Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by A. Rennie

Sunset at the Reservoir

Monday, August 29, 2011

How I Missed My Own Blogaversary

The impetus to write this post is the fact that I missed my own blogaversary this year. How could I have done that?  It was easy....I was preoccupied with other things. I hate to admit it, but it happened.  First, we were on a vacation in early July and drove over twenty-five hundred miles.  Yes, we did have a fun time visiting with friends in another state and visiting relatives on the return home. But after we got unpacked, a wave of family birthdays in July (five, including my own) was heading our way, and a variety of other plans were in the making.  By the time July 23rd rolled around, I just plain forgot.  

At the first of the year, I like to write a post that includes statistics about the past year's activity on this blog. Since I also forgot to do that last January, I thought this "missed blogaversary" post would be the perfect place to include a few blog statistics.  Call me crazy, but I absolutely l-o-v-e analyzing statistics, especially when they are for this blog. My first experience with blog statistics began in mid-2008, when I was still learning how to spell "genea-blogger."  FirstI installed Site Meter (the free version) primarily out of curiosity to track sources of traffic to Mississippi Memories.  Perhaps it was the fact that I was new to blogging, and I was still uncertain that anyone would really want to read what I wrote about my family's history. But this handy little gadget would enable me to see that real people were actually finding my site. Site Meter turned out to be a fantastic tool, and it not only allowed me to determine the number and geographic locations of visitors to my blog, it provided data that contained "search words" that had directed visitors to Mississippi Memories

Later, I installed Google Analytics.  With only a few keystrokes, this tool provided a wide variety of statistics.  Like magic, Google Analytics produced a plethora of neat colored lines and graphs that tabulated information about visitors to my blog.  I could view statistics by the day, week, month and year.  I could see numbers of visitors for specific times of the day, and I could tell what percentage of visitors came from where.  

How had I lived without Google's latest creation, my new blog toy?  

Although Google Analytics may be most useful for gathering data on e-commerce sites, the tool has served me and my blog well.  I can determine what topics were of the most interest to my readers, the peak times that visitors read my blog, and the locations where most of my readers live. Now that Blogger has evolved and has a new and improved format, all sorts of stats about posts, visitors and times are available there on demand.

Maybe like me, you may be wondering just who has been reading this blog, when do they read it, and just exactly what they are reading. Using statistics from the past two calendar years, I know the majority of visitors to my site hail from "East of the Mississippi."  Yes, I do have blog visitors who reside throughout the U.S. (and in several countries) but most of them seem to live primarily along the East Coast and in the South. Another finding is that most readers of Mississippi Memories likely work for a living. And since the statistics show that peak traffic times are 6-9 a.m., around noon, and after 6 p.m., it appears these readers are not using company time to read this blog.  

Topics that have attracted my readers still continue to fascinate me and to prove that posts I sometimes deem blog-worthy often are not that at all.  Sometimes a simple post about a certain surname brings an unexpected surge of visitors to the site.  Good examples of this phenomenon are some of the posts that I have written during the past two years about the Burel/Burrel/Burrell, Netherland, and Conner families.

Although Blog Year #4 is already more than thirty days underway, it seems like only yesterday when this genea-journey began.  I want to take this opportunity to "Thank You, Dear Readers" for visiting Mississippi Memories....I hope you visit again soon.  And I sincerely hope you find a little something here that will help you piece together that family history puzzle. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Alabama Pioneers - A Member's Story

For some time, I have subscribed to an e-newsletter published by Alabama Pioneers, a website geared toward genealogy research in Alabama. Although my initial intent was to use the website to research some of my own ancestors who lived, at least for a time, in parts of that state, those with the surnames of Coggins, Garrard, Pettus, Porter, and Ragland, I have also enjoyed reading about unrelated families. The person behind this fantastic genealogy website is Donna Causey, and her informative blog can be accessed here. One of the sections of the Alabama Pioneers website is entitled "Alabama Memories," a place where a number of members' stories are posted, and the site's e-newsletter often contains a link to one of these stories.  Today's newsletter includes such a link. I invite you to read "The Home Place," an interesting family story written by Annice Graham and submitted by Dorothy Gast, her granddaughter.  Graham's story of her own family's experiences during the depression years is one that will interest anyone who had ancestors who also endured those difficult times.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by A. Rennie

"Sitting on the Dock of the Bay"
Mississippi's Ross Barnett Reservoir
Summer 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer at the Rez

Photo by A. Rennie

Bay Area on Mississippi's Ross Barnett Reservoir

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordy Wednesday With Photos - Tryon Palace and Gardens, New Bern NC

Many Mississippians have ancestors who were born in the State of North Carolina, or at least lived there for a while before migrating further south. My own family tree includes the Fenner surname, a family with strong ties to that state. Here on Mississippi Memories, I have written several recent posts about the family of Richard John and Anne Coddington Fenner, who lived in New Bern, North Carolina in the mid-1700s. 

Earlier this summer, we had the opportunity to visit dear friends who live in New Bern.  Our friends had planned several activities for us during our stay in this quaint, historic town they now call home, and one of these was a Sunday afternoon visit to see the gardens of Tryon Palace. Located within walking distance of New Bern's historic downtown, Tryon Palace is a lovely Georgian style building built between 1767 and 1770 that served as the first permanent capitol of the Colony of North Carolina.  

Open to the public, free of charge on the first Sunday of each month, the gardens of Tryon Palace cover 16 acres that contain magnificent trees, shrubs, and flowers reminiscent of the colonial era.  We entered the gardens through a walkway covered with arches of Yaupon Holly, aptly named the "Pleached Allee."

Digital Photo Collection (2009 - 2011) - Privately owned by J. Tracy

Day Lilies with Old Brick Wall in Background

Digital Photo Collection (2009 - 2011) - Privately owned by J. Tracy

A View of Latham Garden
Digital Photo Collection (2009 - 2011) - Privately owned by J. Tracy

Unique and Colorful Bloom of the Hibiscus Family

Digital Photo Collection (2009 - 2011) - Privately owned by J. Tracy

The Pleached Allee

Click here to read more about Tryon Palace and the North Carolina History Center in historic New Bern, North Carolina.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cafe Du Canton - One Woman's Journey

Early last month, we spent the morning visiting Canton's historic square. It was still early, but the heat and humidity were rising rapidly. Although I had downed a quick cup of coffee before we arrived in town, a second cup of coffee was weighing heavily on my mind. Actually, a cup of iced mocha was really what my taste buds were craving.  As I looked across the square from Canton's historic courthouse, where portions of the movie version of John Grisham's "A Time to Kill" was filmed, the storefront window pictured below caught my eye. So while the rest of my family ventured into an inviting bookstore down the street, I headed out to check out Cafe Du Canton. (Note the cupola of the courthouse in the right-hand corner of the photo and another below.)

Photo by J. Tracy

As I approached the cafe door, I noticed another window sign bearing the word "Village Confections."  Now I knew I was really in for a treat (or two!)  Likely, beignets were not the only confections for sale in Cafe Du Canton and Village Confections, and I knew immediately that I was going to indulge in something really, really, sweet.  After all, I am from the South!

Photo by J. Tracy

Photo by J. Tracy

As I entered the cafe, I was immediately impressed by its bright and cheery painted walls....lively hues of pinks, blues, and greens that framed a black and white checked floor.  And the lady behind the counter who welcomed me asked with a big friendly smile if she could help me.  Immediately, Cafe Du Canton seemed like a happy place! And as it turned out, the cafe and bakery operation is much more than what it appears to be.

Photo by J. Tracy

As I drank delicious and refreshing made-to-order iced mocha, I chatted with the friendly lady at the counter.  I asked her if she had grown up in Canton, and she replied that she had not.  She went on to explain that she and her husband and family were actually transplanted during the aftermath of Katrina, the monster hurricane that took so many lives and changed forever the lives of others along the Gulf Coast. Fortunately, her husband had soon found a job, and she had sought out a place to volunteer in an effort to give back to others.  

As she contemplated where to offer her time and talents, her husband suggested that she consider volunteering at the Christmas Village, a residential program for pregnant women over the age of 18 who are abortion vulnerable.  The program, co-founded by Brenda and Michael Van Velkinburgh, provides needs as basic as a place to live and food, as well as educational assistance and job training opportunities.  According to its website, the Christmas Village states that Village Confections is a "social entrepreneurship where our residents learn job skills," and volunteering at the bakery is a program requirement.

Photo by J. Tracy
Janice ices petit fours at Cafe Du Canton and Village Confections (July 2011)

The lady at the counter has a strong desire to help others.  Her story is one of inspiration, success and happiness, and one that helps others with new beginnings.  I listened intently and with admiration as she told me how the cafe and bakery shop, along with generous donations from individuals, churches, and other organizations, goes to help these young women at Christmas Village who choose life for their babies. (I actually observed townspeople bringing in donated items as we talked.)  Some participants, she said, return to volunteer in the bakery once they have given birth. One such young woman named "Janice," who was icing petit fours during my conversation with the owner, has graciously granted permission to include her name and  photo in this post.

I left Canton with a good feeling - I had learned much during my visit on the square. Not only did I learn about the organization named Christmas Village, but I discovered the people of Canton, Mississippi are doing their part to help young women who are faced with some very difficult choices.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Digital Photo Collection (2009 - 2011)
Privately Owned by J. Tracy

Benevolent Protective Order of Elks (B.P.O.E.)
Historic Building on the Square
Canton (Madison County) Mississippi

Monday, August 8, 2011

Found - Historic Fenner House in New Bern NC

Digital Photo by A. Vaupel

Old Fenner House 
217 Hancock Street
New Bern, NC

Wow!  With the help of someone who works in the City of New Bern's GIS and mapping office, I now know the physical location of "Lot 89," the site of the old Fenner house.  The house on Hancock Street in New Bern, North Carolina, was purchased about 1769 by Richard John Fenner and Anne Coddington Fenner, my fifth great-grandparents.  I descend through their granddaughter Rachel Fenner, who married William Neatherlin and eventually migrated around 1800 to Amite County in the Mississippi Territory.  After finding the lot number of the property in an online excerpt of the book, The Fenner Forebears, I set out to find the actual house. And thanks to a very dear friend of mine who lives in New Bern, I also have a photo of the house itself.  The house is a rather large frame structure built in the colonial style and located on a street where the remnants of train tracks down its center can be seen.  Currently, the house is undergoing some renovation, including a new coat of paint that closely matches the red metal "storm" roof commonly seen on historic houses in New Bern. According to my contact in the GIS office, the property is currently owned by the Fenner Family Fund Partnership.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Digital Photo Collection (2009-2011) - Privately Owned by J. Tracy

Circa 1828
Located in Canton, Mississippi
County Seat of Madison County