Friday Featured Ancestor – Walter Singleman Jones (1934-2014)


Origin

Walter Singleman Jones was born 2 September 1934 in Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, the illegitimate (his birth certificate actually says “Unlawful”) son of Walter Jones and Bronis Reid. Both his father and mother came from southwestern Mississippi in the area above the toe of the “boot” in Louisiana. Walter W. Jones Jr. was from the town of McComb in Pike County while Bronis was from a rural community in the newly created Walthall County. During the Great Depression many people from this area went to New Orleans seeking work just like Bronis and Walter.

I’m not sure whether Walter and Bronis met in New Orleans or already knew each other before moving there. Although I was told by a cousin that Walter W. Jones was married before my father was born and that is why he and Bronis did not marry, I can’t find any evidence of that. My father wrote in a memoir that his mother never told him why she and Walter Jones never married. Walter’s eventual wife, Lillian Inez Avara (maybe Avery), was only 23 in 1940 which would have made her 17 years old when my father was born. Not impossible in rural Mississippi, of course, but the 1940 Census indicates that she completed 3 years of high school. Again, she could have done that and still married at 17, but she and Walter Jones had no children until 1938. Not conclusive, but suggestive.

Early Life

Shortly after he was born my father was sent to Mississippi to live with his grandparents, Jessie Augustus and Dolly Olivia Greer Reid. He did not know his name was “Jones” until he joined the Marine Corps. He always went by the name Walter S. Reid. He was called “Buddy” by his friends and family. He lived with his grandparents until his grandfather died in 1942.

He and his grandmother moved in with his Uncle Dee (Devit Reid) for a while and then moved to Blakely Island near Mobile, Alabama, in 1943 where they lived with his mother, his Aunt Ned (Inez Reid Walsh) and Aunt Ned’s daughter. Bronis and Inez both worked at the Navy shipyard in Mobile. Dolly Reid was unhappy in the city so the daughters saved their money and bought a house back home in Mississippi. Dee Reid took over the farm and Dolly and Buddy both moved in with his family.

Bronis Reid went back to New Orleans where she met Earl Fitzpatrick. They married in 1945 and before school started in 1945, Dad went to live with them in New Orleans. Unfortunately, it was not a happy marriage and Buddy left in 1951 to live with his Aunt Ned and Uncle John (John Walsh) in Mahopac Falls, New York. He lived with them until he joined the Marine Corps in August 1954.

Family

Walter S. Jones met Iona Yvonne Bruce at Hall’s Drive-in in Santa Ana, California, in June 1956. They were married on 8 September 1956. They had three children in short succession (I’m the oldest). Then after my father came home from Viet Nam in 1968 Mom told him she wanted another baby. So they had another baby. My youngest sister was born 3 weeks before my father retired from the Marine Corps in June 1973.

My mother passed away in May 2003. My father was lost for a couple of years, but, strangely enough, Hurricane Katrina gave him a reason to live. He had to rebuild his totally unlivable house and take care of his family while they repaired, rebuilt, or sold their own damaged homes. Shortly after his house was completely repaired, he decided to get in touch with his old high school girlfriend. They kept each other company for the next several years although they never married.

Occupation

Walter S. Jones was a United States Marine. His occupational specialty was Helicopter Mechanic. He enlisted in August 1954 as a Private (E-1) and retired in June 1973 as a Master Sergeant (E-8). He did a tour in Viet Nam from 1966 – 1967. He served twice in the Presidential Helicopter Squadron (HMX-1) at Quantico, Virginia. The first time was 1960 – 1964, serving President Kennedy. The second time was 1971-1972, serving President Nixon. He liked President Kennedy better as a person, even though he voted for Nixon, but not for Kennedy. In between tours at Quantico he was stationed at New River Marine Corps Air Station and at Marine Corps Air Station – Santa Ana (not El Toro). His final duty station was once again at New River.

After my father retired from the Marine Corps we moved to Kenner, Louisiana, where he and Mom had bought a house the previous year. Dad looked for jobs repairing helicopters for a month or so, while we stayed with his mother, Aunt Ned and Uncle John in Mississippi, but there were very few of those jobs available in New Orleans. After talking to Uncle John, who was also a mechanic, he decided to branch out in his job-hunting. He got a job quickly after that, repairing loading equipment at the port in New Orleans. He worked for the same company, under different company mastheads, until he retired at age 65.

Death & Legacy

Walter Singleman Jones died on 5 January 2014 at age 79. He died of complications of multiple myeloma. He’d spent the last five months of his life either in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility and he was ready to go. He had just moved into a hospice facility a few days before he passed away. The night before he died he watched his beloved New Orleans Saints win a playoff game on the road for the only time in franchise history. He went to bed a happy man and simply didn’t wake up.

For my parents’ fortieth wedding anniversary, the entire family gathered for a party at my brother’s house. At one point, my Mom looked at my Dad and said “Look what we did!” They had five children, eleven grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren at last count. Last month, their first great-great-grandson was born.

Walter Singleman Jones was a United States Marine. He lived his life by their motto, Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful).

Semper Fi, Daddy.

Tech Tuesday – UncleGED

Welcome to the first post in a series I call “Tech Tuesday”. In this series I will combine my thirty-plus years of Information Technology experience with genealogy and family history. Subjects will range from software (and perhaps hardware) reviews to how-to tips to full-blown technical tutorials. The first installment in the series is a review of the GEDCOM to HTML conversion software, UncleGED.

As I said in an earlier post, these GEDCOM to web conversion programs seem to have fallen from favor. I was not able to find one that was currently under active development. UncleGED is not an exception, although it has been converted to an open source project on Codeplex and at least one minor bug fix was done this year.

Bottom Line Up Front

I chose to use PHPGedView on my website because I have the expertise to manage my own websites and databases, use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to format my web pages, and do a little PHP programming. If I wasn’t tech savvy enough to do all that, I would have chosen UncleGED. It works and it has lots of options for formatting and choosing your data that you manage with a simple checkbox.

UncleGED At A Glance

Using the Software

Download and Installation

UncleGED can be downloaded from the UncleGED website listed above. It is in a .zip file so you’ll have to extract the files. Most people know how to do that, but in Windows you just right-click on the file name and choose “Extract All”. Done.

Once the files have been extracted you can install on Windows using either the “Setup.exe” file or the “UncleGED.msi” file. Both run basically the same installation process. The installation process is pain-free and ran without incident. You’ll need to choose where to install the file, but going with the default should work for most people.

Running the Program

UncleGED opens in familiar Windows fashion. The interface is tabbed and you can go through each tab in turn, although the default options will give you satisfactory results in most cases.

Project Tab

Project Name: Enter a name for your project here.

Main Page Title: Enter a title for the main page of the web files created by UncleGED.

Main Page Text: You can enter a paragraph or two of descriptive text which will be on the main page of the UncleGED files.

Page StyleUncleGED can create your sites in two ways. The first uses one page per family group and the second creates a separate page for each individual in your GEDCOM. The second option will create a lot of files if you have a large GEDCOM.

In the bad old days that was bad for several reasons: too many files took too much room on your web server, too many files slowed your website down, and too many files made it difficult to maintain your site if you made any kind of modification to the files created by UncleGED. Only the last one is still a consideration as most web hosts allow gigabytes of data storage and the web has speeded up considerably for most of us.

Input: Separate boxes for path and filename, but both are filled in when using the browse button.

Output: The path for the output can be entered using the browse button.

Author Tab

You can choose to enter the author’s name, email address, and home page on this tab. There are also options to add the author’s copyright to all pages and also to set the Table of Contents as the home page for the family tree pages. You can add an RSS feed for the family tree pages. One thing not optional on this tab is entering a root URL for UncleGED pages on your webserver. I would recommend creating a folder under your web server root (on my server the root URL would be something like http://dumond.org/uged).

General Tab

This tab has many options for formatting your pages. You can force all surnames to be in upper case, add a keyword to the Meta tags on the main page for each surname, and add a surname count to the surname index page.

You can choose to privatize or exclude information for living individuals and/or those born after whatever year you choose to set. I privatize my GEDCOM on creation and recommend you do likewise. The reason I do this is that if you leave your GEDCOM file on your webserver data-scrapers could still find personal information on living people even if you don’t display that information on your website. The same is true of GENDEX files.

You can choose to display links to individuals on other pages, to create a statistics page, and whether to create a GENDEX file. You can track when changes are made to your pages and choose whether and how to display the dates of those changes on your web pages.

Cascading Style Sheet Tab

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are a way of keeping your formatting separate from the HTML code on your web pages. You can choose to use no CSS file (hard code the formatting with the HTML) – a seriously outdated way of coding web pages), to use UncleGED’s default CSS file (uged.css), or to copy your custom CSS from another file.

You can also set your background image and banner image on this tab. If you use a custom CSS file this probably won’t be necessary.

Pages Tab

This tab has many options relating to what information is displayed on your pages. You can set numbering for the first family file, set prefix for the names of family files, display a menu at top of each page, display the most recent update date on each family page, and choose whether to display RIN and MRIN numbers.

You can choose to create a “Listing Report”, basically an index of your family pages. Descendant outline pages are optional – you can create descendant outline pages for specific individuals, but neither the help file nor the online documentation tell you how to identify those individuals.

Persons Page: Options allow you to set data labels for all the fields on the person page and labels to be used in describing “inexact” dates such as “about” and “between”. You can set the maximum number of individuals to include on each page and choose whether to include a pedigree chart for each person on the page.

Chronology Page: You can set a cutoff year for the chronology of events page.

Locations Page: You can choose to list locations in reverse order (thus keeping all the locations in a particular country, state, etc… together in the index). You can choose to display event dates on the locations page — thus being able to see quickly when your family were in a particular location.

You can choose to omit estimated locations, treat estimated locations the same as actual locations, or to list estimated locations at the end of the locations index. You can choose whether to print occupations on the location page as events.

Other Optional Pages

  • Index of Individuals
  • Surnames
  • Statistics

Building the Pages

When you’ve entered all the parameters you click the “Build Pages” button on the “Project” tab. Then you have to click the “Start Build” button on a modal pop-up window.

I really like the Location and Chronology pages. The Family pages are okay. There’s a “Marriage/Union Events for …” at the bottom of the family info that I find confusing as it lists the GEDCOM codes followed by “Natural” for every marriage I checked. The Occupations page was kind of funky, but you can choose to have occupations printed on the Locations page as events instead.

The included background image and banner are extremely tacky, but a little CSS knowledge would go a long way towards making the pages produced by UncleGED look extremely nice and integrate them into your overall website. Once again, if I were just a little technically inclined I would have chosen UncleGED as my GEDCOM to web conversion program.

Family Tree Solution – PHPGedView

I tested three GEDCOM to web conversion programs today: UncleGED, Oxy-Gen, and PHPGedView. Although none is in active development, they all worked as advertised. After testing and checking out the generated web pages, I decided to implement the most technically challenging of the three: PHPGedView.

That said, since my hosting provider allows the use of the Softaculous script installer installing PHPGedView didn’t exactly strain my tech chops. I had a sub domain set up, the program installed and running, and my GEDCOM file uploaded in about fifteen minutes.

There is much left to be done to thoroughly integrate the family trees part of my site with the WordPress part, but for now you can access the family trees by clicking “Family Trees” on the top menu. You will have to use your back arrow on the browser if you want to return to the main site, however. That will be fixed, but it will take some coding.

I took notes as I was testing the GEDCOM conversion programs and I will write thorough review/how-to articles on each of them soon. I plan on starting a regular “Tech Tuesday” feature for the blog beginning tomorrow. Over the next month expect to see reviews of each of the three programs I tested followed by a feature comparison of the three programs.

I had to change the theme again because none of the SiteGround themes nor any of the iThemes Builder themes currently installed on my site would recognize my new main navigation menu. This was critical because I had to use a custom link to link to the family trees. I don’t have time to mess with these themes, since I plan to replace them with a custom theme I design and develop myself anyway. So I just loaded up the 2014 theme from WordPress.