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Tombstone Tuesday: The Mays Family

Mays Family Tombstone. Bethel, Ohio.

There are a few reasons that I chose to highlight this tombstone. In all my hijinks into my family history, I have stumbled onto learning how to do certain things. One of the first things I realized is that even official records can be wrong. I’ve also learned that spelling doesn’t matter in the early and late 1800s.

An important thing to remember about tombstones is that they aren’t always accurate. Take the example above. The names are mostly right, spelling mistakes aside. I also need to state that the death years are all correct (hard to get that wrong, right?)

  1. Ralph (1924-1952): Everything here is correct.
  2. John (1853-1927):  His death certificate states his birth year as 1842. Since John is living in the 1850 census and listed as age 5, either date could be wrong but 1853 is more wrong then 1842.
  3. Cecilia (1842-1914):  I’ve only seen her referred to as Celia or Cela. That could be a shortened nickname but I might never know unless I find her birth record. Her death record also lists her birth date differently. I have 1840 and her age in censuses always matches that.
  4. Harmon (1872-1952): Everything here is correct too!
  5. Ivah (1897-1949): Iva’s name has been spelled a million different ways and that’s not including her maiden name (Moyer/Meyer/Myers). Once again I have her death certificate and her birth date is listed as 1894 and not 1897. The 1900 census actually gives her birth date as Sep 1894 too, which is spot on with her death certificate!

So basically what I’m saying is don’t always trust the tombstone. You never know who was giving the information at the time of your ancestor’s burial. In fact, it’s usually the same person giving the information for the death certificate. That’s why I’m so surprised the death certificates and tombstone varies so much here.

Florence Redford-Moore's tombstone. July 2010

In fact, even newer tombstones can be a bit wrong. This is my grandmother’s tombstone inscription. Everything is spot on except the fact that she was actually born on April 13 and not April 15. Oops! Be sure your family knows that they can come to you for correct dates!

Tombstone Tuesday is a blogging theme used by many GeneaBloggers.

Treasure Chest Thursday: 44 Years of Kodak

Note: I don’t mean to show a bias towards Kodak. It is strictly coincidence that I found this after my Tech Tuesday post. Except I don’t believe in coincidences, so it’s really one of those crazy freaky things that follows me around. Again, I am not being compensated by Kodak for this post.

I had photos on the brain yesterday. I was actually sorting through some of my scanned photos trying to decide if I was going to rescan the last batch at a higher DPI. That’s when I remembered this box in the spare room. It’s there with a suitcase full of sympathy cards that were sent to Llewellyn after William‘s death.

I remember opening this up before but I think I was too busy pouring over documents. I probably saw that these were negatives of some sort and decided to check later if they were negatives of pictures I already had. I should have been tipped off to the fact that these were kept separately.

So yesterday, I started going through the box. It was then I realized these were slides and not negatives. Or are they negatives that are mounted as slides? Is that the same thing. This shows you how much I know about these things. Obviously I need to do a bit more research.

On this box I noticed a name that I found on the back of a photo. Gladys Walker. I’m almost certain that Gladys Walker is a relation who lived in the Detroit area. This all feels more likely to me because I found Detroit written on the back of some photos and Ralph Leonard even spent a few years there. If there was family there, then Ralph’s brief time there is better explained.

It was when I stuck one of the slides into this that I realized I could possibly have more pictures than I thought.

I’ve got a lot of pictures. There is one big batch of a trip to Florida. So I’m thinking these slides could be from William and Llewellyn’s travels. My father says they traveled around a bit. Unfortunately, the light is broken in the viewer that I found in the box. I’m putting a new one on my Christmas wish list and I’m hoping that my slides will fit into a new one.

If that’s the case, I have a lot of slides to go through.

This box says Moore and 86 Park Avenue. So I’m now positive these slides are William and Llewellyn’s. The date of 1966 gives me a time frame that pretty much matches the photos I have of Llewellyn and William in Florida.

There’s a lot of Kodak in that box. I’ve used Kodak for 10 years myself. It was my first digital camera. It’s kind of comforting when I find these things in my family tree. I’ve grown up without a lot of family around me. So I never really felt a lot of connections to the past. Which is probably why I am a literal sponge when my grandma gave me that family tree. I remember distinctly being amazed that you could actually know your family back that far.

Now that I know my Dad’s side of the family, it’s amazing all the different things I find that link me to things. Just finding a box full of Kodak slides made me giddy. Like I had yet another connection to these people I’m learning were a lot like me. So that’s at least 44 years of Kodak history in our family, it’s kind of a nice feeling.

Tech Tuesday: Kodak All-in-One

Note: I have no affiliation with Kodak. I am not being compensated for this post. I’m just a Kodak user, who enjoys my Kodak products.

If you spend any amount of time with my family, you’ll realize we’re gadget people. It’s so very obvious. I’m not talking about my siblings. I’m talking about my extended family too. On my Dad’s side, our family reunions are littered with gadget talk.

When I started to think about what I would write about for Tech Tuesday, the first thing that come to mind is my printer/scanner combo. It’s not the fanciest or most advanced piece of technology I own, but it’s the most used by far.

Don’t let the clutter on top fool you, I use this printer/scanner combo on a daily basis when I’m busy. I only clutter it because I like the tiger and it makes me smile when lines of code make my eyes cross.

What a difference flash makes in a picture, huh? Anyway, here’s the scanner opened up to show you the top. I can easily fit 5 or 6 of my more historical pictures onto this scanner. The Kodak scanner software even picks up the different pictures when it scans. It doesn’t always pick them up, but a quick ‘Fix Scan’ action allows me to delineate where each picture is.

One of the other things that sold me on the printer is the memory card reader. My computer doesn’t have one and I can’t find one that will fit in my computer. So this helps me so much. In fact, ALL my digital camera pictures are transferred to my hard drive through this printer. It’s as simple as putting the card in and selecting the AutoPlay prompt that allows me to Import Pictures through Windows. I set my settings to always transfer to my second hard drive in the Camera Pictures folder into another folder that displays the date of transfer. Organization of my pictures keeps me sane.

Here’s a picture to show where the paper feeds in from. When I’m not printing, I like to keep the tray up to save space. It doesn’t seem like a lot of space but I don’t like a lot of stuff near my arms when I’m coding websites. It’s just one of my things. Also, on the bottom right is a USB slot. I can hook my camera directly into that spot if I need to. I don’t use that slot for the most part. I really only use it when I forget to put my memory card back into my camera and I need pictures off the camera memory.

Here are the controls on the top of the printer.

They have a red blinking light for when you’re low on ink (which I am, but I caught it on an off blink!) and another light for a paper jam (which I don’t have). The Scan button is just what it says. My favorite part of this printer is the Copy button. My mom is a school bus driver and every year she has to make a seating chart. It’s never a quick process. So I usually take her seating chart blank form and I change quantity to 10 or 15 and hit Copy. The printer makes 10 copies using the scanner portion to copy the form. As you can see, you can also switch between black/color and 100% scale or Fit to Page. When I’m copying a form, I don’t worry about the scale. If I were copying a picture though, I might hit fit to page so that I could have a full size picture.

I wouldn’t change much about my printer/scanner combo. In fact, the only thing I’d change today would be to ugrade to the newer wireless model. The picture above is the newer model and it’s about the same price that I paid for mine. So that’s really the only thing I’d change about this. I’m not sure what quirks of fate would come with a wireless setup though, so do that at your own risk.

So that’s my Tech Tuesday pick. I find this a very efficient and useful product. Ink refills only cost $20 for both color and black. The ink does run down a little fast compared to some of my older printers but the quality is also better.

Note Again: I have no affiliation with Kodak. I am not being compensated for this post. I’m just a Kodak user, who enjoys my Kodak products.

Surname Saturday: Parkin

This is the last surname I’m highlighting on my Dad’s side for the blog! I didn’t mean to take so long in getting this written up but I had an early wake-up today and decided to get it done.

Where does the Parkin name originate from?

This surname has been a source of frustration for me for a long time. First we thought it was Perkins, then Parkins, and finally Parkin. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was completely wrong at this point and I ended up with the surname of Parker. My Parkin family originates in England. The father of my “first family” came to America through Castle Garden in October of 1874 and his family followed in July of 1875.  According to the Public Profiler Surname Distribution Map, in 1881 the Parkin surname was most concentrated around the midlands of England. That would make sense because my Parkin family departed England by way of Liverpool.

Did the Parkins stay in New Jersey?

Yes. I haven’t found all the girls after they married yet, but it looks like the Parkin family was a small but close one.

Overview of the Parkin Family

Father: William R Parkin (about 1842 – 02 Aug 18811)

Mother: Ann ? (Sep 1839 – ?)


  1. John Walter Parkin (Dec 1863 – before 1910) My 2nd great grandfather
  2. Mary Ann Parkin (Apr 1870 – ?) married Edward E Spencer, had 2 daughters
  3. William Matthew Parkin (Sep 1871  – ?) married Ida ?, had 1 daughter
  4. Joseph B Parkin (Dec 1874 – ?)

The men in the Parkin family seem to live short lives from what I can tell. Both John and William’s children were living with their mother in 1910. The grandchildren bounced between the families a lot. This fits well with what my Aunts tell me about the Jane Parkin (John’s daughter). They told me that they had the impression she lived a very hard life. To be frank, her parents were dead by the time she was 14. That can’t be easy in any respect. Then to add that they were bounced around between family members. Joseph seems to be the exception to the early death rule in the Parkin family. I have him all the way through 1930 on the census records.

Records to get for the Parkins

  • I need to get birth and death records for my great grandmother Jane. I have her marriage record already.
  • I need to find a marriage record for Jane’s parents John Parkin and Jennie Featherson. FamilySearch gives their marriage date as 17 Jun 1890. Hopefully this helps me find the New Jersey record easier.
  • I really am curious to get the death records for both John and Jennie. If they were both dead by the 1910 census, I want to see what would take them from their children. I feel like there’s a story there in my gut.

Parkin Links


  1. Records of Births, Marriages, and Deaths of New Jersey, 1848-1900, v10

Sentimental Sunday: Ellis Island

Every genealogy researcher eventually comes across Ellis Island. For me, my first experience was when my mother started to get me into genealogy. She was researching the Thorward Family. There was a ship manifest from Ellis Island that listed George Thorward. I’m sorry, he was listed as Georg Thorward. To be perfectly honest, there were two manifests. There you’ve dragged it all out of me. One manifest was from 1898 and the other from 1901. Funny enough, both trips were made aboard the ship Southwark. In both trips, his departure city is listed as Antwerp, Belgium. That’s a good clue to keep in handy when I finally start trying to track him in Germany.

He most likely was making trips back to his homeland for some reason or another. That or he was going there on business. I wasn’t even a twinkle in the universe yet, so I can’t tell you exactly. I can theorize though, which is one of my favorite things to do by the way. Ask me next week and I’ll spin you a yarn about his trip home for a cousin’s wedding, or maybe how he was going home for his granny’s funeral. It’s just how I get kicks. As long as I’m not passing these stories down to my currently non-existent grand kids, I figure it’s harmless fun. You should see what I do when there are traffic jams, boy can I spin some yarns with that!

So there’s some sentimental reasons I feel a kinship with Ellis Island. Technically, I haven’t found a single relative that actually immigrated through Ellis Island. All my relatives came before it opened in 1892. In fact, besides George’s trips I don’t think I’ve found more than two other relatives passing through on trips abroad.

Ellis Island Recreation

You probably can imagine my surprise when I found the building you see above. My mother has a little bit of a Christmas Village obsession. Every now and again, Cecil’s Country Store will have a blowout sale. They sell all kinds of buildings for Christmas villages. It’s an awesome place to go and look through. It’s actually an old post office and store from 1906. While Mom was salivating over houses, castles, and other buildings for her village, I ran across one box that said Ellis Island. Then I looked closer and the price tag said $5! Well, I got in the spirit of the moment and just went for it! Sure it’s only a small part of the actual building. Could you imagine fitting a reproduction of the whole thing somewhere? Where would you even put that?

I know it’s not exactly the most meaningful purchase I’ll ever make but it was one of the more sentimental. In the few hours I’ve had it setup on my desk (what a great way to avoid clutter!), I’ve already looked at it and smiled more times than I can count.

Open Thread Thursday on Friday?

My internet took a vacation yesterday. I guess everyone needs a vacation every once and awhile even my internet. So because of my internet’s decision to take the day off, I didn’t get a chance to post my take on the Open Thread Thursday at GeneaBloggers yesterday. I was really interested in what people said about this since I’m neck deep into a website redesign! I took notes and tested a few things with the itty bitty internet connection that I had. So here’s my take on what’s necessary!

Judy Webster’s List:

  • About me: I love having one of these because I think it helps readers to relate to you a little bit more! I think of it as a little introduction just like at the beginning of the school year. You don’t need to tell me the name of your first pet, but I’d like to know a little bit!
  • Subscribe Option: This is definitely a must. With so many different blogs out there, I think it’d be too hard to really keep up without some kind of Subscribe option. My favorite way to subscribe is through Google Reader. I can check it at the end or beginning of my day and it tells me what is new. Then on the blogs that I want to read the comments on or if the article is only excerpted, I can always just click on the title and open it up in my browser.
  • Follow Option: I do have the Google Friend Connect, I don’t use it much myself, but I know it helps people who are using Blogger to do the same thing that Google Reader does. I think it’s a nice option to have for others to use. I didn’t really know what it was at first but when my readers started using it, I knew it was a good move!
  • Labels: I love categories and I love tags. I use categories to differentiate the topic of the post. Mostly they are used for the GeneaBloggers topics or my own overall category. I use Tags to highlight the Family I’m writing about. I find these especially essential so that readers can find exactly what they are looking for. I notice a lot of people reading just a category or a family tag through my webstats so these were also good decisions!
  • Blog Archive: Yes but these are really a personal preference. I’m thinking about only doing a pull down menu on the new site. I think at least some kind of Monthly Archive at the least is essential. Really if you’re using good categories and tags, then you could probably get by without an archive, though I think it can only be helpful.
  • Links to Other Blogs: I love links! My list isn’t quite as current, but I also want to make a separate page on the new website so I can give a description and reason why I chose the links. I think links are a personal decision though as they can clutter a website. So I say do them but try and keep them compact or in a separate page!
  • Links to Websites about related topics: I think since you could be bringing new people to the genealogy field, maybe some of your most helpful getting started links can be a good way of keeping them interested.

GeneaBloggers Questions:

What do you consider essential in terms of widgets, sidebar items, etc. for a genealogy blog?

A search function is essential but I think besides the basics of (Pages,Categories,Tags,Archives) it’s all optional. I like to see twitter feeds, but I find I no longer like the clunky plug and play twitter app. So in the new site I’m not going to use that.

I know people have problems with captcha codes. If you are using a blog hosted by a blogging company I don’t see the problem with not having them.  I’m on my own server however and when I turned off captcha for just two hours, I was flooded with spam bot commenters and registrations. So I just can’t do that to my webhosting company’s servers. This may open them up to security risks that I’m not smart enough to think of. I do have Akismet also installed and I was still getting spam, so that’s my personal choice.

Have you taken steps to minimize or streamline your blog in consideration of dial-up and even mobile users?

I haven’t but I want to! I’m going to research this a bit more and see what my options are but I definitely want to have a mobile and printer friendly setup!

Where should the “bling” be placed – sidebar, header, footer, other location?

I like navigation to be up top in the middle. It just seems to be the place I prefer. I like to keep all the other stuff to the side. Though I can see why all that scrolling could become cumbersome. If you sidebar goes farther then your main blog page then maybe it’s too much in the sidebar. I never even thought about putting bling in the footer! I’m definitely going to test that out with the new design.

What about other blog template items such as font size, background color, etc.?

I love seeing all the different designs in blogs. I think it’s a great way to show off your personality. Through experience I know a lot about template donts. You definitely want text size to be at least 10 or 12 pixels. Unless you are putting fine print on the bottom of something. Then I like to go down to 9 pixels. Dark backrounds can be good, but they have to be done right. It’s very hard to read on dark backgrounds for a lot of reasons. I really like the idea of using whatever background image or color you want, but using divs/tables/boxes to keep your content visible and easy to read.

I feel bad for this wall of text, so here’s another preview of the new website. I had to go to three columns to prevent a massive sidebar. (This is why I loved this topic!) The next part is coding the blog and planning the sidebar. 🙂 Feel free to give me advice or to comment on my opinions above!

click for full size preview

Mystery Monday: The London Strangler

The article you see to your right was given to me by my Aunt Diane. Basically, her box of good stuff and my boxes of good stuff came from the same place! So she had a bunch of stuff that she gave me copies of when I first started researching heavily. In fact I think all of my Menzies documents were in her box.

Basically the article states (you can click it to view it full size), ‘Lady’ Menzies and her daughter were found dead in their home one morning. There’s even a bolded part that says “Airports and seaports got the descriptions of a middle-aged man and a handsome bearded young man with pierced ears”. To be honest this sounds right out of a modern paper!

Mystery #1: When does the article take place?

This was actually my first big challenge in genealogy. Trying to figure out when this way. Until I figured that out I wouldn’t be able to figure out who the article was talking about. After a lot of searching in various Newspaper databases, I found over 20 printings of this event. It took place in February of 1954! All the articles were a little different but they all gave mostly the same information.

Mystery #2: Who is ‘Lady’ Menzies?

The victims from the article are at first listed as ‘Lady’ Menzies and her daughter (Mrs Isobel Victoria Chesney). Over the next few days, papers are printing a little bit more. It turns out Mrs. Mary Menzies was the owner of an “old people’s home”. She was known by the name ‘Lady’ Menzies by everyone. She styled herself as Lady because her husband, the late Thomas C Menzies claimed he was the 10th baronet of the clan Menzies. However, peerage officials made an official announcement that despite Thomas’ claims, the title had become extinct. Mrs Menzies daughter, Isobel led quite an adventurous life. Depending on which article you read, police sorted through 3,000 to 4,000 “love letters” to get clues as to what happened. The letters dated back to 1934.

Mystery #3: Did they ever catch the killer?

Yes they did, and it’s a doozy folks! Once I found out the year and month of their murders, I was able to follow up pretty quickly. It turns out Isobel’s husband, Ronald Chesney was the culprit. Police believe Mr Chesney killed his wife to “get her 10,000 pound ($28,000) legacy and marry a pretty German sweetheart”. Five days after the murders Mr Chesney shot himself dead in Cologne, Germany after his girlfriend refused him. Apparently, she wasn’t impressed by his actions. That’s when the crazy details really started coming out. Ronald J Chesney was actually, John Donald Merrett. He was even tried for the murder of his mother in 1927! The jury gave a verdict of “not proven” in that case. Ronald/John was even the subject of a TIME Magazine article in March of 1954!

So what’s the mystery here?

Really the mystery I have is how this family is related to my Menzies family. I have a great clue in Thomas C Menzies and his claim. At first I was worried that the daughter, Isobel, was the Bell Brodie that was sending letters to Jane T Menzies. I quickly realized it was a completely different person. It should be noted that this Isobel Menzies lived in London and Bell Brodie lived in London, just in the 1860’s. So that could still be part of my connection. Also, do we really have that connection to Castle Menzies or did I inherit Thomas Menzies wishful thinking?


There were many, many news articles on this event. If you really want to have fun, try to NOT find this story in a newspaper of your choice! I’ll list just the ones I have copies of:

  1. 12 Feb 1954. Police Seek Stranglers. The Frederick (Maryland) News.
  2. 12 Feb 1954. Scotland Yard Investigates Double Murday. Ames (Iowa) Daily Tribune.
  3. 12 Feb 1954. British Claimant to Title and Daughter Slain. Bedford (Penn) Gazette.
  4. 12 Feb 1954. Strangler Kills 2 Women in London. Joplin (MO) Globe.
  5. 14 Feb 1954. Love Letters Sifted for Murder Clues. The Daily Independent (Kannapolis, NC).
  6. 15 Feb 1954. 3,000 Letters Received by Slain Woman. Fergus Falls (Minn) Daily Journal.
  7. 17 Feb 1954. Smuggler Added to Bizarre Murder List. News-Tribune (Fort Pierce, FL).
  8. 25 Mar 1954. Two Deaths Said Murders. Fergus Falls (Minn) Daily Journal.
  9. Mar 1954. Not Proven. TIME Magazine. Retrieved online (Nov 2007, Sep 2010): link.

Mystery Monday is an ongoing series I do on the blog, it is also now a GeneaBloggers daily blogging theme option! So let’s hear those mysteries!

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