Category Archives: Misadventures of a Genealogist

Finally Moved In

I finally feel like I have moved back into my domain. Over the past week, I’ve been working on a new website for my Uncle. This gave me the motivation to dig around in the coding for both this blog, and the main site. Well, I’ve finally got a fairly uniform looking website! I could have added the side menu from the website here too, but felt that wasn’t necessary. The buttons at the top of the page will take you where you most likely want to go on the main site. The buttons are the same on both sites. Though I may change the order of the buttons a bit later today. Just to satisfy my need to change my mind. ;)

moore-mays.org main site

moore-mays.org blog site

I won’t lie to you, there are a few things I might still tweak. They are only cosmetic things in the big picture though and you likely wouldn’t notice them. I hope everyone who visits this site enjoys it as much as I do!

New Beginnings

I had some trouble sleeping last night, so I was thinking about some things I could do to improve my website. I’m still trying to work on blog stuff. Just need to learn the code first!

One of the things I decided about my site is that I can add new “trees” manually. I usually just import GEDCOM files into the site. That works great, if my GEDCOM file was in shape to be imported.

The second thing I realized was there is no reason I need to have “living” people information on the site. So what I’m doing, is I’m starting from my 4 Grandparents. Those lines are going to have their own “tree.” I’ll add one person at a time, sourcing every speck of information I put in, uploading a photo or two for people I have photos for, etc. This allows me complete control. There may be some double and triple people at points in time, because I’ll only be deleting people from the “old tree” once I have them completely sourced in the “new tree.”

For those who don’t visit that part of my site, this won’t mean anything to you, but I’m excited just thinking about it. I sometimes really hate that I don’t spend enough time concentrating on a single person. Not anymore! This will also give me a chance to send for records of those I need. My file is such a mess right now, I don’t know who I have records for and who I don’t. So that’ll be great.

The last benefit of this method for the site is that I can do the same thing in RootsMagic and Family Tree Maker. I’m still determined to have both programs do the same things. I just have to figure them out. I might even be able to purchase the full version of RootsMagic in a few months. I just want to make sure I have enough for my Ancestry.com renewal in September. I should have it by then though!

I might even consider putting up a public Ancestry.com tree, once I have things under control on all my other programs and sites. I don’t know, I’m still flip flopping on that ;)

My Tools: TNG Sitebuilding Software

Most times when I get questions or comments about my main site moore-mays.org, 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: Our Grandfather Clock

The next “treasure” I will show you is our Grandfather clock. This clock has only been in our house for about 6 years now. Technically we’ve owned it since it was made in 1983. The story goes that my Grandmother and Wayne were visiting us. Wayne was huge into the Civil War. Which is only fitting since he strongly resembled Abe Lincoln… Anyway, they were visiting and going around to all the historical sites. Obviously we are in the perfect spot for that. We are about 2 hours south of Washington D.C. and about 5 minutes from Point Lookout and St. Mary’s City.

They visited Sotterley Plantation one day while Grandma and Wayne were visiting. Sotterley is probably one of my favorite places in my area. I’ve only been twice in my whole life, but I love it all the same. During their visit to Sotterley, my Mom spied a grandfather clock. She fell in love with that clock. She turned to Wayne and told him, “One day I’ll have a clock just like that.”

Wayne went back to Indiana, and he made her that clock she said she wanted. The clock sat at Grandma and Wayne’s house in Dillsboro, IN for 20 years. Until one day, Wayne told us that we were taking it back to Maryland with us or he was putting on the lawn and selling it. We did what anyone would do, we packed up the clock and hightailed it back to Maryland.

This clock is in all my memories of Grandma and Wayne. That’s because it was made the same year I was born. I have such vivid memories of this clock. I can see Wayne now, sitting in his chair in the corner. He’d take his timepiece out and check the clock time. Then he’d sign as only a man with the most gravely voice (that was the emphysema) can do. Then he’d walk over and he’d pull the weights and adjust the time.

I’m pretty sure this picture was taken in front of Sotterley on that fateful visit. The baby would be my sister. I wasn’t born yet. This is probably one of my favorite pictures.

I recently was going through my mountain of pictures and came across a few more from that  visit. These are from D.C. How great are these shots? Even though we live close to D.C. we rarely go into the city. We keep trying to plan a trip but it’s just a little too close to home for it to ever get off it’s feet. Forces have been working against us.

Looking at these pictures makes me want to go real bad though. I better get on the treadmill and work up my walking endurance though. I’m sure it’ll be a lot of walking if we were to go. I’d like to learn more about picture taking too. It’d be great to actually get good pictures.

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.

GEA: Kentucky Cemeteries

The first Google Earth Adventure was so much fun, I’m back to do it again! This time it will be taking you on one of my first Genealogy trips. It took place around 2003 or 2004? I’m not exactly sure. It was this trip when I got the majority of my Tombstone pictures. We were in Ohio for a reunion and I convinced Grandma to take us to Kentucky to visit the cemetery. Actually, it might have been her idea. Like I said, who can remember. This was when I was just getting into putting all my gathered information together. It was right before Grandma insisted on putting herself in the nursing home and the dementia set in. I even recorded her telling me a story from her childhood. I might have to attach that to the end of this post!

So here’s where we began our adventure. Let me be up front with you. This was our first time visiting Kentucky. Grandma grew up in this area, but it had been awhile since she last visited. This was before GPS navigators also. So we were taking all our directions from Grandma…. That was foreshadowing if you didn’t recognize it. So to the left is where Grandma said her old “homestead” was located, and to the right was the cemetery we were planning to visit. So we headed left first.

This is what we saw for the majority of the trip to left. It was a long windy road that eventually lead back to the river, and when I say river I mean the Ohio River. The big one.

To once again practice full disclosure, I can’t quite remember where the old homestead was located. It’s possible it’s no longer there. The Google Earth photos aren’t really great. Then again, it’s a very tree lined road, so I doubt that better pictures would help anyway.

As you can see the road goes through that heavily forested area. So somewhere in those trees is where my Grandma lived as a girl.

So now we backtrack and cross the road. This side had many more houses and not as many trees. It’s known as Johnsville, KY.

Just under a mile down the road we ran across this small cemetery. This is where Grandma told us “the babies are buried.” Her Grandmother, Mollie Jane Webb-Taylor had three sets of twins, many of which never made it past infancy. This little cemetery is where they were buried, most likely in unmarked graves.

Here is the family listing in my family file. The “babies” aren’t the only ones buried in this cemetery. One of my ancestors buried his first wife here, and I even feel a little guilty that the first wife is resting here, while he rests over in the big cemetery with his second wife. It doesn’t seem fair to the wife who died so young. If I had a time machine, I’d really love to look back at some of the hidden stories in my family’s history.

Here is the two cemeteries in relation to each other on the map. Unfortunately the big cemetery doesn’t have street view. So I can’t show you how big that cemetery really is. Trust me it’s bigger than it looks.

I have many relatives in this cemetery. Many of those relatives I’ve yet to identify. Sometimes I wonder if bigger cemeteries can actually be “family” cemeteries. I mean if you think about it in these rural areas, most everyone ended up related anyway right? So it almost gives it a family feel.

It is after we left Johnsville Cemetery that day that things got… dicey. There was a cousin of my Mom’s that lives right past the cemetery, so we tried to stop by and see him. He’s got a bunch of Webb family photos that I’m dying to see! Unfortunately, he wasn’t at home that day. He got called into work. After we left the cemetery, I imagine we spent the next hour or so driving around aimlessly. Somehow we got turned around. Or maybe we went right instead of going left, the way we’d come. We’ll never know now. Needless to say, we were lost. Lost in Kentucky without a GPS unit to tell us it was “recalculating” to get us the heck home!

We were all getting quite cranky. We were tired, hungry, and just plain ready to be done. We’d been gone most of the day and it was still a long drive back to Dillsboro, IN where Grandma lived. Just when I was about to throw myself on the ground and start kicking my feet around, we drove up to this.

In the interest of once again practicing full disclosure; When we pulled up to this cemetery, we pulled up from the road on the right you see now. I couldn’t show you that though, because it doesn’t have street view. We were really excited to see the yellow lines on the road when we pulled up too. Nothing like good old yellow lines to show that you’re actually on a road that goes somewhere!

This cemetery took us by complete surprise. We weren’t looking for it, we just found it. In fact it would be many years until I could find it again on a map.  There were two sections. The one by the church, and then this older section across the street. This section is my “family cemetery.” I can’t even list the amount of Taylors and Webbs I found in this cemetery. I was completely taken by surprise.

Once I found a certain Webb family, I knew where I was. I had no idea how to get back to Indiana, but I knew where we were. We had somehow found Lenoxburg Cemetery. The cemetery I most wanted to visit. In fact, it’s still on the top of my list. Now that I’m more aware of how many relatives are buried there, I’ve got to go back and document a lot more tombstones. Next time I’m taking my GPS with me though.

Download Google Earth


Credit: All credit for these images goes to Google Earth. I did not take any of these pictures. I only visited Kentucky from the comfort of my home, in my fluffy pajamas. Please do not sue me, I have nothing except for my fluffy pajamas and a GPS unit.

My current “project”

I’m currently in the process of cleaning up my hard drives and my family file.  While I do this, I’m also checking out RootsMagic Essentials. I kind of fell in love with it to be honest. It’s making my source citations so much easier to manage! I’ve been a long time Family Tree Maker user, there’s no doubt about that. Before Family Tree Maker, I used something called Ancestry Family Tree, I think… I don’t exactly remember the name, but I know it was free and it’s no longer available. So I’ve watched Family Tree Maker evolve. It’s a snazzy little program now.

I really enjoy the layout of the ‘People’ tab and the family section. It’s so easy to navigate.

Roots Magic isn’t as snazzy. It’s a little harder to navigate through the families. The main complaint from me is that the Pedigree and the Family listing are on two different tabs. It’s such a little thing, but it’s one of the things that bugs me the most. I’ve become so accustomed to it on Family Tree Maker. Not having it now, it’s kind of frustrating, but I realized it wasn’t as important as the big pro I’ve found with RootsMagic.

This is the source citation page. The yellow section is for the “Master Source.” I like that on this I can keep all 1860 Morgan County, KY census citations on one Master Source. Then I can go into more detail in the green section. This is what I mean by cleaning up my family file. I very much prefer this citation method.

This makes for a very clean Source List. There are probably even more bells and whistles but I can’t do those because I spent my extra money on upgrading my Family Tree Maker. It was before I knew about RootsMagic :|

In Family Tree Maker, it’s not as easy to do the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, I could be completely missing it.

There is this screen, but when I try to add the details on this screen, it stays attached to the Master Source. Which would mean I’d have to have a “Master Source” for each household. With 4000+ people, that can really add up and make for a very messy Source List.

This is the Source List of my current Family Tree Maker File. I’m sure that Source Citations screen in the middle is for something, but I’ll be darned if I can figure out how to do what I want in Family Tree Maker. I’m sure if I bought the Family Tree Maker manual they’d be happy to tell me, but I just can’t throw anymore money at this, especially when I figured out how to do it in RootsMagic within the first hour of using the program.

I’m still using both programs. I’m determined to figure out the source citation process in Family Tree Maker. It’s got to be easier than I’m making it.

Ancestry’s Family Tree option

I have a problem folks. I like to change my mind. Some will say it’s because of my gender, others will say it’s because I lack focus. I’m sure all these things are true. The one thing related to genealogy I can’t seem to make a decision on is Ancestry.com’s Family Tree section.

In the pro column, I love the look of it. I love the feel of it. I love the layout. I even love how having it on site helps you to search Ancestry.com better. It’s so easy to link to Ancestry.com sources and never again wonder if you’ll be able to find William Moore in 1880 again. It won’t matter how much they always seem to shift Brooklyn around, because you’ve linked that record to that guy. It’s a beautiful thing. In fact, I have to restrain myself from once again uploading a GEDCOM.

They make it so easy to be split on this decision. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve uploaded and deleted my GEDCOM from their site about 5 times, I would do it again. Unfortunately there are also things I don’t like about it. Some of the things I don’t like, I also like, so this is why I keep changing my mind.

The most I can really say is that I knew when uploading things to that site and my own, that I was putting it out there for everyone and their brothers. In fact, I love sharing my pictures and stories. It’s the greatest reward that comes from doing this. The only problem is that with that I have a responsibility to only put up things that I’m comfortable sharing. Sometimes I forget that in the heat of the moment. I love to try new things. One day though, I was wondering around the Ancestry.com Family Tree section. I was looking at the few trees that have the Thorward family in them. Then I noticed that a lot of those trees were using my pictures of the Thorwards. Which is totally fine, don’t get me wrong. The only thing I saw a problem with is that this completely cuts out the middle man between my fellow genealogists and those pictures, which is me.

I don’t mind them using the pictures, I gladly welcome it. The only problem I have with it, is that it made me think of that other side of my tree. The one I don’t have all the documentation and pictures for. Can someone just come along and take the information without even having to verify it with me? What happens if something I have is completely wrong and the next day I delete it. Then this person has merged my tree with theirs thinking that it’s proven fact, but it’s not! In fact, I have to hold myself back from deleting the information in my website right now. It really does freak me out that something I entered in error could be floating in someone’s tree for years because they haven’t taken the time to check my sources first.

This is why I’m so split on this subject. I could always make my tree “private”, there is that option. What I realized though is if I have the tree up on Ancestry, I immediately start working there exclusively. I stop working on this site that I’ve had and loved for so long.

It may not be as fancy and glamorous as the Ancestry site. It may not have all the convenience. It’s mine though. I use software called The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding. It gives you full control of your tree. I know a little about coding, someday I’ll learn more, but this program does the hard part. I can customize the layout or download one of the templates. In fact until my current layout I’ve always used one of those templates.

It certainly doesn’t lack anything that I would need. I guess what I’m saying is, I’d probably keep the Ancestry Family Tree section going if I didn’t have this wonderful site and tool at my disposal. Now I just have to work on optimizing why I opened this site in the first place. I’ve finally found the two mediums I want to use on the site. A great genealogy program and a great blogging platform. Now I have to bring them together. Once I do that, I doubt I’ll be flip flopping on the Ancestry Family Tree section anymore.

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