Monday, July 21, 2014

Scan Those Old Photos and Documents - Old Bixenman Photos

Do you have old family photos and documents sitting around in a box in a closet somewhere? I guarantee that even if you're not interested in them, someone is! Please either scan them in to your computer or contact your family historian (If you're related to me, that would be me!) and get them scanned in.

Why do I feel it's important? I have two good reasons. First, to share the old family photos with others in the family! In the past, you'd have to worry about the price of duplicating a photo and physically sending a copy to whoever would like a copy. Now, the only cost is your time. The second reason is to preserve history. What would happen if tragedy happened and you lost your house to fire, flood or tornado? Those family photos would be gone!

Finally, once you get them scanned in, make certain to back them up! Write them to a CD or DVD and mail them to other family members! Put them on a blog or website! What I do is use Bittorrent Sync to automatically back up my family history documentation folder to relatives who volunteer to be the backup location in order to also have a copy of it. You can see my writeup about this program here.

I enjoy bringing my flat-bed scanner to relatives' houses and scanning in their old photos and documents. As I scan them in, I create a text file documenting who is in each photo. This way I can document who they are as I enter them into my family history database.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Old Newspapers

I was looking through a microfilm containing images of old Carthage, Illinois newspapers, hoping to find some information regarding my Doran family line. Unfortunately, all I could find was Fanny (Doran) Neason being listed on delinquent tax rolls. Given the size and frequency of these lists, it doesn't appear unusual for someone to be listed on them.

Searching through old newspapers on microfilm can be difficult. The small text, being not too dark on the paper and slightly out of focus for the imaging makes for strained eyes. Add to that ads mixed in with articles where you can't tell very well what is an article, what is opinion and what is an ad, very few headlines and wording that can be labored and it makes for a long night looking at these pages. However, sometimes you can find some good information.

Where can you find old newspaper articles? There are several newspaper archive web sites:

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independance Day - Free Census Records at Ancestry

Today is Independance Day in the United States. Have a happy and safe 4th! Ancestry is giving free access to their US Census records through July 6th. Be sure to take them up on the offer and fill in any blanks in your tree.

Ancestry Free US Census Records


Friday, June 20, 2014

Examine Every Detail - Marriage of Hugh Kelly and Catherine Murphy

When you're stumped on what to research next, really study the information you have and see what you can use to track down other information. Here's my recent example.
I have a court record (actually two records stating the exact same thing) of Hugh Kelly and Catherine Murphy, living in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, being married in Clark County, Missouri. It doesn't give any further information regarding the location. How could you figure out where they were married?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day - 1940 Census

My father passed away in January, 2000. The next summer, I attended the family reunion of my mother's side of the family. While there, I spoke with my uncle, Al Dohman. He was the husband of my mother's sister. He wanted to be sure that I knew that he and my father were good friends. I thanked him for his kind words and said that I hadn't realized how good of friends they were. He mentioned that they were friends for a very long time.

Al passed away in 2011.

In 2012, the 1940 US Federal Census was released. I searched through it to find my parents, grandparents and all my various aunts and uncles. During my search, I found my father, living with his parents, Leo and Julia Miller, at 1545 Avenue L, Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Doran Probate and Property Records in Carthage, Illinois

During our last trip to Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, I found some information about the Thomas Doran family. I've been trying to piece together the big picture and I think I'm making progress. I obtained the newspaper articles listed here at the Hancock County Museum in Carthage. The probate and property papers I obtained from the county court house in Carthage.

First, here is an article in the Carthage Republican on December 1, 1875 saying that Old Tommy Doran, well known in this community is said to be very sick with little chance of recovery. Tommy's age is not known; but he is believed to be over a hundred years old.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day

It is Memorial Day weekend. Be sure to take advantage of Ancestry's offer of free military lookups! You can find it here:

You will need to sign in to Ancestry to view the records but you can do this with a free account. Enter your search parameters. As always, start with a more wide search. Put more details in if you get too many results.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Miller Mystery

My surname is Miller. It is believed my great-grandfather was known by the surname Müller at least until he came to the United States. We have reason to believe one of his brothers went by the surname of Müller even after he came to America. In my experience looking through the record books of Catholic churches in a few villages in Germany, it appears that Müller is essentially just an alternate spelling of Mueller and Miller. It doesn't appear there was any intentional or accidental name change when my great-grandfather, Charles Miller (aka Karl Müller) came to America. It is my belief that he just started spelling it this way and that's the way his children ended up spelling it. Regardless, I'm sure that should we find his baptismal record in Germany in any of these spellings, I know I'll recognize the family.
Charles and Philomena Bixenman Miller ca1900

Charles Miller was extremely secretive about where he came from. He said he was on the run from the German military and if they tracked him down, he would be treated as a deserter. Grandpa Leo H. Miller Sr. said he was confident he had relatives in Germany but he had no idea where.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Highlights from a Genealogy Class

From my years of at least weekly visits to my local Family History Center, many members of The local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) have come to know me and respect my knowledge of genealogy research. Because of this, the Bishopric of the local church asked me to teach a weekly genealogy class for their members. The class ultimately was more of a workshop with me helping about six people interested in their genealogy with online research. Let me tell you, the fact that every person's genealogy research is going to be completely different makes it quite a challenge to help six different people get started with online research. I essentially had to make five people wait while explaining how the first user should start, then move on to the second. When I was about halfway through helping the second person, the first person had found that he didn't find anything on his initial search. It was a pretty hectic hour but I hope that I helped everyone there at least a little bit. We'll find out next week with the next class.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City

First an update. I know I mentioned that my brother had a terrible accident and I requested your prayers. Those prayers have been answered. Here is a video telling my brother's story:

 In March, I made my first trip to Salt Lake City and, as you might expect, I spent most of my time at the Family History Library. Are you planning a trip there or thinking of going? If so, this article is for you.

First if you are considering a trip there, are you sure it would be worthwhile for you? I made good use of my time there but I'd imagine that some people, had they known what was available in their hometown, would have realized they could have done the same research in the hometown at a much lower cost. Before considering a trip to Salt Lake City, pay a visit to your local Family History Center. I will be detailing this in a post in the near future but much of what is available in Salt Lake City is also available at the Family History Centers across the country. If all you need is to examine a handful of microfilm rolls, do it locally for $7.50 per roll. Yes, you can view an unlimited number in SLC for free but don't forget to add the cost of gas or airfare along with the cost of a hotel room and eating out. If, on the other hand, you need to view books that are not available locally, or you need to search through dozens of microfilm rolls, it may make sense to take a trip to SLC.