Thursday, October 24, 2013

What Constitutes Proof?

Lizzie Dunzinger as a young lady.
An updated article has been posted here.

As anyone who has been aware of my genealogy research knows, my big mystery is my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Dunzinger. I've put a lot of time and effort into finding her, as you'll see in the evidence collected below.
I am going to list all the documentation we have on Lizzie (as she was known most of her life). I'm interested in your opinion. Does all this together consistute proof that we've found her parents? If not, where do we go from here to prove it? Please comment below or email me your thoughts. Thank you!

The family story passed down through the years says that Lizzie was born in New York in either 1854 or 1856. Her grandparents brought her to Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa to live with relatives after her parents died when she was about three years old.

In this list, I will talk about only facts about the documentation and facts about what we know, not my beliefs on what is true.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Trip to Southeast Iowa

I drove my mother to southeast Iowa last weekend so she could visit her sisters and old friends. While she was busy, I got busy with genealogy research.

I took photos at St. James cemetery in St. Paul, Lee County, Iowa. I took a list of graves from Find-A-Grave that didn't have photos posted. I started near the back of the cemetery, going grave by grave, checking the list to see if a photo was needed. If so, I took the picture and moved to the next. Once I got home, I added those I needed (most of them - I'm related to 40% of the people in this cemetery) to my database and posted them all to Find-A-Grave. The percent photographed showed 24% when I started. It now shows 42% photographed.

While taking the photos, I set up my GoPro Hero3 camera to take time-lapse photos of the clouds and sunset. I think the video is pretty stunning:

The thing I was most excited about on this trip was my visit to Sts. John and Paul Church in Burlington. They allowed me to page through the old books.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Passing of Elmer Steffensmeier

I got word today that my Uncle Elmer Steffensmeier died early this morning after being diagnosed with lung cancer a few months ago. He was three days shy of his 87th birthday and will be buried on his 87th birthday. Cake and ice cream will be served at the reception!

Here is his obituary:

Elmer Steffensmeier

  • BORN: October 15, 1926
  • DIED: October 12, 2013
  • LOCATION: Fort Madison, Iowa
Elmer Lloyd Steffensmeier, 86, of Fort Madison, IA, passed away on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 2:19 a.m. at his home. He was born on October 15, 1926 in Fort Madison, IA to Leonard & Caroline Rippenkroeger Steffensmeier. He married Rita F. Panther on June 12, 1948 in Houghton, IA. He was an engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad for 40 years, retiring in 1987. He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII and was a member of Ss. Mary & Joseph Church and the Knights of Columbus. He was the former president of the BLF & E.

Elmer is survived by: his wife: Rita Steffensmeier of Fort Madison, IA; 3-daughters: Marilyn (Vince) Brinkschroeder of Fort Madison, IA, Anne Steffensmeier of Cedar Rapids, IA & Carole (Richard) Grayson of Chicago, IL; 4-grandchildren: Sheila (Tony) Huls, Eric (DeAnn) Brinkschroeder, Michael (Heather) Brinkschroeder & Elizabeth Steffensmeier; 5-great grandchildren: Jacob, Megan & Owen Huls, Andrew & Isabella Brinkschroeder and 1-brother: Vernon Steffensmeier. He was preceded in death by: his parents, 1-daughter, Ellen, 2-brothers & 1-sister.

Friends may call after 2:00 p.m. on Monday, October 14, 2013 with the family to receive friends from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. with a wake service to be held at 6:15 p.m. all at King-Lynk Funeral Home & Crematory. The funeral mass will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at Ss. Mary & Joseph Church with Rev. David Wilkening officiating. Burial will be held at Gethsemane Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established for Lee County Hospice or the Gethsemane Cemetery Foundation. Online condolences to Elmer's family may be left at the King-Lynk Funeral Home & Crematory website:


While I don't put as much effort into collateral lines of the family such as Elmer, I do log the information when I find it so I do have a bit of a family tree for him. Here is a chart of his ancestors:

My mother and I had a good trip to southeast Iowa last weekend. I'm glad we were able to see Elmer one last time. I've been busy going through all the information I gathered while there and will post it soon. In the meantime, here is a time-lapse video of the clouds and sunset while I visited St. James Cemetery in St. Paul, Lee County, Iowa.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bixenman Family Tree - Volume 2 Republished

After scanning in an original copy of "Bixenman Family Tree - Volume 2" by Sister Catherine Seemann, cropping and cleaning up the scans and fixing some minor errors, I've just made the book available to purchase on Lulu. She originally published the book in 2001. It has been out of print since then. She made it clear that her relatives were free to do as they pleased with the book. I really wanted to make sure it was available for anyone to order now and in the future.

You can purchase the book here:

Volume 1 was republished about a year ago and is available here:

For those interested in the Bixenmans, my father's father's mother was Philomena Bixenman, born in Lawrence, Lake County, Indiana, lived about 25 years and was married in Wien, Chariton County, Missouri then lived out her remaining years and died in Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa.

Tomorrow, I will be taking my mother to visit her sisters in southeast Iowa (the West Point, Fort Madison, Burlington area). While there, I will be getting some photos at area cemeteries and looking through the church records at Sts. John and Paul Church in Burlington. My great-grandmother, Elizabeth Dunzinger Panther's death record reports that she moved to Dodgeville when she was 23 years old. This was the year she was married. Their marriage was officiated by a priest from St. John's, although it wasn't at the church itself. She would have lived in the area and attended church at St. John's at least from the time she was 17 until she was 23 and likely from the time she was just a few years old. I hope I'll find some sort of records that mention her parents' names, who family stories say died when she was three years old. I'll be sure to let you know what I find.