May I Introduce To You . . . Sue Pittman McPeak


Sue Pittman McPeak

I have the wonderful pleasure of introducing you to Sue Pittman McPeak and her blog, CollectIn Texas Gal ~ Tracks of My Texas Ancestors, described as, “ . . . Eclectic/Story-Photography Based Blog. A collection of My Texas Ancestors, A collection of Family History and Genealogy Research of my Father’s Texas Pioneer Families Pittman ~ Carroll ~ Marley ~ Leatherwood.”

Sue also manages two additional blogs which include Collect In Texas Photo Blog and Sara Jane’s Christmas Diary, “ . . . A Doll’s Memories of Christmas . . .

How Sue Got Started in Genealogy

Sue hails from Monahans, Ward County, Texas and currently lives in San Angelo, Texas.

In 1996, Sue purchased the Family Tree Maker program and began The Pittman Family Tree, “I began building the tree with information that my Aunt Irene had researched, collected and shared with family members through ‘novella letters’ written during the 1950’s and 60’s. The letters alone were fantastic reads with daily recordings of life in California, which to us small town Texans may as well have been from another planet. My Mother saved all those letters with Ancestor Logs, Lists, and Notes sandwiched in between the Planet Hollywood details, and along with a box of black and white pictures my Ancestor Adventure began. What an adventure it was with a DOS based Family Tree Maker and being Personal Computer Clueless. However, I accomplished enough to create Family Trees, a Relationship Index and a Kinship Account for Six Family Scrapbooks. Then the PC crashed before I got to the part about SAVE DATA on DISK!”

Sue’s Family and Her Blog

“First I have to explain some of my Family Members’ PC/www/Technical knowledge. My brother thinks a Hard Drive is getting a Mac Truck up a steep hill. When I told my sister about my computer crashing, she asked, ‘did anyone die?’ And my Mother, bless her heart, wanted me to be sure and take aspirin and drink lots of fluids for that awful virus.” Sue does have one sister who is pretty PC savvy and enjoys reading her blog and commenting . . . anonymously.

“Blog to my Grandkids translates as ‘IDK . . . what ewrr nana . . . 4 sur 2 bor u 2dth.’ The two year old would be interested if CollectIn Texas Gal were a Smart Phone Sponge Bob YouTube app. I think that about does it for what my family thinks about my blog. Oh, except for HiHoney . . . that’s my husband on CITexasGal . . . he’s in ‘ShockNAwe’ that anyone could possibly be interested in a Bunch of Dead Texas Outlaws! Just kidding . . . he’s my Rock and they are InLaws!”

How Sue Follows the Rest of Us

Google Reader is Sue’s choice to keep up with her blog reading. “ . . . Like my blog is a ‘MishMash’ of collections, so are my Blog Lists. I read and view all kinds of Blogs. I usually start with my Sidebar Blog Lists and go right into their latest post so I can leave a comment. Many of these Bloggers have been on my lists since I started blogging in 2009 and have become very ‘Special Blogland Friends.’ I try to reciprocate to the folks who are Followers of CITexas Gal, and I read most of them on Google Reader where I can quickly drop in and leave a comment. One thing that helps in leaving a comment in a timely manner is if the comment box is Word Verification Free. Being a newbie in the GeneaBlogger Community, I find I spend a bit more time browsing Ancestor/Genealogy Based Blogs, reading posts and checking out InfoLinks. I often have a Tool Bar full of ‘Open New Tabs’ from links found on one blog. It’s one of those ‘One Thing Leads To Another’ . . . I just love that about Genealogy.”

Sue knows that some of her “Blogland Friends” follow her because they have CITexas Gal on their sidebar lists. Several of her “Real Life Friends” read and comment or call Sue to thank her for a, “Good LOL . . . I like that I bring a smile to readers! I assume that those who Follow on Google probably read like I do . . . on Google Reader. Ya’ll already know about my Family from the question above.

When I first started blogging, ‘The Number Stats’ were pretty important to me and I celebrated having ‘This Many Followers’ and ‘That Many Posts’ and a Blogiversary and so on.  Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate The Numbers, but I’m more impressed and inspired by the generosity of time and self that Bloggers give to read, comment and come back to CollectIn Texas Gal and Tracks of My Texas Ancestors. I’m flattered and pleased that my regular readers leave comments saying how they are inspired by my Blog to begin their own Ancestor Adventures.”

Sue is an “early morning” person and typically will write and post while getting her “caffeine fix.” “That’s about the only thing ‘typical’ in my daily Blogging. I pop in and out of Blogland throughout the day and sometimes in the evenings, so I haven’t tracked that stat yet. I might suggest that to Blogger . . . Please Follow my Blog Hopping and include it on my STATS Tab . . . I can see their eyes rolling now and saying ‘Oh phaleeze, lady . . . Seri ous ly!!!”

Sue’s Thoughts on Blogging

Sue’s blogs came about after the “No Data Disk Disaster.” She took what hard copies she had along with her aunt Irene’s Novella Letters and put them “outta sight outta mind.” In the meantime, “I inherited my Great Grandmother’s Photo Album with the most amazing photos from the late 1880’s through about 1910. The Album had been in possession of my Great Aunt and then passed to her son, my First Cousin, once removed. He knew I was interested in our Family Genealogy and gave me the Album in hopes I would be able to identify the family members . . . only three photos of the twenty or so had names on the back . . . and he knew that on of my TSO’s was a PhotoRestoration Artist which requires one to be a ‘Detective of Details.’ So with the photos, DDDisaster Hard Copies and stories I’d written over the years, I added Tracks of My Texas Ancestors to CollectIn Texas Gal. It seems to fit right in with the rest of my Lifetime TSO’s.”

How Sue’s blog title came about, “ . . . I’ve always described myself as ‘A Jack of All Trades and Master of None,’ which led to collections from all the ‘Trades/Subjects/Objects’ that held my interest long enough to ‘Fix It or Figure It Out!’ So when a friend introduced me to the Whole World Wide Web Thingy and Blogland, I couldn’t pick just one Thingy from all my TSO’s. So I just Chunked Em’ all together and called it Collectin’. The Texas part was a no brainer and Gal, well it just kinda fit. So there you have it . . . CollectIn Texas Gal.”

Sue’s biggest blogging concern was, “Putting my NAME out there on the World Wide Web! For at least the first couple of years, I was CollectIn Texas Gal with the first name Sue used occasionally. I use my maiden name on Tracks of My Texas Ancestors, which works well since the focus is on my Father’s Surname Ancestors. I am very careful to protect the privacy and security of Living Relatives on my Blogs and Genealogy Sites even though my Now Generation Family’s Names are ‘So Out There’ on Facebook. So much for my ‘biggest fear!’

Basically, I am a traditional, organized, competitive and gregarious person who ‘Flies by the Seat of My Pants.’ Sometimes my Airborne Britches Mouth overloads, and what I think is purposeful, poignant and funny is misunderstood or just plain ‘Falls Flat.’ I hesitated to put my ‘Contradictory Personality’ out there when I started blogging. However; no matter how hard I tried to show my traditional, organized, good grammar and good girl self, the Airborne Britches Mouth would not be quiet. And truthfully, I don’t know where that comes from. My Mom says I got it from my Dad. So now I don’t hesitate . . . too much anymore . . . to let the ABMouth speak, misspell and embellish on behalf of my Pittman Ancestors.”

What Sue Loves Most About Genealogy

“It’s hard to say what I love MOST . . . I LOVE IT ALL. I really enjoy being SueLock Holmes and the ‘Discovery Factor!’ HiHoney and I have always been interested in Old Cemeteries, so that’s become a favorite part of the experience . . . diggin’ up the dirt/info . . . I’m talkin’ figuratively you understand. As an Educator/Artist and Photographer, I’m drawn to the history lessons and the idea that a ‘Picture is worth a thousand words,’ which is often the inspiration for my Fact Fiction and Folly Stories. And last but not least, I love Texas, it’s rich history and the part my Texas Pioneer Ancestors played in it’s colorful past. I’ve fallen in love with the States of Georgia and Tennessee as I’ve visited the roots of my Texas Ancestors.”

Sue’s Time Capsule Message

“When you start the climb up your Family Tree and begin counting back in time, the years become decades, the decades become centuries, and before you know it time seems to stand still. Every person in your Family Tree is Significant in Time for ‘there is no such thing as a life not meant for the person living It.’ ~ Louis Simpson

So the Present and Future Generations I say, ‘Life is short . . . live it to the fullest and regard with esteem the name you were given with praise and renown that it should endure.’”

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Please take a moment to visit Sue’s blogs. Leave her a comment to let her know you stopped by. Welcome Sue, it’s great to have you here!

© 2011, copyright Gini Webb

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, recently retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her now seven grandchildren!

Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

Halloween in Scotland


[Editor’s Note: the following is a guest post from David McNicoll of Highland Experience Scotland which specializes in heritage travel in Scotland.]

The end of October is a time of change: the landscape is a blaze of autumn colour as the trees prepare for the cold depths of winter; frosts begin to nip in the air and the last harvests are gathered as we bid farewell to the bounty of summer. It was an important time for our forefathers who relied heavily on the seasons and the natural cycle of things for their livelihoods; and many of our familiar festivals and holidays celebrate this ancient routine: and none more so than Halloween.

Today in our commercialised world, Halloween is a children’s holiday of trick-or-treats and costume parties; but for our ancestors it had a profound importance, and the various ritual associated with the festival had a significance that we find hard to comprehend in this day and age.

In Celtic Ireland and Scotland the end of October, beginning of November was the time of An Samhain, a festival and feast that commemorated the final harvest of the year and laid preparations for the winter ahead. It generally lasted three or four days and was punctuated with ritual and custom that shook off the old year and welcomed the new. Ceremonial rites gave homage to a myriad of gods and various trials and sacrifices were endured in order to guarantee the good grace of these gods and hope that winter would not be too hard and that spring would come early. Bonfires were lit, cleansing the land; trials of fire and water to cleanse the soul and the men of the village dressed up as spirits or imitated the dead to scare off evil demons and purify the air. Like many Celtic festivals it was complex and multi-layered; celebrating both the tangible and the mysteries of the otherworld. Farming lives revolved around the natural and supernatural and these time-honoured events gave peace, hope and solace to the people.

One of the cornerstones of that farming life was cattle husbandry. Cattle were prized and highly valued – they provided milk, dung for fires and fertilizer and their meat saw many through the harshest days of winter, when there was precious little else to eat. Right up to the 19th century they were like a currency in the Scottish Highlands, and a man measured his wealth in the number of head he had. So, it was a hard decision to decide which to slaughter to provide the all important meat stock over winter. And the kill had to be handled in a solemn and honoured manner. An Samhain was the time to decide, and often the cattle themselves went through the purification trials of water and fire – to prepare them for the afterlife. The bones of those killed would be thrown on the bonfires to ease that passage. Then all the fires in the village would be extinguished, and then relit by a flame from the bonfire. This brought everyone together in a sense of community and helped build that bond.

Fire was also taken to light candles in lanterns made from turnips; indeed the Gaelic name for both the lanterns and the bonfire was Samhnag. The turnip was an important crop, feeding both man and beast and saw many communities through famine. It was the tradition to carve scary faces into the lantern as part of the process of warding off the evil ones. The guisers (as the men-folk dressed in costume were called) then went round the village shooing away the spirits and demons, and did so by visiting house to house.

Does much of this sound familiar? Many of the old Celtic customs have come down to us in one form or another, and over time An Samhain developed into our modern Halloween. Many Irish and Scottish immigrants toNorth America took these age old traditions with them and firmly rooted them into the community life there. On both sides of the Atlantic Halloween evolved along slightly different paths, but at the core the substance remains essentially the same.

There was a religious element too. In Roman times, there were similar festivals held at the end of the summer, and around 610 AD, the Christian authorities evolved them into the feast of All Hallows, or All Saints. Prayers were said for the dead on the 31st of October, with mass held on the 1st of November for saints known and unknown. This festival reached Ireland and Scotland around the 9th century and was quickly amalgamated with the old traditions to form a quasi-religious, semi-pagan celebration. An Samhain became Hallowmas (or All Saints Day), and An Oichde Samhain (the night before) morphed into All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween.

Many early settlers to Americabrought the Christian beliefs of Halloween with them, with the children dressing up to go ‘trick or treating’ to ward off witches and other minions of the Devil. The old ways came too of course, but instead of turnips the colonists carved pumpkins. Back home in parts of rural Scotland, even to this day, the children dressed up to go ‘guising’ and the lanterns are still made of turnips. The trials of fire and water are still with us – who reading this has never dunked (or dooked) for apples? In Britain though, the bonfires were moved to a different date – the 5th of November, as we commemorate the foiling of the Gunpowder plot to kill the king and parliament in 1605. Across the nation, bonfires are lit echoing the burning at the stake of Guy Fawkes and his conspirators. And in the Gaelic calendar An Samhain now corresponds with the whole month of November.

So whether you are trick-or-treating, guising or lighting bonfires take a moment to reflect on where these traditions came from, and what it meant and how much it meant to your forefathers as they faced the uncertain winter months ahead.

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This article was written by David McNicoll, who runs Highland Experience USA. His travel company specialises in vacation and tour packages toScotland, including ancestral trip and many other tailor-made excursions.

For more info please visit

Photo:  Samhuin, Samhuin Fire Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2007, by Geoff Wong via Flickr used under Creative Commons License 3.0.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Genealogy Blogging Beat – Monday, October 31, 2011

genealogy blogging beat

Today is Monday, October 31, 2011 and here is what’s available in terms of Daily Blogging Prompts and other related events in the genealogy blogosphere:

Items of Note

Daily Blogging Prompts

Amanuensis Monday – An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging theme which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin – some we never met – others we see a time in their life before we knew them. A fuller explanation can be found here.

Amanuensis Monday is a popular ongoing series created by John Newmark at Transylvanian Dutch.

Madness Monday – create a post with the main focus being an ancestor who either suffered some form of mental illness or an ancestor who might be hard to locate and drives you mad. This is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Mappy Monday – do maps, deeds and land records factor in to your family history? Join us for Mappy Monday where you can post map images and how they relate to your research or discuss other aspects of land ownership and your ancestors. Several members of GeneaBloggers suggested this type of theme and in fact Holly Spencer of Ravenna Area Historical Society Blog has been using this theme since March 2009.

Maritime Monday – Post about anything to do with the sea: ancestors who were sailors, shipwrights, fishermen, or coastguards including images, records and links. Maritime Monday is an ongoing series created by Ros Haywood at the GenWestUK blog.

Matrilineal Monday – Post about the female line of one of your families you are researching. Matrilineal Monday is an ongoing series by Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman of ‘On a flesh and bone foundation’: An Irish History.

Military Monday – We all have ancestors who have served in the military. Military Monday is a place to post their images, stories and records of their service in various branches of the military. Military Monday is an ongoing series by Cindy at Everything’s Relative – Researching Your Family History.

Mobile Monday – Do you use mobile applications on a SmartPhone to assist with your genealogy research? Post a review of any applications you’ve used or post about what you’d like to see in a mobile application related to genealogy. This is an ongoing series created by A.C. Ivory of the Find My Ancestor blog.

Motivation Monday – do you have a set of genealogy-related goals you want to tackle? Do you have tips on getting motivated? Whether you want to lend advice or you need advice, participate in Motivation Monday at your blog and tell us what’s on your genealogical plate. This is an ongoing series created by Dionne Kurti at Finding Josephine.

Mystery Monday – Closely related to Madness Monday only these missing ancestors might not cause madness! Mystery Monday is where you can post about mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in your genealogy and family history research which is currently unsolved. This is a great way to get your fellow genealogy bloggers to lend their eyes to what you’ve found so far and possibly help solve the mystery. Several genealogy bloggers have been using Mystery Monday as an ongoing series including Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings, Kathleen Moore of The Misadventures of a Genealogist and Betty Tartas of Betty’s Boneyard Genealogy Blog.

To ensure that your blog post is included in the “roll-up” widgets below, include the name of the blogging theme in your post title. Examples: Black Sheep Sunday – Honey Dijon; Tombstone Tuesday – Ida Slapter.

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If you would like your event or Daily Blogging Prompt included, please contact Geneabloggers at geneabloggers [at] gmail [dot] com.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee