Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve and Apollo 8

Kennedy Space Center 2014
Dad's Naval Academy class holds small yearly reunions at various locations around the country. This year we traveled to Cocoa Beach on Florida's east coast. The location immediately brings to mind "I Dream of Jeannie", astronaut Tony Nelson and Barbara Eden in her jeannie outfit. Like the real life astronauts of the time, Major Nelson blasted off from Kennedy Space Center. One of those real life astronauts was a member of the USNA class of 1955, so unsurprisingly a visit to the space center was a part of the reunion. In one of those could we have timed it any better moments, the exhibition centered on the 1968 Apollo 8 mission in which astronauts Frank F. Borman, II, James A. Lovell, Jr. and USNA ’55 graduate William A. Anders.  

I didn't like taking pictures even at xmas
Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to fly around the moon. It was fascinating to hear the audio from that mission as an adult while reflecting back to my memories of the time. Daddy worked with the Air Force on their space program, so different things were highlighted and celebrated than in most American homes. This flight is a perfect example, my memories center on one aspect of the flight. As the crew began their circle around the moon edging to the back side, I remember my daddy worrying about whether everything would go right and if Bill and his buddies would reappear and re-establish contact with NASA. Daddy worrying about anything was not something my six year old self had experienced, so I knew something very serious was happening. Thankfully they did navigate the spaceship back to the light. All was right with my daddy, his friend and the world so it was time to get back to what matters most to six year olds at that time of year, Christmas!

Meanwhile, there was an important mission still taking place in space. Memorializing the aforementioned feat of flying around the moon, to once again see earth, Bill Anders took one of the most famous pictures ever taken “earthrise”. Rather than taking apart the framed autographed copy off my wall, this one is swiped from the internet.

Besides the Earthrise picture, the part of the mission most Americans remember is the Christmas Eve transmission from the astronauts as they read from the Book of Genesis. So in closing on this Christmas Eve 46 years later I leave you with their transmission, wishing all a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Coldwater Creek is Back!

Well Coldwater Creek is sorta back. The name is back and some of the merchandise is back, but the stores are gone. I originally found out about Coldwater Creek, when thumbing throughout the endless catalogs seemingly every store in America would send my mom. This catalog quickly became a favorite of both of us. Their fun styles in awesome colors filled both of our wardrobes.

Fast forward to 2006 and a trip to Denver where I found an outdoor mall that had one of the first Coldwater Creek stores. Now I’ll refrain from commenting on the absurdity of a two story outdoor mall in Colorado in winter time. However, every woman I know will understand the lengths we will go to visit our favorite store. On another trip, I found a CC in Charlotte, NC. You can guess how excited I was when I discovered the new mall in Chester would have a Coldwater Creek I would pass on the way to work every day.

Then things started to change, the styles weren’t as cute, the colors not so on target and the quality began to slip. CC stopped being my go to store. It was by chance that I happened to stop in the store in May, only to find out the chain would close in 60 days. I was bummed at the close of this chapter.

As I reviewed my winter wardrobe after the first snow I realized I need a couple of turtlenecks. I checked the tags of my favorites and no surprise they were Coldwater Creek sweaters. On a lark I did a google search and what to my wondering eyes did appear than a link that worked! I quickly ordered up a sweater or two and am anxiously awaiting the delivery. For now Coldwater is only online and has a limited selection. Hopefully the quality is what it once had been; if so, I’m sure the CC fan base will encourage a wider selection in the future.

So the sweater arrived today. It is not the same style as the old CC. It's nice though, a lighter weight and more cling so not as forgiving as the old style, but the material is super soft.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Online Wreath Sponsorship Deadline Extended to Dec 3

I was interviewed this morning for an article on the Wreaths Across America event being held at the combined cemeteries of the 1st Presbyterian Church and United Methodist Church by Fred Aun from the new online news service servicing Roxbury, Tap Into Roxbury. As the headlline notes, the big news is you still have 3 days, including #givingTuesday to sponsor a wreath for our location by going to And if I haven't mentioned it before, sponsorships are tax deductible. 
Fred took a great shot of the cemetery covered in snow which I am fervently praying will melt prior to December 13th. Check out his article to find out more about the WAA event in Succasunna.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Over Here, Molly Pitcher

Molly Pitcher
(Stacy Roth of History on the Hoof)
Hear the tales of the legend of Molly Pitcher and the Battle of the Monmouth County as we celebrate NJ’s 350th birthday on November 15th at 10:15am. Late June, 1778, Monmouth, New Jersey in the midst of one of the fiercest artillery duels of the American Revolution, a woman was observed doing something unusual: helping to fire a cannon! Thus sprang the legend of Molly Pitcher. “Over Here, Molly Pitcher” is an interpretive storytelling presentation highlighting the lives of women who “belonged to the army” during the American Revolution. This Molly’s “memories” are gathered from primary accounts and carefully selected secondary sources describing both the activities of camp followers, as well as observations from campaigns and encampments. The event hosted by the Ferro-Monte Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is at the Roxbury Township Free Public Library 103 Main St, Succasunna, NJ on November 15th at 10:15am. Open to the public the lively presentation is performed by Stacy Roth from History on the Hoof. This program is funded by the Horizons Speakers Bureau of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information about the Horizons Speakers Bureau please visit

If you have an interest in learning about your family tree, we can help you; maybe we can even find a Patriot among your leaves. Prospective members are always welcome. For information, email: 

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote patriotism, preserve American history, and support better education for our nation's children. Its members are descended from the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. With more than 165,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide, DAR is one of the world's largest and most active service organizations. To learn more about the work of today's DAR, visit

Thursday, November 6, 2014

First Families

"I believe the dead rely on us to tell their stories and that leave is up to you and me." ~ Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote

My 2nd great-grandfather has been inducted into the First Families of Blair County, Blair County in Pennsylvania was formed in 1846 from parts of Hunterdon and Bedford County. The county seat is Hollidaysburg, but the largest most recognized town is Altoona, originally home to the Pennsylvania Railroad. John saw the birth of that railway, the nation torn apart by civil war and the the introduction of automobiles making his saddlery business obsolete.
Blair County Townships Map

Below is my mini-biography submitted to the First Families of Blair County:
John L Ritts was born 30 Mar 1833 to Thomas and Catherine Lower Ritts in North Woodbury, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The Thomas Ritts family which included son John and daughters, Catherine, Elizabeth, Martha, Mary and Lydia all resided in what became Blair County in 1846. John married Mary Shoenfelt in 1856 shortly after Taylor Township formed. John who followed in his father’s footsteps as a saddle and harness maker settled with his bride a few doors down from his parents in the new township. 

John and Mary had six children:
Catherine Jane (11 Sep 1857 - 28 Nov 1937) m. Peter Grove
Sarah Anne (27 Mar 1859 - 28 Apr 1943)
Albert S (27 Mar 1861 - 09 Jul 1951) m. Janet Butler
Harry Samuel (Apr 1863 - 04 Jul 1949) m. Elizabeth Hudson
Luria (1869 – bef 1880)
John Elmer (03 May 1871 – bef 1949) m. Rose Hardman

John served briefly in the Civil War as a Private. John and Mary were married for 48 years. While on the way to visit her sister, Susan Tipton, wife Mary was tragically killed as the trolley she was riding jumped the tracks plunging into the Juniata River. In a subsequent trial against Altoona and Logan Valley Railroad, John was awarded $1200. 

A lifelong resident of Blair County, John L Ritts passed away at age 78 of heart disease on 6 Jul 1911. He is buried in Antis Cemetery along with his son Harry’s family.

Monday, November 3, 2014

First Tuesday of November

Tomorrow is the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, better known as Election Day. 

A uniform date for presidential elections was enacted by the Congress in 1845. Why was November chosen? In the 1840s the US was largely an agronomy society. By early November, harvesting would be completed and the winter snows would not have set in. Short distance transportation was accomplished by foot or hoof. It could easily take citizens a day to get to their polling location. Throw in astute political intuition that Sunday Sabbath was absolute, Monday would be needed by many to get to the polls, and Tuesday became the day to vote. So what is up with the first Tuesday after the first Monday thing? Well the Electoral College must convene the first Wednesday in December with the election held at most 34 days prior. Some bright soul figured out that if there is a November Monday before the first November Tuesday the math works.

This year some Senate seats and all of the House of Representatives seats are up for grabs. As are a host of State and local races around the country. Here in my corner of New Jersey we have County Freeholders and School Board races coming to a conclusion. What will that conclusion be? That is up to you and me. So exercise your civic duty and go vote!

PS. To anyone that votes at the Roxbury High School, we have treats and I Voted stickers!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Roxbury Joining Wreaths Across America

Roxbury is joining the Wreaths Across America family in honoring veterans by laying wreaths on the graves of the departed servicemen and women. We hope that you will be able to take part in this moving event.
It is our mission to place a wreath in conjunction with Wreaths Across America on all Gravestones in the combined Cemeteries of the First Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church to Remember, Honor our Roxbury's veterans and to Teach our future veterans that we are and will be thankful for their service and show them “We Do Not Forget, We Will Never Forget”.

Our service men and women sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year, to preserve our freedoms. At many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving, or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country. We honor our veterans every day. And we think there is no better time to express our appreciation, than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

In order to meet our mission we rely on the generosity of individuals and businesses for support. Without the assistance of community-minded individuals just like you, we will not be able to meet our goal of laying wreaths on the 560 veterans’ graves in the combined cemeteries.
We ask that you make a commitment to honor our veterans by sponsoring a wreath and participating on December 13 by laying a wreath or attending the memorial ceremony.

Wreath Laying will begin at 11am in the combined cemeteries. The Memorial Ceremony is not just a Roxbury ceremony, this ceremony will be synchronized across the country. Our ceremony will be held at 12:00pm EST, December 13th at First Presbyterian Church. Refreshments will be served in Fellowship Hall during the wreath laying and after the memorial ceremony.

Thank you in advance for your support. To make a tax deductible donation go to For more information contact:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Wondering what is the DAR?

What's the Daughters of the American Revolution? We share a common bond of ancestors who contributed to securing the Independence of the USA. Come find out more on Saturday, October 11 at the Ferro-Monte Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution's New Member Social at Roxbury Township Free Public Library 103 Main St, Succasunna, NJ at 10:15am. The New Member Social is a wonderful time to meet new friends, catch-up with old friends and learn about our Revolutionary Patriots. If you have an interest in learning about your family tree, we can help you; maybe we can even find a Patriot among your leaves. Prospective members are always welcome. For information, email: 

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote patriotism, preserve American history, and support better education for our nation's children. Its members are descended from the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. With more than 165,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide, DAR is one of the world's largest and most active service organizations. To learn more about the work of today's DAR, visit

Friday, September 19, 2014

7 Days until the Morristown Festival of Books!

The Morristown Festival of Books starts one week from today! As the excitement grows, I thought I would post the flyers that can be seen all around Morris County. How many have your seen?

Put on your boxing gloves and Duke it out with the controversial author of The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities. Buy your tickets here.

Don your feather boas and enjoy our free children’s author events. Afterward visit South Street Creamery, don’t forget to ask for Festival flavor Fancy Nancy in a sprinkle cone!

Calling teen writers! A panel of YA authors will discuss the how tos of a writing career. Here’s your chance to get answers to your writing questions from a trio of successful authors.
Haven’t read the One Community, One Book selection yet? No worries, attend the program and pick up a copy of Providence on site. Lisa Colozza Cocca will be signing books at the Presbyterian Parish House at the conclusion of the program.
Did I mention the Morristown Festival of Books is a free festival? All the author talks and panels on Saturday are FREE! There is no excuse not to participate; we have authors for every taste: fiction, human rights, military, cooking and more so see you there!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

10 Days until the Morristown Festival of Books!

The Morristown Festival of Books inaugural One Community,One Book initiative has been a great success!  Towns throughout Morris County, Libraries in both Morris and Somerset counties and individuals have jumped aboard to support the initiative. The Town Councils and Mayors of Butler, Florham Park, Mendham Twp, Morris Plains, Morris Twp, Morristown, Mount Olive, Netcong, Rockaway Boro, Roxbury, and Washington all have issued One Community, One Book proclamations urging their residents to read Lisa Colozza Cocca’s Providence.

Many book clubs in the area have been discussing Providence.
Pictured here is the Flanders Book Club get together.
Librarians around the area have been very enthusiastic about the One Book; engaging their book clubs in lively discussions of what Becky should do. I have to take a moment to thank Lotte Newlin, Library Director of the Kemmerer Library in Harding for allowing us to hold our kick-off event at her library. The event was fantastic and what a wonderful venue. If you haven’t been to the Kemmerer Library, it is definitely worth a look. Pick a good book off the shelf, and relax in a comfy reading chair looking out on the pretty pond out back.
A wonderful group of women donated funds to purchase Providence for many local Libraries. Through their generosity, Providence is also available in e-book format in the Morris County and Somerset County Library Systems. Look for a plaque in your Library copy thanking Modern Mondays.

Morristown Presbyterian Parish House
Now we are counting down the days (10) until the Morristown Festival of Books. At 3pm on September 27 in the Morristown Presbyterian Parish House, Lisa Colozza Cocca will take the stage to talk about creating Providence, her first fiction novel.  She will be taking questions from the audience. Personally, I hoping to hear a bit about how Lisa sees Becky, Rose and Georgina’s lives evolve after the conclusion of the book, say five years down the road. After Lisa has satisfied her readers’ curiosity, the program turns to the real world implications of Becky’s decision to run-away and raising Georgia. A panel of local experts: Judge Michael Wright (yes Mendham grads, OUR Mike Wright), Newbridge Services CEO Robert Parker and Brenda Mirley LCS, former Director Spence Chapin will discuss how the Morristown social services would help Becky, Georgia and Rose.

If you still haven’t read Providence, there is still time to pick up a copy. Bookworm, the official OCOB bookseller will be at the Parish House with books to sell. See you Saturday, September 27 at the Morristown Festival of Books.

For the latest on the Morristown Festival of Books, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The 27th Annual Olde Suckasunny Day Street Fair is Saturday, September 6th on Main Street in Succasunna from 10am – 3pm. Sponsored by The Roxbury Public Library, The Succasunna United Methodist Church and by The First Presbyterian Church of Succasunna; there are games, live entertainment, musical guests including the Roxbury Marching Band, food, a Friends of the Library BookSale and 75 plus vendors, crafters, and non-profits.

The Friends of the Library are selling 15,000 gently used books priced from .50 for paperbacks and $1 for hardcover books. Among the non-profits tents at the Library are the Friends of the Library and the Daughters of the American Revolution. They can be found on Main Street between the Library driveways. The Friends table will be promoting memberships and driving traffic back to the Book Sale. Morristown Festival of Books schedules will be posted too. Meanwhile, the Ferro-MonteChapter DAR have balloons and pinwheels for the little ones, family trees and pocket Constitutions for the rest of us. The chapter will have information on the Wtreath Across America event they are sponsoring at the First Presbyterian Church and United Methodist Church cemeteries.

New this year will be a Dog Adoption from St. Hubert's which I hear will include puppies. Dad, I promise not to bring one home. Coming back after a few years absence is the Fire Safety house from the American Red Cross. Food is abundant including my favorites from hot dogs, corn on the cob and church lady brownies; a corner with no nuts please! During my break, I'm looking forward to stopping in at Village Antiques and Collectibles to see what fun things my friend Debbie Lauda has gotten in.

Admission into the fair is free with events scheduled throughout the day starting with opening ceremonies with Mayor Jim Rilee. The fair is on Main Street from Hillside Avenue to Hunter Street. Parking for the fair will be available at: Lincoln Roosevelt School, Franklin School and the Saint Therese Church where they are sponsoring a Granny's Attic.

The Friends are going GREEN!

The Friends are going green! Ok, we're really have blue bags, but they are recyclable so that makes them green. Read about it in the latest Among Friends E-newsletter.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Counting down to Morristown Festival of Books

There are 24 days until the Morristown Festival of Books starts.  The Festival kicks off with Keynote Speaker, William D Cohan Friday September 26 at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Cohan latest tomb the controversial "The Price of Silence" about the Duke Lacrosse scandal promises to bring strong reactions from the audience given the local kids involved and the timely topic of excesses of college life as the new school year gets underway.  The Friday night event is the only Festival event that has a ticket fee. I’ve got my ticket do you? Hope to see you on the 26th!

The Price of Silence by Morristown Festival of Books keynote author William D. Cohan

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Out of the Darkness

I will be joining with thousands of people nationwide this fall to walk in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Community Walk. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is at the forefront of research, advocacy, education and prevention initiatives designed to reduce loss of life from suicide. Robin Willliams along with more than 38,000 lives are lost each year in the U.S. and over one million worldwide to suicide, the importance of AFSP's mission has never been greater, nor our work more urgent.

I hope you will consider supporting my participation in this event. Any contribution will help the work of AFSP, and all donations are 100% tax deductible. Donating online is safe and easy! To make an online donation click the "Donate Now" button on my fundraising page. If you would rather donate by check please make the check payable to AFSP and mail it in with the offline donation form.

AFSP holds hundreds of events nationwide throughout the year, including the Out of the Darkness Community Walk.  I am joining my friend Paula Fields-Nicols’ team, Our Sons. Paula lost her son Stephen in 2010 and we will be walking in his memory. If you live in the area and would like to join us October 12th in the Northwest New Jersey Walk, Stanhope, NJ, click on the link. We would love to have you walk with us. 
Thank you for considering this request for your support. If you have any questions about the Out of the Darkness Community Walks or AFSP do not hesitate to contact me or visit 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Suffrage Amendment Ratified, Women Have Vote

The above was the headline in the New York Times on August 25, 1920 announcing the cerfication of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The privilege of voting has always been important to me. I remember the distress of not being able to vote in the 1980 Presidential election along with the rest of my dorm because I didn't turn 18 until nine days later. Following in my Grandma Armstrong's footsteps, I have worked as a poll worker on Election Day for over 20 years. As a woman of the 21st century, it is hard to believe that less than 100 years ago, women in the United States did not have the right to vote. By 1920 when the country finally granted women the right to vote my Nana Burket had survived growing up with nine brothers, lived through a world war, married and given birth to her first child. Unfortunately Nana died in 1981 long before I had grown out of the “it's all about me” teen stage. I missed out what would have been a profound discussion of what it was like to have gained the fundamental right of a citizen... to participate in government by our vote.

Women’s Suffrage Timeline

1787: The Constitutional Convention places voting rules in the hands of the states. Only New Jersey granted women the right to vote
1807: Women lose the right to vote in New Jersey
1848: The Seneca Falls Convention proposes women’s suffrage by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
1861-1865: The American Civil War. The suffrage movement was largely on hold during the conflict
1867: Susan B Anthony forms the Equal Rights Association
1869: The 1st US territory, Wyoming grants unrestricted suffrage to women
1870: The 15th amendment to the US Constitution is adopted granting voting rights to former male African-American slaves
1872: Susan B Anthony registers and votes in Rochester, New York, stating that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution gives her the right to vote
1874: The Supreme Court in the case of Minor vs. Happersett rules that the 14th Amendment to the US
1875: Women begin winning the right to vote in school election starting with Minnesota and Michigan
1878: A federal amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote is introduced by Senator A.A. Sargeant of California
1882: The US House and Senate appoint committees on women's suffrage
1884: The House of Representatives debates women suffrage
1886: The suffrage amendment is defeated in the Senate
1887: The Supreme Court strikes down the law that gave women the right to vote in the Washington territory
1887: Women win the right to vote in Kansas municipal elections
1893: Colorado votes for women suffrage as western states and territories continue to lead the charge on women’s right to vote 
1912: Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party includes women suffrage as a part of its platform
1913: The Senate votes on a women suffrage amendment, but again it does not pass
1916: Woodrow Wilson and the Democratic Party Platform pledge to endorse women suffrage
1916: The first woman is elected to the US Congress. Montana sends Jeannette Rankin to the House of Representatives
November 14th, 1917: The "Night of Terror” suffragist prisoners are beaten and abused
1917: The New York becomes the 1st Eastern state to grant women full suffrage
1918: The House of Representatives passes the women’s right to vote
1918 Women suffrage is once again struck down in the Senate
1918: President Wilson declares his support for women suffrage
1919: The National American Woman Suffrage Association becomes the League of Women Voters
June 4, 1919: The Senate finally passes the women suffrage
August 18, 1920 Tennessee ratifies the suffrage amendment
August 26, 1920: The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, stating, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation," becomes law.

The suffrage fight took over 100 years to result in women gaining the right to go into the voting booth. The least we can do is get out and vote every first Tuesday of November.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

John Honeyman Washington's Spy

As publicity chair for my Daughters of the American Revolution chapter, I thought it would be nice to post tidbits on our chapter's Patriots on our Facebook page. In the case of John Honeyman, I found intrigue and controversy.

Born in Ireland of Scottish descent,  he came to the colonies as a British soldier to fight in the French and Indian War.  After the war ended, John settled in Philadelphia, married and engaged in trade as a butcher and weaver. It was during his time in Philadelphia that John began his assoication with George Washington.  They met whilst Washington attended meetings at the Continental Congress in 1774; where the General accepted the services of the former soldier. John Honeyman became one of General Washington's spies.  At a subsequent meeting in November 1776 in Fort Lee, General Washington asked Honeyman to pose as a Tory sympathizer and to spy on the British. In particular to establish relationships with the British military in Trenton. To that end, General Washington neatly arranged for Honeyman to be outted as a Tory sympathizer at the family's home in Griggstown.

Forced to flee to the “safety” of British controlled Trenton, John made connections with the British military as a trader, peddling his meats and textiles. Such trading with the officer core made it possible for John to gather the requested intelligence. Prior to Christmas 1776, Honeyman was “captured” by the Continental Army and brought before General Washington.  Honeyman was able to provide his commander detailed information on the Hessian troops, their commanding officer, and maps of enemy locations. After the debrief, Honeyman was put into jail where he “escaped” and made his way back across the Delaware.
Washington Crossing the Delaware
Upon his return to Trenton, Honeyman told the Hessian commander of his capture and the disarray of the Continental troops, dis-information Washington hoped would lull the enemy into relaxing their defenses for the holiday. The ploy worked; Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas night and the British handed defeat at the Battleof Trenton.

There are books, videos and even a play chronicling John Honeyman’s contribution to the Patriots victory. Even so, in today’s revisionist history, his accomplishments have come under attack. I found a wonderful piece on the CIA website in defense of John Honeyman and George Washington. Next time I’m in the Princeton area, I’ll have to pass by the Honeyman house to pay my respects. And that play looks like an interesting program for a chapter event… 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mystery Solved!

This Western Union Telegram has been in a Ritts scrapbook for years. 
Original Text Messaging
The message sent to my Nana has been a mystery for over 20 years. Who was this Aunt that passed away? Nana had eight Aunts, but none of their death dates matched up. There is also a hand written note we think was written by my Aunt Maybelle identifying the deceased as her great-great Aunt. This didn't seem right since that generation seemed to have died in the mid 1800s. The key to solving this puzzle came from the recent release from the Pennsylvania Archives to Pennsylvania Death Certificates for up to 1944 were added in June. Those green leaves from the TV ads have been popping up on my tree. Today a leaf popped up on my Nana's grand aunt Elizabeth Metzger Paul. The hint was her death certificate and guess when she passed away... Aug 22, 1934. Finally we had our answer! Thank you Great-Great Aunt Elizabeth (she really is my 2nd Great Aunt) for solving this mystery. May you rest in peace. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Richard Henry Lee Introduces a Resolution for Independence

Richard Henry Lee
Richard Henry Lee
"That these United Colonies are, and of right out to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a Confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together." Richard Henry Lee to the Continental Congress June 7, 1776 in Philadelphia.

His resolution was seconded by John Adams. During the ensuing debate it became clear the Congress and public at large needed a document codifying why breaking with England was necessary and just. The document, the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson was presented to the Continental Congress on June 28th and was passed unanimously on July 2, 1776. 

So who was Richard Henry Lee? He was a public servent from a distinguished Virginia family of public servants. There is a interesting biographic sketch on the American History site. The 1776 musical also delves into the Lee Family in this fun song. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Morristown Festival of Books Launches its One Community, One Book Initiative with the announcement of Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca as the 2014 Featured Book

In this inaugural season, the Morristown Festival of Books introduces One Community One Book (OCOB) and its 2014 selection of Morris County resident’s YA novel, Providence.  The One Community, One Book committee, co-chaired by Roxbury resident Kim Armstrong and Morristown resident Michelle Russo, considered a wide variety books, before settling on Ms. Cocca’s Providence. The OCOB initiative encourages curiosity, dialogue and discovery by engaging community book groups, high school students and teachers, library patrons and the public at large in discussions using a single book that appeals to a diverse readership.  The One Book selection needs broad appeal to all ages of readers. Providence touches on loss and abandonment, the challenges of the elderly and keeping small communities vibrant. “As a member of the sandwich generation, I can easily relate to the multi-generation aspects of Providence and believe others will as well.” says Armstrong.

Lisa Colozza Cocca
“New Jersey is celebrating its 350 anniversary, so showcasing a local author was high on our wish list” continues Armstrong. Lisa Colozza Cocca, a Flanders resident, is a freelance writer and editor in educational publishing.  She is the author of numerous nonfiction titles for children and young adults, including Reconstruction and the Aftermath of the Civil War, Marquis de Lafayette: Fighting for America’s Freedom, and the Understanding Graphs series. When the sun goes down, Lisa is back at the computer writing. She is most excited about her debut YA novel, Providence (Merit Press/F&W Media). Lisa can be found at

Providence will be a recommended summer reading selection for Pingry and other area schools. Book clubs throughout the county will join in the discussions in the months surrounding the festival. Other events around the area include a June OCOB Kickoff at Kemmerer Harding Library and an in-depth panel discussion on the themes addressed in Providence. The Morris County libraries, which strengthen our communities by connecting people with ideas and information, are solidly behind the OCOB initiative and are participating in the planning of activities and events. Providence will be available at your local library and through the Bookworm in Bernardsville, the official bookseller of OCOB for the Festival.

The Morristown Festival of Books will take place on Sept 26-27 on South Street. As described by the event’s chair Linda Hellstrom from Morristown," it is designed to celebrate the power of the written word to challenge, transport and transform us, while bringing together our community in conversation." The festival model has been used successfully by communities around the world.

Lisa Colozza Cocca will be one of the 17 authors participating in the Friday – Saturday Festival.  The full author line-up and the schedule for Saturday will be published in June. For more information on One Community, One Book and the Morristown Book Festival, visit us on the web at:, like us on Facebook at: Morristown Festival of Books and follow us on Twitter: @MorristownBooks
Questions? Go to

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Honoring Our Mothers Ferro-Monte Chapter, NSDAR

Saturday May 10th the Ferro-Monte Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution will be touring the historic sites of Ledgewood in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Mother’s Day. They will be visiting the King Canal Store and Homestead. The Daughters will honor Gold Star and Blue Star mothers as well as their own at a tea in the Silas Riggs Saltbox House. 

Ferro-Monte Chapter meetings are held at Roxbury Township Free Public Library 103 Main St, Succasunna, NJ at 10am the 2nd Saturday of the month from October - April. Prospective members are always welcome. If you have an interest in learning about your family tree, we can help you; maybe we can even find a Patriot among your leaves. For information, email:

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote patriotism, preserve American history, and support better education for our nation's children. Its members are descended from the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. With more than 165,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide, DAR is one of the world's largest and most active service organizations. To learn more about the work of today's DAR, visit

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Morristown Festival of Books Announces Keynote Speaker

 Morristown Festival of Books kicks off Sept. 26 - New Jersey Hills Media Group: Randolph Reporter News: William D. Cohan, author of "The Price of Silence" about the Duke lacrosse scandal, will be the keynote speaker for the inaugural Morristown Festival of Books at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 26 at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, South Street, Morristown.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Conflicting Sources

Sarah Shelly Obit
Last week I waited impatiently for the release of Pennsylvania death certificates on This week, I am pondering a discrepancy between one of those death certificates and a marriage license as to who is Sarah Ann Shelly's parents. The first clue I found was Sarah's obituary which names her parents as Abram & Hannah Shelley. While obituaries can provide wonderful clues they can also be filled with erroneous details and family tales. My search then took me to investigating her marriages. The wonderful History of the Woodcock Family from 1692 to September 1, 1912 which has a family tree from my grandpa Clinton Burket back thru Patriot ancestor Bancroft Woodcock, beginning with my immigrant ancestors Rachel Bancroft and Robert Woodcock has given me many leads. Unfortunately the information on Sarah is of limited help. It states Milton Woodcock married Sarah A. Shelley 9 Aug 1865, but does not name her parents. 

After Milton’s death, Sarah remarried in 1886 to Isaac Steele. Here on their marriage application, Sarah’s parents are Jacob & Anna Shelly. Only husband to be Isaac provided the information to the clerk, so did he know his wife’s parents? 
Isaac Steele and Sarah Shelly Woodcock Marriage License

Fast forwarding to last week, I found her death certificate on The family information was filled out her son-in-law David Burket whom she was living with at the time of her death. He declared Sarah’s parents were Abraham Shelley and Hannah Brown. So who really was Sarah’s parents and where should I search from here? 
Sarah's Death Certificate

8 Nov 1837 – born to _____________; parent info conflicting
9 Aug 1865 – married Milton Woodcock; Source: History of the Woodcock family pg 34; no parents mentioned
3 Apr 1867 – daughter Elizabeth Catherine born
1 Jul 1868 – daughter Virginia born
4 Jul 1870 – son John born
1870 census – 32, living with Milton and 3 children in Holmesville, Ohio
12 Dec 1871 – son William born
6 Feb 1872 – son William died
2 Jul 1873 – daughter Susan born
10 Feb 1875 – husband Milton Woodcock died; Source: will names Sarah as wife; Sarah’s obit
1880 census – 43, widow, 4 of her children living with her; sharing property with Hannah Shelly in Hopewell, PA
1886 – Married Isaac Steele Source: marriage license; parents listed as Jacob & Anna Shelly
1900 census – 65, married, living with daughter and son-in-law (Mock), not husband
24 Sep 1904 – husband Isaac Steele died; Source:
1910 census – 69, widow, living with daughter and son-in-law (Mock)
1920 census – 84, widow, living with daughter and son-in-law (Burket)

19 Aug 1921 – died at home of daughter and son-in-law (Burket) Source: obit & death cert; obit lists parents listed as Abram & Hannah Shelly; info provided by son-in-law (Burket) parents Abraham Shelley and Hannah Brown

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fashionistas: Date the Look

I have recently found some old family photos and I don't know a soul. The ultimate goal of course will be to identify the people in the pictures. Unfortunately I'm not even sure what years most of the pictures were taken. So I ask for my costume and fashionista friends to enlighten me what time period these fashions were, well, in fashion.
What style are the girls wearing?

Unknown woman from an unknown era

The boys in what decade?
My grands, guess the year