Notes from the past…

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Monday Madness no more! (or, “…another one bites the dust…”)

Several years ago when I first got interested in genealogy, my Dad’s 2 grandmothers spurred my imagination. I had always heard tales of his “Cherokee Gramma” and his “Jewish Gramma”. “Cherokee Gramma” was responsible for our Native American heritage, and my Dad, then my brothers and I are Jewish because of “Jewish Gramma”.

Over the years, I have tried to “prove” those Cherokee and Jewish roots, with varying success.

I have yet to find any actual, factual connection of “Jewish Gramma” Ruth Carroll Carr to Judaism. No family Bibles or synagogue records, nothing. But a person can be Jewish without belonging to a synagogue or speaking Hebrew. It can be a state of the heart.

WilEHall wed3 As for “Cherokee Gramma” Dovie C McBurnett, I have found an indirect link, of sorts, to a Native American heritage. She and my great grandfather William Earl Hall were married in Cherokee Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1906 and their marriage is recorded in the Chickasaw Nation Marriages Index book located in the Ardmore, Ok courthouse. Does that make Dovie and/or William of Native American descent? Not necessarily. More research is definitely needed. William, however, is one of my brick walls. He is said to have died in some type of railroad accident sometime between 22 Jan 1906 (their marriage) and July 1913 (the date of Dovie’s marriage to Hubby #2 Ollie Stanley). The marriage certificate and a 1910 census entry are the only documentation I have of the existence of William Earl Hall. No death certificate, no headstone, nothing.

Dovie evidently believed herself to be a Native American. According to my Dad, she frequently dressed in Indian garb and her house was decorated in that fashion.

Dovie’s life after William Earl Hall was not dull, however. My Dad has told me that Dovie had several husbands. Well, so far, I have counted at least 6. Technically 7, as she may have married one man twice!

I have spent a lot of time documenting these men. For some, I have found quite a bit of data, for others, barely a name.DovCMCburnett stone1

But Husband No 6/7 has always been a mystery. Dovie’s last name on her death certificate and her headstone is Copeland. In fact her given name has morphed over the years from Dovie C to Ruby Dovie, but that is for another post…

But who was Copeland? Without a first name, date of marriage, date of death or headstone, he has been an enigma.

Until last night…

(to be continued)


Monday Madness, or “What am I supposed to do with all these pictures!”

bites As of 2:19 PM (CST) today, my Surname folder contains 10,432 files, 552 folders, 5.14 GB… Wow!, that’s a lot of genealogical images collected over the years!

10,432 files and probably 95% or greater are images: original digital photos, scanned photos and documents and images downloaded from the Internet. Lots of census pages. Lots of census pages!

Most of the census pages are at their original sizes or only slightly smaller. Shrink ‘em down too much and they’re not readable. Some (many!) are almost unreadable at full size!

Why, oh why, weren’t census takers of old required to pass a handwriting exam?

Anyway, I have everything backed up (Of course! Doesn’t everyone?) on an external hard drive, a USB drive and now my new iPod Touch. Even a few CD’s. All are spread out in different locations, so I feel like my data is about as safe as it’s ever gonna be.

But what I really want is to have a location online, easy for me to manage and easy for anyone who is interested to be able to view and download anything that might be pertinent to their own family history researchings. Pretty much, I am willing to share any genealogical data that I have gathered. What’s the point of keeping it all locked up and inaccessible?

As I have my own website and self-hosted WordPress blog, I am able to set up a part of that site for images, which I did using the open-source Zenphoto program (actually the nice guys at my hosting company set it up). Zenphoto works well enough, but I was just never totally pleased with it. Then a couple of weeks ago the Zenphoto folks announced that they would no longer provide free support for their product and shut down the Users Forum. That was enough to convince me to look for another solution.

In the past I have used Flickr, but again wasn’t really happy with it. And I have also used Google’s Picasa on my hard drive and Picasa Web Albums to display my images. Then I tried Zenphoto.

What to do now? Stop being so finicky would be a good start!

Ok, so I’m back to Picasa Web Albums. 1 GB free storage, upgradeable to 20 GB for $5/yr. Considering that I only have a little over 5 GB of images on my hard drive, I can’t think of anything much cheaper than that!

I have created a link from my website to my Picasa Web Albums page and am in the process of uploading 14,432 image files to it. I’ll never be bored again!

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Monday Madness on Wednesday!

Too much cookie dough, what can I say?

I’ve been doing some preliminary work on my great-grandfather John Thomas Stanley’s file, getting ready to start entering sources into my RootsMagic database. Converting .pdfs to .jpgs, verifying dates, renaming images, etc.

There is a major problem with my data:

John Stanley’s WWI Draft Registration

JohTStanley WWI

John Stanley’s Death Certificate

JohTStanley DC

John Stanley’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram Obituary

JohTStanley death news

John Stanley’s Greenwood Cemetery Headstone

JohTStanley stone2

Did you notice anything unusual in these documents/photograph?

Check the date(s) given as “Date of Birth”

  1. WWI Draft Registration- “Dec 25, 1894” (according to, kinda hard to tell)
  2. Death Certificate- “December 25, 1894”
  3. Obituary- “Dec 25, 1894”
  4. Headstone- “1896”


What date do I enter into my database?

None of these “sources” are primary for birth date. And since John and his older brother Henry were abandoned at approximately ages 2 and 4 respectively, the dates of birth for both boys were supplied by a frightened and bewildered 4-year-old boy! Their birth parents were never identified and the brothers were adopted by my 2nd great-grandfather Miles Francis Stanley and wife Trilla and Trilla’s sister Martha and her husband John Fair. There were no reliable witnesses to these boys’ births!

What to do? Best 3 outa 4? No social security number is given on the death certificate (although his wife, who died 24 years later, did have a social security card), so did John Stanley have a SS card? Without an accurate date of birth, can I request his SS-5?

Oh, yeah, one more vote for 1894. John Stanley’s 1900 census enumeration:



Of note, brother Henry’s WWI Registration and his death certificate list his DOB as 1892, and here is an image of the two boys, apparently taken very soon after they were abandoned (I’m thinking to document their appearance in an attempt to find their parents) that shows a boy of about 2 years old and a boy of about 4 years old.

So if Henry was born in 1892, that would put John’s birth year to be about 1894.


So what date will I enter into my RootsMagic database?

For now, 1894.

(My great-grandfather was a somewhat wealthy man. I wonder why my great-grandmother never had the headstone corrected… if it was wrong?