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My Favorite Things

Tombstone Tuesday: Kindess

This Tombstone Tuesday I’m going to share a tombstone picture and a story of kindness.

As I often complain about, I live in Maryland while many of my roots are in other states. Due to limited means, I can’t really travel. So getting to cemeteries where my relatives actually are is very difficult. That’s why I love the Find a Grave website so much. They have Photo Volunteers on there. I am now one of them, but I haven’t been fast enough to fulfill a request yet! Anyway, I sent out a photo request for some tombstones that I had been to before in my Dad’s hometown, but didn’t have a camera at the time. What I got in return for one photo request was an amazing experience.

I didn’t know at the time how abundant our family was in that cemetery. I was just looking to get my Dad’s grandparents. I knew it would be awhile before I’d see New Jersey again. (I was right by the way. This was in December of 2007 and I still haven’t been there.) So I filled out the Request a Photo form, and I waited. It wasn’t very long before someone “claimed” my request. The hardest part of anything to me is the waiting. Whether it be for records by mail, photo requests, or in the line at Wal-Mart. I hate waiting. It was such a surprise when my request was filled so quickly. The request was filled by John. We actually emailed back and forth for a bit before he could get out to the cemetery. He had run by really quick to check the lay of the land but didn’t have his camera. He went to the office and got all the information from the stones for me to tide me over. It was such a kind gesture. He even saw that William L Moore was buried in a Thorward plot and when he caught sight of yet another Thorward plot, he noted down the names to check later. That’s when he found and saw that they were all indeed my family.

Then the pictures started coming in…

William and Llewellyn Moore (My Great-Grandparents)

Jennie Love (Llewellyn’s mother)

Lewis Thorward (Llewellyn’s father)

He took pictures of everything in William’s plot.

Then when he’d done that he took pictures of all the other names he’d found on my website. I can’t even picture them all here. They include Thorward, Lindsley, and Bush family plots. To this day I still remember John and how nice he was to take these pictures for me. Even though we weren’t related he’d found a great sense of history through my family ties to Caldwell, New Jersey. Even getting excited to see the old building the Meat Market was housed in. In his own words, “I’ve driven past this building a hundred times. Never really noticed it until last week.” I don’t know if John still visits this site, but I hope he knows how much I appreciated all the help he gave me.

This is why I love genealogy and the people who make it possible.

Memorial Day

I have indeed made it home from the quickest trip to Ohio in the world. I even managed to get some mountain driving practice in. I just wanted to take the time out to acknowledge our troops and all they’ve done for us. I was going to find a little flag graphic to post but then I remembered the plaque we got from Grandpa Moore when we took ownership of the van. So I figured why not. It’s a phone camera picture, so it isn’t great but it’s the subject that matters, not the quality. Also, feel free to ignore the mess of my desk. I am in coming home from a trip chaos.

I’m hoping next Memorial Day I can post a listing of a bunch of my ancestors who have served their country. There were definitely a lot of those.

Today I plan to do my usual Memorial Day routine, though because of the trip it might not be as productive. Memorial Day is usually my day to pop in my Band of Brothers DVDs and do genealogy all day long. I work best when I have things going on the TV that I don’t have to pay attention to because I’ve seen the good parts already. Usually I just keep everything off and enjoy the moment, but for Memorial Day/Veterans Day/D-Day, really just the military days, I like to add Band of Brothers into the mix.

Just for fun I’m going to throw in a picture of my father when he entered the United States Marine Corps.

So please enjoy the last day of the Holiday weekend and remember all our troops and their families have sacrificed. They are special people!

Update on Photo Rehab

In this post, I showed you a quick peek at the start of my photo retouching project. It’s one of the only photos we have of my mother’s father. He died when my mother was pregnant with my older brother. So not many of his grandchildren ever really “met” him. A few were babies, I think. They might have all been in the womb still. I’d have to check my records, and I don’t have time for that right now. :p

L) Before | R) After

This is where my project stands right now. I don’t know if I’ll be able to save much more, but it’s certainly been worth the effort!

Free Resources pay off!

I’ll be the first person in line to admit I don’t ever want to give up my membership. It’s so convenient for searching. I know the downfalls and dangers but I just don’t care. It’s like my fluffy pajamas, they’re my security blankets.

I think sometimes it’s easy to forget all those other great resources out there in the shadow of Ancestry though. Just waiting to be found and utilized sometimes. I’m definitely making a trip to the National Archives this summer, I’m pretty sure the local historical and genealogy societies do day trip shuttles. Why shouldn’t I take advantage! I’m also thinking about volunteering at the local historical society. I used to know some people there and I think I could be some help. Especially if there are forms to fill out, I love forms.

Yesterday I posted about my chagrin at being denied access to from my home. I’m so spoiled you see, that I felt slighted. Well, I felt slighted for about 30 seconds when I decided I was going to play with that Heritage Quest thingy. Just for fun.


Unlike other things I won’t name, this one allowed me to enter my library card number and away I went.


Where to start? Where to start? I decided to start with something I already knew, just to see how easy it would be to search things. I’ve been having a little trouble with Census searching on Ancestry the last few days, so I decided to see what it was like here.


So I picked someone from my family file that I hadn’t really researched a lot, but that I knew the basics about. Sort of. I also wanted an easy to interpret last name. After all my frustrations and weirdness of the last few days I didn’t want to mess with spelling things too.


Oh look, we have three matches! My guy is on the bottom of course, but don’t be fooled all those yahoos are in my tree.


For some reason, I thought this would just be an index. Imagine my pleasant surprise when it also showed the actual image! They don’t have all the censuses online, but boy do they have a lot and this is all FREE to me through my library card. You can bet I’m going to be utilizing this a lot more now that I’m aware it’s there.


Just wait until I show you what I found on John K Taylor’s father and my 5th Great Grandfather Bartholomew Taylor.


We have company this week. My cousin is in Maryland visiting us. I may not have the time to get updates in this week, but we’ll see! I have nothing to offer in way of tips or tricks today, so I’ll leave you with a picture!

Emogene Taylor-Mays-Utter (1929-2005)

She was one of my favorite people in the whole world and I still miss her. See you soon folks!

Oops I got distracted

I may or may not have spent my last two evenings lost in Google Earth and Panoramio. I don’t mean to be distracted by these things but I can seem to help it. I’ve realized over the last couple of weeks that I haven’t done much traveling at all. Back and forth to family reunions doesn’t count as traveling. Especially since they are usually quick weekend trips. I long to travel. I don’t know how well I’d hold up, because I’m kind of a homebody, but I’d like a chance to try.

In these contemplations, I also realized I have a great obsession with medieval castles. I have certain obsessions with certain time periods and the medieval time period seems to be another one. I can’t help it. I don’t romanticize it, I promise! I know it was a brutal and bloody time. It’s the architecture and families and that fascinate me. Family dynamics are so complex and unpredictable. Maybe that’s why I love genealogy so much too.

I’m big on full disclosure, as you all know, so I have to be upfront about my recent distraction. It wasn’t just castles I was caught up in. I was caught up in Scottish Clan histories and matching up castles with clans. I brought up a list on Wikipedia of all the castles in Scotland and I started trying to plot them in Google Earth so I could come back to them anytime I wanted. It was wonderful.

The photography on Panoramio is just gorgeous. I’ve got to read the Terms of Service and stuff before I post any pictures from there. I might have to contact the original photographers. It might be months before I build up an awesome Castle post, but boy do I want to. I get so inspired when I see the great things other people do. I even played with my camera yesterday. Found settings I never knew existed. Someday I’ll have a new camera, until then mine will work to get the logistics down.

I better go get the laundry in before I get distracted again! Sorry for no pretty pictures this time, I’ll just have to leave you with one of Castle Menzies from one of my Google Earth Adventures!


Forward Progress

I’ve put this off for a long time but now I’m breaking it out and working on it. I am restoring a damaged photo of my Grandfather, Stanley Mays. It’s one of the few pictures we have of him, and it’s certainly the best one. So here’s my progress so far.


Not bad so far if I do say so myself! This is only after a few minutes of doing it so I had some progress to show. 😉

My Tools: Windows Live Writer

The other day, I posted about the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. What you didn’t know was that I was playing with a blogging program while I was typing up that post. It was tons of fun, and I decided that I will use it more! I’ve had it on my computer ever since I tried it for Great Grandma’s Journal transcription. I forgot all about it until this weekend. Then I got curious about how it could work for what I blog about now. Well color me surprised! There’s a lot packed into this program! It’s called Windows Live Writer.


I liked being able to see what it would look like with my layout. Depending on your blog layout, you will see more or less here. I just like seeing how it would look on my background.


It’s as easy and point and click to insert images and links!


Even entering tables is easy as pie! Tables aren’t exactly popular among coders anymore, but for beginning webmasters, they are a layout dream. I used tables on all my layouts up until the last year or so. In fact, I still use tables on my index page on Moore Mays. It is sometimes easier then making sure that each browser will interpret your code the same. Trust me, the more complicated the code, the more hassle it is. Tables are a nice simple layout option.


I had the most fun playing with the image effects. You should have seen my face when I had instant rounded corners! I love rounded corners. I actually was trying to round the corners of everything in the beginning of this blog. However, to get the transparency I wanted, I had to save files as .png. That made the file size MUCH bigger than I liked.


The watermark feature was interesting too! Yet another Photoshop shortcut. I love those by the way. I don’t usually put watermarks on anything, because I’m not real worried about photo theft. If they want to get it, they get it. If you get my drift. I like how I could just add a little MoaG watermark in the bottom corner though. It made the pictures a little more personal to me. I won’t be in the habit of doing that but maybe on pictures I take on trips and post here, I will make the effort. So they are a bit more special.


Another favorite button of mine was the little Preview button at the bottom. This shows you EXACTLY what your post will look like once it’s posted. I like to use this often so I can make sure I have things laid out properly.

blog-132 blog-133

There is also a Source button there to show the raw code if you like that kind of thing. Along with the Source option, there is spell check! I don’t know what I would do without spell check so thank god for that!


You can do most everything in this program that you can do on your blog. Depending on the blogging program you use, maybe even more!


Including opening posts from your online blog! You can make some minor changes, I haven’t completely tried it yet. You can’t add the effects to pictures already posted though. I tried to get my rounded corners back in my first post and it didn’t work!

Overall, I’m really enjoying playing with this program. I can’t wait to find out what else there is to it. Definitely worth a download at least!

My Tools: TNG Sitebuilding Software

Most times when I get questions or comments about my main site, people want to know what I use to handle the large amount of information that is on my site. First thing I have to say, this method is not for people who don’t have a basic knowledge of how to work with MySQL databases. By that I mean, you must at least know how to create one, or have someone who can. Once that is done, I don’t think you need any advanced knowledge. That’s the beauty of this software.

The software is called The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding. It is written by a guy named Darrin Lythgoe. I have been using this software with little to no problems for at least a few years. Once you set up your database, there is a readme file that guides you through all the other installation steps. It’s very painless!

Once you have everything installed, this is what you are left with. Your canvas couldn’t be any blanker! What I love about this is it’s very easy to just take over from this point. I have always tried to customize straight from the beginning but I never took the time to make sure I had everything proportioned correctly, or that I was going CSS class by CSS class to make sure all my text was still visible.

If I just lost you with that last sentence, don’t be intimidated! You don’t have to know any of that if you just want a simple site but aren’t exactly sure how to go about it. There are 8 pre-built templates that are available for download at the site fore you to use.

In the course of this site, I have used template 2, template 4, and template 8. I always try to customize it to my own tastes, but like I said, you don’t have to if you don’t know how! These files are just quickly uploaded and ready to go on your site!

This is my first fully customized layout using the TNG software. To achieve this, I made my own images and only had to modify less than five pages. I only had to modify 1 CSS file, the index page, and the header and footer files. All I really had to do to the header and footer files was to copy and paste my “layout codes” into them. Then I was done. For anyone who does website coding but doesn’t know much about programming, this is perfect.

The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding

Treasure Chest Thursday and My Favorite Things

Today’s blog can double for a GeneaBlogger topic and a My Favorite Things post! The “treasure” I’ll tell you about is my Great Grandmother Llewellyn’s journal. I’ve tried transcribing to the site a few times but nothing that has stuck. I’ll get that worked out soon.

As you can see the journal is quite old. It’s dated 1923, and I think she used it to cover a three year period.

It’s not exactly in the greatest shape on the outside but it’s definitely in great condition otherwise!

Every month has little birthday reminders at the beginning. Not only family birthdays but also friends. There is even a list of visited places written on one of the pages. What a diverse list it was too! I’m guessing that list would be the places I see in the many pictures I have of her traveling. My Aunt Lori says it’s most likely she was traveling with the church. I definitely concur with that!

In honor of Easter coming up, I turned to Easter. As you can see, she drew a line and added further down the page. Some pages have three sections. This is why I think the journal was used for a three year period. Not to mention the only way it makes sense is if you read it like they are separate years.

After reading Llewellyn’s journal and feeling closer to her, I couldn’t help but start my own. One day I hope my great-grandchildren will be able to get a glimpse of my life from my journal. I hope they treasure it as much as I treasure Llewellyn’s.

Treasure Chest Thursday is a Daily Blogging Topic that I got from GeneaBloggers. To participate in Treasure Chest Thursday simply create a post with the main focus being a family treasure, an heirloom or even an every-day item important to your family.

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