Wednesday, December 16, 2020

European Church Records at Matricula Online

There is a web site that contains images of church book images across mainland Europe, mostly in Germany and Austria but also including Poland, Netherlands, Hungary, Bosia-Herzegovena, and Luxumburg. The number of parishes included is amazing. The current count of churches included is nearly 6,000. This site is known as Matricula Online. It can be found at . If you have ancestors from these areas, be sure to browse their church book image collection.

I looked for churches my family is known to be from and sadly, none of them are there. I'm still excited to find this site. They state that their goal is to continuously expand the content of the site.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Missouri Death Certificates 1909-1969

The Missouri Secretary of State web site has a searchable database of images of death certificates for the state of Missouri from 1910 -1969. It can be found at . If you have anyone in your family tree that died in the State of Missouri between these years, I encourage you to search the database. Over a period of a few days, I searched my genealogy database for anyone that died in Missouri during these years. I didn't find every one of them but I did find 58, from just about every branch of my family tree. Several of these gave me new information such as parents, spouses and death dates that I didn't have before. Some causes of death I saw were burned due to a child playing with fire, to typhus, to electrocution.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Undocumented Family Trees - Seefried Ancestors

 In this post from August 2019, I talked about the transcription of the marriage record I found for my 2x-great-grandparents, Andreas Dunzinger and Anna Ziegelmuller. A few months later, I was able to obtain an image of the church book record. You can see that the transcription was an accurate representation of what was written in the record. It lists Anna's surname as Ziegelmilch and her parents as Paul Ziegelmilch and Victoria Seefried.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Newspaper Account of an Orphan Train

After learning about my grandfather's first cousin, Christian Müller, being sent to Nebraska on board an "orphan train" of the Children's Aid Society in 1902, I've been trying to learn more about it. I have so far found just one article in the "Red Cloud Chief" newspaper of Red Cloud, Nebraska. I found the articles below on the University of Nebraska website "Nebraska Newspapers". Here is the article found in the Friday, September 12, 1902 issue of this newspaper:

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Grimmelshausen and Christman Brandstetter

 Not long before finishing my ancestry research in the area around Ortenaukreis, Baden, Germany, I exchanged emails with a person who lived in the area. I provided a family tree to him and he commented that without doubt, my 8x-great-grandfather knew Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen. At that time, I know I recognized the name Grimmelshausen and I know I saw the death record for Grimmelshausen in my research, but since I didn't have a family connection to him, I hadn't looked too hard at it. Once I received this email, however, I started looking deeper into who Grimmelshausen was.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Relative Soldiers Who Died Fighting for the Other Side in War

I'm sure most genealogists know their family members who served in the US Military and especially those who died in battle. Let's expand our search a bit. Do you know of any of your relatives who died on the other side of the front line? Relatives who actually fought against America and its allies? When I was working on my Panther family history book, my brother called saying his son, my nephew, had a school project where they had to map out where their relatives fought in World War II. My brother wanted to know if I had found any of our German relatives that fought in the war. I was able to tell him that I did and, not only that, I had their photographs!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Historical Markers - The Villasur Expedition

Today, August 14, 2020, is the 300 year anniversary of the massacre of the Spanish Villasur expedition, which occurred in the area of my hometown, Columbus, Nebraska. This is not something I recall learning about in any class in any grade in school. I know I don't have relatives associated with this event but I'm confident some people in town do. I know it's easy to ignore the historical markers you see every day when going about your day to day life but it might be a good idea to check them out at least once. What can you learn about your town that you didn't know before? Could your ancestors have been involved in the events?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Free Access to MyHeritage Photo Enhancer and In Color

 I received an email today letting me know that My Heritage is providing free access for everyone, even non-subscribers, to their Photo Enhancer and In Color tools through September 10, 2020. If you don't have a MyHeritage subscription, you'll definitely want to take advantage of this offer! I know I'll be giving the photo enhancer a try and I'll be colorizing some photos I missed the last time around.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Free iPhone Scanning App

I know I've heard about scanning apps for mobile devices before but I always preferred to use a full sized flatbed scanner for when I need to scan something in to save for genealogy sources. The problem is that there are times when I didn't anticipate needing my scanner so I didn't bring it and my only option is to take a photograph of the document or photo or miss saving it completely. Overall, taking a photo works okay but you always end up having it at a slight angle or saving things only as image files. I found an app today that has been around for a long time. In fact, it's been on the iPhone for as long as I've had one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A Hack and a Data Leak in Two Major Genealogy Web Sites - Updated July 22, 2020

If you use Family Tree Maker, currently owned by MacKiev and use it to sync your genealogy database to and from Ancestry's servers, change your password immediately! The headline reads like the main web site was hacked but according to information security website, it was a a misconfigured server that held a "database [which] contained around 25GB worth of data belonging to 'The Software MacKiev Company,' which syncs’s user data." Among the data that was left in the open for anyone to download were users IP addresses, date and time of users' access, email addresses, messages exchanged with support, internal system user IDs, subscription type and status and user location data such as city and GPS coordinates. This affects approximately 60,000 users. They don't know whether or not any malicious actors got a hold of the data but they can't prove they didn't. You need to assume your username and password are compromised and act accordingly.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

"Long Lost Cousin" Takes a DNA Test

I knew I had some first cousins who are children of the brother of my father. I've known their names for decades. I had never met them or if I ever did, it would have been at my grandfather's funeral when I was about 9 years old and I don't remember. Then, once I grew up and started working on my genealogy, I knew they lived somewhere in California. They had relatively common first names and Miller for a last name and they lived in California. I really had no hope in finding them. The Bixenman family history books, written by Sister Catherine Seemann around the year 2000 listed the children of these cousins.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Solving Crimes Using Genealogy and DNA

I'm sure everyone has heard of the new technique of solving crimes using DNA and genealogy. I thought I'd review the television shows out there that deal directly with this process of solving cold cases, along with how it touches our lives.

The first case that gained publicity for being solved using genetic genealogy was the Golden State Killer case. In this case, the perpetrator committed at least 100 burglaries, 50 rapes and 13 murders between 1974 until 1986. I'm not sure this could be considered a cold case since the lead investigator never let up in trying to find the killer. The technique of using DNA triangulation along with family tree building of DNA matches found on led to the arrest of the murderer in 2018.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

My First Experience as a Search Angel

Since my genealogical research is at a brick walls that don't appear to have any cracks, I've become frustrated at not having any success at finding anything. I thought that if I took a look at someone else's problem, I might be able to relieve that frustration. I thought that if I tried my hand at tracking down the birth parents of an adoptee, it would be an amazing feeling. What I discovered is that the biggest challenge at becoming someone's Search Angel is being able to start the research. Typically when I encounter someone posting a request on any genealogical or DNA testing groups on Facebook, someone has already responded to them. One time when I was the first to respond, they didn't trust the process that I'd need to see their DNA test results. I understand this suspicion and appreciate it. You should always have suspicion when someone is requesting access to your private information. The problem is that they won't be able to help you without that information. Finally, on Thursday, May 14, I reached out to someone looking for a Search Angel and began the search.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Two Techniques to Break Down Brick Walls

Everyone wants to know how they can break down their genealogical brick walls. Who doesn't? No matter where you are in your research, you have brick walls. The more ancestors you know about, the more brick walls you have! Say you want to know who the parents of a great-grandparent is. How can you possibly track them down if you don't know where to start? Here, I'll provide a couple of examples of how to do track them down. In one example, I'll show where some of the information was sitting right in front of me but I didn't know it. It was only after a bit of luck with a marriage record being digitized that I learned the truth. In the other example, I'll show the steps I took to eventually find the truth.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Arbor Day 2020

Just a quick note today. Arbor Day Lodge in Nebraska City, Nebraska, invited my cousin's daughters to appear in a video celebrating their grandfather, my Uncle Ronald Fullenkamp for Arbor Day 2020, which was yesterday. Uncle Ron was a conservationist and maintained a large tree farm in southeast Iowa, near where the girls' parents grew up. They moved to Nebraska City several years ago. His tree farm is where my Panther family has their family reunion every four years. You can see their video here: In case you can't tell, no one appearing in the video are professional actors.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Ladies' Organization Cookbooks and Family Recipes

A cousin of mine posted on Facebook that his daughter decided to make sugar cookies and he could have sworn they were the exact cookies our Grandma Panther made when we were kids. This reminded me that I have an old cook book from West Point, Iowa, where Grandma Panther lived after they sold the farm. I looked through it and found several recipes by my grandmother and a few by my aunts. I scanned these in and posted them to our private Facebook group. This was enough to get one cousin so far to post recipes she found in her version of this cookbook, published 7 years after mine. Now that the snowball is rolling down the hill, it sounds like everyone will be posting the recipes they have from Grandma Panther and their mothers, and I plan on putting them together into a family cookbook in the near future. This post is some scans from the West Point, Iowa, Daughters of Isabella 1973 Cook Book.

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.