General

Statistics and Genealogy

Made a post over on my blog for the USGENWEB county site I coordinate.  If anyone is interested in seeing what kind of data I get from Google Analytics, you might find it interesting.  I don’t see very many blogs discuss use data – it can be a very important source for tracking how your site is used.  Besides, with graphs and charts, it is also just neat to look at :-)

This does remind me though to share one of my dreams for my blogs. Over the past few weeks, I have been contacted by several researchers with shared connections either to my family, or to families I’m researching and posted information about.  These experiences embody for me exactly why I have these blogs in the first place; to post information so that others may find it useful and to establish connections.

With WordPress, I have the ability to see what search terms people are entering to land on my blog and everytime I look at the keywords I certainly feel that there are missed opportunities for connecting.  In my professional world, one of the blogs I read is that of John Battelle, an expert in the implications of “search.”  In one of his prior posts (which I cannot find right now…), he discusses a mechanism to reach out to visitors to your blog by presenting them with a custom pop-up box based on what keywords landed them there in order to help them locate relevant content on your site more effectively.  This is something I would love to do on my blogs in order to try and engage even further.

For example, on my main genealogy blog, in the past 30 days some of the searches that have brought people to my blog include:

  • sons of the confederacy” — probably b/c of my post describing the DNA testing approach I’m taking for Kalonji’s ancestry.
  • william blount mcclellan”  — again, Kalonji related. I believe someone in WB’s family was the father of Kalonji’s great-grandfather — could a possible descendant be one of these searchers? I may need a male descendant for comparative DNA testing — was this person the one?
  • browning genealogy” — this is a database of newspaper and obit information out of Evansville Indiana that I have blogged about as it is WONDERFUL resource.  Are these other genealogists interested in Evansville too?
  • the battle plantation” – my recent post of my ancestors connection with this family. I actually had someone contact me who may also have connections to this plantation – but is he the only one who searched it? I doubt it.
  • family tree of honus wagner” — I have a friend who’s ancestors have connections to him that I’ve blogged about before. Is the person who searched and visited me a descendant? how cool would it be to provide more context to Honus’ upbringing that my friend’s grandfather could share?

All missed opportunities for connections in my mind. Of course you could argue that all the person searching has to do is leave a comment, but actively engaging them would be cool.  One day I’ll get to it and let you know how it turns out.

Frances is a family name!

Okay — I cannot believe I am just making this association, but here goes…

In my last post, I recounted how I was helping someone I know research her maternal line so she could do a cross-stitch project called Mother’s Tree. The design (pictured below) is a list of mothers of mothers of mothers, etc.  I’ve had in the back of my mind too to possibly stitch this one day for Kaleya, but really wanted 8 generations of names on it instead of the seven I’d have if I did it now and started with Kaleya.  So, I thought, I may wait until Kaleya has children of her own, maybe she’d have a girl and I could stitch it then.  Of course, that day may never come, you never know what can happen. But anyway, I was looking at my maternal line and the last woman on mine is my 3rd great-grandmother, Frances Baker.  Kaleya’s middle name is Frances (chosen after Kalonji’s grandmother), but how cool would it be for the tree to have at the top Frances Baker and end at the bottom with Kaleya Frances! I think I will be doing this for Kaleya after all!

motherstree.jpg

Updated Blog Theme

Finally, a blog theme that I like! Since I moved over to WordPress, I have not been all that happy with many of the themes they provide for you to select from for a blog, but I finally took some time this morning to figure out how to customize elements. So, I chose one of my favorite layouts and made some modifications.

I also replaced the image in the banner with some images from the NC PostCard Collection. Given that my roots are in NC, I thought the images appropriate :-) In the banner image from L to R are images of Queen Street in Kinston, Lenoir County, NC; of A&T School in Greensboro; and of the Plymouth, Washington County, NC courthouse.

Donate to a genealogy cause

Over on the Official Google Blog the other day, they wrote about a website called DonorsChoose that allows teachers to submit ideas that they have for their students, but require funding. People wishing to donate, can then go to the site and choose from the database and contribute to a specific project.

I decided to take a quick look and upon doing a search for genealogy, found this proposal of a teacher in California who wants to encourage her kids to do their family tree and would like each student to have their own copy of Roots. That is really cool! So, I’m sharing it here if anyone is interested and I have donated some myself. Very cool.

Five Question Challenge – School Memories

I was reading Randy’s blog and saw that he took the 5 question challenge from the 24-7 Family History Circle blog.  This will be a good way for me to get a post in, so I think I’ll participate too!

1.  What was your favorite subject in school?  My favorite subject was math. I particularly LOVED geometry. I was able to take two courses of geometry. The first was in the 7th grade. I think what I liked best about geometry was the spatial aspect of it. Plus, I absolutely loved doing proofs – they were the best thing ever to me as I have a very logical mind.  Also, it was in the 7th grade that I read Flatland, a book I have read twice sense then. I am looking forward to the kids taking geometry because I am going to make each on of them read it too.

My second geometry course was in the 12th grade while I was at the NC School of Science & Math. We focused on special topics in geometry and our year was comprised of a myriad of activities to reinforce geometry concepts. It was so neat!

Today, I have a love/hate relationship with math. I still enjoy it, and use it a little bit in my job, but not nearly as much as I used to.

2. In what extra-curricular activities did you participate?  In the 6th grade I was in Safety Patrol.  In the 7th-8th grade I was in choir. When I got to Science & Math, I did Gospel Choir for both the 11th and 12th grades.  At S&M, being in Gospel Choir got us traveling to other cities in NC. We even once went to the science & math school in South Carolina.  Can I sing? No, not really. I can carry a tune, but I wouldn’t claim myself to be a singer. I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, my voice is more nasally than I’d like :-)  But I love to sing! If you ever ride in a car with me, brace yourself. If I am driving, then you WILL listen to me sing.

3. Did you go on field trips, and if so, what was your most memorable field trip?  Yes, we went on field trips all the time. The ones I especially remember is a visit when I was in the 4th grade to a museum in town (Greensboro), where they had a graveyard in the back and we learned how to do gravestone rubbings.  My best field trip was in the 5th grade when we went on a three day trip to Washington DC. I specifically remember that we went to the Washington Monument, to the Jefferson Memorial,  to the Lincoln Memorial and to the Old Post office. When I lived in DC seven years ago, I went to each of these places again and it was great to remember that I had been there when I was 10 years old.

4. What teacher influenced you the most? I have a hard time recalling any specific teacher that I think influenced me more than others. I went to a different school every year until I went to Science & Math for the 11th and 12th grades, so I think this has a lot to do with it. I was simply not at any one school long enough! But, all my teachers at Science & Math were good and I do remember them quite well.  Dr. Myra Halpin, my chemistry teacher, is one favorite as she was just cool.  On the first day of class, we learned the history behind the Morton’s logo – “when it rains, it pours” and she made chemistry fun.  I also had her as  a mentor during what the school calls “Special Projects Week” and she taught me how to use a jigsaw (i was making real wood jigsaw puzzles).  Who wouldn’t find that cool?

5. Did you buy a lunch at school, or bring one from home? What kind of lunchbox? What was your favorite lunch? More often that not, got lunch from school. I have a memory of bringing my lunch when I was in the 4th grade, but I don’t remember if it was a regular occurrence.

This was fun. I’m going to have to get my parents to answer these :-)

Light blogging

My blogging these days has been light but I have been working on genealogy. I have been helping my stepmother’s cousin work on his mother’s tree. Also, I’ve been taking a look at Family Tree Maker 2008 trying to decide if I want to purchase it or not. So far it has some cool features, but I’m not sure it’s right for me. I have such high demands and expectations for genealogy software :-)

Genealogy Society Blogs

Randy has started a new blog for his genealogical society. I think this is such a wonderful idea and wish more societies would do so! I think it has fabulous potential for encouraging more online collaboration.

For my own genealogy, I am getting a bit discouraged with the Koonce family research. As I look through and document the wills and notices I’m reading, I see that there are very little and infrequent mentions of slave names. I am beginning to wonder if I’ll ever truly be able to connect my ancestors with any of theirs. However, I know I am only touching the tip of the iceberg with the county documents that are available, so I will continue to keep on looking.

Oh – and I love this!! I found out from a post on the Columbus Public Library blog that African-American Lives is having a casting call – they are soliciting applications for people to submit their genealogy research challenges as they are going to select a few (don’t remember how many) to have their genealogy researched as part of the next show. This is absolutely fabulous and I plan to apply. However, I’m a bit torn whether to submit Kalonji & I as a couple, or submit us separately? Hmm… will have to think about that one. However, I’d encourage people to submit. It’s great hearing the stories from the celebrities, but I know us “regular” people have good stories too! I hope this is made an ongoing series/process.

Various Genealogy Things

Over the past week, I have done various genealogy activities:

  • I indexed notices from three issues of the Free Press newspaper of Kinston (Lenoir County), North Carolina and four issues of the Roanoke Beacon Newspaper 0f Plymouth (Washington County), North Carolina. Found some very interesting notices too and decided to submit a few items from other parts of the state to some USGENWEB county pages, since I don’t include them in my database. Who knows whom it may help one day?
  • I worked on the family tree of my stepmother. After finding one of her elusive ancestors in a couple of census records (though, I still can’t find him in a couple more), I decided to call her aunt and ask a few questions. She gave me some great family stories.
  • I scanned in some certificates that I have in a pile from having ordered them, but not scanned or filed them. I still have many more, but I know I’ll slowly make my way through them.

Most of this activity has been focused during the past two days. During the week, I hadn’t really done too much b/c I’m trying to get a routine going with exercising and so I end up doing other things. I’m overall happy with how much I’ve gotten done this week.

Tonite, I am starting to put together the Koonce Family Tree. As I do this, I’m staring to question why I am interested in the one particular Koonce group that I am – there are so many! I’m going to have to write up my theory so I can document my reasoning/hypotheses. This is definitely going to be complicated.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to just get as much of these trees done as I can so that my next trip to the TN State Archives will be just as fruitful as my last trip!

One Word

Today I asked my mother how she would describe her grandmothers with one word:
– paternal grandmother, Lucinda — “sweet”
– maternal grandmother, Martha — “bossy”

Then, I asked Kalonji the same question:
– his paternal grandmother — “sage”
– his maternal grandmother — “gangsta”

So then, he asked me the same question:
-my paternal grandmother — “kind-hearted”
-my maternal grandmother — “adamant”

And then, I asked my father:
– his paternal grandmother – “mean”
– his maternal grandmother – he couldn’t say as she was bed-ridden most of his life and there was not much interaction.

Update: Today, Feb 16, 2007, I asked Kalonji’s grandmother, Frances the same questions. She described both of her grandmothers as “great grandmothers”, very loving, very caring and easy-going. Her grandmother Matilda was particularly so and she said she always wanted to go live with her b/c she would let the grandkids “get away with stuff”.