The Houstory Herd – August 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

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You know you are getting old when you start referring to folks  as “young people.” (Actually, you might achieve that designation when you start writing, “folks” in blog posts, too.) Well, I guess I’m getting kind of old because today I’m going to write a little bit about young people and their role in the world of historic preservation.

For some reason, over the past month I’ve seen a slew of stories about the younger generation getting involved with historic preservation projects. As a fan of history — especially history in my own back yard — I love seeing the younger generation take an active interest in the past. To me, that curiosity is something that carries over into many areas of life.

By my estimation, if you are curious to hear about how grandma and grandpa first met, then you are likely pretty curious about lots of other things, such as local politics, world news and the general notion of staying active and making a difference in your community.

To me, curiosity and an effort to understand our history — at whatever scale — is among our greatest virtues.

Take a 14-year-old preservationist by the name of Bridget Brady. Bridget was among a handful of kids who devoted a large chunk of their summer to saving a 167-year-old mansion in Massachusetts. Talk about an inspiring story. It reaffirmed my belief that not every person under the age of 18  is glued to a smart phone 24-7 (although, I do think many are). In fact, some kids are not only offline, they are plugged into the community around them.


Vancouver Columbian, house history, washington state
College students have been carefully excavating at Fort Vancouver in Washington state. Photo Credit: Vancouver Columbian

This notion that young people (see, I’m still old) simply don’t care about history got me thinking: What can we do to help inspire the younger generation to care? Taking it a step further, what have you done to help your kids care?

At Houstory, it’s no secret that we primarily focus on saving family history through family heirlooms and house history, which explains our question this week. We would encourage you to sit down, and talk to your kids. Tell them about the things that matter to you. You might be surprised by the results.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Take the poll below, and let us know what you think.


online poll by Opinion Stage

Now, on to The Herd….

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


Author: CBC Radio (#WasteWarrior, @DrTorahKachur)

TitleWhat a Waste: Waste Warriors

Herd-Worthy Because: “If you’ve found space junk in your yard, make kindling out of orange rinds or cure your own urine, we want to hear your story!” A radio series about reducing waste. Aside from the cured urine, we’re on board!




TitleFiguring out history of family heirlooms in Shanghai

Herd-Worthy Because: “There were 109 (figurines) in all, invariably 10 to 12 centimeters in height. But Macaux could not trace their origins, until something caught his eye.It was a label on the trunk, written in French, that read “Orphelinat de Tu Se We, Shanghai,” — the Orphanage of Tu Se We, Shanghai. A date followed: June 23, 1938.”

A story, a label. The Heirloom Registry says, “yes!”


Author: The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

TitleNew life for the family heirloom: Decorative painters help passed-down furniture blend with today’s taste

Herd-Worthy Because: Great ideas for folks looking to revamp awkward family heirlooms. 


Author: Miami Herald

TitleCuban immigrants share precious family heirlooms to show history of Cuban exiles

Herd-Worthy Because: Memories of a life since past, experienced through heirlooms of all kinds. “These are not only memories but items of everyday use when Cuba existed as a nation…[These shirts] were on the streets of Havana. They lived there.”


Author: The Sydney Morning Herald (Contributed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society)

Title: “Foster kids to get digital ‘memory box’ to store their precious keepsakes

Herd-Worthy Because: Read this one if you have time.

To help store the keepsakes of the state’s 18,000 children in foster care, leading child welfare agency Barnardos Australia has developed a digital ‘memory box.'” 

What a great and important concept to protect the memories and family histories of our most vulnerable.


Author: The Emporia Gazette (Referred by the New England Historic Genealogical Society)

TitleOne heck of a hand-me-down: 1928 Model A Ford passed to fifth generation

Herd-Worthy Because: The story behind a 1928 Model A Ford that has trickled down through the same family since it was bought fresh off of the assembly line.



Author: The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

TitleFarewell to my great-grandpa’s house, and my sort-of history

Herd-Worthy Because: An interesting — and honest — account of the author’s ties to his grandfather’s central Pennsylvania home. The author discovers how sometimes one’s connection to a place sounds better on paper than it actually feels in real life and how part of honoring a connection is sometimes letting go of it.


Author: The Cheerful Word

TitleWhy your stories are worth telling: Part 1” 

Herd-Worthy Because:  As the author explains, “You may know your mother or father from a child’s perspective, though you are all now adults, but you may not know much about your parents as the rest of the world experiences them.”

A short piece that discusses collecting and sharing family stories, which the author notes, 86% of boomers (age 48-66) and 74% of elders (age 72+) agree that are the most important aspect of their legacy. 


Author: Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

TitleAn Obituary Begins With “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

Herd-Worthy Because: At 70-year old Joanna Scarpitti’s request, her family wrote her obituary with the first line being a quote from the Wizard of Oz.

Which, of course, got me (and other commenters) thinking about what famous line I’d like to open my obituary….



Author: The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)

TitleHouse’s history dug up

Herd-Worthy Because: Another example of young people getting involved in preserving the past.


Author: Richmond BizSense (Richmond, Va.)

TitleThe historic old house lady

Herd-Worthy Because: A Virginia realtor known as the “historic old house lady” talks about the market for historic homes and the challenge of finding the “unique buyer” who “understands old houses, appreciates the history of it and… wants to be a good steward of it.”


Author: English Chinese News Service

TitleHistoric house partly demolished ‘by mistake

Herd-Worthy Because: “Honey, did you remember to hold the mail and the newspaper?” Yes Dear. “Did you remember to give the neighbor a key a leave the lamp on the auto timer?” Yes Dear. “Oh, and did you notify the city not to demolish the house while we are away?”


Author: PreservationNation Blog

TitleHow I Spent My Summer Vacation: An Interview with Teen Preservationist Bridget Brady

Herd-Worthy Because: I’m trying to reflect on how I would spend my summer vacations in comparison to this amazing teenager. The only thing I preserved was my parent’s sanity when I left the house.


Author: New York Times

TitleHome of Johnny Cash Hopes History Will Help It Rise

Herd-Worthy Because: The Man in Black.

The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess, Ark. has been refurbished and opened to visitors.


Author: Metro Weekly (Washington, D.C.)

TitleLiving in History: 5 Great House Museums in Washington (D.C.)

Herd-Worthy Because: If you live near our Nation’s Capital and you like old homes, you  will want to print this out for some fantastic day-trip destinations. Describes how the “old home experience” has been freshened up for today’s visitors at many house museums.


Until we “Herd” again…