Saturday, January 12, 2013

Now It's Six

Six years. It seems like a lifetime in some respects. Yes, Kinexxions is now six years old. It was a nerve-wracking decision to join a very small group of people writing about their family history and genealogy. They inspired me to start blogging. But I wondered - Would anyone read what I wrote? Would they like what I wrote? Would they even care? And if they did, why?

But that decision to "just do it"  has proven to be one of the best things I ever did.

That group of genea-bloggers became friends that I cherish. Friends whose opinions I value. And friends that I enjoy meeting and spending time with when possible. The number of genea-bloggers has grown tremendously in the last few years as has the number of my blogging friends. It's been a real pleasure getting to know y'all through your blogs and even more fun when we can get together in person.

It was a real thrill when I got my first comment - left by my (now) friend Apple, on my fourth blog post. Once upon a time, we were strangers in blogger-land but then we became friends. We've even met several times. Thank You, Apple!

I was also extremely flattered and honored to be asked by footnoteMaven to contribute A Moment in Time as the first post in her series "Friday From The Collectors" on Shades of the Departed. Dear fM has had a rough time of it this past year (to say the least!) with complications from knee surgery. Now that she is on the road to recovery, I hope we "see" her back on Shades very soon.

At the end of every year a recap post is done that highlights what is thought to be the 'best' blog posts, or the most popular, or whatever, for that year. These 'year-end' posts do provide a sampling of what has been published here, for better or for worse.

2007 ~ ~ 2008 ~ ~ 2009 ~ ~ 2010 ~ ~ 2011 ~ ~ 2012

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Now It's Six," Kinexxions, posted January 12, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Good Idea Gone Wrong :: But, I've Done It Before...

If you don't publish a Blog and you don't use Blogger you may want to skip this post... I'm venting...

I did what I've done for the past couple of years. But this time a change made to Blogger (probably when "New Blogger" came on the scene) has caused extra work as well as a little frustration on my part.

A group of posts was created a few years ago that I call "Index Posts" and they list the blog posts that have been published for a given surname. As new stories are posted for a surname, the Index Post gets updated with links to the new post and periodically the date of the post will be changed. The date is changed so that when someone does a search on the blog for a specific surname or clicks on a surname label at the bottom of a post the Index Post will be displayed near the top of the search results.

Maybe I should have known better, but, in the past, doing what I've done did not cause any problems. But what I learned today means I won't be doing the same thing again!

You know that thing called a permalink, aka the url for a post? Well, contrary to it's name, it isn't a permanent link. At least, not if you click on the button that says "Revert to Draft" while you are editing a blog post AND you change the publication date of the post. If you've done that and you then re-publish the post or page, the permalink (url) could change. That's not good. Especially if you have linked to that post within other posts. It's now a broken link.

So, I had updated all of the surname Index Posts (19 of them!) before I discovered the error of my ways. And then it was too late. I tried to change the url by using  the "custom url" but that didn't work. It only allowed me to enter the last portion of the url (the part after ""). If a post had previously been published, say in July 2011, the beginning portion of the url would have been "". When I changed the date, Blogger changed the date portion of the url to "2012/12". And therein lies the problem.

After a few choice words, and thinking about it for a while, I edited the "Master" Index Post to update it with the new links. And then edited the two "Pages" for my Maternal Ancestors and Paternal Ancestors, as well as the links along the sidebar that list the surnames that I am researching.  Those are the obvious links.

The "problem" now is that I know there have been times when I've linked to an Index Post from a another blog post. I don't think I've done it very often but, in my opinion, one broken link is one too many. For one thing, it leaves a bad impression. And for another, it's irritating to the reader.

If I had thought about it, and if I had kept track of the date the posts were last published, I could have edited all of the posts a second time and then reverted back to that publication date. I think that would have worked and I wouldn't have the broken link problem. Each of the Index Posts does have the date it was last updated, but that isn't necessarily the date of last publication. In other words, I may not have changed the date when the post was updated.

I've spent all afternoon and evening working on this. I'm irritated. I'm frustrated. Mostly at myself but also with Blogger. So, I'm going to "sit" on this for a few days and think about it some more, then decide if it is important enough to go looking for broken links to the various Index Posts. In the meantime, if anyone has any great ideas regarding this, please let me know. Oh, and if you come across a broken link, please notify me. I won't yell at you. I promise.

Alexander Family :: Index to Posts

An Index Post is how I keep track of all of the blog posts that have been written on a family line.  It helps keep me organized and allows visitors to easily find information on that family. This post will be updated as new blog posts are written on the family.

William Alexander and  Elizabeth Carruthers ~ 4th great-grandparents
William is the earliest known Alexander ancestor in my line and very little is known about him.  He may have been born about 1745, possibly in Maryland. He married Elizabeth Carruthers and they had several children - the name of one is known for certain, my 3rd Great Grandfather, William Washington Alexander.
William Washington Alexander and Lucy Sprague ~ 3rd great-grandparents
Born on February 28, 1777, William W. Alexander is one of the few ancestors of mine who was not a farmer! At an early age he was apprenticed as a tailor and followed that trade for most of his working life. He was born in Cecil County, Maryland. Moved to Erie County, Pennsylvania where he reportedly married Lucy Sprague. By 1805 they were living in Knox County, Ohio where Lucy died about 1814. She was the mother of four children, the oldest was named William and is my ancestor.
  • The Next Best Thing? ~ November 24, 2011 ~ discusses the connection to the Sprague family through the Alexander line.
  • Live Long And Prosper ~ July 14, 2008 ~ Highlights several of my long-lived ancestors, including two named William Alexander
William and Rachel (Van Curen) Alexander ~  2nd great-grandparents
Theirs was a "mixed" family. William was married twice before he married the widow Rachel Van Curen Hover on June 28, 1859 in Kosciusko County, Indiana. Between them they had 15 children when they married and had another four children together. The children were born betwen the years 1841 and 1868 - a span of 27 years. I know they didn't all live together at the same time, but I wonder if there was ever a family gathering when they all came together... William was 2 days shy of his 63rd birthday when his last child, Caroline Jane, was born on November 18, 1868 - Rachel was  44 years old.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Alexander Family :: Index to Posts," Kinexxions, posted January 11, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Database Cleanup :: It's bad, but not as bad as expected

Before I began working on "cleaning up" my database in December, I took an "inventory" of the data, partially so I'd have some idea of what the project would entail, partly because I'd never looked at the database in this way before, and to some extent so I'd have some tangible evidence that something had actually been accomplished.

I've got two databases - one for Mom's ancestral lines and the other for Dad's families. For this project I'm working with the 'Phend-Brubaker' database, which is Mom's lines.
  • 7179 individuals are in the database
  • 1123 individuals were added in 2012 (between January 1st and December 10th) [15.6%]
  • 162 do not have a surname [2.3%] - I was actually surprised that this number wasn't higher. These are primarily women whose first names are from census records and for whom marriage records have not yet been obtained. And, of course, some are the very early ancestors whose maiden name seems to have never been recorded anywhere.
  • 77 do not have a birth date [1%] - Most of these do have a christening or baptism date
  • 1498 have an estimated birth date [23.7%] - Most are people for whom I have only census records and enter their dates as "about xxxx"
  • 1316 do not have a birth place [18.3%] - I could "guess" where they were born based on where the family lived but should I? Some of these were simply missed when I entered the census records.
  • 1434 are Living [20%] - Except in certain cases, if I receive information on people born after 1940, their information is entered into notes rather than creating a profile for them. The profiles of some of these people will likely "disappear" as they are moved into notes for their parents. They are "left over" from when I made an adjustment regarding who would have a profile added to the database.
  • 5744 are Dead [80%] - anyone over 105 years of age is automatically marked as deceased
Of the 5744 who are dead (Whoa! Lots of work to do in this area!):
  • 3738 have a death date [about 65.1%]
  • 2006 do not have a death date [about 34.9%]
  • 2582 have a death place [45%]
  • 3162 do not have a death place [55%] 
Of the 3738 who have a death date
  • 2577 have a death place [68.9%]
  • 1161 do not have a death place. [31.1%] Many of these death dates come from the SSDI and cemetery records, which are clues but not definitive as far as place of death.)
Missing Sources - This does not mean that I don't have a source, just that it has not been entered as such. A lot of source information was entered in notes "way back" when software didn't have sourcing capabilities. And I just never got around to doing anything about it.  the numbers aren't as bad as I thought they would be though.
  • 1621 - Births with no source
  •  579 - Marriages with no source
  •  230 - Deaths with no source
  •  317 - Burials with no source
  •  314 - Individuals with events missing sources (the individuals may have multiple events that don't have sources.)
General Notes
  • 4649 Individuals have "general" notes. This could be a brief sentence or "everything" I've found on someone but most likely something in-between. It could also be information on living people born since 1940 that have been entered into notes for their parents. Regardless, I hope to see this number fall substantially as the information is moved into events and put into sources.
The Plan, in order of priority, is to review the individuals with:
  • missing sources - which should also eliminate some of the General Notes
  • no birth date - if necessary, determine a best estimate
  • no surname - depending on where they lived, marriage records may be online
  • general notes - in some cases the general notes won't be eliminated so I'll come up with some way of identifying those that have been reviewed
Some headway has been made since the first week of December but there is still a lot to be done. Overwhelming almost. The tagging feature in Legacy (the software that I use) has been indispensable in this process and allows me to work on little bits at a time. It's a nice feeling when I get the "There are no Tagged Individuals" message. It means one small part is completed and I can move on to the next task.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Database Cleanup :: It's bad, but not as bad as expected," Kinexxions, posted January 9, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

Thursday, January 03, 2013

By the Numbers :: 20 Most Viewed posts in 2012

Every year I have a "problem" with trying to determine the "best" blog posts for the previous year. Of course, I have my favorites but those are not necessarily what my readers viewed or liked.  I wrote about this dilemma last January in Who comes here? From where? And Why?

The list below was created using the "counts" from the "posts" view in blogger. This shows the number of people who viewed the post on the blog, it doesn't mean they actually read the post though and it certainly isn't any indication of whether or not it is a good post. It also doesn't include those who might read the blog in a reader or get posts via email.  In reality, there really is no way to determine the "best" post... but I'm still going to publish this list because it so happens that it does include some of my own favorites!

They are separated into two categories, family history (15) and  travel (5), and listed in order of number of views starting with the post with the most views, including only posts published in 2012.

The "top 15" Family History posts
  • So, Now what do I do? was my rant discussion on the use of my blog posts in ancestry trees published in mid-November. The last time I viewed stats on Sitemeter it showed quite a few visitors coming from Cyndi's List so I clicked on one of the referring links and discovered she had added the post to her Intellectual Property category! Thanks, Cindy.
  • Their Magnificent Old Home is all about the home of Jonathan S. Dunfee, a brother of my 3rd great-grandfather William H. Dunfee. Apparently a lot of people are looking for nice old homes!
  • Hoffman-Huffman Family :: Index to Posts is a list of all blog posts published on the family and it was quite a surprise to see how many page views it had. Hoffman is a common surname and lots of people must be looking for those ancestors... if you're connected to my line, how about contacting me?
  • I Think I Have it! Maybe... discusses my attempt to develop a naming and organizational scheme for all of the digital research files.
  • A Negro Man Called Thomas... was one of many discoveries at Salt Lake City in February. John Goodrich, 6th great grandfather, bought Tom then emancipated him.
  • The Old Trappe Church is a beautiful old church and records of the church include the marriage of Joh Michael Hoffman (widower) and Engel Schedlerin (see the post above "Questioning the Status Quo...)

The "top 5" Travel posts

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "By the Numbers :: 20 Most Viewed posts in 2012," Kinexxions, posted January 3, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Accentuate the Positive

A few days ago, Jill Ball of Geniaus created a Geneameme of 20 items to help geneabloggers share some of their successes in 2012 as opposed to lamenting the fact that not as much had been accomplished as anticipated. Per her instructions, I have omitted the few items that were not relevant to me.

An elusive ancestor found: No new ones were found in 2012, but several that I had known about from online trees and/or publications were confirmed through documentation.

A precious family photo found: A recent find (like the 2nd week of December) on an ancestry tree was  a photo reportedly of my 3rd great grandmother, Sarah Foster Parkison. I'm still waiting to hear back from the submitter of the tree to confirm that it is actually her and to hear how he came to have the photograph.

An ancestor's grave found: I didn't find the grave itself, but rather a photo of the gravestone of Jacob Berlien (1716-1790)

An important vital record found: the 1763 marriage record of John George Steinweeg and Veronica Danerin in the records of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Photocopies of the original records in German Script are held by the Lancaster County Historical Society.

A newly found family member who shared: A trio of Hoffman cousins. Nick Hoffman, Mike Lies, and Bob Hoffman whom I wrote about in Cousins Connecting, Contributing, Collaborating.

A genea-surprise received: links to two newspaper articles about a Hoffman Family Reunion in 1913 and one in 1914.

My 2012 blog post that I was particularly proud of was: There were three brothers who immigrated... Yeah, Right! about the three Berlin brothers (really!) who all arrived in Philadelphia on the ship, Charming Nancy in 1738.

My 2012 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was: So, Now what do I do? regarding use of my blog posts on ancestry trees has had the most hits of any post written in 2012 and the most comments.

A new piece of software mastered: It's not new to me but I've learned a few more things about using some of the (to me, lesser used) features of Legacy Family Tree.

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy: the "Technology  for Genealogy" group on Facebook and Google+ in general.

A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was: the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

A great repository/archive/library I visited was: the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

It was exciting to finally meet: For fear of leaving anyone out I won't mention names but I had a wonderful time meeting fellow geneabloggers at RootsTech and the NGS Conference in Cincinnati.

A geneadventure I enjoyed was: my Research Trip to Pennsylvania (to the counties of Westmoreland, Lancaster, and Berks) and visiting The Old Trappe Church and the farm where my ancestor served as an indentured servant.

Another positive I would like to share is: From the stats, I know that a great many people have "landed" on the blog while searching for people mentioned in various blog posts. Out of those several hundred, twenty-six individuals actually contacted me in 2012 because of blog posts that were published, which pleases me no end. Many of them turned out to be distant cousins.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Accentuate the Positive," Kinexxions, posted January 1, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])