Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Titherow Hills Revisted

Three years ago I composed a blog post on a region in Randolph County, Missouri called Titherow Hills. It is about five miles north of Huntsville, Missouri and about six miles west of Cairo within only a few miles of Darksville . At that time I was just beginning to solve the mystery of the area my mother's family claimed to hail from. I since learned from discussions with a Towles cousin there was also a stream called Titterow Creek.

The area of Titherow Hills seems to largely be somewhere in 55W-15N Sections  26, 35 and 36, and 54W-15N Sections 1 and 2. I had assumed from a young child the name for the area had came from Thither "to go to or towards that place" and row  perhaps describing how the hills ran to and fro. I later learned it was named for John Titherow. The name for the region is variously spelled "Titterow Hills" and "Tettero Hills." Another spelling of the Tetherow/Titherow name is Dettero, not unlike Tettero. These corruptions of the spelling of the Titherow's surname in the place name may be indicative of the different ways to spell the surname, or just a matter of the name being passed down orally with no one having written it down until many decades had passed,

A John Titherow appears in a land patent dated to 1833 in Howard County, Missouri as Titherow. The minutes of the  Howard County, MO Circuit Court of April 17, 1817  show Solomon Tetherow about 15 chose Henry Weedin as his guardian.  The Court appointed Thomas Herrington guardian of David Tetherow about age 11, and Robert Brown guardian of John Tetherow about age 13 at that time. As the name is not a common one in this part of the state it is assumed John Titherow and John Tetherow are the same person. There appears to be only three Tetherows and one Titherow in Howard County in the period from 1817 to 1833. The other two were brothers to John, Solomon and David Tetherow

The Tetherow's were famous pioneers. John's brother Solomon went to Oregon in 1845, and his life from thereon is well documented including a journal about the wagon train he lead there. David appears to have tried to go to Orgeon with Solomon, but died in transit. Prior to that, Solomon and David along with their brother George had helped settle Daviess County, Missouri in 1831. In 1837, George sat the first jury in Livingston County, Missouri. He founded  Stewartsville, Missouri in DeKalb County. He first named the settlement,  Doodlesville for Evan Doodle. This place was then renamed Tetherton, and finally Stewartsville for Missouri Governor Robert M. Stewart. Stewartsville currently has a population of 750.

John Titherow lived very near my Great Grand Uncle William Payne Towles, guardian of my Great Grandfather Robert D. Towles in Howard County. This was in the vicinity of what is now Armstrong, Missouri, It appears he moved north with my Great Grandfather and my Great Grandfather's First Cousin Stokeley William Towles or they followed him as their families wound up in Titherow Hills by 1850. According to Towles descendants Titherow Hills was named for John Titherow. The tale goes that my Towles ancestors and their friends were looking for John Titherow as he was missing. They stopped some folks that appeared to be passing through, and asked if they had seen John Titherow. They said they had not. It was then they noticed blood pooling under the strangers' wagon.They thought nothing of it assuming the strangers had killed wild game. It occurred to them later that the strangers had killed John Titherow, and his body was in the wagon. They never saw Titherow again.

Another tale appears in an article that touches on the naming of Titherow Hills in the Dec. 3, 1931 edition of the Monitor-Index. This one stemmed from an interview with Warren Turner, a man about 80, and son of David Turner one of the first men to settle Titherow Hills. Warren Turner appeared to be an oddball claiming to be "Governor of Tettero Hills." His version of the naming of Titherow Hills was that a man named John Tettero moved 3/4 of a mile north of his father's place, his father having settled the area before Randolph County was organized. Tettero talked to no one, lived alone, and only owned a dog, a pony, and a rifle. Yet, he always seemed to have plenty of money. Finally, Tettero's cabin burned, and Tettero, the dog, and the pony were never seen again.

It is difficult to say which tale is true, and indeed both may be. It is entirely possible Titherow was robbed, murdered, his body hauled away in a wagon, and his cabin burned to hide evidence. There being no written records from the period, no missing persons report, no investigation, no cold case files as one would have were a person to disappear today there is no way to know what happened to John Titherow. He may have been murdered, or he may have just took off and left for greener pastures. All that perhaps can be known with a certainty is that he disappeared, and was never heard from again. As to when this took place, it can be assumed to be after 1833 when Titherow obtained his land patent in Howard County. However, he appears in neither the 1840 Howard County Census Records nor those for Randolph County. It is likely therefore that John Titherow was either killed or left Randolph County sometime between 1833 and 1840.

As to the name itself, John Titherow's name is spelled Tetherow in one record, and Titherow in another. Tetherow seems to be the more common spelling of the family name although Titherow does appear in old records. Dettero is another variation of the spelling of the surname, although John does not seem to have ever spelled his name that way. There are many other variations of the family name. although John and his siblings seem to have preferred "Tetherow." Family names were often spelled different ways in the 19th century. An example of this can be seen with my mother's family. The accepted spelling is Towles, and this spelling goes back to before the Colonial Period to England. However, my Grand Uncle William Payne's name appeared Toles in a Census Record for Howard County, and my Great Grand Father signed his name "Robert Toles" on a tax receipt shortly before he died while his name appeared in some census records as "Robert Tolls." This despite his name being spelled Towles on most other records. It would not be a far reach to assume that John Titherow may have spelled his name both Titherow and Tetherow. The question of the spelling of the name of the area as Titterow Hills or Tettero Hills is answered easily enough. As stated earlier the variations of the place name may be due to the name being passed down orally. Both the Towles and Turner families had probably never seen the name spelled. Even if the earliest generations that had known John Ttherow had seen the name written down, the name may have become corrupted as it was passed down orally to each succeeding generation. Thus you see the Towles descendants spelling it Titterow while the Turner descendants spelled it Tettero.

The question of how much of an area constituted Titherow Hills is not easily answered. Parts of 55W-15N Sections 35 and 54W-15N Sections 2 are a certainty. Both the Towles and Turner families claimed to be from Titherow Hills and their homes were in Sections 2 and 35. However, they owned land in adjacent sections, and it appears from newspaper accounts the Davis and Winkler families also claimed to live in Titherow Hills. Their homes were in other adjacent sections. I can only therefore assume that Titherow Hills was in all or parts of 55W-15N Sections 26, 35, and 36 as well as 54W-15N Sections 1 and 2 in Randolph County, Missouri. It may have consisted of an area of  2,500 acres or more. Or it could have been a much smaller area if only portions of the above named sections were a part of it. Looking at a topographical map, the hills in the area which are about 860 feet above sea level are bounded roughly by County Road 1275 on the north side, the flood plain of the East Fork of the Chariton River on the east side, Route Z on the south side, and Route C on the west side. The hills may have extended farther into Section 26 to the north. This area of Section 26 has been strip mined however and any hills there leveled so as not to appear on modern topographical maps. Regardless, the hills cover the greater part of Section 35 and parts of Sections 1, 2, 26, and 36. The area is roughly a mile wide and two miles long. This would make the size of Titherow Hills roughly 1300 acres. However, going by the families that claimed to have lived there the area could be much larger. One can therefore only assume Titherow Hills was somewhere between 1300  and 2,000 acres more or less.

All of this pretty much solves the mystery of Titherow Hills for me. I have located it which was my first aim. I had always thought it north of Randolph County Road 1275, and indeed part of it may have been, but most is to the south of that road. I have also found who the area was named for, and the names of four families that say they lived in Titherow Hills. The question of the spelling of the name is one I can live with. Spelling of names has only recently become fixed with surnames and names of unofficial settlements changing with the stroke of a pen being spelled one way one time, and another way another time. I spell it "Titherow Hills" as Titherow is how John Titherow's name appears on his land patent. However, other spellings I feel are valid. Regardless, I hope that the name for the area will be preserved and not forgotten. It is a part of my family's history after all.

Below is an interactive map of the area showing the outline of the Hills, as well as important sites and features. You can click on a marker to gain information about it. To enlarge the map click or press on the square in the upper right hand corner.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Facebook's New Policy Towards Text in Ad Images

Until very recently, Facebook had a policy concerning text in images of boosted posts. The policy was no more than 20% of an image could be text. Part of the problem with this policy was that it was not an actual 20%. Instead, an image was divided into a five by five grid and if text was in more than five grid squares it was judged as having more than 20% text. It did not matter if the font size was huge or small, or the amount of text was used so long as it occupied less than five grid squares. Placement played a great deal in whether text occupied more than five grid squares. One could sometimes just rearrange the text on the image so that it occupied five grid squares or less. Thus, the policy was sometimes not so much a judge of how much text there was, but a judge of where the text was placed. Unfortunately, the grid was laid out in such a way that such text placement did not always make for good graphic design. Read my previous post on the topic here.

Effective June 8th Facebook changed its policy. The 20% rule is no longer going to be used. Instead, they are classing images as Okay, Low, Medium, and High. An Okay image has no text. A Low image would be one with some text. A Medium image has more text than a Low image. And a High image would be one with a lot of text. A Low image will not get as many impressions as an Okay image, a Medium image will get a lot less while an image classed as High may not run at all.

I tested two images using the new testing tool and found both images to be in the Okay range despite having text. I suspect these images would be classed as Low in reality. Both images though may have ran afoul of the 20% rule due to text placement. This is much more acceptable to me as even though a Low image may get fewer impressions, it may be more effective than an Okay image at getting a reader to read the post's text. As I said in a previous post it has been my experience that oft times people look at the image, perhaps "like" it, and never read the post so you wind up not getting your message across. However, if an image has just enough text to pique a Facebook user's interest they may go ahead and read the post's text.

I can definitely work with Facebook's new policy. The most desirable policy though would be to only penalize images with a lot of text, and allow Facebook users via reactions and clicks to determine how many impressions a post may get. That is  images with no text and images with some text should both be classed as "okay," and have their number of impressions determined by how users react to them. Still though, the new policy is a step in the right direction,

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Facebook and the 20% Text Rule

I occasionally boost posts for a not for profit I volunteer for on Facebook. It is a great deal as you can reach several thousand people at a low cost.  Recently though, I had a sponsored post rejected. Why? Because text covered more than 20% of the image.

This, at first seems reasonable. Pictures catch the eye better than text, and people do not like large blocks of text. Those two things are advertising basics. Sometimes though text is called for, in the form of logos and basic information. Anyone who has ever tried to design a print ad making the most of text will soon realize text covering only 20% of an image is not very much.

After all there are many things that can be done with text that do not involve large blocks of it. The large blocks of text people don't like aren't logos or slogans that are big and bold, but the blocks of print like you see in a newspaper newsstory. And that is where Facebook's 20% text rule can cripple a sponsored post. Sometimes, a bit of text needs to be used to convey what the post is about. Just using the three Ws (when, where, and why) can give you text covering more than 20% of an image if you want the text large enough to be read.

Of course, Facebook probably thinks people will read the post if the image catches their eyes. Alas, people do not always read the text of a post without prompting by text in the image. Otherwise they just look at the picture, judge whether they like it, hit "like" if they do, and move on without ever reading the post.

The fact is many classic print ads would be rejected by Facebook if used in a sponsored post for text covering more than 20% of the image. Take for example, one of the greatest posters of all time, this one by the U.S. Army from the early 20th century:

When checked using Facebook's Grid Tool, this classic ad has text that makes up 40% of the image. Yet, would anyone deny this ad has not been effective in its aims? Would this image if turned into a Facebook sponsored post be more effective with just the picture of Uncle Sam, and then in the post's text "I want you for the U.S. Army?" Or would it be more effective as it is with the text big and bold in the image? I personally think the original would be more effective. Another example of a classic ad that would not cut it for Facebook is this one from Smith Corona:

This classic ad's text comes in at 24%. It does not look like it covers that much, but going by Facebook's Grid Tool it does. Then there is this 1960s ad from Kodak:

Ignoring all the fine print, and just focusing on, "wondering what you want for Christmas," the text covers 20% according to the Grid Tool. That is it is passable. However, if you add the text at the bottom, it goes up to 40%.. 

The fine print in these old ads can be considered like the text of a sponsored post, something you read after the image catches your eye. But with these old ads it is clear that text as well as the image can be used to draw attention.

So what does this say for Facebook's 20% text rule? It would seem to show Facebook's assumption that too much text looks like spam is not taking into account the context of the text. They are right, a lot of fine print, or text not important to the post like, "Only $5" may be spammy, However, text used the way it is in many classic ads is effective even if it covers more than 20% of the image. 

I understand Facebook wants to exercise a sort of quality control. And to be honest looking back, I am glad my boosted post was rejected. However, since then I have been looking at various Facebook page posts that could be boosted, but are not due to the 20% text rule. Most are well done, and the text covers no more than 30% of the images. No one I think would consider these posts spammy. And that is what makes the Facebook 20% text rule a sad thing. There are so many well done posts that could become sponsored posts if only the rule did not exist, or if the percentage of text allowed in the image were higher. I am not sure there is anything Facebook can do about it  though. If they get rid of the rule, they would probably be inundated with boosted posts that look like carnival posters. If they raise the percentage of text allowed the same thing might happen. Perhaps though, Facebook should look into some sort of solution, even if it means manually viewing the posts that get tagged for too much text, and not looking at some percentage, but on the quality of the text used. 

Edit: Since composing this earlier this evening I have read another blog post on the topic called "How to Get Around Facebook’s 20-Percent Text Rule on Ad Images" by Jon Loomer. What he learned was that it was not so much about how much text you had, but the placement of the text. The problem comes down to is the Facebook grid does not precisely measure the amount of text, but only that there is text in a grid square of the 5X5 grid. Thus it does not matter if your text is 12 pt. or 100 pt. both sizes count the same if they are in a grid square. This is even worse than if you were limited to 20% as suddenly your text could cover as little as 10% but if not placed right, but it would be rejected in that it was within 20% of the grid squares.

Update: Facebook has very recently changed its policy. You can read about the change here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My Opinion on Pinterest Doing Away with Maps

Pinterest is doing away with maps on place boards. The above image is a map. It serves a purpose. Therefore, what good is a place board on Pinterest without a map? Maps on place boards on Pinterest allow users to know where the place the pins are from is located. Without the maps, folks are forced to go to another site to learn a place's location. That could become tedious and tiresome. If you want Pinterest to reverse its decision on maps, send them feedback at the link below. Make sure to mention in the comments section you want to keep maps.