Thursday, March 15, 2018

Old German Military Portrait - An Amazing Identification

My cousin called me a couple of weeks ago saying he was in contact with someone descended from Ferdinand Panther and Amelia Traub. He said this man had some old photos I might be interested in getting a scan of. He texted me photos he took of a few of them with his phone.

I called the man, who lives in Mediapolis, Iowa, which is near Sperry and Dodgeville, where my Panther ancestors settled when they came to America. My cousin gave him a copy of my Panther family history book. Chatting with him, it ends up he is not blood-related to us. He is a descendant of the brother of the husband of a daughter of Ferdinand Panther.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Newly Discovered Granduncle

A distant cousin sent me the death announcement (found on Warsaw, Illinois newspapers online) for a granduncle I didn't know existed. He was the brother of my grandmother, Julia Doran Miller. Previously, I had found an indexed record, not an image, of the birth of a child of Thomas and Mary Ann Kelly Doran. In this indexed record found on Family Search, it didn't contain an exact birth date, a name, or even a gender for the baby. This baby was born in Bloomfield, Davis County, Iowa, in 1884.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Distant DNA Matches

I explained in a previous post that it's actually pretty unlikely that your DNA results will show a match with a given relative as close as fourth cousins. On the other end of the spectrum is that even though it's unlikely, you could match a small number of very distant relations. Here's an example I've come across recently.

I was looking for my recent DNA matches and I found someone that Family Tree DNA suggested was a fourth to distant cousin. This means we match a very small amount of DNA. Looking at his list of surnames, I saw a few that looked very familiar to me. They were surnames found among my great-grandfather, Aloys Panther's ancestors in and around Moesbach, Ortenaukreis, Baden, Germany.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Nebraska State Genealogy Society 2018 Spring Conference

The Nebraska State Genealogy Society 2018 Spring Conference will be taking place April 27 & 28, 2018 in Columbus, Platte County, Nebraska. You can register online here. The non-member cost is $109 for both days, including lunch or $60 for one day. Members get a $10 discount. If you become a member with your registration, the discount you get pays for half of your annual membership fee. You can count on me being there. I've already registered. Columbus is where I was born and raised and where my parents lived out the majority of their lives. In addition, it takes place the weekend of my mother's birthday. I'm sure it will be emotional for me, but you can bet I won't miss it.

The featured speaker is Judy G. Russell, "The Legal Genealogist".

Thursday, January 25, 2018

My 10 Favorite Blog Posts

In the five years since I started my genealogy blog, there have been more than 50,000 visitors to it. While I'm happy with this number, I hope people continue to find it and find it interesting and inspiring.

Some of my personal favorite blog posts are already included in the list of top ten visited posts. I'm not going to repeat those. I'm including only those of my favorites that do not appear in that list.

1. The Tom Doran Story - A Wild Character in the Wild West - My favorite blog post is the biography of Tom Doran, the outlaw of Junction, Texas. It is my firm belief that his story would make a great movie. It is my hope that I can make this happen some day.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Top 10 Blog Posts

In the five years I've had my genealogy blog, I've had over 50,000 visitors. While I'd love to be a super-popular writer, I'm pretty satisfied with how popular the blog has become. So, what posts are the most popular with my readers? Here they are.

1. German Church Record Basics - Part 1 - German Records - Coming in first place is my post about how to read German church records. It contains images of common words found in German church books and what they mean. I'm very happy that this has become the most popular post. This means that my blog is making a difference and really helping out people that need assistance.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Warsaw, Illinois Newspapers Online

I found a site,, that has many Warsaw, Carthage County, Illinois newspapers online to browse and search. You might already know that I love old newspapers. Having the ability to browse and search the old newspapers of a small town my ancestors were from is a fantastic opportunity.

I hoped to find a large amount of information about the Hugh Kelly family, which is the only family of mine that actually lived in Warsaw but I found just a few mentions of him. What I found more of is news about that darn Doran family in neighboring Carthage. As is typical, you don't find much in the newspapers about modest, law-abiding people but you find much more about the trouble-makers.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Security Breach at RootsWeb

There has been a security breach on RootsWeb, which is now owned by Ancestry. You can read more about it in this blog post. A security researcher notified Ancestry that he found a plain-text file containing 300,000 username/email address/password combinations. In response, Ancestry "analyzed" the file and found that 55,000 individuals used the same username/password combinations on both RootsWeb and Ancestry and are notifying those individuals. They are not notifying anyone who did not use the same credentials on both sites.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Homes for the Holidays

How many ancestral homes do you have photos of? How many are still standing? I collected photos of all of the known homes from my family's history. As far as I know, all of these homes are still standing except one.

First up is the house in Columbus, Nebraska that I and my siblings grew up in. This is the house my mother lived in until she passed.
It has been sold to a family friend and I understand his young daughter loves her new home.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Descendants of Thomas Doran, Outlaw of Kimble County, Texas

I've been searching for descendants of Tom Doran, the gunslinger that killed James Deaton and James Lewis Temple in Junction, Texas. I was hoping to track down living descendants of his so we could use DNA to confirm whether or not I am related to him. Despite the fact that his headstone suggests he fought for the Confederate army and therefore is a different Tom Doran than is related to me, I have documentation that, if accurate, proves he fought for the Union and is related to me.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

FamilySearch Will Soon Require You To Sign-In

Beginning December 13, 2017, will begin requiring all visitors to sign in with a free account in order to search records. They say the reason is because some of their partners require their source documentation to be accessed in a safe and secure environment. Look at it this way, if you were a church or other organization that had the personal details of their members, do you want anyone at all on the Internet to access this information? While it's true that even scammers can create accounts on FamilySearch, it is unlikely they would actually go through this trouble to do so. In addition, FamilySearch wants to create a more personalized experience for you. In order to do this, it needs to know who you are when you are on their site.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Was My Unknown Great-Great-Grandfather a Philanderer?

Looking at my Family Tree DNA matches, trying to track down some Irish cousins and ancestors, I'm coming to the conclusion that the unknown father of my great-grandfather may have been a 19th century Lethario.

Why do I think that? When I look for matches that do not match my mother, of course, they must be on my father's side. Then I look for people with Irish ancestors that don't match my Kelly cousins. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that they are related to this great-great-grandfather, but it does narrow it down. They could be related on my Doran line or they could be related on my Kelly line but just don't match my Kelly cousins. However, these are the only matches that have common matches like this.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cracks Beginning to Appear in the Fanny Dunzinger Brick Wall

Using the Family Tree DNA results of a second cousin of mine, I have sniffed out a clue that could lead us to the maiden name of Fanny, the wife of Andreas/Andrew Dunzinger. In previous posts, I discussed the 1855 New York State Census showing the family of Andrew Dunzinger and his wife Fanny. Here is the image again:

Friday, October 6, 2017 - Viewing Scanned Microfilm

The big news recently is that Family Search has stopped allowing people to order microfilm of family history records to be sent to local family history centers. This has been the way people have done a large amount of genealogical research over the past few decades. So now that they've stopped, what do you do now? Well, most of these microfilms are still available to you and most of those that are not available now, will be in the next couple of years.

So, let's say I wanted to do more research on my Brandstetter family in Renchen, Baden, Germany. Before last month, I could go to the Family Search catalog, order the microfilm, pay a $7.50 fee for the shipping and wait a few weeks for it to be delivered to my local LDS church, where it would stay for a couple of months so I could look through it. Now, what would I do? Pretty much the same thing.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Marking Unmarked Graves

I stumbled upon a company that makes ordering stones for unmarked graves simple and very affordable. I haven't used their service yet but it sounds very interesting. Mark Every Grave allows you to order small granite headstones (6" x 9") starting at $25.99 for 6" x 9" x 1/2" stones up to 24" x 12" x 1/2" for $250. You can select an image to have engraved in addition to names and dates for a small amount more. There is also an option for a custom image. Their web site notes that shipping is free.