Notes from the past…

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#31WBGB: Come Up With 10 Post Ideas

31 Weeks ButtonThe Week 11 task for Tonia’s 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog challenge is:


Sounds so Dr Who, now doesn’t it? Not really…

Have you ever run out of things to write about?

Coming up with ideas for fresh content is a challenge that faces most bloggers on a regular basis.  We’re going to do an exercise this week to help us identify a variety of post topics to “have in our back pockets” when we are stuck for ideas in the future.

We’re not going to try to come up with completely new and “out-of-the-blue” ideas; instead, we’ll use mind-mapping to tap into what we’ve written recently.  The advantage of this method is the ideas we come up with build on or relate to previous posts, creating a sense of continuity and momentum on the blog.

Ok, I’m game. My “mind-mapping” technique usually consists of stepping away from my computer and going for a walk. I can then see the big picture a bit more clearly. But let’s try Tonia’s suggestions.

We were instructed to draw 5 circles on a page or Word doc and list our 5 more recent posts. Or we could try some type of dedicated mind-mapping software for this assignment. Then we were to extend our posts, take some point or topic within each post and expand on it.

I’m always happy to try out new software, so here was my opportunity. I had previously downloaded a free program called WhiteBoard, basically just to scribble notes or maybe make-shift pedigree charts. I haven’t really used WhiteBoard, so here was my chance.

WhiteBoard is handy for temporary work, but I couldn’t save anything on it. Really good for just doodling. Not what I needed for this task.

So I checked out some of Tonia’s suggestions for mind-mapping software and settled on Freemind, a nifty open-source program. I always go for open-source when possible!

Freemind is pretty simple to download and set-up and easy to get started with. Just how I like it!

I created my last-5-posts “circles”, and then came up with a few topics from those posts to take a closer look at:

(click for larger image)

So here are some ideas for new posts, taken directly for my past writings:

  1. Who was Frances Brazil?
  2. Discuss the history of the first Baptist Church of San Saba, Texas.
  3. Discuss the history of San Saba, Texas.
  4. Write a biography of John H “Shorty” Brown.
  5. Was birthday party visitor George C Bennett related to my Bennett line, also living in the San Saba area at that time?
  6. A more in-depth look at
  7. Create a Google Alerts tutorial.
  8. What are the requirements to become a Certified Genealogist?
  9. What genealogy classes are available online?
  10. Write about the Second Life group Just Genealogy.
  11. What are DearMYRTLE’s contributions to genealogy?
  12. Write a biography of Leah Jane Kennedy.

Of these, the most intriguing to me is George C Bennett. I have a lot of Bennett ancestors from the San Saba area…


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A birthday party notice… and the names of over 30 relatives!!!

My 3rd great-grandmother Serena Jane Brown died at age 99 1/2 in San Saba, Texas. She had moved there with her parents in the 1850′s and was actually the first child baptized at the newly created Baptist Church in 1857. When she died in 1942, she held the record for the longest continuous church membership in Texas. In short, Serena was a “big-wig”, a prominent citizen of San Saba.

So when her 99th birthday arrived, naturally it made the front page of the local newspaper.

This article (click on the image for larger view), from the 25 Dec 1941 edition of the San Saba News, contains the usual bio details, and it also contains names and locations of relatives. A lot of names of relatives: kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, even a half-sister! And also many long-time friends and neighbors who could also be of genealogical value.

I found this newspaper article at the Library of Congress Chronicling America website:

Search America’s historic newspapers pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.

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#31WBGB: Set Up Monitoring Alerts

31 Weeks ButtonThe Week 10 task for Tonia’s 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog challenge is to set up monitoring alerts for my particular genealogy interests, such as surnames or locations.

I have struggled with this assignment. I have been using Google Alerts for some time now, usually set up to follow my more obscure surnames and a few locations, with varying degrees of success. I did review these alerts and modify a few.

I have my blog posts tied to Twitter, but I don’t really “follow” Twitter as such. There are just too many tweets to keep up with.

I was really interested in Tonia’s newspaper. Looks like a great way to monitor and communicate specific subjects. I decided to try my hand at creating a edition about the soon-to-be-released 1940 United States Census.

Problem is, is still in beta, and there are no “getting started” instructions on the site. It was mostly trial and error for me, which is pretty frustrating.

But finally, after several hours of searching the ‘net and reading “how-to” bits and pieces, I would like to present the 1940 United States Federal Census, edition.

It needs some fine-tuning, but as I get a little more comfortable and more knowledgeable with this format, I think it will improve.