Pumpkin Cookies

If Halloween had a taste, it would be these pumpkin cookies. I remember coming home from school in October to these freshly baked cookies spread out on the counter.

My mom got this recipe off a can of Libby’s canned pumpkin, and it has been our families go-to fall cookie recipe ever since.

Libby’s Great Pumpkin Cookies:


4 c. flour

2 c. quick or old-fashioned oats

1 1/2 c. butter, softened

2 c. firmly packed brown suger

1 (15 oz) can Libby’s pumpkin

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. granulated sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. baking soda

1 egg

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl (or mixer), cream butter. Gradually add sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.

Alternate adding dry ingredients and pumpkin to butter and sugar mixture. Still in chocolate chips.

For each cookie, spoon 1/4 cup of dough onto a cookie sheet. (I used a large cookie scoop.) They spread a little, so leave room.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until firm to the touch and lightly brown. I baked mine for 20 minutes.

My mom used to add wheat germ to these as well, “to make them extra healthy,” she says.

These are an almost muffin-like cookie and oh-so-good!

pumpkin cookies close up


52 Ancestors: Cause of Death

Today I would like to share the story of my 2nd great uncle, the brother of my great-grandma Myrtle, Lester Erwin Sanford.

Lester was born 5 September 1896 in Woodburn, Oregon, the oldest of the eleven Sanford children. The family moved around a lot when Lester was growing up: as far north as Yakima, Washington, and south as San Jose, California, and even for a time along the Oregon Coast at Bandon.

Lester Sanford
Lester Sanford.

Lester served in World War I, leaving Hoboken, New Jersey on 24 January 1918 bound for Le Harve, France. On 5 February the ship he was traveling on, the Tuscania, was hit by a German torpedo. The Tuscania took over four hours to sink, at 10 PM. 230 were lost, 201 American troops and the rest crew. It was the first ship carrying American crews to be sunk. It wasn’t until 11 February that Lester’s mother Mabel was informed her son survived.

The entry from Lester’s diary, 5 February 1918:

Everyone ordered on deck with life belts on, as we were nearing the grave yard. had dinner, went back on deck, were told any one seeing a submarine, would be given $25.00 by the Captain of the boat. Had a boxing & wrestling match as the sea was smoother, was 5:00 p.m. so went down to my bunk to get my towel & soap & washed, was just combing my hair, when I heard an awful explosion, the lights all went out. we all scrambled on deck “saying take your time.” then I realized we were hit, we were in the Irish Sea between Ireland & Scotland it was 5:50 p.m. when we were hit and was pitch dark now so we fell in our places and the boats were lowered. my boat come down and before I could get in, it was full of other fellows that didn’t belong there. boats samashed to peices on the side of the boat and ropes broke. it idn’t look good to me so I stayed on board. men were jumping over board and were never seen again, men were floting around drowned. it was sure a terrible sight. so in about 2 hrs & 15 minuets three torpedoe boat distroyers came along side of us and we slide down ropes on them. I went down the Star Board Side on to a boat called H.M. Pigeon and we left for Port. we lost most of our clothes. we arrived at a place called Brunclanie, nearly frose from being wet, we marched to an Irish camp in Ireland 4:00 a.m. in a hurry.

Survivors from Tuscania Shipwreck.jpg
Oregon survivors from the sinking of the Tuscania.

Among the survivors with Lester was Harry Randall Truman, who died on Mt. St. Helens during the eruption on 1980 (Harry is in all the footage prior to the eruption, and quite a character here in the PNW).

The rest of his diary entries are pretty mundane. Lester spent some time in Dublin and London before being sent to France, where he dug trenches and cut logs during his time. It does not appear that he saw any combat.

Lester returned to Oregon and on 8 February 1920 married Myra Lena Roberts. They had one daughter, Mildred.

Myra, Lester, and Mildred Sanford.

Lester went to work for Southern Pacific Railroad as an Engineer. He was at work in Klamath Falls, Oregon on 19 September 1941 when there was an accident. The account of what happened was published the next day in The Klamath News:

According to railroad officials, the heavy freight, pulled by a huge Mallet mountain engine with the cab in front, hit the end boxcar, loaded with box shook, of a string of six standing in front of the express office building at 12:50 a.m. The impact shattered the cab and burst locomotive steam pipes which sprayed live steam on the three men, all of whom were in the Mallet control room. There was no one aboard the boxcar.

Picture of Train after accident
A picture of the train.

Lester was taken to the hospital but died a few hours later. He was survived by his wife, daughter, and both his parents. He was 45.

Lester Erwin Sanford
Lester Sanford.

And thank you to everyone who shared information about Lester on Ancestry! As I have written before, my grandma never mentioned many family stories, and this was one of them.

Until next time,






52 Ancestors: Conflict

The thing about coming from a large family is if there is something special about your family, something that isn’t a photograph or something that can be duplicated, only one person can have it. It’s just a fact.

My great-grandma Ida Borchert Gall was the oldest of six kids. Before my grandma Pauline Gall McCallum died, her aunt Katherine (Ida’s youngest sister) gifted her the family bible, which my mom then inherited. I do not know why Katherine didn’t pass it down to her direct descendants.


Pauline McCallum and Katherine Howell
I found this picture with corresponding information (in my mom’s handwriting) tucked inside the Bible.


However, this has created a conflict within the family. Others are upset that they were not given the Bible, while my mom has no problem sharing the content, but does not want to give it up.


Borchert family bible.



The Bible is stamped from Cincinnati, where the last four children were born and the family lived between 1887 and 1897. The pages are coming loose, and there are some momentos (mostly written in German) tucked inside.


Bible from German Methodist Deaconess Home in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The spine and pages are coming loose.
A memento stuck in the pages of the Borchert family bible, from Lincoln Glee Club.


The Bible is nothing special: it is written in German and is starting to fall apart. It does list the names and birth dates of all the children, including Katherine’s descendants.


The pages from the family bible. I am unsure what the last entry is (if anyone can help out!).
The children of Hermann and Dora Borchert.
The descendants of Katherine Borchert Howell.

I love this heirloom and being able to see my great-grandma’s handwriting. We don’t have much from her side of the family, so this is really special.

Thanks for reading! With my new menu, on the homepage, you can click on blog and it will dropdown 52ancestors, so all the back postings are easy to find!

Until next time,









Etta’s Eats: Mother’s Ginger Cookies

Welcome to the launch of a new series on the site! Among the many family recipes we have, I came across a recipe box belonging to my great-grandma Etta McCallum.These recipes are unfamiliar to my mom and I, so I have decided to make them all!


recipe box
The recipe box of Etta Moore McCallum.


(Maybe make them all.) There are some interesting ones (to say the least), but I wanted to start a recipe that probably meant something to Etta: a recipe titled Mother’s Ginger Cookies.

Etta was ten years old when her mother died in 1884. The recipe card is dated 1882, with the initials C.M. Her mother’s name was Catherine Moore.


ginger cookies with card
Ginger Cookies.


This recipe, like many in the box, was partially there. Some words were illegible while other key details, like baking time and temperature, were left off. But off I went, and the cookies ended up being really good!


2 cups flour

1 cup (two sticks) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup molasses

3 Tablespoons ginger


Cream butter and sugar together. Add molasses.

In a seperate bowl, mix dry ingredients.

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and mix until incorporated.

To Bake:

Spoon tablespoon-size lumps onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Leave room as the cookies spread! I did about 8 on a sheet to get them not to run into each other.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, 8 minutes if you want a softer cookie. At 10 minutes the middle is soft but the edges have a nice crisp. (12 minutes will burn and not make the cookie crisp.)

The recipe called for rolling the dough thin, but it was really wet, so I just dolloped it on the tray. They came out thin, but soft and flavorful!

The verdict: they were delicious! The cookies got high marks from my mom, nephew Colton, and niece Kaydence. (My niece London tried one bite and was disappointed they were not chocolate chip.)

Would I make them again?: YES. They were a nice treat with few ingredients. Very appropriate for autumn.

52 Ancestors: Sports

My dad was a huge sports fan. Growing up, he played football and wrestled, but his true love was baseball.


My dad with his sister and parents at a wrestling meet at McNary High School, Salem Oregon, in either 1966 or 1967.


His family would go to San Francisco (from Portland) to watch Giants games, but he was always a Dodgers fan.

However, as us kids grew up, our family rooted for the Seattle Mariners (except my brother, who from some strange reason is a Cubs fan). We attended many games at the Kingdome, which was a giant concrete building filled with astroturf and no sunlight.

kingdomeI remember clearly one night my dad coming home from work and taking me down to Ticketmaster, to try to get tickets to see the Mariners play the Yankees the next day. I was 16.

Since it was last minute, the only tickets we could get for the six of us (my parents, me, my brother, my sister, and my grandma) was the very top row of the 300 level. Right up against the concrete wall. Literally, we sat in bleacher seats and leaned against the wall of the Kingdome.


dad kingdome
My dad climbing the stairs. You can almost see the regret on his face.


I do not remember who won the game (I actually had to look it up, but the Mariners lost 5-3, you can see the box score HERE if interested), but I do remember clearly getting the tickets with my dad, running down the concrete ramps with my sister to get player autographs, and how horrible the green turf was. (It was bad. Really really bad.)


My favorite player (and now Mariners hitting coach), Edgar Martinez, on the turf at the Kingdome.

The Kingdome was replaced by Safeco Field in 1999, and I remember attending two games there with my dad: Ichiro’s 1st bobblehead day, and Edgar Martinez Day, where the Mariners honored Edgar at his second-to-last game as a player.

Edgar Martinez weekend, August 2017. Safeco Field is much more picturesque.


After my dad died, it was hard for me to watch the Mariners for a while, but I am back to being a hardcore fan, even going to Opening Day this year with my mom.


My nephew Colton and I outside Safeco Field, August 2017.

So thanks Dad, for instilling my love of baseball. And calling me at work when Edgar retired so I could listen to the press conference over the phone (ah, pre-smartphone days). And although my dad has been gone 11 years, he hasn’t missed a single playoff appearance. Oh, the trials of a Mariners fan.

Thanks for reading my ode to my dad and my Mariners. 🙂




52 Ancestors: Ten

This week I would like to share the story of my 3x great-grandma Sarah Jane Thrush, who was born in the tenth month, October!


Sarah Jane Thrush Crow
Sarah Jane Crow.


Sarah was born on 1 October 1844 in Lee County, Iowa. She was the second born daughter of John Thrush and Elizabeth Trimble. I wrote about John previously, which you can read HERE.

Sarah is one of my pioneer ancestors. Her family traveled to California in 1853, and a few years later settled in Oregon. On 1 September 1857, Sarah married Richard Crow in Lorane, Oregon. She was only 12 years old.

A year later she gave birth to her first child, Cynthia. Over the next 19 years, Sarah gave birth to 15 (!) children, including her sixth child, my 2x great-grandpa Benjamin. Remarkably, all of her children survived infancy, although she had a daughter die at 16.

Her obituary said she was referred to as “Aunt Jane” by her friends.

Sarah died on 17 September 1936, at the age of 91. She outlived nine of her children and was survived by twenty grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren, and eight great-great-grandchildren.

I imagine that she must have been a strong woman, having traveled across the country and surviving a marriage so young, and carrying so many children. Sarah outlived her husband by twenty years, and her son Benjamin by just over a month.

Sarah is buried with her husband Richard in the Crow Family Cemetary in Lorane.

You can click the 52 Ancestors tag to see previous posts!

Until next time,