime. Letters, emails to newspapers, and internet searches have brought little or no results and I would like to find out if anyone was ever convicted of this murder.

I have always loved a good mystery and to uncover one within my family is amazing to me. I guess you never know what you will find when you start digging around the roots of your family tree.

Friday, July 2, 2010


There are surprises that are not so good. Those surprises are like..."Surprise! You screwed up your taxes and owe....." or "Surprise! The city is working on the water lines and is shutting off the water for the rest of the day." just about the time you started two weeks worth of laundry, or "Surprise! Your rent is increasing again this year." Those kind of surprises I can easily live without.

But yesterday I had a surprise that I will take any old time. In the middle of the afternoon my phone rang. It was my brother. We chatted for just a minute and then he said that if I would come downstairs and open the door, we could chat in person. He was standing in the parking lot of my building!

After letting him in, I made a pot of coffee. In our family, coffee is one of the necessities of life. When I was growing up, I rarely remember seeing my Mother at home when she didn't have a cup of coffee within easy reach. And when I would go to Blackduck to see my Dad, my first question for him was always, "You got the coffee pot on?" He always did. There were times when my parents would ask me to drive them places, usually if the trip was a great distance from their home. They both were good for about an hour of driving, and then I would have to find a place to pull over so Dad could get out his thermos and they could have their coffee. Dad always said that he was "getting coffee hungry."

Kelly and I sat at my kitchen table drinking our coffee and talking of many things. He was in the area to take some tests that would take him up the next rung of the ladder at his job. Although I am still not sure exactly what a "Boilermaker" does, I can tell that he works hard. It is not the job for the lazy or the faint of heart. I do know that he earns every penny he makes. He tells me about working high in the air like a steel worker or in an enclosed area where he has to wear a gas mask because of acid fumes. I couldn't do it. It would scare me to death. Or kill me off. Or both.

We laughingly tell each other about our various aches and pains, just like a couple of old farts! I have reached the official "old fart" stage, but he isn't quite there..........yet! We can complain to each other like this because we understand each other. We both know what arthritis feels like, and we don't like it. And once in a while it just feels good to bitch a little bit. And we know that the other one gets it. The funny part is, even though our bodies seem to be unraveling a bit, we still feel like kids, inside. Well, maybe not kids, but young. I don't know about him, but there are times when I look in my bathroom mirror in the morning and wonder who that old woman is. The one who is staring back at me. How did she get into my bathroom. She bears no resemblance to the person who lives inside of me.

We talk about our families, what they have been doing and how they are all getting along. We marvel at the fact that between us we have thirteen grandchildren. You throw my sister's grandkids into the mix, and that's a whole lot of grandkids among we three siblings. When we were young, I never in the world would have thought that one day I would be sitting drinking coffee with my brother and be bragging on our various and assorted grandkids! Of course, when I was still young, I never considered the possibility that we would ever be old enough to have grandkids. It is amazing how that happens. Sort of sneaked up on us while we weren't looking.

When I am with my brother, our conversation usually turns toward our parents. Kelly says that once in a while he will see something old - a piece of machinery or a tool - and not know what it is. He says that it always crosses his mind that he will ask Dad, because Dad will know. I find that when I am entering information into my genealogy program, I think that I will have to ask Mom or Dad about an aunt or uncle, cousin or grandparent, because they will know. It hurts us that we can't. So we talk of the good times and the funny things that happened over the years. Laughing is easier than crying. Goodness, but I miss them.

All too soon Kelly has to leave. He has a meeting to attend and I understand that. I just hate to see him go. But I am so very glad that he wanted to spend time with me and was able to spend a couple of hours over coffee and conversation. Some surprises are really good surprises, and this was one of them. I love you, brother.