Thursday, March 19, 2020

Documenting History

How would you like to read your grandparents' thoughts while they went through the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic or your parents during World War II or anyone during the Civil War? Wouldn't that be amazing? I'm not aware of anything my ancestors wrote down during these times. Most people think their thoughts are not important enough to write down and that their lives were mundane and boring. I know my mother said that, despite being a teenager during World War II. These events were big parts of history. The current COVID-19/Coronavirus/SARS-CoV2 pandemic is history in the making. You are living through a major event in history. Document it!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Life Aboard the Skagit

My father served in the Navy during the Korean War. Much of his time was spent on board the attack cargo ship, the USS Skagit (AKA 105). The Skagit was originally built for World War II, then mothballed. Once the Korean conflict started, the ship was pulled out of retirement, brought to San Diego for training, then sailed to Pusan, Korea, also traveling to Yokosuka and Inchon. This mission was the one my father was on. He served as the ship's Yeoman Third Class.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Automatic Colorization of Old Photos

MyHeritage has made a free photo colorization tool available. It can be found at Once you are logged in using either a paid subscription or a free account, you just select a photo to upload and around 10-15 seconds later, it has been colorized for free. It will have have the MyHeritage logo added to the lower right-hand corner. You then have the option to share it via social media, copy a link to the colorized photo or download it. The tool allows you to add color to an unlimited number of photos if you are a MyHeritage subscriber. If you only have a free membership, you are limited to 10 photos. If you have a large number of photos to colorize, it could make sense to subscribe.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Comparing DNA Pile-Up Matches to Other Matches

I've been trying to make sense of the pile-up regions and matches in my Family Tree DNA test results. I'm not making any progress in figuring out how I'm related to any of them so I thought I'd try to illustrate the problem in the hopes of getting ideas from readers and to be able to work with or ignore them in the most efficient way. Listed below are my top twenty-two DNA matches on Family Tree DNA, along with the total number of matches I have in common with them and the number of matches that are calculated as 5th cousins and closer. I've highlighted the matches I'm now labeling "pile-up matches".

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Look Back at 2019 and a Look Ahead to 2020

2020 is well underway. I hope you and I have a great year with lots of walls tumbling down. With the new year, it's always good to look back at the previous year and remember things we discovered, things we learned and things we can improve on.

In 2019, my biggest genealogical achievement was the discovery of the marriage record of the parents of my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Dunzinger. I already knew her father's name and his marriage record gave me her mother's name, along with her mother's parents' names, which were a complete mystery to me. This discovery gave me my great-great-grandmother, Anna Ziegelmueller and her parents Paul Ziegelmueller and Victoria Seefried.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

What is Passed on Through DNA?

I'd appreciate your input. Do I resemble my great-grandfather? My wife and I just had professional portraits taken. Most of my life, I've always figured I resembled my father's side of the family more than my mother's side. My dad's First Communion picture was always hanging on our wall at home and just about everyone thought it was me. I know that with my hair, body structure, facial expressions and other items, I look quite a bit like my dad.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Historical Christmas Catalogs

It is Christmas shopping season and the season of children making their Christmas lists. Today, I'd imagine many children have their own Amazon accounts where they can create their Christmas lists, or their parents may log in and allow the children to search and browse and create their lists.

I remember as a child the enormous pleasure I and my siblings had, paging through the Christmas catalogs every year. From around Thanksgiving until the days leading up to Christmas, we'd browse through the JC Penney and Spiegel Christmas Catalogs and the "Sears Wishbook" and Wards "Christmas Book". The first time through, we'd just look and read the descriptions. We'd make notes about the items we considered putting onto our Christmas list along with their page numbers. Then we'd go through again, this time really studying the pictures and descriptions to see what we really wanted. The first list was always the longest, then, as we got closer and closer to Christmas, we'd narrow down that list to what we really wanted.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Menke Extended Family Photos

I missed my normal second blog post last month. I'm sorry! I have, for nearly seven years, posted at least two blog posts every single month. Last month, I was incredibly busy with work and family and could not come up with any ideas for a second blog post. So, I apologize for falling down on the job. Even now, I'm having a difficult time finding a subject to post about. I've made no progress in finding anything new for a while. This morning, I logged in to Family Search and looked at the alerts Family Search provided for my extended family. I don't normally spend much time looking at these alerts but today I did. There were a few photos posted of my extended Menke family, including some from my "long lost" Menke family that ended up in Nuckolls County, Nebraska. I've never had any photos of this branch of the family, so I thought this would make a good post.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Veteran's Day - Leo Miller World War I Service

Just in time for Veteran's Day, I've found the first information about my grandfather, Leo Henry Miller's military service during World War I. I already had the picture, medal and draft registration card but I've finally found a couple of real bits of detail.

Here is a picture of Leo around the time of his high school graduation, which was just a few years before the start of the war. His Great War Victory Medal was hung on his photo as shown here, in our home while I was growing up.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Family Heirlooms

Linda Stufflebean at Empty Branches on the Family Tree followed Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun prompt of "What Family Heirlooms Did You Inherit or Obtain?" That's a great idea. I'll join in! Now that I've taken an inventory of my heirlooms, I can count myself lucky that I have so many nice items passed down in my family. My brothers and sisters have other items. My sister has my grandmother's baptismal certificate. My brother has my father's Navy uniform and other military items. A cousin has my grandmother's teapot cookie jar that her homemade cookies would wait approximately 10 seconds before being eaten by some of her grandchildren.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Mapping My Ancestral Origins

I know Ancestry has the "DNA Story", which maps the movement of your DNA through history, but to me it's pretty broad and general. I wanted to get a better visualization of where my ancestors originated, all in one or two images. I started thinking of where each branch of the family was from and I realized there were only two general areas of origin for my ancestors and really only a handful of specific areas. I wondered if a couple of maps could illustrate their origins. This makes a great challenge! Map all of your ancestral branches to the location you have as their origins.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

What Constitutes Proof? - Revisited

You may recall my post from 2014 titled What Constitutes Proof. This post has proven to be one of my most popular articles, even years later. In it, I described what I knew about my great-grandmother and what I discovered about what I believed was her family in the 1855 New York state census. There was no proof discovered but I had a lot of circumstantial evidence.

Following the Genealogical Proof Standard, I didn't believe I proved that Elizabeth Dunzinger's parents were Andrew and Fanny Dunzenger, found in New York City, along with Mary A. Dunzenger, who would be her sister, Victoria Seidlenar, who would be her grandmother and Adam Pacoke, who would be her uncle. I only had the one piece of evidence, along with an Andreas Dunzinger, of approximately the right age to be this Andrew, being born in Wemding, Bavaria, which is the town the newspaper article stated the families were from. I did, however, believe it was her family. I just didn't prove it.Given recent genealogical discoveries, I thought it was time to revisit the evidence and come to a solid conclusion. So, here is what I know about my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Dunzinger Panther, listed in the approximate order of when I discovered the evidence.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Theory About My yDNA Origins

I had a yDNA 37 marker test done with Family Tree DNA back in 2013 hoping to find a connection to my Miller family in Germany. Unfortunately, I only ended up with one match and that was a very distant match with a completely different surname from Spain. My yDNA haplogroup turned out to be J-M172, having nothing to do with any German haplogroup where my yDNA line is from. Family Tree DNA says of the origins of this haplogroup:

"...northern Middle East, west of the Zagros Mountains in Iran, to the Mediterranean Sea. It later spread throughout central Asia and south into India. J-M172 is tightly associated with the expansion of agriculture, which began about 10,000 years ago. As with other populations with Mediterranean ancestry, this lineage is found at substantial frequencies within Jewish populations.  J2 is also one of the main Haplogroups found among Arab populations."

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Dunzinger Marriage Record Found Along with Great-Great-Grandmother's Name

I finally found the marriage record for my great-great-grandparents. FindMyPast has the collection called New York Roman Catholic Parish Marriages and another called New York Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms. I searched for Dunzinger and the very first record that came up was the marriage record for my great-great-grandparents, Andreas and Anna Ziegelmuller Dunzinger in 1847. Previously, the only information we had about Andreas' wife was the 1855 New York State Census, which listed her as Fanny. It also listed a Victoria whose last name was transcribed as Seidlenar.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Johann Diedrich Menke's Death Record

I've heard the family stories about the Menke family's voyage to America since I was a child. The story is that my great-grandfather was a young boy when he came to America with his parents and his father died on the voyage and was buried at sea. I had never found anything to document this. I only had the fact that I found my great-grandfather's baptismal record and his parent's marriage record in Germany, and the fact that his mother remarried in Iowa. I posted a photo of my great-grandfather on Instagram, taken on his 90th birthday, noting that the photo was taken in 1954.
Johan Anton "August" Menke on his 90th birthday. He came to America when he was six years old.