Aug 202014

This Genealogy On A Budget series presents links to free online genealogy databases, software and other items.


WordPressThere are several free online blogging platforms out there, but the best, in my opinion, is

Open source WordPress is the most popular online publishing platform, currently powering more than 20% of the web. We wanted to bring the WordPress experience to an even larger audience, so in 2005 we created

We’re a hosted version of the open source software. Here, you can start a blog or build a website in seconds without any technical knowledge.

A site is totally free and very easy to set up. You will be online in minutes!

Features include:

  • Publicize- connect to social media
  • Stats- anyone stop by today?
  • Customize- spice up your site with themes, add functionality with widgets
  • Mobile- iOs, Android and Blackberry are welcome
  • Safe- secure, super-fast, always available
  • Private- or public, it’s up to you
  • Multilingual- supports over 50 languages
  • Support- forums, support pages, chatting if you need help
  • Media- put those pictures online!
  • Spam- Akismet pretty much catches all that garbage
  • Contributors- as many as you want

And most importantly for the genealogist: WordPress is a Content Management System. That means you can use it to create an entire website, just like CNN, TIME and TechCrunch and many others have done. Currently, WordPress alone powers about 23% of the Web.

Ruth’s Genealogy is proudly powered by WordPress.

Come on, join in the fun today!

Aug 192014

This blog is now a blog!

Yes, I took the rather inexpensive leap to a self-hosted WordPress site and also set up my genealogy database online using The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG) program created by Darrin Lythgoe.

I’d love to have you stop by!

Ruth’s Genealogy Blog

Ruth’s Genealogy TNG database

Please excuse the unpacked boxes, un-hung curtains and un-eaten McDonalds Happy Meals (too much fun playing with the toys!) scattered about. Not quite settled in just yet!  :)

Aug 152014

HatLStanley1I was watching TV on Monday afternoon, enjoying another re-run of MASH, when a text alert flashed across my phone: Robin Williams had died. How sad, I thought. He wasn’t that old, way he? A heart attack, or maybe an accident. Yes, sad.

But as I was sending a text message about Robin Williams to my daughter at work, another alert appeared. I saw only one word on it… and I sat up straight on the couch and stared, simply stared at the screen with my mouth open.

How could this have possibly happened? I have been a fan since Mork & Mindy. And not only was Robin Williams a hysterically, incredibly, amazingly funny man, but he loved to laugh. He always seemed to enjoy his own humor as much as we did. He was always so happy. I just couldn’t believe, couldn’t grasp what I was reading and seeing.

The press conference the next day brought me to tears. This poor man was so desperate; he must have felt so totally and completely alone. Absolutely heartbreaking.

Robin Williams and my great-aunt Hattie Lee Stanley never met. I’m pretty sure of that. Robin was born in Chicago and lived most of his life in California. Hattie was born in Texas and lived most of her life here. Robin was in high school in California when Hattie died in New York.

No, they never met.

But they shared one decision, one act, one consequence.

My Aunt Hattie Lee Stanley also killed herself.

I have a vague memory of being in my grandparent’s living room that night in 1966. My older brothers and younger cousins and I were all playing while the adults spoke in tears and hushed tones. We kids were told simply that Aunt Hattie had died. I was 8 years old.

I barely remember Aunt Hattie. I remember going to visit her at her house in Fort Worth. That’s about it. I don’t recall if she was cheerful and carefree or dark and unhappy. 

So I really don’t know what could have been going on with her, what left her feeling like she had no options, no alternatives. 

I only know what she did. And I know how my great-grandmother cried.

Families have secrets. Things they don’t talk about.

We as genealogists spend our days picking our ancestors’ lives apart, trying to learn every detail. Where did they live? Where did they work? Who did they love? How did they die?

But can we ever know what they were thinking?

My Aunt Hattie has been gone 48 years, Robin Williams just a few days. I hurt for them both.


If you or someone you know is struggling, help is out there:

*National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

*American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

*Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas 24-hr crisis hotline: (214) 828-1000
Aug 022014

This Genealogy On A Budget series presents links to free online genealogy databases, software and other items.


Do you have ancestors from Georgia? If so, there is a massive amount of original documents just waiting to be found at Georgia’s Virtual Vault:

This is your portal to some of Georgia’s most important historical documents, from 1733 to the present. The Virtual Vault provides virtual access to historic Georgia manuscripts, photographs, maps, and government records housed in the state archives.

Collections include:

A couple of documents that I have found recently include the marriage license for my second great-grandparents Harrison Wardlow McBurnett and Margaret C Brown, from 2 Dec 1875,

HarrisonWMcBurnett (9)and the Confederate Pension Application (a total of 18 pages) of my second great-granduncle James McBurnett from 1897.

James McBurnett Confederate Pension

“Sirs, you have no reason to be ashamed of your Confederate dead; see to it they have no reason to be ashamed of you.”
Robert Lewis Dabney, Chaplain for Stonewall Jackson



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