442 Ancient Viking Skeletons Hold DNA Surprises – Does Your Y or Mitochondrial DNA Match? Daily Updates Here!

Yesterday, in the journal Nature, the article “Population genomics of the Viking world,” was published by Margaryan, et al, a culmination of 6 years of work.

Just hours later, Science Daily published the article, “World’s largest DNA sequencing of Viking skeletons reveals they weren’t all Scandinavian.” Science magazine published “’Viking’ was a job description, not a matter of heredity, massive ancient DNA study shows.” National Geographic wrote here, and CNN here.

Vikings Not All Scandinavian – Or Blonde

Say what??? That’s not at all what we thought we knew. That’s the great thing about science – we’re always learning something new.

442 Viking skeletons from outside Scandinavia were sequenced by Eske Willerslev’s lab, producing whole genome sequences for both men and women from sites in Scotland, Ukraine, Poland, Russia, the Baltic, Iceland, Greenland and elsewhere in continental Europe. They were then compared to known Viking samples from Scandinavia.

Not the grave where the sample was taken, but a Viking cemetery from Denmark.

One Viking boat burial in an Estonian Viking cemetery shows that 4 Viking brothers died and were buried together, ostensibly perishing in the same battle, on the same day. Based on their DNA, the brothers probably came from Sweden.

Vikings raiding parties from Scandinavia originated in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. At least some Viking raiders seem to be closely related to each other, and females in Iceland appear to be from the British Isles, suggesting that they may have “become” Vikings – although we don’t really understand the social and community structure.

Genes found in Vikings were contributed from across Europe, including southern Europe, and as afar away as Asia. Due to mixing resulting from the Viking raids beginning at Lindisfarne in 793 , the UK population today carries as much as 6% Viking DNA. Surprisingly, Swedes had only 10%.

Some Viking burials in both Orkney and Norway were actually genetically Pictish men. Converts, perhaps? One of these burials may actually be the earliest Pict skeleton sequenced to date.


Of the 442 skeletons, about 300 were male. The whole genome sequence includes the Y chromosome along with mitochondrial DNA, although it requires special processing to separate it usefully.

Goran Runfeldt, a member of the Million Mito team and head of research at FamilyTreeDNA began downloading DNA sequences immediately, and Michael Sager began analyzing Y DNA, hoping to add or split Y DNA tree branches.

Given the recent split of haplogroup P and A00, these ancient samples hold HUGE promise.

Michael and Goran have agreed to share their work as they process these samples – providing a rare glimpse real-time into the lab.

You and the Tree

Everyone is so excited about this paper, and I want you to be able to see if your Y or mitochondrial DNA, or that of your relatives matches the DNA haplogroups in the paper.

The paper itself uses the older letter=number designations for Y DNA haplogroup, so FamilyTreeDNA is rerunning, aligning and certifying the actual SNPs. The column FTDNA Haplogroup reflects the SNP Y haplogroup name.

Note that new Y DNA branches appear on the tree the day AFTER the change is made, and right now, changes resulting from this paper are being made hourly. I will update the haplogroup information daily as more becomes available. Pay particular attention to the locations that show where the graves were found along with the FamilyTreeDNA notes.

Goran has also included the mtDNA haplogroup as identified in the paper. Mitochondrial DNA haplogroups have not been recalculated, but you just might see them in the Million Mito Project😊

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Go to your Y or mitochondrial DNA results and find your haplogroup.

  • Do a browser search on this article to see if your haplogroup is shown. On a PC, that’s CTRL+F to show the “find” box. If your haplogroup isn’t showing, you could be downstream of the Viking haplogroup, so you’ll need to use the Y DNA Block Tree (for Big Y testers) or public haplotree, here.
  • If you’ve taken the Big Y test, click on the Block Tree on your results page and then look across the top of your results page to see if the haplogroup in question is “upstream” or a parent of your haplogroup.

click to enlarge

If you don’t see it, keep scanning to the left until you see the last SNP.

click to enlarge

  • If the haplogroup you are seeking is NOT shown in your direct upstream branches, you can type the name of the haplogroup into the search box. For example, I’ve typed I-BY3428. You can also simply click on the FTDNA name haplogroup link in the table, below, considerately provided by Goran.

click to enlarge

I don’t see the intersecting SNP yet, between the tester and the ancient sample, so if I click on I-Y2592, I can view the rest of the upstream branches of haplogroup I.

click to enlarge

By looking at the Y DNA SNPs of the tester, and the Y DNA SNPs of the ancient sample, I can see that the intersecting SNP is DF29, roughly 52 SNP generations in the past. Rule of thumb is that SNP generations are 80-100 years each.

How About You – Are You Related to a Viking?

Below, you’ll find the information from Y DNA results in the paper, reprocessed and analyzed, with FamilyTreeDNA verified SNP names, along with the mitochondrial DNA haplogroup of each Viking male.

Are you related, and if so, how closely?

I was surprised to find a sister-branch to my own mitochondrial J1c2f. J1c2 and several subclades or branches were found in Viking burials.

I need to check all of my ancestral lines, both male and female. There’s history waiting to be revealed. What have you discovered?

Ancient Viking Sample Information

Please note that this information will be updated on business days until all samples have been processed and placed on the Y DNA tree – so this will be a “live” copy of the most current phylogenetic information.

Link to the locations to see the locations of the excavation sites, and the haplogroups for the tree locations. Michael Sager is making comments as he reviews each sample.


Sample: VK14 / Russia_Ladoga_5680-12
Location: Ladoga, Russia
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-BY3428
mtDNA: J1c1a

Sample: VK16 / Russia_Ladoga_5680-2
Location: Ladoga, Russia
Age: Viking 11-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-M253
mtDNA: X2b4

Sample: VK17 / Russia_Ladoga_5680-17
Location: Ladoga, Russia
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: T-Y22559
FTDNA Comment: Shares 5 SNPs with a man from Chechen Republic, forming a new branch down of T-Y22559 (T-Y138678)
mtDNA: U5a2a1b

Sample: VK18 / Russia_Ladoga_5680-3
Location: Ladoga, Russia
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-YP1370
mtDNA: H1b1

Sample: VK20 / Russia_Ladoga_5680-1
Location: Ladoga, Russia
Age: Viking 11th century CE
Y-DNA: I-Z24071
FTDNA Comment: Splits the I-Z24071 branch, positive only for Y22478. New path = I-Y22486>I-Y22478>I-Z24071
mtDNA: H6c

Sample: VK22 / Russia_Ladoga_5680-13
Location: Ladoga, Russia
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-A8462
mtDNA: T2b

Sample: VK23 / Russia_Ladoga_5680-9
Location: Ladoga, Russia
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-M253
mtDNA: U4a1a

Sample: VK24 / Faroe_AS34/Panum
Location: Hvalba, Faroes
Age: Viking 11th century
Y-DNA: R-FGC12948
mtDNA: J1b1a1a

Sample: VK25 / Faroe_1
Location: Church2, Faroes
Age: Early modern 16-17th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-BY11762
FTDNA Comment: Splits the R-BY11762 branch, positive for 5 variants ancestral for ~14, new path = R-A8041>R-BY11764>BY11762
mtDNA: H3a1a

Sample: VK27 / Faroe_10
Location: Church2, Faroes
Age: Early modern 16-17th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-L513
mtDNA: U5a1g1

Sample: VK29 / Sweden_Skara 17
Location: Varnhem, Skara, Sweden
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-S7642
mtDNA: T2b3b

Sample: VK30 / Sweden_Skara 105
Location: Varnhem, Skara, Sweden
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-S2857
mtDNA: U5b1c2b

Sample: VK31 / Sweden_Skara 194
Location: Varnhem, Skara, Sweden
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-L21
mtDNA: I4a

Sample: VK34 / Sweden_Skara 135
Location: Varnhem, Skara, Sweden
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-BY111759
mtDNA: HV-T16311C!

Sample: VK35 / Sweden_Skara 118
Location: Varnhem, Skara, Sweden
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-S5153
mtDNA: T2f1a1

Sample: VK39 / Sweden_Skara 181
Location: Varnhem, Skara, Sweden
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: G-Z1817
mtDNA: T2b4b

Sample: VK40 / Sweden_Skara 106
Location: Varnhem, Skara, Sweden
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-BY1701
FTDNA Comment: Shares 10 SNPs with a man with unknown origins (American) downstream of R-BY1701. New branch R-BY166438
mtDNA: T1a1

Sample: VK42 / Sweden_Skara 62
Location: Varnhem, Skara, Sweden
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: J-FGC32685
mtDNA: T2b11

Sample: VK44 / Faroe_17
Location: Church2, Faroes
Age: Early modern 16-17th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-S658
mtDNA: H3a1a

Sample: VK45 / Faroe_18
Location: Church2, Faroes
Age: Early modern 16-17th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-CTS8277
mtDNA: H3a1

Sample: VK46 / Faroe_19
Location: Church2, Faroes
Age: Early modern 16-17th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-BY202785
mtDNA: H5

Sample: VK48 / Gotland_Kopparsvik-212/65
Location: Kopparsvik, Gotland, Sweden
Age: Viking 900-1050 CE
Y-DNA: R-FGC52679
mtDNA: H10e

Sample: VK50 / Gotland_Kopparsvik-53.64
Location: Kopparsvik, Gotland, Sweden
Age: Viking 900-1050 CE
Y-DNA: I-Y22923
mtDNA: H1-T16189C!

Sample: VK51 / Gotland_Kopparsvik-88/64
Location: Kopparsvik, Gotland, Sweden
Age: Viking 900-1050 CE
Y-DNA: N-L1026
mtDNA: U5b1e1

Sample: VK53 / Gotland_Kopparsvik-161/65
Location: Kopparsvik, Gotland, Sweden
Age: Viking 900-1050 CE
Y-DNA: I-CTS10228
mtDNA: HV9b

Sample: VK57 / Gotland_Frojel-03601
Location: Frojel, Gotland, Sweden
Age: Viking 900-1050 CE
Y-DNA: R-L151
mtDNA: J1c6

Sample: VK60 / Gotland_Frojel-00702
Location: Frojel, Gotland, Sweden
Age: Viking 900-1050 CE
Y-DNA: R-YP1026
mtDNA: H13a1a1b

Sample: VK64 / Gotland_Frojel-03504
Location: Frojel, Gotland, Sweden
Age: Viking 900-1050 CE
Y-DNA: R-BY58559
mtDNA: I1a1

Sample: VK70 / Denmark_Tollemosegard-EW
Location: Tollemosegård, Sealand, Denmark
Age: Early Viking Late Germanic Iron Age/early Viking
Y-DNA: I-BY73576
mtDNA: H7d4

Sample: VK71 / Denmark_Tollemosegard-BU
Location: Tollemosegård, Sealand, Denmark
Age: Early Viking Late Germanic Iron Age/early Viking
Y-DNA: I-S22349
mtDNA: U5a1a

Sample: VK75 / Greenland late-0929
Location: V051, Western Settlement, Greenland
Age: Late Norse 1300 CE
Y-DNA: R-P310
mtDNA: H54

Sample: VK87 / Denmark_Hesselbjerg Grav 41b, sk PC
Location: Hesselbjerg, Jutland, Denmark
Age: Viking 850-900 CE
Y-DNA: R-Z198
mtDNA: K1c2

Sample: VK95 / Iceland_127
Location: Hofstadir, Iceland
Age: Viking 10-13th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-S658
mtDNA: H6a1a3a

Sample: VK98 / Iceland_083
Location: Hofstadir, Iceland
Age: Viking 10-13th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-BY3430
FTDNA Comment: Splits I-BY3430. Derived for 1 ancestral for 6. New path = I-BY3433>I-BY3430
mtDNA: T2b3b

Sample: VK101 / Iceland_125
Location: Hofstadir, Iceland
Age: Viking 10-13th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-BY110718
mtDNA: U5b1g

Sample: VK102 / Iceland_128
Location: Hofstadir, Iceland
Age: Viking 10-13th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-FGC23826
FTDNA Comment: Shares 3 SNPs with a man from Sweden. Forms a new branch downstream of R-FGC23826. New branch = R-Y96503
mtDNA: J1c3f

Sample: VK110 / Iceland_115S
Location: Hofstadir, Iceland
Age: Viking 10-13th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-FGC21682
mtDNA: H10-x

Sample: VK117 / Norway_Trondheim_SK328
Location: Trondheim, Nor_Mid, Norway
Age: Medieval 12-13th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-S9257
mtDNA: H1a3a

Sample: VK123 / Iceland_X104
Location: Hofstadir, Iceland
Age: Viking 10-13th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-V1180
FTDNA Comment: Shares 17 SNPs with a man from the UAE. Creates a new branch downstream of R2-V1180. New branch = R-Y130994
mtDNA: J1c9

Sample: VK127 / Iceland_HDR08
Location: Hringsdalur, Iceland
Age: Viking 10th century CE
Y-DNA: R-BY92608
mtDNA: H3g1b

Sample: VK129 / Iceland_ING08
Location: Ingiridarstadir, Iceland
Age: Viking 10th century CE
Y-DNA: R-YP278
FTDNA Comment: Shares 3 SNPs with a man from Sweden. Forms a new branch downstream of R1a-YP275. New branch = R-BY154143
mtDNA: U5b1b1a

Sample: VK133 / Denmark_Galgedil KO
Location: Galgedil, Funen, Denmark
Age: Viking 8-11th centuries CE
mtDNA: K1a4a1a3

Sample: VK134 / Denmark_Galgedil ALZ
Location: Galgedil, Funen, Denmark
Age: Viking 9-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-BY97519
mtDNA: H1cg

Sample: VK138 / Denmark_Galgedil AQQ
Location: Galgedil, Funen, Denmark
Age: Viking 9-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-S1491
mtDNA: T2b5

Sample: VK139 / Denmark_Galgedil ANG
Location: Galgedil, Funen, Denmark
Age: Viking 9-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-BY32008
mtDNA: J1c3k

Sample: VK140 / Denmark_Galgedil PT
Location: Galgedil, Funen, Denmark
Age: Viking 9-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: G-M201
mtDNA: H27f

Sample: VK143 / UK_Oxford_#7
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-Y13816
FTDNA Comment: Splits R-Y13816. Derived for 6 ancestral for 3. New path = R-Y13816>R-Y13833
mtDNA: U5b1b1-T16192C!

Sample: VK144 / UK_Oxford_#8
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-Y2592
mtDNA: V1a1

Sample: VK145 / UK_Oxford_#9
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-YP1708
mtDNA: H17

Sample: VK146 / UK_Oxford_#10
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-M6155
mtDNA: J1c3e1

Sample: VK147 / UK_Oxford_#11
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-Y75899
mtDNA: T1a1q

Sample: VK148 / UK_Oxford_#12
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-M253
mtDNA: H6a1a

Sample: VK149 / UK_Oxford_#13
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-M253
mtDNA: H1a1

Sample: VK150 / UK_Oxford_#14
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-FT4725
mtDNA: H1-C16239T

Sample: VK151 / UK_Oxford_#15
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-S19291
mtDNA: T2b4-T152C!

Sample: VK153 / Poland_Bodzia B1
Location: Bodzia, Poland
Age: Viking 10-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-M198
mtDNA: H1c3

Sample: VK156 / Poland_Bodzia B4
Location: Bodzia, Poland
Age: Viking 10-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-Y9081
mtDNA: J1c2c2a

Sample: VK157 / Poland_Bodzia B5
Location: Bodzia, Poland
Age: Viking 10-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-S2077
mtDNA: H1c

Sample: VK159 / Russia_Pskov_7283-20
Location: Pskov, Russia
Age: Viking 10-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-A7982
mtDNA: U2e2a1d

Sample: VK160 / Russia_Kurevanikka_7283-3
Location: Kurevanikha, Russia
Age: Viking 10-13th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-YP1137
mtDNA: C4a1a-T195C!

Sample: VK163 / UK_Oxford_#1
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-M253
mtDNA: U2e2a1a1

Sample: VK165 / UK_Oxford_#3
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-S18218
mtDNA: U4b1b1

Sample: VK166 / UK_Oxford_#4
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-BY45170
FTDNA Comment: Splits R-BY45170 (DF27). Derived for 2, ancestral for 7. New path = R-BY67003>R-BY45170
mtDNA: H3ag

Sample: VK167 / UK_Oxford_#5
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-BY34674
mtDNA: H4a1a4b

Sample: VK168 / UK_Oxford_#6
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-Z18
mtDNA: H4a1a4b

Sample: VK170 / Isle-of-Man_Balladoole
Location: Balladoole, IsleOfMan
Age: Viking 9-10th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-S3201
mtDNA: HV9b

Sample: VK172 / UK_Oxford_#16
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-YP355
mtDNA: I1a1e

Sample: VK173 / UK_Oxford_#17
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-FT12648
FTDNA Comment: Splits I2-FT12648, derived for 5, ancestral for 7. New path FT13004>FT12648
mtDNA: U5a1b-T16362C

Sample: VK174 / UK_Oxford_#18
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-FGC17429
mtDNA: H1-C16239T

Sample: VK175 / UK_Oxford_#19
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-BY38950
FTDNA Comment: Shares 6 SNPs with man from Sweden down of R-BY38950 (R-Y47841)
mtDNA: H1a1

Sample: VK176 / UK_Oxford_#20
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-S18218
mtDNA: H10

Sample: VK177 / UK_Oxford_#21
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-BY220332
FTDNA Comment: Shares 3 SNPs with a man from Greece. Forms a new branch downstream of R-BY220332 (U152). New branch = R-FT31867
mtDNA: H82

Sample: VK178 / UK_Oxford_#22
Location: St_John’s_College_Oxford, Oxford, England, UK
Age: Viking 880-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-BY176959
FTDNA Comment: Links up with PGA3 (Personal Genome Project Austria) and FTDNA customer from Denmark. PGA and FTDNA customer formed a branch earlier this week, VK178 will join them at R-BY176639 (Under L48)
mtDNA: K2a5

Sample: VK180 / Greenland F3
Location: Ø029a, Eastern Settlement, Greenland
Age: Early Norse 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: P-P226
mtDNA: J1c3b

Sample: VK184 / Greenland F7
Location: Ø029a, Eastern Settlement, Greenland
Age: Early Norse 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-YP4342
mtDNA: H4a1a4b

Sample: VK186 / Greenland KNK-[6]
Location: Ø64, Eastern Settlement, Greenland
Age: Early Norse 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-Y24625
FTDNA Comment: Shares 3 SNPs with a man from Norway downstream of I-Y24625. New branch = I-Y79817
mtDNA: H1ao

Sample: VK201 / Orkney_Buckquoy, sk M12
Location: Buckquoy_Birsay, Orkney, Scotland, UK
Age: Viking 10th century CE
Y-DNA: I-B293
mtDNA: H3k1a

Sample: VK202 / Orkney_Buckquoy, sk 7B
Location: Buckquoy_Birsay, Orkney, Scotland, UK
Age: Viking 10th century CE
Y-DNA: R-A151
mtDNA: H1ai1

Sample: VK203 / Orkney_BY78, Ar. 1, sk 3
Location: Brough_Road_Birsay, Orkney, Scotland, UK
Age: Viking 10th century CE
Y-DNA: R-BY10450
mtDNA: H4a1a1a1a1

Sample: VK204 / Orkney_Newark for Brothwell
Location: Newark_Deerness, Orkney, Scotland, UK
Age: Viking 10th century CE
Y-DNA: R-BY115469
mtDNA: H1m

Sample: VK205 / Orkney_Newark 68/12
Location: Newark_Deerness, Orkney, Scotland, UK
Age: Viking 10th century CE
Y-DNA: R-YP4345
mtDNA: H3

Sample: VK210 / Poland_Kraków-Zakrzówek gr. 24
Location: Kraków, Poland
Age: Medieval 11-13th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-Z16971
mtDNA: H5e1a1

Sample: VK211 / Poland_Cedynia gr. 435
Location: Cedynia, Poland
Age: Medieval 11-13 centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-M269
mtDNA: W6

Sample: VK212 / Poland_Cedynia gr. 558
Location: Cedynia, Poland
Age: Viking 11-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-CTS11962
mtDNA: H1-T152C!

Sample: VK215 / Denmark_Gerdrup-B; sk 1
Location: Gerdrup, Sealand, Denmark
Age: Viking 9th century CE
Y-DNA: R-M269
mtDNA: J1c2k

Sample: VK217 / Sweden_Ljungbacka
Location: Ljungbacka, Malmo, Sweden
Age: Viking 9-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-L151
mtDNA: J1b1b1

Sample: VK218 / Russia_Ladoga_5680-4
Location: Ladoga, Russia
Age: Viking 10-12th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-BY2848
mtDNA: H5

Sample: VK219 / Russia_Ladoga_5680-10
Location: Ladoga, Russia
Age: Viking 10-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-Y22024
mtDNA: T2b6a

Sample: VK223 / Russia_Gnezdovo 75-140
Location: Gnezdovo, Russia
Age: Viking 10-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: I-BY67763
mtDNA: H13a1a1c

Sample: VK224 / Russia_Gnezdovo 78-249
Location: Gnezdovo, Russia
Age: Viking 10-11th centuries CE
Y-DNA: N-CTS2929
mtDNA: H7a1

Sample: VK225 / Iceland_A108
Location: Hofstadir, Iceland
Age: Viking 10-13th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-BY92608
mtDNA: H3v-T16093C

Sample: VK232 / Gotland_Kopparsvik-240.65
Location: Kopparsvik, Gotland, Sweden
Age: Viking 900-1050 CE
Y-DNA: R-Y16505
mtDNA: N1a1a1

Sample: VK234 / Faroe_2
Location: Church2, Faroes
Age: Early modern 16-17th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-BY11762
FTDNA Comment: Same split as VK25. They share one marker FT381000 (26352237 T>G)
mtDNA: H3a1a

Sample: VK239 / Faroe_5
Location: Church2, Faroes
Age: Early modern 16-17th centuries CE
Y-DNA: R-M269
mtDNA: H5

Update History:

  • 9-17-2020 – updated 3 times, approximately one-third complete.



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Johann Adam Kirsch (c1677 – 1734/1739), Mayor, Elder and the Free Village Wine Tavern – 52 Ancestors #307

Johann Adam Kirsch was born about 1677 to Johann Georg Kirsch, known as Jerg, and Margaretha Koch who were married in 1650 in Durkheim, now Bad Durkheim.

Given that Jerg Kirsch was a leaseholder of the Jostens estate in 1660, in Fussgoenheim, we know that the couple would have been living there at that time. By 1673, the French were once again ravaging the landscape, and between then and 1689, this area of the Pfalz was once again depopulated.

Durkheim Perhaps

Did the Kirsch family leave in 1674 when other families in this region sought refuge elsewhere, or were they still trying to stick it out in Fussgoenheim when Johann Adam Kirsch was born about 1677? There’s no way to know.

Did Jerg’s family go back to Durkheim where Johann Adam’s brother, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was married in 1695? That’s the most likely scenario, not only because we know Wilhelm was living there in 1695, but also because we know that their parents were married there in 1650. They knew the landscape, probably had family there and would have gone someplace where they had at least some resources.

Johann Wilhelm Kirsch’s marriage entry in the church records indicates that his father, Jerg Kirsch, was deceased. Of course, Jerg was Adam’s father too. We don’t know when Jerg died, or if Adam’s mother was still living.

If Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, approximate age 25 in 1695, was living in Durkheim, then it’s likely that his younger brother who would have been 18 at that time was living in Durkheim as well.

The Nine Year’s war ended in 1689, officially, but it’s unlikely that former residents returned immediately. Houses and barns had been burned across the countryside – fields, vineyards, and orchards ruined.

The Kirsch brothers may have been in Durkheim in 1695, but six years later, we know that Adam had returned to Fussgoenheim.


By 1701, Johann Adam Kirsch, then about age 24, was Mayor of the northern half of Fussgoenheim. I have to wonder how many residents were living in Fussgoenheim at that time. It would only have been repopulated for a decade, maybe less.

By 1720, the entire village only consisted of 150-200 people, or about 15-20 homes. The number of families that had returned by 1701 was probably only a handful. It had been nearly a quarter-century since they had left – again – after only living in Fussgoenheim about 15 years after returning after the 30 Years’ War. Altogether, in the 100 years between 1618 and 1718, the Kirsch family had lived elsewhere for about 66 years.

It makes me wonder why they came back at all. Perhaps it had to do with reclaiming their father’s leasehold estate rights. Something is better than nothing, and that leasehold offered at least some opportunity, even if it did require a significant amount of elbow grease.

Seeking Resources

If I can find a copy of the book, Ortsgeschichte von Fußgönheim by Ernst Merk, published in 1925, the answer might be there on page 153 where Adam’s testimony is recorded. I’m working on that task, but the book is only available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, which is closed due to Covid, and a library in Buffalo, NY. Fingers crossed for inter-library loan.

Another publication, Heimat-Blätter für Ludwigshafen am Rhein und Umgebung, issue 1921 No. 10 reportedly contains additional information. My German friend told me that Heimat-Blätter für Ludwigshafen am Rhein und Umgebung was a journal published from 1912 to 1939 and might well hold additional information not only about Fussgoenheim, but this region. I’m attempting to find out if this is available anyplace digitally, in a pdf file that I can copy/paste into a translator.

The answer to another mystery may be held in these documents.

Who Was Johann Adam’s First Wife?

Walter Schnebel, now deceased, researched the Kirsch family for decades with access to original records in Fussgoenheim and other German locations.

Walter’s birth year for Johann Adam was given as (about) 1677  and his death before 1740.

Walter’s exact verbiage is as follows:

(?) N.N. Greulich (* um 1680 † vor 1706, T.v. Adam Greulich); seit ca. 1677 in Fgh. (OG Merk, siehe Weistuhm 1717 Vern. 1717)

This translated to:

(?) N.N. Greulich (* about 1680 † before 1706, T.v. Adam Greulich); since about 1677 in Fgh. (OG Merk, see Weistuhm 1717 Vern. 1717)

I interpret this to mean that Walter wasn’t sure that Adam had a first wife, or possibly that he didn’t know her first name. Someplace, Walter obviously found a record.

Adam’s second wife was Anna Maria Koob.

Here’s the quandry for me.

Johann Adam Kirsch’s first recorded child, Johann Michael Kirsch born about 1700 is my ancestor.

If in fact, Johann Adam Kirsch was married to Miss Greulich before her death in 1706, and Johann Michael Kirsch’s birth year is roughly accurate, then Ms. Greulich was his mother, not Anna Maria Koob.

I’d surely like to know!

This matters – a lot.

1717 in Fussgoenheim

There’s painfully little information available for Fussgoenheim during the time that Adam lived there. The villagers would have been rebuilding following warfare from 1618-1650 and again from approximately 1673-1690.

In 1733, Jakob Tilman von Halberg, the “Lord” of the land complained that the residents refused to pay for the new church. That, combined with the fact that church records begin in 1726, suggests that rebuilding even the basics of society took more than 20 years and maybe closer to 30.

In 1717, the village elders attempted to recompile at least some portion of what had been lost. I purchased a booklet transcribed in 1968 in German that included a portion of the original 1717 record.

I scanned and utilized Deepl translator to gain at least a small window into what happened 303 years ago. When that didn’t go well, due to a somewhat archaic font, I typed the entire document, word for German word. I think I might just have inherited my German ancestors’ tenacity.

Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was the court clerk, cognate, or “court man” who, along with a few elders recorded as much of their history and customs as could be reconstructed. I asked a native German-speaker to see if he could give an assist to the translation, but his comment was that the challenge is that the German words themselves were archaic, and even in German, he wasn’t sure what some of it meant – let alone trying to translate into English.

I’ve included the transcribed/translated document, in total, below using both the Deepl translator and Google translate. I translated this once by copying the text into the translator, but given that the font was difficult for the translator to recognize, I eventually retyped the entire 10 pages. I discovered how difficult it is to type words that you don’t understand or know how to spell. So, in reality, this document has been translated 4 times and I’ve combined the pieces that make the most sense from all 4 versions. The crazy things we do for genealogy!

If anyone can improve on this version, PLEASE feel free😊. I have included the actual scanned pages in German for reference.

Some of this is very awkward and nuance is lost, but I think the idea is conveyed from both 1628, almost 400 years ago, and 1717, with footnotes at the end of each section. The fact that we have any of this is amazing! Thanks to Christoph for finding this book for me and his assistance.

Fussgoenheim History from Pfalzische Weistumer

This document begins with the history of Fussgoenheim.

W. Ludeigshefen. first sure mention in 1291 as violin home, 1343 as foot home (Christman, settlement names I, s 171 ff. in the 14th century, the n oberdorff and underdorf divided place belonged partly to the count of leiningen, partly to the lords of falkenstein, whereby both lords of the village used their own mayors. The Liningingian part of the lower village, from 1385 to the middle of the 16th century in the fiefdom of the Knights of Meckenheim, was bought by the lords of Hallberg in 1729/31 and since 1731 by Baron von Hallberg (Chancellor Jakob Tillmann von Hallbert.) The Falkenstein’s, in the course of time several times as fiefdoms, lastly 1629-1726 to the family Kessler von Sarmsccheim, granted rights to Ober and Unterdorf to the Duchy of Lorraine in 1667 with the County of Falkenstein; 1728/29 as Lorraine fiefdom to the family von Hallbert. In the agriculturally rich district, since time immemorial extensive property of various spiritual foundations (Seebach Monastery, Limburg, Lobenfeld, Schonfeld, Neustadt Monastery, etc.) Petry, Rheinland-Pfalz, S, 109, E Merk, local history of F (1925) K. Kreuter, local history of F., in: Heimatbl. Ludwigshafen 1925 Nr 20 Fabricius, Unt. Nearby area, S, 499 f.

StARch. Speyer WS or Kreigverlust. Dr. bei Ernst Merk, Ortsgeschischte von F (1925) S 156 ff (A) and by K. Kreuter in Heimatbl. Ludwigshafen Jg. 1921 Nr. 9 (B) In the following reprint of the text A which seems to be more true to the original spelling than B.


Copia Fussgenheimer wiesumbs, according to the falkenstein chancellery, was sent in 1628.

  1. Item one assigns the community four days of the full court, the first on the Monday after the twelfth, the second on the Monday after Easter Monday 1), the third on the Monday after St. Peter’s Day 2), the fourth on the Monday after St. Michaelmas 3), and the four days of court shall be uncommitted.

  1. Item has the commonwealth a little bit of money to give away, that it may lend it to whom it will, and when a schoolboy is born, it should be granted to him for another, when he does what is proper, i.e., a commoner’s bidding for nothing.
  2. Item the same request of the commoner shall turn their way for a mile, and what he goes further, one shall give him for a mile six pfenning.
  3. Item directs the community to the junk twenty-eight (year old?) malter korns to the beedt below and above.
  4. Item is shown in the upper part in Seebach well atz, front and governing service.
  5. Items are rejected by two men from every court, since people are in them, the junker. a) [Note that a) and other letters or numbers with ) are references to endnotes.]
  6. The lower part of the item is similar to Seebacher court. b)
  7. Item they, the lordship, came here and find no hay and straw in the scrubbing, so they shall mow down to the meadows outside a town up to the Schauerheim 4) market, and if it is expedient that they do not save enough, so they shall mow outside again one more time than long and much, until their opportunity is again to travel home.
  8. Item one points at the lower part of the same as the Seebacher guth uf der thumbherrn well. [This did not translate entirely.]
  9. If it was a matter of fact that an unusual 5) man was coming to the village, the schoolmaster shall take him home where he belongs,
  10. Item indicates a common one a free bakehouse, if it is otherwise free. 6)
  11. The same beaker [baker?] shall have two sifters and two sieves and two baggages, who are good, which he shall lend to the people, the poor men as the rich, due to bake to him, and it is so, which bakes two malt, he shall give three loaves.
  12. Item which bakes an age, he shall give 3 c) breads, and which bakes half an age, he shall give according to number, and the woman may make the breads small or large as she wishes; and if it is proper to point out that the breads are becoming too small, the woman shall put on her pouch (bag) and give six bright defenses before the three breads; And if it were proper for the baker to put much flour under the bread, the woman shall put on her purse (pouch), and shall give two bright (light-colored) protections before the mead (meel), and the woman shall lift up her mead (meel), and the woman shall be punished by the basin.

[Note that a second translation of a given word is shown in (). Also note that the last sentence beginning with “and the woman…”, replaced with “and sell the woman with impunity from baker.”]

  1. The same baker shall bake the same bread properly, and if it is pertinent that the same bread was not baked properly, then the same man shall carry the bread before the churches and shall let the bread be seen and shall pay the bread to the pitcher according to honorable men’s knowledge. d)
  2. Item it is to have also the same baker some horse, with it he is to take the dough from the people and bring home the bread.
  3. The same baker shall not draw more cattle in his yard, than what he needs in his yard, and if it is pertinent that the backer (baker) did not hold such a thing, he has broken his freedom and she may bake whatever she wants.
  4. Item shows the common one way to the bitz 7) between Henn Beckern e) and the bakehouse, that a donkey may go in with two heretics.
  5. Item is assigned to the bachstaden eight schuch far from the Genheimer mark to the common wag.
  6. Item is assigned eight schuch far from the woge to the Dornferrt.
  7. Items are rejected by water f), and the one who oppresses them does violence and no right.

[Alternate translation: Item shall be put to one’s charge and thrown to the commoner. He does violence and no right.]

  1. Item you know: which in the community has no field in the mark, which should dig two times wide from the streets glue ditch unfriendly.
  2. When they have done this, they shall heap the grain without harm, and after that they shall ask g) the people of God (the court) for every kind of grain, and shall not refuse them, and when they have done this h), they shall give every driver a week, and should say to them: just thank your master. (Thank only your master.)
  3. They shall also give the community two quarters of wine, they shall not be angry or lazy (foolish.)
  4. Item shows the way through the German Herm court to the the thumbherm garden.

  1. Item the landlords shall have four oxen go into the long meadows, they shall have their yoke, they shall eat where they like to eat, and when a someone came into the marks and stopped there, one shall help out with it
  2. Item they shall have a farmhand to keep the oxen, and he shall have a basket in his arm, and what the oxen shit, he shall pick up, that the martens (maddies,madmen?) may (do) not beat the scythes with (on) it.
  3. Item the same servant shall have a staff, he shall have two kickhel, one he shall put on one foot, the other under the thuhnn; whatever he may deign to do, that shall be pleasing (given) to him.
  4. Item there are two meadows marked in Fussgoenheimer, which are to be from St. Georgentag 8) on up to St. Johannstag 3); they shall be pacified; the community shall have its way, and if it is proper that a beast (cattle) should come unscrupulously (unwholesomely) to him, and if he came to whom (meadow, lady) they were directed, he shall shout out three times: If no one comes to drive the beast out, he shall take his right handler in his hand, and shall drive the cattle out unharmed.
  5. Item it is supposed to hold the hospital property of Durkheim a footbridge over the brook.

Item es soll das spitalguy von Durkheim halten ein steg uber die bach.

Footnotes for above:

1) 6. Januar.
2) 24. Juni.
3) 29. Sept.
4) Schauernheim, so. Fussgoenheim.
5) too unfinished – naughty, unjust, wrong, vicious as opposed to justified? DWB. XI, 3, Sp. 538 ff.; or as much as ungeberdig = undisciplined, unruly, unruly in the gene set? DWB, ibid. Sp. 621 ff.; or as much as ungeberdig = unreliable, unruly, disobedient? Cf. DWB, ibid. Sp. 908 and IV, 1,3, Sp. 5349
6) i.e. the village lord
7) Bitz, Bitze = good meadow style, (fenced, surrounded) meadow garden. Zink, Pfalz field names
8) April 23rd

a) Probably misprints instead of real junk.
b) Deviating from a reads Art. 7 in B: Item also today and straw on the Seebacher yard.
c) Reading “3” after Merk doubtful.
d) More respectable (honorable).
e) Henn Beckern Gembackern.
f) follows for alpine pastures.
g) follows the.
h) follows ride.

Part II.


St Arch. Speyer, Gemeindearchiv Fussgonheim No. 1. notarial instrument Or., 36 parchment leaves in 3 layers, sheets 1, 2, 11, 12, 17-22 missing; the writing is heavily faded in places and difficult to read. Dr. in extracts by K. Kreuter in Heimatbl. Ludwigshafen 1921 No. 10. No genuine Weistum, but one after the loss of all older legal records (in the Palatinate Succession Circle) of Schultheiss and court in F. arranged notarial statement of the village right, whereby obviously in the way one proceeded in such a way that the Schltheiss on Grunt of collected reports (from whom?) and recorded the transferred rights in writing and a notary then questioned seven aged parishioners about the correctness of the individual sentences (seats) asked. In the following,

Dr. Schultheiss and the court’s remarks introducing the document (about the request of the mayor and the court) and the “instructed” legal sentences (seats) without the statements of the seven interviewees attached to the individual articles and under exclusion of the articles – only incompletely preserved in the presentation – in which the property of the community is described.

(Alternate translation of the last portion of this item:

A notary public then questioned seven elderly parishioners of tiber about the correctness of the individual seats. 1m following Dr. the remarks introducing the document (tiber the request of Sehultheij3 and Gerieht) and the “designated” legal seats without the seats assigned to the individual articles statements of seven interviewees and under the appearance of those – only incompletely preserved in the submission – articles in which…the community’s property will be torn up.)

Fusgenheimer wisdom from 1717

…a) Christoph Hauck and Willhelm Kirsch, men of the court, also Andreas Kirsch, Dieter Coob and Hanss Jacob Spannier, together with seven other inherited burgers from the court and the community of Fussgenheim, took some of the items from the court and the community of Fussgenheim with them, when they immediately presented too old acquaintances and witnesses, still pre-registered in the morning in the presence of the yoke noble, vest and highly distinguished gentleman

Johann Philipp Falcken, churpfaltzichen ausfauths of the lobli(che)n chief magistrate Neustadt, also gentleman Johann Melchior Faeth, at the time of his schooldays in Schauernheim, as a particularly bedded gentleman witnessed by a written presentation of thickly painted village righteousness oral recitation, who, in the french war, created for the village of Fussgenheim all the judicial protocols.

Alternate translation of the above paragraph:

Johann Philipp Falcken, churpfaltzisehen ausfauths of the 16bli[che]n oberampts Neustadt, also lord Johann Melchior Faeth, at Schauernheim, when particularly anhero witnesses of begotten masters were thickly bemoaned by written presentation of the eggs of the justice of the village, who will design and the village of FuBgenheim in the french 6) war, all court records, white thumb and other written documents, according to which the rights and justices of the village were to be proven to the best of their ability, leyder (b made a deal and was (a total) completely lost, whereas they provided and foresaw that when the old people still alive in the court and out of the community passed away with death, the old, well-born village rights and customs of the village are lost with the young burgers or descendants, even contested and disputed, or at least caused by all kinds of regulations and interferences (precautions and interjections) to which dear descendants of the village inmates are subjected due to their thirst and costs at the village of Fussgoenheim.

In addition to each of the two village parts, each of part was accompanied by various land and village rulers, with whom a body ruler had to recognize one body ruler, each of whom (which) brought his own special rights and regalia to exercise in the orth, but all the community is allowed to enjoy their freedom at all times, and especially from the side of the most merciful bodily control one is instructed to put a stop to everything that is running against the old right and comes from here, and to everything that is newly praying.

For this reason, they had decided in some cases, since otherwise there would be no other way to hold means before them, as the village rights accounts are demonstrably preserved and the long use and practice are safeguarded, and to listen to the old persons and the community about such legal rights, to instrument their testimony formally, and then to put it behind court for the future good evidence of the matters.

If, therefore, I, the notary public, together with both the chief magistrates, and especially the gentlemen called upon to do so and the witnesses standing here present, would have duly bedded me, the notary public, and their gracious village and bodily lordships, they would have been paid a sum of money by the very least that would not harm them, as their high and lower jurisdiction as well as the regalia and fautheylichkeit could be recognized and there was no obstacle to assisting them, and after the village rights and freedoms were reportedly confiscated, the resident old people were allowed to be questioned and the fee was paid for one or more instrumented documenta, one exemplary on parchment, to be shared with them (to help heal.) What village rights and justice, also with regard to the same property itself, as reported above, is presented to me, the notary, by Schultheiss Englehardt;

Whereupon the following seven old men took

  1. Adam Kirsch
  2. Jacob Antes
  3. HanB Adam Hauck
  4. Theobaldt Bilrstler [probably Boerstler]
  5. Matthes MuBpach
  6. Hemp Nickel Coop and
  7. Adam Gifft

How they, the community, those in quiet possession, come and use up to now, faithfully obeyed, heard, and questioned in the presence of one instead of being mercifully listened to, whose testimony is to be diligently recorded about it and were of lasting content.

Now follow the preregistered one, notario, handed over to me the rights, justice and property of Dorff’s Fussgenheim, also what each of the people who had been deported from it had said and gave me clear words.

  1. Firstly, in addition to the two schools, the court will be composed of burgers from the upper and lower villages, which court will have to judge and decide all matters arising in the field and elsewhere together. But what happens especially in the upper and lower villages, everyone has the power to come to a final decision and to let them be fined (2.
  2. Secondly, the servant is appointed (ordered) by the court, has his freedom from the woman, too, with annual enjoyment of a field and knowledge 3). (Alternate translation: Servant is ordered by the court also has from the community its freedom with annual enjoyment of one field and ?.)
  3. Thirdly, the community has put the bells and the clock out of its own means and belongs to them autonomously, therefore the community has to dispose of them. (4
  4. footnote (5
  5. Fifthly the people in the upper and lower villages had the complete joyfulness and the hour here, from immemorial years ago, in quiet possession and enjoyment in such a way that neither the village rulers nor the body rulers may not be entitled to it. For this reason (that is why) no one on either side has been threatened (warned) to leave the congregation (community) under what right and freedom, and against which something new is demanded (in return), the most gracious dominion of the body (rulership) is after the clausul, so to be followed after the body, guilty of vigorously manuteniring (6 the serf (bondswoman) against it ), the more so, since, according to the rights of the same liberties, too, by long possession, so running over human endings, acquiriret (7 can become (8.
  6. Sixth, the church (community) has brought the free wine tavern in the village in such a manner that every burgher is permitted to do business, to serve wine, beer, and brandy, of which neither one nor the other has to pay money, to give creutzergeld or other condition, but rather all this freely enjoys set, but enjoying all the freedom that comes from traditions from time immemorial and were therefore been kept so the community wants to keep this free right and no one has the right to interfere with them in this (9.

Ah, the German tavern – so important as a community gathering place, circa 1470, above. Bartering and trading took place between citizens. Politics were discussed, loudly, of that you can be assured. Plans were made and sealed with a handshake and a beverage. Celebratory toasts were hailed, with everyone joining in, and grief was softened there too. Friends and family are the glue of the community, and in this case, held together with a bit of wine, beer and brandy – and had been, from time immemorial, as they testified.

This 1658 tavern scene by Flemish artist David Teniers probably looked much the same throughout Europe.

Perhaps the residents, who would all have known each other well, played cards and smoked a bit.

By Chris Lake – Flickr: 16th_century_wine_press, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19365588

Fruits for distilling German brandy known as Obstbrand or Fruchtbrand and vineyards growing luscious grapes for sun-kissed wines were prevalent in this region, of course. Every home might have had its own wine press which could also be used to press apples for cider.

I don’t know where the free wine tavern was located, or if the building still exists, but Fussgoenheim wasn’t very large, so it was assuredly in one of the buildings on the main street – the only street at the time. My guess would be about dead center – equally accessible to everyone. Perhaps by the market center or shared grazing meadow for livestock.

Here’s a link to a beautiful historic German tavern that might have resembled the one in Fussgoenheim.

No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=384908

I can see Adam and the other bürgers, village citizens, pulling up a chair and gathering around the time-worn tables as they lift their glasses, perhaps with a beautiful, clear Riesling made from the world’s finest Pfalz white grapes, and mugs of much-loved German beer.

Here’s to the free wine tavern that was important enough to be recorded for posterity.

  1. Seventhly, the community is entitled (granted) to the freedom to hunt the free pastureland, which every commoner in the whole region is entitled to do freely and without hindrance in such a way that he is entitled to shoot, hunt, target, with or without a dog, and be able to possess, when and where he thinks fit, what justice for hunting the flock has obviously been driven by the inconceivable years and is in constant possession of that, as it were, which the daily actus possessorij testify abundantly (indicate) (10.


17-19 [Concerning the properties belonging to the community; due to the loss of the preceding articles the list of wisdom in the submission is incomplete.]

The community reminded the people that it was commonplace and customary in ancient times that those who sat in the village were not supported by any craftsmen (counted among the craftsmen,) so even though the lords of the manor may have the right to set up a branch (number) and to draw the craftsmen to it, the community does not recognize itself as guilty, These people take over their work in this, and are intent on remaining in the work with such, but to keep the free hand in this, to take over frembde outside the place to villages (except for the assumption of the village) (12.

1) In the notarial deed follow:

a) Remarks of the notary about the motivations that led him to make the legitimate request of SchultheijJ and GeTicht, and about the years he had initiated: first of all, he had to approve the 7 congregational and members of the court by the Shiirjste remembers, probably all of them and read points and then to take them into account at every what they themselves know of this and what they can expect from their parents or ancestors professed to have been or to have done something; and so that all may be stable and strong, and serve the community and the descendants instead of a wisdom [!], they have been reproached to give previously hand faithfully to the aydtes instead of giving them, yes, if necessary further on to give the real aydt, which handgelobniis presents the same freely, after they had previously been pleasantly protected from false zeugniis and mayneydt warned themselves to hiiten;

b) “interrogatoria generalia” meaning the name, age, religion, status and profession of each de: 7 respondents of recent questions, whether born in F. or how long otherwise there ansiissig whether knowledge of the war loss of the Briejschajten, protocols and other evidence, including whether or not everyone is willing to testify truthfully to say what he knows himself or what he knows from his parents or others old people in the Dorj about the rights, righteousness and property

I heard from Doris F.

2) The parties all agree; one of them remarks with regard to the second sentence that he remembers that the mr. brother of KeJ31er once wanted to hold the court, but the most merciful body-ruler had forbidden it, whatever remained.

3) Is confirmed unanimously by all the respondents, but one of them adds that he himself had never had a field, and a another reports that his stepfather seye had also been a buttel (servant or farmhand), probably but did not enjoy the field.

4) The respondents affirmed read out the sentence.

5) The text of this article and statements 1-6 auj Bl, 11 and 12 are lost. Ojjenbar deals with art. 4 of taxes, because the answer of Adam Gijjt received in Bl. 13 is that dajJ it as he remembers what he heard from his father in F. and that he had only given a headline in F. and that Taxes on 3 Turks, Friulia and county taxes I know nothing.

6) i.e. to protect, preserve.

7) i.e. acquired.

8) In detailed statements, all seven respondents confirm the traditional freedom from Fronden. One of them answers that he doesn’t know that he threatened to kill someone. or only one horse biB to the village, likewise also of his old father, who turned 88 years old, never ground heard that she froze; another testifies that he knows not otherwise, but that they are joyful, that they have heard such things even from old ones, even that one not once had to go out before the village,

The answers of Adam Kirsch and Jacob Antes see in Heimatbl. Ludwigshajen 1921 No. 10 and at Merk p. 153 if. However, moreover, it is implied that every Dorjteil its 14 Malter Beethkorn (Bedekorn) jiihrlich the rulerajt auj 4 hours far (to Neustadt or Dilrkheim); the carnival pilgrims miljJJten through the youngest Bilrger after “Fremersheim” near Alzey.

My German friend, Chris’s commentary: “I tried to locate the “Heimatblätter von Ludwigshafen […]”, which is one of the sources. It seems difficult to get those, they are not online and physically only in a few libraries.”

Chris explained the above entry: “Beede” or “Bede” originally was a kind of “voluntary gift” to the lords, which over time developed in a kind of tax. “Malter” is an old corn measure.

“Chickens for carnival” maybe needs to be explained as well, he said. “In former times, taxes were usually imposed at specific times of the year. This could be New Year, Christmas, Easter… in this case Carnival time. And as many people did not have real money in coins, they gave their tax in the form of natural goods, in this case, chickens.”

Now, of course, I wonder when Carnival was held. I’m betting on the fall when wine was pressed and produce harvested. That would be a logical time for celebration and wine made everyone feel festive. Think Oktoberfest today.

Oktoberfest was born in Germany, and everyone joins in and has fun.

We know that Adam’s descendants played in the band and sang in the choir in Fussgoenheim, a century later.

Chris interprets this section to mean that, “Essentially, what Adam Kirsch and the others are telling is that they never in their lifetime had to do any compulsory labor (“Frondienst”, or in the old term used here: “Fronden”, as a verb for the service “fröhnen”, “gefröhnet”) for the landlords. To my understanding, the purpose of the “Weistum” texts was an interesting ones: Today, we would assume that every landlord just imposed the new laws on the village, as they pleased. But in medieval right and apparently even in 1717, it was even more important to keep the rights of the people based on the local habits. So, if there are several Fussgoenheim inhabitants stating that they never had to do compulsory labor, then this would be a right they would also have in the future. And this, as other things, seems to have been a matter on which the village people were fighting about with the later von Hallberg lords.”

9) The respondents confirm this freedom of the villagers, whereby one of them (Hans Nickel Coop) remarks that in the front of the village above he could not report anything else than how the same have been confessed, which freedom has also been granted there, but hiitte of such a one who rules, who is compelled to desire something, who rules there as well, after but his father, as the schoolmaster, has contradicted this same thing, his finite and no longer desired anything, but stayed away.

10) Only two responses to this article have been received in the submission, both of which are in agreement; the second respondent responded [a, as he himself had done for the 40 years of such justice in the act driven here, also heard by his father, that it came from this way seye, and seye also alhier burgers, who take it.

11) These articles (pp. 17-22 of the template) jehlen.

12) This legal sentence is also confirmed as correct by the seven interviewees; in F. it is stated that never gave Zilnjte. There follows the notarial certification with the signatures and the partially preserved seals of the notary Johann Henrich Noretuiorji, councillor of Speyer, and the two witnesses Falck and Fedth.

a) Anjang jehU, cf. the preliminary remark.

b) behind this word oiienbar a rest sign.

Johann Adam’s Death

After the 1717 reference, we know little other than Johann Adam was deceased before 1743 when the property lines were redrawn by the Hallberg family with the intention of expanding their holdings at the expense of the townspeople. Ironic that Adam’s 1717 testimony may have influenced or even saved his family 36 years later, in 1753, when the Kirsch family once again returned to Fussgoenheim and by court order, reclaimed at least some of their land.

There are no church records before 1726, and no Kirsch burials before 1734. Adam’s wife, Anna Maria Koob, is the first Kirsch burial recorded in the book.

21 March 1734 Anna Maria Kirschin, lawfully wed wife of Adam Kirsch, buried in a Christian manner?, died on the 18th of the same (month); aged 54 years.

Her burial record says, “Anna Maria Kirsch(in), wife of Adam Kirsch,” not widow, nor does it refer to him as “former” or “deceased.” This suggests that Adam is still alive in 1734.

However, his death is not recorded in the church books through 1742.

In 1743, the Kirsch families were evicted from Fussgoenheim because they refused to sanction a fraudulently drawn map by von Hallberg, but there is no indication that Adam Kirsch is one of the people booted, although I all Kirsch men seemed to have been removed. There are no Kirsch burials beginning in 1743 for the next two decades. My friend Tom checked Ellerstadt too, with no luck.

Adam could have still been living.

Adam’s son, Michael Kirsch, the Mayor, owned three properties in 1743, shown on that map, likely inherited from Adam.

Adam’s Children’s Marriages Bracket His Death

We don’t really know if Adam was married once or twice.

If Walter is right and Adam Kirsch was married first to Ms. Greulich who died in 1706, daughter of Adam Greulich, and first child Michael Kirsch was indeed born about 1700, then Adam’s first child was by his first wife.

  • Johann Michael Kirsch’s first child was born about 1725, and his second unquestionably in 1726, so it’s unlikely that Michael was born after 1706. His birth year is approximated as 1700.

Adam Kirsch’s next children with Anna Maria Koob, born in 1680, were:

  • Johann Wilhelm Kirsch born about 1706, married Maria Catharina Spanier in 1727. This marriage entry does not say that Adam is deceased, and refers to him as the sibling of the mayor.
  • Maria Catharina Kirsch 1715-1778, married Johannes Neumann on May 5, 1739. In the marriage entry, it states that she is the daughter of the “late honorable Johann Adam Kirsch, former Palatinate Unterfauth.”
  • Peter Kirsch, born about 1716, married in 1736 to Maria Barbara Spanier, died before 1760.
  • Johann Jacob Kirsch, born about 1718, married Maria Catharina Schuhmacher in February 1740, his marriage also stating that Johann Adam Kirsch, Unterfauth, was deceased.

While we have no records, children were probably being born until about 1723. Any children who were born and died before 1726 would not have been recorded, as the church books either didn’t exist or have been destroyed.

It’s certainly possible that Adam’s first wife died in about 1703 or 1704 giving birth to their second child who also perished.

If Adam Kirsch remarried in about 1705, he and Anna Maria Koob would have had approximately 9 children, only 4 of which are accounted for. They likely buried 5 babies or young children. If Anna Maria Koob was his only wife and the mother of Michael, they likely lost two additional children.

Adam died sometime between March of 1734 when his wife passed away, and May of 1739 when his daughter married.

We know that in that five year window, the family was living in Fussgoenheim, the new church had been built, and his wife was laid to rest in the churchyard. Adam likely had more children than is reflected in the marriage records. If so, several probably passed as infants and are buried in the churchyard with Adam, most of his adult children, grandchildren and wife or wives. There’s a lot of sorrow and a lot of love buried there.

Lives celebrated by the minister at the funeral, and then, later, at the wine tavern, sharing memories that made everyone laugh and cry, perhaps at once.

We know so little about Johann Adam Kirsch’s life, yet it was obviously full of adventures and challenges – although the word adventure may not be at all how he viewed the situation.

Adam grew up as a refuge, became a young mayor by 1701 when there may have been few others to serve, and was clearly a respected elder by 1717. He buried at least one wife, if not two, and children. He may have died, a refuge one again, refusing to capitulate to an overlord, resting on principle. Willing to wager for “all or nothing.”

The 1753 “accounting” document that details further information about the descendants of Johann Georg, Jerg, Kirsch, in particular those expelled from the village in 1743 for a decade, may reveal more about Johann Adam’s life, and death – and perhaps details about his first wife, if she existed, as well.

I feel that we are just so tantalizingly close to disclosing more in the buried crumbs of records that remain about the quaint vintner village of Fussgoenheim. So close, but so far away.

A toast to you, Adam! A toast to you.



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Y DNA Haplogroup P Gets a Brand-New Root – Plus Some Branches

With almost 35,000 branches comprised of 316,000 SNPs, branches on the Y DNA tree are split every day. In fact, roughly 1000 branches are being added to the Y DNA tree of mankind at Family Tree DNA each month. I wrote about how to navigate their public tree, here, and you can view the tree, here. You can also read about Y DNA terminology, here.

Splitting a deep, very old branch into subclades is unusual – and exciting. Finding a new root, taking the entire haplogroup back another notch in time is even more amazing, especially when that root is 46,000 years old.

Haplogroup P is the parent haplogroup of both Q and R.

This portion of the 2010 haplogroup poster provided to Family Tree DNA conference attendees shows the basic branching structure of haplogroup P, R and Q, with haplogroup P being defined at that time by several equivalent SNPs that had not yet been split into any other subgroups or branches of P. Notice that P295 is shown, but not F115 or PF5850 which would be discovered in years to come.

Haplogroup R, a subclade of P, is the most common haplogroup in Europe, with roughly half of European men falling on some branch of haplogroup R.

Map and haplogroup R distribution courtesy of FamilyTreeDNA

In Ireland, nearly all men fall into a subgroup of haplogroup R.

A lot of progress has been made in the past decade.

This week, FamilyTreeDNA identified a split in haplogroup P, upstream of haplogroups Q and R, establishing a new root above haplogroup P-P295.

The Previous 2020 Tree

This is a 2020 “before” picture of the tree as it pertains to haplogroup P. You can see P-P295 at the top as the root or beginning mutation that defined haplogroup P. That was, of course, before this new discovery.

click to enlarge

At Family Tree DNA, according to this tree where testers self-identify the location of their most distant known patrilineal ancestor, haplogroup P testers are found in multiple Asian locations. Some haplogroup P kits may have only purchased specific SNP tests, not the full Big Y and would actually be placed on downstream branches if they upgraded. Haplogroup P itself is quite rare and generally only found in Siberia, Southeast Asia, and diaspora regions.

Subgroups Q and R are found across Europe and Asia. Additionally, some subgroups of haplogroup Q migrated across the land bridge, Beringia, to populate the Americas.

You might be wondering – if there are only a few people who fall directly into haplogroup P, how was it split?

Great question.

How Was Haplogroup P Split?

Testing of ancient DNA has been a boon to science and genealogy, both, and one of my particular interests.

Recently, Goran Runfeldt who heads the R&D team at FamilyTreeDNA was reading the paper titled Ancient migrations in Southeast Asia and noticed that in the supplementary material, several genomic files from ancient samples were available to download. Of course, that was just the beginning, because the files had to be aligned and processed – then the accuracy verified – requiring input from other team members including Michael Sager who maintains the Y DNA haplotree.

Additionally, the paper’s authors sequenced the whole genomes of two present-day Jehai people from Northern Parak State, West Malaysia, a small group of traditional hunter-gatherers, many of whom still live in isolation. One of those samples was the individual whose Y DNA provided the new root SNP, P-PF5850, that is located above the previous root of haplogroup P, P-P295.

Until this sample was analyzed by Goran, Michael and team, three SNPs, PF5850, P295 and F115, were considered to be equivalent, because no tie-breaker had surfaced to indicate which SNPs occurred in what order. Now we know that PF5850 happened first and is the root of haplogroup P.

I asked Michael Sager, the phylogeneticist at FamilyTreeDNA, better-known as “Mr. Big Y,” due to his many-years-long Godfather relationship with the Y DNA tree, how he knew where to place PF5850, and how it became a new root.

Michael explained that we know that P-PF5850 is the new root because the three SNPs that indicated the previous root, P295, PF5850 and F115 are present in all previous samples, but mutations at both P295 and F115 are absent in the new sample, indicating that PF5850 preceded what is now the old P root.

The two SNPs, P295 and F115 occurred some time later.

This sample also included more than 300 additional unique mutations that may become branches in the future. As more people test and more ancient samples are found and sequenced, there’s lots of potential for further branching. Even with more than 50,000 NGS Big-Y DNA tests in the Family Tree DNA database, there’s still so much we don’t know, yet to be discovered.

Amazingly, mutation P-PF5850 occurred approximately 46,000 years ago meaning that this branch had remained hidden all this time. For all we know, he might be the only man left alive with this particular lineage of mankind, but it’s likely more will surface eventually.

click to enlarge

Michael Sager had previously analyzed samples from The population history of northeastern Siberia since the Pleistocene by Sikora et al. You’ll notice that additional branches of haplogroup P are reflected in ancient samples Yana1 and Yana2 which split P-M45, twice.

Branch Definitions

Today, haplogroup branches are defined by their SNP name, except for base and main branches such as P, P1, P2, etc. Haplogroup P is very old and you’ll find it referred to as simply P, P1 or P2 in most literature, not by SNP name. Goran labeled the old branch names beside the current SNP names, and provided a preliminary longhand letter+number branch name with the * for explanatory purposes.

The problem with the old letter+number system is that when new upstream branches are inserted, the current haplogroup “P” has to shift down and become something else. That’s problematic when reading papers. In order to understand which SNP the paper is actually referencing, you have to know what SNP was labeled as “P” at the time the paper was written.

For example, a new P was just defined, so P becomes P1, but the previous P1 has to become something else, resulting in a domino effect of renaming. While that’s not a significant issue with haplogroup P, because it has seldom changed, it’s a huge challenge with the 17,000+ haplogroup R branches. Hence, the transition several years ago to using SNP names such as P295 instead of the older letter+number designations such as P, which now needs to become something like P1.

Haplogroup Ages

Goran was kind enough to provide additional information as well, including the estimated “Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor,” or TMRCA, a feature currently in development for all haplogroups. You can see that P-PF5850 is estimated to be approximately 46,000 years old, “ca 46 kybp,” meaning “circa 46 thousand years before present.”

The founding ancestor of haplogroup Q lived approximately 31,000 years ago, and ancestral R lived about 28,000 years ago, someplace in Asia. Their common ancestor, P-P226, lived about 33,000 years ago.

How cool is this that you can peer back in time to view these ancient lineages – the story still told in our Y DNA today.

What About You?

If you’re a male, you can upgrade to or purchase a Big Y-700 to participate, here. In addition to discovering where you fall on the tree of mankind, you’ll discover who you match on your direct patrilineal side and where their ancestors are located in the world.



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Deleting DNA Results or Closing Your Account Does NOT Automatically = Destroying Your Original DNA Sample

First and foremost, I want to state unequivocally that I am NOT advocating closing your account at any of the testing vendor sites. That’s not the purpose of this article. In fact, I encourage everyone to use each tool to extract every drop of information possible.

The purpose is to educate and inform you that IF you close your account and/or delete your DNA RESULTS from your account, even if the vendor in question says that the action is irreversible and you will need to resubmit a new sample and purchase a new test if you change your mind, that does NOT necessarily mean that your physical DNA sample itself will be destroyed unless you take separate action to request sample destruction. It also does not automatically reverse any previously-granted research permissions.

Many people presume that if they delete their results and/or close their account, that automatically means that their original spit or swab sample is destroyed – and that’s not necessarily true.

First, we need to understand the difference between:

  • A DNA sample
  • A DNA raw data results file, also referred to as a download file
  • DNA matches or a match file

The Difference Between a DNA Sample, Results and Download Files, and Matches

There are three distinct parts of the DNA testing process that people often confuse. It’s important to understand these distinct pieces because you interact with them differently and vendors do as well. In other words, deleting your DNA results file, or closing your account does not necessarily mean that your original sample is destroyed unless you request (and confirm) that separately.

DNA Sample – The DNA sample itself is the swab or vial of spit that you submit to the vendor for processing. That sample is sent to a lab where DNA is extracted and processed on a specific DNA chip that produces a file with roughly 700,000 locations for autosomal tests.

After your DNA results are processed and the vendor knows that they do not need to rerun your sample, how or if your DNA sample is stored, and where, is a function of each specific vendor and their policies.

One vendor, Family Tree DNA archives your DNA sample vials for 25 years as a free benefit so that you (or your heirs should you pass away) can order additional products or upgrades. FamilyTreeDNA offers various levels of Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing along with autosomal (Family Finder) results – so there are several upgrade avenues.

This short article, 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy, explains the difference between various kinds of DNA tests.

It’s less obvious why a vendor who does not offer genealogical DNA products other than autosomal testing would retain a customer’s actual DNA sample. The other three vendors, while they don’t currently offer additional genealogy DNA products, do offer health upgrades and purchase options. They may be retaining samples so that their customers could potentially upgrade and they would have a sample on-hand to rerun, if necessary.

Both MyHeritage and 23andMe offer a combined ancestry/genealogy plus health product initially, or customers can purchase the health add-on later. FamilyTreeDNA offers a high-end comprehensive Exome health product for existing customers, the Tovana Genome Report, but it’s a different test altogether and requires a fresh DNA sample.

Furthermore, both Ancestry and 23andMe either conduct health/medical research internally and/or participate in research partnerships with outside entities and may be hoping that their customers will opt-in to research.

Regardless of the underlying reason why, keep in mind that your actual sample is likely being archived someplace, assuming there is any left after processing, unless you request that your sample be destroyed.

Refer to each vendor’s Terms and Conditions, their Privacy Policy along with any other linked documents to gain insight into how each vendor operates. Furthermore, one of those documents will provide instructions for how to request the destruction of your actual DNA sample, should you choose to do so.

All vendors change the contents of their Terms and Conditions along with other legal documents from time to time, so be sure to refer to the current version.

The DNA sample itself is NOT the same thing as the output from the processing, which is the DNA raw data results file.

DNA Raw Data Results File – The DNA results file contains only a small fraction of the three billion locations found in the human genome. Autosomal DNA tests include only about 700,000 (plus or minus) selected locations produced by the chip the vendor is utilizing. The output of the laboratory process is referred to as a raw data file or the DNA results file. People sometimes refer to this as the download file as well, because it’s the file you can download from each vendor.

The results in a raw data file look like this:

When you download and transfer your file from one vendor to another, the raw data file is what you are transferring. You can find instructions for downloading your data file from each vendor, here.

  • The DNA raw data or download file is NOT your actual DNA, which is what is extracted from the liquid in the vial.
  • The raw data or download file is NOT a list of your matches, which may or may not be a separate file available for downloading, depending on the vendor.

The raw data file only contains letters representing your two genotyped nucleotides (T, A, C or G) for the rsid (accession #) for each genetic address or position tested. Each genetic address contains two SNPs, or single nucleotide polymorphisms. You don’t need to understand the details, just that one nucleotide at that address is received from your mother and one from your father.

The example above shows my first 4 locations in my raw data file. You can see that I received an A from both parents at the first two locations, and a G from both parents and the second two locations.

Match File

The values in your DNA results file are compared to other people in the vendor’s database. If enough contiguous locations match, typically more than 500 matching SNPs, plus additional cM (centiMorgan) threshold match criteria, shown below, you are determined to be a match with that other person. You will each be placed on the other person’s match list, and the vendor will then provide additional processing based on the signature features they offer to their clients.

Of the four main vendors, three, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage and 23andMe allow customers to download a match file in spreadsheet format that provides additional information about each match. Ancestry, unfortunately, does not.

You cannot upload your match file to other vendors – only your raw data file gets uploaded which the vendor then processes in the same way they would if you had tested at their company.

If someone on your match list wants to be included in the database at another vendor, they will either need to test at that vendor or transfer their file to that vendor. Every vendor has people in their database that the other vendors don’t have, so it behooves all genealogists to be in each of the four databases either by testing directly or uploading their raw data files as a transfer.

Of the four main vendors, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage both accept transfers from other vendors and provide free matching, but 23andMe and Ancestry do not. Note that both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage do charge for advanced features, $19 and $29, respectively, but in both cases, it’s significantly less than the cost of a test.

Deleting Results and Closing Accounts

Again, I am NOT advocating that anyone should close accounts at any vendor. In fact, I would discourage DNA deletion. Some people delete their DNA or close their accounts when other options would better serve their purposes. However, if you decide to do so, you need to be aware of the following:

  • If you have a genealogical tree/records research account at Ancestry or MyHeritage, you can delete your DNA results but maintain your genealogy research account, if you desire. You will lose the benefits of having a DNA test at that vendor if you delete your DNA test.
  • At those two vendors, if you delete your DNA, that does not automatically affect the genealogy side of your account except for combined features like ThruLines at Ancestry and Theories of Family Relativity at MyHeritage.
  • If you DOWNLOAD your DNA file, that does NOT delete the file at the original testing vendor unless you do so separately. Downloading only means that you download a copy of the file. Your original raw data results file is still at the vendor, UNLESS YOU CHOOSE TO DELETE YOUR RESULTS. Do not delete your results file unless you want to lose your matches and no longer participate in DNA testing or DNA-related features at that vendor.
  • If you are planning to delete your DNA results at a particular vendor, download a raw data file first, and verify that the file works correctly by uploading the file to one of the vendors that accepts transfers. Save the raw data file permanently on your computer. This preserves at least some of your testing investment and allows you to utilize your DNA results file elsewhere.
  • If you delete your DNA results at any of the major vendors, you cannot restore the results file at that vendor without repurchasing and resubmitting a new DNA test. For vendors who accept transfers, you could potentially re-upload your file as a transfer, but you would need to pay for advanced features.
  • If you delete your DNA results at vendors who do NOT offer additional genealogical research services, meaning at 23andMe and Family Tree DNA, there is no reason to maintain an account at that vendor.

If you delete your results or close your account at any vendor, it DOES mean that:

  • The DNA result you’ve deleted along with corresponding matches and other features are permanently gone. You cannot change your mind. Delete=permanent.
  • At FamilyTreeDNA, you can delete one kind of DNA test without deleting all types of DNA tests for a particular individual. For example, you could delete a Y DNA result but not delete mitochondrial or the autosomal Family Finder test.
  • You will have to pay to retest should you change your mind.

If you delete your results or close the DNA portion of your account, it DOES NOT necessarily mean that:

  • Your DNA sample is destroyed.
  • You’ve revoked any permissions previously given for participation in research.

You will need to perform both of these tasks separately and independently of deleting your DNA file at a vendor and/or closing your account.

Every Vendor is Different

The process of requesting sample destruction and revoking research permissions is different at each vendor, with or without closing your account.

Every vendor’s terms and conditions are separate and different. Some vendors may automatically close your account if you request sample destruction, and others won’t. Some may automatically delete your sample if you close your account, but I know for certain that’s not uniformly true.

Terms and conditions, as well as standard procedures, change over time as well.

I’m not telling you which vendors operate in which ways, because this article will someday be dated and vendor policies change. I don’t want to take the chance of leading someone astray in the future.

Therefore, if you wish to have your sample destroyed and/or revoke any research permissions previously granted, I strongly suggest that you call the vendor’s customer support and convey specifically what you want, and why. The vendor may offer alternatives to achieve what you desire without deleting your sample and account.

To delete your sample and/or account, you may need to provide your request in writing.

Request verification in writing that your sample has been destroyed and that any previously granted research authority/permission has been rescinded.

Research Permission

Please note that you can rescind previously granted research permission WITHOUT affecting your account in any other way. However, the reverse is not true – deleting your sample and closing your account does not automatically rescind previously-granted research permission.

You can only rescind permission for future research, not research already underway or completed that includes your DNA and corresponding answers to research questions.

Extra Steps

I hope you will continue to enjoy the results of your DNA tests for years to come. New features and benefits are added regularly, as are new matches – any one of which has the potential to break down that pesky brick wall. Equally as important, at least to me, is the legacy I’m leaving with my combined tree, DNA, and research work for future generations.

However, what’s right for me may not be right for you. If you make a different decision, be sure that you fully understand the different parts of DNA testing along with the various options and steps you may need to take to achieve your goal.



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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Johann Adam Borstler (before 1650 – before 1695), Kirchengeschworener – What’s That?? – 52 Ancestors #306

We discover that Johann Adam Borstler is the father of Anna Maria Borstler in her 1695 marriage record to Johann Wilhelm Kirsch in Durkheim, now Bad Durkheim, in Germany.

Unfortunately, Johann Adam wasn’t able to walk his daughter to the church, or down the aisle. There was no giving her hand in marriage.

Anna Maria is referenced as “surviving legitimate daughter of the late Johann Adan Borsler, former resident and kirchengeschworener from here.”

This tells us, of course, that Johann Adam had died and that he was from Durkheim, both very useful pieces of information. I’m unclear if this simply means he lived in Durkheim as an adult, meaning that he was a citizen and might have been born elsewhere, or if that means that he was born in Durkheim.

Johann Adam’s daughter was born about 1675, judging both from a normal age at marriage as well as the fact that her last (known) child was born in 1718, so Johann Adam would not likely have been born after 1650, just about the time that the Thirty Years’ War was over. If he was about the same age as his wife, he could have been born anytime from roughly 1625-1650. Those dates encompass nearly the entire duration of the Thirty Years’ War, so his marriage and subsequent adulthood must have been anything but “normal” and filled with terror on a daily basis. How does constant strife and warfare ever become “normal” and what is it like to live like that? Perhaps faith was all they had.

History strongly suggests that indeed, Johann Adam Borstler was born in Durkheim, because only three cities in the Palatinate were left standing for most of the war; Frankenthal, Durkheim and Speyer.


The word kirchengeschworener is an old German word with no exact translation, according to my German genealogist friend, Chris. A kirchengeschworener was an elected or appointed representative of the church community (“church-sworn”) that worked with the pastor to perform functions like supervising property including roads near the church, maintaining records regarding ownership, managing church assets, collecting income and bookkeeping. In some places, thisperson also performed services as a counselor.

A kirchengeschworener was then a historical form of church leadership found in the old texts as early as the 1500s and into the 1700s in some places. Today, we might translate this duty or position as church elder, church father or deacon.

In one case, the kirchengeschworener was specifically responsible, among other things for “funding the corpse,” which, in this case, meant “Holy Corpse” or changing the host.

The Church

The Thirty Years’ War ended in 1648 when Johann Adam would either have been just being born or perhaps as a young man. He would have witnessed the slow process of rebuilding.

The countryside was devasted, entirely destroyed and depopulated, and most cities fared little better.

Borstler Dannstadt church.jpg

Durkheim wasn’t large, not the way we think of cities today. In this drawing from the 1700s, we see the ruins of the Limburg Abbey in the distance in the hills, with the village below and the church tower standing to the right.

The church tower faces west, with Durkheim standing at the base of the mountainous Palatinate Forest.

Borstler Limburg abbey

By Friedrich Haag – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35589426

The Limburg Abbey, overlooking Durkheim, a landmark always in view, had stood as a sentinel in the distance for 800 years.

Borstler St Johannis Church Durkheim

This 1630 pen and ink drawing of St. Johannis, or St. John’s Church shows the church, churchyard, and surrounding buildings. Little would have changed from 1630 until the burning of the church in 1689. This would have been the church that Johann Adam cared for, and very clearly cared about. The adjacent Latin school would have been where his children were schooled, and it’s possible that one of these houses at the rear of the church is where he lived. A trusted caretaker might well have lived nearby.

Johann Adam’s parents are likely buried in the churchyard that he passed inside the walls each time he entered the church.

The earliest church records that exist are burials beginning in 1640, but it was here, in this gothic baptismal font dating from 1537 that Johann Adam Borstler was likely baptized, and likely baptized his children as well.

Borstler baptismal font Durkheim.jpg

We know that Adam walked past this very baptistry thousands of times in his lifetime.

It’s interesting to note that the church, now known at the castle church, first mentioned in 946 is walled, fortified, and that 1630, the year this drawing was rendered was well into the Thirty Years’ War, a dozen years after it began and long after the rest of the Palatinate cities were laid waste.

Adjacent buildings include the Latin school, and of course, the churchyard is in view. Not shown are gravestones for the hundreds of burials that would pack this churchyard full over the preceding 684+ years.

It would be here, in this churchyard, that Johann Adam Borstler was assuredly laid to rest, sometime after his daughter’s birth about 1675 and before her marriage in 1695.

We might be able to speculate a bit about what might have happened to Johann Adam, although we will never know for sure.

Amazingly, the church was spared during the Thirty Years’ War, but warfare began again when invaded by the French in 1673 after the French king decreed that the Palatinate should be made a desert. This war escalated until Durkheim was taken in 1689 and very nearly burned to the ground.

Somehow, at least some of the church books were saved, thankfully. That’s nothing short of a miracle. The church itself burned, the walls so hot they buckled. The bell mounts melted and the bells dropped to the floor, melting into a molten puddle. The church books were clearly not in that building.

I have to wonder if Johann Adam, in his capacity as kirchengeschworener, had something to do with that. Did he hide those books away, outside of the church to keep them safe – unwittingly salvaging them for me to find him more than three centuries later? A gift, perhaps, to undreamed-of future generations. At that moment, the only future he was probably thinking about was survival – not someone 10 generations distant. With the fire and devastation, would there be any future for his family or would flames, death and foreign soldiers consume his entire family for eternity?

I also wonder if Johann Adam perished during this time, one way or another.

He could have been a relatively young father when he died, or he could have been several years older. Given his level of responsibility within the church, I’d think he would have earned that trust over the years, which would suggest he was older. It also tells us he was educated because he would have needed to be able to read and write. Could some of the handwriting in those church records actually be his own script?

If Anna Maria was a middle child, born about 1675 when he was 35, and he died in 1689, he would have been 49. Of course, he might not have died at this point in history. All we know for sure is that he was gone by her marriage in 1695, recorded in those very same church books.

How bittersweet.

The old portion of the church still remains after being repaired and restored in 1717, although the tower has been rebuilt.

Borstler Durkheim st john church

You can read more about the church here and here.

Other Records in Durkheim

There are other early records in Durkheim, although none that we can definitively tie to our Johann Adam Borstler. Translations courtesy of Tom.

Burial: 16 Aug 1684

On the same day was buried, Anna Maria, dau of Hans Adam Borstler, age 1 ½ years……

This could have been the daughter of our Johann Adam Borstler, and the sister of Anna Maria, having been born in early 1683.

Or, this child could have been the daughter of another Johan Adam Borstler. Yes, of course there were two men in the same place by the same name. This IS my family, after all.

Burial: Laetare Sunday the 4th of April 1700 committed to the earth here in a Christian ceremony, Joh. Adam Borsler, citizen, age 47 years. Text 2 Cor, verse 5, last.

This man could have been the brother of Anna Maria, having been born about 1657. If so, that tells us that his father was born no later than 1632.

I’m always fascinated by funeral sermons of specific times and places, because certainly ministers reused their favorites, so the same passages might have been read at for Johann Adam Borstler’s funeral when he died.

2 Corinthians 5

1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,

3 Because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.

7 We live by faith, not by sight.

8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.

12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.

13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin [1] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Anna Maria Borstler surely attended the funeral of the man with the same name as her father. She had been married in that “church” 5 years before, although the actual building had not yet been rebuilt. It’s very likely that this man was closely related to the family, if not Anna Maria’s brother. Often, children were named after Godparents, so our Johann Adam may have been his godfather, if not his father, standing beside that baptismal font 47 years earlier, in 1653.

Was this man, still relatively young, laid to rest in the cemetery adjacent the burned church beside our Johann Adam Borstler?

The Johann Joachim Burschler Family May Provide a Clue

Tom found and translated several other early records of similar surname spellings, with little concrete to show for the effort, unfortunately.

However, there are some interesting findings, trails and hints. Keep in mind that early records are in archaic script, not always in good shape, and surnames were spelled however the person writing them down decided to spell them.

One Johann Joachim Burschler, a cooper, born about 1620, given that he married in 1643, was having children during this time. He married three times, first to Anna Catharina Voltz who died in 1668, next Otilla widow Korb (possibly Koob?) whom he married in 1676 and who died in 1677, then to Anna Catharina widow Storck.

Johann Joachim’s recorded children were:

  • Georg born 1647, died 1667
  • Johann Simon born 1649 married Anna Margaretha Burckhard in 1671. There is a Hans Simon who died in Schauernheim in 1708 and in 1712. One of the Simons married a Koob in about 1686 in Fussgoenheim.
  • Johann Adam born 1652, married Anna Ottilia Pantzer in 1679, which precludes him from being the father of Anna Maria Borstler who married in 1695 and was born about 1675. There is a slight possibility that he could have been married previously and had Anna Maria.
  • Hans Diether born in 1658 and died in 1682. The godparents were Diether Renner from Schauernheim…she wife (some text unreadable)…and Adam Stupp, citizen and shoemaker here. This ties this Borstler family with the Borstler family of Schauernheim who is tied to the Borstler, Kirsch and Koob families of Fussgoenheim, creating a circle of connections. A Johann Jacob Borstler died in Schauernheim in 1704.
  • Johann Joachim born in 1661, died in 1667.

There is no mention of children with Anna Catharina Storck, who, if she was Johann Joachim’s age, would have been about 60, beyond childbearing years.

Two children of Johann Joachim Burschler, certainly another spelling of Borstler, connect with Schauernheim and Fussgoenheim where Anna Maria Borstler moved with her husband, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch.

While Johann Joachim Burschler may not have been our Johann Adam Borstler’s father, he may have been his uncle or cousin. These Borstler families are connected, or maybe intertwined is a better word, in this region of the Palatinate, with the Renner, Koob and Kirsch families found in Schauernheim, Fussgoenheim and Mutterstadt.


A male with the Boerstler or similar surname has not yet tested their Y DNA which would help us learn even more about our Borstler family. We know that these four families from the Borstler line immigrated to the US, and several had male children who may have male descendants today.

  • Hans Michel Borstler born August 1701 in Schauernheim to Johann Michael Borstler and Anna Margaretha Lackinger, died 1767 in Berks County, PA, married Anna Catharina Krehl in Assenheim in 1726.
  • Jacob Borstler born 1700 in Fussgoenheim to Johann Theobald (Dewald) Borstler and Maria Catharine Kemp (Kamp), married Catharina Peter in PA about 1727 and died in Berks County, PA. They had son, Johann Georg Berstler born in 1732 in Oley, Berks County, and died in 1790 in Bethlehem, Northampton Co., PA. This line had sons with Borstler, Berstler, Burstler, or Buerstler males today.
  • George Borstler (Berstler,) brother of Jacob, above, born about 1712, died in Alsace, Berks County, PA.
  • George Berstler born in 1734 in Ludwigshafen to Johann George Boerstler who died in 1798 in Schauernheim, immigrated, served in the Revolutionary War and died in Berks County, PA. He had sons Johann (John) 1775-1823, Jacob born in 1776, Samuel born in 1780, and David born in 1791.

I have a Y DNA testing scholarship for any Borstler or similar surname male from these or connected lines. Are these your relatives? Please reach out!



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RootsTech Connect 2021 – Completely Online and Totally Free

rootstech connect.png

You might have already heard that RootsTech 2021, to be held February 25-27, is going to be all virtual. The original conference was scheduled for February 3-6, so be sure to note the date change in your calendar.

Not only that, RootsTech Connect 2021 will be entirely free, enabling many more people from across the world to enroll and enjoy a mid-winter genealogy pick-me-up.

You can read the official announcement, here and a blog post including a short video by Jen Allen, RootsTech event planner, here, featuring video footage from recent RootsTech conferences. You just might see someone you know!

You do need to register though, even though the event is free. Registration will assure that you receive announcements, schedules and notifications about speakers.

There’s still a lot up in the air, but we do know a few things.

  • Some classes will be presented in multiple languages.
  • All classes will be recorded and will be available for viewing at your convenience.
  • There will be celebrity keynotes, although they have not been announced.
  • There will be a virtual marketplace with your favorite vendors, and maybe more that wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate.
  • Rootstech is no longer constrained by a limit on rooms, so there may be more speakers and sessions than ever.
  • Typically, speakers are already selected and notified by this time, but due to the change to a virtual conference, speaker selection is still ongoing. Speaker candidates have been asked to modify their original class submissions to be no more than 20 minutes, max, so sessions will be shorter than at the in-person conferences of past years.
  • RootsTech will be incorporating cultural experiences in some manner.
  • “Socializing” in some way has been discussed, but plans are still ongoing.

RootsTech staff hosted a RootsTech Connect livestream yesterday, where they shared their vision and answered questions – you can view here on YouTube.

It will be a challenge to host the world’s largest genealogy conference remotely, online, with more attendees than ever before.

I’d say that the “tech” part of RootsTech is really going to get the opportunity to live up to their name. We will all be making history, together, that’s for sure. We won’t miss the lines, but we will miss seeing each other in person. I look back now and cherish those minutes and hours more than ever and so look forward to 2022, hopefully in person once again where we can visit the Family History Library, sit, visit, break bread and hug.

Meanwhile, I’m grateful for this opportunity and will see you “there,” one way or another.

You can register, here.



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Ancestry’s New StoryScout: Be Cautious

This week, Ancestry did three things to users’ accounts:

  • Deleted 6-7.9 (inclusive) cM matches
  • Deleted message folders
  • Added a new feature, StoryScout

What is StoryScout?

StoryScout sniffs out various records and weaves them into a story, supposedly about YOUR ancestor. Some of these records are accurate and some aren’t. As genealogists we are used to hints, but not to unverified information portrayed as a “story” about our ancestor.

Seasoned genealogists understand the need to always be skeptical and require proof that any record actually refers to a specific person. Newer genealogists, perhaps not so much. I’ve already noticed several people thrilled that StoryScout is breaking down brick walls. While that certainly might be the case, StoryScout also might be storying about this – pardon the pun.

If you’re new and learning how to research, you can read about Genealogical Proof Standard, here.

Even more concerning is that there is a social media “share” button at the end of each story, encouraging the sharing of unvetted and unverified information in the form of heartwarming stories. I mean, who doesn’t want to learn that their ancestor fought in the Revolutionary War? Right?

Caution, Please

A HUGE DOSE OF CAUTION is advised, along with additional research and confirmation before accepting any StoryScout stories as factually about your own ancestor.

Ancestry indicates that they begin with the ancestors in your tree. I’ve been building my tree for 40 years now, and ironically, some of the stories that Ancestry has stitched together actually contradict the legitimate information and records in my tree. For example, the identical person can’t be in two places at the same time.

Conversely, the same name, especially a common name, does not mean they are the same ancestor.

storyscout tree.png

For purposes of reference, here are the first 4 generations of my tree, although StoryScout reaches back further in some cases.

Let’s take a look at how StoryScout works.

StoryScout Unrolled

storyscout menu

You’ll find StoryScout under the DNA menu, although it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with DNA. I wonder if StoryScout is on the DNA tab because this is a method that Ancestry is using to encourage DNA-testers to build trees. If so, I hope testers take the hint, but verify these stories first.

storyscout option.png

Since my ancestors are already in my tree and I didn’t need to add grandparents, I clicked on “take me to my stories.” Apparently, if you don’t have a tree, you can utilize these stories to build a tree. (I can’t tell you how much this terrifies me, especially for novices.)

storyscout new

click to enlarge

Ancestry displays the 4 individuals I’ve listed as my grandparents in my tree, and the stories they’ve assembled about their lineage, shown at the top.

I clicked on the first story about my grandfather, John Whitney Ferverda.

storyscout cover.png

Word of caution – many of the images are NOT your ancestors, but representative images.

storyscout hiram.png

For example, I saw this image and was immediately excited, because I initially thought that someone had found a previously unknown photo of my great-grandfather. Ancestry does say this, clearly, but it’s very easy to miss.

Each story has at least three pages, the cover page, above, the referenced record or information, and an invitation to share the story. Some stories include additional historical information about the record selection.

storyscout wwi

The second image for John Whitney Ferverda shows his draft registration. The background image is indeed HIS draft registration card, not a generic record, and clicking on the green search link shows his card in the collection.

storyscout history.png

Ancestry then provides additional historical information.

While the green search box on his draft registration image displays his record, the green search box below simply shows the historical photo, not related to my ancestor, and associated information about the photo. My ancestor is not in this photo which is absolutely fine, so long as people understand what they are seeing.

storyscout draft

The most disappointing aspect of this story is that this draft registration from 1918, along with a corresponding WWII draft registration, was already attached to my tree.

storyscout both.png

This “story,” while accurate, did not provide me with anything I didn’t already know.

Sharing – Beware

The last page on every one of these stories is this invitation to share with family members by copying and pasting a link.

storyscout share

This concerns me greatly, not because I’m opposed in any way to sharing accurate stories, but because many, many inaccurate stories will now be widely shared. It’s a method of advertising for Ancestry as well.

storyscout fb.png

If you copy and paste the link, this is what appears as a Facebook posting.

storyscout fb2

The problem, of course, is that this verbiage doesn’t say a *potential* story about your ancestor, and in this case, the verbiage would lead someone looking at the Facebook posting to immediately presume this photo IS the ancestor.

storyscout fb warning.png

If you click on the social media link, the person viewing the record will see this warning – but they could interpret this to mean literally that this may not be their relative. In other words, maybe they are a friend and not a relative of yours, or maybe they are related on your maternal side and this is a paternal side photo. What it doesn’t say is that this information may be incorrectly identified to the ancestor in question.

So, if my first cousin who does descend from this great-grandparent looks at the information, and the information is incorrectly attributed to our common ancestor – they are now believing the story to be true because, I, the family genealogist shared it.

Not to mention that a family member immediately thought this was a photo of our ancestor and was asking if I knew which of two farms this was taken on, and when.

Ironically, there’s a photo of my great-grandfather on my own tree that could have been used instead.

Grouping of Stories

After you’ve looked at each new story, they are grouped together by ancestral line. This group includes my grandfather, his parents and wife.

storyscout grouping

Generic Stories

Some stories are rather generic, and you’ll have one for every ancestor in a particular census.

storyscout 1900.png

For example, several of my ancestors listed in the 1900 census have a “Working in America” story. This is fine so long as Ancestry selects the correct ancestor in the census. That doesn’t always happen, and numerous people have reported multiple stories that scatter the same ancestor across the country when in fact incorrect records were selected.

storyscout 19th

Every one of my female ancestors living in 1920 received a story about being alive when the 19th Amendment was ratified. That’s actually quite interesting and while it’s not about my ancestor exercising her right to vote, it does provide historical context of the time and place in which she lived. As it turns out, I had written about Edith Barbara Lore on that exact subject.

The Goal

First and foremost, I’m looking for new, previously unknown, accurate information about my ancestors.

Secondarily, I want to make sure stories about my ancestor ARE actually about MY ancestor. Sharing accurate information is a wonderful way to interest other people in their ancestors, too, but some assurance needs to exist that information is accurate before being presented as a story. There also needs to be some methodology of flagging the information as incorrectly associated with this specific ancestor so Ancestry does not continue to propagate inaccurate information in the format of stories.

Having said that, leaf hints are wonderful, because they don’t infer any certainty.  Ancestry already provides genealogical record hints in the form of leaf hints on trees.

storyscout leaves.png

These record hints are attached to people on my tree, NOT woven into stories, and give me the opportunity to review the hint. I can attach the document to my tree if it’s accurate, and to dismiss or ignore the hint otherwise. This is a responsible research methodology.

These leafy tree hints do NOT encourage me to share them. It would be nice if stories were only harvested from confirmed leaf hints.

StoryScout does NOT allow people to dismiss the story as inaccurate, nor do the stories seem to coordinate with the records already saved to my tree for that ancestor. I don’t know this for a fact, but if I received this story about this ancestor, other people with the same ancestor would probably receive the identical story – and you know that someone is going to share without verifying first.

How accurate are these stories?

I created a chart as I reviewed each story.

Right, Wrong, and FrankenAncestors

I created the following summary of my 14 StoryScout stories:

Ancestor Relationship Story Accurate Yes/No Comments
John Whitney Ferverda Grandfather WWII Draft Yes Document previously attached in my tree
Edith Barbara Lore Grandmother Winning Right to Vote Yes, alive in 1920 Generic information
Barbara Drechsel gg-grandmother Winning Right to Vote Yes, alive in 1920 Generic information
Evaline Louise Miller Great-grandmother Winning Right to Vote Yes, alive in 1920 Generic information
Michael McDowell Gggg-grandfather Revolution Militiaman No, wrong person, wrong place Same name confusion, his correct Rev War information is already attached to my tree
Andrew McKee Gggg-grandfather Clues from Lost Censuses General, not about him Not for him, simply says people can obtain information from old census information
James Mann (they show Robert James Mann) Gggg-grandfather Clues from Lost Censuses No, wrong person, wrong place Showed him in SC in 1780 (there was no 1780 census) but he was in Virginia.
John R. Estes Ggg-grandfather Clues from Lost Censuses No, wrong person, wrong place States that John R. Estes was in the 1820 census in TN, but they selected the wrong John Estes. He was in VA.
Nancy Ann Moore Ggg-grandmother Clues from Lost Censuses No, wrong person, wrong place States that she was in the 1820 census in TN, but she was in Virginia at the time. Only head of household listed in 1820 census, and she was not.
Joseph B. Bolton Great-grandfather Working in America in 1900 Yes Census, previously attached to my tree
Lazarus Estes Great-grandfather Working in America in 1900 Yes Census previously attached to my tree
Jacob Kirsch Gg-grandfather Working in America in 1900 Partly Right person and place, but location recorded incorrectly and occupation was not “salovriest”
Lazarus Estes Ggg-grandfather Working as a postmaster Yes Document previously attached to my tree
William Moore Gggg-grandfather Fighting in the Continental Army Probably wrong, cannot verify Says he was a Lt., but no link or information to confirm. There are many William Moores who fought from VA, but none from Halifax County where he lived. There is no tree leaf record hint.

It’s this last “story” about William Moore that excited me the most. There was no link to a record nor Ancestry leaf hint. I signed on to Fold3.com and, unfortunately, found no Revolutionary War record there for my William Moore who had lived in Halifax County, Virginia. The fact that Ancestry portrayed my William Moore as a Revolutionary War soldier without any type of documentation is both upsetting and provides misinformation that will be propagated for years to come by unsuspecting people to whom this information is provided either by Ancestry, or shared. William Moore had many descendants whom, I presume, are also receiving this “story.”

How Did StoryScout Do?

Of 14 total stories:

  • 4 were accurate, although none provided information I didn’t already have
  • 1 is partly accurate, but information I already had
  • 4 are incorrect
  • 4 are generic, but interesting
  • 1, William Moore, is probably wrong, but since I don’t know what record Ancestry was referencing, I can’t verify or find a similar record

Here’s the bottom line – enjoy, and I hope you receive some useful hints that you can work with.

However, unless you confirm that this information is about YOUR ANCESTOR and is accurate, please, do NOT share. I know from unfortunate personal experience that information released into the wild can never actually be recalled and resurfaces again and again – the genealogical equivalent of whack-a-mole.



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Anna Maria Borstler (c 1675 – >1740), Bride in Durkheim – 52 Ancestors #305

The fact that we know anything at all about Anne Maria Boerstler or Borstler is nothing short of a miracle.

Were it not for the chance discovery of her marriage record in Durkheim (now Bad Durkheim) to Johann Wilhelm Kirsch on February 22, 1695, we might never have known her name nor that of her father.

Anna Maria’s marriage was recorded in the church record book, along with the name of her deceased father, Johann Adam Borstler.

Kirsch Boerstler marriage

Translation, courtesy of Tom, from Bad Durkheim Evangelical Parish Records on Ancestry.

Marriage: 22 Feb 1695

Were married by the pastor J. Darsch? Joh. Willhelm Kirsch, surviving son of the late Joh. Georg Kirsch with Anna Maria, surviving legitimate dau of the late John. Adam Borsler, former resident and kirchengeschworener from here.

We know that Anna Maria’s father-in-law’s family took refuge in Durkheim during the Thirty Years’ War when the Palatinate was depopulated. We’ve found records of the Boerstler family in various places in this part of Germany before the War, but most records were destroyed when the farms were abandoned during the Thirty Years’ War. This record tells us that Anna Maria’s father was a trusted elder of the church in Durkheim before his death.

We also know that at least some families, or the next generation, slowly returned to their home villages in the countryside after 1650, but had to evacuate again between 1673 and 1689 when the Palatinate was once again invaded and burned to the ground, leaving the residents starving and without even clothing.

In the 1670s and 1680s, the Kirsch and Boerstler families already had a history and connections in Durkheim, given that Durkheim was only one of three cities that survived at least somewhat intact and their families had lived there for nearly half a century.

I was actually quite surprised to discover that Anna Maria Borstler and Johann Wilhelm Kirsch married in Durkheim given that the city was nearly completely destroyed when French troops engaged in a scorched-earth campaign upon the orders of the French king.

Anna Maria would have been a teenager as she witnessed the city burn around her in 1689.

Borstler Bad Durkheim 1787.png

Durkheim rebuilt quickly after the ending of the war in 1689, but still, it’s remarkable that she was able to be married there just 6 years later. This engraving shows Durkheim in 1787. The church with the tower is where I thought Anna Maria was married in 1695. But, as it turns out, she couldn’t have been married there.

This amazing article, written by the Christlieb-Chrislip-Crislip family genealogist provides the best detailed documentation of the church I’ve found.

You can see photos of the beautiful Schlossekirche, here, formerly St. John’s Church, originally constructed in the 1300s.

In 1689, the church was gutted by fire, the walls suffering such intense heat that the bells fell out of their mounts and melted onto the floor of the church. Only the hulk remained, not being rebuilt until 1727 when the walls had to be reinforced with iron bars due to the damage from the heat of the 1689 fire. Somehow, at least some of the churchbooks were saved with burials from as early as 1640. I wonder if Anna Maria’s father was instrumental in their salvation. The books must have been removed before the fire, with the minister continuing to make entries, even though the church itself lay in ruins for 40 years.

Clearly, Anna Maria didn’t marry in the church building of her childhood.

Still, the Protestant citizens would have worshipped someplace during that time – perhaps in a makeshift church or someone’s home.

Borstler bad durkheim church.jpg

The part of the church to the rear, shown here, is original, as is the street. The cemetery, where Anna Maria’s father was probably buried, was located just to the right of the church.

Did Anna Maria walk up this street and pause for a moment to glance at his grave, on the way to wherever she would be married?

Anna Maria’s Church and School

Borstler St Johannis Church Durkheim.jpg

This 1630 pen and ink drawing of the St. Johannis Church depicts the church, of course, the churchyard surrounding the church where the parishoners would have been buried, and the school. You can see the street, in the photo above, to the right of this drawing. The street itself hasn’t changed, the curve behind the church still quite identifiable.

If Anna Maria was born sometime between 1670 and 1677, at the latest, she would probably have attended the Protestant Latin School near the church. It’s almost certain that all these half-timber wooden structures burned during the war, but this drawing provides us a rare glimpse of the neighborhood that Anna Maria would have frequented as a child. I can’t help but wonder if she lived in one of these houses, given that her father was one of the two primary church caretakers.

Inferring Anna Maria’s Life

Given that Anna Maria was married in February 1695, she probably had her first child in 1696, and a new baby joined the family thereafter every 18 months to two years.

We know almost nothing about Anna Maria’s life, except by inference.

We know that she and her husband served as godparents in Oggersheim in 1710. It’s possible that Oggersheim was the closest functioning church to Fussgoenheim where they probably lived at that time.

Borstler bad durkheim map

We know that Anna Maria’s deceased father-in-law held leasehold rights in Fussgoenheim, just 5 miles or so from Oggersheim, after 1660 and before his death.

Anna Maria’s brother-in-law, Johann Adam Kirsch, had returned to Fussgoenheim and was mayor in 1701.

We know that in 1717, Anna Maria’s husband, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, noted as the court clerk or cognant, was scribing tetimony along with a few other elders in the village documenting village customs before the war, which means that the family was well-established and living there.

The Fussgoenheim church records are incomplete for several periods of history. No records exist before 1726, possibly because there was no church which meant there was no minister, and because the Fussgoenheim citizens took their children to the next closest church for baptisms until they could afford to rebuild their own.

The first Kirsch burial we find is in 1735, followed by multiple Kirsch deaths every year except for 1742. From 1743 to 1762 there are none.

The church in Fussgoenheim was rebuilt in about 1726, after which time four of Anna Maria’s children were confirmed in what would have been a beautiful brand-spanking-new church.

Anna Maria Borstler and Johann Wilhelm Kirsch’s four known children are:

  • Maria Catharina Kirsch was born about 1711 and married Johann Theobald Koob on February 21, 1730. Was that date intentionally selected, given that it would have been the day before her parents’ 35th wedding anniversary?

Anna Maria would have attended her daughter’s wedding, about 60 years old at the time. Not “old” by any measure today, but certainly viewed with an “elder” status at that time – having survived warfare, fires, plagues, pestilence, moving to a ruined area in the countryside to begin anew, not to mention multiple childbirth and deaths.

  • Anna Catharina Kirsch was born about 1715, but we know nothing more so she may have died after her confirmation in 1727.
  • Johann Andreas Kirsch was born in 1716, confirmed in 1729 in Fussgoenheim, married Anna Barbara Sorg in 1737 in Friedelsheim and died about 1745. Freidelsheim was about 4 miles away, half way between Fussgoenheim and Durkheim.
  • Anna Margaretha Kirch was born about 1718, confirmed in 1731 in Fussgoenheim and married Georg Heinrich Koob, brother of her sister’s husband, in 1736. Anna Maria would have attended this wedding too, in the newly-rebuilt Fussgoenheim church.

Based on these births about 1711, 1715, 1716 and 1718, we can surmise that there would have been other babies born in:

  • 1696
  • 1698
  • 1700
  • 1702
  • 1704
  • 1706
  • 1708
  • 1710
  • 1713

That’s 9 infants, or perhaps more, that died as babies or young children. Their oldest child would have been confirmed about 1707 or 1708, many years before the church records in Fussgoenheim began in 1726.

Of course, it is possible that some of the children didn’t perish young and married prior to 1726. If they moved elsewhere, it would have in effect erased any trace of their life in Fussgoenheim. Their oldest child would have been marriage-age about 1720 when Anna Maria’s youngest child would have been about 2.

It’s almost certain that some of those babies would have been buried in the churchyard in Fussgoenheim, or perhaps in Durkheim before they returned to Fussgoenheim after their marriage. Of course, for Anna Maria, she might well have lived her entire life in Durkheim, so it wouldn’t necessarily be “returning” for her, simply starting life anew outside of Durkheim. Fortunately, Durkheim wasn’t terribly distant, about 6 miles, certainly walkable but much easier riding in the back of a cart.

Anna Maria’s grandchildren began arriving in June of 1731. For a few years, she was able to enjoy watching them peacefully play in the farmyards, orchards and fields of Fussgoenheim.

Borstler orchard.jpg

Location, Location, Location

It’s possible that Anna Maria was deceased by 1743 when a map was drawn of the properties in Fussgoenheim. Widows were noted on the property that had been their husband’s and there is no widow of Wilhelm Kirsch shown.

If Anna Maria had passed away, either the William Kirsch land, inherited from his father, had passed to someone else, or into the hands of her two daughters whose husband’s homes are listed as locations 6, 16 and 23.

Kirsch Fussgoenheim under village numbered

Theobald Koob married Maria Catharina Kirsch. It’s interesting that the two Theobald Koob properties abut Mayor Michael Kirsch’s land and George Koob was living across the street, just north of Peter Kirsch.

Michael Kirsch owned three pieces of land, and it’s entirely possible that one of those had been Wilhelms, passing to Michael when Wilhelm passed on. A 1753 accounting, if we can get our hands on it, should answer those questions.

Noel in her drive through Fussgoenheim didn’t intend to capture one of the properties of Theobald Koob, but she did, inadvertently.

Just north of the main intersection in town, on the right hand side, the home of Theobald Koob was located between the corner and Michael Kirsch’s just before the curve of the street in the distance.

Fussgoenheim intersection Ruchheimer Hauptstrasse

Theobald Koob’s property was beyond the building with the red roof, likely the white building with the brown roof.

Noel accidentally caught a glimpse of George Koob’s property too.

Borstler George Koob home.jpg

The yellow building visible across the street from the Michael Kirsch home (at left) was where George Koob lived with his wife, Anna Margaretha Kirsch.

During WWII, Marliese, a Kirsch descendant, corresponded with the Kirsch family who had immigrated to Indiana 90 years before, sending photos. At that time, the house beside the Michael Kirsch home was reported as the Koehler home. Who knew it once belonged to Theobald Koob?

Theobald Koob’s property that abutted the Kirsch home no longer stands, but miraculously, thanks to Marliese, we have a photo.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch Koehler homes

The house with the “O” was the Theobald Koob home, with the X being Michael Kirsch’s.

Anna Maria Borstler Kirsch may have lived with one of her daughters as she aged. If so, she lived in one of these three locations. She assuredly knew these homes as well as her own, visiting her daughter, entering without knocking like the residence was her own.

In a small, crossroads farming settlement, I’d wager that every village woman was in and out of every single house. Everyone was related to everyone, one way or another, not to mention group activities like food preparation and preservation, childbirth, and caring for the sick and infirm. There was no mortician then and people died often. Families lovingly washed bodies and prepared them, at home, for burial. Yes, everyone just made themselves at home and did what needed to be done.

The Autumn of Anna Maria’s Life?

We don’t know for sure when Anna Maria died or where she is buried, but we do know that she lived in Fussgoenheim and that she resided there when her last child was born about 1718. Her husband was the court cognate in 1717 and there is scant reason to believe they lived elsewhere thereafter, meaning she would have died in Fussgoenheim – although there is a shred of doubt.

This much we know for sure – Anna Maria died sometime after 1740.

On April 16, 1736, Anna Maria served as godmother to a granddaughter named Maria Catharina Koob, born to her daughter, Maria Catharina Kirsch and Johann Theobald Koob.

On October 14, 1740, Anna Maria was once again called to Maria Catharina’s bedside as she prepared to deliver her fifth child. The baby, in obvious distress and described as weak was baptized immediately in the home, with Anna Maria as godmother. She bore sad testimony to the baby’s death, as the church record notes that the child was deceased within a few hours. Sadly, this tiny girl’s name wasn’t recorded, and I can’t help but wonder if she would have been named for her grandmother, Anna Maria, as was tradition.

Anna Maria had delivered her (probable) namesake granddaughter, baptized her and buried her. How incredibly sad.

Given that burial records exist between 1735 and 1743, and we know Anna Maria was living in October 1740, there’s a real possibility that she may have died after 1743 when she would have been about 70.

Several Kirsch families were expelled from Fussgoenheim in 1743 when they refused to validate the “redrawn” map submitted by the nobleman, Tilman von Hallberg, that deprived families of most of their hereditary land. Given that Anna Maria’s husband, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was deceased by this time, and she was elderly, it’s unlikely that she was evicted, although there is a house, adjacent the church on the south side with the name Wilhem Kirsch, but no mention of “widow.” Still, given that she seems to have still been living, in that there’s no known death record for her, I can’t help but wonder if this is where she lived.

Kirsch Wilhelm 1743 map

If so, Anna Maria lived adjacent the church, probably in the structure with the red arrow, below.

Borstler church Wilhelm Kirsch property.png

It’s possible that this property belonged to one of the two younger Johan Wilhelm Kirsch’s alive at that time. We simply don’t know, but we do know that while the elders refused to sanction this map submitted by Hallberg in 1743, he drew it sometime prior to 1743. An accounting made in 1753, when the family was allowed to return to the village, may provide the missing details.

There are no Kirsch burials from 1743 to 1762. If Anna Maria did leave Fussgoenheim during that time, as did the Kirsch families and Johann Theobald Koob, she likely went to Ellerstadt with the rest of the Kirsch clan or perhaps with her daughter Maria Catharina and Johann Theobald Koob to Weisenheim am Sand. Or, she could have died in Fussgoenheim and the record could simply be missing. If she died nearby, I can’t help but wonder if they wouldn’t have brought her back to Fussgoenheim to be buried. Neither Ellerstadt nor Weisenheim am Sand was far distant.

If Anna Maria is buried in the churchyard in Fussgoenheim, she is resting beside Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, her daughter, Anna Catharina, her unnamed granddaughter, and several more small graves that held children of her own. Eventually, her two daughters and grandchildren would be laid to rest nearby.

There are no gravestones marking burials in the Fussgoenheim churchyard today, nor records of who was buried there. Yet we know that the dust of our ancestors’ rests here, behind the church that was probably constructed as Anna Maria watched, perhaps from next door.

Kirsch Fussgoenheim church

Anna Maria’s heart would have rejoiced to see a new church built between 1726 and 1733 where she could worship. The religious wars had taken so much from them, breaking their hearts, but not crushing their souls. She watched her own church burn, along with the rest of the village in Durkheim in 1789.

Anna Maria would have celebrated this new church, lifting her voice in joyful hymns, watching her family gather in the pews. This rebuilt church was more than a building – a beacon of hope lighting the way into a better, more stable future. As she surveyed her family, children and grandchildren as they gathered for baptisms and burials in the little church in Fussgoenheim, Anna Maria knew full well that one day soon enough, it would be her turn to be carried from the church into the churchyard for her eternal sleep.

Mitochondrial DNA

Anna Maria Borstler’s mitochondrial DNA was inherited from her mother, and her from her mother, back into time immemorial.

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited by both sexes of children, but only passed on by females. Anyone who descends from Anna Maria through all females to the current generation, which can be males, carries her mitochondrial DNA.

Anna Maria’s mitochondrial DNA can help connect her to her mother and inform us of where her ancestral line came from in the more distant past. We don’t know who her mother was.

We know that her daughter, Maria Catharina Kirsch who married Johann Theobald Koob had had two daughters, Susanna Elisabetha Koob and Maria Catharina Koob who both married Kirsch men.

Daughter Anna Margaretha Kirsch married George Heinrich Koob and had daughter, Maria Catharina who married Johann Diether Koob and had three daughters.

If you descend from Anna Maria Borstler through all females to this generation, which can be male, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you. Please reach out!



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23andMe Genetic Tree Provides Critical Clue to Solve 137-Year-Old Disappearance Mystery

DNA can convey messages from the great beyond – from times past and people that died long before we were born.

I had the most surprising experience this week. It began with receiving an email with the sender name of my long-time research buddy, cousin Garmon Estes.

It’s all the more surprising because not only did Garmon never own a computer, despite my ceaseless encouragement, he passed over in 2013 at the age of 85. So, imagine my shock to open my email to see a message from Garmon. Queue up spooky music😊

As it turned out, Garmon’s nephew is also Garmon. I had communicated with the family off and on over the years since the death of Garmon the elder. Garmon, the younger, had written to tell me that the second “great brick wall” that haunted his Uncle Garmon had fallen – and how that happened, thanks to DNA.

Garmon, the Elder

Estes Garmon

Garmon Estes, the elder

I first met Garmon the elder, via letter, back in the 1970s or maybe early 80s. He was an experienced genealogist and I was beginning.

At that time, Garmon had been chasing the identity of the father of our common ancestor, John R. Estes, for decades, and I was just embarking on what would become a lifelong adventure, or perhaps it could better be called an obsession.

John R. Estes had moved from some unknown location to Claiborne County, Tennessee with his wife and family about 1820. That’s pretty much all we knew at that time. Garmon had spent decades before the age of online records researching every John Estes he could find. I can’t even begin to tell you how many John Esteses existed that needed to be eliminated as candidates.

Garmon lived in California, far from Tennessee. I lived in Indiana, then Michigan – significantly closer. He began caring for his ill spouse, and I began traveling to dusty courthouses, sometimes reading musty books page by yellowed page, extracting everything Estes. Garmon worked from his local Family History Center when he could and wrote letters.

Between our joint sleuthing and many theories that we both composed and subsequently shot down, we narrowed John R. Estes’s location of origin to Halifax County, Virginia. However, there were multiple John Esteses living there at the same time, about the same age, none using middle initials reliably, and some not at all. How inconsiderate!

I began perusing every possible record. I had eliminated some Johns as candidates, most often because they clearly remained in the community after our John had moved to Claiborne County. Late one night, in our local family history center, I found that fateful clue – John R. Estes noted as (S.G.) short for “son of George,” on just one tax list. All it takes is that one gold-nugget record.

It was after 10 PM when I left the Family History Center and even later when I got home. I debated whether I should call Garmon or not, but I decided that indeed, he would want to know immediately, even if I did call at an inconvenient time or wake him up.

The discovery of John’s father, of course, opened the door for much more research, and it solved one of Garmon’s two brick walls that had haunted his genealogy life.

He never solved the second one, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

What Happened to Willis Alexander Garmon Estes?

Willis Alexander Garmon Estes was born on December 21, 1854, in Lenoir, Roane County, TN. His nickname was Willie.

Willie married Martha Lee Mathis in 1874 and they had 4 children beginning with the first child born the next year in Roane County. Sometime between 1875 and the birth of the second child in 1877, they migrated to Greenwood, Wise County, Texas where their next two children were born in 1877 and 1881.

Martha was pregnant for their fourth child in 1883 when something very strange happened. Willie disappeared, and I do mean literally and completely. Just poof, gone.

Not sure what to do, Martha’s father, who lived in Missouri, went to Texas to retrieve his pregnant daughter and her children and took her and the children home to Missouri where their last child was born that September.

Willie was only 28 when he vanished. The family, of course, had many stories about what happened. Texas at that time was pretty much the “wild west” and the stories about Willie reflected exactly that.

Texas was sometimes the refuge of outlaws and shady characters. One story revealed that Willie had shot a man back in Tennessee and the family fled to Louisiana, then Texas. Of course, that doesn’t tell us why he disappeared in Texas, but it opens the door to speculation and casts doubt on his character, perhaps.

Another story was that he was shot by Indians.

A third story stated that Willie settled in Indian Territory north of the Red River, now Oklahoma, and that he had an altercation with an Indian over the supposed theft of firewood, although who was accusing who was unclear. Willie shot the Indian, then had to flee for his life, leaving his pregnant wife and children as a posse of Indian Police surrounded his house. Willie supposedly promised Martha that he would return, but never did. It was reported that he was shot in Mexico, but no further details emerged.

Aren’t these just maddeningly vague???

Yet another story was that Willie headed for the goldfields of California, struck it rich, and was murdered on the way back home. The details varied, but one version had him murdered by a traveling companion on the trail. Another had him becoming ill and dying in a hospital in St. Louis where his wife went to search for him, to no avail. That might explain why she went back to Missouri, Garmon postulated. And yet a third version was some hybrid of the two where “someone” tried to find Willie’s family for years to reveal what had happened, and where, but was never successful. Of course, how did the family know about this if the mystery person was unable to find the family? But I digress.

Garmon desperately wanted to solve that mystery. He wanted closure.

I didn’t realize that the genealogy bug had bitten Garmon’s nephew too, but it clearly has. Garmon would be so proud.

With Garmon the younger’s permission, I’m publishing “the rest of the story,” Connecting the Dots, as written by Garmon the younger, with a few technical interjections from me involving DNA from time to time.

Connecting the Dots

In 2015, My dad Richard Estes, my brother Corey Estes, and I took a trip to Texas and Oklahoma to see if we could find out more about Willis Alexander Garmon Estes’ disappearance.

Estes greenwood

We visited Greenwood, Texas and nearby Decatur where we looked at historical records at the Wise County Clerk Office. We also went up to Oklahoma City to see the state archives and to Tishomingo to look at any records that might be available.

Estes Oklahoma history.png

Interestingly enough, we did not find any clues as to the disappearance of Willis Alexander Garmon Estes. There were no newspaper articles or criminal records concerning any incidents with Willis Alexander Garmon Estes. The only new information that we found was a couple of land deeds showing that Willis Alexander Garmon Estes’ brother Fielding had bought and sold land in Wise County during the time that Willis Alexander Garmon Estes was living in Greenwood.

We left empty-handed on our trip but our curiosity remained strong and we began talking to each other about going on another trip to Tennessee to speak with Estes family members in Loudon County to see if they might know something about Willis Alexander Garmon’s disappearance.

DNA Testing

In December of 2018, my wife, children, and I had our DNA tested using the service 23andMe. We received test results within a month of sending in saliva samples. The results did not reveal anything unusual.

Fast forward to October 2019. 23andMe introduced a new Family Tree feature that automatically creates a family tree based on the DNA results that you share with relatives in 23andMe. This was a fascinating feature and I noticed that all of my family members were automatically placed into the correct position on the family tree without me having to do anything.

[Roberta’s note – this is not always the case, so don’t necessarily expect the same level of accuracy. The tree is a wonderful innovative feature, just treat family placement as hints and not facts.]

Every few weeks as more and more people had their DNA tested on 23andMe, new relatives were added to the family tree.

In February 2020, I noticed something interesting under the location of Willis Alexander Garmon Estes on the family tree. A woman by the name of Edna appeared as a descendent of Willis Alexander Garmon Estes. The first thing I did was to try and get in contact with her on 23andMe. No luck. Next, I thought maybe she was the descendent of one of Willis Alexander Garmon’s sons (James, John, or George). However, after researching the descendants of each of those lines, Edna’s name did not appear.

The next step I took was to look up as many Ednas by that last name on ancestry.com as I could find and trace their ancestry back to see where it led.

There were two Ednas by that last name in the United States whose age matched the one on 23andMe. I traced both of their ancestry lines back to the 1800’s. Neither one had Willis Alexander Garmon Estes as an ancestor.


During the middle of March 2020, when I was quarantined at home from work due to the COVID-19 virus, I took another look at Edna’s family lines. I noticed there was a gentleman by the name of James Henry Houston mentioned as an ancestor.

The interesting thing about James was that he was born on the same day, same year, and in the same county as Willis Alexander Garmon Estes. James Henry Houston was born on December 26, 1854 in Loudon County, Tennessee. This seemed like possibly more than a coincidence, so I dived into the data a little bit more.

I looked at federal census records to find out more about James Henry Houston’s past. Strangely there were no official records of him until May 12, 1889 when he married Allie Ona Taylor in Erath, Texas. Normally, if someone is born in 1854, they would show up in one of the federal census records of 1860, 1870, or 1880. James Henry Houston does not show up in any official federal census records until 1900.

According to ancestry records, James Henry Houston married Allie Ona Taylor in 1889 and resided in the Hood County region of Texas until 1910. During this time, he raised 8 children with his wife Allie.

In 1920, the federal census placed him and Allie in Whitehall, Montana. The last federal census he appears in is 1930. He lived in Pomona, California where he died in 1933 at the age of 78.

At this point, I thought it was highly likely that James Henry Houston and Willis Alexander Garmon Estes were the same person. If my hunch was correct then a photo of James Henry Houston would most likely show a resemblance to his son, my great grandfather John Alexander Estes.

Estes James Henry Houston

The photos above show a remarkable similarity in the eyes, nose, mouth, and facial structure between the two men. To me, the photo and historical evidence is enough to conclude that Willis Alexander Garmon Estes is James Henry Houston.

Garmon’s Concluding Thoughts

As I reflect on the fact that Willis Alexander Garmon Estes renamed himself James Henry Houston and moved from Wise County down to Hood County, Texas – approximately 60 miles distance to marry and raise a new family, many more questions come to mind.

What exactly happened to cause Willis Alexander Garmon Estes to leave his wife and children behind? Was it simply a marital dispute or did it involve a criminal offense and running from the law as was mentioned in the family lore?

Did my great grandfather know that his father lived in Pomona in 1930, which was only 6 miles away from where he was living in Rancho Cucamonga? Were there other family members that knew what happened but promised not to tell anyone else? We may never know.

Finally, I want to add one more piece to the story that I found fascinating. On ancestry.com, many of the family trees for James Henry Houston state that the mother and father of James Henry Houston was Jennie Bray and Henry Houston. No information is given for their birthdates or where they came from. The mother and father of Willis Alexander Garmon Estes was Jennie McVey and William Estes. The names Jennie Bray and Jennie McVey are very similar. In order to hide his true identity, James Henry Houston would have to make up a surname for his father since he called himself Houston, not Estes. Willis Alexander Garmon Estes had a brother named John Houston Estes. This might explain why James Henry Houston chose to use the surname Houston rather than another name.

Congratulations Garmon

I know this made Garmon the elder puff up with pride for Garmon the younger’s sleuthing skills and leap for joy at the solve. Garmon, the elder, had two main genealogy goals throughout his entire life. One was solved while he was living, but it took another generation to solve this one.

Great job, Garmon!

About the 23andMe Genetic Tree

23andMe is the only vendor to construct a “trial balloon” genetic tree based only on how the tester matches people and how they do, or don’t, match each other. This occurs with no input from testers in the form of genealogical trees of identifying how people are related to the tester.

Family Tree DNA has Phased Family Matching, MyHeritage has Theories of Family Relativity, and Ancestry has ThruLines which all do some sort of DNA+tree+relationship connectivity, but since 23andMe does not support user-created or uploaded trees, anything they produce has to be using DNA alone.

On one hand, it’s frustrating for genealogists, but on the other hand, there is sometimes a benefit to a different “all genetic” approach.

Of course, the only information that 23andMe has to utilize unless your parents have tested is how closely you match your matches and how closely your matches match each other. This allows 23andMe to place your matches at least in a “neighborhood” on your tree, at least approximately accurate, unless your parents are related to each other and that shared DNA causes things to get dicey quickly.

I wrote about 23andMe’s new relationship triangulation tree when it was first introduced in September 2019, nearly a year ago, here. The launch was rocky for a number of reasons, and if you’ve done genealogy for a long time, your research goals are likely to be further back in time than this 4 generation relationship tree will reveal.

23andMe tree

Click to enlarge

This is what my relationship tree looked like at the time the function was launched. You’ll note that 23andMe places relationships back in time 4 generations, to your great-great-grandparents, meaning that you might have 3rd or even 4th cousins showing up on your genetic tree.

I initially had a total of 18 people placed on my tree, with 3 being close family, 4 being accurate, 4 unknown, 1 uncertain and 6, or one third, inaccurate.

Keep in mind that 23andMe doesn’t make any provision to accommodate or take into account half-relationships, like half-brother or half-sister, either currently or historically. Therefore, descendant placement predictions can be “off” because half-siblings only carry the DNA from one common parent, instead of two, making those relationships appear more distant than they really are.

In Garmon’s case, his great-great-grandfather is the ancestor who was MIA, so the genetic tree has the potential to work well for this purpose.

Estes 23andme tree today

click to enlarge

Today, my tree looks somewhat different, with only 14 people displayed instead of 18, and 6 waiting in the wings to see if I can help 23andMe figure out how and where to place them.

Since the initial launch, customers have been given the opportunity to add their ancestors’ names to their nodes. This works just fine so long as nobody married more than once and had children from both marriages.

Estes Willie Alexander today

click to enlarge


Here’s a closer image of the left-hand side of my tree where I’ve super-imposed the location of Willis Alexander Garmon Estes and Edna, as they are related to Garmon the Younger, at bottom right. Ignore the other names – I only utilized my own tree for an example tree structure.

One more generation and it’s unlikely that 23andMe would have made the connection between Edna and Garmon the younger.

Not only does this illustrate the perfect reason to test the oldest generations in your family, but also never to ignore an unknown match that seems to be within the past 3 or 4 generations. You never know what mysteries you might unravel.

Four generations actually reaches back in time quite substantially. In my case, my great-great-grandparents were born in 1805, 1810, 1812, 1813, 1815, 1816, 1818 (2), 1820, 1822, 1827, 1829, 1830, 1832, 1841 and 1848.

If you have mysteries within your closest 4 generations to unravel, the genetic tree at 23andMe might provide valuable clues, but only if you’re willing to do the requisite work to figure out HOW these people match you.

You can’t transfer your DNA file TO 23andMe, so if you want to have your results in the 23andMe database, you’ll need to test there.

Acknowledgments: Thank you to Garmon Estes, the younger, for generously sharing this story and allowing publication. My heart was warmed to see your generational research trip.

Thank you to Garmon Estes, the elder, for being my research partner for so many years. You can finally RIP now, although somehow I suspect you already have these answers.



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Johann Wilhelm Kirsch (c1670 – c1723), Piecing Life Back Together in Fussgoenheim – 52 Ancestors #304

Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was born about 1670, someplace in the Palatinate, but we don’t know where for certain – or exactly when. His father was known as “Jerg” Kirsch, short for Johann Georg Kirsch who married Margaretha Koch in September of 1650 in Bad Durkheim.

Given that Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was married in the same city in 1695, one could make the argument that he was born there sometime around 1670, or at least between 1650 and 1670.

Another argument could be made that Johann Wilhelm was born in Fussgoenheim because his father was noted as a leaseholder of the Jostens estate in Fussgoenheim in 1660.

If Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was born in Fusgoenheim, he certainly spent time in Bad Durkheim for some reason, because that’s where he married Anna Maria Borstler on February 22, 1695.

Kirsch Boerstler marriage.png

Translation, courtesy of Tom, from Bad Durkheim Evangelical Parish Records on Ancestry.

Marriage: 22 Feb 1695

Were married by the pastor J. Darsch? Joh. Willhelm Kirsch, surviving son of the late Joh. Georg Kirsch with Anna Maria, surviving legitimate dau of the late John. Adam Borsler, former resident of Kirz?

In 1710, both Johann Wilhelm Kirsch and his wife were found in the in Oggersheim church records according to Walter Schnebel’s records, probably as godparents.

Johann Wilhelm’s brother, Andreas, noted as single, died in Oggersheim in 1712.

Kirsch durkheim oggersheim

We don’t know what, or why, but there was some connection to Oggersheim.

Unfortunately, the church records in Fussgoenheim are missing prior to 1726, but we find the confirmation of Johann Wilhelm’s daughters beginning there in 1727, so we know they were in Fussgoenheim before that time. In fact, significantly before.

In 1717, Fussgoenheim was still trying to recover from both the Thirty Years’ War, which ended in 1648, although the area didn’t begin to be repopulated until 1650 or so, along with the later French incursions beginning in 1673 and not ending until 1697. People starved during this time, and many fled across the Rhine River for safety.

The Kirsch family had unquestionably lived in Fussgoenheim, at least after the Thirty Years’ War and before the Nine Years’ War, which actually lasted longer than 9 years.

We know this to be a fact based on a Fussgoenheim document preserved from 1717. This old historical document is written in very old German language, but the essence of the document is that Fussgoenheim was attempting to reclaim some semblance of social organization.

Wilhelm Kirsch and Christoph Hauck, both noted as a “courthouse clerk,” (Deepl translation) or “court man” or “judge” (by Walter Schnebel) along with Andreas Kirsch, Dieter Coop (Johann Dietrich Koob born in 1670) and Hans Jacob Spannier worked with 7 “old men” from the village who are noted as:

  • Adam Kirsch (born 1677)
  • Jacob Antes
  • Hanss Adam Hauck
  • Theobaldt Biirstler (Borstler)
  • Matthew Musspach
  • Hemp Nickel Coop (probably Hans Nicolaus Koob)
  • Adam Gifft

The 1717 notes indicate that all court records and other written documents, “rights and righteousness” were totally destroyed along with all old, traditional rights and customs of the village. The unidentified 88-year-old father of one of those men was still living, meaning he had been born in 1629, during the Thirty Years’ War. We know that Johann Wilhelm’s father was deceased by 1695, so the 88-year-old is not his father.

I’ll include the entire Deepl translated document in the future article for Johann Adam Kirsch since Adam was one of the elders mentioned.

The devastation wrought by the French soldiers in the 1670s and 1680s explains why Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was living back in Bad Durkheim when he married. The villages were again burned, the residents left with nothing, not even clothes.

We only know about four children belonging to Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, based on their marriages or confirmations. There may have been additional children, of course, and probably were.

We don’t know when Johann Wilhelm Kirsch died, but Walter Schnebel, now deceased local researcher who grew up beside the ancestral Kirsch home in Fussgoenheim records his death as occurring before 1723, along with his brothers Johann Jacob Kirsch and Daniel Kirsch.

I wish I knew how Walter determined that Wilhelm was deceased before 1723. There is obviously a record of some type someplace. I suspect it’s a 1753 accounting that I’ve seen Walter reference which details family descendancy relative to land.

The lack of records in Fussgoenheim makes documenting Wilhelm’s life extremely difficult.

We know that Wilhelm was born sometime after his parent’s marriage in September of 1650 and roughly 1670 which would have made him roughly 25 years old at his own wedding in 1695.

Between his birth and marriage, it’s likely that Wilhelm lived in Fussgoenheim between 1660 and the 1670/80s when his family had to seek refuge again as the French overran and destroyed what had been rebuilt in Fussgoenheim.

Thanks to his marriage record, we know that Wilhelm’s father had died by 1695, although we have no idea when his mother died. In fact, we know nothing more about her at all except that she clearly lived long enough to give birth to Wilhelm’s siblings between 1650 and roughly 1677.

Sometime after 1695, Wilhelm returned to Fussgoenheim with his wife and family. He could have been living there when he and his wife were godparents in Oggersheim in 1712.

Johann Wilhelm may have decided to return to Fussgoenheim after his marriage in order to reclaim his citizenship rights, those held by his father, or to be near his siblings, one of whom was mayor in 1701. By 1717, Wilhelm was clearly established.

We know that Johann Wilhelm can read and write, because otherwise, he would not have been the court clerk taking those notes in 1717. I wonder where the original document is currently archived, because it would stand to reason that if I can obtain a copy, I would be viewing Johann Wilhelm’s own handwriting – or maybe that of the other clerk, Christoph Hauck. Perhaps the man who scribed the notes signed the document. Hmmm, I think I need to make some inquiries.

How I wish I could ask Wilhelm what was meant by some of those archaic words. Not just literal translation, but events that he, his brother and the other village elders documented. Clearly, they had information about Fussgoenheim families reaching back, at least, between 1660 and the war that began in 1674.

We know that in 1717 there were only between 7 and 12 people whose memory extended back in time far enough, a half century+, to be useful in reconstructing information about the old village, residents and family structure.

This tells us that these families, when they returned to Fussgoenheim, likely would have settled on the land in the center of the village where they could offer each other protection and shelter, if needed. Originally, that was the only village.

There were probably only a handful of families in 1660 when Jerg Kirsch and his children settled in Fussgoeneim. Most had died during the Thirty Years’ War, and those who survived had relocated decades earlier. Of course, those few who returned got to evacuate all over again just a few years later. Starting over yet a third time in the 1690s would have been a difficult decision to make, although other options may not have been much better.

Citizens rebuilt their lives for a generation or so in peace and quiet, but a few years later, in 1743 Lord von Hallberg attempted to redraw land boundaries and confiscate residents’ lands. We know that the Kirsch families had expanded to occupy several homes in the village. Wilhelm only had one known son, Johann Andreas, so he might well have inherited Wilhelm’s rights. If so, that means that it’s likely that Andreas is shown on the 1743 “redistricting” map submitted to the town fathers by Hallberg, which they quickly rejected.

Unfortunately, we can’t read all of the names on this map, but we can place several known Kirsch males in specific houses. We can also read two additional locations that show Kirsch inhabitants, but I can’t decipher the first name.

Of the male grandchildren of our progenitor, Jerg Kirsch, who would be entitled to some form of inherited rights, we have six Kirsch men who potentially could be noted on the map in the locations that we can’t read.

Having said that, it’s fairly certain that Wilhelm lived in one of these Kirsch properties before his death. There are no properties without names.

Kirsch Fussgoenheim Kirsch property

Properties attributed to Kirsch men are as follows:

  • Michael Kirsch, Schultheiss, which means mayor – three properties on the right-hand side. Other Kirsch families may have lived in these homes.
  • Martin Kirsch, red arrow upper left.
  • Peter Kirsch, red arrow center left.
  • Michael Kirsch’s widow, who we know is Anna Margaretha Spanier. Her son is Peter Kirsch.

The green arrows are:

  • Center left – may be another Kirsch male, beside Martin Kirsch, but I can’t read clearly – could be Andreas.
  • Upper right on the bend – clearly a Kirsch surname, but can’t read the first name.

Not shown on this map, but on an adjoining map to the south, we find a William Kirsch listed adjacent to the Lutheran church on the lower left, above, and the second property from top, below.

Kirsch Wilhelm 1743 map.png

This William Kirsch would have been living in 1743, so if Johann William Kirsch who was born about 1670 died before 1723, that property would not have been his – nor did he have a son named William, at least not that we know of.

Kirsch Ruchheim street

The locations of those two properties today are shown with red stars, above.

All of the Kirsch men would have lived within a block or so of each other. The village in 1720 only consisted of 150-200 people. At 5 people per household, that’s only 30-50 houses, and with 10 people per household, that’s just 15-20 homes. The 1743 map shows 32 which would suggest perhaps 160 residents with about 60 adults.

The intersection of Amstrasse, Ruchheimer and Hauptstrasse is now and was then the center of town.

Fussgoenheim Ruchheimer and Hauptstrasse

Noel, on her detour through Fussgoenheim on my behalf took this photo from the intersection that looks up Ruchheim Street towards the curve where one of the Kirsch properties was located, across the street from the blue building in the distance.

Fussgoenheim intersection Ruchheimer Hauptstrasse

The location below, on the curve on Ruchheimer Street, is relatively easy to discern. I wish that Google maps had street-view in Germany.

Kirsch Ruchheim property.png

The property on present Amtsstrasse, below, is someplace in the center of the block.

Kirsch amtsstrasse.png

The City Hall is the building to the far right. Of course, in 1717, there probably wasn’t any city hall or civil building yet constructed. The church had not yet been rebuilt either, so I’d wager that the city hall came after the church in terms of priority. Church records begin in 1726, so I’d bet that’s when the church was completed.

Fussgoenheim Rathaus

The few records available for Johann Wilhelm Kirsch belie the complexity of the time in which he lived. He personally sat at the table and recorded the efforts to piece life back together in 1717 after two devastating wars, listening to the stories and testimony of the village elders – the few that had survived. The fact that we know they had returned by 1701, yet were only in 1717 beginning the process of documenting the social, land and inheritance structure previously in place bears silent testimony to the difficulty of rebuilding literally from scratch.

I’d wager that it took that long to stabilize the community in such a way that farms were producing, mills rebuilt and the food supply reliably restored. Clearly, that would have been the first priority before focusing on documenting the social and family constructs of a village ripped to shreds 99 years before, beginning in 1618 until at least 1650 and then again from 1674-1689. It was a difficult task indeed, but thankfully, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch and his brother preserved as much as they could, probably from stories told by their parents before their death. Ironic, somehow, that the family histories of those village elders, their genealogy, would save the day, laying the foundation for future generations.

Johann Wilhelm Kirsch would be very pleased, I’m sure, to know that 303 years later, the beautiful, quaint, lovely village of Fussgoenheim has grown and matured, but remains intact and is still a place he would recognize.



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