webtrees Version 1.7.1 released 13 July 2015

Wahoo! A new release of webtrees! Let’s see what they have in store.

From webtrees.net

webtrees version 1.7.1 is now available for download. This release addresses issues realated to servers running PHP5.3
webtrees 1.7.0/1 includes new features as well as a major rewrite and modernisation of backend code. 
Languages:webtrees now has support for 60 languages -- a  new administration option allows for easier management.  There is also a new online translation server (translate.webtrees.net) which makes it even easier to contribute to translations.
Mobile phone support:  If you use Google webmaster tools, you may have received warnings about mobile support. We've made some changes to improve this, and have completely rewriten the administration area (now called "Control panel") to use a mobile-friendly layout.
Administration:  There are a few additions to the administration functions; a renumbering and merging family trees and a function to help you find duplicate records after a merge.  webtrees checks for updates every 24 hours, so next time you log in to your site, you should be prompted to upgrade. An update to the robots.txt file has been made.
Performance:  There are a few performance enhancements. For example, we have reduced the number of database calls by fetching all family members in one operation.
Themes:  The theme system has been completely redesigned. Previously, if you wanted to make just a small modification, you needed to create and update an entire theme. Now, you only need to code the differences from an existing theme. So, if you simply want to change the header or some menus, that's all you need to do. Updates to the core code should be much less likely to require changes to the themes.
For a complete descriptions of this release see 1.7.0/1 Change List

Note: webtrees 1.7.x requires PHP5.3 or later.  However, this will be the will be the last ones to run on PHP 5.3.  If your server only supports PHP5.2, then you should install webtrees 1.4.6.
Note that it is harmless to accidentally install webtrees-1.7.x on a PHP-5.2 server. You'll simply get a message telling you to re-install the appropriate version.
See the wiki site for upgrade tips! (wiki.webtrees.net/en/Upgrading).

But what does it all mean?

From first glance the main upgrades have been to the admin area – now affectionately called “Control Panel”


webtrees control panel

Now, this is a huge improvement from that last version. It’s smooth, has collapsible menus and just really easy to use, navigate and change features. Here’s a view of family tree control.

family tree control

As you can see, it’s much cleaner, organized and you can easily see what to click for whatever task you need to do. And of course, the always complicated “modules” now looks a bit easier to see and change as needed.

modulesSo, in short, I really like what the developers have done with webtrees. My upgrade was nearly seamless – my only complaint is not integrating with the facebook login. This was an add-on that a talented developer shared with the community and not part of webtrees. I thought it was great but I’m willing to let it go in order to upgrade. The only other add-on that I use is vytux menu which has already been upgraded to webtrees 1.7 so thanks Vytux!

Categories: Cheap, Tech, webtrees | 3 Comments

Using user roles in webtrees

If you’re using webtrees, there’s a lot of control over user roles and abilities. I recently helped a man test out webtrees on my own site and made him administrator. Besides us two, everything else has standard privacy settings. That is to say that just because I upload his gedcom doesn’t mean anyone on the web can see private information for living people. The default is that if they’re alive, they’re set to private.

Now, over the last few years I’ve had requests from “cousins” or other family members to become a user on my webtrees site. This is usually not a problem. Most people are googling an ancestor, discover my site and want to see more. They request to be a user, add a little note about who they’re related to in the tree and I approve as an editor. This means they now have access to the whole tree (again this can be set by the admin) AND they’re allowed to edit the tree. However, any edits must be approved by the admin. To date, I believe only 1 or 2 people have actually tried to edit the information and contribute to the ever-growing tree.

Now, recently, and coincidentally, I’ve had 2 users register without any mention of why they want to explore more of my webtrees site. They did not say anything about who they may be related to and their names do not match any surnames in my database. What’s a genealogist to do?

Considering I’m in the game of cousin bait, I approved them. I’m hoping with access to my tree they’ll be inspired to reach out and perhaps contribute as well. Now for them, I can simply set their user role to “Member” rather than “editor”.






As you can see, there are a lot of options for each user. I can set their user role for each tree I have on my site. For me, everyone that visits is set to “visitor”. Unknown folks who register will be set to “member” followed by “editor” then “moderator” and finally “administrator”.

You may want different settings for your tree. I’m a “millennial” so I understand that privacy is pretty much dead. However, I still take precautions to protect family members. The beautiful thing about this program is that it’s all up to you. With all of the settings and functionality of webtrees, it can seem overwhelming but I’d rather have a lot of options with my genealogy than not enough.

Categories: Tech, webtrees | Leave a comment

Drive & Google+ finally together…soon


This is the view from the new “Google Photos” menu on my drive. I have to tell you, I’ve been waiting for this. I had all of my ancestry photos, organized into folders (birth, marriage, death, censuses etc.). I then realized that google drive did not retain meta-data. Meta-data is the information embedded into the image file. It is similar to writing on the back of a photo…only digitally. If you download any photo you can open it’s “properties” (Right-click, properties) to see what the meta-data contains. It’s usually the filename and maybe a caption but could contain location data, date taken or even type of camera used.

So, drive doesn’t allow me to digitally write on the back of my collection of family photos so I moved everything to google+ (after some extensive testing). Google+ was able to not only hold my meta-data but the provide the ability to edit the meta-data…except on mobile. We’re getting close folks.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t easily access the photos in a “explorer” folder style. I had albums and it was generally just more difficult to navigate. Until now…soon that is.

It appears that google had heard the complaints and have implemented “Google Photos” in drive itself. This allows all images in google+ to sync with google drive and allow the user to organize images into folders. This not only provides  simplicity, organization and helps lower storage issues, but allows the user to easily see the folder hierarchy. I wonder if metadata will be synced? It doesn’t look like it yet…


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Father and Son, John & Jonas Marsh – Week 5, Plowing Through

This week’s prompt: We will likely be plowing through a lot of snow by this time. What ancestor had a lot of struggles to plow through? Or take it more literally… It’s up to you :)

A typical Michigan winter scene

The ancestor I chose that had a lot of struggles to plow through would be the father/son duo, John O. and Jonas J. Marsh.

John was born in 1790 in Pennsylvania. The country was newly independent and Pennsylvania was a popular place to settle down. There he had *4 boys and 1 girl.

He and his wife Margaret Gillman (1790-??) had their son Jonas when they were 21 years old.

At the age of 19, Jonas married Philinda Quick (1811-1895) in New York in 1830. He and Philinda had 3 children in New York and then around 1837 or so, Jonas followed his little brother, Harmon Marsh, to Scio, Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Although the research is unsourced, it appears the Marsh father, John, died sometime around 1830. My junk genealogy shows he was in Michigan but other information says that the Marsh family didn’t come to Michigan until 1836 at the earliest. And the death information I have for John says he died the same day his son, Jonas, was married. I suspect the information is wrong.

So, what makes these boys worthy of such a post highlighting tough ancestors? Well, first of all, John was in the Civil War. 140th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry.

And both Jonas and his little brother Harmon helped create a new community in the brand new territory of Michigan. Have you been to Michigan in the winter? That place can be tough!

Map of Scio, Michigan, 1874 (Marsh farmland is listed)


Categories: 52 Ancestors | 1 Comment

52 Ancestors Challenge – Week 4, Closest to your birthday

This week’s prompt: Not too much to think about here. What ancestor has the birthday closest to yours? (I mean in terms of month and day, not the year ;) )

Henry Teats

Henry Teats is the ancestor who’s birthday is closest to mine. There are other relative’s that share my birthday – my great uncle Mike (my closest DNA match at AncestryDNA) and of course my cousin Kyle. However, since we’re focusing on ancestor’s, I found that Henry Teats was born just a day before my birthday.

Henry Teats was born January 4th, 1797 in Rhinebeck, New York. His father died when he was just 12 years old and he married Elizabeth Shook at age 24 (June 6, 1821). Together they had at least 9 children and he died at the ripe old age of 83 in Dickinson, Kansas. (unsourced).


Henry Teats and Elizabeth Shook Family

Henry Teats and Elizabeth Shook Family

I wonder how he came to die in Kansas? I checked out my google map module on my webtrees site and it looks like many of his children were moving to the midwest. And because his death is unsourced he may not have died in Kansas at all! More research on my to do list!



Henry’s mapped life (so far)

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52 Ancestors Challenge – Week 3, Tough Woman

This week’s prompt: Who is a tough, strong woman in your family tree? Or what woman has been tough to research?

Martha Brunken Loose

If that face doesn’t say tough…

The tough female ancestor I’m going to focus on will be Martha A Brunken.

It tends to be hot in July in Terre Haute, Indiana and that was likely the case the day Martha was born in 1855. Her German-born parents must’ve been so hopeful about having their child in America, and perhaps a bit anxious as well since by the time she was just 6 years old, the civil war broke out.

She lived in Indiana throughout her life and married William Carl Loose, who’s parents were also German-born and immigrated through Galveston, Texas.

William C Loose and Martha Brunken



Together they had at least 7 children. When she was 69 years old her husband died. She lived another 12 years and died in 1937.

Findagrave picture

Findagrave picture


Their 7 children (may have more)

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52 Ancestors Challenge – Week 2, King

This week’s prompt is: January 8 is Elvis’ birthday. January 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Do either of these “Kings” remind you of an ancestor? Or, taken another way, do you have a connection to royalty? Did your ancestor flee from an oppressive king?

Although one of my goals was to remove anybody on my tree from my old “junk genealogy” habits, unfortunately I have yet to do that. Therefore, I have unsourced royalty from 2 separate family lines.

King Edward the First, aka, Longshanks

I know, I know. Everybody is related to a King and especially Edward I “Longshanks”. According to my very much unsourced webtrees database, King Edward is my 23x Great Grandfather! In addition, he was tall and had a lazy eye, both characteristics we share. This is not a direct paternal line. To see the details click here.

Robert the Bruce

Again, through my mother’s side, a more “junk genealogy”, I’ve connected back to the King of Scots, Robert the Bruce. Again, mostly unsourced and simply serves to boost the family ego. One day, perhaps when I retire, I’ll work to validate these connections. But it’s time to get away from the “I’m related to royalty” story in family history, after all, according to National Geographic and a bit of math, we’re all related to royalty.


We’re all in this together!

Although there’s much more work to do around these connections, I’m satisfied knowing that I get a little extra meaning from watching Braveheart!

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John F. Taylor, Civil War Ancestor – Week 1, A Fresh Start

Whenever the new year comes around I like to take stock from the past year and make goals for the future. My goal for 2015 is to simply keep up with the 52 Ancestor challenge.

The Fresh Start prompt was: What ancestor had a fresh start? What ancestor has been so confusing to research that you’d like to have a fresh start?

My Fresh Start ancestor is….John F. Taylor who happens to be on my list of “favorited” ancestors on my webtrees site.

My personalized “favorites” list from my webtrees site.

John F. Taylor came into this world in August of 1843 in Indiana, USA. (no source) 

Wow, just writing this out makes me want to ditch this post and RESEARCH!

Okay, so there’s a lot of missing information and unsourced information for Mr. Taylor (perhaps a reason I haven’t broken this wall down!) An additional reason I’m curious about him is because there’s that family rumor saying we’re related to president Zachary Taylor.

See the resemblance?

See the resemblance?


For John Taylor I couldn’t find anything prior to his marriage in 1878 when he was 34 years old. At this time he was in Iowa City, Iowa with his bride, Annastasis Gress. He then died in Missouri at the age of 79. (1843-1922).

So, now to the fresh start piece for John.

I revisited John’s findagrave profile recently to discover that someone had uploaded a document to his profile! My first reaction was shock – mostly because I created the profile on findagrave and assumed I would get notified if someone added an image. And secondly, the document was his discharge from the Union army. Who had this?

I emailed the image uploader and soon got a response. At first, I thought it was a confused name, there are a lot of John Taylor’s in the world. But as I continued to read, names that I recognized showed up. According to the image uploader, John Taylor had a family prior to the information I have! Here is the email I received.

Received your message re:John Taylor.  He is shown in the 1870 census to be residing in the home of John and Eliza Felker in Vinton, Benton County Iowa.  He and their daughter Katherine,age 19 married on 5 June 1870. They had one child, Mary Elizabeth, who was my grandmother.  Katherine died when my Grandmother was six or seven.   She suffered from asthma.

The story we always heard was that one day he did not come home from work and there were various theories as to what had happened to him.  She had his discharge from the Union Army in her possession. In the early 80’s my brother Sam and his wife were visiting and They showed the discharge to Becky(his wife) and she told them it could be sent to the Archives for preservation.  She took the discharge with her and sent it adding a request for his service records .  when she returned the discharge she also had a sheaf of papers showing his marriage to Anna Stacia Gress in Iowa City in 1778 and the 1880 Census showed them to be residing with her family in Lincoln, Pottawattami County Iowa.  They had a daughter Magdalena (who died at the age of 10) and I don’t remember if they had other children at that point. The records showed their westward movements and at several of the places of residence their were records of correspondence applying for disability assistance. These letters added to the family information and the final letter was after his death from his daughter Isabel inquiring about possible survivor benefits. My grandmother had a surviving half brother and sister that she never knew existed. She died before this information was received.

I had thought that he was born in Jefferson County , Ohio due to the info on the discharge but recently have begun to try to see if it could have been a city in Ohio. In the 1880 census , which you may have his father is shown to have been born in Ireland and his mother Germany. I have a note that he had lived in St. Joseph, Indiana and I believe he joined the Army from La Porte, Indiana.  I posted the discharge in the hope of gaining more info regarding his family.

It appears that John Taylor got a fresh start.

I will now get on with my fresh start and see if I can connect these two lives into one.

Categories: 52 Ancestors | 2 Comments

The Widows of 2nd Street

I found this story on the Arcadia Historical Society’s website and it included the first picture I’ve ever seen of my 4x great grandmother, Alzina Higbee Stockman. My guess is she’s around 84/85 in this photo, likely 1940…does the boy look to be around age 7?

Ray with "Grandma Stockman"

Alzina Higbee Stockman with Raymond Knudsen ca. 1940

To see the full article click here.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Hunting.


Categories: 1940 Census, Stockman | 2 Comments

What’s written on the ‘back’ of your digital photos?

What is metadata?

Simply put, metadata is the writing on the back of the photograph. Usually this details who is in the photo, when and where it was taken. In the digital age, this information is kept in the file but not visible. You can right click and see the “properties” of a file – the description or title is one piece of metadata while the ‘tags’ or ‘keywords’ are another.

Why do I need this?

In the current technological age, a digital image or photograph could get ‘disconnected’ from any database or shared family tree. Essentially, we cannot guarantee that the person who finds the photo online is able to see any more information than the image itself. With family history images, this can be a problem. Who is the 3rd person from the left? I want to name all individuals, and include the place and time if possible. For that, we need metadata.

How do I do this?

Most image programs are able to save ‘metadata’. Be sure to search on google for your favorite image manipulation program that allows metadata. Personally, I use Picasa by google. Picasa uses the caption as the description in the metadata and “tags” in picasa are “keywords” in the “properties”

Betty Jean and Jeff_meta

This image is of me around 6-8 months old with my grandmother, Betty Jean (Polson/Wollenhaupt/Marsh/Curtis – but that’s another story).

This is your test – perhaps your photos already have metadata.

–Tell me the exact address where this photo was taken.

–Tell me who is in the photo.

–Tell me the approx. date the photo was taken.


This is a step-by-step guide that should work for most people.

1. Right click on the image and ‘save image’ – save to a place you’ll be able to find – the desktop is usually good

2. Find the image and “right click” – then scroll down and click on “properties”

CaptureIn Windows 7 you see this image.

So far we just see the file name and type.

Navigate to the “Details” tab.

You will then see “tags” with whatever tags you entered as keywords.











You will then see the “title” which in Picasa is the “caption” and you’ll see the ‘tags’.

From this information you would know all the answers to the questions I asked earlier.


Isn’t metadata grand?

Categories: Cheap, Research, Tech, webtrees | Leave a comment