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 should it would be worthwhile for you? I made good use of my time there but I'd imagine that some people, had they know 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.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Menke and Related Families in Hanover, Germany

Jim Menke did extensive research of the Menke family, which he spelled out in his "Menkes of Schwagstorf" booklet. In it, he outlined the Menke family in and around Schwagstorf, Furstenau, Hanover, Germany. His was one of the first family histories that I added to my genealogy database years ago. I didn't have access to the original documentation but he provided the information he obtained from it.

During my trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I was able to look at microfilm of some of the church records that he looked at. A helpful staff member was also able to help me narrow down where families that seemed to be related to the Menkes would be from.

First, here is the baptismal record for my great-grandfather, Johan Anton "August" Menke:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

yDNA Test Results for Miller/Müller Surname

I purchased a yDNA-37 marker test from Family Tree DNA in the hopes of finding where my Miller/Müller line, which is my direct paternal line, came from in Germany. I hoped that another male descendant from the same Miller line, although connected further back than my great-grandfather, would have also taken the test and had some genealogy research showing where his ancestors were from in Germany.
Charles Miller (aka Karl Müller) is in the front middle. We don't
know who is who among the rest but their names are: Gottlieb,
Annie Quenzer, Rika Susenberger, Sophia Schmalzl
and an uknown brother. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bixenman Church Records

This is my second post regarding information I found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. This information could also be found by going to your local Family History Center and ordering a microfilm in for you to look at locally.

Previously, when it came to my Bixenman ancestry, I just relied on Sister Catherine Seemann's research in the books she wrote and published back in 1999:
The Bixenman Family - Volume 1 and Bixenman Family Tree - Volume 2

Since I was at the Family History Library, I figured I'd take a look at the church records for two reasons. First, I always want to have copies of the original documentation for any of my ancestors that I can find. That way I know for certain I have the correct information. Second, I figured that in the 15 years since Sister Catherine did her research, more information might have become available and it's possible, however unlikely, that she may have missed a tidbit of information that might open us up for finding new information. I did get the original documentation and I'm happy to have it, and it appears Sister Catherine did a very thorough job of research. I think I see all of the information available from the German church records for this family. Here's what I found:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

St. Patrick's Day - Hugh Kelly

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, this post is what I discovered about my great-great-grandfather, Hugh Kelly, while at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

When it comes to my Irish ancestors, I expected to find nothing about Hugh and loads about Catherine Murphy and Thomas Doran. Of course, just the opposite happened. The Dorans and the Murphys are as elusive as ever but I'm following an interesting trail to find Hugh Kelly's family and it's quite surprising where it leads. Keep in mind that what you see matches what we already knew about Hugh Kelly, but it is not conclusive proof that we've found the right family. If you have information that helps support this conclusion or disproves it, I'm very interested in hearing about what you have. Let me know!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Many Projects - Upcoming Posts

I have many irons in the genealogical fire at the moment. These will end up being posts over the next several weeks. They'll take some time to get the results or just for me to get the information organized. Here's what you can expect:

  1. I purchased a yDNA-37 test. I expect this test to help me identify which of the many many Miller families in Germany my great-grandfather was a member of so I can begin the genealogical work on his family. I expect the first result about March 22. I'll be posting as soon as I learn more.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Biography of Franz Joseph Panther

Franz Joseph Panther was born on January 14, 1768 in Stadelhofen, Ortenaukreis, Baden, Germany into the the family of Nicolai Panther and Anna Maria Lümple. At the time of his birth, Nicolai and Anna Maria had one other child, their daughter, Ludgarthis. Two sons had died prior to Franz Joseph being born. The first was also named Franz Joseph. He had been born on May 22, 1758 and died just shy of his second birthday on May 9, 1760. The other was Joannes, born May 26, 1763 and died just after his second birthday on June 2, 1765. Franz Joseph was the last child born into the family so he grew up with only one older sister.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tracking the Family of Catherine Murphy to Ireland

I'm traveling for work and have a day off in a town I'm really not interested in exploring so what better to do than to dig into whatever genealogy I can work on from my laptop. I went back to an email I received from a distant cousin regarding my great-great-grandmother, Catherine Murphy and what appeared to be the baptismal record for her child, one I already know about named Michael Dee Kelly. These are Irish records that can be found at I've known about the page for a little while but I didn't realize that they actually have some of the church records available on the web site. Had I realized this, I would have been digging into this information a long time ago.

Here is the evidence and where it led:

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Doran Property - Using Property Records

I got a question from a Miller cousin who asked about Patrick Anthony Miller, the brother of my father who died when he was about two years old. There is some confusion regarding how he died. The Bixenman Family History book notes that he drowned in a pond on the family property. My mother and at least one of my cousins thought that he died of an illness. I decided to see what I could find out about his death.

First, here is his headstone in the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa. He is buried close to his parents and grandparents. 
T. Patrick Headstone in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Couple of Tricks to Find All Ancestors in a Given Census

I encourage all genealogists to do their best to find all of their direct ancestors in every available census. The only way to do this is go have a plan and go at it systematically. has the 1880 and 1940 US Federal Censuses available to everyone for free. There's no reason not to be sure you have the census images for all the ancestors you can.

What I did was decided I was going to work on the 1880 Census. I pulled up my family tree in pedigree view. This showed me all ancestors back to and including all of my great-great-grandparents. I started a the top of the chart (the direct male line) and figured out which of them would have been alive at the time of the 1880 census and where they were living at the time. If I didn't already have the images of them in the census, I went to Ancestry, brought up the 1880 census and, on the right side of the page, browsed down to the town I expected them to be in.