Who Am I?

  • Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Great-Aunt, Friend
  • Kansan – Resident of Seneca, Kansas
  • Retired teacher, library and technology coordinator
  • Long time genealogist
  • Person behind ‘Heartland Genealogy’
  • Blogger
  • Methodist
  • Volunteer

Contrary to the perception of some, I do not make any type of financial benefit from my work with genealogy. The only ‘profit’ I make from my activities is the personal connections I make.
Since retirement, the vast majority of my online presence revolves around the research of my family history.


Do you track the ‘growth’ of your genealogy database or your Ancestry tree?

I started tracking my statistics over a year ago. In January, I created a new table in my bullet journal to track the growth of my tree in 2019. At the first of each month, I record the data in my journal.

For my tree, I pull the statistics from two different sources. In RootsMagic, I look at the DATABASE PROPERTIES.

In Ancestry, I click on the down carrot by my tree name to open the Tree Menu.

I then select the TREE OVERVIEW to access the statistical summary.

When I look at these stats, I want to see growth — not only in the number of people but also in the sourcing for the people in my tree.

The following data was collected on July 1st.

  • RootsMagic People: 13486
  • Rootsmagic Families: 4511
  • RootsMagic Events: 37971
  • RootsMagic Place: 3993
  • RootsMagic: Sources: 3861
  • RootsMagic: Citations: 52871
  • Ancestry People: 13027
  • Ancestry Photos: 6640
  • Ancestry Stories: 1538
  • Ancestry Records: 7535

Wanting to visualize the growth I’ve made over the last 6 months, I entered my data into a spreadsheet and created a graph for my RootsMagic people and citations data.

Even though I’ve gotten bogged down with acquiring and transcribing deeds, my statistics show that I am learning more about the people in my tree and that I am adding documentation to those people. Even though it may feel like I’m stagnating, my statistics show a different story.

Creating Buddy Files

What’s in your genealogy tool cabinet? Do you ever experiment with various software tools until you find one that fits your needs or thinking process?

Well, I have experimented with various tools. One of those tools I’m experimenting with right now is Tony Proctor’s program to create what he calls a ‘Buddy File’. This is being discussed in Dear Myrtle’s Facebook group. My Buddy File post describes my learning process.

At least one of the comments discussed whether the time involved in creating the text file was worth it. I have to admit that was my initial thought as Tony made his presentation last week. 

Since I want to use the ‘buddy file’ for transcriptions, it dawned on me this morning that I likely already have the information to put in a buddy file. I just need to copy/paste into Notepad and save the file.

For example, I usually put a transcription of a record in the DETAILS section of the source in my RootsMagic software.

The tricky part is making sure I save the file correctly.

  • same folder as image
  • same name as image
  • adding the META extension
  • verifying that the ‘Save as type’ is set to ‘All Files’

Since I’ve started using Scrivener for both transcribing and analyzing records, it will be easy to create the corresponding buddy files. I use the split screen option to put the record on top and then transcribe into a new file in the bottom screen. I name the transcription with the exact same name as the image. [See my previous post on using Scrivener.]

I could export the transcription in a wide variety of file types, including text. Thus, I could export it as a text file into the folder of the image and then rename the file.

After completing the export, I opened Windows Explorer and located the folder and exported file

I then right-clicked on the file and removed the txt from the end of the file name and replaced it with meta. The software prompts me to verify that I want to change the ending and click YES.

Now when I search this folder for the surname LOGAN, explorer IMMEDIATELY shows me the file.

When I click on that file, it opens both the image and the text file. I have my computer set to use Paint.net for images and notepad for text files. If Paint.net is opening to full screen, I have to click on the box in the upper right corner to change it to partial screen. Then I can see Notepad open in the background. Moving the windows around, I can then see both the image and the text.

This capability will be EXTREMELY helpful with my FAN club research. The file I used for demonstration is for a land transaction between a John Crawford and a James Logan. I currently don’t know how or even if John Crawford is related to my Crawford line. At this time, I have no evidence that of a relationship with any Logan family members in Kentucky or Virginia. If I do find a Crawford-Logan connection, I now have the capability of searching my files to pull up those pertaining to a Logan.
So, the moral of the story is — 
If you are already transcribing documents, just copy/paste and save the transcription with the same name as the image and with the .meta extension. 

Thanks Tony!

Photos and Google+

For some reason, I looked at email beyond my primary tab this morning. That’s when I saw the notice from Google about my randomly used Google+ account.

Since I only used Google+ occassionally, I didn’t think I had much content that would be affected. However, I do have some photos in my Google+ album. Thus, I want to retain those photos.

To do that I

  • went to my Google Photo Archive at https://get.google.com/albumarchive
  • noted that I had several albums including one with the G+ symbol. This album contains the photos I need to retrieve
  • Clicked on the album to open it. This revealed my “Photos from Posts: G+ Photos and Videos shared on Google+”
  • Look for three vertical dots in the upper right corner. Click on those dots if present.
  • From the menu, click on ‘Download the album’.
  • This will download the photos as a zip file

Since I only had two photos in my Google+ album, the three dots were missing from the album. Instead, I

  • Clicked on a photo to open the album 
  • Found the three vertical dots in the upper right corner and clicked on those dots
  • Clicked on ‘Download the album’. Since I’m on a Windows computer, this opened up Windows Explorer. Thus, I was able to select where the picture was saved and to give it a recognizable name.
  • Repeat process for other photo

In terms of Google+ Pages, I was not aware of creating any pages. Knowing that I have some Google Sites, I wanted to verify that I did not have any pages. 
In researching Google+ Pages, it appears that one must have a ‘Brand’ account to have the ability to create pages. I found a link to my ‘Brand’ accounts (or lack thereof):  https://myaccount.google.com/brandaccounts
Since I was a random user of Google+, I am not moderating a community and doubt I’ve used my Google+ account to login to anything else.

As a user of Blogger, I recently changed my ‘Comments’ settings to not use Google+ comments. I also disabled the automatic posting to Google+.

Hopefully, I have successfully retrieved my content from Google+.

I’m praying that Google does NOT take away Blogger or Google Sites!


We often tend to remember major ‘firsts‘ in our lives: first date, first kiss, first car, first house, etc. Unfortunately, when it comes to genealogy, I don’t remember the first ancestor I researched. However, I do remember other genealogy ‘firsts‘.

My start in family history research began with a discussion in my grandmother’s living room. She made the comment that she would like to know more about her grandmother, especially where she was buried.

I don’t remember much else from that initial visit. However, my memory says that after my visit with my grandmother in Dodge City, I traveled to Phillipsburg to visit my in-laws. During this visit, my mother-in-law became my first mentor. She explained how to create a pedigree chart and how to fill out a family group sheet.

IMG_0412I returned home with a pile of forms and a desire to learn more. At my mother-in-law’s suggestion, I purchased my first genealogy book: The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood.

In terms of other firsts, my memory is unclear. However, I do remember my grandmother taking me to the Heritage Center in Dodge City to do research on the family. I believe that was my first exposure to newspaper microfilm.

One first I do remember is my first trip to Crandall Cemetery, where my great grandfather is buried. According to my grandmother Briles, Crandall was a town in Coffey County. She said as you crossed the railroad tracks, there was a barn and the cemetery was ‘right there’. Unfortunately, the maps of the time did not include a town named Crandall. Thus, my husband and I went to the college and asked the geology professor if he knew how we could find Crandall Cemetery. He showed us topographic maps of the area and helped us figure out where the rural cemeteries were in the county. Armed with our new map, we took off to travel from one rural cemetery to another. We finally found the cemetery — just as my grandmother described!

What are your genealogy firsts?

Do you have a first mentor?

Do you still have your first genealogy book?

Do you remember your first trip to a family cemetery?


Never Finished

Christmas Tree240Last May, we started a home improvement project to replace broken and damaged concrete. Since the concrete was under our screened-in-porch, the project included tearing down our the screened-in-porch and replacing it with a room addition. The project quickly expanded to include new siding and windows. In July, I jokingly commented to our contractor that I just wanted to be done by Christmas.

Well, the tree is up, and we aren’t finished yet. Unfortunately, they ran out of siding. We are on the list for new guttering, but the weather is affecting that contractor’s ability to work. Thus, our remodel project is still a work in progress — a lot like my genealogy projects.

Today, someone tweeted Crista Cowan’s 2012 blog post, Family History All Done? What’s Your Number? Curious, I decided to ‘calculate’ my number.


Now, when people question why I’m not finished, I can honestly say:

I’ve only discovered 39% of my ancestors back 10 generations!

What’s Your Number?


About a month ago, I ran across another Thompson tree on Ancestry.com that had an article from the Belleville newspaper attached to Ulysses Grant Thompson.


Curious as to what was in the newspaper, I decided to do a search for Grant Thompson in the Belleville, Kansas newspapers on Newspapers.com.


Instead of backing up a step and doing a more focused search, I opened many of the articles in new tabs. Thus, I had a browser open with who knows how many tabs.


I not only found an obituary for Ulysses Grant Thompson, but also for his wives.


In addition, I found news items related  Grant Thompson’s siblings and his children.


This newspaper search took quite a few hours (days) to complete. However, the information contained in all of these articles was genealogy GOLD.

I hit the JACKPOT!

Genealogical Societies

What was the first genealogical society you joined? Why did you join it? What societies are you a member of?

These are the questions for this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. Since me genealogical journey started 30 years ago, I’m unsure which was the first society I joined.

I’m guessing it was the Kansas Genealogical Society – which sounds like a statewide society but is actually a society focusing on Dodge City, Ford County and Southwest Kansas. Since my research began in Dodge City, this society was a great resource. This was pre-internet times where research involved traveling to libraries and courthouses or getting information in the mail. Their Treesearcher publication would arrive every three months full of valuable transcripts of information. When I would visit my grandmother in Dodge City, I would visit their library to do research.

During those early days of my genealogy journey, the mail was my primary connection to records, other researchers and learning opportunities. I was a subscriber to Everton’s Genealogical Helper and would pour thru each issue looking for potential cousins to contact.

It was thru the mail that I received some of my best genealogical education. The National Genealogical Society, of which I was (and am) a member, offered a course thru the mail. This course forced me to learn to use a variety of records and to learn about records available locally.

Thru the Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies, I was able to travel to Salt Lake City and spend a week researching in the Family History Library. During that week, I was there when the doors opened and usually leaving the library as they were closing for the night. I came home with a pile of copies of records – primarily land records that helped me make tremendous strides with my research.

Over the years, my memberships have varied – but all have been selected to support my research or genealogical education.

Today, one of the societies I belong to is the Topeka Genealogical Society. Even though this society publishes a great journal, it is the educational opportunities that I find the most valuable. Each year they have a conference with a nationally recognized speaker. During this past year they helped sponsor a DNA conference. About once a month, I participate in two study groups hosted by the society. I thoroughly enjoy getting together with other researchers and learning from them.

With the abundance of resources available on the Internet, it would be easy to isolate myself in my office to research my family history. However, I think my research and my skills would become stagnant if I isolated myself in that way. Thus, I will continue to join societies so I can connect with other researchers and learn how to be a better family historian.

Research Notes Part 2

In my previous Research Notes post, I discussed compiling and sharing research notes. This discussion was prompted by conversations on the July 16th Mondays with Myrt. Towards the end of my Research Notes post, I asked two questions:

  • Is a blog post the best way to share a written conclusion incorporating images and a variety of formatting?
  • If research notes are published in a blog post, how would one connect them to a person (or persons) in a tree?

In trying to answer my own question, I have looked at various options and believe that writing a blog post that incorporates images is the quickest and easiest way to share this type of information.

Even though I haven’t published my complete research notes for an individual, I have published parts of them. For example, I recently compiled research notes for my great-grandfather, Edward Grant Briles. Included in those notes was the transcription of his funeral book. Since it was already transcribed, I was able to easily create a post for the funeral book that incorporated the images from the funeral book with the transcription.

In theory, the answer to the second question is simple: just add a web link to the person on my Ancestry tree. Adding the link is easy.

I’ve added a web link for my funeral book blog post. Unfortunately, most viewers of my tree won’t see this web link.

Web links that are added will appear at the bottom of the sources. Since I have a lot of sources, the web links disappear off of the screen. Most users likely will not scroll down the screen to discover the web links.