Ruth's Genealogy

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

Genealogy and web design are to my brain as are Oscar Madison and Felix Unger to that apartment in New York City. Can they really live together and get along?

I think so.

About a month ago, I purchased Bloggy, a premium theme for this blog. It was time to remodel the kitchen, so to speak. I wanted some fresh paint and new appliances.

In the first couple of days after the purchase, I created new pages, set up widgets, added links and images. The site was looking pretty good. Then my attention went back to genealogical research and I didn’t pay much attention to the blog’s inner workings. But the web-development part of me took charge again. You see, I love creating and developing a website almost as much as I love genealogy! So I went to Bloggy’s own website and conducted a more thorough study of the theme and its abilities, and learned a lot.

So when I got off work last Sunday nitght and got home about 1 am, I logged onto this blog and went to work. Chronic insomnia occasionally has its benefits. By 7 am Monday morning, I had

  1. developed my WordPress public profile, adding as my gravatar a baby picture of me
  2. added a “follow me” widget
  3. added a link to my Diigo bookmarks
  4. completed the About page, including adding a featured image (that baby picture again)
  5. worked on both cemetery pages, adding an image gallery to each
  6. created a “Genealogy on a Budget” page, with sub-pages for my links to free genealogy websites/software/etc. I was considered creating a Weebly site for the budget pages (I do love to build websites!), but got to thinking: Why create a separate site that might draw visits away from this site???” Duh!
  7. also changed and tweaked the theme for my Archives site

I also discovered that it’s probably not a very good idea to stay up all night working on a website. My brain was mush for the rest of the day!

It took me a couple more days to really get the “Budget” pages to look the way that I wanted them to. I first had to go through over 400 bookmarks saved at Diigo and weed out the duplicates and dead links, then reorganize them according to location. And since Diigo’s export function really doesn’t work very well, I had to figure out how to get those links to this blog. Than done, I then needed to develop the Budget pages in such a way to present the links succinctly. I accomplished this by adding tables to the pages, and began inserting my favorite free genealogy sites. It’ll take a few days to get them all added.

My blog is done, for now. So come on Oscar, I gotta get back to work on that photography… oops, I mean genealogy. ;)

 

The starting over work with my RootsMagic database is progressing nicely. But it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. I have only edited a few of my ancestors’ files so far, but I have been really digging and scratching, in search of new data. As much as possible, I am trying to present a complete picture of that person, birth to death and everything in between.

The work on my grandparents is done (for now…). Particularly with these two people, I remember so much “first person”, especially with my recently-deceased grandmother. But the only documentation I have for some of these facts is “personal knowledge”, which is really not the most dependable of sources.

As an example, I entered several residence facts (dates and locations) for my grandmother. I knew these facts to be true, as I had visited the sites hundreds of times throughout my own lifetime. The locations were accurate, the dates for some where “ballpark” figures.

I needed more than personal knowledge and estimations to vouch for these facts!

So start off, I went to the Tarrant (County) Appraisal District website. As I knew the street addresses for my grandparents’ homes (those that I remember visiting), I searched for those addresses. This database shows recent previous owners, as well as the legal descriptions (subdivision name, block number, etc) of the property locations.

Armed with that knowledge, I next went to the Tarrant County Clerk home page, and searched for real property records for my grandparents that correlate with the legal descriptions. Most of the documents don’t show the actual street addresses, only the legal descriptions of those locations.

I found and downloaded about 40 pages of documents, containing the legal property descriptions and my grandparents’ names, dating from 1950! I’m not quite sure what all of these documents show, as I am not terribly familiar with the “legalese”, but they do all relate in some way (deeds, mechanics liens, etc) to the legal descriptions and ownership of my grandparents’ homes.

MilesFStanleyII (82)This document from 7 Mar 1950 shows that my grandparents paid $1950 for:

certain improvements, to-wit: Convert existing garage into a room, repair entire house, construct garage…

That $1,950.00 in 1950 had the same buying power as $19,256.17 in 2014! (Annual inflation over this period was 3.64%)

Interestingly, from the Tarrant Appraisal District site, I learned that this house was built in 1946, yet by 1950 it needed significant repair work.

An added bonus from these many documents: my grandparents’ signatures on every one!

While these resources deal with Tarrant County, Texas, I’ll bet many other localities have similar records available online, just waiting to be found!

 

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