Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day 2015

Today is Veteran's Day. In honor of this day, I'm posting a few things about my dad's and my grandfather's military service.

While I don't know much about my grandfather, Leo Henry Miller's military service, I know he received a service medal for The Great War For Civilization.
Leo Henry Miller - Medal for The Great War For Civilization
 I know this photo is not a military photo but it is the only portrait I have of him close to his time in the service. This photo and this medal hung on the wall in our living room while I was growing up.

Friday, November 6, 2015

In Honor of Facial Hair

It is now "No Shave November", where men choose to do away with their razor and grow a manly beard. In honor of this month dedicated to not shaving. this post is dedicated to the facial hair of my ancestors. The style of mustaches and beards, I'm confident, is a sign of the time and location your ancestors lived. I wish I could say I was an expert at the styles of facial hair of various times and locations, but all I can do is post the photos of my grandfathers of varying degrees of "great" as samples.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Saving and Archiving Photos

Let's say you're scanning in photos or documentation and need to decide how you're going to save them. What file format do you use? For the non-technically minded, file format means what file type you are using. On Windows computers, the file extension tells Windows how to open the file. For example, Windows knows to use Microsoft Word to open a .doc file and a web browser to open an .html file. Image files can be in the format of .jpg (jpeg), .bmp (bitmap), .tif, .png and many others. The difference is mostly in how the file is compressed, meaning how small the file is made for the same size photo.

Many people say to only save scans and photos in .tif format. The reason for this is that a .tif file is not compressed at all. The file tells the photo viewer/editor that this bit is this color, the next dot is another color and so on for every single dot in the photo. The larger the dimensions of the photo, the larger the file size, no matter what. This way, when a file is edited and resaved, all of the changed bits are changed in the file and the file size remains the same.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

DNA Testing Frustrations

One of my third cousins had their Ancestry DNA test results imported into Family Tree DNA. We had hoped that finding common matches between us could help us track down where our Kelly and/or Murphy families were from in Ireland. My father's mother's mother's parents are also her great-great-grandparents.

I see she popped up on my match list so I looked and saw that Family Tree DNA estimates we are 3rd-5th cousins. We're 3rd cousins so that estimate is correct. I see that we share a portion of our DNA on chromosome 9. This is all well and good. Now to see who our common matches are to see whose genealogy we can study to gain insight on where our family came from.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Beginning Genealogy

I'm posting this in the hopes I can help someone who is just starting to figure out how to research their family history. While I know a person new to genealogy may not know that there are blogs to help, I believe that same person is likely to do a Google search to find out how to begin. Of course, everyone will have their own recommendations of how to start tracing your genealogy. This is the way I'd recommend.

Step 0: Maybe you won't actually do this step until you've found some information. Regardless, it's important that you do it if you intend to do genealogy as a hobby. Find a piece of software to document your family history in your own database locally on your computer. I don't recommend storing your original research online. You can read about my opinion here. Store it locally and backup your information. You can then upload it to other websites to share your information.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Ancestor Appreciation Day

Sunday, September 27, 2015 is Ancestor Appreciation Day.

To go along with a post I made a while back about being proud of your ancestors, here is a poem asking another question.

Would They be Proud of You?

If you could see your Ancestors all standing in a row,
Would you be proud of them or not – or don’t you really know?
Some strange discoveries are made in climbing family trees
And some of them, you know, do not particularly please.

If you could see your ancestors all standing in a row,
There might be some of them perhaps you wouldn’t care to know.
But here’s another question which requires a different view:
If you could meet your Ancestors, would they be proud of you?

--Author Unknown

Friday, September 18, 2015

DNA Test Request

Are you related to me? Is it old news that we share an ancestor, whether that be a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent or further back? If so, this post is for you.

I am looking for cousins and aunts (since all my uncles are deceased) that would be willing to take a DNA test to help us track down our family lines. No matter if you're on my mother's or my father's side of the family, no matter if you are an aunt, first, second or third cousin, getting a DNA test done will really help!

I'm sure some of you are asking "How could a DNA test possibly help us find our family? You already had a test done and that didn't help. Why would it help if I had one done?"

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Family Tree Chart for Wall Display

One really nice way to display your genealogy work is with a chart to hang on your wall. You can pay to have a professional chart created but it can be expensive. So create one yourself! The problem is creating a good looking chart. I've wanted to do this for a while but I just couldn't come up with a good looking chart. Here is a way to generate a nice looking family tree chart you will be proud to frame and hang on the wall.

First, if you don't already have it, download the free version of Legacy Family Tree software from I believe this software is good enough quality to purchase the full version but even the free version will create this chart for you.

Once the software is installed, you can import from PAF or a .ged file you can export from your current genealogy software. Once you have your tree in Legacy, add only the one image for each individual you want to appear on your chart.

Friday, August 21, 2015

What's With the Blog Name?

Some people may wonder why the name of my blog is "just" "Matt's Genealogy Blog". Why not something creative like "The Panther Family in the Jungle of the World" "Millions of Millers" or "I Dig Up Ancestors"?

First, I don't want to name it one of the family names because I'm researching ALL of the family names, including some that aren't my direct ancestors.

Second, while a creative name would be neat, much like getting a tattoo, it has to be something that has real meaning to you that you're not going to change your mind on in a year or two. While you can change your blog name, the name is how someone finds you. If you change it, its very possible you may lose some readers in the process.and notes and links you sent out earlier would eventually stop working. I wanted something more permanent.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Old Diaries

I'm confident that all genealogists would love to get their hands on old diaries and journals of their ancestors'. My mother loaned me the diaries of my grandmother, Elizabeth Menke Panther from 1975, 1976 and 1980. I just looked through the one from 1975 and discovered several entries that help fill in a few blanks in my genealogy database.

Her brother, Joseph Menke died at 1:30pm on February 23, 1975

Friday, July 24, 2015

Time Marches On, Progress, or Losing Our History?

June through the beginning of July was a sad period for me. Two buildings that I knew while growing up came to the ground within weeks of each other. First was the old Panther farm house on Highway 218 near the old Highway 103, now known as the J40. I knew the home had fallen into disrepair and that it had recently sold. During our recent trip to southeast Iowa, I had heard they were planning on tearing it down. I tracked down the phone number of the new owner and gave him a call. It ends up that the crane was due to arrive and begin demolition in about two hours!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Most Recent Genealogical Brick Walls

Here are my most likely connections to unknown DNA matches. Any matches to my other branches are probably already known since those family trees are documented quite a ways back.

Charles E. Miller aka Karl E. Müller, born 7 Oct 1852, somewhere in Germany. Came through New York around 1874. Spent some time in New York City before moving to Linn County, then Chariton County, Missouri. Married Philomena Bixenman in 1891 in Wien, Chariton County, Missouri. Moved to Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa and spent the rest of his life there.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Where to Store Your Family Tree

While working with some people on their family tree, I've discovered that many of them keep their primary copy of their family tree on an online system. By this I mean that their original copy of their genealogical information is on a site like or I recommend against this.

While I trust Family Search to not go out of business and I know Ancestry performs backups of their data, I still would never put my trust into any one company outside of my control. I very much prefer to be in charge of my own data directly, then share it using any number of online services.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Daily Lives of Our Ancestors

My mother was given some things that were in her mother's home when she died. None of it is particularly valuable but the insight it provides into the daily life of my grandmother and great-grandmother is amazing.

My grandmother kept a daily diary for years and my mother was given three of them. She loaned them to me so I could scan them in digitally to be shared with my cousins. I hope to obtain some of the others and do the same with those. If you are an aunt or cousin of mine that has one or more of Elizabeth Menke Panther's diaries, please let me know! I'd like to scan them in and I'd get them back to you as soon as possible.

These diaries don't contain any deep dark family secret, at least that I've found so far! They do, however, show the daily thoughts and activities of my grandmother from 1975, 1976 and 1980.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Sad Day in the History of the Panther Family

The old farm of the Benedict and Elizabeth Menke Panther family is gone. The home was built in 1900. It was previously the home of the Frank Panther family. After Ben and Elizabeth retired, it was passed on to their oldest son, Urban and his wife Bertha. After they retired, it was passed on to their son John, who passed away in 2006. It was recently purchased by Jeff Snaadt and he is clearing the way for a new home to be built. While many members of the extended family thought we could pitch in the money and save the place, everyone who eventually saw it knew that the house was too far gone. Those that lived there previously agreed that they'd rather have it torn down than have it slowly collapse and decay.