Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ten Years?

I was digging in the back of some file drawers and found these early issues of the "Tombstone Times." I was surprised to find the first article I ever wrote for this journal. More amazing was that it came out ten years ago THIS MONTH.

So ten years, times 12 articles a year, equals 120 articles. How can that possibly be?

This particular article was about the first permanent building in Tombstone: Once the mercantile and banking establishment of John B. "Pie" Allen and Philip William "Bill" Smith.

This adobe building was later a medical center where many local people were born and died.

Today it is the Tombstone Visitor Information Center. 

I will be submitting an updated version of this article for the March issue. 

My! How time flies. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


For Christmas I made a blanket for my dog, Maggie. It is from a very soft, fuzzy fabric I found at JoAnn's. It has "goodies" and paw prints all over it. She seems to like it, but she's one of those dogs that always aims to please so sometimes I wonder.

One thing Maggie doesn't like is cameras. It is really hard to get her photo because as soon as she sees a camera she gets all worried.

I kind of snuck up on her for this one. It just doesn't show her beautiful eyes.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided Maggie needed a pillow so I went back and got some more fabric and made her a little pillow. At first she thought it was a toy and ran around the house with it. I told her no, firmly, and she has been fine since.

Well, with the extra fabric I just had to make a small blanket for my friend's dog, Kenneth. Kenneth and I have been buddies since the first time I met him. He has a bow tie so sometimes I call him Sir K. When I visit he sits by me, or in my lap, and grins. He is so cute.

So my friend sent me some photos of him with his new blanket. She said he carries it around the house and she uses it to show him his spot on the couch.

Isn't he a cutie? 

So we've had some fun times with our dogs and their blankies. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


My father-in-law, Frank, passed away on Saturday. Not only was Frank loved by all, he was a hero to us all. 

Frank started flying when a very young man and joined the Army Air Corpse in 1947. From there he joined the USAF Aviation Cadet Program in 1949. He graduated in 1950, just two days before the start of the Korean War. He flew 101 combat missions over North Korea, Russia, and China. After retiring from the Air Force Frank was an airline pilot instructor for 30 years. 

Frank is standing in this photo.

Hubby, daughter (Jessica), and Frank about 1985. 

Brother and sister-in-law, with hubby and Jessica. 

Jessica especially loved and admired her Grandpa Frank. She decided to follow in his footsteps around thirteen-years-old and stuck with it until graduation. Here she is the day she left for boot camp.

Sadly, things didn't work out because of some health issues, but she looks back on that time as a great experience. A recruit had recently passed out and died in the heat and dust of Texas and they were overly cautious when she started having some breathing issues and decided she had asthma. She didn't, but you don't argue with the Air Force.

Frank's wit and wisdom will always be with us as will his strong spirit. I'm glad Jessica grew up with such a strong hero.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I'm Back . . . Reading Goals

Again keeping up with this blog has fallen by the wayside. Time and life slipped by. 

I have been dong a lot of reading. According to the Goodread's challenge my goal was 65 books and I actually read 73. It is fun keeping track and looking back on the books I've read this year. Especially with my limited memory. lol 

Some of the books were for my book discussion group at Barnes & Noble and others suggested by other readers or caught my eye on a shelf or sale table somewhere. 

I also took on this challenge in April so I didn't have the whole year. It was a challenge just to figure out what books would fit each of the categories. Did you know Goodreads has lists of books that were published the year you were born, a list of banned books, and well, all the categories on this list. 

It is very interesting. 

Do you have reading goals this year? 
I left my Goodreads Challenge at 65. I'm on number three. 

There's nothing better than a good book, some hot tea, and a bit of chocolate. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Birthday Thoughts

I haven't sat at Starbucks just to write in a long time. Here I am with my free birthday large hot chai and some time to write.

I feel like I should be reflecting on my life and dreams, but I really don't have any thoughts along those lines. I have been thinking about my childhood. So I thought it appropriate to share some photos:

This was the house I spent most of my childhood in. It was small, but it still seems like home. For many years my sister and I had to share a bedroom. She was ten years older and got married when I was ten so I then had my own room for awhile. That is Smokey. He was a present from our dad before he left. We had him for many years after that. 

This was my elementary school. Sadly it has since been torn down. I walked about three blocks to get there and, yes, I had to walk in the snow. My favorite teacher was Mr. Ramsey in sixth grade. He was wonderful.

This was the city building. My mother worked there for many years as dispatcher for the police/fire departments. I loved to go visit her. The waiting room had wood floors and a wood bench where I often sat.

Mom is the lady standing. I loved her uniform and grew up wanting to be a police officer. It wasn't until well into high school I realized I just didn't have the temperament.

I'm pretty sure this was second grade. I lived with my grandparents and went to school in another town that year. Thus no pin curls. I think every other year I did have pin curls and I hated them. 

This was the church we attended for many years. My great uncle Bill was the minister. That's him and Aunt Ruby in the back. I'm the girl on the end in the second row, with the pin curls. 

 My favorite place to visit was Boot Hill in Dodge City. My grandparents and another aunt and uncle lived in that area. We had even lived there for a very short time when my sister was young. I was very sad to visit many years later and find they had enclosed the whole thing and changed most of it. When I was little you could just walk in and go through all the exhibits. I loved sarsaparilla.

So there's a very short outline of my early years. I hope you enjoyed the tour. I have enjoyed reminiscences.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Happy Birthday Gr. Gr. Grandfather John

My great, great grandfather was born on this day (Oct. 3) 1843 in Illinois. I never met him, but Grandma often talked about him. One of the various stories was that he would get caught with his eyes closed during church services. He said he was just resting his eyes, but the others had heard him snoring.

The Fowler Christian Church where John Riley Keith and family attended service.

John Riley Keith married Nancy Ann Thompson in 1864. They stayed in Illinois for a few years before taking their young family to southwestern Kansas not far from notorious Dodge City.

These tintypes were given to me by my grandma Jennie. I believe they are Nancy Ann and John Riley Keith around their wedding time. The speckled appearance on John's believed photo is bits of plastic. They had been stored in a plastic/vinyl folder like notecards come in, and the plastic had melted onto the tintype. I consulted a photo archivist and he said it would be best to leave it alone. 

They had five children, Charles, Laura, Cora, Nellie (my great grandmother) and Willard, the only one born in Kansas. Nellie told of walking a good part of the way just as other stories about wagon trains reported.

They lived in dugouts in what is still known as Keith Canyon, now part of a large pasture.

Keith Canyon and the remains of the dugouts built around 1884. Photo taken 1990.

In 1895, a state census was taken in Kansas. Besides the usual information on the inhabitants of each household, agricultural information was listed. Part of John's list included one acre planted in Irish potatoes and one acre in sweet potatoes. He had 1500 lbs. of cheese made, 200 lbs.of butter made, three horses, 7 milk cows, 13 cattle, 1 horse died before March 1, 1885, and 1 dog.

John was a stonemason and built many buildings in the surrounding counties. He also built the Keith house in Fowler, Kansas where my sister was born 100 years after John Riley. 

The Keith House in Fowler. John Riley is with the wheelbarrow on the site of his brick making lot. The building is the Keith house which I visited in 1990. It was in terrible condition to the point I couldn't bring myself to take photos of the inside. 


John died in 1915 and is buried next to his wife in Graceland Cemetery in Meade, Kansas. Nancy
Ann had died in 1910. 

John lived a long life and left his mark on the land.
Just like thousands of other hard working pioneers
he is only remembered in a few documents, and
through family stories and research.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Love You, Arizona

 The official balladeer of Arizona, Dolan Ellis, has a song titled, "I Love You, Arizona." Is is a fun song about lizards and the beauty and diversity of this state.

I was reminded of this while sorting through some old photos. Here's a tour of Arizona and my memory land:

Montezuma Castle taken in the early 1970s.

Zane Grey's Cabin taken around 1981. This was the original which has since burned down. There is now a replica in Payson.

The tallest three-story building in the world. The old Elks building in Globe, Arizona. The story is there were left over bricks so the contractor just kept going. It was built in 1910.

A model of the Bird Cage Theatre in the Bird Cage Theatre, Tombstone, Arizona. I took this during my dollhouse/miniature phase, but I still think it's cool. Built in 1881 it is now a world famous museum.

Taliesin West, built by Frank Lloyd Wright and home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is in north Scottsdale. It is an amazing place where artists still live and display their work.

The House of Joy is located in the old mining town of Jerome. It is first a brothel and then a restaurant. Now a shop called the Brothel Botique.

The Superstition Mountains in the 1970s. Home to numerous legends including the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. Many have lost their lives in the treacherous terrain.

Hope you enjoyed the little tour.

Sometimes we just have to be reminded how wonderful our own backyard can be. I know people who live here who have never seen many of these places. I feel lucky I have.

Others I've seen are:

The Grand Canyon
San Xavier
Sedona and Red Rocks
BioSphere 2
Pima Air and Space Museum

Here are a few I still want to see:

Kitt Peak Nationa Observatory
Meteor Crater
The Painted Desert
Mount Lemon
Lake Havasu and the London Bridge
Lowell Observatory
The Butterfly Wonderland
Yuma Prison

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Books have always been a big part of my life. Children's books at home, including the Little Golden books, and later visits to the public library in my hometown. The children's library was in the basement but a special part of it with its own entrance. It was a wonderful old place with nooks for different levels. The Nancy Drews were all together in an alcove behind an arched entry way. The smell of that library tickles at my memory.

My great grandmother, Nellie, must have had a great love of books. She became a teacher for a short time. Here she is (center) on a school outing in the hills of southwestern Kansas.

This distinguished gentleman is her uncle. I've always liked this photo for some reason. Perhaps it's the book.

Next in line is my grandmother, Jennie. This photo is the all-time favorite of the whole family.

Here I am with Natalie Goldberg, an author who has inspired and influenced my writing career. My daughter always loved books. We had a disagreement over who would keep the Little Golden Books when she moved out. I still have some of them. Smokey the Bear was always my favorite. 

It's been interesting to find the photos of my family with books over the years. I believe books will always be with us. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Paranormal Experiences

As with many others my family has become interested in paranormal investigation. I look forward to trying new or visiting prior locations when I head to Washington.

These are my favorite tools: a digital recorder and a SB-7 or Spirit Box which scans radio frequencies to give spirits a way to speak.

I was walking through one of the cemeteries when I saw this jar. I was talking about it and trying to decide what it most looked like when a voice came through giving its own view.

I also heard this female voice:

What do you hear?

Here's my daughter in another location taking photographs.

This is the back of a hotel I stayed in.

I'm still listening to the recordings. It takes a lot of time to go through this kind of audio. Someday I'll have a good video camera. And there is always more to learn.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Smoky Week

I just haven't been able to get into writing my blog this trip. Sometimes we just need breaks.

The smoke here in the Yakima Valley of south central Washington has kept us inside most of the time. One night ash fell and covered the ground and cars. It was eerie. It made the moon a bright red.

Here are a few photos from my time here:

The boys have birthdays in the fall so while I'm here I put on a "pretend" birthday 
party to share in some of the fun. 
Chocolate Cake!!

I also take each boy out for Grammy Day. We go to lunch at Red Lobster and then sometimes a bit of shopping. So I had two of my favorite foods in one week: snow crab and chocolate cake. Mmmm

One morning the smoke cleared a bit so Jessica and I went to downtown
Yakima so I could shoot some photos for a possible article. 

The Capitol Theatre burned in the early 1900s and was completely rebuilt. It is gorgeous.

A military memorial I need to research.

Back to school. Yes, I also got to celebrate my favorite time of year with the boys: Back To School. I love all the supplies. I made sure they are stocked up and added a few things to my stash.

Another somewhat clear morning we went to visit Doug's great grandparents. 

Joseph and Mary Jane Remley came to Washington around 1850.

Three more days here. It's always bittersweet. I want to get home, but I'll hate to leave.

I way lying in bed the other night and made a mental 
list of some of the things I miss (besides the obvious)

my own bed with all my blankets and pillows 
my work space 
 the quiet of being alone all day
my friends
my writing groups
Barnes & Noble (there aren't any bookstores here)
my essential oil diffuser/mister
my art supplies

Okay, I'll say it: My hubby and my dog.

Praying for the firefighters, families, animals, and the Pacific Northwest