Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Janesville Daily Gazette - Janesville, Wisconsin - 14 Oct 1881

I recently realized that my subscription to which I use for my genealogical research, came with some new perks. One of those was to a military site called Fold3 and another was to which as its name suggests, is a large archive of historical newspapers. Back when I was actively searching for ancestors, I had a separate subscription to NewspaperArchive (a competitor) but I let it several years ago because I just hadn't put in the time to make it worth the money.

Since was now included in my subscription, I decided to log in and take a peak to see if anything new popped up. My go to search was for information on my elusive ancestor Joseph Chicken Baker. The quick run down is that Joseph Chicken married right after the Civil War and changed his name to Joseph Baker for reasons unknown to me. To complicate things, he died in 1882 at the age of 35 for reasons unknown to me. Someday, I would love to know the reasons behind both of those events.

I've searched high and low for notifications of Joseph's death but have been unable to find anything conclusive. Years ago when I had a subscription to NewspaperArchive, I turned up the article below in several Iowa newspapers in 1882.

Despite my searches, I've never figured out who George Dyne was and if the Joseph Baker he murdered was my Joseph Baker. I've also never found out anymore about the murder. Although this little splurb was found in a local newspaper in Iowa near where Joseph lived with his family at the time, it was what was called a boilerplate article of news from around the nation that newspapers used to fill us column space. It most likely had nothing to do with my Joseph Baker who was a poor dirt farmer and had no real reason to travel to Chicago. I have never ruled this out but I find it unlikely.

Part of my searching has always had me search in the preceding and proceeding years of Joseph's death in case he died near them. His gravestone below doesn't list a death month or day, only the year, 1882. So when I typed in the search criteria into and got a hit I hadn't seen before, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't on a Joseph Baker that died but one that had been "dangerously injured" in mid October of the year preceding 1882. Could he have been injured and succumbed to his injuries a few months later?

Perhaps most intriguing was that the Joseph Baker in the article at the head of this post was working for the Forepaugh Circus of which I am pretty familiar with because I am currently reading a book about Topsy the elephant and the history of the circus here in the states with lots of pages covering the Forepaugh Circus as well as the Barnum Circus. Perfect timing. 

The book mentions that there were many accidents with the circus trains but doesn't list them all out nor any of the people hurt or killed in them. I have tried googling and searching for the fate of this Joseph Baker and perhaps information tying him to my family but have turned up nothing more on the subject. Like the Joseph Baker killed in Chicago, I think the odds are against this being my ancestor but I haven't ruled it out either one way or another. It certainly is intriguing.

Grave of my 3rd great grandfather Joseph Chicken Baker

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dinner Party

We did it! For those out of the loop or have forgotten, we were invited to join a group of people in our community to hold a formal gourmet dinner party every couple months rotating through the group. When we were formally voted into the group, we panicked because like so many modern couples, we weren't gifted or even asked for fine china as a wedding gift. We were happy just getting a toaster and some pottery. So we did some shopping for china which you can now see in these pictures.

Also on our list was a reasonable set of formal silverware for which I built a customized silver chest for awhile back and showed on this blog to make it appear much more expensive than it was. I also featured a dining table extension I built to expand our already expanded table (with the extra leaf) out to comfortably seat ten adults. Not talked about were the chairs. We had a set of six and four folding chairs and looked to remedy that. I checked out some garage sales and scanned auction notices but with our schedules, nothing ever worked out. In the end, I stopped in at a local Amish wood shop and had them make some chairs similar to our current ones but shorter for about half the price of new in the local furniture store. We ended up with four more chairs in short.

Since we were the hosts and this was a FORMAL party, I didn't get a chance to sneak out my camera to take pictures of the meal we served so I will just have to describe it to you. We went with a Filipino meal since none of the other guests had ever eaten one. For the appetizer, I grilled a filipino version of BBQ which involved pork loin sliced thin and marinated with a lot of soy sauce, garlic, pineapple and assorted things before being woven onto a bamboo stick and grilled. It was served with picked green papaya. For the 'salad' course, we went with a fresh lumpia which is sliced veggies wrapped in an unfried wrapper and served with a sweet sauce drizzled over it and garnished with crushed peanuts. It was by far the classiest looking of all our dishes. For the soup we served Sinigang which is a fish soup with bok choy and tomatoes in a sour broth. By Filipino custom, it is served as it without bread. For the entree, we served curry curry along side rice. This had bits of pork baby back rib meat and filipino beans served with a peanut based sauce. Finally for desert, we had leche flan which is a custard like desert with glutenous rice topped with mango balls served with coffee.

Normally these parties are themed and every couple is asked to bring a particular dish but since this was our first time hosting and it was a theme out of the wheelhouse of the other couples, we did it all. This meant a lot of work for us. With all the cleaning, shopping, preparations and cooking, I'm guessing we both sunk somewhere around 50 hours into this event but it went off without a hitch and I don't think we will be voted out of the club. As we were hand washing dishes late into the early morning hours, we decided our next theme will be British since my wife spent several years there when we were dating. Hopefully we will have about a year before it is our turn again.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Too Good To Be True

After that last post, I was pretty pumped to have saved myself a bunch of money by fixing my mother-in-law's phone. When it had charged up completely, I set it aside and waited for her to return from Washington D.C. to switch her back over again. When the time arrived, I picked up her fixed phone and went downstairs to the office but noticed that her phone battery was almost dead after sitting idle for two days. Not good.

I plugged it in again to the charger and it wouldn't charge anymore. I reset the thing two times and finally it started charging properly but I knew that it wasn't quite fixed yet. Since a lot of people talked about replacing the charging port along with the battery to fix their phones, I suspected the charging port needed to be replaced and I had ordered one anyway with the battery. I hadn't changed it the first go around because it involved COMPLETELY taking apart the phone.

I got my tools and completely took apart the phone and replaced the charging port. However, the charging port has two cables that stick to pads on the motherboard with some sort of adhesive and mine when taken apart didn't look like add the videos. I'm not sure if part of the motherboard came off or adhesive was left behind. Anyway, I put it all back together and turned it on and the phone failed to respond. I tossed it on the shelf for now and haven't revisited it yet. I may sometime but my mother-in-law seems to be getting along fine with the old phone so there is no hurry.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Not For the Faint Hearted

While coming back from a trip down to the family farm one particularly rainy day, I pulled into my driveway and spied what I thought was a cell phone laying in the middle of our driveway. I jokingly said to the others that there looks to be a cell phone lying in our driveway in the middle of the pouring rain not thinking it would be one of ours. That is when my mother-in-law exclaimed that she had been missing hers all day. 

When our mother-in-law first joined our family here in America, we gave her one of our old cell phones and she has been using it since. However, her eyesight is not the best and she really has to squint and hold the small screen close to see what's going on so as a Christmas gift to her, we bought one of those really large screened and really expensive phones for her. It lasted just shy of five months.

I say lasted because she immediately raced inside and plugged it into the charger. The phone lit up and then immediately turned off never to light up again. My wife and my mother-in-law were leaving for Washington D.C. the very next morning so there wasn't really anything to do but swap her back to her old phone and toss this one on the office desk. There it sat for a number of days before I picked it up and pressed the on button. Amazingly it lit up but the battery would flash 0% charge for a few seconds before it would turn off.

So I turned to the computer and googled replacing Samsung batteries and wouldn't you know, the internet was full of videos and tutorials of people who have done the same thing. A battery could be bought for about $12 and for good measure, I also got a charging port for another $13 including a tool kit for working on the phone. I figured for $25 outlay of cash for a chance of getting a $500+ phone working again was a risk I was willing to take.

The first step is to remove the back cover which is made of glass and glued onto the phone. The tutorials said to heat the phone up to loosen the glue and then carefully pry off the glass being careful not to break it. Well I broke it. Once broke, I didn't have to be careful and simply pulled the thing off and discarded.

After removing a pile of screws, I removed the frame around all the circuitry that was also covering up most of the battery. After that it was a simple procedure to pop the old battery out, put a new battery in and reverse my assembly steps. I was going to replace the charging port but in order to do that, I was going to have to remove every single board from inside the phone all connected by these tiny leads and antennae and I didn't want to do that unless I had too. When I pressed the on button and the phone powered up to life, I knew I wouldn't have too anyway. So for $25 initial outlay plus another $7 for a new glass back with adhesive that is now somewhere on its way to my door, I was able to salvage a very expensive phone to live another day.

While I was transferring service from the then still broken phone to one of our old phones so my mother-in-law would have something with her on her trip out east, the man on the phone asked me why I was transferring the number from such a nice phone to an old one. I told him the new one had been destroyed to which he asked if I wanted to buy another one to replace it. I told him that I wasn't interested at this time and he made a comment about waiting a bit to teach our kids a lesson about leaving phones in the rain. I responded it was my mother-in-law's phone so my hands were tied about lesson giving. He chuckled. Seriously though I hoped she did learn a lesson from all this.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Five Days Earlier

Mont-Blanc Explosion - Halifax
On 6 December, 1917 a French vessel named S.S. Mont-Blanc was leaving Halifax harbor with a load of high explosives bound for France. It collided with the S.S. Imo, a Norwegian ship, in the narrows of the bay catching fire and ultimately exploding. Around 2000 people in the area were killed and another 9000 were injured from flying debris. Nearly all the structures in a half mile radius disappeared, including the entire town of Richmond.

Five days later, my great grandfather on his way to France to fight in World War I, docked there aboard the R.M.S. Tunisian. He saw relief parties still digging among the snow and ice left from a blizzard still trying to rescue survivors. Many soldiers offered to go ashore and help search but their offers were denied since the convoy of boats was subject to leave at anytime. For two days until they left, the men could only watch. Also in the convoy of boats was the S.S. Tuscania which would be torpedoed two months later by German UB-77 sending 210 soldiers to their deaths.

In a letter home from France, my great grandfather would write, "I hope I may never see such a devastated-looking place again."

My Great Grandfather