Saturday, January 14, 2012

World Vital Records/Family Link and Newspaper Archive Search Problem

Has anyone had trouble lately getting results from searches for newspaper articles using World Vital Records, Family Link or Newspaper Archive? 

I subscribe to WVR and was thrilled last August when I found articles about my family in Abilene, Brownwood, Kerrville, Llano, San Antonio, and San Saba, Texas newspapers ranging from the late 1930s to mid 1970s.  Last Friday I tried some newspaper searches and couldn’t get any results.  I called the support number and thought the answer I got was the solution, but it wasn’t, so I called again.  This time another person answered and said she would send me an email with suggestions on searching.  When I received the email, the tips were to start with surname, then try including first name, then keep narrowing.  There were also tips on using “Soundex” or “Double Metaphone” instead of “Exact”.  I tried using the “new” card catalog.  I tried using the “Search Again” feature to narrow it to the “newspapers and periodicals” category.  I tried going to the specific newspaper and used the surname and year and still got zero results.

By this time I thought maybe I was doing something wrong, so I tried all of the above to pull up two different records I had pulled up in August and, luckily, saved.  I knew I had the name, newspaper, date, etc. correct because I was looking at them.  I could not do a search that would let me view them again.  I had seen that the WVR information is pulled from Newspaper Archive and tried searching that way, but no luck.  I do not subscribe to so I couldn’t try on their site.

On Monday I sent an email to WVR support, saying I had called twice but was still very frustrated and that I thought something was wrong with the search engine.  I did not need the two articles I sent as examples because I had saved them in August, but if someone could get the articles and tell me how it was accomplished maybe that would help me figure out how to get to others I did want. 
(Here are my examples if anyone wants to try and let me know if they get results or not.)
Texas newspaper, Brownwood Bulletin on May 19, 1966 - the heading under DEATHS is Mrs. Nora Conley, 77
Llano News – Llano, Texas - June 4, 1959 – some names in the article under “News From Cherokee” are Nora Conley, Jim Robbins, James Robbins, and Mitchell Broyles

I want to see if others are experiencing any problems and share the response I received from WVR Customer Support yesterday.  I have copied and pasted it below without editing.

We would like to thank you for the time you took to send us your feedback on our website. and work very hard to improve the experience our users have every day.

We apologize that you are currently not getting the full results for the Newspaper Archive Collection. We are aware of the issue and working to resolve it. The newspapers in question, derive from Newspaper Archive. While the newspapers display on our website, they are hosted through our affiliate, Newspaper Archive. At this time Newspaper Archive experiencing technical difficulties which is why you are unable to view their collections. They have described that a more specific search will lead to greater success as the error occurs when too many search results are returned for their system it becomes overloaded and does not return any results. Again, we assure you that they are working to resolve the issue.We hope that the error is resolved shortly and thank you for your patience in the meantime.
 Hopefully you will begin to see improvements soon. Until then, we hope you can continue to enjoy using our website.

Thank you again for taking the time to let us know what you were thinking. We really do appreciate it and realize the value of your opinion.

Please let us know if you have any further questions.”

Sports Center - Baseball - Cherokee, Texas - 1927

This is a photo of the Cherokee High School Baseball Team in 1927.  

My father, Richard Robbins, is standing on the far right. 
He would have been almost 18 in this picture since he was born in May 1909.
Unfortunately the picture is not labeled so the names of the others are unknown. 
I wonder what teams/towns they played and if there are records of what kind of season they had.
It seems his friends all had nicknames, but I can't remember any except my dad's - Cock Robin - which was shortened to Coxsy.
Why is there a woman with the team?
Isn't the bat boy cute!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Family Recipe Friday - Apple Sauce Cake

This is another recipe in my Granny (Nora Inman) Conley's  handwriting.  The faded word in the top right corner is good and was written by my mother, Iva.  I have no idea what the red check mark means or who put it there.  The recipe was written in pencil and is very dim.  A transcription follows:

          Apple Sauce Cake
1 cup butter or substitute
2  =   brown sugar          1 egg
2  =   apple sauce          1 heaping teaspoon soda
3  =   flour
1  =   black walnut meats
2  =   seeded raisins
1 tablespoon cloves. cinnamon. nutmeg.
1/4 teaspoon salt      allspice (if desired)

cream fat and sugar.  add egg.
then apple sauce into which soda
has been stirred
sift salt and spices into flour
add nuts and raisins.  mix all
ingredients thoroughly.  bake in
tube pan 1 1/4 hours in moderate oven.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thriller Thursday - The Murder of David F. Taylor in Oklahoma Indian Territory

I remember my maternal Great Uncle Will, William Wilber Conley, telling me about his family going to Oklahoma when he was a boy.  I was probably in elementary school when he told me the story, so I want to emphasize that I am writing this the way I remember the story, not as a totally factual account. 

He told me back then Oklahoma was still a wild land with lots of outlaws and Indians.  One evening the family was on the porch when two men rode up on horseback and shot Uncle Will’s granddad.  Afterwards one of the men said, “By Gawd, looks like we kilt the wrong man.”  And they rode off.

On the way back to Texas, it was really cold one night.  There weren’t any trees around so there was no firewood to be found for a fire.  They burned some fence posts that night, but the next morning they went to the farmhouse and offered to work or pay for the fence posts.  This part really bothers me because I can’t imagine anyone tearing up a fence.   There’s also a very fuzzy memory about eggs.  I can’t quite remember if he helped gather them or if they bought some from the farmer.

There was obviously much more to the story than this, but as is too often the case, stories and oral histories aren’t recorded.  When we try to remember and want to ask questions, the person who knew the facts firsthand is no longer living.  While working on my genealogy, I tried to do some research to find out if anything about the story, as I remembered it, was true. 

The facts I found were that David F. Taylor, Uncle Will’s grandfather (also my maternal great grandfather), was no longer living in 1900 because  the 1900 Lampasas County, Texas Census showed Elizabeth Taylor, Uncle Will’s grandmother (my maternal great grandmother),  as a widow.   

The 1900 Hamilton County, Texas Census showed Uncle Will’s brother, Jesse Leon Conley, was born in 1896 in “Indian Territory” and the 1910 Lampasas County, Texas Census showed he was born in Oklahoma.

Without the help of the Internet in 1987, I had gotten as much information on my own as I could without travelling to Oklahoma.  At that point I contacted Carolyn S. Clark, an Oklahoma resident and researcher, whom I paid to see what else she could find in newspapers or other records from that time.

How glad I am that I did so!  Her research resulted six newspaper articles that show the story as I remembered it had some factual basis.  Future Thiller Thursday postings will include transcriptions of the articles.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wedding Wednesday - Jim Robbins and Josie Hughes

My paternal grandparents, James Robert Robbins and Josie Lee Hughes were married on the 21st day of August 1907 in Llano, Texas.  This picture was taken on that day;  I had it framed for preservation and hung it with some other favorite family photographs.

He was three days away from being 31 and she was a little over 18 years old.  Until today I hadn't realized their age difference.  They had been married almost 45 years when she died in 1952.  I have been told he wore a little picture of her pinned on his shirt above his heart for quite some time after her death.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Nora Inman Conley

Since I've already posted information about my maternal grandmother, I decided to add a photo of her tombstone today.  Someone else added a photo of Granny's marker on her memorial page on; this is one I took a few years ago.  I have more than one photo I've taken over the years, but the digital one I found today is not a very good one.  Let me blame that on the digital camera I used then. The screen in the bright sunlight was almost useless and as you can see I didn't always get images centered well in the viewfinder.  Creating this blog entry has prompted me to make a note on my to do list to take another picture next time I'm there.

Many of my family members are buried in the Hanna Cemetery in Cherokee, Texas which is in San Saba County.  My brother and I have plots reserved there as do some other family members.  When I was in grade school and spent a week or two with Granny in the summers, she taught me not to step on the graves as a way to show respect. She was an example of love and respect in her actions as I watched her clear the weeds from my Grandfather's grave by chopping them away with a hoe.  How I wish I'd asked her more about him.  My Aunt Goldie told me my grandfather used to mow the cemetery for fifty cents a day. Fortunately there is a cemetery association that keeps it mowed. 

A few times in the past I have attended the Cemetery Association's annual meeting with my Aunt Goldie on the first Saturday in April.  I missed it last year, but plan to attend this year.  It's one small way I can contribute to preserving what we now have and know. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Matrilineal Monday - Nora Littie Inman Conley

Although my blog entries tend to skip from topic to topic, since yesterday's post was the obituary of my maternal grandmother, a post about her for Matrilineal Monday seemed like a logical follow-up.
She was born in Llano, Texas on the first day of May in 1889 to Davis and Emily Cassels Inman.  At the time the 1900 Llano County was taken, she was 11 years old.  It shows she was one of nine children, six of whom were still living, and her father's occupation was listed as "farmer".
On December 23, 1908 she married John Franklin Conley in Llano, Texas.  Her residence in 1910 was in Lampasas County, Texas and in 1911 her first child, Iva Mildred Conley, was born on December second in Grundyville, Texas, which no longer exists.  Her second child, Wilber Franklin Conley, was born on May 26, 1919 in Evant, Coryell County, Texas but the 1920 census shows the family was living in Adamsville in Lampasas County, Texas where Frank was a "Ginner" at a Cotton Gin.
I do not know when the family moved to Cherokee in San Saba County, Texas but my mother graduated from high school there in 1929 and the family was there on the 1930 census where her husband, Frank, is again listed as a "Ginner".  As far as I know, my grandmother's home was in Cherokee until her death in 1966.
Life was hard for her after the death of her husband in 1936.  She was an excellent seamstress and sewed for the public to earn money on a treadle sewing machine that I was allowed to use because it could only go as fast as I could make it go with my feet.  The first things I made were doll aprons out of scraps of material.  She also made fabric covered buttons, belts, and belt buckles with an evil looking machine with attachments to press the buttons and buckles together and punch holes in the belt.  Her handwork was very neatly done.
It would take far too much time to write everything I remember about her in this blog entry.  She has been described as "every inch a lady".  She was petite and dressed meticulously when going out in public.  I remember she wore her hair in a neat bun, brushing and combing it out at night.  When we visited, my mother set the hair that wasn't in the bun in waves using small metal clamps. 

This picture of me with my mother and grandmother was taken 24 January 1958 before my brother's wedding.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday's Obituary - Nora Littie Inman Conley

This obituary is from the Llano News and I have an almost identical one published in the May 19, 1966 issue of the Brownwood Bulletin.   

My maternal grandmother was born in Llano and had lived in Lampasas County before moving to Cherokee some time after the 1920 Census when the family was listed as residents of Adamsville, Texas.  Her death occurred on May 18, 1966.  Her death certificate gives the time of death as 2 AM.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Davis and Emily Cassels Inman, and her brothers: John Ira, Lee Iberia, Charles, and Eli Davis Inman.

I was in junior high when my Granny Conley died.  On that day I remember being awakened and told to come to breakfast.  Since I was still so sleepy I didn't realize how early it was or that it wasn't routine to have breakfast at that early hour with Mother and Daddy.  There were two eggs sunny side up already on my plate.  I think when I was seated I was told that Granny had died and then Daddy started to say grace before we ate.  He choked up and couldn't finish praying, so Mother finished the prayer.  How vividly I remember the eggs staring at me and not being able to eat. 

There is a memorial page for her on

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sports Center - Basketball - Cherokee, Texas 1927

Richard Robbins is seated on the front row on the left.  
He would have been about 17 in this picture since he was born in May 1909.
Unfortunately the picture is not labeled so the names of the others are unknown.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Family Recipe Friday - Blackberry Meringue Custard

This recipe is special because it's one of a few I have in my Granny's handwriting.  (A transcription is included below.)  Unfortunately I can't remember if my Granny Conley was a good cook or not, but I assume she was because her sister, Violet, certainly was and my mother most definitely was.  I do not remember anyone making this custard so it isn't a recipe that has been handed down from one generation to the next, and I'll admit I have not tried making it, but perhaps I will one day.
The trick for me is to read between the lines of written recipes.  The good cooks in my family often didn't use recipes and when they tried to write one down, things were often left out or assumed.  Since I have not tried this one, try at your own risk...and let me know how it turns out.
One example I still laugh about is trying to follow my mother's recipe for divinity.  I stopped where her recipe stopped.  I poured the golden liquid into a coffee can and when it hardened offered it to a friend as a door stop.  When I told my mother about it, she said as many times as I'd been in the kitchen with her when she made it, she thought I would know to.... whatever step(s) were left out.

4 Tablespoons corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups blackberry juice
1 cup drained berries

Combine starch, 1/2 cup sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt and well beaten egg yolks.
Heat juice to boiling. Pour slowly in first mixture. Cook until thick.
Beat egg whites until stiff.
Add remaining salt and sugar.
Sprinkle berries over custard and meringue.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year - 100 Year Old Postcard

Although I started blogging for the first time a little less than a month ago I decided to dive in even deeper and begin another blog.  Ancestral Times is a genealogy blog that I primarily want to use for information about my husband's family. With this blog, I also plan to report family findings and news, post pictures, and tell stories about my paternal and maternal lines - Robbins and Conley. Hopefully what I post here will be of interest to family members since it's in small doses.

The name for this blog is for my maiden name, Robbins.  "Nested" was added as a play on words since robins nest. Those familiar with computer programming know a nested loop is a loop within a loop and most are familiar with nested dolls.  In genealogy we have family within family, so those examples of the word "nested" appealed to me as well.  It challenges genealogy programs when two sisters married men who were brothers or a distant cousin of my dad's is also my aunt by marriage to my mother's brother.  Of course there's also a distant cousin of my mother's who was an aunt by marriage to my father's brother. We all have those and other complexities to sort through in our research.
Choosing to begin posting to this blog on January 1, 2012 made me instantly think of some New Year's postcards I have that were given to me by Granny Conley, my maternal grandmother. I was pleased to find one with birds on it.  They are not robins and they are not nested, but they're birds!

When I looked at the back of this one, I saw it was postmarked in both Llano and Lampasas, Texas on Jan 25, 1912 - almost 100 years ago!  It appears to have been addressed to Mr. J. F. Conley, my maternal grandfather, in Adamsville, Texas.  It was written in pencil and reads as follows:
Hello Nora [my maternal grandmother] - Ella [my mother's paternal grandmother, Amanda Ella Taylor Conley]
How are you
Say Nora Mama said tell you if you wanted to see Grandma you better come at once and tell Earl and Violet if you all want to [sic] hear alive you come at once
Mama card

One question is, "Who is Grandma?"  Is Ella the writer and referring to her mother, who would be Nora's grandmother, as "Mama"?  Ella's mother did not die until 1926 and Ella did not die until 1956.  Does this refer to my grandfather's mother?  I'm still trying to prove her name was Mary Williams Conley and do not have a death date for her or any other information. If it referred to my grandfather's mother, then why tell Earl and Violet, my grandmother's sisters?  Why does it have the word "card" after "Mama" at the end?  This will take some thought and research, so it's a good beginning for the blog, for the new year, and more research.