Category Archives: GeneaBloggers Topics

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!

Black Sheep Sunday: Harry Tombs

While re-entering my Dad’s side of family into my family file, I found this “Black Sheep” in the World War I Military Draft Cards. Harry E Tombs is technically my 1st cousin 4 times removed. He’s related to me through the Doremus line. To be honest, I giggled a little when I read the “Awaiting trial for Robbery at the Essex Co Jail” part. I’m sure it was very hard on the family at the time, but gosh it’s nice to know your ancestors were imperfect people too! Makes the idea of living in their shadow a little less daunting. :)

Black Sheep Sunday is a daily blogging theme from GeneaBloggers.

Treasure Chest Thursday: Lt Frank A Greene

A few months ago, I found a newspaper article thrown into the mix with a bunch of cemetery deeds. That article made me wonder about what happened to Lt. Frank A Greene, who married my Great Grandmother’s cousin.  A very helpful commenter on that post, Liz from My Big Fat Family Blog, pointed me to a records collection at There is where I found this report on what really happened to Lt. Frank A Greene, including a hand drawn map of about where his plane went down.

Found on

Treasure Chest Thursday is a Daily Blogging Theme from GeneaBloggers.

Surname Saturday: Redford

I’m almost finished highlighting the surnames on my father’s side of the family!

Where does the Redford name originate from?

My Redford line came over from England about 1870 or 1871. I haven’t found them in any passenger lists yet but I haven’t looked very hard yet either. Once they got to America they settled in Essex County, New Jersey.

Did the Redfords stay in New Jersey?

For the most part, yes. There were quite a few that moved to California.

Overview of the Redford Family

Father: Samuel Redford (about 1843 – 28 Sep 18971 ).

Mother: Francis W Travis (about 1841 – ? )


  1. William Redford ( Jun 1869 – ? )
  2. Herbert Redford (14 Nov 1872 – 11 Sep 1940 2) My 2nd Great Grandfather
  3. Sarah E Redford (07 Oct 1874 – 18 Apr 1959 3)
  4. Samuel Redford (about 1877 – 30 Sep 1877 4)
  5. Lillian L Redford (23 Apr 1879 – 07 Dec 1958 5)
  6. ? Redford (03 Aug 1882 – 1882 6)

Of all the children William and Herbert were the only ones to have children that I know of. William’s son Harry William Redford (01 Aug 1894 – 17 Nov 19797), moved to Los Angeles and was living with Sarah, her husband, and Francis in 1920. In 1930, he was married and living in a house with his wife. I am unsure yet if they had children.

Herbert Redford would marry Sarah Ann (Sadie) Sutcliffe and have 4 children (Clifford, Howard, Edith, and Lilian). Herbert’s family stayed in Essex County, New Jersey. Herbert on the other hand, moved to Los Angeles around 1925. I think it was either right before or right after Sadie’s death. I haven’t found a death record for her yet.

Records to get for the Redfords

  • Birth Record and Death Record for Clifford Herbert Redford (my Great Grandfather)
  • Birth and Marriage Record for Herbert Redford (my 2nd Great Grandfather)

Redford Links


  1. Records of Births, Marriages, and Deaths of New Jersey, 1848-1900, v51 p277
  2. California Death Certificate
  3. California Death Index
  4. Records of Births, Marriages, and Deaths of New Jersey, 1848-1900, v BE p197
  5. California Death Index
  6. Records of Births, Marriages, and Deaths of New Jersey, 1848-1900, film 494195
  7. California Death Index

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Original

The last week, I’ve been slowly entering my mother’s side of the family into my new family file. It’s a little slower going because there are more of them than Dad’s side. I also had a master list of birthdays I made at the family reunion last year for Dad’s side. So I was able to put them in quickly and use the source I titled, “2009 Family Reunion Master List”. I’m new to citing Personal Family sources, so I was a bit baffled at first on how to really cite it. Then I realized I was once again over-analyzing something. So I gave the title as stated above, I’m listed as the other, and in the description I wrote that I compiled the list by going around to everyone at the family reunion and getting their birth dates and marriage dates where needed. It turned out to be a big project for me that year!

On my Mom’s side I now have the original copy of the Family Tree. This is the one my Grandma brought when I was in the eighth grade. I ended up photocopying it at my Mom’s work, and I later reproduced it in Excel and re-printed it. In that time though, I think I might have tried to “fix” it. I think things got a little turned around. I’ve decided to no longer use my photocopy version. I am lucky that my Aunt sent Grandma’s copy to Maryland for me.

Taylor-Webb Family Tree. This has been missing the letters for as long as I can remember!

This has the most complete list I’ve ever seen of the current Taylor family. I don’t communicate much with this side of the family so I don’t know if I would ever had completed this much of it without Grandma’s tree.

Taylor-Webb Family Tree. Page 2A.

It’s a great resource for quite a few generations  back. If you can see, Reuben Vincent Webb is listed as Family Member 2-1 in this tree. This tree counts forward from the earliest known Webb relative. So Reuben is actually my 2nd Great Grand Uncle. It’s his sister Mollie Jane Webb who marries into the Taylor family. My index number in this tree is listed as 6-54. Just to show you how it counts forward in time.

Taylor-Webb Family Tree

What my photocopy version was missing is what you see above. I was in 8th grade around 1997. My Grandmother didn’t pass away until January 2005. So in that time, not only had I been making changes to the family tree, so had my Grandmother! I found little handwritten notes all over the tree. Notes that weren’t there in 1997 when we photocopied it.

Taylor-Webb Family Tree. Living person information blurred for privacy.

Not only did I find notes in my Grandma’s handwriting, there were notes from another person too! This could have been from my Aunt. It could have been from someone who was just visiting and they were discussing the tree. It doesn’t really matter, what I do know is that even though this tree has some errors in it, it’s a wealth of information in other ways.

Treasure Chest Thursday is a daily blogging topic from GeneaBloggers.

Tombstone Tuesday: William L Mays

This is the tombstone of my mom’s brother. He passed away when he was just 2 years old. He left a big impact in the family. Until her dying day, my grandmother was still mourning for the little boy she lost so early in life. I always found it kind of surreal that both of my parents lost brothers so young.

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily blogging topic from GeneaBloggers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...