Archive | June 2014

100 years ago … my grandfather and World War I

On June 28, 1914 my grandfather Siegfried Joseph Thannhauser was celebrating his 29th birthday when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated commencing the countdown to World War I. What were your ancestors doing on that day?

S J Thannhauser on right, World War I

S J Thannhauser on right, World War I

When you are American and you have a German grandfather then you may have the feeling that he fought on the wrong side in World War I. My Opa was a medical doctor and he demonstrated his bravery by picking up the wounded under fire after his driver was killed; for this he received the Iron Cross. Funny how that was forgotten when he was dismissed from his professorship in 1933 for being Jewish.

He also had a hobby, photography, and took many photos during his time at the front. He made two albums of his war years which the family still has. One of his great grandsons showed them to a friend who was studying WWI. She had them digitized and then posted them on her blog, with the family’s enthusiastic permission. The picture on the left is from those albums.

So to honor this day and my Opa, I added a page on our family history site about his war service with links to those photographs on her blog.

I miss you my beloved Opa! Growlie, growlie … (what I used to say when I scratched the bald spot on his head for him for which I would be rewarded with a quarter!)


MyOrigins name changes make better sense

Family Tree DNA has simplified the names of the population clusters in the myOrigins feature to better match the way we think of those areas. For example, “European Coastal Islands” is now called the more sensible “British Isles.”


my origins: before on the left and after on the right

The full list of name changes is at this URL:

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The Advantages of Working with a One World Tree

Updated Chart August 8, 2020

The idea of a one world tree is to collaborate with other genealogists who are researching the same ancestors and so have just one copy of each person on the tree, rather than each of you having your own separate family trees. My plan is to compare the three online sites that I am using in this post.
WikiTree, FamilySearch, and Geni logos
The advantages of using a one world tree are:

  1. You are not constantly duplicating research that has already been done.
  2. It is online and searchable so distant cousins will find you.
  3. Other descendants of your ancestors may have pictures and documents to share that are already posted.
  4. You will find distant cousins to collaborate with on some of your family lines who may be able to read records you are having trouble with or otherwise work with you to solve questions you have.
  5. When you connect your line into the tree you may find new ancestors that you did not know about before.
  6. You can often figure out immediately how you are related to a new “DNA” cousin.
  7. It is easy to send family members and distant cousins links to the family tree.
  8. After you are dead and gone your research will live on.

The disadvantages of a one world tree can be that:

  1. Other people will change facts and information that you knew were correct.
  2. How can you be sure that another person’s research is reliable?
  3. You need to be sure that living people have their privacy protected.

Personally, I have my family tree on three different one world tree web sites:,, and and I like and use them all for different reasons.

WikiTree has really pretty online charts, widgets for your website and shows DNA connections. It is the easiest one to use for sending possible new “DNA” cousins your family tree. GENI has the most intuitive user interface and has the best way to add source information. It is the prettiest of them all, plus it matches records with its partner site MyHeritage.comFamilySearch connects to its own enormous record repository and there is a wonderful third party web site for visualizing your familysearch tree:

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New features for my tools: color selection and more lines

My tools for showing segments on a chromosome picture now allow you to pick the colors yourself. Here is an example of the ancestor DNA mapper with some very different color choices from the ones the program would use.

Sample Chromosome Map ColorsHow to pick the colors is documented on the page for each tool.

My ancestor mapping tool:

My segment mapper, up to 40 relatives

No changes were made to the one chromosome mapper so if you want color choice on that tool as well just let me know.

Another recent enhancement is that the segment mapping tool now allows you to specify as many lines as you like for relatives in your chromosome picture. See an example in my post about four generations of inheritance.

Another way to triangulate: using close relatives

I have been mainly working with my Dad’s Norwegian DNA at 23andme and at Family Tree DNA. Often he will have a match at one company and there will be a match to someone else on the same segment location at the other company. So how to tell if they match each other? Since one could have the DNA segment that Dad got from his mother and the other could have the segment Dad got from his father, the only way to be sure it is the same segment is if they also match each other on that segment. This is what is known as triangulation.

If they have both uploaded to GEDmatch, I can compare their two kits there and see if they match on that segment. Often however one or the other has not uploaded or the GEDmatch site is down. So I needed another way to figure this out.

It occurred to me that I could check if the new match also matches me there, since my results are at both web sites as well.

Obviously when they both match me on that DNA segment, I know they match each other. If one matches me and the other does not, then I know they are not a match. But what if they both do not match me? Then I must have inherited that segment from one of Dad’s parents and they are matching the DNA piece from his other parent.

In the case above, Dad has a 23cM match at Family Tree DNA with an adoptee at the same spot where he has many smaller matches over at 23andme. So do those folk match DM?

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