Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eliza Jane Barnett

I love old family photos. I love staring at them trying to figure out who those people were - what they were like. The splendid lady above is Eliza Jane Barnett Armstrong sometime around 1928 when she was 68 years old. The back of the photo says something like, "not too bad for 68". Eliza Jane is my great grandmother and was born in Springfield, Illinois around 1860. She and John Henry Armstrong, her husband, had 13 children (among them a girl named Bertie Susan and a boy named Hazel.) John Harrison, their eldest son, was my grandfather.
I don't know much about her and I asked my grandmother (Harry's wife) what she had been like. She thought Eliza was been" Irish" though she could only remember her first name and "she was a mean woman". She didn't say much else about her. My grandfather had died much earlier so I couldn't ask anything about her to him.
When I started doing research I found out her last name was Barnett but she wasn't a fresh off the boat Irish. (I still don't know if she was Irish). Her father was William C. Barnett, who born in Tennessee but had moved to Illinois around 1830 or 40 with his parents. He married an Amy C. Jones and they had a number of children.
I find my grandmothers stories often contain an element of truth as well as some "let's make it better" . She didn't get along with Eliza, and from what I can tell Eliza was a strong willed woman. She separated from her husband at some point, because I find her living with her youngest son in the census. She moved her family to El Paso, Texas for awhile after they were all adults but then seemed to have moved back to Illinois. She died in 1942 and is buried up there in Union County. Some day, I might go look her up and see where's she's buried.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Fridays should be shorter.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Steamroller this past weekend

In and amongst lunch, I'm finishing up my homework for speech and trying to publish my Streamroller Madness photos. I have about half here at work and the other half is at home still and haven't done much more than look at them. It was a lot of fun this year even though I didn't print anything. Mostly I took pictures, visited and ran errands. I have included a couple this morning with more to come.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Steamroller Madness 2008

This Saturday, my printmaking group is working with UT's Printmaking section of their Art Department as part of Explore UT. I told Terri, my instructor, that I'd go take pictures of the event. I went last year and got completely worn out (not a hard thing since I'm pretty out of shape) but it was really fun. At any rate, people make these huge wood blocks, lay them on the ground after they have been inked and then print them with a steamroller. The blocks are fairly large -- mine was about 2' x 4' but some are much larger.

Explore UT is part of the community outreach that UT does every year. It's tremendous fun for anyone but especially for the kids. Part of the Art Department's events is Steamroller Madness where students do these prints and they always invite some of the other colleges to participate. Last year our four printmaking classes from Austin Community College as well as Texas State University from San Marcos showed up. It was a huge affair! Hopefully I will post more photos next week.