Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top Posts of 2014

With the end of the year, the beginning of the next and with many new readers, thanks to Geneabloggers, here is a rundown of my most popular posts of 2014.

1. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City - I started with an update on my brother's status after his serious fall and traumatic brain injury and just to bring everyone up to date, he is doing incredibly well and our entire family couldn't be happier with the outcome. We appreciate all the prayers and well wishes. The rest of the post is a tour of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I never shared this post on Facebook or submitted it to any other bloggers or podcasts so it appears people are finding it on their own. I really hope it educates people enough to make the most of their first (and later) visit to the Family History Library.

2. (Tie) German Church Record Basics - Part 2 - Latin Records - Here's another post I never shared via any other medium so others must be discovering it on their own. It feels good to see that I have posts up that are likely helping others in their education and research. This post is a rundown of key words found in Latin Church records. I specified

Friday, December 5, 2014

Big Moves

My wife and I are in the midst of selling our old home, moving items into storage, then buying a new home and finally moving our things into our new home. It's a long and stressful period but in the end, we hope to be more comfortable and happy. It makes me wonder about how my ancestors experienced moves they went through.

The first one that comes to mind is when Franz Josef Panther moved from Stadelhofen, Ortenaukreis, Baden, Germany to Mösbach. The move was only about four miles down the road, just a little further than our move. Our move is going to be made easier by asking family and friends to help and renting a good sized UHaul truck. Obviously, they didn't have UHaul trucks back in the late 18th century. I don't know anything of their details but I'd imagine they used one or more wagons and possibly several trips to move their household goods. I'd imagine it would be a similar experience to what we're going through.

The moves that Franz Josef's grandsons, Aloys and Ferdinand Panther went through were obviously much more grueling.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Penny Has Hope

This isn't related to genealogy but it is important to my family. My sister-in-law has started a new blog "Penny Has Hope". It is about the struggles of raising special needs children, in particular children with autism. Please take a look and share it with anyone you know that knows about this struggle or would like to learn.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Photo Mosaic of Your Ancestor

What can you do with your genealogy information once you have it "completed"? Is there some creative way for you to display what you've learned? Of course, you know the answer to that is "Yes". There are all kinds of creative projects to display your family tree information. One way I like makes a great display for a wall or for a family reunion.
If I focus my attention on my great-grandparents, Alois Panther and Elizabeth Dunzinger, I have a massive amount of information on Alois' ancestors and they had a large number of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.
Find the photo you want to use as the final product. You can use any photo but it should have meaning to you because this is the overall picture you will be looking at when you look at your mosaic. I used this portrait of Alois and Lizzie.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sadie Rose and Hubert Kelly Doran

A reader posted a comment asking about Hubert K. Doran so I thought I'd post what I have about him and his wife.

Hubert Kelly Doran was born 25 Jan 1887 in Missouri to Thomas and Mary Ann Kelly Doran. He was one of nine children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. His siblings were Kathryn (b. 13 Nov 1882 in Hancock County, Illinois), Maurice Michael (b. 10 Sep 1883 in Bloomfield, Davis County, Iowa), an unnamed child (b. 1884 in Bloomfield, Davis County, Iowa), Mamie E. (b.24 Mar 1889 in Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa), Julia Cecelia (my grandmother) (b. 1 Mar 1891 in New Boston, Lee County, Iowa), Nellie Margaret (b. 29 Jan 1897 in Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa), Leo (b. Apr 1899 and died 15 Aug 1900 in Lee County, Iowa) and Cecelia (b. 23 Jul 1901 in Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa).

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Family Tree DNA Walkthrough

I can imagine that some people might be hesitant to get a DNA test because they're not sure what they'd be getting. Here is a walkthrough of the Family Tree DNA results web site. The screenshots all have had other people's names and my actual DNA blurred out.

First is the initial screen after logon which shows you the options available.
The top link on the page is "Family Tree". Clicking here will bring you to the page where

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Those Darn Dorans

I believe I've just found my first true "Black Sheep" family in my family history and it definitely was not where I expected it. Here is the story of one of my Irish immigrant families, the Dorans.

Thomas Doran was born around 1775 in Ireland. His wife Catherine O'Hara, also known as Kitty, was born in Ireland in about 1798. Their children were also born in Ireland. They were Fanny (born 1826) Nancy (born 1830), Henry (born 1837), Thomas (born 1839), and Margaret (born 18??). The family emigrated from Ireland to America some time between 1839 and 1853. It appears they arrived in New York before moving to Pennsylvania, likely around Philadelphia.

Nancy became an unwed mother in 1853, while either in New York or Pennsylvania, with the birth of her son, Thomas, my great-grandfather. It is unknown who the father was. Some time between 1853 and 1860, the family moved to Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois.

A newspaper article speaking of the incident that occurred on Wednesday, July 22, 1868, says "The Doran family, living beyond the Wabash depot, was often in trouble and history tells that 'Granny' Doran had an establishment in her home." So far, we have not been able to deduce what kind of establishment the article was speaking about but I tend to believe she purveyed alcohol, likely whiskey.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Share Your Info and Ask Questions - Thomas Doran in Texas

Here's another example of how taking a little bit of information you've found and sharing it with others can reap huge rewards in more information.

A couple of years ago, during my last trip to Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, I had stumbled upon records of service in the Civil War for a Thomas Doran who would have been born in about 1843. He was listed as a musician in the Illinois 16th US Infantry. I knew this couldn't be my great-grandfather as he wasn't born until about 1853. He was also too young to be his father.
These are not documentation per se. They are just database entries showing Thomas Doran's Civil War service.

These are not documentation per se. They are just database entries showing Thomas Doran's Civil War service.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Uploading Genealogy Information to Family Tree DNA

In my relatively short time working with Family Tree DNA, the biggest problem I'm running into is when my matches either don't have their ancestor family tree uploaded or it's set to not show all the pertinent information. If we have a match through our "paper" genealogy, I wouldn't know it because I can't see who their ancestors were. Most of my matches don't have a family tree posted whatsoever. For those that do have one posted, here's what I typically see when I view the family tree of one of my matches. Note that I've replaced all names with just the word "Name" so I'm not sharing anything they may not want to share.
See all of the people showing up as "Private"? This is likely because they didn't have a death date entered and the privacy settings are set to not show matches information regarding living people.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Upcoming Doran Research

There are a few irons in the fire in regards to my Doran research.

First, I've been contacted by another experienced researcher interested in the Doran line. It sounds like she lives in the Hancock County area and she will be doing a local cemetery search for any of the Dorans. It sounds like Old Tommy and Nancy Doran were buried in Warsaw. The Kelly family was buried in Sacred Heart cemetery and it appears there are many stones missing there. The Hancock County Historical Society's cemetery index was taken in the early 1970s. If any stones were missing or illegible, they weren't included in the index. It is likely the case that the Doran headstones just don't exist any longer and possibly never did exist. Regardless, I'm wishing her luck in tracking them down.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Incarcerated in Iowa - An Historical Prison Project

This post isn't directly related to genealogy, although if you happen to be related to anyone incarcerated at the Fort Madison State Penitentiary in the past century and a half, it may have something to do with your genealogy. I still believe it's an important and interesting project.

My cousin, Mark Fullenkamp, is involved in a project, scanning in old glass negatives, some as much as 150 years old, found in the old Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Iowa. You may remember my post regarding photos Mark took at the St. James Cemetery in St. Paul, Iowa that demonstrated a bit of genealogical serendipity. You can find that article here:

The poster, created by Mark, incorporated one of the photos he found.
He selected this one due to the way his eyes capture the viewer.
Other than inverting the colors and adjusting the overall hue,
the eyes are exactly as shown in the original photo.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

DNA Test Request

Are you related to me? Have you had a DNA test done? If you can answer "Yes" to both of these questions, please let me know! If you're willing to have a DNA test done, again, please let me know!

I have literally hundreds of matches in my FamilyTree DNA Family Finder test results. Of these hundreds, I have genealogical research proving my relation to a total of 2 (two) of them. I am relatively closely related (up to 5th cousins) to two additional matches but we can't even figure out what branch we're related on.

The next step is to try to triangulate the matches by having other relations test. If I can get a couple of first and second cousins tested on both my mother's and father's side, it may help me figure out how I'm related to these other matches. If I can figure out what branches these matches are related to me, I may be able to get an area to search for the more stubborn branches of my tree.

For example, if I can get a cousin on my father's side to test and they match in a similar area as another match, that will tell me what branches I'm related to them on. If they have genealogical work done on that branch, it could tell me what area in Europe to look.

If you're related to me and have had a DNA test done, please let me know.

If you're related to me and are willing to have a DNA test done, again, please let me know. Thank you!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

County Historical Societies - Nancy Dunnigan Obituary

I just received a copy of Nancy Dunnigan's obituary, found in the September 14, 1894 Carthage, Illinois Gazette. I received it from the Hancock County Historical Society. They have the Hancock County Museum in Carthage, right across the street from the jail where Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS Church was killed. I had sent them a question regarding local cemeteries and where I might find the various Thomas Dorans buried in Carthage. In my email, I spelled out the current understanding of the Doran family.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Buying family history items on Ebay

 How can you find someone that has an item that has historical significance to your family? I know I always wanted to have some small physical piece of my family history so I kept doing searches on Ebay, hoping some elusive object would come up.

One item I tracked down was a personal journal written in the late 1800s. I looked up the name on Rootsweb and found someone that had this person in their family tree. I let them know about the item being auctioned off. They put in a small bid but didn't think the person was connected that closely to them. If I found a journal written by my direct ancestor, I know I'd be willing to spend way too much on it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Biography of Benedict Bixenman

Benedict Bixenman was born on March 21, 1829 in Treherz, Donaukreis, Wurtemburg, now a part of Germany, to 40 year old Eusebius Bixenman and his wife, 31 year old Maria Anna (Reidmiller) Bixenman. His parents had already had five other children, at least three of which were still living at the time. They were Joseph, if he was still alive, who would have been 9 years old. and 8 year old Francesca. We only know the birth date and nothing further about these two. It's possible they died prior to Benedict's birth. The rest of the children were 6 year old Johannes, 5 year old Theresa and 3 year old Leopold.
Benedict Bixenman's baptismal record from the church book in Treherz

Monday, July 21, 2014

Scan Those Old Photos and Documents - Old Bixenman Photos

Do you have old family photos and documents sitting around in a box in a closet somewhere? I guarantee that even if you're not interested in them, someone is! Please either scan them in to your computer or contact your family historian (If you're related to me, that would be me!) and get them scanned in.

Why do I feel it's important? I have two good reasons. First, to share the old family photos with others in the family! In the past, you'd have to worry about the price of duplicating a photo and physically sending a copy to whoever would like a copy. Now, the only cost is your time. The second reason is to preserve history. What would happen if tragedy happened and you lost your house to fire, flood or tornado? Those family photos would be gone!

Finally, once you get them scanned in, make certain to back them up! Write them to a CD or DVD and mail them to other family members! Put them on a blog or website! What I do is use Bittorrent Sync to automatically back up my family history documentation folder to relatives who volunteer to be the backup location in order to also have a copy of it. You can see my writeup about this program here.

I enjoy bringing my flat-bed scanner to relatives' houses and scanning in their old photos and documents. As I scan them in, I create a text file documenting who is in each photo. This way I can document who they are as I enter them into my family history database.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Old Newspapers

I was looking through a microfilm containing images of old Carthage, Illinois newspapers, hoping to find some information regarding my Doran family line. Unfortunately, all I could find was Fanny (Doran) Neason being listed on delinquent tax rolls. Given the size and frequency of these lists, it doesn't appear unusual for someone to be listed on them.

Searching through old newspapers on microfilm can be difficult. The small text, being not too dark on the paper and slightly out of focus for the imaging makes for strained eyes. Add to that ads mixed in with articles where you can't tell very well what is an article, what is opinion and what is an ad, very few headlines and wording that can be labored and it makes for a long night looking at these pages. However, sometimes you can find some good information.

Where can you find old newspaper articles? There are several newspaper archive web sites:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Examine Every Detail - Marriage of Hugh Kelly and Catherine Murphy

When you're stumped on what to research next, really study the information you have and see what you can use to track down other information. Here's my recent example.
I have a court record (actually two records stating the exact same thing) of Hugh Kelly and Catherine Murphy, living in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, being married in Clark County, Missouri. It doesn't give any further information regarding the location. How could you figure out where they were married?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day - 1940 Census

My father passed away in January, 2000. The next summer, I attended the family reunion of my mother's side of the family. While there, I spoke with my uncle, Al Dohman. He was the husband of my mother's sister. He wanted to be sure that I knew that he and my father were good friends. I thanked him for his kind words and said that I hadn't realized how good of friends they were. He mentioned that they were friends for a very long time.

Al passed away in 2011.

In 2012, the 1940 US Federal Census was released. I searched through it to find my parents, grandparents and all my various aunts and uncles. During my search, I found my father, living with his parents, Leo and Julia Miller, at 1545 Avenue L, Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Doran Probate and Property Records in Carthage, Illinois

During our last trip to Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, I found some information about the Thomas Doran family. I've been trying to piece together the big picture and I think I'm making progress. I obtained the newspaper articles listed here at the Hancock County Museum in Carthage. The probate and property papers I obtained from the county court house in Carthage.

First, here is an article in the Carthage Republican on December 1, 1875 saying that Old Tommy Doran, well known in this community is said to be very sick with little chance of recovery. Tommy's age is not known; but he is believed to be over a hundred years old.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day

It is Memorial Day weekend. Be sure to take advantage of Ancestry's offer of free military lookups! You can find it here:

You will need to sign in to Ancestry to view the records but you can do this with a free account. Enter your search parameters. As always, start with a more wide search. Put more details in if you get too many results.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Miller Mystery

My surname is Miller. It is believed my great-grandfather was known by the surname Müller at least until he came to the United States. We have reason to believe one of his brothers went by the surname of Müller even after he came to America. In my experience looking through the record books of Catholic churches in a few villages in Germany, it appears that Müller is essentially just an alternate spelling of Mueller and Miller. It doesn't appear there was any intentional or accidental name change when my great-grandfather, Charles Miller (aka Karl Müller) came to America. It is my belief that he just started spelling it this way and that's the way his children ended up spelling it. Regardless, I'm sure that should we find his baptismal record in Germany in any of these spellings, I know I'll recognize the family.
Charles and Philomena Bixenman Miller ca1900

Charles Miller was extremely secretive about where he came from. He said he was on the run from the German military and if they tracked him down, he would be treated as a deserter. Grandpa Leo H. Miller Sr. said he was confident he had relatives in Germany but he had no idea where.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Highlights from a Genealogy Class

From my years of at least weekly visits to my local Family History Center, many members of The local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) have come to know me and respect my knowledge of genealogy research. Because of this, the Bishopric of the local church asked me to teach a weekly genealogy class for their members. The class ultimately was more of a workshop with me helping about six people interested in their genealogy with online research. Let me tell you, the fact that every person's genealogy research is going to be completely different makes it quite a challenge to help six different people get started with online research. I essentially had to make five people wait while explaining how the first user should start, then move on to the second. When I was about halfway through helping the second person, the first person had found that he didn't find anything on his initial search. It was a pretty hectic hour but I hope that I helped everyone there at least a little bit. We'll find out next week with the next class.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Moriz Panther Biography

Moriz Panther, my great-great-grandfather, was born in Stadelhofen, A. Achern Ortenaukreis, Baden. His parents, Franz Joseph Panther and Genovefa Schindler, moved the family from Stadelhofen to Mösbach some time after the children were born.
Moriz Panther Baptismal Record

Monday, January 13, 2014

Links to My Family History Pages

Here's a listing of all the web links I have regarding family history research I'm working on:

My main blog page (this page): Be sure to bookmark it if you haven't already.

My main link page that links to all the other pages I have going. If you save only one Favorite or Bookmark, make it this one:

My full family tree on RootsWeb:

My Lulu storefront selling all family history books I've made available:

Here are the individual books that are available:
Moriz Panther and Elizabeth Birk - Their Descendants and Ancestors:

The Bixenman Family - Volume 1 - By Sister Catherine Seemann:

Bixenman Family Tree - Volume 2 - By Sister Catherine Seemann:

My YouTube Channel - Most of the videos aren't family history related. They are videos of things I've recorded that I found interesting but should I record anything family history related, it will be here:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

German Church Record Basics - Part 2 - Latin Records

This is Part 2 of German Church Record Basics - Latin Records. The church record books in Germany prior to about 1800 were typically written in Latin. After about 1800, they were written in German. The part covering the church book records in the German language can be found here: .

Here are a few sample German Church records in Latin:
Latin Birth/Baptismal (Natus/Baptizatus) Record
Latin Marriage (Matrimonius) Record
Latin Death (Mortus) Record

Latin Birth/Baptism (Natus/Baptizatus) Record - The key words you're looking for are: