Notes to Self

Could a blog post function as a lazy person’s research log/research notes?

There wouldn’t be any papers or notebooks to lose.
If I tag well, I could find notes about individuals or places or sources easily.
Somebody reading my notes might have some information I need.

Think I’ll give it a try. I’ve been working on a few things.

* Uncle Don sent me a brief biography Aunt Wilma wrote about Joseph and Mary Harris Coates. One bit of new information I need to research – she said that Mary’s uncle, Matthew Harris, traveled with them from England to the U.S., but he left and went to Australia. Thanks, Uncle Don! ¬†ūüôā

* Cousin Wilda sent a link to an article about the Hatfield family. We have Hatfields way back on my Webber side. The TV show about the Hatfield and McCoy feud prompted the article here.  Thanks, Wilda!

* Heard from a new cousin – grandson of Joseph Robert Coates. Prompted me to get in touch with the other grandchildren of Eveline’s siblings that I have had contact with in the past. Want to collect death records for all Eveline’s siblings.

* The anniversary of Joseph Coates’ birth is coming soon and I want to do some blog posts about him. Need to email family for any stories they might have.

* Found images online of St. Stephen’s Willington Church in Durham, UK – where Joseph’s parents John Coates and Ellenor Richardson were married.

* Received letter from USCIS¬†stating that my records index search request for Joseph Coates came up with 0 results. ¬†ūüôĀ I was hoping to get info that would lead to date of immigration, ship, etc. Dead end.

* Checked for more records for John Coates. Found 1911 census I had not seen before. Actual image! and it looks like he even signed it – so I have an image of his signature, address, etc. The next image shows that he is living with daughter Nellie (Mary Ellen), her husband and their children. There are separate entries. John has a page to himself and lives in one room. The family is the next image 5 people in 3 rooms (4 crossed out).

* The census find led me to check google maps on a whim and see if I coud get something from their address. ¬†Sure enough, from the street view it looks like the house is still standing. Couldn’t read the house numbers and not sure exactly which was theirs but picked one that looks most like a photo I have. I had assumed that this house was where John Coates lived in Durham, UK, but it isn’t identified. Now I’m pretty sure.

* Looked up a bit more about jobs in mining.  Joiner. Cartwright.  = Carpenter. Cart Maker

* Tried to find John Coates in 1861 England Census. Found a boarder the right age in Gilesgate, St. Giles, Durham, born in Willington, working as a Journeyman Cartwright (at least I think that’s what it says.) Another John Coates the right age living as a boarder in Hartepool, Durham. The one in Gilesgate seems more likely?

* Ellenor Richardson. Where and when was she born?  Who are her parents? From marriage record, her birth would be 1845. Census records confirm that. But location varies with each census. 1881: Fitches, Durham. 1871: Willington, Durham. I also have an IGI record from FamilySearch that has an Ellen Richardson b. 21 Feb. 1845 in Brampton, Cumberland, England, parents William and Jane. Looked up Cumberland and it is adjacent to Durham, so possible. ???

* Google search for Fitches doesn’t come up with much. Finally concluded that it might be Fitches Grange – located near Witton Castle in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. Not that far from Willington, I guess. I’m a little confused by the place names in England. Maybe a census that says Fitches and one that says Willington could mean the same general location?

* Christina says I should probably rescan all the old photos I’m wanting to preserve/archive as tif files.

Old Dog New Tricks

Starting this blog involved learning some new tricks. I’m not very tech savvy; I’m not a writer; and genealogy is a hobby I’ve worked at diligently and happily, but also haphazardly. I still have some new tricks to learn about all three.

As if that weren’t enough, we switched to a Mac this week. Macs are supposed to be intuitive, but my intuition seems to be a little off…

Things disappeared when I hadn’t touched anything. Who knew an unconscious twitch of the finger was a back or forward button?

And did you know that¬†control c¬†followed by¬†control v¬†results in your words being deleted – except for the letter¬†v¬†that you just accidentally typed? I didn’t. I’m having trouble remembering to hit command instead of control. Do you know of a good Mac behaviorist? Each time my finger moves toward the command¬†key I could receive an M&M. Then we could shape my behavior to actually hit the command¬†key to copy. Eventually, I would learn to copy AND paste. And not delete my words unintentionally. Good girl!

iPhoto…… ¬†Let’s just say I don’t quite have the hang of it yet. But I have renamed enough “Events” to at least have most of my families in the same vicinity on the screen. And I’ve spent way too much time playing in iPhoto – tagging pictures with the “faces” tool and trying to make the “places” tool work for me. I keep moving that pin, but it insists that my house is downtown. My daughter just told me I don’t have to use iPhoto. I don’t?

Then there is the issue of my genealogy software. I’ve ordered the Mac version. I wonder what new tricks I’ll need to learn to transfer the files? And will it work like the PC version?

We got a new printer too. I haven’t even tried to scan any pictures yet. That will involve saving them in unfamiliar ways to unfamiliar places.

The list of new tricks just keeps getting longer and longer.

Instead of getting into the rhythm of blogging as I had hoped, I am trying to learn some new tricks so I can get back to blogging.

Arf! Arf!



Family Recipe Friday – Apple Butter (after a Texas drought)

We had an extreme drought in Texas last year.  The summer was long and extraordinarily hot, marked by a record 90 days of 100+ temperatures in central Texas.

Squirrel in a Hole

Every evening when we went out to check on our plants, we would find a newly dug hole in our flowerbed. We would fill it in and the next day there would be another one ‚Äď or two. I finally caught the culprit in action ‚Äď a squirrel trying to stay cool during the heat of the day ‚Äď belly in a hole. I spent a lot of the summer entertaining myself by trying to sneak a picture of him (and sometimes her) and posting “squirrel in a hole” pictures as my Facebook status.


We have two loquat trees in our back yard. They rarely bear much fruit, but this spring was the exception. Loquat trees all over town were laden with fruit. The local paper said we had the drought to thank. After a time of severe stress, a tree may produce an overabundance of fruit to increase the likelihood of survival. We ate our first loquats this year and I made a cobbler which was quite good. The squirrels were really happy too!

Our Apple Tree

Which brings me to our little apple tree. Just like the loquat tree, it has produced an abundance of fruit this year. Plenty for the squirrels to share with us. It is so heavy with fruit that my husband has propped up a branch with a bungee cord so it won’t break.

Our supply of apples reminded me of Grandmother Eveline’s Apple Butter. I sure loved it when she made apple butter Рespecially if there was homemade bread to go with it! My mom once told me that she remembers her mother (Eveline) cooking apple butter in a large pot on the back of their coal stove.

Sometimes Grandma’s recipes are a bit lean on directions. This is one of those times. Eveline probably didn’t use a recipe and wrote this down when her kids asked her for one.

Eveline (Coates) Hoskins’ Apple Butter

4 quarts apples, peeled and quartered
2-3 cups sugar
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
1  teaspoon cloves

Cook until apples are thoroughly done. Use a potato masher, if necessary. Turn temperature to low. Add sugar and spices. Cook until thick. Seal while hot. Makes about 2 quarts.

So let’s think this through. Eveline assumes that we know to cook the apples with some water. When they are soft, mash them if necessary, add the sugar and spice to make everything nice, and cook on low for a good long time…. as in hours…. and we should probably stir occasionally. And she is certain that we know how to can, so no need to go into specifics.

As for me, I’ll freeze mine.

Off to the kitchen now to get started. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

5/26/2012 Update

I made apple butter as promised. Yummy!  Had some with my breakfast this morning.

I had a hard time finding the conversion for quarts of whole apples to pounds, but finally came up with this equation (can’t verify the accuracy, but it’s what I used):
4 quarts = 8 pounds
My biggest pan only held 6 lb. of quartered apples, so I adjusted the rest of the recipe based on that.
Here’s what I did:

Cooked 6 lb. apples with 3 cups water for about 30 minutes. Added more water as needed. Added 1 3/4 c. sugar, 1 3/4 t. cinnamon, and 3/4 t. cloves. (I just went with the mid-range of the measurements.) The low setting on my electric stove top isn’t low enough to be able to walk away from the stove without the threat of scorching, so I transferred the mashed apples mixed with sugar and spices to my crockpot. Cooked on low in crockpot for about 5 1/2 hours. I read online to test for doneness by putting a spoonful on a saucer. If no liquid spreads out onto the saucer, it’s done.¬†