Still At It

Barring unforeseen changes, should celebrate its 10th anniversary next year.  The date will mark an impressive milestone for a website that was only founded to help launch an ebook which has thus far been downloaded a few dozen times.

Hoping to set the record straight about certain events in the life of Kansas pioneer Thomas Lovewell, I began working on an electronic book about him in 2012.  Speaking at a family reunion held at Lovewell State Park in the spring of 2013, I foolishly promised that the book would be ready before fall.  It was, though just barely.  Beating the deadline involved spending most of my summer vacation preparing illustrations and a bibliography.  

During the final pages of publication, I was asked to type in the URL of my personal website, which did not exist.  So I swiftly cobbled one together.  After purchasing the domain name appearing on the banner of this page, I used an old app that came with my computer to populate the site with pictures and blog entries on historical topics (or anything else that came to mind), as a way of filling up empty space.

The iWeb app which I had used to create hadn’t been updated for ages, so I soon bought a modestly-priced replacement.   I upgraded the whole site only a few months after launching it.  This caused some consternation for my one devoted follower, the late Barb Gray from Escondido, who had first set me on the path of pursuing Lovewell family history in 2006.

Although Barb kept visiting my site for a time, she eventually failed to note any changes and assumed that I had abandoned the project.  In fact, everything was changing and I was adding new blog entries almost daily, but since she had been visiting the site quite frequently at the start, the original site was completely cached on her computer, so that’s all she kept seeing.  I finally told her to go to her browser preferences and dump the cache, and all was well.

The site as it exists today, while containing hundreds more blog entries and pictures, essentially looks the way it has since that first makeover around Christmas of 2013.  Unfortunately the music finally had to go.  There used to be a page containing bite-size samples of songs that reflect family history, such as a couple of Colonial ballads celebrating Captain John Lovewell, and the hymn sung at the funeral of Thomas Lovewell’s eldest daughter Julanay in 1894.  Unfortunately these were linked to iTunes, which has been reconfigured.  The link worked only sporadically, anyway, and probably not in many countries.

Speaking of the globe, the site drew visitors from all over the planet last year, logging 12,000 visits from people (also bots, I’m sure) who examined 80,000 pages.  For the security-minded, there is a version of the site with a secure sockets layer, which can be accessed by inserting an “s” after the “http” in the header of the web browser, causing a reassuring padlock icon to appear while making any “not secure” warnings vanish.  By far the largest number of visitors, about 3,500, hail from the United States.  Of the 500 arriving from Great Britain, 425 entered through the secure sockets portal, slightly outnumbering Americans who did so.

What do people look at while they’re here?  I’ve mentioned before that the silly titles affixed to blog entries seem to make a difference.  “The Bible, the Beatles, and the Board of Trade” has long stood head and shoulders above the average entry, perhaps because it promises to appeal to a variety of tastes.  However, the somewhat more luridly-named “Board of Trade Bloodbath” comes in a close second.  “Evil Incarnate” must sound promising, because this history of shady banking practices in 1890’s Kansas, ranks third in viewership.  The whole saga of Aaron S. Everest and his family has been thumbed through quite thoroughly, perhaps testifying to how much we enjoy watching the mighty brought low, even 130 years later.

A few days ago I received a note from a visitor who lives in Formoso, asking for information about the little town.  It so happens that one of the pages receiving a flurry of attention recently was one added in 2014, called “Towns With Twins.”  Aside from the photo album, I really have neglected Formoso recently.  I should do something about that.

© Dale Switzer 2023