The Houstory Hearth Herd – May 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

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When my father-in-law recently passed away, it took a considerable amount of time to sort through his online accounts. His Facebook page had to be closed, e-mail correspondence had to be attended to and online passwords had to be changed.

According to  Sue Doerfler of The Arizona Republic, these were, in effect, his “digital heirlooms.” She recently wrote about the topic.

I’m not sure if I’d call them “heirlooms,” but I understand the sentiment and these are things that need to be considered as we get older. This month’s Herd includes an interesting take on this subject.

The Herd also includes two submissions from Houstory Hearth reader Joan Hostetler of Indianapolis (see the really cool photo below). She put together two interesting pieces dealing with house histories and vintage photographs I encourage you to check out.

And then there are The Simpsons. TV’s No. 1 name in animated families. Did you know that I live in the city that inspired the Simpson’s Springfield? No joke. They’ve been around so long they have their own extremely detailed family history, and a book detailing their family tree will be coming out in September. Check out the link below. After you’ve read yourself blind, please let us know what you think with a short comment. We’d appreciate it!

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Photo courtesy of Joan Hostetler.

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

HERD-HouseHistoryAuthor: Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services and a Houstory Hearth reader

Title: “Indianapolis Then and Now: 1939 and 1945 N. Pennsylvania Street

Herd-Worthy Because: Big thanks to Joan for contacting us and contributing this fantastic article that is both heirloom and house history. Our kind of story!


Author: Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services and a Houstory Hearth reader

Title: “Indianapolis Then and Now: The Ryan/Gasaway Home, 1103 E. 9th Street

Herd-Worthy Because: The history of a modest frame cottage and the political occupant. Every house has a story. And this is an especially good one.

HERD-FamilyHistory,etc.Author: Jess Gilley, Technology Tell

Title: “The Simpsons Family History is hitting shelves this year

Herd-Worthy Because: Who doesn’t at least appreciate The Simpsons. And like I said, I’m Springfield Proud!

HERD-FamilyHeirloomsAuthor: BBC News (contributed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society)

Title: “200-year-old recipe book heirloom given to family

Herd-Worthy Because:  Flummery. Calves head hashed. Shrewsbury cakes… Handwritten recipes, given to the author’s great-great-great-grandson. What’s not to like?


AuthorMaureen Taylor (aka “The Photo Detective”)

Title: “Saving a Slice of Family History“;

Herd-Worthy Because: Sometimes, family history is deliciously edible.


Author: Sue Doerfler, The Arizona Republic

Title: “Estate plan should pass down digital heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: “Digital-asset planning is a fairly new concern for consumers as well as estate planners.” Sounds like it’s right up our alley.


Author: (referred to by Dick Eastman)

Title: “After His Death, This Grandpa’s Family Found a Trunk He Left Behind. What’s Inside is Fascinating

Herd-Worthy Because: A trunk proves to be a connection to the past. Unfortunately, as the article points out, much of the stuff — artwork, books —  left his heirs guessing. Every time I see or hear a story like this I think about what a gift an Heirloom Registry tag and just ten minutes of time to share the story behind the things he felt important enough to save in a special trunk would have meant to his family.


Author: Jill Scharr, Tom’s Guide

Title: “3D Printing Recreates Long-Lost Family Heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: As the author states: “Have you ever wished your family still had that old necklace your grandmother was wearing in her wedding photo?” CRAZY!


Author: Bustle

Title: “These Stilettos That Will Last 1,000 Years  Are Your New Family Heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: Even we don’t guarantee 1,000 years for our Home History Books (only several centuries). I wonder if the future will have any use for stilettos?


Author: Dale Hrabi

Title: “The Instant Family Heirloom

Herd-Worthy Because: “”What if you could buy new furniture that’s practically guaranteed to become a timeless treasure?


Until next month’s herd…



House history: How to research architecture

Our last house history post examined the “How to hire a house historian.” This week, we step back and look at architectural elements as they relate to a home’s history. If you like what you see, please let us know with a comment and spread the word about us. We sure would appreciate it!

What good is architectural information?: Architectural drawings can reveal a lot about your home, such as specific measurements of rooms, home mechanics and even hidden details you may not be aware of. Additionally, they may provide insight into materials used on your home, floor and electrical plans and even design techniques used to build your house.

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Finding the architect: Building permits can be a valuable source of information. If the records have not been discarded, they might be found at a municipal or county agency, such as the building inspection department, the planning commission’s office, or the city engineer’s office. They will often contain contact information for the architect.

Finding the layout of your home: Architectural drawings can be found in a myriad of places, such as with the current owner, in a storage space, in a library or archives, with the descendants of the original owner, or perhaps even with the family or alma mater of the home’s builder or architect.

Historical archiving: The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) was established in 1933. For Houstorians™, this is a good thing, as survey holdings include drawings, photographs and even building histories of selected structures around the U.S. Much of the survey data is permanently on file at the Library of Congress, and provides a database to compare building characteristics. Catalogues based on the HABS collection have been produced for some local municipalities. Historical societies or museums and libraries — in addition to preservation associations and city and state historic commissions — may have information about the HABS project. For more information:

For more information on how to research your home’s history, visit the Home History Book archival journal Research and Preservation Center at

Are you a house historian? Or, as we’ve cleverly coined, a “Houstorian.” Or maybe you’ve worked with one you can recommend? We’d love to connect with you. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Houstory Deals of the Month — May 2014

Finally, it’s getting warmer outside. We don’t know about you, but we’re ready for a little sun after a very cold winter. Well, we suppose that depends on where you are in the world, right southern hemisphere Houstorians?

For the rest of us, while it is still a bit rainy and before you get too carried away with all the fun that gardening, camping, biking, swimming and generally relaxing outside has to offer, you may want to take care of a little spring cleaning in the form of family history documentation. This month, we are giving you a chance to save the stories behind 10 family heirlooms with a 25 percent discount on a 10-pack of our Heirloom Registry Standard Stickers. The stickers work with all sorts of furniture, clocks, and lots of other objects.

And for those who are sprucing up the outside of their homes, make sure to document these “before” and “after” shots in a new Home History Book archival journal Premier Classic. This is the top of the line as far as our Home History Book archival journal product line goes. It’s a book that was actually made at the oldest hand bindery in the country in Boston, Mass. For those who invest in the book, it will last the residents and homeowners in your house centuries. This month only, we are offering 25 percent savings on the Premier.

Enjoy your spring!

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home history book, houstory, may 2014 deals of the month

Once per month here at The Houstory Hearth, we are giving the Houstory Nation a chance to save big on our product line. Each of the two monthly discounts will represent our two product lines: The Home History Book archival journal, and The Heirloom Registry. For serious family historians, house historians, real estate agents, bed and breakfast owners, antique dealers, and family heirloom aficionados, the “Houstory Deals of the Month” should be a regular stop on your online itinerary. Make sure to stop by on the second Wednesday of every month to find out what the latest deals are. Questions? Thoughts? Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

Washington coast antique store full of stories

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

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I went to a presentation a few weeks ago that featured Annie Leonard, author and founder of The Story of Stuff.  The Story of Stuff, if you haven’t heard of it, is an organization that effectively uses video to examine the ways we, as a culture, manufacture, use, and often throw away stuff.

The Story of Stuff message, while perhaps not as personal, is very similar to what Houstory is trying to convey. The Story of Stuff looks at issues from a much more global perspective, examining not so much the individual stories associated with the things we manufacture and buy, but the systemic environmental and economic burdens our throwaway culture places on the planet.

Interestingly, Annie said she can’t look at simple objects anymore without thinking of their provenances.  For example (and I’m paraphrasing), a simple faucet has myriad parts. The handle, the stem, the screws that keep it together. Where was the brass mined? In which factory did the threaded spindle get manufactured? These stories are ever-present in how she views the world and objects within it.

In much the same way, I ponder the stories of the things I see everyday as well. For example, I can’t walk down the street without seeing a house and wondering who lived there. Or if I’m visiting a friend’s house or browsing through an antique store, I can’t help but question who owned the objects I’m seeing, and what their stories were?

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Who once owned this Chia Homer? A mystery remains…

Recently, I visited an antique store on the Washington coast. And, as per norm, I saw history and stories everywhere I turned. Today, I’m going to share a small glimpse of what I encountered in the form of a short video. For purposes of time, I focused on popular culture-type items. I hope you enjoy!

Do you ever wonder about the stories behind your stuff? Let us know what you think. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.