Saturday, August 11, 2018

Grandma Panther's Diaries

During my last trip to Iowa, I was able to scan in three more volumes of my grandmother's diaries that my aunt has. I posted the scans online privately for my cousins to browse. One cousin made a comment, at least half joking, that he couldn't believe he had to click a link for each and every page, asking what it would cost to have it on paper.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Passing of Oskar Oberle - Mösbach Historian

I checked out the Mösbach, Ortenaukreis, Baden, Germany web page for the first time in a long time and discovered that the village historian, Oskar Oberle passed away January 26, 2018 at the age of 85. This makes me very sad. I very much wanted to meet him whenever I finally got to the home village of my great-grandfather, Alois Panther. Sadly, this will no longer be possible. Here is a translation of the write-up on Baden Online.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

DNA and Ethnic Origins

Many people are taking genealogical DNA tests these days. While that sounds great, the sad part is that many, and I would say most, aren't interested in connecting with their distant cousins to help find their genealogical information. Instead, as a result of the advertising Ancestry DNA puts out, they are only interested in their ethnicity. In my opinion, this ethnicity estimate is about the least valuable piece of information you get from your DNA test. Here is a demonstration of this.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Born on the 4th of July

While browsing the Warsaw, Illinois newspaper archive, I found another version of obituary for Thomas Doran, my great-great-great-grandfather and the eldest of my known Doran family, who lived out the final years of his life and died in Carthage, Illinois. I had previously found an article from December 1, 1875, stating that he was in poor health and was said to be over 100 years old.

Monday, June 25, 2018

More Diaries Scanned

During my latest trip to Iowa, I was able to scan in every page of three of my grandmother, Elizabeth Menke Panther's diaries. This is my mother's mother. These were from the years 1968, 1973 and 1977. Now that I'm home, I working on getting the pdfs created with these scans turned into jpg files and cropping them down to the individual pages. While cropping them, I'm scanning them for important events. I know I'm not catching all of them this time through. I'll look through them more thoroughly once I get them organized. Still, a couple of very important events leaped out at me from 1968. Add in the fact that this was 50 years ago and these take on greater significance.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Iowa Family History Trip

I took a drive to southeast Iowa this week to scan in few photos and see what else I could find. To say this trip was a success would be an understatement.
In this post, I showed a poor photocopy of an old German military photo that was handed down in a family of "in-laws" to the Panther family. I sat down with owner of this photo, my second cousin who is also a family genealogist, and two descendants of the Clementine Panther / Joseph Eibes line. The distant cousin whose house we met at is a sweet 85 year old woman who obviously has been having some worsening Alzheimer-like symptoms in the past couple of months. While she had to introduce me to her brother sitting at the table a half dozen times and ask my name another half dozen times, her enthusiasm was infectious.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Security Breach at MyHeritage

MyHeritage is alerting people in this blog post, to a security breach that occurred on their servers. They've tracked the date of the breach to October 26, 2017. If you opened an account since that date, there should not be a problem. If you opened an account on MyHeritage prior to this date, your email address and a hash of your password was found posted on a site not controlled by the company.

What does this mean? It means that someone got into MyHeritage's systems. How far they got is not clear. What they know is that the perpetrator got a hold of email addresses and hashes of passwords. A hash is a one-way encryption that is used to verify someone's credentials when they log onto a system. It is, theoretically, not possible to reverse this hash so the hacker would not have access to your plain text password.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


A couple of months ago, I decided to start an account on Instagram for my genealogy blog @mattsgenealogyblog. For now, I'm just participating in the #genealogyphotoaday challenge. I don't think I could ever do away with this blog and go just with Instagram for a couple of reasons. First, I enjoy being able to write out everything I have to say on a subject, looking at it from a couple of different angles. Instagram is meant for a single or a couple of pictures with not a lot of explanation. Second, coming up with something to post every day is near impossible for me. Even if it's just a photo and a sentence or two. So, don't worry. I plan on being here on this blog for the foreseeable future.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Dorans and O'Haras from Kilkenny?

I got a new, relatively close DNA match for myself and my cousin on my father's side. It appears all of the ancestry for this match is in Ireland, so I sent an email to them with a listing of my Irish ancestry. They responded, saying that they manage this person's kit but they don't have all of the information on the ancestry of this person. They only know about the tester's father's side and this side didn't contain any names similar to my surnames. However, she said, the tester's ancestry is all in the area of Kilkenny, Ireland and they know that the names Doran and O'Hara are well represented in and around Kilkenny.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Nebraska State Genealogical Society 2018 Spring Conference - My Takeaways

The Nebraska State Genealogical Society 2018 Spring Conference was Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28. Since it was held in the town I was born and raised in, and on the weekend of my mother's birthday and my niece's high school graduation party, you know I wouldn't miss it. Two of my mother's sisters had planned on being there but their stopover on their long drive was the daughter of one of them and their family had the flu. Because my aunts are elderly, they didn't want to risk getting sick and add on the five and a half hour drive, they decided it wasn't worth the risk. I was able to visit the graves of my mother and father and also visit with family and friends at the graduation party. But you don't want to hear about that. You want to hear about the genealogy conference, so here you go!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Miller Family History Book Published

I've just released my book containing my Miller family research. It's called "Johan Christian Müller, and the Liebrich Sisters - Their Descendants and Ancestors". I've made it available in both hardcover and paperback. While working on getting this book ready, I've also made my Panther family history book, "Moriz Panther and Elizabeth Birk - Their Descendants and Ancestors", available in paperback.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Family Tree Display

My seven year old grandson gave me an early Father's Day gift and it's pretty cool. His parents have allowed him to pick out his own gifts for his family and friends for a few years now. They have no input. It's completely up to him what he's going to buy. In this case, he scored a home run.

It is a copper wire on wood family tree display. It's made by Tapestree and comes in three different sizes:

Small - 19 frames for $34.95
Medium - 38 frames for $49.95
Large - 57 frames for $64.95

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Deceiving DNA Test Results

A new DNA match appeared for me the other day. I recognized the name as someone I already had in my database. He is my fourth cousin on my mother's side. He's also descended from my great-great-great-grandparents, Johan Herm Theodore Menke and Maria Catharina Schirren, from Schwagstorf, Osnabrück, Lower Saxony, Germany. Family Tree DNA estimated him to be my 2nd to 4th cousin, so the estimate lines up. I started looking at some of our common matches and since he's more closely related to my mother, I brought up their common matches. That's when I noticed. Family Tree DNA estimates that my mother and this fourth cousin of mine are 5th to distant cousins. How can this be? Unless he's related to me on my father's side, which would be a complete surprise, this doesn't make any sense.

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.