Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys

This weekend we took a trip down to the Florida Keys. If you have never been it's really worth the trip. We stayed in Key Largo but on Saturday we went to Bahia Honda State Park which is in the middle keys.

This park was voted best beach back in the 1990's and I can totally see why. The water was clear and warm, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. I was able to see lots of coral pieces, fish and even a crab while snorkeling around. Bahia Honda state park has a couple of beaches both on the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean side. There is lots to do here as well, you can camp, hike, swim, fish, even launch a boat or kayak from the marina there. The cost to get in was only $9 (that doesn't include camping fees).

The Florida Keys are beautiful but not all of their beaches are the same. Some are really rocky since a lot of the coast is made up of coral reef. The beach here at Bahia Honda is sandy and very nice to walk on. If you weren't impressed with some of the other beaches in the Florida keys then come visit here!

I thought this was the perfect place for families too because the surf was calm and the water was clear and mostly shallow. They have a gift shop and a concession stand selling things like subs and pizza to candy and snorkel gear. I've been to a lot of Florida's state parks and Bahia Honda is my new favorite place! Next time we visit we plan to camp here so we can see more of the park!

You really don't have to leave the country to find beautiful tropical beaches with clear blue water. They are right here in Florida and the Florida Keys. Come down and enjoy the food, water and people!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Research Your Family Tree For Free

There was a time if you wanted to search for any information about your family members you'd have to pay to be a member of a genealogy site. Now there is a ton of information available online for free, you just need to know where to look. The picture above is one of my Great X9 Grandmother, she settled in the area knows as Sewell Point, now Norfolk Naval Base. She married Henry Sewell Sr. who came from England around 1630 or so. If you Google 'Sewell Point Virginia' you'll see a Willoughby Bay, both are named after my descendants. Pretty Cool!

The first place I like to do any searches is Family Search ,it's a free website run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can search all types of records and also create a free account and make your own family tree. What I love most about this site is the fan chart they have, it makes it really easy to see everyone in your family. Keep in mind you will need a bit of information about your relatives, mainly names and birthdays. The more information you have the more successful you'll be. Another thing to consider is there are many people with the same name, so knowing any family names, like the name of the spouse or siblings, even the location will help you narrow down your searches. Last names were often spelled different and sometimes I've seen middle names used on a Census record which can make searching harder. Also when recording this information things can be heard wrong, in my searching for my great grandma I've see her name appear as Sophie, Sophia and Silva, so try searching different names if you can't find anything on your first try. Last names are another tricky thing in dealing with ancestry, often times the spelling has changed over the years.

Another site I like to use is Find A Grave. Just click on the link "Search 162 million grave records" to begin searching for your family members. Sometimes you can get lucky here and find other relatives by finding one match. For instance there might be a link to a spouse or child, which can give you more information than you might have had. It also gives you accurate birth and death dates, which you can take back to the Family Search site to try and match up more information. The neat thing about Find a Grave is you can leave virtual flowers for your loved ones along with a little note.

I also like to search old newspaper records. There are some sites out there that you have to pay to be a member of but I don't like to do that. If I end up finding a newspaper that does contain some family information but I'd have to pay for it, I try searching the name of the newspaper and the date to see if online records are available. I've had a lot of luck that way. It's a little more work then paying for a membership but if you keep at it you're pretty sure to find it online for free.

One final neat tip is about the Census records. Sometimes at the top of the page it will have the street name of the records being taken, other times this is written down the left hand side. Some records also have a house number listed, if you get lucky you can get the street and house number and actually see where your relatives lived, providing the house is still there. The handwriting can be a bit tricky, what I thought was Marker or Market street was actually Maher street. The Census records always have the towns name listed so even if you can't quite make out the street name you can get close enough to check a map. I hope with these few tips you can easily find some information about your family tree! If you have any questions or get stuck I'd be happy to help, just leave a comment. Good luck searching!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mystery & History In A Yard Sale Find - Part Two

I bought a few old books at a yard sale and found some interesting drawings inside. This is the second part of this story, who was F. Norton Hatch.

After I got the books home and found the drawings I was very interested in what happened to the artist. I was very impressed with the drawings and just assumed that F. Norton Hatch was an artist somewhere. So I began searching for him that way. However nothing was coming up. In the other book without drawings his mother had addressed him as 'Captain', that paired with the nautical drawings led me to believe maybe he grew up and enlisted in the Navy. So my next step was to search and see if I could find any record of F. Norton Hatch being enlisted. Again I came up empty handed.

Since I couldn't find any history of this person being an artist or having any kind of link to ships I decided to turn my search in a different direction. I then began to search for any kind record I could match to him and sadly I came up with something.

F. Norton Hatch was Frank Norton Hatch. His tombstone reads that he is the only son of Emily Norton Hatch and William E Hatch and that he died in July of 1900 at the age of sixteen years old. The drawing in the book I have was dated April 1900, Frank didn't grow up to be an artist because tragically he passed away at a young age. I wanted to know more though. I was so interested in this boy and his family. His tombstone is actually a shared tombstone of his mother's family. From that I was able to see, his mother had passed away in 1898, a year after she gave him the book with the inscription.
The father wasn't buried in the same cemetery and I didn't have much information to go on but his first name and middle initial. I decided to try searching census records to see if I could find any additional information about his family. Apparently the 1890 Census was mostly destroyed in a fire, so I was at a dead end there. I got lucky with the next census though. The 1900 United States Census was done on June 7, 1900 in Franks area, remember Frank passed on July 16, 1900 very soon after the census was completed. On that 1900 census he was listed as a boarder of the school, but it seems to be listed as a house. It has the headmasters name and family and the same boys names as were listed on the roster of the team sports listed in the back of the book I have. It was a match.
From this census I was able to learn that his father, William E. Hatch was born in Georgia. Every little bit of information was putting me one step closer to piecing this family together. I was able to learn that William E. was William Edwin and he lived until 1923 and was buried up in Maine. His tombstone lovingly memorializes the death of his wife and son, both buried in Connecticut.
Just another piece of the puzzle. Even though I knew that Frank Norton Hatch had died at sixteen, I didn't know where or how he died. Every time I learned a new fact I was able to adjust my searching and find out something new. I kept at it, all with information readily available online without paying to be a member to any genealogy site. Eventually I found what I was looking for.
I found the death record for F. Norton Hatch, Frank died at the young age of sixteen from a skull fracture and meningitis complications. I was also able to see that he died in Portland Maine. It doesn't tell me what happened to him that caused the skull fracture though. I'm assuming since it happened in Maine that he had come home for Summer from the Powder Point School which was located in Duxbury, Massachusetts. I don't know that for a fact though, it could have happened that he got hurt at school and was brought to Portland Maine afterwards. I might never know what actually happened to Frank.

What about those ships he drew, were they actually real ships? Who was Mr. Edward Barry of the Marcellus? What exactly was the Powder Point School? There was still more information that I wanted to know about these drawings in this old book. Stay tuned to part three for more answers.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mystery & History In A Yard Sale Find - Part One

I am a lover of old things, I love history and I really love a good mystery. One of the things I enjoy picking up at yard sales and flea markets are old books. I like the way they look and use them as decor in my house. So when I found a few old books at a church yard sale I bought them for a dollar a piece. What I thought was just a normal old book that was going to look great sitting on my bookshelf turned into a wonderful surprise and a mystery once I opened the front cover and saw the inscription and drawings.
I've found books with inscriptions before because they were often given as gifts in the past. However, I've never found a book with drawings in them, especially as good as these. On the inside cover was the drawing with various guns and a pennant in the corner with P.P.S. and the year 1900 on it. The book has a published date of 1897 so I knew the drawing was actually from that time. On the first blank page next to the inside cover is the inscription: F. Norton Hatch Powder Point School Duxbury, Massachusetts April Fifth Nineteen Hundred. The drawings and inscriptions didn't stop there though.
Once you turned the page was a very detailed drawing of a ship titled U.S. Converted Yacht Pathfinder. On the top of the page written in smaller print is Mr. Edward Barry U.S.S. Marcellus. I can just imagine this boy, F. Norton Hatch reading this book titled 'The Spy' and drawing and dreaming about ships.
There were still a few more writings and drawings left in this J. Fenimore Cooper book full of mystery. In the back of the book was one last drawing of a ship and the roster of pupils at the Powder Point School and also the members of the Football and Baseball teams for the year of 1899-1900.
The other book, another J. Fenimore Cooper titled 'Red Rover' didn't have any of the wonderful drawings that 'The Spy' had. Although it did have a simple inscription "Captain Norton Hatch' Christmas 1896 From His Mother.
I never imagined when I bought some old books at a yard sale that I would find a story in the book. Who was F. Norton Hatch. Who was Mr. Edward Barry? Is Captain Norton Hatch the same person as F. Norton Hatch. Was the Pathfinder a real ship? What was the Powder Point School? I had a ton of questions and wanted to find out more.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Exploring Florida - Salt Springs Recreational Area

Salt Springs Recreational Area is located in the Ocala National Forest in the heart of North Central Florida. Florida is home to many natural freshwater springs and they stay a constant temperature of seventy two degrees year round. Nothing beats jumping into a cool spring on a hot summer day and when you get out your skin feels amazing.
With crystal clear water Salt Springs is not only a great place to swim, it's also a great place to get out and enjoy nature. Fishing and camping are available here, you will need a freshwater fishing license though. The springs get really busy in the summer so if you are planning a trip I'd show up early to get a good shaded spot!
The grounds of Salt Springs are beautiful as well with large Oak trees that are picturesque. If you are coming for the day or longer you'll be sure to relax and enjoy the trip. With both tent camping and full RV hook-up this large campground is sure to meet your needs.
If you are looking for a trip this summer plan a trip to one of the many springs in Florida. Salt Springs can be found at 13851 Hwy 19N Ft. McCoy FL 32134.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Molasses Sugar Cookies

One of my all time favorite cookies is the Molasses Sugar Cookie. It reminds me of my childhood and they taste amazing! I wanted to share the recipe with all of you!

Ingredients:

3/4 Vegetable Oil

1 Cup of Sugar

1/4 Cup Molasses

1 Egg

2 tsp. Baking Soda

2 Cups of Flour

1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves

1/2 tsp. Ginger

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Salt

Small dish with sugar for rolling the dough in

Mix oil, molasses, egg and sugar. Beat well and then add all the dry ingredients. Mix well. Chill half an hour in the freezer. Form one inch balls and roll into granulated sugar. Place on un-greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for ten to twelve minutes. Place on cookie sheet to cool. Makes about three dozen.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Potato Peeling Clean Up Hack

I peel a lot of potatoes in my house, not to mention all the other stuff I peel! Cleaning up after those peels can be a real pain in the bottom. You could use a bowl but who wants to wash anymore dishes then you have too? I've tried peeling right over the trash can but that never seems to work out very well. I end up picking peels off the floor and that sure isn't saving me any time or aggervation. I have a simple solution for you and it's super easy and you probably already have the solution in your house.
It's a plastic shopping bag! Plastic shopping bags seem to be everywhere. I try and use re-usable bags most of the time but we still end up with a pile of bags. I use them as garbage can liners for the bathrooms and a few other things but this might be my favorite use for them. Just lay the bag out on your counter or in the sink and peel whatever your peeling right over the bag. This makes clean up a breeze, just fold up the edges and carry to the compost bin or the trash can. Couldn't be easier!
Thanks for stopping by Things I Never Learned From My Mom! We'd love to hear any of your favorite tips or ticks to make your life easier!