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Milwaukee Deaths Database

19190504-MJ-dealWithDevilOver the years, I’ve spend a lot of time looking for deaths in the archive of The Milwaukee Journal on Google News. The problem is that these entries are usually too small (or too bad of quality) that they don’t get picked up by the character-recognition software when Google put them online. This means you can’t automatically search for them. Also, depending on the date of the paper, the death may be recorded in a normal obituary, a full article (like my great-great grandfather, fortunately), a tiny single-line burial permit, or a small death notice.

So, since I obviously need more work on my genealogy plate, I decided to start recording all of the deaths I can find in these archives. I try to note the date, individual’s name, paper, type of record, age, and address. This will be put into a database where it will be searchable. So far, I’ve recorded a bit over 700 entries (some duplicates due to similar entries on multiple days) mainly from the years of 1884 and 1910. I know I’m behind on recording data for my main Zalewski project, but recording census data is a lot more difficult (especially on the technical side.)

I’ve built my transcription process to be pretty simple. It’s something I can do when I have 10-15 minutes free. I can just open an archived paper, browse through it, and fill out a small online form when I see a death. Once I hit submit, it’s already in the database and viewable online. It’s not publicly available, yet, but I hope to have it up soon. It’s not every piece of information on every death recorded in the paper. I am human and only one person. There will be items I miss or things I enter wrong, but it’s more than is out there now. The benefit is two-fold. This data will be recorded and searchable, and I will probably find information on my family somewhere. Also, who knows how long Google will keep the archives online. These papers are available elsewhere on microfilm, etc, but I’ll do what I can when I can.

Keep an eye on here to see when the data will be available. I foresee in the next week, at least for basic listing and searching.

The Boy With No Hands

This all started when, on a whim, I decided to see what happened in Milwaukee 100 years ago. I went to the Google News Archive site for The Milwaukee Journal and brought up the paper from March 19, 1915 (I know, I was one day off.) I read a few front-page stories and then ran across one titled, Boys Seek to Help Widowed Mother-One Loses Both Hands and the subtitle says, “Child Weeps in Hospital While Operation is Performed on Brother.” How could I not keep reading?

Anton Kopfhammer

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If you can’t read the article, it basically talks about two boys who went off to a train yard to collect bits of fuel (probably coal) that fell off of the trains. While running between two cars, one boy had his hands crushed between them when they moved. In the end, he had to have them amputated at the elbows.

I was now very interested in what happened to this boy, Anton Katshamer, as named in the story. I went directly to FamilySearch and tried looking for that name, but no luck. After playing with the names, spelling, and family members, I ran across a family in the 1910 Census for Milwaukee with all of the correct people; a boy named Max, a younger boy named Anton. Though, their last name was spelled, Kopfhammer. I then found the family in the 1920 Census. This time without a father, which lines up directly with the story that mentions “the father has been dead three years,” so in 1912.

I went to our trusty friend, Google, to try to find more. My search for Anton brought up 3 more articles from The Milwaukee Journal from later in 1915. The first one, from April 10, 1915, is titled Workers Help Fund For Tony. It mentions how a few local companies and individuals put together some money for Anton and his family, totaling $2,318 in this article, including a man who sent in his 35 cents that he saved by skipping his noon meal.

The second one from later in April on the 20th, titled Guardian Named For Boy Who Lost Hands. It mainly talks about who took over Anton’s guardianship while he works on learning to live without hands, including, hopefully, getting artificial hands.

The last one from December 1915 is titled Injured Boy Gets $15,000 in Court. $3,000 of that came from the local businesses and individuals and $12,000 came from the railroad company, though without involving a lawsuit. There are some funny quotes from Anton in this article.

“I don’t know what I will be when I grow up to be a man,” continued Tony, “I can’t be a fireman or policeman, and I might be a lawyer. They have been nice to me.”

It was suggested that Tony would not be a howling success as an attorney without hands, as one of the great requisites for financial success is five flexible digits on each manual extremity.

I also found a death record for an Anton Kopfhammer matching the dates from California in 1989, though no luck on obituaries or more information. I’d really like to see what he became when he grew up. I’ll keep you posted if I find anything more. It’s amazing what information you can find with the records available today.

Another Tested Cousin

It was exiting to see another cousin listed on my 23andMe DNA Relatives list yesterday. While going through my matches, I noticed a familiar name, my paternal grandmother’s cousin (so, my first cousin, once removed.) I now have 4 confirmed cousin matches on that list (excluding my father.)

Also, earlier this week I confirmed the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) speculation on another one of my matches. I did some digging on who we thought was our common ancestor and was able to prove it (with like 95% certainty) that we share 3rd-great-grandparents. I found a lucky obituary via a Google search that confirmed her connection to the TROKA surname. Once there, it just took a little source triangulation to confirm dates and connections back up to Thomas Troka to prove he is the brother of my great-great-grandfather, Joseph Troka.

3 out of the 4 of the confirmed cousins on my list are paternal (1 first cousin; 1 third cousin, twice removed; 1 first cousin, once removed.) The connection on my maternal side is a third cousin through my paternal grandfather. I can now fill in the shared genomes of our MRCAs and see exactly which ancestors I received which chromosomes from. Obviously the goal in that is to go back as far as possible to make it as granular as possible.

Below is my updated Chromosome Map, courtesy of the Chromosome Mapping Tool by Kitty Cooper. Added are the new mapping points for my paternal great-great-grandparents, Thomas & Emma Jane (Firmenich) CORRIGAN and also my paternal grandparents, Richard & Mary Jane (Corrigan) ZALEWSKI.

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Funny tidbit, I scheduled this post to go up at π (Pi) today: 3/14/15 9:26

Memories of Grandma

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Marjorie Jean (DeBroux) Thielke

8 June 1927 – 13 February 2015

Earlier today, my maternal grandmother passed away. Her death, while not a shock or surprise, still pains us deeply. Even though you try not to pick one, she was always my favorite grandparent. I loved all of them the same, but I was always most excited to see Grandma Thielke.

Marjorie Jean DeBroux was born on 8 June 1927 in Port Washington, Ozaukee, Wisconsin to Leon & Mildred (Van Price) DeBroux. She was the middle child of five children. On 28 August 1948, she married my grandfather in Port Washington. I remember celebrating their 50th (and then 60th) wedding anniversary. They were both owners of a wonderful sense of humor, which they obviously passed down to their descendants and always made family get-togethers a lot of fun. I know my cousins would agree with me when I say that Christmas with that side of the family was always something to look forward to.

Thinking about Grandma will always remind me of how she was always so vibrant and full of happiness. It will remind me of spending time with her and my grandfather at their cottage on the lake, which we affectionately called “Grandma’s Lake.” It will remind me of the countless times we made our way over to her house in all kinds of weather to get to pick a few candies out of her candy jar. She was always ready to feed our sweet tooth. Her memory will also live on in my daughter. My daughter’s middle name, Jean, is from my mother, who gets her middle name from my grandmother.

I am sad, but not very emotional about her passing. Maybe it’s because I feel like I processed a lot of that emotion when I visited her on Monday and said my goodbyes or due to the fact that I think she’s in a better place now. If all is right with the world, she can now see her parents again, or even her younger brother that she still openly cried about, Donald, who suddenly passed away in 1942 when she was only 15. However it all happens, one thing is always true, we’ll miss you Grandma.

Her video memorial is now available to watch online.

I carry the things that remind me of you
In loving memory of the one that was so true
Your were as kind as you could be
And even though you’re gone
You still mean the world to me

Alter Bridge, “In Loving Memory” –

In Honor of Grandma

Marge Thielke

I’m going to be doing a few posts this week about my maternal grandmother’s ancestry in honor of her. She has not been doing too well for the last few months and her condition has taken a turn for the worse this week. I visited her yesterday, possibly for the last time, so I thought […]

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New Avenues

Click for full version.Do your own here: http://kittymunson.com/dna/ChromosomeMapper.php

One of the first steps in my 2015 Year of the DNA project is to look at new avenues of research and get my DNA info out there to other possible cousins. In the last few days I did a few things. I finally transferred my 23andMe DNA over to the Family Tree DNA Family […]

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The Year of the DNA

DNA Composition

As some of you may know, genetic genealogy exploded in 2014. Hundreds of thousands of people have now tested their DNA with the big three testing companies (23andMe, Family Tree DNA, or Ancestry.) I have been interested in tracing my ancestry using DNA since back in 2006 with the first version of National Geographic’s Genographic Project […]

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Frank F Braatz

Frank Braatz and Margaret Stearns

The forty-first ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my paternal great-great grandfather, Frank F BRAATZ. According to his obituary, he was born 17 April 1867 in Bavaria, Germany, though there is some confusion as to where in Germany the Braatz family is from. His parents has listed birthplaces in other parts of the country. He immigrated […]

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