My Journey – Building a Family History Website from Scratch

26 April ’17

My family history research had lain dormant for many years.

It recommenced when I found that I had a distant Thornton relave also living on Vancouver Island, and about the same time stumbled across another researcher who had a Thornton in his tree who had lived in the same vicinity as my lot.

Jerry Eastman generously shared his information from his Hedd line , a George Hedd of Great Woodford who had married Alice Thornton of Winterbourne Gunner  on 20th July 1607.  building on this I was able to construct a probable link to our known Thorntons in the Avon Valley. In doing so pushed back our families history another 100 years.

Four and a bit months on I am nearing completion of a new website built from scratch. I thought I would share that journey.

I had posted my own business websites back in the mid ’90’s using Dreamweaver on a PC . Things have moved on and I found I had a lot to catch up on having completely forgotten HTML etc and switched to Apple Mac .

Commercial Genealogy Web hosting

I looked at this , but was repulsed by being forced to share my data and pay someone to use it .

My Next Option – Purchase a hosting plan and do it myself.

Firtly I tried to find easier ways to create my own attractive pages using WYSIWYG software .

  • Blue Griffon
  • Quick & Easy Web builder 4

I tried many other but these were the best of the bunch . Blue Griffon is free but there is no tutorials for the current version and not particularly intuitive .

Q&E WB4 was much better but cost $60 cdn.

After building a near complete site with it and running into some appearance issues I abandoned it as well . Mostly because a friend who is an IT professional  urged me to take a 2nd closer look at WordPress . & WordPress.

Initially I found WP awkward , because it is not intuitive, and is so different from all other web building tools that I have encountered.

What followed was a slow learning process during which I began to build a structure of my site. I am a visual person and an engineer . Hence my starting point was a simple cascading block diagram of how I wanted to lay out and connect the pages that would enable visitors to find a logical path through the information and not get lost .

I envisaged the site being in the region of 50 pages structured around the six major branches of the tree these being formed by six family groups.

The pages created were mostly background information stories , and local history and parish transcriptions containing relevant BDM data and contained hyperlinks to daisy chain them together .

I have employed several WP -plugins to make this more manageable .

These include :

  • A Page Tree veiw
  • A Media Manager
  • A Side Bar manager
  • A Slideshow manager


With the all the reading materials posted it was time to consider how the present the charted data from the GEDCOMs . Gedcoms are a format of data universally shared across Genealogy software .

First I scanned the web for conversion software GEDCOM to HTML etc. few available for Mac and most are out of date or very expensive such as GedScape @ $70 is probably the best .

Eventually I decided on software that takes a different approach and is more reasonably priced 🙂 .

TNG – The Next Generation Genealogy Sitebuilding

TNG was a real challenge for me as I am not in the least comfortable poking around inside hosted websites . There a several way to implement TNG .

  • Stand alone in sub domain
  • Integrated into WP no plugin – This did not 🙁
  • Integrated in WP with plugin – This worked well for me !

I had already decided that I would host my data & charts on a Sub domain  I had created

First go I tried installing without using plugin ,but was unable to get this to work.  Frustrated I deleted the contents of the subdomain and started over with a fresh instal of WP and then following the step by step instruction s


Then I installed the plugin TNG WordPress Integration .

All worked as hoped for 🙂

Go Here to see it in action :


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