Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Biography of Johan Anton "August" Menke

Known as August, Johan Anton August Menke was born November 25, 1864 in Dothen, Hanover in what would eventually become Germany. His parents were Diedrich Menke and Elizabeth Geers Menke. He was baptised on November 29 in Ankum, Hanover. Witnesses were Johan Heinrich Geers from Schwagstorf, Heinrich Kolde from Druchorn and Catharina Brinker Dollman from Schwagstorf.

He had four older half-brothers, Bernard Diedrich "Duke", 18 years old, Henry, 15 years old and Herman, 10 years old, all born to Diedrich's first wife, Anna Maria Catharina Rickelman, who died in 1856 and Bernard Heinrich, 6 years old, born to his second wife, Maria Catharina Brinker, who died in 1859. He also had one older full brother, Bernard Gerhard Heinrich "George", 3 years old. Later, younger sister Johanna Josephine was born when he was two and a half and Mary Elizabeth was born when he was almost six years old.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Web Searches and Iowa Death Certificates

Not every piece of genealogical information can be found online but knowing how to do a good web search, having patience and persistence can lead you in the right direction.

I decided to track down the death certificates of some of my ancestors. I did a search for Iowa Death Certificates and found the IAGENWEB Quick Reference to: County Vital Records found here:

Clicking on Lee County brought me to the Lee County IAGenWeb page:

There is a link in the bottom right corner of the page for "Vital Records", which goes here:

I then click the link for Death Records, leading here:

There is then a link to the Lee County Death Certificate Index 1919 - 1933:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Brief DNA Primer

Here is a quick rundown of the different DNA tests and what you can find out with them.

mtDNA (mitochondrial) is the female line DNA that is passed from a mother to her children. Everyone, male or female, carries mtDNA and can be tested but males don't pass it along to their children. Only females pass it along. mtDNA can connect people on your mother's mother's mother's (etc) line and can show the distant ancestry of your strictly female ancestral line.

yDNA is carried only by males and only males can be tested. This traces your father's father's father's (etc) line and can help connect males of the same surname. For example if I was able to find another man with the last name of Miller that is a yDNA match to me, I'd know that we descend from the same man on our Miller line somewhere along the line.

Family Finder is Family Tree DNA's name for their autosomal DNA test. Ancestry provides only the autosomal test now. This is the "everything else" test. This is the bulk of your DNA and can show connections on any of your ancestral lines, not just purely male or female lines. This can show connections, as one example, on your mother's father's father's mother's mother's line and the person that matches you could connect to you on their mother's mother's father's father's line, or any other line for that matter. It will tell you that you are related but it will not tell you how you are related. For this, you'll need to narrow down your search by finding common names, common locations, common DNA matches or other ways. This is the challenge!

-- Matt

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Animated Photomosaic of an Ancestor

For those of you that enjoyed the project of creating a photomosaic of an ancestor (found here), I took that project one step further. A cousin who is a genetic match but we don't know how we're related, Robert, helped me get started on this project. This is definitely an advanced project. I pride myself in being able to figure out just about any technology or software and it took me a bit of time and help from Robert before I was able to learn how to create a project the way I wanted to.

The software I used was MemoriesOnTV. This is software designed to be used to create slideshows and allows you to pan across and zoom in and out of images and add a soundtrack to each slide or to the entire show. You can download a trial version of the software here:

Friday, January 9, 2015

Compare Information from Different Sources

Court records provide good information, as do church records, county records, property records, cemetery records, headstones and DNA test results. There are many other ways of obtaining information that are just as good. What's even better? Triangulating pertinent information by comparing what you find in one source with information from other sources. Here's an example I just found and it has provided me with a clue that gives me a location in Ireland to begin searching on one of my Irish lines.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top Posts of 2014

With the end of the year, the beginning of the next and with many new readers, thanks to Geneabloggers, here is a rundown of my most popular posts of 2014.

1. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City - I started with an update on my brother's status after his serious fall and traumatic brain injury and just to bring everyone up to date, he is doing incredibly well and our entire family couldn't be happier with the outcome. We appreciate all the prayers and well wishes. The rest of the post is a tour of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I never shared this post on Facebook or submitted it to any other bloggers or podcasts so it appears people are finding it on their own. I really hope it educates people enough to make the most of their first (and later) visit to the Family History Library.

2. (Tie) German Church Record Basics - Part 2 - Latin Records - Here's another post I never shared via any other medium so others must be discovering it on their own. It feels good to see that I have posts up that are likely helping others in their education and research. This post is a rundown of key words found in Latin Church records. I specified

Friday, December 26, 2014

Free Access to Ancestry Global Records - Offer Has Expired is offering free access to their global record collections through December 29, 2014. Set up a a free Ancestry account if you don't already have one and you can access the collections here:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Big Moves

My wife and I are in the midst of selling our old home, moving items into storage, then buying a new home and finally moving our things into our new home. It's a long and stressful period but in the end, we hope to be more comfortable and happy. It makes me wonder about how my ancestors experienced moves they went through.

The first one that comes to mind is when Franz Josef Panther moved from Stadelhofen, Ortenaukreis, Baden, Germany to Mösbach. The move was only about four miles down the road, just a little further than our move. Our move is going to be made easier by asking family and friends to help and renting a good sized UHaul truck. Obviously, they didn't have UHaul trucks back in the late 18th century. I don't know anything of their details but I'd imagine they used one or more wagons and possibly several trips to move their household goods. I'd imagine it would be a similar experience to what we're going through.

The moves that Franz Josef's grandsons, Aloys and Ferdinand Panther went through were obviously much more grueling.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Penny Has Hope

This isn't related to genealogy but it is important to my family. My sister-in-law has started a new blog "Penny Has Hope". It is about the struggles of raising special needs children, in particular children with autism. Please take a look and share it with anyone you know that knows about this struggle or would like to learn.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Photo Mosaic of Your Ancestor

What can you do with your genealogy information once you have it "completed"? Is there some creative way for you to display what you've learned? Of course, you know the answer to that is "Yes". There are all kinds of creative projects to display your family tree information. One way I like makes a great display for a wall or for a family reunion.
If I focus my attention on my great-grandparents, Alois Panther and Elizabeth Dunzinger, I have a massive amount of information on Alois' ancestors and they had a large number of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.
Find the photo you want to use as the final product. You can use any photo but it should have meaning to you because this is the overall picture you will be looking at when you look at your mosaic. I used this portrait of Alois and Lizzie.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sadie Rose and Hubert Kelly Doran

A reader posted a comment asking about Hubert K. Doran so I thought I'd post what I have about him and his wife.

Hubert Kelly Doran was born 25 Jan 1887 in Missouri to Thomas and Mary Ann Kelly Doran. He was one of nine children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. His siblings were Kathryn (b. 13 Nov 1882 in Hancock County, Illinois), Maurice Michael (b. 10 Sep 1883 in Bloomfield, Davis County, Iowa), an unnamed child (b. 1884 in Bloomfield, Davis County, Iowa), Mamie E. (b.24 Mar 1889 in Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa), Julia Cecelia (my grandmother) (b. 1 Mar 1891 in New Boston, Lee County, Iowa), Nellie Margaret (b. 29 Jan 1897 in Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa), Leo (b. Apr 1899 and died 15 Aug 1900 in Lee County, Iowa) and Cecelia (b. 23 Jul 1901 in Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Veteran's Day - Free Military Records - Offer Has Expired is offering free military record searches in honor of Veteran's Day and the 100 year anniversary of World War I.

You can take advantage of the offer here: You'll need to create a free account if you don't already have one.

This offer runs through midnight Eastern Time, November 11, 2014.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Family Tree DNA Walkthrough

I can imagine that some people might be hesitant to get a DNA test because they're not sure what they'd be getting. Here is a walkthrough of the Family Tree DNA results web site. The screenshots all have had other people's names and my actual DNA blurred out.

First is the initial screen after logon which shows you the options available.
The top link on the page is "Family Tree". Clicking here will bring you to the page where

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Those Darn Dorans

I believe I've just found my first true "Black Sheep" family in my family history and it definitely was not where I expected it. Here is the story of one of my Irish immigrant families, the Dorans.

Thomas Doran was born around 1775 in Ireland. His wife Catherine O'Hara, also known as Kitty, was born in Ireland in about 1798. Their children were also born in Ireland. They were Fanny (born 1826) Nancy (born 1830), Henry (born 1837), Thomas (born 1839), and Margaret (born 18??). The family emigrated from Ireland to America some time between 1839 and 1853. It appears they arrived in New York before moving to Pennsylvania, likely around Philadelphia.

Nancy became an unwed mother in 1853, while either in New York or Pennsylvania, with the birth of her son, Thomas, my great-grandfather. It is unknown who the father was. Some time between 1853 and 1860, the family moved to Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois.

A newspaper article speaking of the incident that occurred on Wednesday, July 22, 1868, says "The Doran family, living beyond the Wabash depot, was often in trouble and history tells that 'Granny' Doran had an establishment in her home." So far, we have not been able to deduce what kind of establishment the article was speaking about but I tend to believe she purveyed alcohol, likely whiskey.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Share Your Info and Ask Questions - Thomas Doran in Texas

Here's another example of how taking a little bit of information you've found and sharing it with others can reap huge rewards in more information.

A couple of years ago, during my last trip to Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, I had stumbled upon records of service in the Civil War for a Thomas Doran who would have been born in about 1843. He was listed as a musician in the Illinois 16th US Infantry. I knew this couldn't be my great-grandfather as he wasn't born until about 1853. He was also too young to be his father.
These are not documentation per se. They are just database entries showing Thomas Doran's Civil War service.

These are not documentation per se. They are just database entries showing Thomas Doran's Civil War service.