Join Me For “How to Use AutoClusters to Analyze Your DNA Matches,” Live and Free

Please accept this invitation to join me this Wednesday, October 21, at 2 PM EST, for the MyHeritage Facebook LIVE event, “How to Use AutoClusters to Analyze Your DNA Matches,” presented by yours truly! Please note that if you can’t join us for the live presentation, it will be available to view later. I’ll post a link when it becomes available – after the live session.

The live webinar is free, courtesy of MyHeritage, and me.

You can read about this event and other free October seminars in the MyHeritage blog article, here.

To view the session, simply click on the MyHeritage Facebook page, at this link, near that time and the session will appear as a posting. I can’t give you the link in advance because until the live session is occurring, there isn’t a link to post.

We will be covering how to use the AutoCluster feature that’s included for all MyHeritage DNA users, incorporating cluster information with other MyHeritage DNA tools such as Theories of Family Relativity, Smart Matches, Ancestral Surnames, Shared Matches, Locations and Triangulation to solve genealogical puzzles.

I even made a discovery when creating this workshop and I’ll share how that happened and why it’s important.

You have surprises waiting for you too. AutoCluster opens doors and breaks down brick walls.

It’s Not Too Late!

If you haven’t DNA tested at MyHeritage, you can purchase a test, here.

However, if you’ve already tested elsewhere, it’s much quicker and less expensive to upload your DNA file for free, here, and pay the $29 unlock fee to access the advanced tools, including AutoCluster. Step-by-step transfer instructions for all vendors are found, here.

Instead of paying the $29 unlock fee, you can subscribe to the MyHeritage genealogy research package and that will gain you access to the advanced DNA tools as well. You can sign up for a trial subscription for free, here.

See you on Wednesday!!!

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Disclosure

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.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Kirsch House Facelift, and a Brick – 52 Ancestors #310

Twice now, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Kirsch House, or at least that’s what it was called when Jacob Kirsch and his wife, Barbara Drechsel owned the property.

Jacob and Barbara were immigrants, both born to German parents who immigrated in the 1850s and settled in Aurora, Indiana, a riverfront town a few blocks long nestled between the railroad depot and the Ohio River. The Depot is shown at the red arrow, beside the Kirsch House at the red pin.

In this postcard, you can see the Kirsch House to the right of the depot, with the freight ticket office – the white area behind the pole – where a large window is positioned today.

Behind these people on the platform, you can see the freight and ticket sales window. This had to be a good thing for the Kirsch House, because it encouraged travelers to mosey over that way. If Jacob and Barbara were early innovators, they might just have sold cold (or hot) drinks and snacks through that window for travelers who didn’t have time to go inside, sit down, and enjoy some beer or wine along with their renowned (mock) turtle soup, made every Tuesday by Barbara.

A door existed to the left of the little boy that doesn’t exist today. The sign on the door says “hotel” and the sign on the window says “hotel and bar.” Nothing like advertising facing the depot.

The family living quarters were located upstairs. When Mom and I visited in the 1980s, the bar was the front portion of the building and the restaurant was the room to the rear, starting with the “hotel” door and to the left in the photo above. The upstairs rooms were rented. We were able to see the public portions, but not the rest at that time.

In the 1800s, prime retail land in Aurora consisted of an establishment high enough from the river not to flood but close enough to both the river and the bustling depot to attract travelers.

Then as now, location, location, location!!! The Ohio River is at the end of the street, four blocks away.

When you look at the geography of the area, Aurora is surrounded on three sides by water, so floods are a real and present danger. The Ohio River is as far across as Aurora is wide. In other words, just about the entire town would fit in the river.

On May 27, 1866, Jacob and Barbara were married in St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, then held in the old Baptist church house.

A few years later, in August of 1875, Jacob and Barbara bought the property, named The French House, from James and Ellen French and renamed it the Kirsch House.

Their Kirsch House advertisement read, “The house is pleasantly situated near the railroad depot and will be found the most desirable place in the city of Aurora at which to stop. Good wines, liquors and cigars.” Of course, they forgot to mention Barbara’s wonderful German food, ordered by the locals and delivered by their daughters pulling a wagon.

The census notes Jacob as a saloon keeper and says that they ran a boarding house.

This photo was taken in front of the Kirsch House and shows 5 of Jacob and Barbara’s 6 children probably around the turn of the century. Bicycle-riding was quite the rage, even in skirts.

The street in front was still dirt, but Earl Huffman who knew Jacob Kirsch and the Kirsch House said that “The Kirsch House catered to tobacco buyers and other prominent businessmen who visited Aurora. It was a plush and modern hotel at that time, with a resplendent history and a stone gutter and a wooden portico over the cement sidewalk which was laid in 1905. Jacob Kirsch catered to only high-level traveling men.”

This undated photo shows part of the Kirsch House and the depot and was laminated onto the bar in the Kirsch House in the 1980s when Mom and I visited. Apparently, the sidewalk covered with a roof was quite the status symbol. Nora’s daughter, Eloise, and my mother, Nora’s granddaughter through daughter Edith both mentioned that covered walkway.

From 1875 until 1921, the Kirsch House was operated by Jacob and Barbara and functioned as the hub of the extended Kirsch and Drechsel families for almost half a century. This photo below, probably taken in 1907 but definitely after 1905 and before 1909 is the only known family photo that includes all of the Kirsch children, along with two grandchildren.

The identities are not entirely certain, but seated left to right, probably Carrie Kirsch, Nora Kirsch Lore, standing child, probably Eloise Lore, adult female sitting behind child, probably Lou Kirsch, woman seated with black skirt, Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, probably Curtis Lore. Standing left to right, C. B. Lore, probably Edward Kirsch, probably Martin Kirsch, probably Ida Kirsch, Jacob Kirsch.

During this time, the Kirsch family saw their fair share of drama and tragedy. Perhaps more than their fair share.

  • In 1879, Jacob’s brother-in-law, Martin Koehler died.
  • In March 1880, Jacob entered politics in a bid for local councilman.
  • In May 1880, Barbara’s brother, John Drechsel, died unexpectedly.
  • In May 1880, Jacob’s father, Philip Jacob Kirsch, died.
  • In 1887, Jacob “sold” the Kirsch house to his wife, Barbara, because he was being sued for his part in the 1886 lynching of an itinerant brick mason who was caught in the act of murdering a local resident.
  • In 1889, Barbara’s sister, Margaretha died, leaving 5 young children, having already buried 2.
  • In 1889, Jacob’s brother, William was involved in some kind of accident going over the Platte River Bridge and died in 1891 from those injuries.
  • In 1889, a boarder shot himself in the right groin at the Kirsch House while target shooting.
  • Jacob’s elderly mother, Katharina Barbara Lemmert, lived, and died, at the Kirsch House in 1889.
  • Jacob and Barbara’s granddaughter, Hazel Kirsch, died in August of 1891.
  • In 1892, Jacob lost one eye in a hunting accident. It was questionable whether he would live as the entire side of his face was affected. He was also a sharpshooter and won the tri-State championship AFTER this devastating accident that in essence destroyed half of his face. Jacob wore a glass eye after the accident and loved to scare the children by popping his eye out.
  • Jacob and Barbara’s granddaughter, Pauline Kirsch, died in July of 1896.
  • Jacob’s sister, Katharina Kirsch Koehler died in 1900.
  • Jacob’s brother, a Civil War veteran and disabled pensioner lived with the family and died at the Kirsch House in 1905.
  • Barbara’s parents, Barbara Mehlheimer and Georg Drechsel died in 1906 and 1908, respectively.
  • Jacob and Barbara’s granddaughter, Curtis Lore, died in February 1912 after contracting tuberculosis from her father.

Floods!

Amidst all of this, they fought the ever-present danger of massive floods and the soggy, stinky moldy mildewy aftermath.

Floodwaters reached the Kirsch house in 1883, 1884, 1907, twice, three months apart in 1913, and in 1917. 1913 must have been brutal. It would have destroyed lesser people.

The 1884 flood was said to have reached the second floor of the Kirsch House. In the above picture, people are standing on second-floor balconies along an Aurora street.

The April 1913 legendary flood was said to be “the greatest disaster of modern times.” The basement and walls of the Kirsch House carry those flood scars.

And then, there was the never-ceasing daughter drama!

Daughter Drama!

  • Jacob’s daughter, Carolyn “Carrie” Kirsch married in 1902 to Joseph Wymond, the wealthy son of a local businessman who owned the Wymond Cooperage. Joseph, however, was a debonair ladies’ man and riverboat gambler who carried a dapper gold-headed and gold-tipped cane. The problem was that he caught syphilis and of course gave it to Carrie. Syphilis was fatal. There was no cure. Amazingly, Jacob Kirsch didn’t kill the man, so Joe eventually took his own life in 1910. Sixteen years later, Carrie, institutionalized, succumbed to that horrific disease as well.
  • Jacob’s daughter, Louise, known as “Aunt Lou” married Todd Fiske in 1899, son of the owners of the local Fiske Carriage Business. A civil engineer, Todd found himself out of work. Despondent, he took his own life with a gunshot to the head in the garden of the Kirsch House on October 31, 1908.

When Mom and I visited, there was no sign of a lovely garden, although Nora Kirsch’s daughter, Aunt Eloise, who visited the Kirsch House, spoke of it. The only place a “private garden” could have been located was on these two triangles of land.

Eloise and her sister, MIldred, at the depot beside the Kirsch House in 1907.

  • Jacob’s daughter, Nora Kirsch, lost her husband, C. B. Lore, to tuberculosis in 1909. It’s unclear if Nora ever knew that C.B. had not divorced his previous wife in Pennsylvania before the shotgun wedding to Nora in 1888 – likely at the end of a shotgun held by Jacob himself. C. B. Lore was a handsome wildcatter, an oilman who likely stayed at the Kirsch House while he drilled for oil and gas locally, consuming wine, liquors, and fine cigars – and winning the heart of Nora in the process.

Nora made her own wedding gown and descended the stairs at the Kirsch House to meet her groom on their wedding day.

Nora was quite the seamstress, earning her living for decades with that trade after her husband died.

In 1933, Nora represented the State of Indiana at the Chicago World’s fair with one of her quilts.

Nora’s granddaughter, my mother, me, and my daughter many years ago with Nora’s winning quilt when it was honored at a museum exhibition.

I might have, just might, have inherited that “quilt gene” from Nora😊

  • Daughter Ida had a physical disability and remained single for a long time, but married in 1921 to a man 15 years her senior who eventually died of “acute alcoholism” in 1946 and was known to be extremely mean and abusive.

Somehow, between cooking and cleaning, the Kirsch girls found time for sewing, quilting, and lacemaking.

This crazy quilt, sewn together by the Kirsch daughters incorporates a block dated 1884 and was made at the Kirsch House.

They surely sewed their hopes, dreams, cares, and tears into this quilt, together, probably by candlelight in the evenings.

Servicemen

During WWI and WWII, the bodies of servicemen lost in war were transported to the railroad depot, then carried next door to the Kirsch House where they were taken to private rooms and covered with flags while waiting for their families to claim their fallen members.

Jacob’s Death

Jacob died, after a long battle with cancer in 1917, but Barbara struggled on to run the Kirsch House alone until 1921 when she sold it to the Neaman family who renamed it the Neaman House.

The 1989 Trip

In 1989, Mom, my daughter, and I traveled to Aurora and located the former Kirsch House. We planned our trip carefully with the hope of finding information about our ancestors. This was long before “online” anything existed. All we had to go on was oral history and the knowledge that it was beside the Depot.

We were very fortunate in that the former Kirsch House was a local restaurant and we could go inside and see for ourselves, including that stunning hand-carved bar. We were also in the right place at the right time, because Telford Walker, the local historian who had actually known Jacob Kirsch when Telford was a child happened to be eating lunch there with the Rotary Club on the day Mom and I visited.

Looking at the side of the Kirsch House building in the 1980s, you can see the structures of the earlier Depot era building. While the rear section of the Kirsch House was obviously added later than the original construction, it was already in place on an 1875 map, so Jacob and Barbara Kirsch bought this property in its current basic configuration.

Eventually, the restaurant closed and the property was abandoned. I visited again in 2008 when the Kirsch House, for sale, was in terrible shape. I wondered if there was any prayer of salvaging this building and wished that I could have afforded to do so.

After that visit, I became friendly with the local historian, Jenny Awad, who told me she would keep her eye on the Kirsch House property.

Then, miraculously, two things happened. And no, neither one was me winning the lottery.

You’ve Got Mail!

My husband went to retrieve the mail one day recently and came in telling me I had a very heavy padded envelope.

“What did you do,” he asked, “convince someone to mail you a brick?”

I laughed and said, “Well, I hope so.” He knows my penchant for having “something” of my ancestors, be it a brick or a rock from their land. Something to connect us.

But, as it turns out, he was right.

It really WAS a brick, from the Kirsch House, mailed by Jenny.

I was thrilled to receive this brick that connects me tangibly to my ancestors, 4 of them who lived in this building during their lifetimes, and two that died there, wrapped in love and history.

At first, I thought perhaps that the Kirsch House been torn down, but that wasn’t the case at all.

Jenny had another surprise for me.

Remodel!

Jenny reported that a new owner had purchased the Kirsch House and was doing an extensive remodel, turning the downstairs into retail stores with four apartments upstairs.

Jenny visited the local tire store where someone told her that a remodel was happening at the Kirsch House and that there were nails everyplace. Indeed, I’m sure there were. Jenny drove over to see and photograph.

Jenny, I can’t thank you enough!! What an amazing gift.

The great thing is that with the last century of updating stripped away, we can actually see the original building that would have been familiar to Jacob Kirsch and Barbara Drechsel as they went about their daily lives. The room where Barbara’s sisters lived as they worked in the Kirsch House before they married. The room that Nora grew up and quilted in. The room where Jacob and his mother both died. The room where Barbara slept by herself after Jacob’s death, until that last time she walked out the door. Forty-seven years, a half-century of our family history, exposed beneath the plaster.

Over the years as the building deteriorated, so did the clientele and the once resplendent Kirsch House became a flophouse, all too familiar to the local EMTs.

The family had once lived upstairs, above the restaurant and tavern, along with travelers and boarders.

You can see the roof of the Depot through the window above. The sound of the train whistle must have been so familiar that they probably didn’t even “hear” it anymore.

I wonder if those original floors were oak. These would have been the floors that Barbara and the girls scrubbed.

Oh, the stories these walls could tell if they could but talk.

The hallways were quite narrow. It wasn’t obvious if there were owners quarters separate from visitor rooms in the boarding house. Heat and electricity were retrofitted years later, of course.

Since these rooms connect, I wonder if they were some of the original Kirsch living quarters. Aside from bedrooms, they would have wanted some sort of family area, such as a living room or parlor where they could gather with some degree of privacy.

I can’t wait to see what the new owner does with these historic, haunted hallways.

This hand-shaped banister protects the one stairway between the floors and the landing from where Nora would have descended in her wedding dress.

I can see Nora walking, slowly, down, each step, one by one. Looking in the eyes of C.B. Lore, waiting for her.

C.B. Lore would have stood here, at the bottom waiting for his bride, hoping his father-in-law didn’t discover his guilty secret that included children.

We don’t know where Jacob’s office would have been in this building.

If you close your eyes, you can imagine Jacob’s desk looking much like this as he managed the boarding house, the tavern, cigar store, and the restaurant, along with family matters. Jenny sent this photo. We don’t know who it is, but it would have been a businessman that Jacob knew and probably frequented the Kirsch House.

Back to the Brick

What was I going to do with my brick? I love it, but what does one DO with a brick?

I had an idea.

I needed a doorstop, but I didn’t want to break a toe kicking the brick. I didn’t want to damage the wood floor with the brick scooting over the surface, and I didn’t want the brick to deteriorate. After all, the historical commission estimates the age of the building to be 1855ish – so this brick is 170ish years old and tiny pieces are shedding.

As I pondered the brick, I realized that the brick was passed to me, and so was the DNA of the ancestors who lived there. Both were random events.

As you know, I’m sure, I speak regularly at conferences, and each year I make a new DNA clothing item to wear.

In 2017, for my Ireland visit, I made a reversible DNA vest.

The way I construct the vests is to have the fabrics quilted first, then cut out and construct the vest. This means that I have pieces of quilted fabric left over.

Now, to figure out how to make a quilted brick cover that would allow me to see the brick, but that would protect both the brick, the floor, and my toes.

Hmmm, do I have any quilted DNA material scraps left anyplace? I had already made a bag, a laptop sleeve, and a few other things.

Yes, as it turns out, I did!

A few hours later I had made a quilted brick basket.

If you’re interested in how I did this, I’m including instructions so you can do something similar. If not, just scroll down to the next picture.

I measured my brick across the bottom and up the sides. I allowed an extra half inch at the top so that I could make a hem.

So, if the brick is 3 inches across and 6 inches long, and the sides are 2.5 inches each, the piece of already quilted fabric I cut was calculated:

Fabric Width:

  • 3 inches wide brick
  • 2 X 2.5 inch sides = 5 inches
  • Extra half inch on both sides = 1 inch
  • Total = 9 inches

Fabric Length

  • 9 inches long brick
  • 2 X 2.5 inch sides = 5 inches
  • Extra half inch on both sides = 1 inch
  • Total = 15 inches

The handle was 2.5 inches wide and long enough that the brick could fit in the basket under the handle after allowing about 1.5 inches to sew both ends inside the basket. So, my handle is about 6 inches showing, with 1.5 inches sewn inside the basket on both ends for a cut piece of fabric of 9 inches by 2.5 inches.

First, I zigzagged all of the quilted fabric edges to avoid fraying. You can see that if you look closely inside.

Then, I turned the edges inside and zigzagged them flat for a hem on the main brick piece of fabric.

At that point, you have a large flat piece of fabric and you need a basket-shaped piece of fabric.

I sat the brick on the fabric, centering it exactly using a ruler, then folded the corners up like I was wrapping a gift. I pinned each corner in place. In my case, that meant when I took the brick out and went to sew the corners in place, I sewed a seam 2 inches exactly from the tip of the folded corner triangle of fabric.

After I sewed all 4 corners, I had these little ear flaps sticking out. I tried the basket on the brick for size. It fit, so I then flattened the corner triangles against the corners and sewed them flat on the basket edge. That gave me the cute little cat-ears. It also serves to buffer the corner of the brick which protects my toes from the brick, along with the corners of the brick.

You can practice with a sheet of paper to get the idea and dimensions. You can purchase pre-quilted fabrics at stores like Joann and online.

To finish the handle, fold the sides to the middle back and zigzag in place. Sew the bottom of the handle inside the basket at the bottom of the handle piece and again at the top of the handle where it touches the top of the basket.

Next, put your brick in your basket and you’re done. This project isn’t “quilt show” grade – but I was going for fun and function, and this was both!

I felt this was a wonderful way to honor my great-grandmother, Nora, her struggles, and her beautiful, creative quilting. It allowed me to remember wonderful adventures with my mother, now gone forever, and daughter, now grown, chasing those ancestors. I honored Jacob and Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, proprietors of the Kirsch House whose DNA I carry today. In all of their honor, I created a DNA-themed keepsake, a nod to me, that I hope will one day be an heirloom, holding a door open and loved by my descendants too.

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Disclosure

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.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Longobards Ancient DNA from Pannonia and Italy – What Does Their DNA Tell Us? Are You Related?

The Longobards, Lombards, also known as the Long-beards – who were they? Where did they come from? And when?

Perhaps more important – are you related to these ancient people?

In the paper, Understanding 6th-century barbarian social organizatoin and migration through paleogenomics, by Amorim et al, the authors tell us in the abstract:

Despite centuries of research, much about the barbarian migrations that took place between the fourth and sixth centuries in Europe remains hotly debated. To better understand this key era that marks the dawn of modern European societies, we obtained ancient genomic DNA from 63 samples from two cemeteries (from Hungary and Northern Italy) that have been previously associated with the Longobards, a barbarian people that ruled large parts of Italy for over 200 years after invading from Pannonia in 568 CE. Our dense cemetery-based sampling revealed that each cemetery was primarily organized around one large pedigree, suggesting that biological relationships played an important role in these early medieval societies. Moreover, we identified genetic structure in each cemetery involving at least two groups with different ancestry that were very distinct in terms of their funerary customs. Finally, our data are consistent with the proposed long-distance migration from Pannonia to Northern Italy.

Both the Germans and French have descriptions of this time of upheaval in their history. Völkerwanderung in German and Les invasions barbares in French refer to the various waves of invasions by Goths, Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Vandals, and Huns. All of these groups left a genetic imprint, a story told without admixture by their Y and mitochondrial DNA.

click to enlarge

The authors provide this map of Pannonia, the Longobards kingdom, and the two cemeteries with burial locations.

One of their findings is that the burials are organized around biological kinship. Perhaps they weren’t so terribly different from us today.

Much as genealogists do, the authors created a pedigree chart – the only difference being that their chart is genetically constructed and lacks names, other than sample ID.

One man is buried with a horse, and one of his relatives, a female, is not buried in a family unit but in a half-ring of female graves.

The data suggests that the cemetery in Pannonia, Szolad, shown in burgundy on the map, may have been a “single-generation” cemetery, in use for only a limited time as the migration continued westward. Collegno, in contrast, seems to have been used for multiple generations, with the burials radiating outward over time from the progenitor individual.

Because the entire cemetery was analyzed, it’s possible to identify those individuals with northern or northeastern European ancestry, east of the Rhine and north of the Danube, and to differentiate from southern European ancestry in the Lombard cemetery – in addition to reassembling their family pedigrees. The story is told, not just by one individual’s DNA, but how the group is related to each other, and their individual and group origins.

For anyone with roots in Germany, Hungary, or the eastern portion of Europe, you know that this region has been embroiled in upheaval and warfare seemingly as long as there have been people to fight over who lived in and controlled these lands.

Are You Related?

Goran Rundfeldt’s R&D group at Family Tree DNA reanalyzed the Y DNA samples from this paper and has been kind enough to provide a summary of the results. Michael Sager has utilized them to branch the Y DNA tree – in a dozen places.

Mitochondrial DNA haplogroups have been included where available from the authors, but have not been reanalyzed.

Note the comments added by FTDNA during analysis.

Many new branches were formed. I included step-by-step instructions, here, so you can see if your Y DNA results match either the new branch or any of these samples upstream.

If you’re a male and you haven’t yet tested your Y DNA or you would like to upgrade to the Big Y-700 to obtain your most detailed haplogroup, you can do either by clicking here. My husband’s family is from Hungary and I just upgraded his Y DNA test to the Big Y-700. I want to know where his ancestors came from.

And yes, this first sample really is rare haplogroup T. Each sample is linked to the Family Tree DNA public tree. We find haplogroups G and E as well as the more common R and I. Some ancient samples match contemporary testers from France (2), the UK, England, Morocco, Denmark (5), and Italy. Fascinating!

Sample: CL23
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: T-BY45363
mtDNA: H

Sample: CL30
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-P312
mtDNA: I1b

Sample: CL31
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: G-FGC693
FTDNA Comment: Authors warn of possible contamination. Y chromosome looks good – and there is support for splitting this branch. However, because of the contamination warning – we will not act on this split until more data is available.
mtDNA: H18

Sample: CL38
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: E-BY3880
mtDNA: X2

Sample: CL49
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-CTS6889

Sample: CL53
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-FGC24138
mtDNA: H11a

Sample: CL57
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-BY48364
mtDNA: H24a

Sample: CL63
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-FT104588
mtDNA: H

Sample: CL84
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-U198
mtDNA: H1t

Sample: CL92
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-S22519
mtDNA: H

Sample: CL93
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-S22519
mtDNA: J2b1a

Sample: CL94
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-DF99
mtDNA: K1c1

Sample: CL97
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-L23

Sample: CL110
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-L754

Sample: CL121
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-BY70163
FTDNA Comment: Shares 2 SNPs with a man from France. Forms a new branch down of R-BY70163 (Z2103). New branch = R-BY197053
mtDNA: T2b

Sample: CL145
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-S22519
mtDNA: T2b

Sample: CL146
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-A8472
mtDNA: T2b3

Sample: SZ1
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Study Information: The skeletal remains from an individual dating to the Bronze Age 10 m north of the cemetery.
Age: Bronze Age
Y-DNA: R-Y20746
mtDNA: J1b

Sample: SZ2
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-Z338
FTDNA Comment: Shares 5 SNPs with a man from the UK. Forms a new branch down of R-Z338 (U106). New branch = R-BY176786
mtDNA: T1a1

Sample: SZ3
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-BY3605
mtDNA: H18

Sample: SZ4
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-ZP200
FTDNA Comment: Splits R-ZP200 (U106). Derived (positive) for 2 SNPs and ancestral (negative) for 19 SNPs. New path = R-Y98441>R-ZP200
mtDNA: H1c9

Sample: SZ5
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-BY3194
FTDNA Comment: Splits R-BY3194 (DF27). Derived for 19 SNPs, ancestral for 9 SNPs. New path = R-BY3195>R-BY3194
mtDNA: J2b1

Sample: SZ6
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-P214

Sample: SZ7
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-S8104
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: T2e

Sample: SZ11
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-FGC13492
FTDNA Comment: Shares 1 SNP with a man from Italy. Forms a new branch down of R-FGC13492 (U106). New branch = R-BY138397
mtDNA: K2a3a

Sample: SZ12
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-S8104
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: W6

Sample: SZ13
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century 422-541 cal CE
Y-DNA: I-S8104
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: N1b1b1

Sample: SZ14
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-CTS616
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: I3

Sample: SZ15
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-YP986
mtDNA: H1c1

Sample: SZ16
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-U106
mtDNA: U4b1b

Sample: SZ18
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: E-BY6865
FTDNA Comment: Shares 1 SNP with a man from Morocco. Forms a new branch down of E-BY6865. New branch = E-FT198679
mtDNA: H13a1a2

Sample: SZ22
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-Y6876
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: N1b1b1

Sample: SZ23
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-S10271
mtDNA: H13a1a2

Sample: SZ24
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-ZS3
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: U4b

Sample: SZ27B
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century 412-538 cal CE
Y-DNA: R-FGC4166
FTDNA Comment: Shares 1 SNP with a man from France. Forms a new branch down of R-FGC4166 (U152). New branch = R-FT190624
mtDNA: N1a1a1a1

Sample: SZ36
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: T-Y15712
mtDNA: U4c2a

Sample: SZ37
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century 430-577 cal CE
Y-DNA: R-P312
mtDNA: H66a

Sample: SZ42
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-P312
mtDNA: K2a6

Sample: SZ43
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century 435-604 cal CE
Y-DNA: I-BY138
mtDNA: H1e

Sample: SZ45
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Study Information: ADMIXTURE analysis showed SZ45 to possess a unique ancestry profile.
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-FGC21819
FTDNA Comment: Shares 2 SNPs with a man from England forms a new branch down of FGC21819. New branch = I-FGC21810
mtDNA: J1c

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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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Mitochondrial DNA Facebook Group Launches

Mitochondrial DNA has so much untapped potential!

Until now, there hasn’t been an online resource where one could go to find information about and specifically discuss mitochondrial DNA. Even more distressing, in many groups, when the topic of mitochondrial DNA arises, misinformation abounds, discouraging would-be testers.

New Group!

I’m very pleased to announce the new Facebook group, Mitochondrial DNA, here, founded by the National Geographic Society Genographic Project’s lead scientist, Dr. Miguel Vilar. As you know, the Genographic Project’s public participation phase has ended, but the scientific research for those who opted-in for science continues and Miguel is leading the way.

Miguel shares a lifelong passion for mitochondrial DNA, inherited by both males and females from their direct matrilineal line.

Different colored stars represent different Y DNA lines. Different colored hearts represent different mtDNA lines. The paternal and maternal grandfathers carry the mtDNA of their mothers, not shown here.

Mitochondrial DNA informs you about your mother’s mother’s mother’s line – the pink hearts above – both genealogically and historically. In other words, you can break down brick walls in your genealogy and understand the genesis of your matrilineal line before the advent of surnames. We can better answer the question, “where did I come from,” or more succinctly, where did our mother’s direct line come from.

In addition to Miguel, you’ll find other experts in the group, including members of the Million Mito Project, which I wrote about here.

  • Goran Rundfeldt heads the R&D team at FamilyTreeDNA.
  • Paul Maier is a population geneticist and member of the research team at FamilyTreeDNA. He specialized in toad and frog mtDNA in grad school and is now working on the new mitochondrial tree, for humans 😊, among other projects.
  • I’ve always been very interested in mitochondrial DNA, was a member of the Genographic Project design team and the first Genographic affiliate researcher. You can reference my Mitochondrial DNA resource page, here, which includes articles and step-by-step instructions for how to utilize mtDNA results.

Aside from the Million Mito research team, other Mitochondrial DNA group members with a special interest in mitochondrial DNA include:

As I scan down the list of members, I see several more highly qualified people.

Come On Over

Come on over and take a look for yourself to see what kinds of subjects are being discussed. Browse, ask a question, and contribute.

Send other people who have questions, are seeking advice, or are interested in what mitochondrial DNA can do for them.

Do you have a matrilineal brick wall you’d like to see fall? The first step is to test your mitochondrial DNA, preferably at the full sequence level to obtain as much information as possible. The more people who test, the better our chances of making meaningful connections.

Your mitochondrial DNA is a gift directly from your matrilineal ancestors. See what they have to say!

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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 Georg “Jerg” Kirsch (c1620- 1677/1695), Co-Lessee of the Josten Estate Provides 400 Year Legacy for his Descendants – 52 Ancestors #309

Jerg, or Johann Georg Kirsch, was my 10th generation ancestor, my 8 times great-grandfather, born about 1620 someplace in Germany, probably in the Pfalz region during the first part of the Thirty Years War.

Jerg was the nickname for Georg and all German boys in that time and place whose name wasn’t Johannes were named Johann plus a middle name by which they were called. Hence, Jerg, an affectionate name for Georg.

Actual records involving Jerg are few and far between. The history of the region and what was happening at that time help us flesh out his life. Unfortunately, we don’t know where the Kirsch family came from before we find Jerg in Durkheim, marrying Margretha Koch on September 9, 1650.

Marriage

My friend Tom found the marriage record and provided the translation too.

On the same day (9 Sept 1650) Hans Georg Kirsch and Margretha, legitimate dau of M Steffan Koch, former pastor in Fussgonheim.

Tom, a retired German genealogist, said that the M might be a sign of respect for Steffan Koch being a minister.

Wow, talk about a bonus – not only Margretha’s father’s name, but his occupation and the fact that the Koch family came from Fussgoenheim.

Durkheim and Fussgoenheim

This Gazetteer shows both Durkheim and Fussgoenheim. The map was created to represent every German location mentioned between 1871 and 1918.

click to enlarge

Fussgoenheim is only about 6 miles from Durkheim. While the distance isn’t far, even walkable, how the Koch family arrived in Durkheim was a function of the Thirty Years’ War.

The Thirty Year’s War, which I wrote about here, began in 1618 and officially ended in 1648. By 1622, this area of the Pfalz was depopulated, with the residents taking shelter in one of three cities; Durkheim, Frankenthal, or Speyer. The villages were decimated, completely burned, the fields destroyed. Thirty years later, around 1650, a few people began to very slowly return to some of the villages – or better stated – where the villages had been.

A neighbor village, Seckenheim, only saw 5 families return. Two-thirds of the population was killed during the war plus the people who would have naturally died during a thirty-year period. That meant that minimally, one of two parents in every family died, and 6 or 7 of 10 children. Virtually everyone past child-bearing age at the beginning of the war wasn’t alive to see the end.

Of course, that’s assuming that 10 children survived in each family, which generally wasn’t the case either. Many families would have lost all their children, and many children would have lost both parents and perhaps all of their siblings. The trauma of this war would have haunted survivors and their descendants for generations.

A male marrying in 1650 would have been born, most likely, between 1620 and 1625. In other words, in the worst part of the Thirty Years’ War when his family was seeking refuge, with absolutely nothing more than they could carry with them. His mother could have been, literally, on the run while heavily pregnant.

Jerg Kirsch would have probably been born in Durkheim, to refugee parents, grew up and married there.

St. John’s Church in Durkheim

This 1630 drawing of St. John’s church is exactly what Jerg would have seen, and probably Margretha as well. The Latin School was located across the church yard which would have been filled with tombstones of parishioners, already passed over. The children probably wove between them, perhaps playing hide and seek.

The history of the church itself reaches back to the year 946, before the present structure, minus the spire, was built. The spire was added during an 1800s renovation.

The current gothic St. John’s Church, now known at the Castle Church, was begun in 1300 and completed in 1335, so was already 350 years old in 1650.

This church contains many artifacts that shaped what Jerg would have seen every Sunday as he attended services in the beautiful Protestant church, probably approaching up the hill from behind the church in the residential area. This same street remains today.

Between 1504 and 1508 Count Emich (d 1535) IX built a burial chapel with an inaccessible crypt, attached to the south-eastern aisle of the church.

This late Gothic Leininger Burial Chapel has two gables, a saddle roof, ribbed vault and is spatially connected to the church. The “rulers box,” a private viewing area from which the count followed the service is on the right with the smaller window. This division is also visible from the outside. To the west, you can see the burial chapel with its three-part pointed arch window. To the east, a small pointed arch window lets light into the ruler’s box and a separate outer door allows access directly outside.

Von Altera levatur – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53096264

Several Gothic tombstones and Renaissance epitaphs have been preserved, many inside. One, the stone of the Limburg Abbot, above, who died in 1531, was moved outside.

The most important internal monument is the double epitaph of Count Emich XII. von Leiningen-Hardenburg and his wife Maria Elisabeth von Pfalz-Zweibrücken, daughter of Duke Wolfgang von Pfalz-Zweibrücken.

The Speyer sculptor David Voidel created this masterpiece around 1612 and you can see behind the princely figures a relief that shows the buildings of the Hardenburg castle, shown below in 1630, now in ruins.

There are also the grave slabs of the builder, Count Emich IX, in the chapel. von Leiningen and his wife Agnes geb. von Eppstein-Münzenberg (died in 1533), below, as well as remains of Gothic wall paintings.

Jerg would have seen all of this routinely. Did he touch the engraved letters and gaze up at the praying stone figures beneath the crucifix? Or maybe he was so used to seeing them that they didn’t even register anymore.

Baptism

Jerg would have been baptized in this now-orange baptismal font that dates from 1537. Then, it would simply have been carved stone.

This font would have stood silently in the church as Jerg and Margretha repeated their vows to each other, in front of family and God, nearby. This font patiently waited for them to return with their first child a year or 18 months later. This baptismal font would have wetted at least three generations of Kirsch family members, and perhaps more.

Those baptismal records don’t exist today, but assuredly Jerg and Margaretha’s first children were baptized here, in the same font where they were both likely baptized too. Her father, Steffan, may have even been the minister to baptize them!

Their first 5 children were probably baptized here, but in 1660, it appears that Jerg and Margretha moved back to Fussgoenheim.

Co-Lessee of the Jostens Estate

On January 12, 1660 a feudal letter was written naming Jerg as co-lessee of the Josten estate in Fussgoenheim – in other words, a tenant of the church lands.

Of course, as tenant, Jerg and family would have moved the 6 miles down the road to what was left of Fussgoenheim and set about rebuilding – something. There was likely nothing left.

We don’t know who the other co-lessee was, but there were at least two. The church obviously wanted the land to be worked again. A lease of this type was typically hereditary in nature. In other words, this was the family’s ticket to stability and prosperity – perhaps leaving the hunger and strife of life during and after the Thirty Years’ War behind, permanently.

This move would have represented a lot of work, but also opportunity. It would have been a happy family that walked the 6 miles to Fussgoenheim, dreaming of and chattering about the future.

Yes indeed, things were looking up for Jerg!

Children

We know of 7 children, all boys. We discover most of these children in their own records later, or those of their children, in Fussgoenheim. Plus, there’s the matter of the 1743 attempted land grab of Jerg’s hereditary land rights – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We have to estimate the ages of Jerg’s sons, and all but one was probably born after 1660. That means that his older children born in Durkheim, with one possible exception, were daughters, or died young. If they perished before the family left Durkheim, they may reside eternally in that churchyard beside the church.

Based on the ages of his children, we know that Jerg and Margretha were still having children in roughly 1677 which would have put Margretha’s age at about 47, somewhat on the old side to still be bearing children. Of course, we’re assuming that she was Jerg’s only wife and that she was age 20 when they married. That might not have been the case.

In a 1717 document, their son Adam was mentioned as having been born about 1677. If Margretha was born in 1620, she would have been 47 in 1677. Perhaps she was a couple years younger and perhaps his age was misremembered.

Nevertheless, we know Jerg had at least 7 living children with son Johann Adam born about 1677. They probably had 12 or 13 children over the 27 years between 1650 and 1677, with some being daughters and likely, some passing away at birth or as children.

But Then…

Just when it seems like everything was going so well, suddenly, it wasn’t.

In 1673, the King of France declared war on this part of Germany, annexing the lands between France and the Rhine, including Fussgoenheim and all villages in this region.

In 1674, this area was once again ravaged by the French army.

We don’t know where Jerg and his family were during this time. Did they evacuate? If so, how soon? Did they try to stay? Did they stay until their homes were burned again?

We just don’t know. Clearly, the population was in dire straits – no food, not even clothes. You can’t trade if you can’t farm. You can’t eat with no crops in the field.

In the midst of this, their youngest son Adam was born about 1677. The next younger surviving child was born about 1670, before the French incursion.

The Bishop wrote on January 9, 1679.

The town of Lauterburg and the villages around there are in such a desolate and pitiful state that the people don´t even have anything to wear. Some have run away, and those who remain do not even have bread to eat.

Things became even worse in 1688.

In 1688, the French King sent nearly 50,000 men with instructions “that the Palatinate should be made a desert,” launching what would become known as the Nine Years’ War or the War of the Palatine Succession.

The French commander gave the half-million residents a 3-day notice that they must leave their homes, causing thousands to die of cold and hunger. Many who survived became beggars on the streets of other European cities. Again, in a bloody campaign of carnage, France devastated the area, annexing it for their own.

click to enlarge

This etching shows the city of Speyer before and during the fire of 1689 when the French methodically burned almost every town and village in the Palatinate. Speyer was one of the locations where refugees from the villages and farms had sought refuge. Once again, they would have to seek safety elsewhere – the city of Speyer almost totally destroyed.

We know two definitive things about the Kirsch family, and about Jerg.

We know that the family once again sought refuge in Durkheim, although we don’t know when they left Fussgoenheim. And we know that Jerg was dead by 1695.

Jerg’s Death

Jerg’s son, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch married Anna Maria Borstler on February 22, 1695 in Durkheim. That marriage record tells us that Jerg had died.

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.

The “late Joh. Georg Kirsch” tells us that sometime, in the horrific years between 1777 when Adam was born and 1695 when Johann Wilhelm was married, Jerg had succumbed.

The upheaval in the Pfalz began before Adam was born, assuming 1677 is accurate – so we know that Jerg survived the 1674 attacks. We know the family survived, someplace, with at least 6 children before Adam’s birth.

That means that at least 7 of Jerg’s children survived to adulthood.

So, if there are no church records in Fussgoenheim, few records elsewhere, with the exception of the two Kirsch records, one in 1650 and one in 1695, found in Durkheim, then how do we know that Jerg had 7 surviving children?

Good question!

Jerg’s Legacy

The Kirsch sons, at least four of them, Johann Jacob, Johann Michael, Johann Wilhelm and Johann Adam returned to Fussgoenheim. Two sons, Johannes and Andreas lived in Ellerstadt, and Johannes died there. We know that Daniel lived to adulthood, but we don’t know more about him.

How do we know this?

The records within Fussgoenheim are scant, but a few do exist.

In 1701, Adam Kirsch is noted as being the mayor. Clearly, with the war having just ended a couple of years before, very few families would have returned, and those who did needed to have some reason, meaning some potential way of earning a living.

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.

Of course, we don’t know if the Kirsch family originated in Fussgoenheim before the Thirty Years War. We only know that Jerg married a wife whose father was the pastor in Fussgoenheim before the war, and that Jerg was the co-lessee of the Josten estate in 1660.

In 1717, we know that both Johann Wilhelm Kirsch and Johann Adam Kirsch participated in a reconstruction of the social customs and morays lost during the century of warfare. Some records of that testimony do exist.

By 1720, the entire village only consisted of 150-200 people, according to village records, or about 15-20 homes by my estimate. Of those, we know that at least four of those residences would have been Kirsch homes. Those Kirsch sons were entitled to Jerg’s “ownership” of the leasehold rights of the Jostens estate. That’s what would have brought Jerg’s family back to Fussgoenheim. They had the right to farm the land that Jerg had the right to farm before the war. The war didn’t change those rights – and those rights were all that his sons had.

In 1733 and 1734, once again, the French sought to invade this part of Germany in the War of Polish Succession. Their military map shows the region, with Fussgoenheim labeled as Fugelsheim. Ellerstadt as Elstatt and Durkheim as Durckeim. You can see that Durckeim, far left, is walled with corner turrets.

Enlarging this map of Fussgoenheim shows that there are about 9 buildings, clustered around the crossroads at the center of town.

In 1729, the fuedal lord, Jacob Tilman von Hallberg attempted to resurvey the land, meaning that the residents’ rights were dramatically reduced by as much as two-thirds.

Hallberg submitted his redrawn property map to the village elders for a rubber stamp of approval in 1743. None of Jerg’s sons sat on the council by this time, but his grandsons did. By 1743, Jerg’s grandsons had inherited his co-lessee rights, and one, Johann Michael Kirsch was mayor. The village elders, Michael Kirsch included, soundly rejected Hallberg’s revisionist history – and as a result, the Kirsch men and several others were all kicked out of Fussgoenheim.

The Kirsch family had nothing – their homes and belongings left behind and auctioned by Hallberg. They became serfs in nearby Ellerstadt. They had no choice.

However, Jerg would have been proud of his grandsons because, even as impoverished peasants, they stood up and fought – for a decade. In courts across the land. Hallberg ignored the courts’ verdicts ordering him to accept the Kirsch families back into Fussgoenheim and return their homes and land. Hallberg turned an entirely deaf ear, requiring the Kirsch families to return to court, again. I think Hallberg hoped he would simply wear out their resolve, but that didn’t happen.

Eventually, the families did return, but they never reclaimed their original lands. They did however retain the redrawn lands shown on the 1743 map – some of which remained in the Kirsch family beyond WWII.

However, between 1660 when the feudal letter stated that Jerg was the co-lessee of the Jostens estate, and 1753 when the families were allowed back into the village – 93 years has passed, along with at least two entire generations. The third, fourth and fifth generation were living by then. The lines of succession – who was entitled to what portion of Jerg’s leasehold rights were unclear – so an accounting occurred in 1753.

Cousin Walter Schnebel obtained those accounting documents. Now deceased, he lived beside the Kirsch home in Fussgoenheim as a child and spent many years attempting to reconstruct the various family members – many carrying the same names generation after generation. Who was born to whom?

The church records, although incomplete, began in 1726. Large parts are missing altogether and the ones that do exist are often frustratingly sparse with gaping black-holes of time with years unaccounted for.

We know that in 1733, the church was complete because von Hallberg complained that the residents had refused to pay for the church. However, a church is not specifically shown on the 1733/34 French military map.

In that 1753 accounting, according to Walter, and from other information, we glean quite a bit about Jerg’s sons. Some grandchildren are mentioned in the accounting, but the families have been reassembled in part from other church records as well.

  • Daniel (probably Johann Daniel) Kirsch born circa 1660, died before 1723 – nothing more is known. This could mean that he didn’t live in Fussgoenheim, so had no citizenship rights that would have descended from Jerg. He may have had children elsewhere.
  • Johannes Kirsch born about 1665 and died in 1738, single, in Ellerstadt. This was before the 1743 eviction, so he was living in Ellerstadt by his own choice.
  • Andreas (probably Johann Andreas) Kirsch born about 1666 and died in 1734, lived in Ellerstadt and Oggersheim and had no children in Fussgoenheim. This means no one from his line had any rights to Jerg’s leasehold rights. He may have had children elsewhere.
  • Johann Jacob Kirsch, the oldest known son, born about 1655 and died before 1723. He had children:
    1. Maria Catharina Kirsch born about 1695.
    2. Johann Andreas Kirsch born about 1700 died 1774.
    3. Johann Martin Kirsch born about 1702 died 1741, widow Anna Elisabetha Borstler mentioned in the 1753 accounting. He is shown on the 1743 map.
    4. Anna Barbara Kirsch born about 1705 died 1771.
    5. Johann Adam Kirsch born about 1710, widower in 1735.
    6. Johann Wilhelm Kirsch born about 1710 died 1741/42.
  • Johann Michael Kirsch born about 1668, died in 1743. Anna Margaretha Spanier, his widow was mentioned in 1753. They had children:
    1. Johann Daniel Kirsch born about 1700 died 1737.
    2. Johann Jacob Kirsch born 1703 died 1762 in Durkheim.
    3. Johann Georg Kirsch born 1704, mentioned in 1753 accounting.
    4. Johann Michael Kirsch, the baker, born about 1705, died after 1753, mentioned in the 1753 accounting.
    5. Johann Nicolaus Kirsch born about 1710, mentioned in 1753 accounting along with a possible son, Johann Adam born in 1731, died in 1777. Johann Adam in the 1753 accounting is possibly the son of Johann Jacob Kirsch.
    6. Anna Catharina Kirsch born in 1717, confirmed in 1730, nothing more is known.
  • Johann Wilhelm Kirsch (my ancestor) born about 1760, died after 1717 and before 1723. (Clearly, there is a 1723 demarcation of some sort that Walter found, but I have no idea what it was, or where he found those records.)
    1. Maria Catharina Kirsch (my ancestor) born about 1700 married Johann Theobald Koob in 1730.
    2. Anna Catharina Kirsch born about 1705 – nothing more known.
    3. Johann Andreas Kirsch born in 1716 and died before 1745.
    4. Anna Margaretha Kirsch born in 1718.
    1. Johann Michael Kirsch, the Mayor, (my ancestor) born about 1700 died in 1759. Mentioned in the 1753 accounting. On the 1743 map with three houses.
    2. Johann Wilhelm Kirsch born about 1706. On the 1743 map, shown adjacent the church on the south side.
    3. Johann Jacob Kirsch born about 1710.
    4. Maria Catharina Kirsch born about 1715.
    5. Johann Peter Kirsch born in 1716 died before 1760. Mentioned in the 1753 accounting and is on the 1743 map living across from Michael Kirsch.

The 1743 Map of Fussgoenheim

As you can see on the 1743 map, above, the Kirsch property was scattered throughout the village at locations 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 22, 24 and possibly a couple more locations that are illegible.

If Jerg was a co-lessee, where was the land of the other lessee, or lessees? The leasehold rights of Jerg’s descendants are scattered across the northern portion of the village, with one house below the church which was considered the line in the sand between the upper and under mayor’s bailiwicks.

Jerg’s Legacy

Jerg may have died sometime after evacuating from Fussgoenheim around 1674 and before his son’s 1695 wedding, but his legacy reached far beyond. In 1753, the court was unraveling his leasehold estate. I don’t know how Jerg initially obtained those leasehold rights, but they were likely the reason the Kirsch family returned to Fussgoenheim. That leasehold may have been why they survived – giving them at least roots from which to grow – a place they could make their home. That’s far more than most peasants could claim.

Jerg did right by his children – but he likely had no idea the magnitude of the gift he was actually bestowing upon future generations.

The home, above, constructed probably not long after the family’s 1690 return and owned by Johann Michael Kirsch, the mayor, in 1743, wrapped the Kirsch family, standing in front in the 1940s, in warmth and safety for another 250+ years.

The Kirsch home, in fact, still stands today, some 300 years later.

We don’t know what the village of Fussgoenheim looked like before the Thirty Year’s War, or before the reconstruction following the return to the area after the Nine Years’ War ended in 1697. Jerg lived in Fussgoenheim in the period between 1660 and 1684. He was deceased by 1695. We know from the records that the church was rebuilt sometime between 1726 and 1733, and the existing homes probably in the same timeframe.

German farm homes then, as now, were arranged such that the houses were close together, generally connected. The farm fields stretched out behind the houses. This view, today, includes the farm area, several homes and the church in the distance.

The 1743 map that emerged from the 1729 resurvey shows Jerg’s sons’ 8 residences/properties scattered throughout the northern portion of the village called the Unterdorf. William Kirsch lived adjacent the church on the south side which was the border between the Unterdorf and Oberdorf which was administratively separate from the Unterforf, having different mayors and councils. The cluster of Kirsch homes in the Unterdorf, combined with the statement that Jerg was co-lessee of the Josten estate in 1660, causes me to  wonder if Jerg had the right to farm, and live on, the entire Unterdorf with the other lessee farming the Oberdorf.

The entire village, according to the 1729 resurvey by Hallberg totaled 532 acres, of which he confiscated 386 for himself, leaving only 146.75 acres in private hands, including the Kirsch families.

While the Oberdorf and Unterdorf, shown approximately in the red square, above, may not have been equal in size, half would be 266 acres. Large for a German farm, but certainly earning the Kirsch family the reputation of being “wealthy farmers” which lasted in family lore into the 20th century. You can still see the farm fields, stretching out behind the homes today. The home of Michael Kirsch, the Mayor in 1743, is noted with a star. This was assuredly at least one of the properties left by Jerg to his sons, and through them, grandsons as well.

Fussgoenheim remains a farming center, albeit expanded somewhat, surrounded by world-class vineyards. You can view beautiful Fussgoenheim, here , here and here.

I can’t help but wonder if this is what Jerg saw, minus the church spire, of course. Fussgoenheim represented hope for Jerg in 1660, and hope that his children would one day return when the family had to leave once again in the 1670s.

This stunning photo as well as this one was taken by Jurgen Kirsch, whom I would love to contact. I wish there was an option to leave a message for the photographers who upload photos to Google maps, but I can’t find any way to contact the photographer.

Is Jergen a cousin, also descending from Jerg Kirsch? Jerg’s namesake all these generations later? I’m dying to know. Perhaps Jergen will be googling one day and find me😊. He has certainly taken a lot of photos of Fussgoenheim, including a short video of a local band in a parade that seems to be taken from an upper window.

Hmmm, it appears that Fussgoenheim has an Oktoberfest. But of course it does – it’s a German village, after all!

Jerg’s legacy reaches far, far beyond anything he could ever have imagined, many generations into the future.

Looking Back

Unless a miraculous record somehow escaped the devastation of the Thirty Years’ War, we’ll never know where Jerg came from.

However, we do have a couple of general clues, such as they are.

First, the Kirsch surname. I don’t know when surnames were adopted in the Pfalz region of Germany, but I know they were in use before 1600, based on the few remaining tombstones, one of which has been preserved in the churchyard in Fussgoenheim from before the Thirty Years’ War.

When surnames were first adopted, they were generally either professions like millers or blacksmiths, or some defining word that would separate that particular man from another man of the same first name.

Kirsch translates to cherry. The Pfalz is the fruit basket of Germany. The Black Forest area of Germany, not terribly far away, traditionally made a lovely cherry brandy called Kirschwasser.

Based on Jerg’s surname, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to speculate that his ancestors might well have raised cherries.

Today, Lindt makes a Kirschwasser chocolate. I might just have to do some tasting – in the name of genealogy of course.

Oh good heavens – as an act of self-preservation, do NOT Google Kirschwasser chocolate. Hmmm, looks like Kirschwasser is also in Black Forest cake. Excuse me for a bit while I excavate this rabbit hole!

Y DNA

It will be the Y DNA of Jerg Kirsch that transports us further back in time, if anything does.

Today, Jerg’s descendant who has Y DNA tested has no matches above 25 markers. His Big Y-500 tells us that Jerg’s haplogroup is R-A6706, but that he has no Big Y (SNP only) matches within 30 mutations, or about 1500 years, today. The one other person who falls into haplogroup R-A6706 does not provide a location. There are several downstream branches which suggests that perhaps if we upgraded my Kirsch cousin’s test to the Big Y-700, we would gain additional information and he might fall actually reside on one of those branches. Eleven other German men have placed beneath R-A6706.

click to enlarge

Sub-branches of R-A6706 appear to have split about 52 generations ago, or roughly 5000 years, and are found across Europe.

I maintain hope that indeed, the various Kirsch lines, other than Jerg’s, weren’t all destroyed during the century of warfare that defined the 1600s.

To date, no Y DNA matches are forthcoming, but the great news is that indeed, DNA is the gift that fishes forever.

In the meantime, I think I’ll find some black forest cake and sip some lovely German wine, relishing my Kirsch heritage and pondering what life must have been like for Jerg.

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Disclosure

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.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Free Y DNA Webinar at Legacy Family Tree Webinars

I just finished recording a new, updated Y DNA webinar, “Wringing Every Drop out of Y DNA” for Legacy Family Tree Webinars and it’s available for viewing now.

This webinar is packed full of information about Y DNA testing. We discuss the difference between STR markers, SNPs and the Big Y test. Of course, the goal is to use these tests in the most advantageous way for genealogy, so I walk you through each step. There’s so much available that sometimes people miss critical pieces!

FamilyTreeDNA provides a wide variety of tools for each tester in addition to advanced matching which combines Y DNA along with the Family Finder autosomal test. Seeing who you match on both tests can help identify your most recent common ancestor! You can order or upgrade to either or both tests, here.

During this 90 minute webinar, I covered several topics.

There’s also a syllabus that includes additional resources.

At the end, I summarized all the information and show you what I’ve done with my own tree, illustrating how useful this type of testing can be, even for women.

No, women can’t test directly, but we can certainly recruit appropriate men for each line or utilize projects to see if our lines have already tested. I provide tips and hints about how to successfully accomplish that too.

Free for a Limited Time

Who doesn’t love FREE???

The “Squeezing Every Drop out of Y DNA” webinar is free to watch right now, and will remain free through Wednesday, October 14, 2020. On the main Legacy Family Tree Webinar page, here, just scroll down to the “Webinar Library – New” area to see everything that’s new and free.

If you’re a Legacy Farmily Tree Webinar member, all webinars are included with your membership, of course. I love the great selection of topics, with more webinars being added by people you know every week. This is the perfect time to sign up, with fall having arrived in all its golden glory and people spending more time at home right now.

More than 4000 viewers have enjoyed this webinar since yesterday, and I think you will too. Let’s hope lots of people order Y DNA tests so everyone has more matches! You just never know who’s going to be the right match to break down those brick walls or extend your line back a few generations or across the pond, perhaps.

You can view this webinar after October 14th as part of a $49.95 annual membership. If you’d like to join, click here and use the discount code ydna10 through October 13th.

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Disclosure

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.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

23andMe Changes – Download Matches Now or Lose Many

Recently, 23andMe implemented a new subscription model. In their new model, which requires retesting (with a new sample) on the V5 chip, you can pay a yearly subscription fee of $29 to receive up to 4500 matches.

The subscription service is by invitation, which you can see at this link, excerpt below:

click to enlarge

Current Customers Losing Matches and Losing Out

Unfortunately, without notice to customers, 23andMe is reducing (or has already reduced) the match cap for current, existing, customers from 2000 matches to 1500.

In the past, the 2000 cap was minus the number of matches that had not opted-in to sharing. The new 1500 cap is the top 1500 that HAVE opted-in to sharing.

In my case, I went from over 1700 matches to 1500.

In the past, you could actually retain more than 2000 matches if you had issued a sharing invitation or corresponded with your match. Now, all of that work is gone. One of my friends had more than 4700 matches through years of work and now has 1500.

This purge may not have happened to you yet, as they seem to be rolling through the database in stages. Check your matches and if you have more than 1500, work with them immediately.

More Features are Gone

Furthermore, other features have been removed, such as the ability to sort by haplogroup and notes and possibly more. I haven’t tested everything. What’s clear is that current customers are losing matches, features, and are being “downgraded.”

That’s very unfortunate, as this appears to be arm-twisting in order to encourage people to upgrade to the V5 chip and subscription service to retain existing matches.

Many people can’t upgrade because they have died. For example, if you manage a parent’s kit who is deceased, this purge will hurt you immensely because even if you do upgrade, you’ll not be able to phase your matches against their kit.

Preserving Matches

Unless you upgrade and subscribe, you can’t do anything to preserve your actual matches above 1500, but what you can do is to download your matches in spreadsheet format which, for now, still contains your previous matches.

This opportunity won’t last long, as 23andMe support has replied to an inquiry that they will soon be adjusting the download list to match your new 1500 match list.

We don’t know when this will happen, as 23andMe has communicated absolutely nothing about these changes to customers, so download now.

Downloading Your “Aggregate Data”

click to enlarge

On your DNA Relatives page, scroll to the very bottom.

Click on “Download aggregate data.”

A file will be downloaded to your system which will include a significant amount of information from your matches’ profiles. Of course, important information such as matches-in-common won’t be there, but at least something will be.

Download now before it’s too late.

Opinion

23andMe has always been focused on health, with genealogists being a means to an end. That’s why our matches have been limited and functions such as trees, similar to features at the other three major vendors, have never been implemented. This isn’t news.

23andMe has disregarded questions about where my DNA is being stored, which studies it was included in, and for what purposes before they implemented the opt-in system for medical research, as opposed to the opt-out system.

I opted out of research years ago, because I’m not comfortable not knowing how my DNA is being utilized, and by whom. Furthermore, I have an issue with the amount of money 23andMe is being paid for the DNA information I paid to test. 23andMe states that they have received $791 million in venture capital and lists their investors, here. With 12 million customers, that’s about $66 per customer or $99 for opted-in customer.

That being said, I have previously upgraded from V2 to V3 to V4, paying to retest each time, in part, so that I could write about my experiences for my blog followers.

This time, I’m not upgrading and I’m done. They’ve gone too far by reducing the match cap by 25% of the matches we were previously allowed, an artificial barrier not imposed by any other vendor. And that’s assuming you had done nothing to prevent matches from rolling off your list previously. Not only that, but this purge has been done without notice of any type.

I won’t be removing my DNA, because it’s already there (and I’ve paid for it 3 times), but I won’t be answering any questions for the 23andMe surveys which they aggregate for the data, I won’t be spending any money to upgrade, and I certainly won’t be recommending 23andMe except for adoptees and people seeking unknown close family who haven’t found their answers elsewhere.

As Kenny Rogers said; “Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away…”

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Disclosure

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.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Cool DNA Masks – Plus Tips for Mask Issues & Fogged Glasses

With the advent of the President of the US, First Lady, along with multiple aides, workers, and politicians diagnosed with Covid in the last few days – hopefully, mask-wearing will no longer be viewed through the lens of political allegiance. Each day that goes by sees more and more people who were unknowingly exposed testing positive for Covid.

Mask-wearing is the ONE thing we can all do to protect others from the spread of the virus. Other people’s mask-wearing protects us. Our own mask-wearing protects everyone else. Everyone is responsible to prevent the spread of their own germs.

If we can’t keep the President of the United States safe, and he is distanced from everyone outside of his inner circle – no one is safe without barriers like masks.

Clearly, the virus infected one person, who infected another, who infected another, and so forth. And for the record, the virus is aerosolized and can be caught through airborne transmission, meaning 6 feet distance really isn’t adequate. Virus particles stay in the air and float for some time especially in areas with multiple people and poor ventilation. Viruses don’t understand 6 feet and droplets have been measured as far as 26 feet. Article here with links to studies.

We are still learning about this virus, so what we thought were adequate precautions a few months ago really aren’t.

The best strategy for protection is a combination of:

  • face coverings, including outside when in close proximity
  • hand washing
  • as much distance as possible – more than 6 feet
  • exposure for as little time as possible

In other words, limit exposure in any way you can.

Just today, this new article in The Atlantic summarizes what we’ve learned and what we know today, including the following quote:

In study after study, we see that super-spreading clusters of COVID-19 almost overwhelmingly occur in poorly ventilated indoor environments where many people congregate over time — weddings, churches, choirs, gyms, funerals, restaurants, and such — especially when there is loud talking or singing without masks.

This virus is highly contagious, lethal, and often leaves those who do recover with severe disabilities. This group of people even has a name – the Longhaulers. It’s possible that Covid isn’t something that we entirely recover from, but live with for the rest of our lives with unknown consequences.

Stay home. When you absolutely must go out, wear a mask, and maintain as much distance as possible.

Some people are emboldened when they go out and nothing happens, so they repeat the behavior again and again. Eventually, the sheer probability catches up with them. It would be one thing if only the person who refused to act responsibly became ill – but that’s not what happens. By the time they have symptoms, IF they ever have symptoms, they have infected legions of others.

Just look at the circle of people surrounding the President’s super-spreader rose-garden event. We don’t know who had Covid “first’, and we’ll never know the full extent of who infected whom downstream.

Here’s the bottom line, if the most insulated, protected man in America can get Covid – so can you. If you don’t take precautions and protect yourself from those who don’t – it’s only a matter of time until you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time with or after someone who didn’t wear a mask and left Covid behind.

Once the virus begins its rampage through your body, or your family, there is no redo.

This image from the Northshore School District shows how interconnected we all are, whether we realize it or not.

Covid Strikes Close to Home

As I’ve mentioned in earlier articles, I’ve lost family members to Covid. By now, I can’t imagine that anyone in the US doesn’t know someone who has contracted Covid, and probably at least one person who has died. It’s inching its way closer and closer.

On August 25th, my cousin, Bob died. In his early 50s, Bob worked from and stayed home, ordered grocery delivery even, and had no co-morbidities. Yet, he’s gone.

Currently, my husband’s aunt in her 70s is infected, along with half of the people at her assisted living facility. She is not critically ill – yet – but others are and all of them are contagious. More than half of the staff is infected too and everyone is quarantined. They infected their family members before they knew. Their children attend school and take it to school, infecting others who take it home to their families. And so it flows, this monster creeping through the communities in heartland America. Community spread.

It. Doesn’t. Have. To. Be. This. Way.

I can’t even begin to describe the hellish roller coaster we all lived through while Bob was in ICU, night and day, for a month, 31 very long days, 744 agonizing hours, each of which we hoped and prayed for Bob’s recovery.

Our spirits elevated as one symptom would improve, then plunged again as new, life-threatening ones developed. In the end, blood clots and bacterial pneumonia took him. That’s what’s on his death certificate. Covid was only listed as a contributing factor – but he wouldn’t have had pneumonia, pulmonary embolisms or cardiac embolisms were it not for being infected with Covid.

Some might say that he “didn’t’ die of Covid” which is technically true if you look at the first three causes of death on his death certificate. But that statement isn’t accurate. Covid caused all three conditions, and his death, pure and simple.

But what really stole his life was the fact that this virus is running rampant. Bob’s death occurred when we had experienced 179,000 deaths in the US. Just 6 weeks later, we now have another 31,000 deaths for a total of more than 210,000 and 7.5 million US citizens infected. At this rate, with no increase. we’ll see 300,000 deaths around year-end. Happy New Year.

My heart goes out to every single one of those people and their families.

How Did This Happen?

Someone didn’t wear a mask, was probably asymptomatic and never knew they had the virus, at least not before they spread it – to someone else who did the same, to someone else, to someone else…until it got to Bob at a family gathering where one person didn’t wear a mask.

All it takes is one person. YOU are that one person, for bad or for good.

Here’s how this works. For full effect, just substitute your name or your loved one’s name, maybe your parent, for “Bob.”

The first red person was asymptomatic and still thinks all is well and that nothing bad happened, because they have absolutely no idea that their germs infected three other people and ultimately killed Bob, several people away, someone they might not even know.

If just one person in the contact chain between that first red person and before Bob had broken the chain of contagion by wearing a mask, had distanced and been responsible, the virus would not have been able to make its stealthy way to Bob.

JUST ONE PERSON wearing a mask would have made a life-and-death difference.

That second red person, above, wearing a mask, is literally a life-saver. They unknowingly saved Bob’s life – along with who-knows-how-many other people too.

The second red person contracted the virus from the first red person who did not wear a mask, but the second red person who wore a mask didn’t infect the first green person, who wore a mask, who didn’t infect Bob. That’s just it, everyone assumes, if they aren’t sick, that they are green – but they might not be – and someone clearly wasn’t.

In this scenario, Bob is alive today, not a box of ashes. So is the first green person who has no idea how close they came. The red mask-wearing person may or may not have gotten sick, may or may not have died, but either way, they didn’t spread Covid to others – breaking the chain of misery and death.

God bless the mask-wearers.

However, we are not condemned to suffer those 300,000 deaths by the end of the year. We can help ourselves – but it requires everyone to play by the same rules, including wearing masks. Regardless of what others do, YOU can wear a mask and YOU can make a difference. Please do.

I found some cool DNA masks and have some tips for people who are experiencing challenges wearing masks.

Two Cool DNA Masks

It looks like masks are going to be with us for a while – at least throughout the winter.

If we need to wear a mask, it might as well be cool. Cool masks inject an element of fun!

In my case, I want to wear DNA masks. Recently, other than the DNA masks I’ve made for myself, I found two created by members of our community.

Ordering these helps one of our genealogy vendors and a nonprofit stay afloat in these challenging times.

Tested DNA Mask

This mask from Jeannette at BlingGenealogy, normally a vendor at RootsTech, FGS, and other genealogy conferences, is quite substantial. In fact, with two layers plus an interfacing layer in between, it’s the most substantial mask I’ve seen other than N95 masks.

Yes, I have one. I particularly like the tieable elastic ear bands. You can adjust them easily and they aren’t actual elastic which can be irritating, but soft stretchable ties.  I’ve adjusted mine to pull the mask snug but not uncomfortably so. They don’t bother my ears or my glasses earpiece.

There’s more to this story than a cool DNA mask.

Jeannette mentioned that this mask was tested at Northeastern University, testing better than 2 of the 3 medical-grade surgical masks they tested.

I asked how she managed to get this done, and here’s what she said:

Getting Northeastern University in Boston to test them was interesting. I was sewing like a crazy woman and my husband told me about the article he read that Northwestern was testing masks. I think it was one of the first.

I emailed the engineers that were on the project and told them how I constructed the masks them. They didn’t have any masks that were tested using the interfacing filter I use. In fact, the only reason I had that type interfacing was that I use it in my prairie bonnets, so I had huge bolts of it. None was available anywhere for a few months.

They said to send 3 for testing. I was nervous because I had made a lot of them by then. I felt I would need to make a better one to send to everyone if it didn’t test well. I just couldn’t live with myself if it didn’t test well. I had nurses buying them to wear after hours and wear over their N95 masks to extend their use. But wow, my mask tested better than 2 of the 3 commercial medical grade surgical masks they had tested. So relieved!  Then I started working on genealogy themed masks.

You can see her genealogy masks, here. I need a Mayflower mask too, especially this year with 5 Mayflower ancestors.

Jeannette has other VERY COOL items too. Take a look. I own several which you may recognize from earlier articles.

Jeannette will give you $5 off of anything with the coupon code of DNAeXplained.

MitoYDNA Mask

Another DNA mask or neck gaiter is available through the non-profit, mitoYDNA.

For those who don’t know, mitoYDNA.org is a free, volunteer, upload site for both Y and mtDNA that was created when both YSearch and MitoSearch bit the dust due to GDPR. You can read about them, here, and be sure to watch the videos, here, if you are interested.

I keep meaning to write about mitoYDNA in detail, and I will eventually, but for now, suffice it to say that you can view your matches actual results, meaning mtDNA mutations and Y STR values AND integrate with WikiTree.

I like to support nonprofits when I can, and I love the double helix mask, although I don’t own one of these – yet.

Mask Tips and Tricks

I prefer wearing the cloth masks I’ve made because they are an opportunity to reflect something important to me – DNA, genealogy, quilts, cats, etc. I do, however, always keep a few spare paper masks in the car and tucked elsewhere. Sometimes I give them to other people. It’s so easy to forget and walk out of the house without one!

My biggest mask challenge is that my glasses fog up. The problem is becoming more pronounced as the weather cools, and I expect it’s going to get even more difficult during the winter.

Here are three tips and tricks that may help you.

I made a lot, and I mean a wardrobe of face masks that I wear every time I go anyplace. What I need to do, now, is to add some kind of metal stabilization to my existing masks in order to make the top of the mask conform to my face.

Conforming the mask to my face allows it to fit snugly up under my glasses and helps immensely with the fogging issue. Not only that, but the less air that escapes, the less of my germs escape too.

The fewer gaps, the less I’m breathing in other people’s germs. It’s a win-win.

I found 3 ways to retrofit my existing masks easily.

Option 1 – Aluminum Roasting Pan Nose Bridge Hack

I find this first option to be the one that works best for me, sometimes with the addition of Kleenex – option 3.

Buy relatively substantial aluminum roasting pans or salvage aluminum lids, like the one above, from takeout pans. With scissors, cut 7 inch-long (or the length you desire) by one inch wide pieces.

Fold the one-inch width in half to half an inch wide. I used a ruler to make a crisp fold line.

I also trimmed off the sharp edge of the aluminum corner by rounding so it won’t poke me or damage the fabric.

Here’s a YouTube video providing instructions. Although her metal strip is only 4 inches long, the process is the same.

Sew a small pocket on the back of your existing mask along the center top, leaving one end open. I used a 2.5 by 8-inch strip of fabric. I folded the fabric in thirds lengthwise and sewed it to the back of the mask, turning under the raw ends one-quarter inch. I sewed one end down but left the other open to allow room to insert the aluminum stabilizer, as illustrated below.

Just slip the 7-inch (or however long) by one-half inch piece of aluminum into the little pocket and shape to your nose when you wear the mask.

The reason you leave one end of the little pocket open is so that you can remove the aluminum piece to wash the mask, although if you hand wash, you don’t need to remove.

Look how beautifully this conforms to my face and holds its shape, including my cheekbones which prevent my glasses fogging.

Some people make iron-in metal nose-pieces, but I like the idea that I can retrofit the masks I already have, and that I can remove and replace the metal piece to wash the mask with no problem.

Please note that I’ve found that items like twist-ties and pipe cleaners don’t have enough rigidity to maintain their shape on my face and often aren’t long enough to eliminate fogging.

Option 2 – Salvaging the Nose Support from Throw-Away Masks

The blue throw-away paper masks, available here, have a reasonable rigid nose support that’s about 4-5 inches long.

I cut the paper mask when I’m going to throw it away anyway and just remove the nose piece, inserting it in a pocket of my fabric masks. My friend uses bias tape for the pocket.

I like the aluminum nosepieces better, but you may have ready access to these, they are free and hold their shape reasonably well. I’ve also tried twist ties and pipe-cleaners, and they just don’t have enough rigidity.

Option 3 – Kleenex Tissues Hack

Don’t laugh.

If you STILL have issues with your glasses fogging up, and I sometimes do, Kleenex may be your saving grace. If you need something quickly, you can always grab a tissue.

If your glasses are still fogging, it’s because your hot breath is escaping between the mask and the inside of your glasses lens, creating condensation. This probably occurs beyond where the metal nose bridge reaches if it’s less than the width of your mask.

The tissue gently fills in those gaps between the mask and your face, with the elastic ear-piece pulling the mask just tight enough across the Kleenex to prevent your own breath from escaping behind your glasses.

You’ll want soft tissues, not the more rigid, cheaper ones. Just fold the tissue into a thin line the length of the Kleenex and insert the folded Kleenex inside your mask at the top, between your face and the mask.

Please, Wear a Mask

Masks are our best weapon during this pandemic, second only to staying inside and away from other people,

Masks aren’t political statements. If they ever were, they surely aren’t now that the President and many others in his orbit have been diagnosed with this disease. Hopefully, everyone that was a mask-doubter has experienced a reality reset and realizes that masks, if everyone wears them, prevent or at least reduce Covid infections.

Masks say you care about saving lives and are willing to do this one simple thing to protect other people. Other people protect you with their masks. Beyond kind, it’s essential.

Whatever mask you choose, however you decide to do it – be a hero – wear a mask.

Please feel free to share this article and helpful hints with anyone and everyone.

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Disclosure

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.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Quick Tip – Trees, Death Dates and Unintentionally “Private” Ancestors

I manage trees for a number of DNA tests for my relatives at various vendors. DNA and trees work hand-in-hand to identify common ancestors, providing hints to direct you along that path.

If you don’t have a tree at the sites that support trees, meaning FamilyTreeDNA, Ancestry and MyHeritage, please either create one or upload a GEDCOM file from your genealogy software. Many of the features provided by those vendors depend on both your DNA results and the tree you’re linked to. While 23andMe does not support trees, you can include a link to a tree in another site under “settings,” then “enhanced profile” – so do that.

In many cases, especially for Y and mitochondrial DNA at Family Tree DNA, I only enter the relevant line for the tests taken. That way, anyone who matches my cousin can check their tree and easily view the relevant line for the test.

Often, especially if the person tested at my request, I’m the one who has done the genealogy and I don’t research the wives or collateral lines that are not relevant to the test that was taken. I don’t want to do a lot of maintenance work to export only a small branch from my desktop software, so I create each tree by hand from scratch.

Of course, if they have taken a Family Finder test, I upload a more robust tree for them that includes as much of their various lines as I know.

Uploading or creating trees helps us and other genealogists break through their brick walls too.

Ned Matched John – But Encountered a “Privacy” Roadblock

Recently, another Estes tester, we’ll call him Ned, matched the Y DNA of my cousin, John, and emailed me, saying that John’s entire tree was private. I told him that I had not made John’s tree private, so Ned sent me a screenshot.

click to enlarge

There’s no dispute – while the tree itself isn’t private, every single person in the tree is.

What could be causing this? In other words, how do I fix it? That’s not AT ALL what I intended.

Let’s Check the Privacy Settings

The first thing to do, of course, is to check the settings – so I signed in to John’s account.

I checked the privacy settings, located under Account Settings just below the user name of the kit, after you sign in.

According to the Privacy and Sharing settings, John’s tree is not private.

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That seemed odd, so I checked John’s tree myself. It looks fine to me, so I wonder what might be wrong?

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Nothing is showing as private from John’s perspective from within his account.

I decided to send Ned a direct sharing link to see if that made any difference.

The link I shared with Ned made no difference, but reading the information in the red box did! Yay for documentation!

I had not filled in the birth or death dates of the people in question or marked them as deceased. Yes, I know – my bad.

I clicked on the profile and then “View Profile” to verify.

Sure enough – no dates. To edit the profile, click on the pencil.

In order to cause the death date and death location fields to display, you must check the “Deceased” box which then turns blue.

Even if you don’t know the death date or location, marking the person as deceased allows their information to be displayed, such as their name, and NOT to be marked as private.

If you do NOT click the deceased box, the person’s profile WILL be marked “private” and will not be shown to anyone except you, the tester, if you sign in. You’ll have no idea that it isn’t showing to other people when you had intended to share all along.

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I marked each person as deceased and added death dates and locations while I was working on the tree.

Did that take care of the problem?

Let’s take a look from Ned’s perspective.

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Sure did.

In order for people to display, you need to kill them off, again😊

Tree Privacy

Every vendor has a combination of features that control tree privacy and security. You will be able to mark the entire tree private or shareable. You may be able to make it searchable, or not, depending on the vendor.

No vendor will display known living people to others – but the calculations they use to determine who may be living, unless you specifically mark them as deceased, will vary.

Be sure to check all of those factors, and find a way to view the tree from someone else’s perspective to check and be sure it’s functioning the way you expect.

I would never have known that all of John’s ancestors were private if Ned hadn’t contacted me.

At Family Tree DNA, if you view your own tree and you notice that neither dates nor question marks appear in the date field on the pedigree page – that means you have not marked these people as deceased – so no information for them will show to anyone else.

If you see any dates or question marks beneath the names of people on your tree – then that individual’s profile will show and is not private, unless you have marked the entire tree as private.

Check your trees to see if you have an unknown issue. Those valuable trees provide critical information to your matches. They may not contact you to ask why your tree is private – in fact – most won’t. They assume it’s a choice you meant to make.

Be sure you’re not unintentionally driving cousins away. You never know who’s going to have that crucial piece of information or photo, and you want all of your cousin-bait to function as intended!

_____________________________________________________________

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Barbara Mehlheimer’s Letter: A Daughter Found, Photos and a Family Reunited – 52 Ancestors #308

Barbara Mehlheimer (1823-1906) married George Drechsel, apparently twice, once in Germany and once after their arrival in the US. They raised 6 children in Aurora Indiana, the eldest born in 1848 in Germany before their arrival, and the youngest born in 1862 a decade after their arrival.

I wrote about Barbara Mehlheimer and George Drechsel in their own stories back in 2016. When I publish these articles, it’s always with the hope that someplace, someday, somehow they will connect with the right person. Yes, the articles are cousin-bait. Over the years, these articles have been wonderfully effective. It always makes me feel good to provide another researcher with well-documented information.

I’d be fibbing if I told you my motives are entirely altruistic. They aren’t. From time to time, one of those cousins or a complete stranger has something absolutely wonderful to share with me.

Ernest Lent III, my newest cousin, found me recently by posting a comment on an earlier article. He descends from Barbara and George’s lost daughter, baptized as Teresa Maria Drechsel, known better as Mary. Born December 28, 1862, she was living and working at the Kirsch House in Aurora, Indiana in the 1880 census.

The Kirsch House, something akin to a hotel or B&B with rooms to rent, a restaurant and bar, located beside the train depot in the photo above, was owned by Mary’s sister Barbara Drechsel and her husband, Jacob Kirsch.

The building at 506 Second Street doesn’t look a lot different today. But Mary wouldn’t stay in Aurora long. She climbed aboard the train in the station and headed east.

In 1881, the Aurora Lutheran church records show that Mary was living in Cincinnati, then nothing. Radio silence. That is, until recently – 139 years later.

I’d like to share this wonderful journey with you, including our amazing discoveries.

Email from Cousin Ernest

I appreciate your detailed research so much. It certainly helped fill in some gaps in my family history that I assumed were irretrievable.

The few details that I can add to the information about my Great grandmother Mary Drexler are that she was married to Gustav Brehm on September 12, 1883 in Chicago and that she died on April 19, 1953 in Chicago.

I am attaching a photo of Mary Drexler taken around the turn of the century, one of her father George Drexler, and a photo of George at the cooperage where he was employed.

George is the person seated in the bottom row on the far left of the photo. I’m sorry, that particular photo is quite faded now and somewhat damaged.

Wait? What? There Are Photos????

Ernest, I hate to tell you, but these are not just a “few details.” I have never seen these photos before. There are no known photos of George Drechsel. That is, until now.

Do you have ANY idea how important this is to me???

Drum roll….Ernest’s photos….

There are, or were, no known photos of George Drechsel. George had obviously put on his good suit, shirt and bow tie, but his shoes look quite worn.

Here’s George, colorized and enhanced, courtesy of MyHeritage.

George died in 1908 and his wife, Barbara, in 1906. Since she’s not in this photo, and there doesn’t seem to be one of her, I wonder if this picture is George sometime between 1906 and 1908 when he would have been between 83 and 85. He doesn’t quite look that old to me. Maybe more like 60, which would have meant this photo was taken in the 1880s, probably about the same time a photo of Mary was taken. But where was his wife, Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel, then? Maybe her photo has been destroyed, or yet to be discovered.

George Drechsel along with workers at the cooperage, bottom left corner. In the 1850s, there were at least three cooperage companies in Aurora, making barrels for the steamboats plying the Ohio River. The Wymond Cooperage spanned the entire two blocks adjacent Hogan Creek, behind the Kirsch House, beside the train depot. You can see one of their barrels in the photo.

Mary Drechsel probably circa 1881-1883, after moving to Cincinnati and before her marriage. The photo was taken by J.P. Weckman of Cincinnati, Ohio, listed on the back of the photo.

Mary would have taken the train back and forth from Aurora to Cincinnati as did many of the Aurora residents.

Jogging a Memory

Ernest’s photos jogged a memory for me. A couple years ago, another cousin contacted me. She had some photos too, and in those photos were some people I couldn’t identify.

Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel’s daughter, Margaretha (1851-1889) married Herm Rabe and had 7 children before she died. Margaretha’s granddaughter contacted me and sent along photos, some of which neither of us could identify.

In this picture, taken in July of 1898, we know that the tallest young lady in the center rear is Eleanor Rabe who would have been 13 in 1898. But who were the rest of these people. We know they were all Barbara’s grandchildren, according to the note with the photo.

I immediately identified the female at bottom right as my grandmother, Edith Lore, born in 1888, but the rest remained a mystery.

Eleanor Rabe had older siblings, but she is clearly the oldest or at least the tallest here. Her one younger sibling was John who was born in 1887, but this boy’s name is Curt, not John.

Let’s make a list of the first names in the photo:

Back row, left to right.

  • Nora – a child, definitely NOT Nora Kirsch born in 1866 who married Curtis Benjamin Lore. I think this is actually Curtis L. Lore, born in 1891, daughter of Nora Kirsch, sister to Edith on the bottom row. They lived in Rushville and it wouldn’t make sense for one daughter to be in Aurora without the other daughter.
  • Eleanor Rabe (identified by her daughter)
  • Lilly – This is probably Lilly Giegoldt, born in 1883, daughter of Lou Drechsel who married Johann Georg Giegoldt.

Front row, left to right:

  • Stella – Stella Brehm born in 1884 to Mary Drechsel and Gustav Brehm, identified by Ernest.
  • Edna – Edna Brehm born in 1888, daughter of Mary Drechsel.
  • Curt – Curt Brehm born in 1889 to Mary Drechsel.
  • Edith Lohr (misspelled, it’s Lore) who is actually Barbara Melhleimer’s great-granddaughter

Before Ernest’s email, I had absolutely NO IDEA who Stella, Edna and Curt were.

Conversely, Ernest had never seen this photo before either.

Look what arrived next:

Well, Roberta, this is getting a bit surreal – first a picture of your grandmother Edith and my grandmother Edna in the same picture – and now this!

Obviously taken within minutes of your photo….

As you might imagine, we chattered back and forth for a few days.

I asked if Ernest thought this unidentified photo might be Mary.

Ernest replied with the genealogists lament that most of us are all too familiar with:

Unfortunately, I never spoke to my grandmother Edna about her family, my interest in genealogy came too late, I’m afraid.

My Dad told me very little about his grandmother Mary Drexler Brehm. He said she was a very strict lady who practiced, in his words, “tough love.” He said that as a young woman in Chicago she would ride streetcars to pick up big baskets of laundry which she would wash and fold and then ride back to return them. I don’t think he ever knew her well, she lived in Chicago and he grew up in Columbia, South Carolina.

I’m sending a photo of Mary when she was elderly, holding my Dad. My grandmother Edna is standing behind her as is my aunt Edna Louise Lent. Mary lived to be 89 years old.

The second picture (below) is of Mary perhaps in her 30’s – I’m not good at telling someone’s age.

The third picture is a family group. I think Mary is second from the right, my grandmother Edna standing in the center, my aunt standing next to her. I’m wondering if you recognize any of the other women.

The Branch Blossoms

Of course, I was excited to add Mary’s family information to my tree. I had always wondered what happened to the “lost sister.”

Ernest noticed:

Thank you for adding Mary Drexler’s information to your family tree, it seemed to me that it somehow symbolically reunites the family.

Rest assured that I asked Ernest if he has done a DNA test. He has, and we match. He’s in the process of transferring his DNA file to Family Tree DNA where so many of our family DNA tests reside, including Kirsch lines and other family members, along with my Mom.

The Letter

Then, almost as an afterthought, Ernest added something very important:

I have an old letter, written in what appears to be an archaic German script, that I’ve been unable to get translated. It was among the effects that my Dad left when he died and I’m not sure to whom it was written or who sent it.

Several people who speak German have looked at it and were unable to make out the gist of the letter, just pick out a few words. If I can attach a photo of the letter do you know someone who might be able to help?

It could be just a “having a good time, wish you were here” letter but it could also contain valuable information.

OMG a letter? Seriously?

Ernest, send it right away!!!!

Here is the letter in 4 parts – sorry some are upside down and sideways, I couldn’t reconfigure them.

I’ve been wondering what it may say for years now, I’m very hopeful that you can get them translated.

Perhaps an epiphany lies within!

OMG!!!!

Ernest continued:

I’m quite eager to learn what the letter says! I’ve been trying to get an accurate translation for years, thinking that having been preserved for over a hundred years it may have something important to tell us. And even if it doesn’t, I’m excited about it because it’s such a direct connection to our family and our past.

In Her Own Hand 

As it turns out, the letter is from Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel (1823-1906) to her daughter, Theresa Marie Drechsel (Drexel, Drexler), known as Mary, who lived in Chicago at the time.

I had to sit for a while and just stare at this handwriting – holding space with Barbara. This is HER very own handwriting. Not only that, but she COULD write, probably having attended Lutheran school in Goppmansbuhl, Germany in the late 1820s or 1830s. Clearly, she raised her children to speak fluent German. My grandmother, three generations later, still understood German.

These letters to her much-missed daughter were scribed by candlelight using a quill pen dipped in a bottle of ink, at night, when Barbara was bone-tired from dangerous physical work like boiling clothes at 65 years of age. Work, of course, that was never ever done because clothes simply got dirty again and had to be boiled all over again a week or so later. She was “retirement age,” but there was no such thing as retirement.

It looks like Barbara prepared to write by drawing faint lines across the pages to keep her sentences straight – except for page 4 where she stopped drawing guidelines about halfway down the page – and sure enough, her sentences began to list to right. We don’t think about things like that today.

Yet, Barbara’s writing is beautiful, old-world script, despite the fact that she was fatigued and writing in the dark when she had trouble seeing. Other than her photo and fragments of DNA shared by her descendants, this letter is likely the only tangible thing that was actually physically, personally hers that remains on this earth some 132 years after she wrote those pages and almost 197 years after her birth. For most of us today, that’s the equivalent of someplace around the year 2160, with our great-great-great-grandchild unearthing a 4-page handwritten letter we sent today and sharing it with another great-great-great-grandchild – the two of them not previously knowing that each other exists.

Indeed, a mother’s hand – still healing after almost two centuries.

Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel’s Family

Before going further, here’s a list of Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel’s children and grandchildren. These relationships are important in sorting out the contents of the letter.

  • Barbara “Babbit” Drechsel 1848-1930, married Jacob Kirsch in 1866 and operated the Kirsch House, a hotel and restaurant/tavern beside the train depot.
    • Ellenore “Nora” Kirsch 1866-1949, married Curtis Benjamin Lore in 1888 in Aurora. Their first child, Edith was born in 1888 and their second child, Curtis, a daughter, was born in 1891. Two additional daughters, Mildred and Eloise were born in 1899 and 1903, respectively.
    • Georg Martin Kirsch 1868-1949, married Maude Powers in 1888 in Aurora, died in Shelbyville, Indiana in 1949. Son Edgar was born in 1899 and daughter Cecile born in 1892.
    • Johann Edward Kirsch 1870-1924 married Emma Miller in 1891 in Dearborn County, Indiana and lived in Aurora during the 1890s. He died in 1924 in Edwardsport, Knox County, Indiana. They had Juanita born in 1892, Deveraux “Devero” born in 1899. Two daughters born later died as infants.
    • Caroline “Carrie” Kirsch 1871-1926 married Joseph Smithfield Wymond in 1902 in Aurora. The wealthy Wymond family owned one of the cooperage companies and whoo-boy, is there a story about this man that rivals any soap opera. Sadly, they had no children.
    • Margaret Louise “Lou” Kirsch 1873-1940 married Charles “Todd” Fiske in 1899 in Aurora and after his suicide, married Arthur Wellesley. She had no children.
    • Ida Carolina Kirsch 1876-1966 married William “Billy” Galbreath in 1921 and had no children.
  • Margaret Drechsel 1851-1889, married Herm Rabe in 1873, lived between Aurora, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio, just a few miles away.
    • Mary “Mayme” Rabe 1875-1961 married Albert Weatherby in 1892 in Cincinnati, Ohio. They had three daughters, Lorine 1893-1975, Juanity 1896-1986 and Margaret 1904-1994.
    • Frederick George Rabe 1876-1879
    • Louisa B. “Lou” Rabe 1879-1863 married Irvin Isaac Denison in 1919 and had possibly had one child.
    • Caroline Louise “Leah” Engel Rabe 1880-1951
    • Wilhelm J. Rabe 1883-1886
    • Eleanor Rabe 1885-1961 married Guy Nicholas Young and had 2 daughters, Marian 1908-1978, Eleanor 1910-2006 and two sons, Donald 1915-2000 and Guy 1929-1997.
    • John Rabe 1887-1893
  • Caroline “Lina” or “Lena” Drechsel 1854-1938, married Johannes Gottfried Heinke in Cincinnati about 1895. She may have been married previously with one deceased child, according to the census. Much of her life is a mystery.
  • Johann “John” Edward Drechsel (Drexler, Drexel) born 1856 and died sometime after 1877. It’s believed that he married and had a child in 1882, but there is conflicting information. If so, his wife, Elizabeth Louisa “Lizzie” Uffman remarried in 1888 in Cincinnati. One John Drechsel was married, a tailor and living with her parents in the 1880 census.
    • Alfred Drexel born 1882 in Cincinnati
  • Emma Louise “Lou” Drechsel 1859-1949 married Johann Georg Giegoldt in 1881 in Aurora, Indiana. They lived between Cincinnati and Aurora.
    • Barbara Margaretha Josephine “Nettie” Giegoldt 1882-1908
    • Carolina Louise Lillian “Lilly” Giegoldt 1883-1951, married Theodore Ludwig “Louis” Bosse/Busse and had two children, Raymond born in 1911 and Wilbur born in 1915.
  • Theresa Maria “Mary” Drechsel 1862-1953, lived in Cincinnati from 1881-1883. She married Gustav Brehm in Chicago where she spent the duration of her life.
    • Stella Brehm born 1884
    • Edna Marie Brehm born March 4, 1888, died 1975, married Dr. Ernest Lent in 1913 in Iowa.
    • Curtis Brehm born July 1889
    • Drexel (or Drexler) Brehm born 1900

Christoph Saves the Day

Oh, my faithful German friend Christoph. What would I do without him?!

I hate to always be asking questions and favors – but Christoph is always so very gracious. I told Christoph that he didn’t need to translate the letter word for word. Mostly, I wanted to know who it was from and if the contents shed any light on our ancestors or family history. For all we know, it could have been something totally unrelated.

Fortunately, for us, it wasn’t.

From Christoph

Here is my translation of the letter.

I also add the original German text (with all spelling mistakes) below my translation, just for your records. As you will see, some blanks remain and maybe those will be filled by somebody else in the future. But I think that the main content of the letter is clear anyway. I labeled the blanks in [] brackets and also my comments at some places.

In fact, page four (the one with several “Gutbei” at the end) seems to be a separate letter that was first misplaced and thus sent later (see translation). It is clear however, that it is the same handwriting and from the same person. Since she signs as “your good mother Mrs Drexler, Aurora, Indiana”, I would conclude that the letters were written by Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsler (1823-1906).

Her writing suggests that she had some school education, but still several words are misspelled and interpunctation is missing at times. This is true even more for the English words, she even misspells her daughter Mary`s name “Märi”. There is also “Luiswil” instead of “Louisville”, “flauer” instead of “flour” and then “Gutbei” instead of “Goodbye”. In essence, she seems to spell all English words just the way they sound to her as a native German speaker.

Barbara Drechsler also mentions a “Mrs. Kirsch” at two occasions. I do not think that this refers to her daughter (she would have called her by her first name), but rather to her daughter`s mother-in-law Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch (1807-1889), who seems to have been living very close to her house – maybe across the street?

Next, a “Lina” is mentioned. Lina is a short form of “Carolina” and from the letter it seems it is one of her daughters, too. So this would have to be Caroline Drexler married to Gottlieb Heinke. Similarly, “Luise” would have to be Emma “Louis” Drexler Giegoldt. I am not sure for all the other names, but maybe you have a better clue than me.

When Barbara writes “the father”, I do not think it is her own father, she is speaking of, but rather her husband – father of her daughter Mary. I do not know about this in American English, but it certainly was a habit in German still one generation ago. Quite similarly, my grandmother sent my mother letters, speaking about “father”, when in fact she referred to her husband – her daughter`s father.

As for the date of the letter, it only says March 17th, no year. But I think it is possible to draw out the facts and with their help narrow it down to a certain range.

Barbara`s daughter Mary already had a son, so it would have to be after 1883. But Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch, who died in 1889, was still alive. So if I conclude right that she is the “Mrs Kirsch” mentioned, then the letter would have to be from between 1883 to 1889. What do you think?

So much for my comments. I hope you enjoy your ancestor`s voice from the past! (“Roberta and Ernest, I heard that you are interested in your ancestors` past, so I arranged for an interpreter to make my voice heard to you!”)

Best wishes
Christoph

Christoph, I would hug you if I could!

The Translation 

Letter of Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsler – Transcription and Translation

– page 1 –

Aurora, Indiana, March 17th

Dear children, we greet you all warmly from our hearts. I had intended to write for a long time, but had not found the time so far. Here, many are sick from the [“Krüh” – not clear, what it means. Someone suggested to me it could be a dialect word for scabies. Alternatively, it could be a variant of the word “Grippe” (flu), but these are both just guesses.]. Our father has fallen down and has hurt himself at the hand. It was not too bad, but still he is sick now anyway and cannot work. We had to give up going to church. I do not know, who will take it. [That makes no sense to me, but that is what she wrote.] I always have to take care of somebody over there. The Mrs Kirsch has no maidservant. Furthermore, they all have been sick every few weeks. Babedt [Babette?] has had “remidis” in her right leg. Cähri and Eidi have been sick. Luli and her husband are in Louisville, they both have been sick. Mr Roberts has died, he was 69 years old. Brindi is large and fat and our Luise has caught a cold, when hanging up the laundry out in the snow. I have burnt my left hand, while taking the laundry out of the kettle and it was so …

– page 2 –

… heavy and I lifted it diligently and in the necktie and his shirt was just sliding over my left hand. It frizzled and my entire hand was full of blisters. I immediately have put flour on it and said a prayer. Now my hand is well again. All this happened two weeks ago and last week I have already done the laundry again.

Mary, did you write down, what I have written to you? Put it in your bible, where it will remain safe. And if you have not received it, please let me know, since then I will resend it, it takes away the pain and cures. Now we are all healthy again. Mary, have you received my last letter from Christmas time? I had put inside a thaler painting for your little one and if you did receive it, you are a lucky one! Mister Nibaum had to work so hard, so I always am afraid that you may not have received it.

– page 3 –

I want to let you know, how it went on for the dear Lina. They have been sued, since their milk had been found to be too slurry. How could it have been their fault? They sell it just the way it has been sent to them. They had to pay eighty thaler [dollars ?] fine. That was an awful lot of money for something that had not been their fault. Lina has to work pretty hard. She has to wash big […?], in one of them sweet milk, in the next one buttermilk and in the last one butter. Lina would love me to come and help her, if only I could. Mary, please do not write this in any letter, since I am not supposed to know, because they know that it hurts me. A mother is not free from worries and cannot help nonetheless. My writing is not nice, I can only write at night. I hope and wish that you are all at good health and happy and that you all have work. So please be so good and write me soon, Mary, so that we hear something from you.

– page 4 –

Beloved child, we send you all the greetings from us all. I have to write you another time, since I have not received a reply yet. I do not know, what to think. I hope, you are not all fallen ill! If you do not have the time, then you still have your girls. They may write us a few lines. I always get a hiccup, whenever I think about you. So please be so kind once and write us a little letter about how you are doing.

The father has recovered completely, so thank God we are all healthy again.

The Mrs Kirsch has now a diligent maidservant, so now I do not have to go over to her anymore.

I had put this letter aside and then could not find it anymore. So I wrote another one and sent it to you. Now I have found it again, and so I decided to send it to you as well, so that I do not owe it to you. I hope for your reply soon! I remain your good mother Mrs Drexler. Aurora Indiana

Goodbye, dear children all!
Goodbye, dear children all, be diligent and good and pray as well, so that the good God will help you. Remain healthy all of you!
Goodbye, dear children, goodbye!

Unraveling the Threads

I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the original letter in Barbara’s own voice, but we do need to see if we can extract additional information from her letter.

Aurora, Indiana, March 17th

Dear children, we greet you all warmly from our hearts. I had intended to write for a long time, but had not found the time so far. Here, many are sick from the [“Krüh” – not clear, what it means. Someone suggested to me it could be a dialect word for scabies. Alternatively, it could be a variant of the word “Grippe” (flu), but these are both just guesses.]. Our father has fallen down and has hurt himself at the hand. It was not too bad, but still he is sick now anyway and cannot work. We had to give up going to church. I do not know, who will take it. [That makes no sense to me, but that is what she wrote.] I always have to take care of somebody over there.

The Mrs Kirsch has no maidservant. Furthermore, they all have been sick every few weeks.

Mrs. Kirsch is indeed very likely Barbara Drechsel Kirsch’s mother-in-law. In fact, I have no idea who else it could be since Katharina Barbara Lemmert and her husband, Philipp Jacob Kirsch were the original immigrants.

In August 1887, Katharina Barbara Kirsch, then a widow, executed a deed to their farm in neighboring Ripley County. She turned 80 the next day and her son who lived with her was disabled from the Civil War. Both she and her son, according to the deed, were living in Dearborn County. I know that her son lived with his brother, Jacob Kirsch, at the Kirsch House until his death. I’m sure that Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch did as well. She died on February 1, 1889, so the letter would have had to have been written before 1889, given that it was dated March 17th.

Barbara goes on to provide some newsy information about her other children to their sister living in Chicago.

Babedt [Babette?] has had “remidis” in her right leg.

Probably rheumatitis. Babbit is Barbara Drechsel Kirsch’s nickname, listed as such on one census.

Cähri and Eidi have been sick.

Cahri was likely Caroline Kirsch, the daughter of Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, born in 1871 who lived at the Kirsch House.

Eidi is probably Ida, born in 1876, also Barbara Drechsel Kirsch’s daughter.

Luli and her husband are in Louisville, they both have been sick.

I’m presuming this is Emma Louise Drechsel, known as “Aunt Lou” who was married to Johann Georg Giegoldt in 1881. They had two daughters, born in 1882 and 1883. I wonder why Barbara didn’t mention the girls.

Mr. Roberts has died, he was 69 years old.

Based on the 1880 census, I can’t find a Roberts in that region that would be roughly the correct age. I wonder why this was important to Mary and her mother. Generally, we find the family interacting with German families.

Brindi is large and fat and our Luise has caught a cold, when hanging up the laundry out in the snow.

Caroline Louise Rabe, born in 1880, would have been the age to hang clothes on the line. I have no clue who Brindi refers to. Everyone in this family had nicknames, some of which bore little or no resemblance to their actual given name.

I wonder if Brindi is a pet or perhaps a pregnant daughter. The only daughter pregnant during this time would have been Margaretha Drechsel, whose nickname I don’t know, who had Eleanor Rabe in March of 1885 and John Rabe in September of 1887. Of course, Mary, the recipient of the letter was pregnant with Stella who was born in June of 1884 and Edna Marie born on March 4, 1888, so she would not have been the person being referred to as “Brindi.”

I have burnt my left hand, while taking the laundry out of the kettle and it was so …

– page 2 –

… heavy and I lifted it diligently and in the necktie and his shirt was just sliding over my left hand. It frizzled and my entire hand was full of blisters. I immediately have put flour on it and said a prayer. Now my hand is well again. All this happened two weeks ago and last week I have already done the laundry again.

This sounds just horrible, but provides perspective on the daily dangers of simply doing laundry. Boiling laundry. Probably miserable at best and horrid in the summer. I had to look the definition of frizzle up and it means to “fry or grill with a sizzling noise.” Ugh – my hand hurts this many years later just thinking about that boiling water. Poor Barbara.

I have never heard of flour as a remedy for burns but googling reveals it as a folk remedy with many warnings against this methodology today.

Mary, did you write down, what I have written to you? Put it in your bible, where it will remain safe. And if you have not received it, please let me know, since then I will resend it, it takes away the pain and cures. Now we are all healthy again.

I surely wonder about that remedy. Was it the flour remedy she was referring to, or something else? Apparently, something she sent earlier. I hope the family still has this Bible someplace, probably given to Mary in the church in Aurora when she was confirmed about 1873 or 1874.

Mary, have you received my last letter from Christmas time? I had put inside a thaler painting for your little one and if you did receive it, you are a lucky one! Mister Nibaum had to work so hard, so I always am afraid that you may not have received it.

“Little one” tells us that Mary had at least one child, so that dates this letter after 1884. Mary’s first child, Stella, was born in June of 1884. I was unable to figure out what a thaler painting is or was, but a thaler was the official coin in Germany until 1908. It could be interpreted as roughly similar to a dollar at that time, which of course was worth much more than a dollar today.

– page 3 –

I want to let you know, how it went on for the dear Lina. They have been sued, since their milk had been found to be too slurry. How could it have been their fault? They sell it just the way it has been sent to them. They had to pay eighty thaler [dollars ?] fine. That was an awful lot of money for something that had not been their fault. Lina has to work pretty hard. She has to wash big […?], in one of them sweet milk, in the next one buttermilk and in the last one butter. Lina would love me to come and help her, if only I could. Mary, please do not write this in any letter, since I am not supposed to know, because they know that it hurts me. A mother is not free from worries and cannot help nonetheless.

I am presuming Lina would be Caroline “Lina” Drechsel who married Johannes Gottfried Heinke in Cincinnati, although that wasn’t until 1895. There’s certainly a big piece of Lina’s life missing during the 1880s. In the 1880 census she was living with the Heinke family as a servant and noted as a cousin. In 1881 she is shown in the City Directory as a housekeeper. Maybe the Lina that Barbara references is someone else since it does refer to “they,” inferring that Lina was married. There may be an earlier marriage we don’t know about. All of the pieces don’t add up for her. Maybe this mystery will be solved one day too.

My writing is not nice, I can only write at night. I hope and wish that you are all at good health and happy and that you all have work. So please be so good and write me soon, Mary, so that we hear something from you.

– page 4 –

Beloved child, we send you all the greetings from us all. I have to write you another time, since I have not received a reply yet. I do not know, what to think. I hope, you are not all fallen ill! If you do not have the time, then you still have your girls. They may write us a few lines. I always get a hiccup, whenever I think about you. So please be so kind once and write us a little letter about how you are doing.

I suspect hiccup means that she cried.

The word “girls” in this sentence suggests that Mary had already had her second child who was born on March 4, 1888, unless she had a child in 1886 that we don’t know about that died.

This is perplexing because this page appears to be the older letter that Barbara enclosed, written before March 17th. We know that the original letter was dated March 17th, and that Barbara had not heard from Mary or at least had not received a letter since Christmas. Mary’s second child was born March 4th, 1888.  We also know that Mrs. Kirsch died in February 1889, so this entry is confounding. Mary’s first child, Stella, was born in June of 1884. No letter year scenario fits all three pieces of evidence well.

The father has recovered completely, so thank God we are all healthy again.

The Mrs. Kirsch has now a diligent maidservant, so now I do not have to go over to her anymore.

I would presume this means Barbara Drechsel Kirsch’s mother-in-law again.

I had put this letter aside and then could not find it anymore. So I wrote another one and sent it to you. Now I have found it again, and so I decided to send it to you as well, so that I do not owe it to you. I hope for your reply soon! I remain your good mother Mrs Drexler. Aurora Indiana

Goodbye, dear children all!
Goodbye, dear children all, be diligent and good and pray as well, so that the good God will help you. Remain healthy all of you!
Goodbye, dear children, goodbye!

It’s of note here that Barbara did not mention Margaretha who was married to Herm Rabe, unless that’s the reference to Brindi who is fat. That might place this letter in 1887 when Margaretha was pregnant.

On a sad note, Barbara also didn’t mention her son, John. We know little about him other than that he was living in Cincinnati by 1877 according to the Aurora church records. He, or at least someone by his name, is listed in the city directory there as a tailor, and is married in 1880 to Lizzy Uffman, living with her parents. Their one child, Alfred, was born in April of 1882. John is not shown in the City Directory after 1881, but a note in the Cincinnati Enquirer Newspaper on Sept. 5., 1882 states that a massive fire in Aurora burned an entire block, a factory, hotel and other buildings. The article says that the property of John Drexel was damaged. There is no other known John Drexel, or similar surname, in Aurora, and the last we knew of John, he was living in Cincinnati. It’s possible that they meant his father, George.

Even more confusing is the May 6, 1880, Cincinnati Daily Star report under the “Aurora, Indiana” heading that says, “Mr. Jacob Kirsch and wife attended the funeral of Mr. John Dreckler in Cincinnati yesterday (Wednesday.)”

If this John Dreckler is Barbara Kirsch Drechsel’s brother, which is likely, then the Alfred born in 1882 is not his child. That John Drechsel/Drexel/Drexler may be someone entirely different. We do know that John’s wife remarried in 1888. There may be multiple John Drechsel’s involved – and “ours” remains a mystery.

A Gift from the Past Reunites Our Family

I’m extremely grateful to Ernest for reaching out and sharing. It allowed us both to connect the leaves and branches and flesh out our trees. Ernest summed this up just perfectly:

Thank you for adding Mary Drexler’s information to your family tree, it seemed to me that it somehow symbolically reunites the family.

This is so gratifying! What a direct connection to our family, to hear our great grandmother speaking to her children over the years through her letter.

First of all, please convey my deepest thanks to Christoph for opening up this insight into our family with his wonderful translation. And to you Roberta for making this happen. I’ve been wanting to know the contents of the letter for years now.

It makes no great pronouncements, It’s just a simple newsy family letter and it’s all the more intimate because it tells of incidents that occurred, accidents that befell them, what’s going on with the neighbors.

Barbara telling Mary about the lawsuit involving Lina and the milk (but don’t tell anybody else because I’m not supposed to know) is such a natural thing to do.

Barbara, possibly in her mid-sixties at the time the letter was written, is still doing laundry by boiling the clothing in a kettle, heavy work and dangerous too.

She has sent something to Mary which she’s supposed to write down and put in her bible which “takes away the pain and cures.” A spell or charm perhaps.

There is such a lot of information to be gleaned from the letter – actually two letters, it seems.

There’s a clue within the letter that may make it possible to narrow down the year it was written. The first paragraph makes mention of so many people being sick and even one death.

The “Russian Flu” was an epidemic that swept through Indiana starting in late 1889 and lasted through 1892. There were hundreds of deaths in Indiana attributed to the flu in 1890. The epidemic spiked in January of 1892 with over 400 deaths in that month alone and then began to decline. It’s possible that the sicknesses mentioned were a result of the flu.  Kind of interesting considering our current pandemic.

Ernest is right. Further research shows that there was a significant spike in deaths in January of 1888 as well, even higher than the peak of the flu in January of 1890. If the March 17th date was in 1888, that would accommodate almost all of our date hints:

  • Written before Mrs. Kirsch died on February 1, 1889 – so the letter must be 1888 or earlier because Mrs. Kirsch was deceased by March 1889.
  • After Mrs. Kirsch deeds her land and moves to town in August 1887.
  • Barbara refers to the “little one” in her letter when describing a thaler painting sent the previous Christmas. Mary’s second child was born on March 4, 1888 and the first in 1884.
  • Page 4, apparently an earlier letter, clearly refers to “girls,” so this had to be after the second daughter’s birth on March 4, 1888 unless an unknown child was born in 1886 and subsequently died. It’s also possible that page 4 is actually from a later letter.
  • However, if Barbara has not heard from Mary, by letter, since Christmas, how did she know that Mary had given birth to a daughter on March 4th, 1888 in order to refer to “girls?” A telegraph message sent to the train depot might be a possibility, or page 4 was from a later letter.
  • Indiana deaths experienced a spike in January 1888, and the March 17th letter refers to the illnesses and death, noting that in March, people are better.

It’s so much fun to peep through that remaining keyhole into their daily lives. My best guess here is that the Match 17th letter was written in 1888. Regardless, it was written near that time and provides us with a rare and wonderful glimpse into Barbara’s life, narrated in her own words.

Thanks again to Ernest and Christoph – and everyone who saved those letters!

Addendum: German Letter Transcription

– Seite 1 –

Aurora Indiana März den 17.

Liebe Kinder seid Alle Herzlich von uns
allen [gegrüßt]. Ich wolde schon lange schreiben, und kam
nicht dazu. Hier sind vühle Laide krank an der
Krüh, unser Vater ist gefahlen aber Er
hat sich weng weh gethan an der Hand
das hätt nichts aus gemacht aber doch ist Er
krank und kan nichts mehr schaffen wir musten
die Kirche auf geben wer es nimt das weis
ich noch nicht, ich mus hald imer wen drüben
aus helfen die Misses Kirsch hat keine Macht(=Magd)
Sie wahren auch Alle baar Wochen krank
Die Babedt [Babette?] hat remidis in rechten Bein
gehabd die Cähri und Eidi wen krank die
Luli und Ihr Mann die sind in Loiswill
Sie wahren baide krank. Der Raberts
ist gestorben Er war 69 Jahre ald die Brindi
st gros und fett u. unsere Loise hat sich
weng verköldet mit Ihren wasch aufhängen
in den grosen Schnee. Ich habe mich gebründ
in meine Linke Hand ich habe die Wasch
aus den Kössel gehoben, und das wahr, so…

– Seite 2 –

…schwär, und ich hebd hald dichdig und in den
schlips über und sein Hemt [stok?] schleidet
sich gerahte über meine Linke Hand das
hat gebüzeld es wahr die ganze Hand vol
Blasen, ich hab gleich recht Flauer drauf,
und habse besprochen jezt ist Sie gans gut
das wahr in zwei Wochen alles geschehen ich
habe die lezte Woche schon wieder gewa-
schen, Märi hast Du das auf geschrieben
wo ich Dir geschikt hab, lechs in die Bibel
da bleibd es sicher, und hast Du es nicht so
las mirs wissen, so wil ich Dirs schücken
den das nimt den schmärzen und heild
so sind wir Goott sei dank wieder
Alle Gesund. Märi hast Du den letzten
Brif beken zu Weihnachten ich habe
für den Kleinen ein Dallerbild einge-
legt wen dus bekomen hast, so machst
du ein großen Pungt. Der Mister
Nibaum die hatten, so zu thun gehabd
das wahr arch, da denk ich immer Ihr habd
den Brif nicht bekomen.

– Seite 3 –

Ich wil Euch noch schreiben wie der
Liebe Lina noch gegangen ist, die sind
verklagt worden über die Milch weil
sie zu din wahr, was haben Sie dafür
könt wie Sis schücken, so verkaufens Sie
und mussten 80. Achtzich daler bezahlen
wahr das nicht ein Sinden Geld wo Mann
nichts davür kan, die Lina mus noch recht hart
schaffen Sie hat so grose [Höfen?] zu waschen
in ein ist Sismichl in ander Butter Milch
in andern Butter, die Lina nehmet mich gern
wen Ich komen könt Märi schreib nichts in kein
Brif den ich sol nichts wissen davon weil Sie
wissen, daß mirs wehe thut. Eine Mutter ist n
nicht frei von sorchen, und kann doch
nichts helfen. Mein Schreiben ist nicht schön
icht mus nur Nachts schreiben. Ich hof und
Wünsch das Ihr Alle recht Gesund und zufrieden
seid und und wen Ihr alle Arbeit habd. So
sei so gut und schreib bald Märi daß wir
auch was fon Eüch hören

– Seite 4 –

Hertz gelibde Kind seit Alle herzlich
gegrüsset von u[ns] Allen.
Ich mus noch ein mahl an Eüch schreiben, weil ich
noch keine Antwort bekomen habe. Ich weis nicht was ich
denken sol, Ihr werdet doch nicht Alle krank sein! Wen
du nicht Zeit hast, so hast du doch eine Mädchen die könen
doch so vühl thun und konen uns ein baar Zeilen schreiben
Ich hab immer Hetscher wen Ich an Dich denk, so ist es
vorbei. So seid doch ein mahl so gut und schreibt uns bald ein
Briflein wie es mit Eüch geht. Der Vader ist wieder gans
gesund, so sind wir Gott sei Dank Alle gesund. Die Misses
Kirsch hat eine fleisiche Macht jezt brauch Ich nicht mehr zu
nüber gehen. Ich habe diesen Brif weggelecht und hab
Ihm nimmer finden könen, so hab ich em anderen geschrieben
und an Euch geschückt, jezt hab ich im gefunden, und so
wil Ich im auch wieder zu Euch schücken so habd mir
nichts vir ungut. Ich Hof eine badige Andwort. Ich ver-
bleibe Eüere gute Mutter Misses Drexler. Aurora Indiana

Gutbei Libe Kinder Alle!
Gutbei liebe Kinder Alle seid Fleisich
und gut und dut auch Beeden, das Eüch
der Liebe Goott auch Hülft seid alle gesunnt
Gutbai Liebe Kinder Gutbai.