Thursday, August 04, 2011

Summer Project

I haven't been doing much birding or nature photography lately due to the exceedingly uncomfortable hot weather we've been having. Instead, I've been catching up on some reading as well as working on a new summer project, my family ancestry.

Grace and Allison Miller (great grandparents)

My dad helped by providing me with data on his side, but I knew next to nothing beyond my mom's parents. With the help of several online genealogy databases, county census records, historical societies, and other resources, I've been able to trace my relatives back to the 1600s to countries like Scotland, England, Netherlands, Germany, and France.

Clarence S. Darrow

It's interesting to know names, birth and death dates, and geographical locations for all 8 of my great grandparents, and 12 of my 16 great great grandparents. One of the most fascinating discoveries is finding I'm related to Clarence Seward Darrow, the famous lawyer who defended John Scopes during the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925. Clarence and my maternal grandmother (Edrie Louise Darrow b. 1908) are both decedents of Jedediah Darrow (b. 1721). I read Clarence Darrow's book Why I am an Agnostic and Other Essays several years ago, not knowing our shared ancestry.

William T. Sterling

On my paternal grandmother's side, I'm a decedent of William T. Sterling (b. 1808), who served in the Wisconsin State Assembly and platted what is now the village of Mount Sterling, WI. I have a few relatives who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War, and one relative who fought under George S. Patton at the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.

Mt. Sterling - 1915

At present I have around 200 individuals in my family tree, some going back 11 generations. Often times a particular lineage will stop cold, but I still have a lead on my Scottish ancestors that could go back to the thirteenth century. I recently found a 1st cousin (once removed) on Facebook who is going to provide me with additional information on my ancestors from Canada and France.

Hiram Allison Miller (great great grandfather)

© 2011 Mike McDowell


  1. Interesting that you are also into genealogy. I have been really into for about 12 years. I have a database now of over 70000 names. I have learned that Prince Charles is my 18th Cousin and that I am related to almost all the Presidents of the United States. Being a Mormon boy, I have access to the the LDS family history centers and some website access that the public does not. Just let me know if I can be of any help on one of those dead ends.

    Will you be at the Midwest Birding Symposium?

  2. Hi BiF,

    Nah, I have to man the EO fort. Ben will be there, though.

    I have lots of names to add horizontally, but I'm trying to see how far I can go vertically before entering the other names into my database. I just started last month!