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"The Heritage Room" - March 2019

 Everitt Bowles - This Month's Family History Hero

A Civil War collector from St. Joseph, Michigan has a surprise in store on his birthday, thanks to Mom and Everitt Bowles, this month's featured dealer.

 Mom, also known as Amanda Guernsey, is pictured with her secret surprise. She is a family researcher and new JustaJoy member. Everitt is a JustaJoy contributor with four decades of experience as a Civil War dealer.

"I have a house full of it," Everitt explains.  I lived through the Civil War Centennial when I was a kid and I was hooked."Although Everitt deals in all sorts of American historical artifacts, his specialty is Civil War badges and photos and you are probably thinking the same way we do - yes, many are identified.

 Everitt became involved with JustaJoy nearly as quickly as possible and this month's match was not his first. He especially enjoys matching things back to families.

 "It is thrilling," says Everitt. "These things are precious to collectors but to family members, they are much more than an artifact. Matching the items back to families is a lot of fun.

 "The original item discovered by Amanda on JustaJoy was a "calling" or "etiquette" card for Colonel Samuel G. Knee, a member of the Iowa 12th Infantry (federal). At the time of his picture below, Samuel was a Major. He was later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and he married Julia Moreland in 1866, just at the end of the War. He is a cousin to Amanda and her son, Greg.

So now, Greg has a very special surprise awaiting, thanks to two passionate historians more than 700 miles apart (and a little help from JustaJoy to bridge the gap).




 Message ON a Bottle!
We think of mysterious messages from the past as coming IN a bottle but family history can also be discovered on the outside. 
Glassmaking arrived in North America in the mid-1600s and was based primarily on English methodology. Casper Wistar in Salem County, NJ established the first bottle manufactory in 1739 and was quickly followed by others. 
At that time, all bottles were glass-blown, a difficult and dangerous process requiring experience and talent. Around 1850 bottles began to be made by machines and the process could be expedited to fill the need for bottles for a wide assortment of uses. 
There are nearly as many different kinds of bottle collectors as there are bottles. Collectors usually isolate characteristics based on their specific interests - color, age, purpose or place of manufacture are usually considered. Bottle collecting began in earnest in 1959 when John Tibbets established the Antique Bottle Collector's Association of California, a group that later became a national club. 
Bottles that contained poisonous contents are of particular interest to many collectors. These bottles were usually distinguishable by form and color. They were rarely clear or aqua as these were the two most common colors of other bottles. Also, due to many of these bottles being made before electric lights, they were often oddly shaped so that persons searching the medicine cabinet in the dark would recognize the danger. 
Of course, as genealogists, we are primarily interested in bottles associated with ancestors and fortunately, thanks to their popularity with collectors, many such identified bottles exist. If you had an ancestor who dealt in spring water, soda, beer, whiskey, milk, ink, perfume, canned food, snuff or pharmaceutical items, it may be quite possible to find bottles from his or her business. 
The bottles pictured below are from the Shivar Springs, Inc. in Shelton, SC - distant cousins of my husband. These bottles and accompanying advertising sign hold a respected spot in our "heritage room". We have even found enough to share with other members of the Shivar family. 
Usually, identified bottles contain a place and sometimes even a date, making it much easier for the experienced family researcher to recapture these kinds of orphaned heirlooms. A general search for the word "bottle" on JustaJoy returned 39 assorted results, everything from "Berchoff Beer" to "Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound". 

  Creating Genealogy Interest with a Family Fun Project! 
Those of us bitten by the genealogy bug have no trouble staying up past midnight searching for the Great-Great relative who insists on hiding from us. The problem comes in, sometimes, when we want to share our excitement with other family members. Our exciting revelations can be met with glazed stares as we realize our enthusiasm is not always felt by others.
Therefore, we often stretch to find ways to make genealogy more relevant and tangible. Artifacts such as the ones that can be found on JustaJoy help to bring a sense of reality to the family facts and figures but maybe we have found another way, as well.
Pictured above is one of a variety of family birthday plaques that can be purchased or hand made. These are designed with live people in mind, but why not extend their use to include all of the relative's birthdays that we know from the family tree?
Perhaps this project could be done with children, grandchildren, or the entire family. It could also include the dates of anniversaries. We haven't seen one offering death and burial information, but perhaps that could be included as well. If the family tree is large enough nearly every day of the year could be celebrated as GGGrandmother's birthday or the day she married GGGrandfather Fred.
This craft project could help to increase an appreciation of the past and how it relates to the present. It could even become an important artifact for future generations. Just remember to use last names, also!


 Two Ways to Save In March

This month's specials include two ways to save on renewals or new memberships to JustaJoy in March.

SAVE 20%!

Use coupon code "Spring" (no quotes) to save 20% ($12.00) on an annual membership which includes full information on thousands of artifacts, "Joy Alerts" on up to 20 surnames, free posting and selling, "The Heritage Room" newsletter and free downloads of pictures and descriptions. 


Family Bibles are JustaJoy's number one desired family artifact. We have been fortunate to match many (see "Happy Stories" page on the site), but we want to match many more.  Therefore, any member posting a Family Bible during March will get one year free membership added to your current expiration date. If you are not a current member, please contact Joy to arrange to take advantage of this special.  Phone 704-948-1912.

Both offers expire April 15, 2019

 Regarding JustaJoy's Sold Inventory

New visitors to JustaJoy.com are sometimes disappointed that items they would have purchased have already found homes. This leads to the question of why we continue to include the sold items in search results.


The answer is simple. Even though JustaJoy.com is not exactly in the information business (we leave that to the big guys), we sure do not want to restrict our users from any information that the artifacts reveal. Quite often the artifacts expose information that can't be found anywhere else. Did you know GGGrandfather was a golfer? His trophy is on JustaJoy celebrating a hole-in-one!

Some of the descriptions on JustaJoy take many hours to prepare. It would be a great loss to simply delete all of that information.
And even though there is usually only one of each original item available for purchase on JustaJoy, sometimes, such as in the case of a yearbook, the item can be found elsewhere. 

Also, there are rarely watermarks on the photos of the artifacts on JustaJoy. Members are welcome to print pictures or descriptions as desired. A photo of a photo is better than no photo, at all.
Sometimes, we are also asked if it is possible to track down the item through the new owner and sometimes it is. For example, a buyer of a WWII honor roll book for NC asked that we post on the sold listing that she is glad to scan images of any of the soldiers listed in the book for other JustaJoy members. These determinations are not made by JustaJoy but by the previous and current owners of the items.
There are a few of the many reasons we keep sold items on JustaJoy.com.Thanks again, for reading this far...  

"The Heritage Room" - February 2019

 "Black Memorabilia" - The Movie

Some years ago, George & I participated in a project that has finally come to fruition. On Feb. 4th, this week, "Black Memorabilia", a documentary was aired on PBS as a part of their "Independent Lens" series honoring Black History Month. The movie has three distinct parts, one of which features our efforts to create an appreciation for artifacts that result from the African-American experience. The entire movie is meant to be quite thought-provoking and we were very honored to be a part of it. 

This Month's Collectible - Swords

Swords are one of the most desired Civil War collectibles. Thousands, if not tens of thousands were produced during the War. The high majority of these swords were prestige or presentation items, usually worn by officers. Cavalrymen also often had swords, probably attributable to the fact that they had horses to carry them.

The truth is, however, it was rare for these swords to actually be unsheathed and the number of soldiers who were killed by swords during the War is quite negligible, probably less than 20. Out of approximately 250,000 soldiers who were treated in Union hospitals, only 922 reported being injured by an "edged weapon" which would have included bayonets, pikes, lances, Bowie knives, and other small hand-to-hand weapons. 


There is evidence that the unsexy but practical pikes and lances were used far more than swords, sabers, or bayonets. By the end of the War, 20 regiments of Southern "Pikemen" had been formed.  
These facts are good fortune for family treasure hunters. Because swords were often presented to soldiers upon promotion or to reward bravery on the battlefield, they are often identified, but also expensive. A nice identified Civil War presentation sword can cost as much as $20,000 or more.
But, of course, the Civil War is not the only sword source. Every war, up to and through WWI has produced these kinds of artifacts.  On the "Happy Stories" page of JustaJoy, you can find comments from Russell Folwell of Hanville, Washington who found a WWI dress sword that bears the name of his grandfather, B.D. Folwell. Russell already owned his great-grandfather's Civil War sword and was very happy to add the WWI version. "...For us it is priceless," he said.
Swords are also often awarded to graduates of military institutions such as one recently added to the JustaJoy inventory. This sword dates to the 1940s and was presented to John Raymond McGauley who was attending Norwich University in Northfield, VT. This sword is still waiting in the JustaJoy archives for discovery by one of John's relatives.

Regarding Prices on JustaJoy.com 

You find my picture in the fire department. I was a crew member for three years. Although this cruise book was only $25.00 brand new, it has become priceless over the years. I've been looking for this cruise book for years, but the only ones I've come across were from sellers who knew how much this could mean to a former crew member pictured in this book and asking ridiculous prices, often over $350.00.  Thank you so much!! This means so much to me. I'm on disability and I never thought I'd come across another copy of my cruise book that I could afford. I looked at the other items you are selling and it looks like you have quite a few yearbooks of varying branches, and ALL OF THEM are reasonably priced. I hope you sell all of them and continue selling military memorabilia for many, many years. Thank you and God bless you.
We received these comments recently from a very happy former sailor of the U.S. Navy. Because we have such a large range of prices on JustaJoy (from $2.00 to over a million), we are often asked how prices are determined. Of course, the concern for JustaJoy members is that the cost of items is inflated because of the family connections.
Our terms and conditions specifically address this issue with the rule that an object cannot be priced higher than it would be on the open antique market. We regularly do oversight and should the practice occur, the member would first be questioned and if that was ineffective, the member would no longer be allowed to post.
Of course, there is still a lot left to interpretation. It is important to remember, most antique dealers are accustomed to haggling. The price posted may be an ideal price that the dealer doesn't really expect to get.
The best way to approach the subject is to simply ask, "Is that your best price?"  Ninety per cent of the time you will get a discount or, at least, free shipping. We are available to answer any other questions on this issue or to even help with negotiating, as needed.

A Fictional Story Based in Truth


Fred, the antique dealer, is at the auction. It is just a few minutes before the auction starts and Fred has a chance to look around. He came because the auction was advertised to have a fair collection of Civil War items. As Fred looked about, he really didn't see anything very exciting - a non-commissioned officer's sword looked pretty good, but it would probably go too high. There were some period spurs, but one was broken and they weren't marked with a maker's name, so they would be hard to sell. There were some papers but Fred hated paper. So hard to take care of and he didn't want to have to read that writing with all those flourishes, anyway. He just pushed them back for someone else to consider.

The papers passed from hand to hand - no one really read them. They glanced for battle content or a general's name and since none were present, most decided they would have to go really cheap or they wouldn't bid. One handled the papers roughly and a 150-year-old fold began to tear for the first time. The letter had, after all, been folded and unfolded many times. It was folded first by a soldier on the front lines after a three-day march. John had but a few hours to rest before the next day's battle. He knew he might die. He had watched so many others pass on. Though tired beyond measure, he garnered the best spirit he could find to write home to Rachel and the kids. The letter was short. He folded it, placed his last stamp on the outside, and passed it to the camp clerk to put into the outgoing mail, after the impending battle.
The letter was next unfolded by Rachel a few days hence. She wished it could have been longer, but she knew he would write again, soon.
But he didn't write again, that short letter was her last experience of him.
For years she cherished it. She touched it and read it often and would give it a soft kiss before placing it back into the drawer where it would be found, decades later, by an estate manager charged with emptying the widow's house.
More than a century later, the "papers" were finally brought to the auctioneer's podium. The sale had been going on a while - some had left, others had stayed but had no money left in their budget.  Most of the attendees went to auctions regularly and were cautious about buying items without thorough research.
The papers with John's letter went cheap, only to pass from hand to hand again through more auctions or sold at outdoor antique shows in the sun, rain, and dust. Sometimes it sold high, sometimes not, depending on the venue, the seller, and, of course, the buyer. Soon it was gone, so faded and torn that no one would pay for it, placed in a cardboard box that got wet and then got thrown away.
Of course, the loss of the letter took nothing away from the love that John and Rachel had experienced. The real loss was to a 12-year-old, modern boy who couldn't stop watching the History Channel, whose room held historical posters, Civil War bullets, even some broken Civil War spurs that had gone cheap at an auction. His mother had told him about his Civil War ancestors, but they seemed so far away, such strangers.
His historical interest never faded and his collection grew and followed him throughout his life, as he became a lawyer, then a judge, then a grandfather.
He never learned about John's letter. He had found the few documents recorded at the National Archives that told only the basics, and he had seen a facsimile of John's signature on a pay document. Those records seemed stark. John was still a stranger.
If he could only have held those sentences that John wrote just hours before his death. They were beautiful. Those few tired words had expressed his love for his family and his feelings about the cruel War. Those few sentences, so special and so gone.
That is why we work so hard... 

"The Heritage Room" - January 2019


An "Orphaned Heirloom" is Orphaned No More

In one hand is a modern copy of a picture of a great-great-grandfather and in the other - an original item from his history. One hundred and sixty-six years separate the two items and they would probably never have been reunited except for a great-great-grandson, Seward Osborne of Newberry Florida, and his passion for the past.

 The book lists all the names of the Lexington, New York Artillery Co. founded in 1852. It also includes information on many activities such as the purchase of uniforms, expenses related to "carting guns from Catskill" and much more. One of the men in the book is Porter Schermerhorn, Seward's 2nd great-uncle and brother to his 2nd great-grandfather.

 Rarely has the Heritage Room been blessed with such excitement as ensued from Seward's initial phone call requesting more information on the little, handwritten book. From childhood memories, Seward readily recalled the very field where these early militiamen probably practiced and drilled. Such a wonderful match to such a deserving man. Thank you, Mr. Osborne for YOUR service to our country, as well (army veteran) and thank you for the service of your ancestors. 


 TWO Years For the Price of ONE!

Let's start the New Year off with a good deal. Simply use coupon code "Two" (no quotes) to get two years for the price of a one-year JustaJoy.com membership or renewal! This is a fun offer that is usually quite popular. Offer ends January 31, 2019.

  • Members can post and sell for FREE.
  • Members receive automatic alerts as items are added associated with specific surname interests.
  • Members have access to the entire database with items associated with more than 100,000 surnames!
  • The "Heritage Room" Newsletter is included with membership.
  • Don't hesitate. It is time to give yourself the gift of a treasure chest for 2019 AND 2020! Let's turn the key, today.

This Month's Collectibles - Circus Memorabilia        

On May 21, 2017, after 146 years, The Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus performed for the last time. It was considered a great victory for some animal lovers but the final performance also left a sense of sadness in many. Later, the same year, the movie musical, "The Greatest Showman" portrayed the origin of this, now extinct, art form. The movie lead us to believe that P.T. Barnum was both a good guy and a scoundrel  - an apparent definition of the circus itself.


Amongst many seniors, memories of the circus trains are among their most favorite of childhood - the circus arriving in town, the unloading of the performers and wild animals and the subsequent "parade" as the menagerie made their way to their venue. The more modern reports of animal abuse eventually destroyed this panoply. with those childhood memories being the only vestige remaining, except, of course, in the antique world.


Circus items were already collectible, but the closures created much more interest.  One hundred and forty-six years and thousands of employees create many, many artifacts as well as memories. Original, identified photos, payroll records, advertising, equipment and much more can be discovered. Websites such as thecircusworld.com and others have sprung up to celebrate and sell artifacts that vary from stock certificates to tent poles. There are also many circus museums to visit, the best known - the Ringling Museum of the Circus in Sarasota, FL.



 EBay, "The world's largest marketplace" is an option, as well, for researching circus artifacts. A search on the word "circus" returns nearly 200,000 results, as of this writing, including some Milo Duplex strongman barbell weights starting at $20,000. 


JustaJoy.com, of course, is much more interested in identified items of a personal nature. We are actively pursuing payroll items, identified photos, diaries and other items that tell more than the bright-colored broadsides could ever reveal. Circus people were often families within the "circus family" as they transformed themselves or others around them from ordinary and everyday to a spectacular part of the "Greatest Show on Earth". Finding these "behind the scenes" artifacts can be intensely revealing and dramatic.

If you have circus DNA flowing through your blood, keep an eye on your "Joy Alerts". Who knows what might be discovered! Maybe, together, we can at least keep the MEMORY of the circus alive, even if an elephant has parted the show curtains for the last time.


A New Year - New Resolves      
Each new year seems to hold new promise. Many of us make new plans and goals and resolve to stick with them. A new year is a kind of annual review of where we are, where we have been, and where we could go. This is very good because sometimes that review reflects real improvements or a need for redirection. 

Genealogists spend a lot of time looking into the past. Ironically, that makes them amply prepared to look to the future. Maybe genealogists, more than others, have learned what is really important in a life - what will be appreciated and preserved in the future by the yet unborn. Perhaps that knowledge makes New Year's resolutions and last year's forgiveness a bit easier. 

Here's to 2019! Let's make it a good one!  


"The Heritage Room" - November 2018 


A Significant Centennial - Remembering WWI 

Sitting in an unnoticed corner of the Heritage Room is an iron rod about 5 feet long with screw-like twists at the bottom and coils spaced in regular intervals to the top. It is known as a "pigtail" and would have been used in World War I to string barbed wire in "no man's land". This was before tanks were invented, which happened later in the conflict and changed warfare, forever. Before then, "trench" warfare was the accepted method. Each side dug into deep trenches, large enough for an entire regiment, their offices and equipment and battles were conducted when officers on either side ordered their men, "Over The Top" into the no man's land that separated the two sides


.Placing the barbed wire between the trenches was very dangerous work that was often carried out under cover of darkness. The pigtail was designed to screw quietly into the ground and then be unscrewed to use again as the battlefield moved to another location.


If only this pigtail could talk. If it could, it might tell us about glorious victories and horrible defeats. It might even remember those first tanks or the airplanes, motorcycles, and motor vehicles that were used for the first time in War. It may have even witnessed the "Christmas Eve truce" - a short suspension of the War as soldiers from both sides laid down their arms to sing together, exchange mementos, and play soccer - only to shoot at each other again, the next day.


The centennial of the Great War has come and gone this month with very little fanfare in America to the chagrin of those, such as myself, who want to remember the great sacrifice of so many. 116,516 Americans died in World War I and many, many more returned home with severe lifetime disabilities from mustard gas, amputations, the flu epidemic, and more. At JustaJoy, we haven't forgotten these heroes. The JustaJoy inventory is laden with identified items such as dog tags, honor rolls, books, photos and correspondence. Not all of the WWI related items that can be found on JustaJoy relate to Americans. One of the pictures below shows a 1918 death card for Unton Moosbrugger, a German who died in the Great War. 

It is our feeling at JustaJoy, that the service of all of the 297,000 Americans who fought in WWI should be honored and remembered. To ignore their service is no different than ignoring the service of the fine American men and women who are serving our country today.  They each promised faithfulness to our flag with their lives throughout the world.


Let's work hard to read and learn about this War that brought about so many technological changes. Maybe by creating a WWI tribute in your Heritage Room to remind children and grandchildren of the service of an ancestor. Another idea is to watch one of the great movies about the time. Two of our favorites are "The Lost Battalion" and "All Quiet on the Western Front", both of which are available on YouTube.  Below are some examples of WWI artifacts available on JustaJoy.com. 



This Month's Collectible - Occupational Artifacts


Work is a big part of all of our lives. Of course, this was also true for our ancestors. As we grow in our understanding of who they were and how they lived, we can gain an extra understanding from items associated with their work.

JustaJoy offers many identified work-related items such as paychecks, resumes, photos, letters of reference, or payroll documents such as the one pictured. It is a 1901 payroll list for the newly opened Eastern Maine Insane Hospital in Bangor, ME. The name of the hospital has changed many times since and is currently known as the Dorethea Dix Psychiatric Center.

The document offers a great deal of information including 67 payees, their duties, rate of pay, and hours worked. Signatures of the employees, certifying their agreement with their pay, are also on the document.

These items may not be as important as Family Bibles or photos, but they add a little fun to our investigation, and hopefully, a little insight.



For Scorpios and Sagittarians - A November Surprise!

November reminds us of many things from voting to veterans, touchdowns to turkeys, and cozy flannel sheets. November is also the birthday month of Winston Churchill, Marie Antoinette, and Mark Twain. 
Do you have a birthday in November? If so, use coupon code "November" (no quotes) to save $20.00 on joining or renewing your JustaJoy membership! Offer expires, December 1, 2018.
So as you walk on crunchy leaves beneath barren trees,
Remember to sign up today, so you can say
"I found an heirloom for my Heritage Room!"
(Bad poetry is still poetry, y'all)

 Memorial To A Mentor - Mr. John Weldon Pennington (Jack)


In October, Mrs. Betsy Ramsbotham from Mocksville, NC, joined JustaJoy.com. This was quite special because we are sisters of a sort. We were both trained by a soft-spoken pillar of virtue with a quick sense of humor - her father.


Mr. Pennington and I bonded over old paper. To us, few other antiques held such intrigue. He discovered the joy decades before me but nearly 40 years ago, as a young wife and mother, I became an avid student. He had a booth at the Metrolina Antique show where I would show up with what was left from a twenty-dollar bill after paying to get into the show and grabbing a cheap lunch. Before meeting Mr. Pennington, the antique show served as my getaway. I hadn't yet found my calling but I always knew it was there, somewhere - maybe hidden behind a porcelain vase or a pie safe. But then, I discovered a gentle, soft-spoken and wise man who had long since found his purpose, one that became mine, as well.

In my young years, I was occasionally impatient with his soft and slow explanations, but that was before I learned that any amount of time would be well worth the wait. In fact, if I had known the truth, he was probably justifiably impatient with this new patron who knew so little but wanted to know so much. Time after time, the last nickel would be counted as I purchased his treasures, some of which are listed on JustaJoy.com, today.


As the years passed we shared our love of historical documents, war posters, advertising pieces, and much more. Sometimes it seemed that the two of us were the only ones who knew how important that list of needed wedding items scribbled on WWII USO stationary actually was - importance that could not be reflected in the price.


We good-heartedly argued and teased over the value of original, Titantic newspapers, Howard Cristy posters, flags, books, and Confederate money - even a Revolutionary War muster roll he found in a book. That worn, faded document became a foundation item as JustaJoy.com was being formed. More details of its story can be found on JustaJoy.com - the "Happy Stories" page.

Hours were spent in his booth, going through his "flip boxes" and table trinkets. Most people called him Jack, but he was always "Mr. Pennington" to me. I later made a joke that I bought so much from him, that I eventually had to stop buying or start selling. That joke held a certain amount of truth as JustaJoy Historical Treasures was born and later refined into the website.

 Over the years I became friends with other members of his family. Besides Betsy, I met Lettie, his quick-witted wife, Martha, a second daughter, some of his grandchildren, even some of the Siberian Huskies that he so cherished. Betsy and Martha certainly inherited the graceful and kind mannerisms of their wonderful father.

In February last, we celebrated his life together at his beloved Methodist Church where he had sung in the choir for more than 70 years!

Thank you, Mr. Pennington for what you taught me and not just about the collectibles. I hope your spirit lives through the pages of JustaJoy.com. You will not be forgotten! 


  • Christmas is coming. Would a JustaJoy.com subscription be just the right gift for someone you know? We can supply a gift certificate to wrap or hide in a stocking.
  • What is great about being housebound during the winter months? You can post and sell (or give away) items on JustaJoy. No commissions of any kind!
  • Don't ignore your "Joy Alerts". There is usually only one of each antique or artifact available.
  • JustaJoy.com is a great topic for your next historical or genealogical society meeting. Let us know if we can help.
  • All content in "The Heritage Room" can be copied and used by Genealogical or Historical Societies for free. Please just mention JustaJoy.com.
Once again, thanks for reading. Please contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns.
We would be very happy to hear from you!   

"The Heritage Room" - October 2018 




 Supreme Court Artifacts - Then & Now


The Supreme Court has been in the news a lot lately, so we want to spotlight some of the family-related artifacts that can be found associated with this great body.  Items signed by any of the 114 justices can easily be found but there are many other items to be discovered, as well. Law creates a ton of paperwork and many original items are still available.


Items such as attorney appointment letters and certificates to practice before the Supreme Court can be found, as well as gallery passes, general correspondence, non-trial related ephemera, and press photos. The Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court has also created a lot of paperwork and correspondence since the beginning of the Court. Items associated with maintenance and other employees, suppliers, etc. can also be found. Such records may emerge from attics and basements forever. Besides original sources, published law books, trial transcripts and opinion pamphlets can be found complete with names and details of cases.


One of the first items added to JustaJoy in 2006 was an 1895 certificate to practice before the Supreme Court. It was found in a frame behind an image of Robert E. Lee. The attorney being certified was B.H. Moss of Orangeburg, SC. The item remains in our inventory - not yet discovered by Mr. Moss's descendants.


These kinds of artifacts remind us that we are making history, daily. Certainly, the gallery passes, newspaper reports, and any other items specific to the recent Kavanagh confirmation are now historical artifacts, however modern they might be. It is important to remember to save everything!

 Dates on Old Documents

For nearly a century in the United States, America's birthday was celebrated daily. Important documents and correspondence were not just dated with the words "in the year of our Lord", but also with the correct year since the independence of the United States. For instance, the date of this newsletter would be expressed, "October, 2018 - the 214th year of the Independence of the United States". The number is divined by subtracting 1775, the first year of the Revolutionary War, from the current year.

I have no knowledge of any documents that currently express dates this way and I am not certain when the practice began to abate, though I suspect it may have been around 1876 when America celebrated the first official World's Fair in Philadelphia, PA. The fair doubled as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The Centennial International Exposition of 1876

The Centennial Exposition of 1876 was a grand affair. Two hundred buildings were constructed on the Exposition's grounds surrounded by a fence nearly three miles long. Thirty-seven countries participated with exhibits and nearly 10 million people attended.  Consumer products first displayed to the public included Alexander Graham Bell's telephone, a Remington typewriter, Heinz ketchup and Hires root beer.

Many identified souvenirs of the event exist. Some are pictured below.



The Civil War Sailor and Soldier's Site - A FREE Resource

Do you need to research ancestors from the Civil War? One of the best sites is produced by the National Park Service and called "The Civil War Soldier and Sailor Database".  You can search by name divided into Union or Confederate. Other information on the site includes histories of regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles, and selected lists of prisoner-of-war records and cemetery records. The CWSS is a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and several public and private partners whose goal is to increase Americans' understanding of this decisive era in American history by making information about it widely accessible. The best part is, it is completely FREE to use. Click the button below to begin your exploration. 

 Do You Have a Witch in the Family?


Before you answer, please realize these paragraphs are not about your spouse's aunt. (With a wink.) 
We have all heard about the witch accusations and trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony - not just Salem - during the 17th century. A story by Sue Shellenbarger published on January 15, 2013, in the Wall Street Journal told of Betty Jo Blevins of Alliance, OH who had discovered her ancestral witch - Mary Bliss Parsons. Betty Jo found out that her fifth great-grandmother had spent several months in prison awaiting two separate trials related to the deaths of a neighbor, a baby, and a cow. In spite of being acquitted, historical accounts indicate Mary could never shed the stigma. 
But witchcraft did not end during the early ice age. As recent as 2005 the Supreme Court reviewed a case to allow "Satinistic" beliefs to be considered a valid expression of religion for Federal prisoners.  The idea was upheld by the Court. 
Today, the Witches and Pagans Facebook page has 328,345 followers as of this writing and brags of over 4 million page downloads a year! Yes, they sell advertising.

White Witches

Another interesting point to note is that, according to Wikipedia, all witches are not bad. "White witches" are good and are sometimes mistaken as "earth angels", which, according to Wikipedia, is not completely factual. Presumably, the term "white" is not a racist definition but one based on beliefs.  White witches are supposed to direct their magic for the greater good and follow a moral framework set by the "Wiccan Rede" - a statement of conduct developed by the neopagan Wicca religion.

Hope that puts you in the Halloween "spirit". Please have a "magical" month as we celebrate all that Fall has to offer.    


"The Heritage Room" - September 2018


 This Month's Collectible - Musical Memorabilia

I am often asked, "Where did the idea of JustaJoy.com come from?". I usually explain how it emerged as an adjunct to our antique business, which is true. But there is actually a more personal reason, as well. My father, John Chilton Hughes, was a musician. In my childhood memories, it seemed he could play any instrument he could figure out how to work. He played on the RKO circuit in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The RKO circuit was a chain of vaudeville and live radio shows founded in 1886. The name of my father's group was the "Ace & Duece Band".


My father spoke of suitcases full of musical memorabilia associated with the band - broadsides, banners, programs, newspaper reviews, photographs, and fan mail. By the time I came along, nothing was left but a couple of ragged postcards from fans, a small newspaper clipping, and a picture. In the photo, my young Dad (long before I knew him) was the one in the back left who looked a little scared to me.

It was rare for me to experience his expertise on the many instruments. My mother, his second wife, strongly disliked my father's musical interest - an issue probably founded in his habit of becoming intoxicated when he played. But he always had a guitar hidden somewhere and there was an old upright piano in our house, as well. It had a couple of dead keys and was out of tune but served well enough as a practice piano for me, through several years of lessons. My mother paid for the lessons in the hope that I would, one day, take over the piano and organ duties in our small church in Kentucky. That plan never came together, however. I didn't have my father's talent nor did I have much interest in challenging my friend, Ady Ruth for the job, especially since she played better than I did. My mother's plan and $100 contribution to purchase a new piano for the church all went up in smoke.
But that old piano did offer rewards. Occasionally, my father, probably tired of listening to my inadequate, repeated attempts to learn, would say, "Scoot over and keep playing". I knew to move my hands down an octave or two and to do my best to play fast and not mess up as he created a duet by ear. Such fun!
I recently had a wonderful opportunity to meet Mike Rawlins, an expert in early recordings who may soon be adding items to JustaJoy. I told him about my Dad and the "Ace & Deuce Band" and he took much time and interest to research for recordings. Unfortunately for me, the first radio recordings were done in 1934 and none could be found for my father's band, though one other "Ace & Deuce" member later had many recordings with other groups.
But my secret JustaJoy dream is to extend my "Ace & Deuce" archive with a broadside, more pictures, a review, or other memorabilia. What a treat that would be.
Do you have musicians in your heritage? There could be many different kinds of memorabilia to discover including old recordings. Wouldn't it be a delight to hear great-grandpa's voice or guitar pluckings? A general search for the word "music" on JustaJoy returns 383 items including programs, sheet music, military items (listing musicians), photos, and more.



Special Offer from Mike Rawlins!

Mike has agreed to share his extensive knowledge and collection with any JustaJoy member who may be looking for a rare, extant recording of a family musician. Mike has made this dream come true for many others and shares in the joy as matches are made. There is a high percentage of early recorded music that is only available on 78 rpm and those are the ones he likes best.

Mike's collection has evolved from decades of sorting the old 78's. He especially prefers pre-WWII blues and gospel and 1940's and 50's rhythm and blues as well as rock recordings designed for the jukebox.  "Please let everyone know I am still buying, selling and trading!" says Mike.

Feel free to contact him at Mike-Ronda@att.net.


Family Members Without Surnames - Those Precious Pets

I have an older friend who recently showed me legal paperwork that he and his wife had procured regarding their final wishes. Their desire was to be cremated and their ashes spread over two graves in a pet cemetery where their two favorite dogs were buried. At first, this sounded quite strange to me, especially since this couple has children. Are the kids OK with this plan?

But my friend's proclamation put me to thinking about how important animals can be in our lives. I, for one, have certainly shed many a tear at the loss of dogs, cats, horses, even a dear duck killed by a dog. These sentiments were, no doubt, felt by our ancestors as well, especially those with an agrarian lifestyle, whose daily deeds intersected with animals of all sorts.

Many old pictures show animals alongside their masters and sometimes have their names. Usually, these pictures portray dogs, cats, or horses, but it is quite easy to find prize bulls, chickens, birds, goats, cats, snakes, and more. These pictures offer an insight into an ancestor's priorities. If you believe in "DNA Memory" maybe it explains our modern-day love for animals, as well. (As demonstrated by many Facebook profile pictures.)

My "heritage room" contains many pet associated items including three bent pieces of brass with the words "Jimbo", "Cody Micco" and "Dandy Boy" hand-punched into their face. These are halter nameplates for three horses I cherished as a child. To this day, I can tell you much about each of their habits and conformation. Probably not the kind of artifact that will be appreciated for generations, but quite valuable to me, fifty years later.


Yearbooks -Ancestry.com, Classmates.com & JustaJoy.com


We have to add a note in appreciation of Ancestry.com's newest ads featuring yearbooks. We feel a little history may be in order.

Yearbooks were initiated in 1806 by Yale College. The first known yearbook was inauspiciously titled, "Profiles of the Class Graduated at Yale College". There are no known copies of this book and should one emerge, it would be quite valuable.

The oldest surviving yearbook was issued in 1845 by Waterville Academy in New York City. It even contains images of the students in the form of daguerreotypes pasted into its pages.

Later, as photography evolved, so did the process of adding them to yearbooks. Students would order many copies of their own photos to exchange with others. After a collection was achieved, it would be possible to place them into a book that could be bound - an expensive process.

Beginning in the 1920s, other classes besides graduates began to be featured. With improvements in printing and photography, the popularity of yearbooks grew rapidly.

Today, there are approximately 50,000 public and private high schools in the United States and each usually produces a yearbook each year. That adds up pretty quickly. That doesn't include elementary, college, or military!

Classmates.com advertises more than 70,000 versions and admits that is only a small percentage of the potential. They sell digitized copies for $75 - $100 each.

Ancestry.com is currently advertising information (only) from more than 300,000 yearbooks which is probably less than 10% of the total number of yearbooks ever printed.

Of course, JustaJoy.com sells originals. They may contain pressed flowers, dance programs, hair, or other memorabilia. There may even be a note or signature written to a classmate by an ancestor - a treat indeed. Our primary interest is older versions from the 1900s through WWII. The WWII high school yearbooks may contain the last identified photo of students before they were lost in the War and we consider that possibility of great significance.

A JustaJoy general search for the word "yearbook" returns more than 500 entries - most complete with full names. Some have already found homes, but the information remains forever to be discovered by other researchers.

Yearbooks can be an important part of our understanding of our ancestors in many ways. How else can we find out how Great-Grandpa looked in a vintage football uniform or that he was voted "Class Cutest"!


  • Even though temperatures are still hovering around 90 degrees at many places in the United States, perhaps it is time to start thinking about Christmas! Is there someone on your list who would appreciate a lifetime JustaJoy.com membership? We will even provide a lovely Christmas gift certificate for you to present!
  • Would you like to be a "Heritage Hero" for another family? All JustaJoy.com members in good standing can post items for free to sell or give away. We are glad to help with pricing, as needed.
  • Are you a member of a historical or genealogical society? Please consider doing an introductory program about JustaJoy.com. We can help!
  • And if your society has a library with a computer, institutional versions of JustaJoy are free! 
  • Remember, all members have full access to all of the items on JustaJoy, not just the ones associated with the 20 surnames on your account. Explore away!
  • Remember, "Joy Alert" links only work if you are logged in.
  • Well, that is all for now. I have a whole stack of new items to add to JustaJoy. I better get started! Thanks for reading. See ya' next month.   

"The Heritage Room" - August 2018  


A War of 1812 Muster Roll Happily Restored!


Some exciting correspondence has transpired at the Heritage Room over the last couple of weeks. It is quite doubtful that War of 1812 Captain Samuel Clark could ever have guessed that he would be the source of such excitement more than 200 years after he signed his name on his Company's muster roll, but that is what has happened.

Usually, genealogy research leads to the discovery of family artifacts, but this time the story was in reverse. The artifact actually led to the discovery of an ancestor - and an important one at that.


Jonathan, Samuel's 3X Great-grandson, used dogged research and DNA to establish with certainty that the War of 1812 Captain of a Mercer County, PA company was, in fact, his ancestor. 


"To be honest," Jonathan wrote, "I'm astounded by what I'm finding out...I believe this document may be much more important than I thought. What it means is that Captain Samuel Clark and Margaret Hosack were my 3X Great Grandparents! This was not discovered previously and our family has been looking very hard for decades. I am so pleased! You can't know what an exciting breakthrough this ended up being.


"Maybe not Mr. Clark, but rest assured this story brought a smile or two to the Heritage Room, as well. 

How About a LIFETIME JustaJoy Membership!

No doubt some of the people reading this newsletter will live to be 100 years old. So why not save money by becoming a JustaJoy.com Lifetime Member?  Even if you are already 80 and become a centenarian, that is only 2.7 cents a day! And who knows which of those days will be the one that JustaJoy discovers something very special for you and your family.

All premiums go to sustaining our site. Dollars leftover after server fees, etc. usually go to procuring additional artifacts. So not only are you paying for the pleasure of opening those treasure chests called "Joy Alerts", you are helping to keep this site alive and kicking.

Thank you for your best consideration  


Is There A Hobo In Your Heritage? ...Was He An Artist?

This Month's Collectible - Tramp & Hobo Art


Tramp art is a form of folk art that originated in Germany in the 1860s by "Wanderbuersons", wandering apprentices who were likely comparable to the rail-riding hobos we associate with the Depression. Our study of this form of art has revealed a very interesting distinction between the American transients. 

Even though they often shared the same trains, "jungles" (campsites) and jail cells, "tramps" were distinguishable from "hobos" because they generally had their own society with its own rules and hierachy. According to "The History of Tramp Art" in an article at www.folkartisans.com, tramps took pride in their idleness and were contemptuous of hobos who would occasionally take jobs to support their wandering ways. Hobos, on the other hand, feared tramps as loafers and thieves, possibly even murderers.

The two classes of vagrants did, however, coexist, sharing Mulligan stew and post-meal campfires where each would practice their particular art. Hobos used their pocket knives for carving chains, figurines, or a "ball-in-the-cage". Tramps largely created chip art boxes, frames, and other items from cigar boxes - many with very intricate detail. Identified pieces are somewhat rare, but not impossible to find. The pedestal box shown in the pictures above was made by a former Civil War soldier from New York named James Carol. It is currently offered for sale on JustaJoy.
Experts in tramp art can also sometimes identify a piece by its individual style. This is the case with artists John Zubersky from Chicago who used shot glasses and coins to make his patterns andJohn Zadora from Pennsylvania made heart wall pockets with birds and horseshoes in his art. Both of these men have interesting background stories that contribute to the appreciation of their pieces.
Hobo art carvings, such as the small statue pictured to the right, can also be found. It is identified to Paul E. Caron and available on eBay for around $35.00.
It is fun to imagine these free-thinkers on the road, existing solely on their smarts while facing hunger, angry policemen, hostile dogs, and other problems. Yet even in the worst of conditions, they found time to create art that we can enjoy, today! 





 2018 - 100th Anniversary of World War I

One hundred years ago, to the very date of this writing, the final push began that ultimately ended World War I. It was known as the "Hundred Days Offensive" - a rapid series of Allied actions that began in August, 1918 with the Battle of Amiens. A series of succesful battles resulted in pushing the Germans back beyond the Hindenburg line and lead to the Armistice.

Perhaps we, at the Heritage Room, simply don't know where the commemoration events are, but this anniversary seems to be completely overlooked. We have read of no large celebrations in Washington, DC or elsewhere. There isn't even a movie epic to properly take note of the anniversary. But in the Heritage Room, we want to remember those soldiers. The very least we can do is recognize the anniversary of the first World War.

JustaJoy has hundreds of identified World War I artifacts in inventory - photos, honor rolls, dogtags, sheet music, correspondence and more. If you have a World War I ancestor, please be sure to click the link below to search for artifacts from their service. 


 An Afternoon Essay On An Essayist - Thomas Paine

(Nothing To Do With Artifacts)


Thomas Paine had only nine people at his funeral. Some accounts say six. He had fell out of worldwide favor by the time he died in Greenwich Village in New York in 1809, because of his radical views on religion in general and Christianity in particular - views that had led to convictions and imprisonment in England and France.

What an inauspicious end to the author of the most widely sold book, per capita, ever written in America, "Common Sense" - a book that set the stage for the American Revolution; a book that was, most likely, the source of Thomas Jefferson's famous sentence, "All men are created equal"; a book that has become widely forgotten except by arbiters of American history.

Like many of us, he must have wondered about his true definition. Was he a hero or a heel, a visionary or a vagrant, a person to be pondered or a theoretical terrorist. Books were written on how he and Robert Ingersoll, another free-thinking philosopher, suffered on their death beds. This was believed to be a sure sign of their failure to submit to church teachings, as it was universally understood and accepted by the masses at that time.
Freethinkers have always had a hard way to go.  Conformity and compliance are so much easier. And so we wonder...while sitting in his cell in an English prison, did Thomas Paine rue his decision to belittle King George III? He probably rued many things before accepting his destiny to do and be what he was. My bet is, in spite of his reported tortures, ridicule, and sparsely attended funeral, he died knowing he had completed his calling.
Christians (myself included) believe that all things work together for good. It seems to me they always have. It is so easy to have faith when you believe that ALL things have an ultimate purpose, that you have to taste vinegar to appreciate sugar, that you have to be hurt to be able to grow in wisdom and kindness.
Thank you, Thomas Paine, for writing that King George put his pants on just like everyone else. I am sorry that your radical ramblings led to so much rejection and pain but you should know that your pen was instrumental in creating an entire nation of free thinkers. You are definitely a lesson to me and I will try to put my pants on the same way you did.

"The Heritage Room" - June 2018  


 Stork Tracks

Collectible Birth Commemoratives

The May edition of The Heritage Room discussed artifacts generated by death. This month we will focus on a much more cheering subject - items created along with new lives.
Births create many interesting items - original birth certificates, baby books with Mom and Dad's special thoughts (usually Mom), engraved items and more. JustaJoy.com is the place to discover some of these unique items from family history. A general search on JustaJoy for the word "birth" returns 253 results as this goes into print and on the word "baby" - 167. We will do a short review of some of the artifacts that can be found. 

 Birth Certificates

These first official documents are of great importance to genealogists. They are considered prime evidence of someone's existence with information that is erroneously believed to be 100% reliable. The history of these documents goes back as far as the mid-19th century in some countries, but in the U.S., an organized and (somewhat) dependable system did not completely materialize until WWII.  Our review of these documents revealed some interesting facts.


When a time (ex. 10:42 a.m.) is given on early certificates, it may represent an instance of multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.) 

Ages of parents and residences on birth certificates can be inaccurate for a number of reasons, usually related to avoiding laws of the day. 

The absence of a father's name may indicate death prior to birth (usually indicated with the word "deceased" or illegitimacy. A law passed in the U.S. in 1875 decreed that fathers had to give consent before using their name on the documents. 

Sea & Sky Births - Our study of birth certificates uncovered an interesting situation involving births at sea or in an airplane. What is the nationality of the baby? It depends on many things and each country makes it's own laws. It may depend on where the plane or ship is registered, where the birth took place (ex: a country's air space) or the nationality of the parents. The U.S. State Dept. dictates that children born in international waters have an official birthplace of "AT SEA" whereas births in territorial waters would be listed as the name of the associated country. A child born in a country's "air space" may be a citizen of that country if the country claims sovereignty "to the heavens". Otherwise, the official birthplace will be listed as "IN THE AIR". An interesting side note is that some airlines give free flights for life to babies born in their metal. 

Modern problems with birth certificates - Countries around the world are struggling with the best procedures to record births involving in vitro fertilization, sperm and egg donors and surrogate mothers. These types of births are growing. In 2013 CBS reported there were at least 5 million "Assisted Reproductive Technology" (ART) births worldwide and, of course, there are many more now. The legal case of one "mother" who wanted her name on the birth certificate in spite of contributing no DNA to the baby,  went all the way to the Supreme Court. She failed in her endeavor and was listed as an adoptive parent. 

In 1990 Debbie Owen gave birth on a British Airways flight from Gwana to the U.K. She named her daughter Shona Kirstie Yves. Her initials spelling SKY!


Baby Books and Other Emphemera      


Much like modern-day baby blogs, baby books began recording all of the mundane yet wondrous details of infancy around 1900, a period when parents could assume, for the first time, that their baby had a good chance of survival. The books became more and more creative and ultimately encouraged recording everything from the identities of gift-givers and visitors to the baby's primary hospital nurse and first words.. Many also had pages for family photographs and others for special notes from the parents. The notes often offer as much information about the writer as the child - education level, value system and more can be deduced.
But a problem exists with baby books - they are nearly all related to firstborns! We can usually learn far less about the second child and there may not even BE a baby book for the third or fourth. By the time they come along, rolling over simply doesn't hold the mystique it once did!

There are many other types of ephemera associated with births that can be found on JustaJoy.  Birth announcements, congratulatory cards and letters, newspapers with birth announcements, and Family Bibles can offer the possibility of owning original artifacts associated with an ancestor's birth. 

Engraved Items 

A common practice for more than a century is an engraved baby gift such as a silver cup, bowl, spoon, or  picture frame. Examples of all of these can be found on JustaJoy such as the two cups pictured below. JustaJoy is the place for all those engraved silver-plated items that antique dealers normally avoid because the market is so narrow. We make it possible to find the very ones who will cherish that silver child's cup commemorating the birth of Dorothy Hall on May 25, 1910 or Beth Anne Reed on November 22, 1974.


Summer Family Reunion Reminders! 

Every year around this time we like to say a special word to those of you who will be organizing or attending a family reunion. In plain words, sometimes it is hard to make the children and teenagers, even occasionally, the young adults, to really appreciate family history. Artifacts make it easier. If they can hold or see an item from an ancestor, suddenly the ancestor is much more real. Please take advantage of the opportunities that JustaJoy offers to make this reality possible. Yes, we know they will be looking forward to your potato salad and baked beans, but maybe you can bring along something even more memorable - an orphaned family heirloom that is orphaned no more.  


Caring for Paper Collectibles

The Heritage Room wants to help you be assured that your family antiques and artifacts will survive for generations to come. Many of the items offered on JustaJoy are made of paper - vintage correspondence, newspapers, certificates, deeds and wills, slave documents, and much more. "The older, the better" applies to this category of collectibles when it comes to conservation. A newspaper printed by Benjamin Franklin is very likely to be in better condition than one reporting the moon land or the sinking of the Titanic. This is due to the high content of real cotton that was used in paper back in the day. This cotton has since been replaced with less expensive bleached wood pulp making modern paper much more vulnerable. Enemies of paper include light, extreme temperatures, acid storage, and humidity. 


There are many archival products to help with these dangers and it is not always necessary to buy the most expensive. Simple acid-free protectors can be purchased at any office supply store and work as well as the archival versions in many cases. 
Folding documents should be avoided. If they are too large to store flat (such as maps), place an acid-free cloth on top and roll around a tube (not too tight).
Acid-free shrinkwrapping or encapsulation is preferable to lamination which can destroy the market value of a document (such as that presidential signature that made GGGrandad a postmaster). Gloves are not always necessary but add an extra layer of protection from the dirt, oil, acids, and salt that is unseen on our hands. A good handwashing,  before handling, can go a long way to protect against these dangers, as well.
When framing paper items be certain to use acid-free materials. Do not use glue or tape to mount the object. Instead, drymount the piece using acid-free pockets such as the ones used in scrapbooks. You can also make clear mounting corners by clipping corners from plastic baseball cardholders. These baseball cardholders are called "toploaders" in the market and come in many different sizes and assorted thicknesses. In our heritage room, we have them to be very useful, as it is not practical to frame everything that we want to keep.
When framing, we have also learned that acid-free acrylic is preferable to glass for a number of important reasons. One, if the item is dropped, there won't be glass shards to tear the document and two, the acrylic offers more protection from light that glass. The acrylic also weighs less than glass - important for larger items.
Framed pieces should be hung in a low light environment such as a hall. Of course, if you have your own "Heritage Room", as I do, that would probably be the best place to share with the rest of the family. Be cautious about adding "picture lights". They can do damage from heat as well as light.
One last note - beware of "archival sprays". A few years ago, we worked with representatives from the Library of Congress on a special project. They were attempting to develop a spray that could inhibit acid damage and foxing (brown, yellow or red stains resulting from mold or metal contaminants).  At that time, we were told that no such spray existed and that, of the ones on the market, some would do more harm than good. Not an expert, but I trust the Library of Congress.

 Reaching Out to Our Relic Friends

It has been a few years since we were regular vendors at many Civil War and military shows around the country. But in our travels in the past, we met some of the most amazing people, ever! These vendors were (and are) at the forefront of learning and teaching about artifacts from the past. I am thankful to so many for the patience they showed as they carefully taught me the many nuances of this kind of collecting. 

When I introduced these dealers to my new JustaJoy.com idea, many jumped on board immediately and listed some of the finest antiques we have ever had on the site. Everything from cabinet cards to Confederate frock coats that valued in the tens of thousands. I just want to reach out to thank these individuals for so much they have done for me, in so many ways, but I still have one more special request.

Please continue to remember JustaJoy when you encounter those identified items. Many of you have your own website or an eBay store. Listings in both these places are unlikely to be seen by family members. Please block and copy it over to JustaJoy. Listings are free for members and there are no commissions or any other charges of any kind, other than the annual membership charge ($59.95).

You have a chance of being a hero as well as discovering a new place to sell. But there is a caution - when you make a match to a happy family, a tear might come to your eyes, as well.


"The Heritage Room" - May 2018 

A "Tombstone Tourist's" Guide to the Artifacts of Death



Every aspect of our lives produces artifacts and many can be found related to the customs associated with death. 
Perhaps a little information about memorial items is in order.  

 Coffin Plates

Coffin plates are decorative adornments that can be made from brass, copper, silver, porcelain or other materials. They are attached to coffins and usually offer some combination of the name of the deceased, date of birth and death and/or sentiments. Their purpose ranged from simple identification of the body in the box to an elaborate display of wealth. They were used as early as the 17th century and were quite common before losing popularity in the mid-19th century.

Families of wealth would sometimes remove the coffin plates before burial to be kept as mementos of the deceased.  Less privileged families who couldn't afford an elaborate coffin for every family member would reuse a fancy coffin adorned with the proper coffin plate for visitation. The body would then be buried in a more modest container, and the coffin plate would be replaced the next time the fancy coffin was needed.  We have heard stories of stacks of coffin plates being discovered in the cellars of pre-Civil War homes. 


Lachrymals, Lachrymatories, Lachrymosas

These 3 words reference Victorian "tear vials" - bottles used to catch tears during a funeral to be saved until the mourning period is over.  Somewhat controversial reports regarding lachrymals either completely discount them altogether or quote scripture that references them. They are usually beautiful, erect, handpainted bottles that can be corked. Very few (if any) have names, but we just had to include them in this list of interesting mourning materials. 


Hair Art Memorials

After the demise of Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria was in mourning for 40 years until her death in 1901. She became the "queen" of mourning rituals during that time. She strongly influenced popular mourning activity including the creation of art composed of hair from the deceased.  These memorials had many artful ramifications from framed wreaths to jewelry - even effigies of lost children - dolls made using hair from the lost loved one. The works of art would often be displayed in homes as a lasting reminder of the departed. They are often identified and sometimes even have a picture incorporated into the design. 

Lockets, bracelets, watches, and more are often engraved to remember a departed loved one. Beautiful examples exist that also contain a lock of hair. In fact, you didn't always have to be dead to have such an item created for you. For example, it was fairly common for Buffalo Bill Cody to leave locks of hair with female admirers who would then create jewelry from them. The Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, WY has a large collection of such pieces. 

 Post Mortem Photos

Post Mortem photos have been taken as long as photography has been in existence. There are even pictures of dead babies in the arms of the mother along with other members of the family.

The practice was escalated during the flu epidemic of 1918 that killed more Americans than WWI. Many municipalities made laws that flu victims must be buried quickly, usually within four hours.  This made it impossible for out-of-town family and friends to attend. Photographers would station themselves near railroad depots where caskets were prepared to satisfy the immediate needs. The photographers would offer their service to make photos that would be printed on a postcard backing to send to out-of-towners.  These were the beginning of a phenomenon known to antique dealers as "real picture postcards" which eventually depicted every scene imaginable, even lynchings, with a postcard backing.

Post-Mortem photos are often identified, but are somewhat pricey - usually starting around $100

Funeral Death Cards

A search for funeral or mourning death cards on JustaJoy returns dozens of examples. These cards were very popular in many countries in the 1800's and usually measure 4" X 6". JustaJoy has examples from France and Germany, as well as the U.S.The cards were quite elegant and were often lettered in gold. Besides information about birth and death, the beautiful cards sometimes contained pictures, personal information or  poems. Thousands exist. Should one be found related to an ancestor, it can add an interesting and attractive element to any family archive. They are usually valued less than $25.00 each. 


Ephemera (paper items designed for temporary use) can offer many different kinds of original items to the family archivist. Original newspaper death notices, sympathy cards and letters on mourning-ruled stationery, original estate documents, and funeral bills can all give insight to not just the death of an ancestor, but also their lives. Many obituaries were flourished with exalting words about the deceased, mentioning great elements of their character, skills or faith. Details in estate documents and funeral bills can nearly depict the exact circumstances of an ancestor's life just prior to their death. Fortunately, thousands of these exist to be discovered by descendants. Price - $25.00 and up.


 Other Items

Of course, there is no end to the creativity of bereaved loved ones. Needlework samplers can be discovered along with all kinds of engraved items (other than jewelry discussed above). We even found a tribute engraved on a spoon!  Needlework pieces vary in price from $100 to thousands, depending on age and the skill of the seamstress. Engraved items can be a bargain, as silver, pewter, copper, or brass collectors usually prefer items that are not engraved.  JustaJoy.com customers usually have a different opinion.

Needless to say, family deaths are of "grave" importance to most family researchers. Please be sure to watch for "Joy Alerts" about items of significance for YOUR family! 


Most Popular State Surnames

Ancestry.com recently published a map (copied here) indicating the 3 most popular surnames is each state of the Union. Not surprisingly, Smith was one of the 3 most popular in all states except Minnesota, New Mexico, and Hawaii. Johnson was also popular, measuring as one of the top three in every state except New Mexico, Texas, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania. Iowa and South Carolina. Less expected entries included Olson (North Dakota), Nelson (Minnesota), Sullivan (Massachusetts), Miller (Kansas), and Anderson (Montana, Washington, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin). The 3 most popular surnames in Hawaii are Lee, Wong, and Kim and Garcia rates high in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. Thank you Ancestry.com for this interesting information.



"I am getting too many Joy Alerts!"
You can manage how many "Joy Alerts" you get by adjusting the surnames on your account, at any time. Just remember to occasionally check for any names you remove. The newest items are always at the top of any search results.
"It costs too much!"
Usually the antique dealers who post on JustaJoy will negotiate on price.
"I want to post!"
All members can post and sell for free including genealogical and historical societies. (A possible fund-raiser!)Societies Are Important - Societies can also get JustaJoy.com for free for Society library computers.
"I want to tell people about you!"
We are always available to help with a program introducing JustaJoy.com to any group.
"I want another search idea!"
Don't forget about "General Search" when you want to search a place, school, regiment or any other parameters other than surname.
"I have a family reunion scheduled!"
Those fun summer reunions are coming soon. Add to the fun by showing up with an original artifact.

The Ancestor I Could Have Had 

The following is not really about identified artifacts - it is more of a personal story. I never knew a grandfather. Both died before I was born - one of natural causes, one of suicide. Of course, the suicide was never discussed much in my presence - usually only when my Dad was REALLY mad at my Mom. But just this week, this event came to mind as I realized that my grandfather could have known ME! Conceited you might think, but I believe he would have liked me. I was pigeon-toed when I was born, so my parents put me in ballet at age 3 to help correct the problem. A cute picture exists showing me posing in a leotard with my feet so turned in that it looks quite unnatural. The process, however, worked, and now my size 9 1/2 feet are fine (just ugly). 

I believe that grandfather might have enjoyed watching me dance during those early years - he might even have dreamed that I would be another Shirley Temple!  If he had put off his suicide even a little longer, he might have enjoyed watching me show horses, which I did at county fairs all over Kentucky in my youth. He may have enjoyed watching me drive Bingo King, my young hackney pony in his bright blue sulky in roadster classes. You know, he might have even enjoyed coming to my high school honors program when I received a scholarship to go to college.  I believe some of these events might have cheered him past the cruelties he had known that led to his suicide. Perhaps watching a little pigeon-toed girl in a tutu could have helped him forget those tortures.

I have spent many years trying to guess the exact nature of his pain. He had lost a son to drowning - drowning in shallow water. Was there more to the story? His wife had divorced him and exiled him to live alone in a different house. A product of the lost son? He was a successful businessman who rarely drank and grieved copiously when he did - a fact I heard from his daughter, my mother. My mother could also have contributed to his misery. She had divorced her first husband (not my Dad) after losing a baby and after he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia - a disease that led to horrible consequences. 


A lot of water had gone under the bridge by the time I was born in 1954 to a mother of 40 years old and a father of 45. I can only speculate at my grandfather's misery before he put that gun to his head, leaving stains on the hardwood floor that were impossible to remove (another argument-revealed fact).I would have loved to have known him. I would have loved to hug him. I would have loved to see him in the audience when I danced or when I stood on the stage at my high school honors night program. I would love to know, now, more about that piece of the pie that makes me.

If you are considering suicide, please think of that pigeon-toed little girl that might be in your future who will want your love - a love that you and you alone can offer. Be brave for her or for that yet unborn little boy who will learn from you. Even be brave for your current tormentors - you might get to see the redemption of the pains you have suffered. If you wait, you might get to see how God can fix unfixable problems. He loves you as you sit there with your gun in your lap. He loves you and who knows who else will. 


"The Heritage Room" - April 2018 


"Was My Ancestor an Athlete?" - Sports Collectibles on JustaJoy

One of the first items JustaJoy ever matched was a commemorative plaque honoring WWII trainees who excelled in sports at an athletic field at Walker Army Airfield in Kansas during WWII. It listed winners in assorted sporting events - everything from the badminton champ (Lieut. Dalbart Barron) to members of the 1944 Volleyball tournament - a team that included 1st Lieut. Howard R. McKendrick.




The plaque was probably removed in January of 1946 when the airfield was put on inactive status.  

Thankfully, some far-sighted person preserved it by converting it into a lovely little side table that probably made many stops before ending up in JustaJoy's inventory.

You can imagine our delight when in January 2011, 64 years after the closing of the airfield, we received the following correspondence from the former lieutenant who by then was Colonel McKendrick:

"I received a letter from my niece in California and enclosed was a request for information about 1st Lt H.R. McKendrick. Your search has brought back many fond memories of that part of my life. I was stationed at Walker Airbase from late 1944 to April 1945. I was there with my wife and 1yr old daughter and we lived with a family by the name of Mae and Leon Wenger. I did participate in the sports program which was part of our physical training. I never knew there were plaques acknowledging our tournaments. I left Walker with the 330th Bomb Group in April 1945. We were station at North Field, Guam. I made two flights over Japan, the second one was to observe the signing of the Peace Accords on the Battleship Missouri. On returning home I decided to make the Air Force my career. I served in a variety of assignments for the next thirty years and retired as Colonel in June 1972. We made our home in Aiken South Carolina. We are now living in Cumberland Village, a retirement home in the Aiken Area. I was 91 the 26 of December and as a matter of interest, my wife has the same birthday.  My Regards, Howard R. McKendrick Colonel, USAF (Ret)."

Later correspondence from the Colonel, after receiving the table, mentioned, "I haven't seen my family so excited for a long time."  Below are pictures of Col. McKendrick in earlier years and with his family's forever treasure.


Other Sports Items on JustaJoy.com

Other examples of identified sports memorabilia that can be found on JustaJoy include:

  • A 1946 hole-in-one trophy containing the original ball (Loyal Oaks Golf Course, Norton, OH)
  • A 1929 scorecard listing all players and positions in a high school football game between Everett and Medford Mass.
  • 1975 AP Wire Photos featuring members of the University of Northern Colorado baseball team.
  • A 1941 King's Mountain, NC High School newspaper with articles about the baseball state champions.
  • A 1905 letter from the Bangor, Maine High School Athletic Association Football Department arranging a game with the Bar Harbor Football Association.
  • Much more!


Free Appraisals!          

Let's face it, sometimes it is hard to know if an antique is worthless or priceless.  We know that many JustaJoy members have no real interest in making money from items they post, but we still advise posting items at their true value. Adjustments can be made when the correct buyer is found. One of our bylaws states that items cannot be posted for more than they are worth on the antique market. This rule is in place to avoid any possible exploitation of family members. Although JustaJoy has never had that problem, we keep a watchful eye.
So then, if you are not an expert in the value of antiques, how can you know how to price something you are posting? We are available, at any time, with help on that front. Please feel free to call 704-948-1912, or email Joy to discuss values.
And if you are a buyer, don't forget - usually, all prices on JustaJoy are negotiable. Most of the time, all you have to do to save is to simply ask, "Is that your best price?" 




The War of 1812 - Was It God or Coincidence?

Is it possible to have a favorite war? A quaint idea, I suppose...but when you are an American artifacts dealer, you become very well acquainted with the various nuances of American wars - the reasons, the participants, the activities and the results. The history of each war is enticing for those reasons, with endless stories to study and lessons to learn. My favorite is the War of 1812, America's first declared war. This was also the war that firmly established the United States as a country in the eyes of other countries - even more than the Revolutionary War. After all, at the beginning of the War of 1812, the British navy had more than 1000 ships. The Americans had 17. 

 There were also so many fiery and larger-than-life characters in the cast - the ever-controversial Andrew Jackson, the 5'4" woman hero, Dolly Madison, an anthem writer stuck on a ship (Frances Scott Key) and God. Yes, God, who undeniably showed his hand to interfere on the side of the Americans - let me explain.

  On August 24, 1814, the Brits were definitely winning the war. They were nearly, completely unimpeded as they marched into Washington, DC and began burning government buildings. At 10:30 p.m., they entered the White House and pilfered items as varied as presentation swords and the love letters from President Monroe to his wife, Dolly. After having a glass of wine in the White House dining room, Rear Admiral George Coburn ordered a blaze to be set, a blaze that ultimately could be seen by people from 50 miles away, including President Monroe on horseback in the field who was still worried about the whereabouts of Dolly. She had been quite busy. The only White House artifacts that survived the event were hastily gathered by her and she barely escaped with them before the Brits arrived.
Enter God. The next day, with more looting and burning planned, an uncanny storm appeared out of nowhere and with no warning. Beginning as a terrible thunderstorm that put out any fires that remained from the previous day, it evolved into a tornado that set down directly on the spot the British soldiers were camping! The storm killed more of the American enemy than the American troops had killed and the Brits were demoralized to the point of retreating promptly to their ships in the Chesapeake Bay! 

The War of 1812 doesn't get as much play as the Civil War, WWII or the Revolutionary War, but it was very significant and very interesting. JustaJoy has numerous original identified items from this war including muster rolls, pension documents, badges, books and letters. A video made in the Washington DC area can be seen on the JustaJoy home page. It describes how original documents found on JustaJoy helped a descendant secure a new monument for his War of 1812 ancestor.

Please learn more about this War.  There are many interesting videos on the subject including one, "Was it God or Coincidence".


Important Reminders  

  • Family reunions are coming. Wouldn't it be fun to show up with an original artifact?
  • You can manage how many "Joy Alerts" you get by adjusting the surnames on your account, at any time. Just remember to occasionally check for any names you remove. The newest items are always at the top of any search results.
  • Usually, the antique dealers who post on JustaJoy will negotiate on price.
  • All members can post and sell for free including genealogical and historical societies
  • Societies can also get JustaJoy.com for free for Society library computers.
  • We are always available to help with a program introducing JustaJoy.com to any group.
  • Don't forget about "General Search" when you want to search a place, school, regiment, or any other parameters other than surname.    

"The Heritage Room" - March 2018 


 MyHeritage Guest Blog - Thanks, Again!


We were honored, once again, to make a guest appearance with the MyHeritage Blog. Our topic regards concerns about what will happen with our family heirlooms after we are gone. 

This is a guest post by Joy Shiver. Joy is the owner of JustaJoy.com Family Heirloom Exchange, a surname searchable, bulletin board style website antique dealers use to reach out to family members. With thousands of original items associated with more than 100,000 surnames, JustaJoy.com has become the largest in the world at matching antiques and artifacts back to families. Joy's background as a lifetime antique collector and dealer makes her uniquely qualified for such a venture. She describes her website as "Antique Hunting in the Family Tree" and loves when matches are made.


Many antique collectors express concerns over whether their treasured objects will be respectfully passed onto future generations. I am here to offer words of reassurance and encouragement as I have been nothing but impressed by the scores of youngsters I have encountered over the years.

As many of our readers know, "JustaJoy.com Family Heirloom Exchange" molted from our antique business, "JustaJoy Historical Treasures" which specialized in "Investment Grade Artifacts from the American Experience". Our inventory consisted of items related to the Revolutionary War, The Civil War, the African-American experience, World Wars I & II and political items. Our antique business became quite far-flung as we attended shows from Massachusetts to Florida, Virginia to California.

At every event we attended we would be blessed by wide-eyed children, as young as eight years old, full of curiosity, who would excitedly shift their weight from one foot to the other, anxious for their turn to participate in discussions about history and the artifacts it produced. They would wait not-so-patiently to ask dozens of questions, share what they had already learned and delicately touch or hold the precious (albeit usually inexpensive) items they were shown. 


Some had parents who were also historians but most of the parents of these historical prodigies were befuddled by their child's passion. One mother of an 11-year-old memorably said, "Don't ask me, I'm just hanging on for dear life!" Another impeccably coiffured single Mom told of following her son through mud puddles at reenactments and bumping her head on the roof of a B-24 airplane as she tagged along with his excited visit to the WWII monolith. Another Mom had no explanation for her child other than, "He's an old soul."

We had a regular fan club of young people whose parents often said the only reason their child wanted to come to the show was to visit our booth - one of the greatest compliments we had ever received. I often watched the parents standing quietly and proudly in the background as their children enjoyed the bounty of our booth and ultimately spent his or her birthday money or allowance on Civil War Minié balls, 1943 steel pennies, or a WWI backpack. During those moments, I felt the parents and I shared a secret - a certain knowledge that THIS young person was very special and would need very little guidance other than encouragement. These moments were quite a privilege and often justified the long drives and heavy lifting more than anything else.

Through our years as antique dealers, we watched many of these children grow up and become amazing people. They often had interests in law, politics or the military. More than one was an Eagle Scout and one was even elected by his peers to speak on their behalf at their law school graduation!

So, how does all this help you in your search for the right caregiver for your archive and artifacts? Maybe not at all, but I want to share this information because I believe all of your hard work and discovery will be extraordinarily cherished by SOMEONE in the future - maybe someone you will never meet. And just as you are thankful for the folks that you have never met who left a trail for you to follow, some as-of-yet unmet person(s) will be thankful for you.

I believe the study of genealogy is a blessed activity and benefits from guidance from an unseen hand. Even though the exact path may be unclear, there is no reason to believe our passion will end with the deaths of any of us. After all, we don't really own family history. We simply protect it for the next generation. 

Nancy and Her Negatives     

A good friend from the antique world showed up at the Heritage Room, lately, with a special surprise - hundreds of dusty, identified glass plate negatives dating to the 1880's and before!  
Nancy Baldwin, a well-respected dealer, and estate sale manager, discovered the prizes at an antique show and instantly understood their value to descendants. 
"When I came across this collection at Brimfield, I had no plans on purchasing it," she said.  "It was the end of the show and the dealer didn't want to haul them home & she was eager to sell them. Other than being fascinated with the identifying names, I was stumped on how to get them back to the rightful families ~ that was, until I heard about your website!" 
The unknown photographer was believed to be from Hartford Connecticut. Thankfully, he etched names at the top of each of the negatives. 
Nancy & I experimented briefly with creating pictures from the negatives on a copy machine and discovered that when a black background was added, the copies came out like real pictures! It is so exciting to potentially turn these long-forgotten relics back into family treasures! There are pictures of ladies in beautiful dresses, dapper gentlemen, brothers, twins, even entire families in the collection. Nancy has already begun to post so be on the lookout for "Joy Alerts" about them. So fun!


This Month's Collectible - Military Dogtags

The origins of American military dog tags originated in the Civil War. Because some Civil War battles saw casualties in the thousands, timely handling of the dead became an issue. Many, many soldiers were buried in graves marked "Unknown".

Soldiers began writing their names and unit designations on paper tags and pinning them to their clothing or creating identification tags made from wood or coins they would wear around their necks. Soldiers in the Indian Wars battles, the Spanish American War, the Mexican Border Wars and other military battles continued the practice until 1906 when War Department General Order No. 204 required a circular aluminum disc to be worn. The disc contained the name, rank, serial number, unit, and religion. This design was used through WWI.

In 1916, the regulation was changed and soldiers in America began wearing two tags - one of which was to stay with the body, tied to legs, ankles, or feet, and the other would be collected by the officer in charge to prepare the paperwork and notify the family. Other countries operated with the same concept by using a single tag that could break apart. Such was the case of the initial German military identification tag, called the Erkennungsmarke, first issued in 1939.  
  Around WWII, the circular tag was replaced by the more oval shape used by the military today. Its resemblance to dog collar tags led to the designation of "dog tag". The tags used in WWII were stamped by a machine called an addressograph that left a notch on one side. (and no, despite the persistent myth, the tags were not designed that way to place in the teeth of dead soldiers.)  Dog tags and the information they contain have changed often through history and modern-day dog tags even contain microchip technology that offers medical and dental records. 

 Vietnam Era Dog Tags Found!

In 2013, bullet-riddled dog tags were found that had belonged to Lanny Martinson who had been a 23-year-old Marine sergeant during the Vietnam War. They were discovered in undergrowth at the site of a months-long battle over an airstrip that had existed during the War. On June 4, 1968, Martinson stepped on a landmine that destroyed his right leg. Martinson came home from the war in a wheelchair, not sure where his tags had wound up.

"I can't tell you how much this means to me," Martinson said in an email when his tags were found. "It's like I left a part of me over there and somehow it made it's way back to me from a dark place." 

A general search on JustaJoy for the word "dog tag" currently returns 35 listings, though some of the dog tags have already found homes. 


                         Follow Up - "Black Memorabilia" Movie

With more than a little trepidation, George & I entered the doors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on February 19th to review a movie in which we were an integral part. Having arrived a bit early, we were blessed to get to view some of the greatest works of art in the world from artists such as Picasso, Mastisse, Rembrandt, Monet, and George's favorite, Van Gogh. What a treat!
But then it was time to go to Cinema 2 to watch a movie that contained scenes that had far-flung origins. Everything from our kitchen in North Carolina to Brooklyn, Baltimore and Boston, even to China!
We held our breath as the movie began.  Even though we knew that Chico Colvard, the producer, is truly a friend, we worried that his collaborators might misinterpret our mission and cast us in a negative light. Would our message be lost in the telling, replaced by classic Southern stereotypes? Our fears were more than relieved in Chico's capable hands. He told the story as truthfully as it could be told and per the audience discussion afterward, seemed to introduce a new way to look at old issues. It was an honor for us to be involved in this great project. Thank you, Chico!  


  • Usually, the antique dealers who post on JustaJoy will negotiate on price.
  • All members can post and sell for free including genealogical and historical societies.
  • Societies are eligible for FREE JustaJoy.com memberships for Society library computers.
  • We are always available to help with a program introducing JustaJoy.com to any group.
  • Don't forget about "General Search" when you want to search a place, school, regiment or any other parameters other than surname.  

 "The Heritage Room" - February 2018

How About Something New For
Your Next Society Meeting?
Looking for new & interesting ideas for Genealogical or Historical Society Meetings? Let us help! We are available for telecons or Skype meetings that can introduce members to what we do and how we do it.
Just email Joy@JustaJoy.com or call 704-948-1912 to make arrangements.
It will be "Just a Joy" to help! 

 "Black Memorabilia" -  New York Movie Premier Feb. 19th

What better time for the movie we worked on a few years ago to premier than during Black History Month!  The debut will be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on February 19th.


Along with other segments, our many years of dealing with these elements of history will be reviewed with an eye for racial lessons that can be learned. It is a product of Chico Colvard, a filmmaker and professor at Boston University. The movie will likely make a television debut at some time, later. 

(P.S. - The movie was on PBS about a year after this note.)


Q: How Many African-American Collectibles Are Available?

A: The abundance and variety of Black History items are nearly unlimited. Some, quite honestly, are heartbreaking, but nearly all, when taken in context, are inspirational and instructional. From military items  that date to the Revolutionary War to slave tax documents, the possibilities are amazing. In the antique world, Black collectibles are quickly escalating in price. Buy pressure is created from new African-American museums such as the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture that opened in 2017, as well as older museums such as the DuSable in Chicago. There is also a growing general appreciation of what many people recognize as one of the most incredible histories of overcoming known to man - from slavery to the U.S. presidency in 150 years! 

In the JustaJoy antique business (forerunner to JustaJoy.com), we were fortunate to handle everything from a "WHITE'S ONLY" water fountain to the galvanized tub (currently in the Smithsonian) used by Dr. Martin Luther King to soak his feet after the first day of the Selma to Montgomery march. As exciting as these items were to discover and place, they are probably not as important as those that are identified.  Identified artifacts can be priceless to the families they touch. Everyday photos, documents, dogtags and other militaria, sports and political objects and much more regularly surface to be discovered. Although slavery records are often difficult to place, due to laws against slaves having last names in many states, there are thousands of records that can be found. Emancipation and estate records, bills of sale, slave hire, tax and insurance documents and much more can be found. Many of these were legally recorded, making it possible to find in courthouses, as well.  
We have also handled detailed letters about the daily lives of specific slaves. Slave passes and tags that specify occupation, owner and residence, can also be found. There are even Civil War documents that record a purchase of the slave and his immediate enlistment into the U.S. Colored Troop Service. From slave to soldier in ten minutes or less - plus the birth of a surname!

More and more antique dealers who specialize in these kinds of items can be found. There are even specialty antique shows that feature Black History, perhaps the largest of which is the Black Memorabilia Show held annually in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This year that show is scheduled for April 14th and 15th. 
There are few areas of American History that reflect as much passion, drama and victory as does African-American history and, thankfully, identified artifacts abound.







Millie Christine McKoy - A Very GOOD Story!

Millie Christine McCoy was two people though she only purchased a single train ticket when she traveled. She also sang in soprano and alto at the same time! A story too odd to be true? It only gets better.  
Millie Christine were Siamese twins born in Whiteville, NC as slaves in 1851. They always thought of themselves as a single person and preferred that everyone else did, as well. We will oblige as we tell their remarkable story. 
She was sold at least three times by the age of six and fortunately ended up with a NC merchant - Joseph Pearson Smith and his childless wife who took a very special interest in Millie Christine - teaching her to read, write, sing, play the piano, recite poetry and dance. Millie Christine even became fluent in 5 languages!  Mrs. Smith also provided a strong Christian education that stayed with Millie Christine throughout her life and ultimately effected many for good, including the Smiths.

Millie Christine sang beautifully and became a featured attraction with P.T. Barnum's traveling circus, as well as other outlets. She was known as the "Two Headed Nightingale" and "The Carolina Twins". She was even known to have made as much as $750 a week, a massive sum of money during that time. 
Her fame increased until, in 1871, she found herself invited to Buckingham Palace. She performed on several occasions before Queen Victoria who presented her with diamond hair clips to take back to her North Carolina home.

But the visit to England was not her greatest accomplishment. She was quite philanthropic throughout the reconstructive period in the South, helping African-American schools, churches and many other causes. She never abandoned her former owners, the Smiths, who had been devastated by the war harkening back to the book of Luke in the Bible ("And indeed, some who are last will be first, and some who are first will be last"). In an astonishing turn of fate, the former slave became protectors of their former slave owners! 
Millie Christine wrote of her astonishing life in a book entitled, "The History of the Carolina Twins: Told in Their Own Peculiar Way" by One of Them". Other books have been published about her, as well.
Her life of faith and generosity was even carried to her Whiteville, NC tombstone:
"She lived a life of much comfort owing to her love of God and joy in following his commands, a real friend to the needy of both races and loved by all who knew her." 
Today, Millie Christine artifacts can be found. Period cabinet cards and original programs range in price from $100-$500 and a signed cabinet card was recently offered for $1,375.00.


Are Black History Items Only For Black People?

During my years of selling Black History items, I occasionally ran into people, both black and white, who didn't understand a blond-headed Caucasian woman taking so much interest in a history that obviously wasn't hers. To tell you a secret, that was the reaction I was going for. I have always believed when you confuse people, you have their full attention.
 At shows, my Black History items were always alongside items from the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Women's History, American politics, and much more. No one ever seemed to be confused by my interest in those items, so how could they wonder at my wonder of one of the most (if not THE most) dramatic and compelling stories from American History?
Of course, I know the answer. Quite honestly, I understand that there can be consternation, embarrassment, even shame in looking at this not-so-distant past. Every American is aware of this history and many people just as soon look the other way.
But we can't. What we can do, instead, is gain an appreciation of a group of people who went from slavery to the United States presidency in 150 years! A blink in time! There has probably never been such a story of ascension since that of King David!
Black Americans have a history that is so compelling in the length and breadth of human experience that it should be relished by ANYONE who enjoys history.  Every artifact I handled brought me to a deeper depth of understanding of myself and people in general - and don't think I only learned about the bad. I learned much more about good.
My opinion is that a lifetime of learning must involve reaching into the stories of others. This gives us opportunities to discover things we cannot learn from our own experience. The more we learn, the greater our sense of values - the reward of which is wisdom - the best reward of all.
Thanks for reading. Until next month...

"The Heritage Room" - January 2018

        Casting Call!

We have been contacted by the casting director for a show on TLC called "This is Your Life Live!" which is preparing for their second season.
Their specialty is catching the happiness created by a life-changing moment and their interest in JustaJoy is to be able to capture the moment someone recovers an item from their family's past.  JustaJoy has been instrumental in creating many such moments in the past.
An example would be as recent as this past August when Coreen Arioto of Fresno, California arranged for her father, Garland Blewitt, to receive the only known photo of his GGGrandfather - an original photo in Civil War uniform!
If you find something on JustaJoy that would be a match for a family member or friend and you would like to arrange a special surprise to include a TV experience, please give us a call. This share could bring joy to many other people, as well as help get the word out about JustaJoy.com!


 Welcome Siskiyou County Genealogical Society!


 Now, I want to tell you, it is fun to talk to Patricia Healy from Siskiyou County, California. Her descriptions of her part of the state belie any and all stereotypes. She makes it sound like the Conestoga Wagons are still parked in the back yard!

And politics - just don't get her started. As a hardcore advocate of the creation of the 51st state of the Union (the state of Jefferson), Patricia believes her part of the world should be so knighted and can easily explain that she is not alone in this plan. 

Just like so many genealogists, Patricia is self-defined and self-assured and as president of the Siskiyou County Genealogy Society, she is always looking for good opportunities for her members.

Patricia has therefore taken advantage of our offer of free JustaJoy memberships for Society library computers. But the treat in this exchange was really ours. Thank you Patricia for a GREAT conversation!

       A Special Match!  

Christmas was extra special this year for a North Carolina woman thanks to a Vietnam veteran from Warrenton, Missouri. The unnamed veteran found a group of medals and documents in an obscure place at a Veterans of Foreign Wars office.  He then took the time and effort to find the next of kin, Victoria Fels of Raleigh, who was overjoyed to recover the items that had been lost 11 years previous during a move.
"I cried,” Victoria Fels said. "It means everything. It’s just such a nice thing to do.”


 1818 Words

An item posted on JustaJoy in December really got our attention. It was an 1818 Walker dictionary that had belonged to a member of the Fager Family.

As a dictionary enthusiast, I couldn't help but wonder, "Could there be lost words from 200 years ago?" Our words and our dictionary change over time.

The past year saw 250 new words added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. But what about the words they take out?

It is hard to think of words dying. Educators are well aware of the link between vocabulary and concept development. Words are labels for ideas. Does that mean we lose ideas, or worse, understandings, as we lose the accompanying words?

I believe that question may be too deep for "The Heritage Room" but I know for sure I forever want to be a "Questant" - a word I found in this book that means "a seeker of knowledge". I like the lay of this archaic word and even though the Walker dictionary already defined it as "not used" in 1818, I am going to embrace it.


A Quillative Quiz

Would you like to be my "quartercousin"? What a lovely lost word that means friend. 

And now, a quillative quiz for my quartercousins.  Is the following paragraph about:

A. Cooking

B. Flying

C. Words

(You probably won't be able to depend on Dictionary.com for help. Many of these words are truly extinct.)

By using altiloquence and ambages, I want to create an amandation without being an amanuensis. I do not want to amate or become altisonant or use anadiplosis in the process. I do not want to create amaritude or ambilogy.  Perhaps the outcome will contain enough amability to be amatory and anacamptic. I probably won't use amphibrachs or anapests to everyone's delight. Please don't anathematize me!

Spellcheck thinks I have lost my mind!

Answer - Words         

       Thanks for reading this newsletter.   See you next month!

"The Heritage Room" - November 2017


 Presidents & Patriarchs at
Auspicious Occasions


Some new and interesting items were added to JustaJoy this past month - three seating charts for American presidential events. Two were added for different inaugural balls for Frankin D. Roosevelt in 1957 and one for a dinner Taft in Boston in 1909. Each of these seating charts contains hundreds of names - all of which are now indexed on JustaJoy.

What interesting items these would be to pass down to the next generations, honoring both American history and family history at the same time! They would also be a great addition to anyone's Heritage Room. Be sure, to check out JustaJoy to see if you had an ancestor who was a part of one of these auspicious occasions! 


California JustaJoy Member Discovers Identified Civil War Campaign Chair!

JustaJoy members are great! They are usually as excited to find something to match to someone else as they are to find something for themselves. Thus is the example of Jim Jeffery, a JustaJoy lifetime member and friend from Los Gatos, California.

Jim recently added an identified Civil War period folding campaign chair to the site and is hoping against hope to find the right family to cherish it. The surname stenciled on the back of the chair is "Auman". There are 40 Auman's listed on rolls that fought for the North and 10 from the South.

Jim can't help but wonder how this item could possibly have found it's way to California - always a mystery. Of course, Civil War period items weren't immediately thrown away after the war, so maybe it was a part of the Gold Rush! Or maybe a soldier carried it with him to the west when the War was over. Maybe, even a Buffalo Soldier! A simple item evoking a world of imaginings. That is one of the things that make these "Orphaned Heirlooms" so precious!

           Meet Angela Rodesky - An Aptly Named Angel 

The JustaJoy email bag came with a surprise on October 26 from Angela Rodesky who has a website, blog, and youtube channel, all dedicated to helping genealogists. We met Angela at a National Genealogical Society meeting a few years ago.

Angela does a "Thursday Share" video every week with as many good ideas as she can pour into a segment to help genealogists everywhere. She wanted to let me know that she had included information about JustaJoy on that day's info share.

Thanks a bunch, Angela! And perhaps some JustaJoy members would enjoy your efforts as well. Visit Angela's site to see the JustaJoy segment as well as other goodies on her website - www.arodeskygenealogy.com 

       Special Reminders...     


We are ALWAYS available to you for help with pricing or posting items, ideas for posting pictures or doing research, or anything else we can offer. Please feel free to call 704-948-1912 for any purpose whatsoever including your thoughts or ideas on our project or genealogy in general. We always enjoy these discussions and usually welcome the interruption to rest the old typing fingers.

There is always a stack of items to add to JustaJoy and this month is no exception. We have a group of 1920's payroll checks from the Monongahela Railway Company, more AP Wire Photos from the 1960's through 1980's, some WWII photos, more vintage documents, a yearbook or two, and even a 1965 Cub Scout bracelet! Be sure to watch for YOUR Joy Alerts that will lead you to your personal treasure chest!

We also want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and remind you to ... 
          "Hug a Veteran" on November 11th!           

"The Heritage Room" - October 2017

The Mexican Border War
Pancho Villa & Pershing

Longtime JustaJoy members know our love of "honor rolls" - lists of soldiers or sailors from a particular company or ship from the Revolutionary War through WWII. These honor rolls are usually decorated with interesting graphics surrounding the names of the men in the group. We have matched more than one of these back to families, as can be witnessed under "Happy Stories" on the website.

A very special and unusual honor roll appeared in September that pertained to a War that many have forgotten - The Mexican Border War of 1916-1917.

On March 15, 1916, on orders from President Woodrow Wilson, Major General John J. Pershing lead an expeditionary force of 4,800 men into Mexico to capture Francisco Villa, who had recently attacked Columbus, New Mexico. Villa was also responsible for the death of a group of American businessmen that had been removed from a train and executed. 


Both "Blackjack" Pershing and "Pancho" Villa were larger than life. Villa escaped capture and Pershing would later lead the victorious American Forces in WWI. The honor roll, recently added to the site, has the names of the soldiers who served from Company D, Fourth Pennsylvania Infantry, National Guard during this conflict.


As is typical, it is illustrated with images of the men's training and experiences including a picture of General Pershing. The men listed are associated with 90 surnames. We can only hope it finds its way into the right hands. 




All Aboard! - The Romance of Railroads

Many people are entranced by "railroadiana" best defined as the romance of railroads. From May 10, 1869, when Leland Stanford drove the golden spike that connected the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads in Utah, until today, railroads have captured the imagination. They often represent exciting new beginnings and were integral in creating a widespread movement of families and goods across the land. They also employed thousands of workers. For these reasons, railroads regularly factor greatly in our genealogical studies.

The planning, building and operating of hundreds, if not thousands, of railroads, created numerous kinds of artifacts. Identified photos, business cards, stock certificates, maps, posters, advertisements, souvenirs, and more can be discovered to help us celebrate this unique part of our personal history.

JustaJoy has always posted assorted items associated with railroads and has recently procured a collection of ephemera pertaining to the expansion of the Pennsylvania Railroad into Maryland. These will soon be listed and will include deeds, maps, correspondence, tax records, internal memos and more.

If there is a railroad man in your family ranks, it would probably be delightful to bring his experience into your own by discovering an original item from his daily life. Watch for "Joy Alerts" during October to (hopefully) discover one of these unique artifacts!

A Hungry Heritage - Kinfolk in the Kitchen!


It is fun to spice up your heritage hunt with ideas that originate with food. A grouping of framed favorite recipes such as the one pictured here or kitchen photos of ancestors in aprons or enjoying a meal can help us remember the ladles of lard and love that helped keep the family together.

Hand-written or printed recipes and/or photos can also be converted into fabric for curtains, tablecloths, or dish towels, creating a feeling of true originality and continuity.

We all enjoy food and it is fun to bring that passion together with our passion for genealogy. Plus, it can remind us that our own culinary crafts may also be appreciated for generations yet to come.

"The Heritage Room" - September 2017

 JustaJoy.com Wants To Be Your Civil War Research Angel 


A JustaJoy.com general search on the term "Civil War" returns 971 original items as of this writing. Everything from letters and photos to identified guns and swords can be found and regularly are! Just ask Coreen Arioto, from Fresno, California who, just this month, discovered the only known photo of her father's great-great-grandfather, Garland J Blewett, Jr. The original photo showed him in his Civil War uniform as a member of the 12th Kentucky Cavalry. Coreen was delighted to surprise her father with such a great find! Cindy Reinhardt, also from California, has previously discovered original Civil War letters from her great-great-grandfather and was very generous with her praise, "Thank you from the bottom of my heart for shepherding this fabulous piece of our family's history back 'home'".


It's just amazing to hold a letter that my great-great-grandfather wrote nearly 150 years ago, at the close of the Civil War!", she wrote, "Wow!! I can't thank you enough for recognizing its value to his descendants and listing it on JustaJoy.com. It has become an instant family treasure!"

"But, I am not sure who MY Civil War ancestors are," you might say.

Of course, Civil War artifacts can only be discovered if the genealogist knows the Civil War history of their ancestors. Are you having trouble finding good information about a suspected Civil War ancestor? If so, we want to help. Because we are so active in researching these kinds of things, we have experience and access to many sources that require payment.


We are happy to share these resources by researching for your Civil War soldier. If you are a JustaJoy paid member just send an email providing everything you know about your ancestor, and we will review everything we have to see if we can help for free! Maybe, we will discover something GREAT! 

The Heritage Room"The

 "The Heritage Room" - August 2017


 Thank You, MyHeritage.com!

Thank you, Esther Shuman, MyHeritage.com blogger extraordinaire, for the opportunity to submit a guest blog about our work at JustaJoy. The blog is entitled,  "Do Genealogists Care about Family Artifacts?"  and addresses the idea of "DNA Memory" and other important topics.s
t, 2017

MyHeritage Guest Blog  - "Do Genealogists Care about Family Artifacts?"

by Esther Shuman, August 7, 2017  

This is a guest post by Joy Shivar, owner of JustaJoy.com Family Heirloom Exchange, a surname-searchable, bulletin board-style website used by antique dealers and others to reach out to family members. With thousands of original items associated with more than 100,000 surnames, JustaJoy has become the largest in the world at matching antiques and artifacts back to families. Joy has background as a lifetime antique collector and dealer which makes her uniquely qualified for such a venture. She describes her website as "Antique Hunting in the Family Tree" and loves when matches are made...

Do genealogists care about family artifacts? The quick answer is yes and no. I have met people who would walk a hundred miles, if necessary, to have the chance to hold or own an item that belonged to a great-grandparent, while others would simply throw all of that "old stuff" away. There is a joke in the antique business that antique dealers buy "junk" but sell "fine antiques."

Perhaps, it is all perception but I think it goes a little deeper than that. After many years of studying how old things touch some people, I have come up with a theory I call "DNA Memory." In the antique world, different customers often seem to be instantly attracted to a wide variety of items. One lady sees the beauty in a handmade quilt while another is drawn to books, vintage clothes or old tools. I have seen men touch the stock of a colonial period musket with such reverence that it was easy to see they "felt" something from the gun.

DNA Memory would explain why some people are drawn to one class of antiques, art, and silver, for instance, while others are drawn to primitives. I have even come to believe that if people did not feel something from old things, there simply would not be an antique industry. But an industry it is. In nearly every town and city, one can find antique stores, malls, and events. Each one seems to hold items that others do not have and different dealers have different specialties. Everything from antique newspapers to world fair souvenirs can be found and many of these items are identified.


Family relics get away from families in many ways. Widows or widowers of second or third marriages may not have the necessary knowledge to place items correctly.  Bankruptcies and divorces can also cause precious artifacts to become "orphaned heirlooms". But the biggest culprits we have found are administrators of estates. Often overwhelmed with a massive collection to distribute and burdened with the accompanying court-ordered paperwork, an executor will often lose sight of the big (generational) picture. They cannot be concerned with little things like photo albums or family Bibles when they have a $250,000 estate to dissolve!


As a result, nearly every antique dealer ends up with family-related items. Often the date and associated place can also be determined. These items take many forms. Letters, regimental photos, dog tags, friendship quilts, art, signed handmade furniture and clocks, engraved silver and gold, advertising pieces of all kinds, marriage licenses, baby pictures, yearbooks, personalized shaving mugs, trophies, wanted posters and court documents, needlework, and much, much more can be found.


We sometimes hear, "But, I already have everything from my family," to which we answer, that is not possible. We have found that genealogists regularly underestimate the massive assortment of items available. Because most family-related artifacts have real value, they are rarely destroyed, just passed from collector to collector. And we can also say on good authority, as these items are restored back to loving families, it brings a kind of happiness that little else can do - not just for the families but also for the person who made the restoration possible.


Take the story of two JustaJoy members, for instance, Bruce Weekley (Columbus, North Carolina) and Luella Taylor (Denton, Texas). Bruce, an antique dealer who specializes in historical paper, pictures and postcards, joined JustaJoy as quickly as he heard about it in 2012 and began posting fantastic material that included items that predated the American Civil War. One item Bruce posted was an 1856 business ledger from a general merchandise store in Shelby, NC.


The business ledger that Bruce purchased. He purchased the ledger at an antique auction near Shelby and posted it on JustaJoy, listing all the names he could find. The store had been built and owned by Charles C. Durham, great-great-great-grandfather of Luella."When the ledger arrived, I cried," wrote Luella. "Just to hold something over 150+ plus years old that he had held…" Luella has plans to pass the ledger to her great-grandchildren to "make history a living study for them.  One ledger crossing seven generations, not a bad accomplishment," said Bruce when he heard her plans. "I am so happy to have been a part of it."  There are many more such events on the "Happy Stories" page on the website. The opportunity to discover family artifacts is the reward for all those years of research and can make genealogy tangible to the delight of many generations to come, as well. This is treasure hunting at its very best!











Are You Kin to Ahtushonuppa or Churchateneah?  

Native American Collectibles on JustaJoy.com

Perhaps, like myself, you have believed that any hope of finding information associated with your Native American ancestry would be completely impossible, much less artifacts.  But, perhaps, we shouldn't give up so easily.

A couple of items have recently been added to JustaJoy that created curiosity about these possibilities. One was a 1797 Columbian Centinel newspaper published in Boston, Mass. and the other is an 1848 printed muster roll from information original gleaned during the 2nd Seminole War in 1837 in Florida.

Both of these items have extensive information about the Native Americans involved. The Centinel listed all of the names of the chiefs who "signed" the treaty followed by an X in parenthesis indicating that each Chief actually only made "his mark" to show his acceptance of the terms. But the muster roll originally created in 1837 provides much more genealogical information.

The muster roll is also a list of Creek Indians, ones that died while in service to the United States Military while fighting the Seminoles in the longest and bloodiest fight between whites and Native Americans in America's history. It is also the first war in America that was partly fought over the subject of slavery and the only war with Native Americans that involved the Navy and Marine Corps as well as the Army.  More than 15,000 American soldiers died during this War of both disease and fighting. It also bears the distinction of being the only Indian War where the U.S. sued for peace.  In fact, it never technically ended with any formal capitulation by the Seminoles, though many did accede by following the orders of President Andrew Jackson and moving to Oklahoma.

The Creeks were close cousins to the Seminoles and actually fought alongside them in the First Seminole War. Many of the names of the Creeks on the muster roll are very similar to Seminole names. Differences arose that included the problems created when the Seminoles harbored runaway slaves and by the time War broke out again in 1835, many of the Creeks served on the side of the U.S. - even in intelligence positions as indicated by the muster roll's designation of persons in a "Spy Battalion".


What is extra special about the muster roll is that we can learn the names of the closest relatives of the Creek Indians who died while in service to the U.S.. A disclaimer written by Major W.G. Freeman, commander of the regiment, on the bottom of the roll indicates that "information in regard to the families of the deceased was obtained from their relatives and from the chiefs and is believed to be correct."



Among the names of the deceased is David Moniac, the first Native American to graduate from West Point (1822), a reminder that even in those early days, some Native American tribes were quite educated with their own written language and libraries. In fact, a "massacre" that occurred early in the Second Seminole War was quite elaborately related in prose by Seminole leader Halpatter Tustenuggee or Alligator - one of the victorious Seminole warriors who was present.  A link to his description is below along with other links to more on the Seminole War.


 The obvious problem, when researching Indian names, is that their pronunciation and spelling could differ according to who was doing the recording. Thus many Native American persons from history often have many spellings, if not many names. This, of course, makes the genealogical track even harder to follow, but not impossible.


One warning - as with so many things related to genealogy, the more we learn about our Native American ancestors, the more interesting they become and therefore the more curious we will be. It is an exciting avenue to explore and we will likely be writing more on this subject, as we discover more artifacts.


What I have already discovered has given me the hope that I may, personally, get to learn more about that handmade Cherokee basket in my own Heritage Room that came from my Grandmother's house - a beautiful grandmother who looked just like a Native American!