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.

--Matt

Saturday, May 23, 2015

1905 Iowa State Census

I looked for all of my ancestors that could be found in the 1905 Iowa State Census. Some of the information is exactly as I expected it. Some of it confirmed what I believed and some of it sheds light on their lives and some raises more questions.

August Menke is interesting. I knew he came to America when he was about seven years old. What surprises me is that is shows that he had spent 30 years in Iowa but 33 years in America. Where did his family live when he first arrived in America? This is the first time I've seen a hint that he may have lived somewhere else in America before Iowa.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Are You Proud of Your Ancestors?

Are you proud of your ancestors? I think most people are proud of the majority of their ancestors. At worst, we just don't know enough about them but if they had the courage to pick up and move to America, I think we'd be proud of them. But what if they were outlaws? Thieves? Slave owners?

I believe we have every right to be proud of things our ancestors accomplished. Of course, you can't take credit for what they accomplished but you can be proud of them. In the same vein, you can't take the blame for the things they did wrong. Recently, movie star Ben Affleck was the subject of the PBS show "Finding Your Roots". As part of their research, it was found that one of Mr. Affleck's ancestors owned slaves. While it's not something to be proud of, it's not something that he could do anything about.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Family History Centers

One of the most overlooked research tools, especially for beginning genealogists, is the local Family History Centers. These are the places you can do original research of the LDS church's millions of microfilm rolls that they have filmed of all the various church, local, state and national records. They store these microfilms at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and in the granite vault in the mountains nearby. What many people don't realize is that all these microfilms are available for anyone to search at hundreds or even thousands of locations around the world.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Closing in on Dorans in Ireland

I decided to look at Family Search's immigration records for the Dorans again. It does appear the ship's passenger list I posted here: http://matthewkmiller.blogspot.com/2015/03/st-patricks-day-doran-family.html are the correct ship's list. The list's index cards for these passengers are shown here:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Labelling Photos

How can you label digital photos and documents in a way that the label stays with the photo so you'll always know what the document source is or who is in the photo? Back in physical photo and photo album days, you could write on the back or border of the photo or even on the photo album page. Did you know it's nearly as easy to "flip over" a digital photo and write on the back?

When you look at a digital photo, all you see is the photo open in you viewer program. In reality though, it is a file that contains a stream of characters. Some of these characters contain the contents of the photo and some of them are considered "metadata". Metadata is data about data. It tells the program what is in the file so it knows what to do with it. It's the photo viewer that reads these characters and translates them into this visible photo.
My dad, John Anthony Miller on the right. His aunt, Cecelia Bowen, is in the center.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Losing an Ancestor

In my St. Patrick's Day 2014 post, I talked about what I believed was a breakthrough discovery regarding my great-great-grandfather, Hugh Kelly. It appeared that he had been born in Clincorick, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, to Thomas and Velat (Violet) Kelly and that the family moved to Old Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire, Scotland and that he left for America from Glasgow shortly after his 20th birthday. Here is the record that led me to believe that, based on the fact that he had left on his voyage to America from Glasgow, Scotland.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Tom Doran Story - A Wild Character in the Wild West

The past month has been crazy with more and more information about Tom Doran's life in Junction, Texas coming to my attention. I had made a couple of posts as I found it but thought it would be better if I can put it all into one coherent story. Here is the biography of Thomas H. Doran, the brother of my great-great-grandmother, Nancy Doran Dunnigan.

Much of the information regarding the events from September through December 1878 was found in newspaper articles obtained through the University of North Texas newspaper archive found here: http://texashistory.unt.edu/search/?explore=True&fq=dc_type:text_newspaper. These articles, along with the rest of the sources of this information are posted at the end of this post.

Tom Doran was born in Ireland on May 9, 1844. I suspect the family originated near Dublin but that is not certain at this time. His parents were Thomas and Catherine O'Hara Doran. At the time of Tom's birth, his parents already had at least two daughters, Fanny, about 18 years old, Nancy about 15 years old and one son, Henry, about 7 years old. They had two more daughters and one more son but it is unknown when they were born. Their names were Margaret (Reilly), Ellen and James.

The family emigrated to America, landing in New York City some time between 1844 and 1857. His sister Nancy became an unwed mother, giving birth to her son Thomas in 1857 in Brooklyn, New York. It appears the family moved together to the Germantown area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before moving on to Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. The family lived near the Wabash train depot near the west end of Carthage.

Friday, March 20, 2015

More Details on Tom Doran in Junction, Texas

I love old newspapers! I found a couple of newspaper articles that give us more detail and a differing story about the fight between Tom Doran and Jim Deaton in Junction, Texas and about Tom Doran's death. Keep in mind that this Tom Doran is not my direct ancestor. He was the brother of my great-great-grandmother, Nancy Doran Dunnigan. They were born in Ireland but spent much of their lives in Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. You can see the initial discovery about this story here: http://matthewkmiller.blogspot.com/2014/10/share-your-info-and-ask-questions.html

It seems that Tom and Jim (Joseph in one of the articles) were friends out drinking and gambling. Also, according to the newspaper article, the throat slashing and Doran

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day - The Doran Family Immigration Records?

Since it's St. Patrick's Day, I feel an obligation to post something about my Irish ancestors. Back in November, I was looking for immigration records for the Doran family and found a good possibility.

The passenger list of the Bark Sherwood out of Liverpool, arriving in Philadelphia on March 31, 1849 shows names that line up pretty well with the Thomas Doran family.

Here are the ages shown on the passenger list:
Thomas: 45
Kitty: 45
James: 20
Fanny: 17
Harry (Henry?): 14
Margaret: 13
Eleanor (Ellen?): 8
Thomas: 2
 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Take a Walk Through a Cemetery

I was on the road for work last week, working in the Montrose, Colorado area. They were long days working. We had most of one day off while at the location. During this time, some of my co-workers went skiing and some others went bar-hopping. Neither of these activities interested me so I relaxed in my hotel room for a while, working on my genealogy.

Eventually, the words of my wife came back to me. Get out for a walk! I definitely didn't want to be cooped up in my hotel room all day long and it was the first nice day since winter started. It was a perfect day for a walk. I walked around the outside of the hotel. It wasn't very pleasant with the sights being a parking lot, a grocery store and a highway through town. I needed to find a nicer place to walk. While finding a park would have worked, I figured why not get something accomplished while enjoying the outdoors? I brought up Google Maps and did a search for cemeteries near my location. Google provided me with Grand View Cemetery in Montrose. According to Find-A-Grave, it was about 44% photographed. It also had two photo requests. I drove to the cemetery with camera in hand and the names of the two photo requests in my memory.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

County History Books

County history books are available for most if not all counties in the United States. These books typically cover subjects from the physical landscape of the county to its very early history to the founders of the villages in the county to prominent individuals and families. When you're able to find your ancestors listed in one of these books, it will typically tell at least the region they came from before arriving in the county, their occupation, their immediate family and the life they lived. Many times it will also provide a bit more information on the individual's parents and grandparents and children and grandchildren. This can prove to be a huge help if you don't already have this information.

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:
http://iagenweb.org/state/research/bmdguide.htm

Clicking on Lee County brought me to the Lee County IAGenWeb page:
http://iagenweb.org/lee/

There is a link in the bottom right corner of the page for "Vital Records", which goes here:
http://iagenweb.org/lee/vr/index.htm

I then click the link for Death Records, leading here:
http://iagenweb.org/lee/vr/deaths/index.htm

There is then a link to the Lee County Death Certificate Index 1919 - 1933:
http://iagenweb.org/lee/vr/deaths/1919-33/19-33index.htm