Monday, January 18, 2016

But what about Hollywood?

Mike Inman not only entertained but educated those who attended the January regular meeting. We got to hear stories and statistics not often shared when discussing the Civil War.

In a bloodied apron standing in front of a table loaded with medical instruments, Mike Inman shared stories about battles and personalities that brought the Civil War to a much more personal place than we had ever adventured. We heard about women carrying letters from President Lincoln that provided these ladies great power and the lack of formal education required of doctors. We learned that disease and dysentery were the most successful enemies of the war, and that the war still needed to go on even if a drought caused a complete lack of water.

Linda Stephens has done a wonderful job of capturing many of the details of this presentation. It has been emailed to all of the TCGS members. Take the time to read it and be reintroduced to interesting facts that Hollywood and textbooks have ignored or completely overlooked.

Linda wraps up her write-up by giving the following description of what tools were displayed during
the presentation. “Mike Inman explained about the pieces in his collection of surgical instruments. In addition to scalpels, knives and other sharp devices, he had an hour-glass-shaped metal tool, open on both ends, that was used to listen for heartbeats. Since it was only effective if all was silent in the surrounding area, the surgeon probably just put his ear to the chest to listen or his finger to feel a pulse in an artery. Mike also has a trepanning tool that was used to drill a hole in the skull to relieve pressure. There was a tooth extractor that was used after the surgeon sliced a cut inside the cheek next to the gum, anchored the extractor and popped off the tooth. Unfortunately, when the tooth shattered, forceps had to be used to dig out the rest. He also brought a Civil War crutch that was made without nails. When massive numbers of soldiers were wounded, the surgeons would rely on local butcher shops to provide additional sharp saws. Mike concluded by showing several very heavy Civil War weapons including: .69 caliber musket, .58 caliber rifle, Henry 16-shooter, which was a precursor to the Winchester; 1866 Winchester called the ‘yellow boy’ (1866 was the first year it was produced); 1860 Colt .44 caliber revolver; a small Derringer like the one that was used to kill President Lincoln; and a .42 caliber LaMat 10-shot revolver with a 20-gauge shotgun—that’s a large handgun!”

Over 80 people attended this fascinating presentation. It was our first meeting at Charbonneau and it was a full house yet there were seats brought in for everyone. Art Kelly is the new TCGS Program Chairperson and he has done a great job with this opening act. Watch for emails and Facebook posts on more fascinating presentation coming to TCGS this year.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Be Curious. Be Very Very Curious.

To "Be Curious" could be the motto and seems to be the theme of December’s Archived Document Contest. Curiosity leads us to look closer and ask questions instead of merely being satisfied with simple facts. We can build a pedigree chart with simple facts but fulfilling family history research comes from wanting and obtaining much more information. This information provides color and interest to the stories we accumulate about our family history.

In December Ray Baalman encouraged us to pay attention when we see narrative in any list of events that occurred in our ancestor’s town or neighborhood. We should be curious and ask ourself how this event could have impacted their daily life.

Art Kelly encouraged us to use our curiosity to ask questions. He provided his testimony of how he hit what he called the “jack-pot” of ancestral artifacts including letters, pictures, and certificates. By communicating with a cousin he showed that he was worthy of being handed this treasure trove because he was curious and wanted more information about his family’s history.

Lawrence Clay
The winner of December’s contest was Lawrence Clay. Obtaining death certificates of his grandparents made him curious. Both of their death certificates provided a birth location that he didn’t expect. By asking questions a beautiful story was discovered that helped him understand his great-grandparents motives and life in more detail. Lawrence wins a subscription to "Your Genealogy Today" magazine for his entry to the contest.

Clay's grandparents Death Certificates

Be curious. Don’t be merely satisfied. Ask questions and watch the color of your family stories become vivid recollections.

January’s Archived Document Contest is in process. To enter the contest simply submit a digital image of an archived document that you obtained in any method other than downloading from the Internet. Provide how you obtained the document and how it pertains to your family history research. You can either post the image and narrative on the TriCity Genealogical Society Facebook page at or email them to Susan Davis Faulkner at denmother4 at January’s contest is sponsored by Technical Training Mall LLC and the winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to Red Lobster.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

TCGS Finally Has a Human Side

As genealogists we study people history. Our passion is finding and placing together one tidbit of information after another in an attempt to get to know our ancestors in a clearer light. The biggest thrill in our family history research are the personal interest stories that give us colorful glimpses of our ancestors’ lives. We often dig deep for the uncommon and are ecstatic with such discoveries.  

People history is our passion but sadly it has not been a focus regarding the history of our society. We, the members of the TriCity Genealogical Society, create important personal interest stories daily and now we have a member who has taken on the task of collecting this information. Pamela Mackey Keller is the new Historian for the TriCity Genealogical Society and we are thrilled to have her fill this much needed position.

Pamela is a third-generation Montanan who is very proud of her pioneering ancestors. She is the eldest child, grandchild and great-grandchild in her family and takes her responsibility as this generation’s genealogist very seriously. Her paternal line surnames include Mackey, Rollyson, Watt and Leonard and her maternal line surnames include Kerr, Perry, Hemmer and Phillips.

Pamela shares the following personal interest stories about herself and her passion for genealogy.
Pamela Mackey Keller - TCGS Historian
“My maternal grandfather, Laurence Perry Kerr, was a major influence during my childhood and I’ve been fortunate to locate and preserve a great deal of information on my family’s history in Ravalli County, Montana. As a family tradition, every year on Memorial Day we’d drive 36 miles south of my hometown of Missoula to the Pioneer Cemetery in Victor, Montana.  We’d decorate the graves of our many family members with arrangements of white, deep purple and lavender colored lilacs and retell stories of our family history.

Probably the greatest influence on my interest in genealogy was my 2nd Great Uncle, Robert Delanson Watt, born 1899 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Uncle Bob was an educator and member of the Montana State Legislature from Missoula, Montana, serving six terms in the House of Representatives and three terms in the Senate. In about 1981 he self-published “The Life and Times of Charles Columbus Watt and Minne Ellen Royster Watt, their descendants ancestors & collateral relatives”. In about 1991, at 92 years of age and nearly blind, Uncle Bob arranged for a caretaker to travel with him from Missoula, Montana to Spokane, Washington to personally (and proudly) deliver my copy of his book.”

Pamela’s personal goal is to someday provide a new edition of her family history with hopes that the torch will be passed on to a new generation.

Please help us welcome Pamela as we look forward to the ability to look back on the human side of the TriCity Genealogical Society.