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.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

John Anthony Miller Delayed Birth Certificate

You may remember, in this post, I mentioned that I found the birth certificates for the brothers and sisters of my parents but, for some reason I could not find the birth certificates for my mom and dad. I did a search on Ancestry and saw an entry for my dad, John Anthony Miller in the Iowa Delayed Birth Certificates collection. I took a look and there it was. I find several interesting things on this certificate. You'll note that I blurred out information about a living individual and about the address we lived at at the time.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Genealogy Podcasts Revisited

A while back, I posted a list of podcasts I listened to. Since then, I've expanded my list and have found several that I really like. Here is my updated list of podcasts. I have not listened to the entire history of all of these but I am slowly making my way through them. Here is my list of podcasts in order of my preference.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Handwritten Will of Benedict Bixenmann

After receiving a copy of the Bixenman Family History books written by Sister Catherine Seemann around 2005, I took a trip to the town my great-great-grandfather, Benedict Bixenmann, took his family to in 1869, Wien, Chariton County, Missouri. I was able to obtain a copy of the St. Mary of the Angels church history book and had a visit with a distant cousin, which turned into an impromptu family reunion when a few other distant cousins joined our table at the restaurant.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Ancestry Brings Back RootsWeb WorldConnect, Sort Of

I noticed when I went to RootsWeb to view my WorldConnect tree, which I use as a quick way to look up my information when I'm not at home, I noticed that there is a new link on the Family Trees page. It says "The new Worldconnect Beta is available!"

Well over a year ago, when Ancestry discovered the security breach in RootsWeb, they took down RootsWeb completely and have been slowly bringing things back online. Way.....Too....Slowly.... This shouldn't have taken more than a few weeks at worst. Regardless, last year, they brought the old WorldConnect family trees back but they could not be changed. Any changes since the security breach would have to wait. They have now given us the ability to upload new GEDCOM files to our family trees.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Memorial Day - WWII Draft Registration Cards and Fold3 are currently offering free access to military records through Memorial Day, May 27, 2019. Definitely go see if you can find military records for the soldiers and sailors in your family tree! I did a quick search on Fold3 and found the World War II draft registration cards for a lot of my Panther relations. These are full color scans, front and back, of the original cards my relatives filled out, including notes written on them later. These include those of typical military service and draft age, along with the "Old Man" draft registrations of those who were born between 1887 and 1897. Here are a few I found.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Old New York City Photos

I was listening to old Extreme Genes podcasts from 2015 recently and in one episode, Fischer interviewed the man responsible for putting together the web sites and I have no connection to San Francisco, so did not interest me but definitely got my attention. This is a collection of old photographs from as far back as the beginnings of photography to as recent as the year 2000. The majority of the photos are from the 1920-1930 range. The photos are mapped out according to their location on a map of New York City.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

DNA Web Site of My Dreams (*does not yet exist)

I am a tech geek but my normal environment is system configuration and security. I can install and configure systems, make a given system work and can suggest configuration changes that will help secure it. I am not a developer. When it comes to writing code, I can do html (web) and basic scripting. I cannot develop a full program or web page. While I can't write a program, I do understand what goes into it and can estimate the difficulty of implementing a given feature. Hearing about the updates to various DNA testing company tools, it made me think, "This is a good update. This should help. But why can't they do...." and I started listing off various things that I would think should be relatively easy to accomplish. Then I thought, why not put it in a blog post and maybe a developer at one of these testing companies might read it and start working on some of these wish list features. I will include a few features that already exist but they don't exist on every service so I'm going to include them. So here we go!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Iowa Birth Certificates 1921-1942

Family Search updated their collection of Iowa birth certificates for the years 1921-1942. When I saw that, I definitely had to see what I could find. I found a large number of Menke birth certificates but since they are more distantly related to me, I'll skip posting them here, relying only on my closer relations. First up is my father's first cousin, Bernard Hellrung. His mother was my great-grandfather, Thomas Doran's daughter.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Family Tree DNA Updates Policy Regarding Law Enforcement

I received an email from Family Tree DNA today regarding how they are allowing law enforcement to use their DNA matching services. While I haven't dug into the details, my first reaction is that this seems to be a good option for those who do not wish to allow law enforcement to use their DNA to help track down criminals. Law enforcement users must register using a separate process that signifies they are law enforcement. Users can opt-out of allowing these specially created accounts from appearing as matches. Granted, this will not prevent agencies from creating normal user accounts, hiding the fact that they are law enforcement but, assuming the agencies act appropriately, this should relieve the concerns of many people.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Coincidence of Names in Carthage, Illinois and a DNA Match

I did a search on Ebay for anything whose description mentioned "Carthage, Illinois". I found an envelope, postmarked in 1891, with a printed return address of a business named "Wm. Dugdale, Dealer in Boots and Shoes, Carthage, Illinois".

This surname of Dugdale sounded familiar. I recalled seeing this surname in my Family Tree DNA matches. I looked and verified I do have a DNA match with the surname of Dugdale. This match does not have a family tree posted on Family Search.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Creating a Memorial Video

My wife received news that the boyfriend of a friend of hers passed away suddenly. He was very young. My wife knows that I'm good with computers and can create videos from photos without any problem. She volunteered to her friend that I would create a video for him and of course I'm happy to help out. Since I was racking my brain, trying to come up with a blog post, I thought this would be a good one. How to create a video memorial. This may be for a funeral, such as this one or the one I created for my mother, or it could be something to show at a family reunion or a birthday party or genealogical society meeting or any other reason you may want to show a video.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Relative Finder & Distant Relations

In this blog post, I talked about, where you could log in to Family Search Family Tree and the program would automatically climb your tree, telling you if you're related to anyone famous. While I was related to only 4 famous people, my wife was related to a few hundred and her best friend was related to most of those along with several hundred more. What I found interesting, as I browsed my wife and her friend's famous relatives, is that even though they are related to many of the same people, they are not related to each other.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

More Iowa Death Certificates

Be sure to sign up for email updates from! While I don't receive these every month like I would expect, when I do receive them, they almost always pay off. The email I received this morning definitely did. Included in this month's update was the fact that they added new indexed records to their collection of Iowa death records. I've searched this collection previously but since they said there were updated indexed records, I thought it couldn't hurt to do another search. I entered just the surname of "Panther". This resulted in a large number of records, as I expected. I then stepped through each one, verifying I had the death certificate for each one listed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Laurel Hill Cemetery

My wife and I visited Laurel Hill Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska last weekend, hoping to find the graves of some of her ancestors. It was a spur of the moment stop. I didn't have any of my research of her family with me. I had to rely on my memory of names of her family to figure out who might be there. I could access the tree on RootsWeb but I didn't have much of her tree uploaded prior to RootsWeb going offline over a year ago. No uploads have been allowed since then.

So we wondered the cemetery, looking for familiar names. We found only one surname from her tree and it wasn't clear who was buried there.

Glup (pronounced Gloop) is the maiden name of my wife's paternal grandmother. Once we got home, I looked on Find-A-Grave and it says the baby's name was Edward. I do not have an Edward Glup documented in her tree yet but, based on the families that lived in the area, I tend to believe Edward was my wife's grandmother's nephew. Her parents would have been Carl Glup (1856-1939) and Augusta Zych/Zeeck Glup (1857/60-1933). This couple is buried in Laurel Hill but we could not find them.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Are You Related to Anyone Famous?

I just learned about a very cool tool provided by Family Search. It's called Relative Finder. It will tell you about any famous people, living or from history, and tell you your relationship to them, such as fifth cousin, once removed etc. This uses the Family Search Family Tree so you are relying on the research of others. Still, I believe this can be used like any other online family tree, as a clue. Once you find the information on Family Search Family Tree, you can then research the original records and prove this. You can only run this tool on the person you are logged in as and that has a Family Search Family Tree entry.

First, if you don't have one already, create a free Family Search account at Go to Family Tree and add the individuals necessary to connect your family into the tree. So much research has already been done, you likely will only need to add your ancestors that are still alive, since you won't be able to find them in the tree. Living individuals can only be seen by the person who added them. Once this is done, go to and sign in using your Family Search account.