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.

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.