matthewkmiller on FamilyTreeCircles - journals

matthewkmiller on Family Tree Circles

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1940 Census

Looking through the 1940 Census. Found my father and most of my aunts and uncles that married into my mom's family. Found my dad (John A. Miller) and my uncle (Aloysius Dohman), both 10 years old, living about 8 blocks from each other. I knew they were good friends but didn't know for how long. Appears they were likely friends their whole lives.

Another Headstone

I was just at the St. James Cemetery in St. Paul, Lee County, Iowa a couple of weeks ago and got a photo of my great-great-grandmother's headstone. I was quite happy. This morning I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't do more research before going. I have discovered that there is only one ancestor that died in the United States whose headstone I don't have a photo of. That is Johann Heinrich Kempker, AKA John H. Kempker, born 1797, died 1872 in St. Paul, Lee County, Iowa. This is my great-great-great-grandfather, he's buried in St. Paul, he's the last ancestor's headstone I don't have that I could expect to get a photo of easily, I was there a couple of weeks ago and didn't get a photo.

1 comment(s), latest 5 years, 5 months ago


Cemetery Visit

While in the area for my uncle's funeral, I was able to stop in at St. James Cemetery, St. Paul, Lee County, Iowa. I found my great-great-grandmother's grave!

It is understandable that it flew under the radar of non-genealogists in the family, if they were even interested in finding it! She was born as Maria Elizabeth Geers, later her married name was Maria Elizabeth Menke. After Johan Diederich Menke died, she married a Schutte. I was looking for Maria Schutte or Maria Elizabeth Schutte. She was buried as "Elizabeth Schutte". Regardless, I found her grave and got some good photos of it to add to my database. I also wandered through the cemetery for an hour taking photos of graves that had familiar names and took some photos to fulfill photo requests for fellow Find-A-Grave users. I ended up taking about 80 photos there. I'm still working on going through them, cropping them, putting them in my database and submitting to

In the meantime, Rest In Peace, Uncle Urban. I'm sure you were greeted at the Pearly Gates with "Well done, my son."

Completed Project

I just republished the Bixenman Family History book, Volume 1. Thank you Paula for sending me good copies of the original book. I've received the first copy of the book and verified it looks good. You can order it here.

This makes two major projects I've finished in the past few months. The next major project is to take the research already completed on my wife's genealogy and put it into a database so we can use it for various future projects. First though, a break from genealogy for a bit to work on things around the house. What? Real life exists? Yes, there is a life outside of genealogy. Time to work on it a bit.

1 comment(s), latest 5 years, 6 months ago

Continuing Progress on Projects

I finished scanning and editing the pages of the Bixenman Family History book and am in the process of generating and verifying the pdf file for on demand publication. Hopefully I'll have a copy of the book in my hands in the next week or two.

Death of Urban Panther

I am sad to report the death of my Uncle Urban Panther. He was born May 6, 1917 in St. Paul, Lee County, Iowa to Benedict Panther and Elizabeth Menke Panther and died December 7, 2012 in West Point, Lee County, Iowa at the age of 95. "Slug", as he was known, married Bertha Pulskamp on Jun 21, 1949 in Hillsboro, Traill County, North Dakota. He was the father of 11 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood. He worked the family farm on highway 218 in Lee County Iowa that his father farmed before him. He passed it along to his son John Anthony Panther, who preceded him in death in 2006.

I remember going to southeast Iowa to visit my aunts, uncles and cousins, typically at least once per year growing up back in the 1970s. Many years, Mom and Dad would drop me off at the farm where I'd stay with Urban's family for most of the entire vacation.

Urban was a great man. Hard working and honest. My mom told me about his nickname, Slug. She always thought that they called him that because he was tough and he could really slug a baseball. She said she was heartbroken when she learned that he got the nickname because he didn't move very fast. Slow as a slug. It's funny, at the Panther reunion 4 years ago, I remember talking to my cousin, Urban's son, Greg. I said, "Your dad's still getting around pretty good for 91 years old. Not very fast but he's getting around." Greg replied something along the lines of, "He's never been very fast."

Mom is heading to my house this morning and we'll hit the road to pay our respects to her brother Urban and his family.

Dorans and Kellys in Hancock County, Illinois

I tracked down my grandfather's parents to Hancock County, Illinois. They were Thomas Doran and Mary Ann Kelly. They eventually moved to Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa and are buried there. I'm looking for their origins. I found Mary Ann's parents, Hugh Kelly and Catherine Murphy. They are buried in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois. I found Thomas Doran's parents names in his obituary. They are Thomas and Catherine Doran from Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. Thomas Doran is apparently a popular name in Carthage as I found "my" Thomas Doran, his father, Thomas Doran and at least one other Thomas Doran in Carthage. There are two articles talking about Old Tommy Doran who died in 1877 at about 100 years of age. I spoke to someone at the Hancock County Historical Society and at the County Clerk but my time was limited. I found their names while there but didn't have time to go any further. Can someone help me track down information about Thomas' parents, Thomas and Catherine Doran? Or Hugh Kelly and Catherine Murphy?

1 comment(s), latest 5 years, 10 months ago

Families in Lee County, Iowa

I knew the families in Lee County, Iowa, formed a tight-knit community with members of the various families marrying members of the other families at many different points. This meant that seeing a Menke, Groene, Fedler or one of a few other surnames meant you knew they were related, at worst, within a marriage or two to my line. I found some new information on Find-A-Grave, (which, I know, is a clue and not a source but in my experience, tends to be pretty accurate), that shows that they are more closely related than we thought.

It ends up that Maria Adelheide Menke, who was the daughter of the sister of my great-great-grandfather, Johan Diederich Menke, married Kasper Herm Groene, who was born in the same small town in Germany that she was, Schwagstorf. They then moved to West Point, Iowa. They are the parents of most if not all the Groenes in the area. In addition, their daughter married a Fedler and they are the parents of most if not all of the Fedlers in the area. So, these Fedlers and Groenes my mother knew when she was a child, even though she didn't know it, were related to her. I also saw a couple of Menkes marrying Fedlers and Groenes from these lines so it appears there are some "kissing cousins" in the mix, although they are pretty distantly related.

Note about this post: For those who are observant, you see that Maria Adelheide is the daughter of the SISTER of my g-g-grandfather, so why does she have the last name of Menke? The Menkes were one of the richer families and estate owners. When Gerd Herm Tobe, of Schwagstorf, married Maria Adelheide's mother, Margaretha Maria Adelheid Menke, he took her last name so the Menke name was passed down to their children.