Ruth's Genealogy

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

My summer (and well beyond, I’m sure) is set!

On 13 Jun, DearMYRTLE posted this on her Facebook page:

My project this summer isn’t scanning. AAACK! It’s all about starting over with my RootsMagic genealogy software. It isn’t that I didn’t like my other RM database file. It’s just so confusing because older entries had everything in notes, newer entries had source citations a la Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book Evidence Explained.

That’s something that I’ve been thinking about, too. For a couple of years, actually. Why? My sources are, simply put, a mess! I know a lot more about citing sources now than I did when I first switched over to RootsMagic several years ago. I also understand better now how RootsMagic manages sources.

A couple of years ago, I tried to rework my sources/citations to adhere to Evidence Explained guidelines. To do this, I decided to rewrite all my sources by using RootsMagic’s Free Form source template. The problem with this approach is that the each citation has to be written by hand from scratch.

I quickly got bogged down and discouraged with this massive task, and soon abandoned the idea entirely.

But DearMYRTLE, you have inspired me!

Just as I have started over with this blog, I guess it’s a good time to start over with RootsMagic.

In preparation, a couple of “opportunities” have presented themselves:

  1. Can I run 2 instances of RootsMagic at the same time, in order to view the old database entries while preparing the new entries?
  2. What are my most frequently-used source types and how can I better use them when starting over?

Opportunity #1 has a simple solution. The RootsMagic software comes with its own portable app, RootsMagic To-Go. I installed the portable app on an extra USB drive and plugged it into my desktop computer, started it up, and now I have the desktop app and the portable app side-by-side on my screen, each fully viewable and editable. (I also changed the color scheme for the display of each instance, blue for the old, green for the new, just to clarify things).

Opportunity #2 took a bit of head-scratching. I looked at all the sources (several hundred!) that I used in the old database to see which needed to be combined/modified. I’m trying to improve and simplify my Source List, you see. For example, I have cited many, many databases found at I found that I have 3 different citations that all refer to the same Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976 database! What should be one source type is written 3 different ways! Hence, my problem. So I made a short list of source template to start with. RootsMagic Source Type FavoritesMost of my sources will fit into one of these types, I hope. It’s a beginning.

Another change will be the “share this fact” feature, where a single fact can be used with multiple ancestors, such as with a census enumeration. I have never liked the way the shared fact is presented, so I won’t be using that feature with the new database.

I also want to make sure that the Place List is consistent throughout, along with several other minor fixes.

As a test, I “started over” with my own Person page. After a bit of juggling, I have completed my new file. It contains only 3 source types at this time:

  • Personal Knowledge- “been there, done that”
  • Artifact, Family, privately held (by collection)- my person stuff, such as my birth certificate, marriage announcement and college diploma
  • Basic Online Template- not listed in the image to the left, but it worked out well for USGenWeb data, such as the date and file number for my divorce decree (oops, kinda forgot the gory details…)

Now, granted my personal file doesn’t contain the usual family history source items, such as census data, Civil War service records or probate files, so it was fairly simple to do over. But I am pleased with the way that it turned. The same facts are present, each documented as thoroughly as before, but my source list in cleaner, much simpler and, by using RootsMagic’s templates that have been structured with Elizabeth Shown Mills and Richard Lackey in mind, I believe the source citations are written correctly.

This lady never fails to astound me! Dovie McBurnett was my great-grandmother. Earl Hall was my great-grandfather. Earl was Dovie’s first husband (I have counted 7 so far: Hall, Stanley, Epperson, Epperson (same guy, second marriage), Priddy, Bailey, Copeland, Coshnitzke).

Earl was the father of 2 of Dovie’s 3 sons, middle son Victor was my grandfather.

Anyway, I was doing a little more searching at and look what popped up:

(From the Daily Ardmorite, Ardmore, Oklahoma, 24 Jan 1906, page 5)

Dovie McBurnett research is never boring!

VicEHall20Yesterday I signed up for a free 7-day trial at and I have already found several small items, as well as a full obituary for my grandfather!

This one is from the Abilene Reporter-News. I was surprised to find his obit in this newspaper, as Abilene and Stephenville, Texas, where he lived, aren’t that near to each other. But, hey, I’ll take it!

I already have a very short obit from the Stephenville newspaper, but it has very few details.

I didn’t learn anything new from this new obit, but I’m still happy to have it!

As I slowly go through my database and upload images to create my Ancestor pages, I am finding that many of my folks are extensively documented. But I really haven’t looked at that documentation recently, some in 4-5 years.

So with each Ancestor page I create, I do a “cursory” Google search, and I run that person’s name through some of the appropriate FamilySeach databases, as well as Find A Grave, and several other free sites. Not digging very deep, just a quick check.

This morning I was preparing to create a page for my grandfather, Victor Earl Hall. I typed his name into Google and look what I found:


A freebie from, the 2 Mar 1936 edition of the Denton Record Chronicle.

I already have a copy of his marriage license, but the newspaper announcement in pretty neat, too!

Yahoo  GeoCities   terryallanhall s Home PageWell, his website, anyway.

My brother Terry died quite unexpectedly on April 17th. We were all shocked. Only a few days earlier he had been in good health, and suddenly he was gone. He was only about a year and a half older than me.

Terry was a musician. And he had created his own website,, to showcase his talents. Photographs, press clippings, recordings of his music, etc. His life in sound and verse.

As I was updating his RootsMagic file this morning with his death information, it occurred to me that his website probably wouldn’t be around forever, that I needed to save it while I still could.

Several years ago, the free version of GeoCities shut down, and with it thousands of “Mom & Pop” websites. A McBurnett cousin had such a site, containing her genealogy database. Certainly didn’t want to lose that! I did some research and through Dick Eastman discovered a remarkable open-source (free!) program, HTTrack, that could download an entire website to your hard drive.

So, today I went to the website and downloaded the latest build of HTTrack. After a few adjustments (options, options, options!), I was able to save Terry’s entire site: photos, newspaper articles, .mp3’s.

I miss my brother, but at least I have been able to save something that was important to him.

I’ve added another ancestor page: Miles Francis Stanley II. The love of Nanny’s life, they are finally together again after 44 years. :)

Been doing a bit of tweaking of the theme, little stuff. I’m trying to a better job of managing images and the Media Library. Every image is named appropriately, so I can search for one if necessary.

You know, trying to do right all the things I did wrong in my first blog (now Ruth’s Genealogy Archives).

As I build new ancestor pages, I am also reviewing and updating that person’s RootsMagic page.

WikiMedia Commons… as coming home again.” *

I’ve been away from genealogy and this blog for what seems like forever. Why? In a nutshell: life got too hard. Work got crazy, not enough hours in the day, lost my passion. Pick an excuse.

A few days ago, I was having another less-than-optimal day and it suddenly occurred to me: “I’m bored. I have tons of stuff that I have to do, but nothing that I want to do. I needed to find something for me.”


But I wanted to do things a little differently. A fresh start.

A new blog to begin with. Sort of.

My “old” blog has moved Ruth’s Genealogy Archives, and here you can find all blog content prior to 1 Jun 2014.

But what to do about a “new” blog? I have had a blog for many years, so should I close my eyes, hold my breath and make the leap to a blog and a web hosting account? After much consideration, I decided that wasn’t for me. While I would have more control and many more options to maintain my genealogy online, the amount of maintenance required would also be much greater.

Let’s face it, folks: a blog is a piece o’ cake to manage!

Still, a little change can be very exciting, and a lot of fun.

I decided to take the middle ground and purchase a premium theme for my old blog. A few more choices, yet nothing that would bury me. After a few days of searching, previewing and head-scratching, I decided on the Bloggy theme.

I hit the “Purchase Now” button, and in a very few clicks, my new theme was in place and rather impatiently (or was that me?) waiting for me to start using it.

A few other tasks needed taking care of (mainly, updating my RootsMagic software that had also gone unused for much too long a time), and I am back to genealogy.

Back to my passion!



*Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Or, “It’s HAPPY DANCE TIME again!”

I recently posted about uploading my database to When I did that, I checked out a few of my ancestors to see how they would appear on WeRelate.

To make a long story short, my data needed a bit of tidying up. The source citations are I created them in RootsMagic did not “translate” well into WeRelate’s wiki structure. Remember reading Beowulf in high school? Kinda like that… ;)

But as it turns out, that confusion is a good thing. I have started with my nearest deceased relative, and begun to review each person’s information. I have found lots of mistakes, and lots of new data.

As I reviewed my great-grandmother Dovie C ( McBurnett) Hall Stanley Epperson Epperson (same guy, second marriage) Priddy Bailey Copeland’s page, I discovered that I don’t have her 1940 census entry. Notice all those names? No, not multiple personalities (at least I don’t think so…). Dovie was married 7 times to 6 different men. By 1940, she was on her 4th marriage! That’s a lot of possible name combinations for my 1940 Census hunt!

Yet, search as I might, I could not find Dovie with any of those surnames.

As I believed she was still in the Tarrant County, Texas area, I used as search terms her “other” name of Ruby, DOB 1890 +/- 2 years, and born in Georgia, and looked at Tarrant County again.

This revised search led me at’s free 1940 US Census to:

Name: Ruby Coshnitzke
Respondent: Yes
Age: 48
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1892
Gender: Female
Race: White
Birthplace: Georgia
Marital Status: Married
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Home in 1940: Tarrant, Texas
Map of Home in 1940: View Map
Street: Anahauae Street
House Number: 803
Inferred Residence in 1935: Tarrant, Texas
Residence in 1935: Same Place
Resident on farm in 1935: No
Sheet Number: 30A
Attended School or College: No
Highest Grade Completed: Elementary school, 7th grade
Weeks Worked in 1939: 0
Income: 0
Income Other Sources: No
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
John Coshnitzke 40
Ruby Coshnitzke 48

I had never heard of John Coshnitzke. But the name Ruby, age of 48 and place of birth in Georgia were about right. And that address of 803 Anahauae Street, Tarrant County, Texas sounded very familiar…

After a bit of head-scratching and hair-pulling, I realized that Dovie’s 2nd son, my grandfather Victor Hall appeared in the 1940 US Census living at 805 Anahuac Ave in Tarrant County! Right across the street and 2 census pages over from Ruby Coshnitzke !

Could it be? ANOTHER MARRIAGE for Dovie?

I then went to the Tarrant County Marriage Index 1876-1944, available at the Fort Worth Central Library. And there was Ruby and John Coshnitzke’s September 1939 marriage, listed just a few lines up from Ruby and John Otys Priddy’s 1942 marriage!


Oh, myyyy!

A bit more searching and I found John Coshnitzke in the 1930 US Census (with his previous wife), his SSDI entry (died in Georgia), and his Georgia Death Index, 1933-1998 listing, as well as his Find A Grave page, buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Newnan, Coweta, Georgia.

Wow, Dovie, how did you ever keep all those names straight???


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 273 other followers