Concepts – Genetic Distance

At Family Tree DNA, your Y DNA and full sequence mitochondrial matches display a column titled Genetic Distance.  One of the most common questions I receive is how to interpret genetic distance.

GD example 2

Many people mistakenly assume that genetic distance is the number of generations to a common ancestor, but that is NOT AT ALL what genetic distance means.

Genetic distance is how many mutations difference the participant (you) has with that particular match. In other words, how many mismatches in your DNA compared with that person’s DNA.

White the concept is the same, Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA Genetic Distance function a little differently, so let’s look at them separately.

Y DNA Genetic Distance

I wrote about genetic distance as part of a larger article titled “Concepts – Y DNA Matching and Connecting with your Paternal Ancestor,” but I’m going to excerpt the genetic distance portion of that article here.

You’ll notice on the Y DNA matches page that the first column says “Genetic Distance.”

STR genetic distance

Looking at the example above, if this is your personal page, then you mismatch with Howard once, and Sam twice, etc.

Counting Genetic Distance

Genetic distance for Y DNA can be counted in different ways, and Family Tree DNA utilizes a combination of two scientific methods to provide the most accurate results. Let’s look at an example.

In the methodology known as the Step-Wise Mutation Model, each difference is counted as 1 step, because the mutation that caused the difference happened in one mutation event.

STR genetic distance calc

So, if marker 393 has mutated from 12 to 13, the difference is 1, so there is one difference and if that is the only mutation between these two men, the total genetic distance would be 1.

However, if marker 390 mutated from 24 to 26, the difference is 2, because those mutations most likely occurred in two different steps – in other words marker 390 had a mutation two different times, perhaps once in each man’s line.  Therefore, the total genetic distance for these two men, combining both markers and with all of their other markers matching, would be 3.

Easy – right?  You know this is too easy!

Some markers don’t play nice and tend to mutate more than one step at a time, sometimes creating additional marker locations as well.  They’re kind of like a copy machine on steroids. These are known as multi-copy (or palindromic) markers and have more than one value listed for each marker.  In fact, marker 464 typically has 4 different values shown, but can have several more.

The multiple mutations shown for those types of multi-copy markers tend to occur in one step, so they are counted as one event for that marker as a whole, no matter how much math difference is found between the values. This calculation method is called the Infinite Alleles Mutation Model.

str genetic distance calc 2 v2

Because marker 464 is calculated using the infinite alleles model, even though there are two differences, the calculation only notes that there IS a difference, and counts that difference as having occurred in one step, counting only as 1 in genetic distance.

However, if one man also has one or more extra copies of the marker, shown below as 464e and 464f, that is counted as one additional genetic distance step, regardless of the number of additional copies of the marker, and regardless of the values of those copies.

STR genetic distance calc 3 v2

With markers 464e and 464f, which person 2 carries and person 1 does not, the difference is 17 and the generational difference is 1, for each marker, but since the copy event likely happened at one time, it’s considered a mutational difference or genetic distance of only 1, not 34 or 2. Therefore, in our example, the total genetic distance for these men is now 5, not 8 or 38.

In our last example, a deletion has occurred, which sometimes happens at marker location 425. When a deletion occurs, all of the DNA at that location is permanently deleted, or omitted, between father and son, and the value is 0.  Once gone, that DNA has no avenue to ever return, so forever more, the descendants of that man show a value of zero at marker 425.

STR genetic distance calc 4 v2

In this deletion example, even though the mathematical difference is 12, the event happened at once, so the genetic distance for a deletion is counted as 1. The total genetic distance for these two men now is 6.

In essence, the Total Genetic Distance is a mathematical calculation of how many times mutations happened between the lines of these two men since their common ancestor, whether that common ancestor is known or not.

Family Tree DNA provides a the TIP calculator which helps estimate the time to a common ancestor using a proprietary algorithm that includes individuals marker mutation rates.  You can read more about this in the Y DNA Concepts article or in the TIP article.

Please note that on July 26, 2016 Family Tree DNA introduced changes in how the genetic distance is calculated for some markers to be less restrictive.  You can read about the changes here.

Mitochondrial DNA

GD mt example

Mitochondrial DNA Genetic Distance is a bit different. In order to be shown as a match, you must be an exact match in the HVR1 and HVR2 regions, so there is no genetic distance shown, because there are no mutations allowed.

At the full sequence level, you are allowed 4 or fewer mismatches to be considered a match.

Genetic distance means how many mismatches you have to another person when comparing your 16,569 mitochondrial locations to theirs. The full sequence test tests all of those locations.

Of course, in general, fewer mismatches mean you are more closely related than to someone with more mismatches. I said generally, because I have seen a situation where a mutation occurred between mother and child, meaning that individual had a genetic distance of 1 when compared to their mother, along with anyone who matched their mother exactly. Clearly, they are far more closely related to their mother than to their mother’s matches.

One of the most common questions I receive about genetic distance is how to convert genetic distance to time – meaning how long ago am I related to someone who has a genetic distance of 1 or 2, for example.

The answer is that it depends and it varies widely, very widely.  I know, I hate the “it depends” answer too.

Turning to the Family Tree DNA Learning Center, we find the following information:

    • Matching on HVR1 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last fifty-two generations. That is about 1,300 years.
    • Matching on HVR1 and HVR2 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last twenty-eight generations. That is about 700 years.
    • Matching exactly on the Mitochondrial DNA Full Sequence test brings your matches into more recent times. It means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last 5 generations. That is about 125 years.

I think the full sequence estimate is overly generous. I seldom find identifiable matches, and I do have my genealogy back more than 5 generations on my mitochondrial line and so do many of my clients.

My 4 times great-grandmother, or 6 generations distant from me (counting my mother as generation 1), Elisabetha Mehlheimer, was found living in Goppmansbuhl, Germany when she gave birth to her daughter in 1823. This puts Elisabetha’s birth around 1800, or possibly earlier, very probably in the same village in Germany.  German church records compulsively identify people who aren’t residents, and even residents who originally came from another location.

Part of my mitochondrial full sequence matches are shown below.

GD my results

Looking at my 13 exact matches, it becomes obvious very quickly that my matches aren’t from Germany, they are primarily from Scandinavia. Not at all what I expected. I created this chart to view the match locations. I have omitted anyone who did not provide either location or oldest ancestor information. Fortunately, Scandinavians are very good about participating fully in DNA testing and by and large, they want to get the most out of their results. The way to do that, of course is to include as much information as possible so that we can all benefit by sharing and collaboration.

Match Genetic Distance Location Birth Year of Most Distant Ancestor
TS 0 Norway 1758
Svein 0 Norway 1725
Bo-Lennart 0 Norway 1725
Per 0 Norway 1718
Hakan 0 Sweden 1716
Ragnhild 0 Sweden 1857
Constance 0 Russia
Teresa 0 Poland 1750
Valerie 0 Norway 1763
Vladimir 0 Russia
Rose 0 Sweden 1845
IRL 0 Norway 1702
Lynn 0 Norway 1696
Anastasia 1 Russia above Georgia 1923
AJ 1 Sweden 1771
Marianne 1 Sweden 1661
Inga 1 Sweden 1691
Inger 1 Sweden
Marianne 1 Sweden 1661
Maria 1 Poland C 1880
Marie M. 1 Bavaria, Germany 1836
Tomas 2 Probably Czech Republic 1880
DL 2 Sweden 1827

A quick look at my matches map shows the distribution of my matches more visually, although not everyone includes their matrilineal ancestor’s geographic information, so they don’t have pins on the map. In my case, I’m lucky because several people have included geographical information which makes the maps very useful. The white pin is where Elisabetha Mehlheimer lived.  Red pins are exact matches, orange are one mutation difference and yellow are two.

GD matches map

I am very clearly not related to these individuals within 6 generations, and probably not for several more generations back in time. The one match from Germany is one mutation different, which certainly could mean that we share a common ancestor and her line had a mutation while mine line didn’t. Wurttemburg and Bavaria do share borders and are neighboring districts in southern Germany as illustrated by this 1855 map of Bavaria and Wurtemberg.

GD Bavaria Wurttemberg

Unfortunately, there is no “rule of thumb” for mitochondrial DNA genetic distance relative to years and generations distant. In other words, there is no TIP calculator for mtDNA. I did some research some years ago attempting to quantify MRCA (most recent common ancestor) time and answer this very question, but the only research papers I was able to find referred to studies on penguins.

How Far is Far?

In some cases, I know that a common ancestor actually reached back hundreds to thousands of years. Of course, relationships in female lines are more difficult to “see” since the surname changes with every generation, historically. In Y DNA, you can look at the surname of the participant and determine immediately if there is a likelihood that you share a common paternal ancestor if the surname matches. Let’s look at some mitochondrial examples.

I recently had a client that matched her haplogroup assignment exactly, with no additional unusual mutations found as compared to the expected mitochondrial mutation profile. She had several exact matches. Her haplogroup? H7a2, which was formed about 2500 years ago, with a standard deviation of 2609, according to the supplemental date from the paper, “A “Copernican” Reassessment of the Human Mitochondrial DNA Tree from its Root” by Doron Behar, et al, published in The American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 90, April 6, 2012. This means that H7a2 could have been formed anytime from recently to about 5000 years ago, with 2500 being the most likely and best fit.

Standard deviation, in this case, means the dates could be off that much in either direction, but the further from 2500, the less likely it is to be accurate.

Conversely, another recent client was haplogroup U2b formed roughly 30,000 years ago, with a standard deviation of 5,800 years. The client had 16 differences, which averages to about one mutation every 2,000 years. Is that what actually happened or did those mutations happen in fits and starts? We don’t know.

A last example is my own DNA with two relevant differences from my haplogroup profile, J1c2f, which was formed about 2,000 years ago with a standard deviation of 3,100 years. Technically, this means my haplogroup might not be formed yet (joke) since 2,000 years ago minus 3,100 years hasn’t happened yet. While that obviously can’t be true, the standard deviation is relevant in the other direction. In essence, what this says is that my haplogroup could be fairly young, probably is about 2000 years old, and could be as old as 5,100 years. Given the clustering, it’s likely that J1c2f was formed in Scandinavia and a few descendants, at some time, migrated into continental Europe and Russia.

GD extra mutations

By the way, the 315 “extra mutations” insertions are too unstable to be considered relevant. They are not included in the genetic distance count in your results.

At the other end of the spectrum, I know of one person who has a mutation between themselves and an aunt and a different mutation when compared with a sister.  Furthermore, those mutations occurred in the HVR1 and HVR2 regions, meaning that these women don’t show as matches to each other until you get to the coding region where the full range of full sequence matches are shown and 4 mutations are allowed.  This caused a bit of panic initially, but was perfectly legitimate and understandable once the actual results were compared. Is this rare? Absolutely. Is it possible? Absolutely.

As you can see, there just isn’t any good measure for mitochondrial DNA mutation timing.  Mutations don’t happen on any time schedule, unfortunately.

I use genetic distance as a gauge for relative relatedness, no pun intended, and I keep in mind that I might actually be more closely related to someone with a slightly further genetic distance than an exact match.

While you can’t compare your actual results to matches online, you can contact your matches to compare actual results.  In my case, I developed a branching tree mutation chart that showed that a group of the people in Sweden with one mutation difference actually all shared an additional mutation that I, and my exact matches, don’t have.  In other words, this Swedish group forms a new branch of the tree and will likely, someday, be a new subhaplogroup of J1c2f.

Sometimes digging a little deeper reveals fascinating patterns that aren’t initially evident.


When working with genetic distance, look for patterns, not only in terms of geography, but in terms of matching mutations and grouping of individuals.  Sometimes the combination of mutation patterns and geography can reveal information that could not be obtained any other way – and may lead you to your common ancestor, with or without a name.

For example, I know that my common ancestor with these people probably lived someplace in Scandinavia about 2000 years ago, based upon both the clustering and the branching.  How my ancestor got to Germany is still a mystery, but one that might potentially be solved by looking at the history of the region where my known ancestor is found in 1800.

Happy hunting!

Margaret Lentz (1822-1903), The Seasons and the Sundays, 52 Ancestors #124

Margaret Elizabeth Lentz was born on December 31, 1822, New Year’s Eve, in Pennsylvania, probably in Cumberland County near Shippensburg, to Jacob Lentz and Johanna Fridrica Ruhle or Reuhle. Her mother went by the name Fredericka for her entire lifetime, with the exception of the 1850 census where she was listed as Hannah. Using the middle name is the normal German naming pattern.

Margaret Elizabeth, however, was different, parting for some reason with German naming tradition, she was always called by her first name, Margaret.

Margaret was the 7th of 10 children born to her parents, although two of her siblings had died before she was born. Her brother Johannes died as a small child in Germany in 1814, just two and a half years old. In 1813, Fredericka had a daughter, Elizabeth Katharina who would die on the ship coming to America at age 4 or 5. It appears that Margaret Elisabeth was named, in part, for her deceased sister.

Jacob and Fredericka had immigrated from Germany, beginning in the spring of 1817 and finally arriving in January 1819 after being shipwrecked in Norway and surviving two perilous voyages. Their trials and tribulations arriving in America are documented in Fredericka’s article. In 1822 when Fredericka had Margaret, the couple would have completed their indenture to pay for their passage and would likely have been farming on their own, although we don’t find them in either the 1820 nor the 1830 census in either Pennsylvania or Ohio.

Pennsylvania to Ohio

Jacob and Fredericka and their entire family moved from Shippensburg to Montgomery County in about 1829 or 1830.

Fredericka would have been about 7 or 8 years old and probably found riding in a wagon to a new home in a new location quite the adventure. Perhaps she laid in the back on her tummy, kicking her bare feet in the air and watched the scenery disappear.  Or perhaps she rode on the seat with the driver, probably her father or oldest brother, and watched the new landscape appear in the distance. Maybe she cradled a doll on her lap, or maybe a younger sibling.

Margaret Lentz map PA to Indiana

At about 10 miles a day, the trip would have taken about 40 days. They may have made better time, or worse, depending on the weather.

Margaret’s mother may have been pregnant for her last sibling, Mary. For all we know, Mary may have been delivered in that wagon. I shudder to think.

We find Margaret’s parents on tax records beginning in the mid-1830s in Madison Township in Montgomery County, Ohio where they would purchase land from their son, Jacob F. Lentz in 1841.

Margaret Lentz 1851 Montgomery co map

Cousin Keith Lentz provided the 1851 tract map above with an arrow pointing to Jacob Lentz’s land, with his name misspelled, but located in the correct location on Section 3, according to deeds.


We don’t have much direct information about Margaret during this time, other than we know the family was Brethren. Jacob and Fredericka had been Lutheran when they left Germany, according to church records, but sometime after that and before their deaths, they converted to the Brethren religion.

Their two oldest children were not Brethren, but the rest of their children were practicing Brethren for the duration of their lifetimes, except for the youngest, Mary, who died a Baptist in Oklahoma – although she assuredly was raised Brethren if her older siblings were.

Jacob and Fredericka’s eldest children, Jacob L. and daughter Fredericka, were born in 1806 and 1809, respectively. Son Jacob remained Lutheran for his lifetime, from the age of 17, according to his obituary. This suggests that perhaps his parents converted when Jacob F. was a teenager, so maybe in the early/mid 1820s. If that is the case, Margaret would have been raised from childhood in the Brethren Church, so she likely never knew anything different.

The Brethren, as a general rule, avoided records like the plague, including church records and what we know today as civil records. They didn’t like to file deeds, wills and especially did not like to obtain marriage licenses. However, because Jacob and Fredericka did not begin life as Brethren and the German Lutherans recorded everything, perhaps they were more tolerant of those “necessary evils.” At least some of their children did obtain marriage licenses and deeds were registered, albeit a decade later, although Jacob had no will.

The Happy Corners Brethren Church was located about two miles from where Margaret lived with her family, at the intersection of current Shiloh Springs and Olive Road on the western edge of Dayton. At that time, Happy Corners was known as the Lower Stillwater congregation, named for nearby Stillwater River.

Lentz Jacob church to home

The current church was built in 1870. At the time Margaret attended, the church was a log cabin and Margaret had moved to Indiana decades before the new church was built.


Margaret is recorded in the 1840 census with her family, or at least there is a female recorded in an “age appropriate” location for Margaret. On the last day of 1840, her 18th birthday, she married Valentine Whitehead III, the son of another Brethren family.

I can’t help but wonder if there is some significance to the fact that she married ON her 18th birthday. Was her family for some reason opposed to the union and this was the first day she could marry without her father’s signature? Did he refuse to sign on “Brethren” principles or for some other, unknown, reason?

Was this birthday marriage a celebration or a not-so-covert act of rebellion?

Valentine Whitehead was born on February 1, 1821, so he was about 23 months older than Margaret.

The Whitehead land can be seen on the 1851 plat map about a mile and a half distant from Jacob’s land, in section 12, to the east. The families would have been near-neighbors and given that there was only one Brethren Church in the vicinity, they assuredly attended the same church. Margaret and Valentine had probably known each other since they were children.

Elkhart County, Indiana

The newly married couple wasted little time leaving Ohio and settling in Elkhart County, Indiana. That trip took between a week and two weeks by wagon according to other settlers who undertook that same journey. They were among the pioneers in Elkhart County, but they weren’t the first who had arrived nearly a dozen years earlier and spent their first winter in lean-tos before they could build rudimentary cabins. Many of the earliest families were Brethren too, so by the time Margaret and Valentine arrived, a community had been established for a decade, was welcoming and thirsty for news and letters from “back home.”

The 1850 census suggests that Margaret and Valentine can both read and write.  The final column showing to the right of the form designates ” persons over 20 years of age who cannot read and write.”  That column is not checked.  What we don’t know is whether than means English or German, or both.  We also don’t know how well they might have understood the census taker if the census taker didn’t speak German.

Margaret Lentz 1850 census

The 1850 census confirms that Margaret’s first child, Lucinda, was born on December 13, 1842 in Ohio, but her second child, Samuel, was born a year later in Indiana, as were the rest of their children. From this, we know that sometime between December 1842 and June 1844, at the ripe old age of 21 or 22, Margaret, Valentine and their baby made their way to the frontier grasslands of Elkhart County. She too may have been pregnant on that wagon ride.

Margaret Lentz OH to IN map

I have to wonder if Margaret ever saw her parents again. It’s very unlikely even though they only lived what is today about a 4 hour drive. There were men who made the trip back and forth a couple of times on horseback, bringing news and shepherding more settlers, but women were tied at home with children and tending livestock.

Margaret’s parents didn’t pass away for another 20+ years, 1863 for Fredericka and 1870 for Jacob, so Margaret would have spent a lot of years of missing them, or perhaps sending letters back and forth. Receiving a letter telling you about the death of your parents would be a devastating letter to receive. I can only imagine the excitement of receiving a letter combined with the dread of the news it might hold. Talk about mixed emotions. Did her hands shake as she opened letters as her parents aged? Was she able to read the letters herself, or did she have to have someone read them to her?

When I was a young mother, I was constantly asking my mother something…for family recipes, advice about how to deal with childhood illness or tantrums of a 2 year old, exasperating husbands, and more. I talked to Mother by phone or in person at least once a day. While I was all too happy to leave home as a teen, I grew up quickly and can’t imagine leaving my mother at that age, knowing I would never see or speak with her again. I left the area where my parents lived in my mid-20s, and it nearly killed me, even with telephones and returning to visit every couple of weeks, for decades. There is nothing like the security of knowing Mom lives nearby.

I don’t know if Margaret was brave or foolhearty. Regardless, she would have formed other bonds with older women with advice to offer within the church in Elkhart County. Furthermore, nearly all of the Whitehead family settled in Elkhart County, including Valentine’s parents and most of his siblings, one of whom was also married to Margaret’s brother, Adam. Adam Lentz married Margaret Whitehead who then became Margaret Lentz, which caused a great deal of confusion between Margaret Lentz Whitehead and Margaret Whitehead Lentz.

Adam’s wife, Margaret Whitehead Lentz, died in Elkhart County on July 17, 1844 and is buried in the Whitehead Cemetery under the name of Margaret Lentz and was mistaken for our Margaret Lentz Whitehead for many years.

Margaret Lentz Whitehead marriages

We know that our Margaret spoke German, possibly exclusively, as she lived in a German farming community. The Brethren Church in Elkhart County was still holding German language services into the 1900s and the Brethren families still spoke German, although by then, they spoke English too.  My mother remembered her grandmother, Margaret’s daughter Evaline, speaking German, but her primary language by that time, in the 1920s and 1930s, was English.

The first Brethren church services in Elkhart County were held in private homes and barns, so it’s entirely possible that Margaret took her turn and had “church” at her house, with the entire neighborhood attending and then having a good old-fashioned German “pot-luck” afterwards.

The Whitehead School was established in 1836.

From the book “Elkhart County One Room Schools, The 3 Rs” by Dean Garber, I found the following:

Whitehead School, district #6, began on he west side of present day CR 19 north of CR 48 in Sect 17. Samuel Whitehead 1811-1874 settled in what became known as the Whitehead settlement, southwest of New Paris, Indiana. About 1836 a round log cabin with a clapboard roof was built on his property. This first schoolhouse was about 12X16 in size and was replaced by a wood frame building and was in use until the 1880s when it was replaced by a brick school building. For some reason this school is not shown on any of the county maps before 1874. But it has been found that David B. Miller born in 1838 did attend this school in 1854. This school closed in 1913 because of the consolidation of the township schools.

In the 1850s, Valentine Whitehead taught at this school.

This 1874 plat map of Jackson Township in Elkhart County, below, shows a school on the D. Whitehead property on the northeast corner of Section 8, and the “D. Ch” across from a cemetery on the border between sections 8 and 17. “D Ch” means Dunker Church and the cemetery across from the church is the Whitehead Cemetery.

Margaret Lentz 1874 Jackson Twp map

The Whitehead descendants erected a marker in the cemetery in 1939 commemorating the early Whitehead settlers.

Margaret Lentz Whitehead memorial

The verbiage on the commemoration stone says that 9 of Valentine Whitehead’s children settled in Elkhart County with him, including Valentine Jr. and his wife, Margaret Lentz. Three of Valentine Sr.’s children remained in Ohio. According to Whitehead genealogists, the Whitehead family began purchasing land in Elkhart County the 1830s and moved from Ohio in the early 1840s. It’s likely that they formed the “Whitehead Wagon Train” and all relocated together to the prairie frontier so that they could mutually assist each other with clearing land, building homes and establishing farms. Land was plentiful in northern Indiana, but was all taken in Montgomery County, Ohio.

Cousin Keith Lentz visited Elkhart County in 2015 and located the land owned by Valentine Whitehead and Margaret Lentz Whitehead near the intersection of County Roads 50 and 21. Margaret’s brother, Adam Lentz who married Margaret Whitehead, owned land just a couple miles up the road.

Margaret Lentz Keith map

Thanks to Keith for providing this map.

Valentine Dies

The first decade of Margaret’s married life blessed her with 4 children and a migration to the Indiana frontier. Valentine and Margaret became established in their new community and like all farm families, lived by the routine of the seasons and the Sundays. Sunday was church and sometimes a bit of leisure or rest. Baths in washtubs were taken on Saturday night, hair was washed, and on Sunday morning, women wore their best dresses and prayer bonnets and rode in the wagon to church, after feeding the livestock of course. Little changed in the next hundred years, except you rode to church in a car or buggy.

The rest of the week was work from sunup to sundown, and sometimes longer by candlelight.

However, life was not to remain rosey for Margaret.

Margaret, the bride at 18 was a widow at 29 with 4 children and one on the way. Margaret was 2 months pregnant for Mary when Valentine died. Mary was born in February 1852 after Valentine’s death on July 24, 1851.

Margaret buried Valentine in the Whitehead Cemetery, just down the road from where they lived and across the road from the church she attended every Sunday.  I wonder if she sat in church and stared out at the cemetery, where he lay.  Did she wander over to visit his grave every Sunday?

I surely wonder what took Valentine at age 30 in the middle of summer. I wonder about things like appendicitis, farm accidents, falling from a horse or perhaps something like typhoid.  The only clue we have is that Valentine did write a will on June 3rd, 1851, recorded in Will Book 1, page 59 and 60 wherein he does not name his wife but does name children Lucinda, Jacob, Samuel and Emanual.  This executor was Adam Lantz (Lentz) and Samuel Whitehead and Robert Fenton were the witnesses.  If Valentine was ill, then he was ill from June 3rd until August 10th when he died.

In the book, “The Midwest Pioneer, His Ills, Cures and Doctors” by Madge Pickard and R. Carlyle Buley published in 1946, we discover that Elkhart County was plagued by “bilious disorders” and typhoid.

For fifty years after their first settlement the river towns along the Ohio and the Wabash suffered from malarial diseases.

In the middle 1830’s the people of Elkhart County had an epidemic of typhoid and pneumonia and in 1838 almost half the population was affected with bilious disorders. The wave of erysipelas which enveloped the whole Northwest in the early 1840’s struck Indiana with unusual severity. Dysentery, scarlatina, phthisis (consumption), pneumonia, bronchitis, occasionally yellow and spotted fevers, whooping cough, and diphtheria appeared in many parts of the state. The summer of 1838 was a bad one, and “the afflicting dispensations of Providence” laid many low along the Ohio, the Wabash, the Illinois and lakes Michigan and Erie.

The Milwaukee Sentinel of October 9, 1838, boasted that, notwithstanding the fact that the season had been bad in most sections, Wisconsin had no prevailing diseases. The Sentinel and the Green Bay Wisconsin Democrat reported that canal work had been suspended in Illinois and Indiana, that the people were much too sick to harvest crops, and that there was nothing that looked like life, even in the populous towns. The Daily Chicago American, May 2, 1839, declared that “the whole West was unusually sickly” the preceding fall, that Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana suffered most, but that Illinois was affected only among the Irish laborers along the canal lines.

There were those who felt that the habits of the settlers were as much to blame for prevailing illness as the environment. James Hall of Vandalia, in years to come to be the West’s most famous historian and advocate, took this view. In his address at the first meeting of the Illinois Antiquarian and Historical Society in 1827 he stated that the pioneer’s exposure to the weather, his food — too much meat and not enough fresh vegetables, excessive use of ardent spirits, and lack of attention to simple diseases, were more responsible than the climate.

Again in 1845 came a “disastrous and melancholy sickly season” in the West; the South Bend St. Joseph Valley Register noted that it was the seventh year from the last bad outbreak, as if that explained it.

Granted, this doesn’t say anything about 1851, but it is suggestive of a recurring health issue in this area – and the family did live along Turkey Creek which fed the Elkhart River, emptying in a swampy area a few miles distant.

Margaret Lentz Valentine stone

Margaret’s children with Valentine were:

  • Lucinda born Dec. 13, 1842
  • Samuel born January 7, 1844
  • Jacob Franklin born October 10, 1846
  • Emmanuel born January 15, 1849
  • Mary J. born February 11, 1852

The book Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs of Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties of Indiana published by Goodspeed in 1893 says:

Valentine Whitehead removed to Indiana at an early day, having married Margaret Lentz in Ohio and settled on a woodland farm of 160 acres in Jackson Twp., Elkhart Co, which he did much to improve prior to his death which occurred July 24, 1851. He was a member of the German Baptist church, a democrat in early life and afterward became a Republican in political principles, although he but seldom exercised the privilege of suffrage. Five children were the result of this union, Lucinda wife of Joseph B. Haney was born Dec 13, 1842, Samuel, a carpenter of Goshen was born in 1845, Jacob is a farmer of Bates Co, Missouri, Emanuel of Kosciusko Co., Indiana is married to Elizabeth Ulery by whom he has 4 children, Argus, Jesse, Clayton and Calvin. Mary J., born February 11 1852, is the wife of John D. Ulery. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Whitehead married John D. Miller of New Paris who was born near Dayton Ohio in 1812, a son of David Miller. To her union with Mr. Miller 3 children were born, Evaline, Ira and Perry. Mr. and Mrs. Miller are residents of Jackson Twp., Elkhart Co.

We don’t know how Margaret survived after Valentine’s death. Her children were too young to help on the farm, at least not significantly, the oldest being 9.

However, Margaret’s father-in-law and eight of Valentine’s siblings lived in close proximity, as did some of Margaret’s siblings.

  • Adam Lentz and his wife, Margaret Whitehead were in Elkhart County by 1844 when Margaret Whitehead Lentz died. Adam remarried to Elizabeth Neff in 1845 and remained in Elkhart County until sometime between 1867 and 1870 when he moved on to Macoupin County, Illinois.
  • Benjamin Lentz moved to Elkhart County between 1854 and 1859 and remained until his death in 1903.
  • Margaret’s sister Mary who was married to Henry Overlease (Overleese) moved to Elkhart County between 1852 and 1854. She and Henry moved on to Illinois between 1866 and 1870.
  • If Louis or Lewis Lentz was Margaret’s brother, he was living a couple counties away, in Peru in Miami County – too far away to help Margaret. He moved from Ohio between 1857 and 1859.

Marriage to John David Miller

Five years later, on March 30, 1856, Margaret Lentz Whitehead married the Brethren widower, John David Miller. His wife had died a year earlier, in March of 1855, leaving him with 7 children, ages 4 to 22.

The Lentz and Miller families were both from Montgomery County before arriving in Elkhart County, so not only did they know each other, their families knew each other the generation before as well. Margaret and John David probably knew each other as children and attended the same church, although he was a decade older than Margaret.

Margaret Lentz John David Miller marriage

At the time of their marriage, their living children were stairstepped.

Margaret Lentz blended family

Hester Miller had already married, but the rest of the children were at home when Margaret married John David Miller. They had 11 children living with them between the ages of 4 and 18.

The 1860 census in Elkhart County shows the two families merged.  This census indicates that John David Miller can read and write, but Margaret cannot.

Margaret Lentz 1860 census

It’s no wonder census documents confuse genealogists. This was a blended family and although Margaret’s children from her first marriage are listed last, they are not listed with their Whitehead surname.

Three of Margaret’s children are listed, but two are missing. Jacob Whitehead was born in 1846, so would certainly still be living at home in 1860 as would Samuel who was born in 1844. Where are these children? They aren’t found living with relatives or elsewhere in the county either, and we know they survived to adulthood.

Furthermore, John D. Miller’s age looks for all the world to be 21, but he was 47. Maybe they wrote the 4 and forgot the 7. Lastly, some of the children’s ages are illegible as well, and Martha Miller, who would have been age 13, is missing entirely and we know she lived to marry and have children.

Margaret and John David Miller have had two children of their own by 1860, Louisa Evaline born March 29, 1857, my mother’s grandmother, and Ira, born July 26, 1859.

Margaret Lentz 1870 census

In the 1870 census, the last child born to Margaret and John David Miller, Perry, is also shown. I wonder where they came up with that name? It’s certainly not a family name. Perhaps Brethren naming traditions were changing a bit.

According to Rex Miller, Ira Miller’s grandson, Perry Miller born in 1862 died at the age of 18 from appendicitis, so about 1880.

The 1870 census does not show that Margaret is unable to read and write.

The 1880 census shows Margaret and John Miller with their three youngest children and a Whitehead grandson.

Margaret Lentz 1880 census

The 1880 census indicates that Margaret cannot read and write.

The 1900 census is our last census glimpse of the family before John and Margaret’s deaths. By now, both John and Margaret are elderly, with no children or grandchildren living with them. At their age, I don’t know if that is a blessing or a curse.

Margaret Lentz 1900 census

The 1900 census may hold the key to why 2 of the past 4 census schedules said Margaret could read AND write and 2 said she could not.  In 1900, the categories of read and write are separated and the census says Margaret can read but cannot write, and that she can speak English.  It also tells us that they have been married for 45 years, and that Margaret has had 9 children, with 8 living.

This also gives Margaret’s birth year and month as December 1821 which is a little perplexing because her death certificate gives her year of birth as 1822.

Interestingly enough, they had a boarder who was a medicine peddler. You know there’s a story there!

When Margaret married John David Miller, she moved to his farm. I don’t know what happened to the Valentine Miller land, but it stands to reason that his children would have inherited that land (or the proceeds therefrom) as soon as they were of age.

It’s not like Margaret had far to move.

On the 1874 plat map below, you can see the J. Miller (John David) property abutting the D.B. Miller property, in green. D. B. Miller is John David’s brother, David, based on the 1860 and 1870 census.

Margaret Lentz 1874 Jackson Twp map

You can see on the plat map above that John David Miller’s land was about a mile from the school and a little more than a mile from the church. A section of land is one mile square. The land owned by Margaret and Valentine was about another mile and a half or so further south, not shown on this part of the map.

The Whitehead School was located on the western edge of section 5 and 8. Both the Whitehead and Miller children would have attended this school as it was the only school in the area.  We know from the census that the children attended school.

The Brethren Church on the Whitehead land was the first Brethren Church, other than meeting within members’ homes, in Elkhart County. Margaret Lentz Whitehead and John David Miller would have known each other for decades, and been well acquainted since moving to Elkhart County. John David, I’m sure, was at Valentine Whitehead’s funeral, and Margaret would have attended Mary Miller’s.

I wonder if Margaret and John David’s marriage was one of love or convenience, or maybe a bit of both. It surely stands to reason that with a combined family when they married of 12 children, many of them small, they both needed a spouse badly in a culture and economy where couples shared work and responsibilities. Farming was almost impossible without a helpmate. Someone had to work the land and do the chores, daily, and someone had to cook and clean and watch the children. One person couldn’t do both.

To help put things in perspective, I’ve created the map below which shows the approximate locations of important landmarks.

Margaret Lentz Jackson Twp map

The top arrow is the Baintertown Cemetery, also known as the Rodibaugh Cemetery where most of the early Millers are buried including John David Miller, Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller and John David’s first wife, Mary Baker. It stands to reason that the child born to Margaret and John David Miller that died is buried here as well, although the grave is not marked.

The bottom arrow is the land where Valentine Miller lived with Margaret Lentz Miller.

The arrow above that is the Whitehead Cemetery, also known as Maple Grove along with Maple Grove Church of the Brethren.  The arrow directly above that at the intersection of 142 and 21 is the location of John David Miller’s land where Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller lived for more than half of her life.

The house built by John David Miller which incorporates the cabin first built when he first arrived in the 1830s still stands today. This is where Margaret Miller would live for almost half a century, the most stable period of her life, although it got quite “exciting” towards the end.

Margaret Lentz home

This property today is located at 67520 County Road 21, New Paris, Indiana. It sits sideways because the road has been substantially changed since the house was built.

John David Miller Photo

This is the only semi-decent picture we have of either Margaret or John David.

The above people are John David Miller and Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller seated in the front row. Rear, left to right, Matilda Miller Dubbs, David Miller, Eva Miller Ferverda, Washington Miller and Sarah Jane Miller Blough. Matilda and Washington are children from John David’s first marriage and the other three are Margaret’s children with John David.

Margaret raised the Miller children and was their step-mother for substantially longer than their own mother, Mary Baker, was able to remain on this earth. I think after that long, and after raising step-children as your own, you tend to forget that they are step-children aren’t yours biologically – that is – until something brings it to light…which would happen soon for Margaret.

Margaret Lentz outside home2

These are two traditionally garbed Brethen elders, noting her full length skirt, apron and prayer bonnet and his beard, hat and dark clothing.

Rex Miller allowed me to scan this photo of John David Miller and Margaret by their home. The woman looks to be the same person as above and the part of the house looks to be the center section today, which Rex indicated was the log cabin portion.

Margaret was destined to outlive yet another husband.

John David Miller died on Feb. 10, 1902 of senile gangrene. He wrote his will in 1897, but in 1901, before his death, his son David B. Miller filed an injunction in court asking for a guardian to be provided for his father who, in his words, “had a substantial estate and could no longer manage his affairs.” I can only imagine what a ruckus this must have caused within the family. One knows that there had to be some event or situation arise to cause this level of concern. However, before the case was heard, John David died.

John David had a very controversial will that left everything to Margaret until her death, and then one third of John’s estate was to be divided between Margaret’s nephew and Margaret and John David’s three children, with the balance of two thirds of his estate to be divided among his children by his first wife.

Things don’t always work out as intended. By law, Margaret had the right to one third of his estate as her dower, in fee simple, meaning in full ownership. She elected to take her one third as indicated by the following widow’s election. The balance of John’s estate would them be divided according to the will.

Widow’s election recorded on page 111.

The undersigned widow of John D. Miller decd late of Elkhart County Indiana who died testate and whose last will and testament has been duly admitted to probate and record in the Elkhart Circuit Court hereby make election as such widow to hold and retain her right of dower in the personal estate of said decedent and to hold and retain her right to one third of the lands of which her husband died testate notwithstanding the terms of the said will, and she refuses to accept any devise or provision whatever made by said will in her favor, for, or in lieu of her said statutory right as widow in and to the personal property and real estate of said decedent.

Margaret (x her mark) E. Miller

Margaret was no push-over.

Recorded in Deed Book 108-422, Margaret then sells her dower to Eva Ferverdy, Ira and Miley Miller, Perry A. Miller and Edward E. Whitehead for $2241.66 which is 1/3rd of W ½ of NW ¼ and the N ½ of SE ¼ Section 5 Twp 35 Range 6e on Sept. 25, 1902.  She probably desperately needed that money to live, in the days before social security and retirement benefits of any type.

Later, recorded in book 112-440, the same group who bought the land above sells the land to George and Alice G. Method for $5000.

Margaret died on July 4th, 1903, just 17 months after John David. I’m sure the stress level on the poor woman with the infighting between her children and his children must have been nearly intolerable. Several of the children lived within the community and it’s not like Margaret could ever get away from the situation. It would have followed her to church, which was likely the only place she ever went. I’m sure it was the talk of the community, and it didn’t end until after her death.

Cousin Rex indicated that Perry died at age 18, but he was still alive when his parents died. In fact, Perry died at age 44 on December 22, 1906 in Goshen.

John David’s estate was controversial, to say the least, and eventually the bank became the estate’s administrator. One of the children, Perry, and Margaret’s nephew, Edward Whitehead, had done a great deal in the years before John’s death to help the elderly couple and had never been reimbursed for their efforts or expenses. They submitted receipts to the estate and those charges were disputed by the older set of children by Mary Baker. There was obviously a great deal of resentment between the two sets of children. Finally, in the end, Washington Miller refused to contribute $10 of his portion of the estate (near $1000 in the settlement) for his father’s tombstone. Edward Whitehead, the nephew, paid Washington Miller’s share. That is surely the last, final insult one could inflict on a parent. Edward Whitehead obviously cared a great deal for his uncle by marriage, John David Miller.

The inventory for John David’s estate is as follows, and the widow took everything except the wheat, rye and corn against her 1/3 dower. Otherwise, she would have been left with, literally, an empty house to live in until she died. At that time, all of the estate was considered to be the property of the man, so the contents of their entire house were listed and valued.

Number Items Appraised Value
1 Jewell oak heating stove 4.00
1 Eight day clock .25
1 Sewing machine .05
4 Rocking chairs 1.50
1 Bedstead and spring 1.25
1 Old rag carpet 25 yards .50
1 Bureau 1.00
1 Stand .10
1 Bedstead .05
1 Bedspring and bedding 2.00
1 Rag carpet 15 yards .50
1 Ingrain carpet 15 yards .50
12 Winsor chairs 1.50
1 Dining table .25
1 Cupboard .50
1 Dough tray .25
1 Kitchen sinc .10
1 Hanging lamp .25
1 Pantry safe .50
1 Churn .05
1 Milch trough 1.25
15 Milch crocks .45
1 Lounge .05
1 110 lb lard 11.00
1 Cooking stove and furniture .50
1 Cross cut saw and brush cythe .05
1 Bucksaw .10
1 Log chain .05
1 Horse 3.00
1 Cow 30.00
1 Ladder and maul 1.25
1 Wheelbarrow and ax .75
1 Spring seat .25
30 Chickens 7.50
30 Acres growing wheat land lord ½ 150.00
32 Acres rye landlords 2/5 40.00
66 Bushels corn 38.34
1 Small looking glass .05
A few Old dishes, spoons, knives and forks 1.00
20 Bushels corn in crib 9.00
Total 309.69

This is as close as we’ll ever get to a peek into Margaret’s house. We know from this inventory that she sewed, on a machine, which was valued at 5 cents, the same as a bedstead and half of a kitchen sink. It was worth one fifth of a chicken which was worth a quarter.

Rag carpets were homemade. My mother still made them throughout her lifetime. Ingrain carpets, on the other hand, were commercially made, causing me to wonder about that in a Brethren household too.

By Birmingham Museums Trust – Birmingham Museums Trust, CC BY-SA 3.0,

I learned to sew on an old treadle sewing machine exactly like the one above, which was likely identical to Margaret’s machine. Electricity wasn’t available in farm country in the early 1900s, so a treadle machine which replaced hand sewing was a true luxury. I wonder how well this “convenience” was tolerated by the conservative Brethren who were very resistant to change.

Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller died on July 4, 1903 and is buried beside John David Miller in Baintertown Cemetery. It’s sad that her last year and several months were spent tied up in a family conflict that I’m sure mentally consumed her waking hours. She made several trips to the courthouse in that time period and she clearly took care of her three Miller children’s interests relative to their father’s estate.

Margaret Lentz signature

On one document located in John David’s estate packet, we find the signatures of Margaret plus her three Miller children. Margaret could not write, so she made her mark, a rather unsteady X.

Perry, Ira and Evaline bought their mother’s dower share of the estate and subsequently sold the land. Margaret did not have a will or an estate, so we don’t know what happened to that money, but I’m suspecting that she distributed it among her children before her death. Her children from her first marriage had already shared in their father’s estate and were already well established.

Margaret Lentz stone

As it turns out, John David’s tombstone was Margaret’s as well, with a small marker on either side for each of his wives.

Margaret Lentz Miller 07

It has always been stated that Margaret’s middle name was Elizabeth, but given that her daughter’s name was Evaline, now I’m wondering…

Margaret’s Children

Recently, Indiana death certificates have become available through Ancestry.  Previously, obtaining a death certificate for someone involved begging, then submitting 2 forms of ID, explaining why you wanted the death certificate, signing a form, swearing you were a direct descendant of that person, and more begging, waiting, and about $30 or so – with nu guarantee of results.  Oh and all while patting the top of your head and rubbing your belly while standing on your head…in a corner…taking a selfie.

Now all you have to do is sign on and search, although the indexing leaves much to be desired.  Death certificates provide us with a unique view of Margaret’s children, at least those who had the good judgement to die in Indiana.  Death certificates begin about 1899 and detecting trends might alert us to a health condition that could be hereditary.  Additionally, most death certificates provide a burial location.

1. Lucinda A. Whitehead, Margaret’s oldest daughter, was born on December 13, 1842 in Montgomery County, Ohio. She died on January 30, 1935 in Milford, Kosciusko County, Indiana, just over the border from Elkhart County at the age of 92 of a cerebral hemorrhage. She married Joseph B. Haney on October 7, 1860 in Elkhart County at the age of 17. He died in 1920.

Margaret Lentz Lucinda Whitehead

According to her death certificate, she was buried in the Baintertown Cemetery, also known as the Rodibaugh Cemetery, where Margaret is buried as well.

Margaret Lentz Lucinda Whitehead death

Lucinda had 4 known children:

  • Emma Rose Haney born in 1861.
  • Allen Ottis Haney born Sept. 24, 1862 in Milford, Kosciusko County, Indiana and died May 8, 1953 in Florida.
  • Harry Haney born in 1864.
  • Cecil Marie Haney born Sept. 4, 1884 in VanBuren, Kosciusko County, Indiana,  died February 9, 1977 in Rochester, Fulton County, Indiana and is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery. Cecil married Bert Eugene Dausman and had daughters:

Dorothy Loretta Dausman (1902-1987) who married Edward Poppenger or Pippinger and had one daughter

Helen Nadine Dausman (1905-1994) who married Joseph Osborn Perkins and had one daughter

Trella B. Dausman (1909-1983) who married Laddie Straka

2. Samuel Whitehead, Margaret’s oldest son, was born June 7, 1844 in Elkhart County, Indiana and died on April 26, 1923 in Goshen, Elkhart County of chronic bronchitis.

Margaret Lentz Samuel Whitehead death

Samuel is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery. He married Henrietta Dietz on November 18, 1865 in Elkhart, Indiana.

Margaret Lentz Samuel Whitehead stone

Samuel and Henrietta had:

  • Lizzie Whitehead (1867-1937)
  • Charlie Whitehead (1869-1939)

Samuel later remarried to Martha J. Vail on March 26, 1874 and they had the following children:

  • Earl R. Whitehead (1875-1945)
  • Mabel J. Whitehead (1883-1953)
  • Ina Whitehead (1886-1971)
  • Hazel Whitehead (1888-1958)
  • Ross Whitehead (1889-1958)
  • Boyd A. Whitehead (1894-1968)
  • Carlisle Whitehead (1897-1967)

3. Jacob Franklin Whitehead, Margaret’s second son, was born October 10, 1846 in Elkhart County and died on April 1, 1932, in Adrian, Bates County, Missouri where his uncle, Adam Lentz had settled. He is buried in the Crescent Hill, Cemetery He married Eva Bowser (1847-1933) on May 21, 1865 in Elkhart County.

Margaret Lentz Jacob Whitehead stone

They had:

  • John Bertus Whitehead (1879-1961)
  • Charles Whitehead born 1872
  • Maggie Whitehead born 1875
  • Claudie Whitehead born 1883

4. Emmanual Whitehead, Margaret’s third son, was born January 15, 1849 in Elkhart County, died on April 10, 1924 in Kosciusko County, Indiana and is buried in the Salem Cemetery.

Margaret Lentz Emanuel Whitehead stone

Emmanuel married Elizabeth Ullery on November 26, 1871 in Elkhart County, Indiana and they had:

  • Argus Burtis Whitehead (1875-1962)
  • Jessie Whitehead born (1877-1947)
  • Clayton S. Whitehead born (1879-1949)
  • Calvin E. Whitehead (1881-1971)

Margaret Lentz Emanual Whitehead history

Emmanual Whitehead remarried on February 9, 1900 to Sarah Foster (1856-1940).

5. Mary Jane Whitehead, Margaret’s second daughter and last child by Valentine Whitehead, was born February 11, 1852. She died on Sept. 30, 1930 in Nappanee, Elkhart County, Indiana of angina pectoritis and was buried at the Union Center Brethren Church cemetery.

Margaret Lentz Mary Jane Whitehead death

Mary Jane married John D. Ullery (1846-1928) on March 10, 1872 in Elkhart, Indiana.

They had:

  • Edward W. Ulery (1872-1942)
  • Margaret Elizabeth Ulery (1874-1959) and married Albert Mutschler on June 10, 1897 in Elkhart County, Indiana. They had one daughter:

Mary L. born July 1898

  • David Leatherman, an adopted son, who died in 1903

It’s somehow ironic that my line of the family never heard the “shipwreck story” of Jacob and Fredericka Lentz, but buried in the John Ulery biography we find that same story, handed down for posterity – but somehow never making it to the current generation.

From the book, Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs of Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties, Indiana; Chicago, Goodspeed Brothers; 1893:

JOHN D. ULERY. During the forty-six years that have passed over the head of the gentleman whose name stands at the head of this sketch, he has witnessed a wonderful transformation in Elkhart county, and during all these years he has been an active observer of the trend of events. He has not been merely a “looker on in Venice,” but a citizen who has, through his enterprise, his integrity and his public ¬spirit, contributed his full share to the magnificent development of the section in which he resides. He comes of an honored ancestry, for the well-known old pioneer, Daniel Ulery, was his father, from whom he inherited many of his most worthy characteristics. He was the third of his children and first saw the light of day on the old home farm in Union township, February 3, 1846, and like the majority of farmer’s boys of that region, obtained his initiatory education in what was known far and near as the Ulery School. This he alternated with tilling the soil until he had almost attained man’s estate, when he quit school to devote his attention to agricultural pursuits, which calling occupied his time and attention until he was about twenty-seven years of age. He then, on March 10, 1872, united his fortunes with those of Mary J. Whitehead, who was the youngest child born to Valentine and Margaret (Lentz) Whitehead; the former was a son of Valentine and Elizabeth (Rodebaugh) Whitehead, who were of German descent and were early pioneers of Pennsylvania and Ohio. Valentine lost his wife, Elizabeth, in Ohio, after which he removed to the Hoosier State and died in Elkhart county in 1867, at which time he was a retired farmer and nearly ninety years of age. He was the father of eleven children, all of whom are dead, with the exception of three: Louis, Peter and David. Valentine, one of the children of the above mentioned family, was the father of Mrs. John Ulery. He removed to Indiana at an early day, having mar¬ried Margaret Lentz, in Ohio, and settled on a woodland farm of 160 acres in Jackson township, Elkhart county, which he did much to improve prior to his death, which occurred on July 24, 1851. He was a member of the German Baptist Church, a Democrat in early life and afterward became a Republican in political principle, although he but seldom exercised the privilege of suffrage. Five children were the result of his union: Lucinda, wife of Joseph B. Haney, was born December 13, 1842; Samuel, a carpenter of Goshen, was born in 1845; Jacob is a farmer of Bates county, Mo.; Emanuel, of Kosciusko county, Ind., is married to Elizabeth Ulery, by whom he has four children–Argus, Jesse, Clayton and Calvin; Mary J. is the wife of John D. Ulery. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Whitehead married John D. Miller, of New Paris, who was born near Dayton, Ohio, in 1812, a son of David Miller (a more complete sketch of this gentleman is found in the sketch of David B. Miller). He has resided for years in the vicinity of New Paris, where he is highly honored and esteemed. Mrs. Miller is now seventy-one years of age, but is still healthy and active. To her union with Mr. Miller three children were given: Evaline, Ira and Perry. Mr, and Mrs. Miller are residents of Jackson township, Elkhart county. Mrs. John D. Ulery was born in this county, February 11, 1852, and has presented her husband with two children : Edward W., born December 13, 1872, who has the principal charge of the home farm and is a steady, kindly and intelligent young man, and Lizzie, who was born November 28, 1874, and is an accomplished young lady. Mr. Ulery is classed among the foremost citizens of Union township, and is at the head of his business, owing to the energy and en¬terprise he has displayed. He owns an exceptionally fertile farm of 135 acres, on which are probably the best buildings of any farm in the township. He is a man of wealth and owns an interest in the Nappanee Furniture Company, as well as in other paying interests. He has followed in his father’s footsteps in regard to meeting with accidents, as well as in other respects, for on July 4, 1881, he was badly injured by a reaping machine and for about a year thereafter was an invalid. He is deservedly classed among the public-spirited and intelligent men of the county and is warm personal friends can be numbered by the score. Mrs. Ulery is a member of the German Baptist Church. Her maternal grandfather came to this country at an early day, having started from his native land a rich man. The voyage by water occupied nine months, and upon landing he found himself without means, owing to the tyranny and dishonesty of the captain of the vessel. On this voyage some three hundred souls died. Mr. and Mrs. Ulery took to rear as their own child, David A. Leatherman, who, at that time was six years of age, and the orphan son of John and Elizabeth Leatherman, gave him every advantage and provided means for him to graduate from the University at Valparaiso, Ind. He is a young man of much promise and at the present time is a traveling man. He remained with his foster parents until he was twenty years old and still holds them in grateful and honored remembrance, for they proved to him a friend in his need and were always as kind and thoughtful of his wants as though he were one of their own family. This is but one instance of the many kind and disinterested actions done by Mr. Ulery in his walk through life, and clearly indicated the true character of the man.

Margaret Lentz had 4 children with John David Miller, three of whom lived. We don’t know the name of the 4th child or when they were born, although I suspect 1861. John David’s obituary says that 4 children were born to Margaret and John David, 3 of whom survive, which is also confirmed by the 1900 census.

6. Evaline Louis Miller, Margaret’s first child with John David Miller was born March 29, 1857 in Elkhart County, Indiana and died on December 20, 1939 in Leesburg, Kosciusko County, Indiana of an inflammation of the heart (acute myocarditis) following a 3 month kidney infection (nephritis).

Margaret Lentz Evaline Miller Ferverda death

She is buried in the Salem Brethren Church cemetery.

Hiram and Eva Ferverda stone

Evaline married to Hiram B. Ferverda on March 10, 1876 in Goshen, Indiana.

Ferverda family

The photo above is Eva Miller Ferverda with her husband Hiram and their entire family, including my grandfather John Ferverda, 2nd from right in the rear. Hiram died in 1925, and their youngest child was born in 1902, so I’d estimate that this photo was taken close to 1920, or perhaps slightly earlier, based on the WWI stars in the window and a son in uniform.

Evaline Louise Miller Ferverda had 11 children:

  • Ira Otta Ferverda (1877-1950) who married Ada Pearl Frederickson.
  • Edith Estella Ferverda (1879-1955) who married Tom Dye. They had the following daughter:

Ruth Dye

  • Irvin Guy Ferverda (1881-1933) who married Jessie Hartman.
  • John Whitney Ferverda (1882-1962) who married Edith Barbara Lore.
  • Elizabeth Gertrude Ferverda (1884-1966) who married Louis Hartman and had the following daughters.

Louisa Hartman married Ora Tenney

Helen Tenney married Norman Nine

Lisa Nine

Roberta Hartman married Rulo Frush

Carol Frush married William Slaymaker

Nadine Slaymaker

                              Nancy Slaymaker

  • Chloe Evaline Ferverda (1886-1984) and married Rolland Robinson and had one daughter:

Charlotte Robinson married Bruce Howard

Susan Howard married Richard Higg

Mary Carol Howard married David Bryan

Kerrie Bryan

Julie Bryan

Sally Howard

  • Ray Edward Ferverda (1891-1975) who married Grace Driver.
  • Roscoe H. Ferverda (1893-1978) who married Effie Ringo and Ruby Mae Teeter.
  • George Miller Ferverda (1885-1970) who married Lois Glant.
  • Donald D. Ferverda (1899-1937) who married Agnes Ruple.
  • Margaret Ferverda (1902-1984) who married Chester Glant and had the following daughters:

Mary Glant married Varrill Wigner.

Kari Anne Wigner

Joyce Ann Glant married Delferd Zimmerman

Nancy Zimmerman

                      Beth Zimmerman

7. Ira J. Miller, Margaret’s 2nd child with John David Miller was born July 26, 1859 in Elkhart County and died on December 17, 1948 in Elkhart County of coronary breast disease.

Ira Miller death cert

Ira is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.

Margaret Lentz Ira Miller stone

Ira married Rebecca Rodibaugh on November 23, 1882 in Elkhart and they had the following child:

  • Everett Miller born 1897

Margaret Lentz Ira Miller

The above photo is Ira J. Miller with his wife, Rebecca. The photo below includes Ira Miller and his sister, Evaline Louise Miller Ferverda.

Margaret Lentz Ira and Evaline Miller

Last row, rear left to right, Rebecca Rodibaugh Miller, Ira Miller, one of Eva Miller Ferverda’s children,

Middle row, Eva Miller’s child, Eva Miller Ferverda

Front row, Mame Smoker Miller and Everett Miller (son of Ira.)

8. Perry Miller, Margaret’s final surviving child was born on June 25, 1862 in Elkhart County and died on December 22, 1906 in Goshen, Indiana of a bowel obstruction.

Perry Miller death cert

Perry buried in the Violett Cemetery in Goshen.

Margaret Lentz Perry Miller stone

Perry married Mary Jane Lauer on October 2, 1881 in Elkhart, Indiana and they had the following children:

  • Maud Miller born 1882-1902, buried with her parents
  • Purl Miller born 1885-1960, a painter, buried in the Violett Cemetery
  • Otto M. (Ottie) Miller born 1889-1976, a railroad engineer

DNA – Mitochondrial and Autosomal

You’d think with all of the people who descend from Margaret, someone who descends through all females would have taken a mitochondrial DNA test, but apparently not. If anyone has, please let me know.

If you haven’t and you descend from Margaret through all females to the current generation, where males can test too, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you!

The individuals bolded in the section above descend through Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller through all females.  These individuals or their descendants through all females from Margaret carry Margaret’s mitochondrial DNA and are eligible to test.

Testing for Margaret’s mitochondrial DNA will tell us about her deep ancestry and help us learn the path our ancestors took to and through Europe.

Margaret still has more secrets to reveal about herself.

Identifying Lentz DNA vs Miller DNA

One of the challenges we have in genetic genealogy is that when we autosomally test descendants of couples, like Margaret Lentz and John David Miller, we can’t tell which DNA comes from which parent.

However, because Margaret had children with a different husband, Valentine Whitehead, if some of the descendants of Margaret’s children with Valentine were to take an autosomal DNA test and they match the DNA of the descendants of Margaret through John David Miller – then we’ll know that the matching DNA comes from the Margaret’s Lentz line and not the Miller line.

Anyone descended from Jacob Lentz and Fredericka Reuhle Lentz through children other than Margaret who have DNA tested and match the descendants of Margaret and John David Miller – that DNA is also Lentz DNA as distinguished from Miller DNA.

Let’s do a little experiment to see if we can isolate snippets of Margaret Lentz’s DNA.

I have 4 people who have tested that are descendants of Margaret Lentz Miller, all through her children with John David Miller. I have two Lentz males who have tested that descend from different sons of Jacob Lentz and Fredericka Reuhle. People in the bottom row are all testers.

Margaret Lentz chart

Benjamin, Margaret and George Lentz are siblings. The relationship of the people in the pink box to the descendants of Benjamin and George in the next generation are 1st cousins. Within the pink box, the relationship is different. Evaline and Ira are siblings, but Evaline and Ira are 1st cousins to both Whitney and Ira (son of George) as are Ira (son of George) and Whitney to each other.

Let’s see if any of the two Lentz males match the DNA of the 4 descendants of Margaret Lentz Miller. If so, those matching segments would have been inherited from Margaret Lentz by her children.

In order to do this easily, we’re going to run the chromosome browser at Family Tree DNA for each of the Lentz men, William and C., individually, against all 4 of the people who descend from Margaret Lentz.

Ironically, the two Lentz males, William and C. Lentz, don’t match each other above the vendor’s testing threshold, but do match each of the other 4 individuals.

William and C. Lentz do, however, match each other on 3 segments above 6cM at GedMatch where you can adjust the matching thresholds.

Margaret Lentz Gedmatch

After selecting the four pink descendants of Margaret and comparing on the chromosome browser to each of the Lentz men, we’re going to download their matching segments to each of the Lentz men and drop those results into a common spreadsheet.

In this example, I’m using William Lentz as the background person we’re comparing against, and the 4 pink testers who descend from Margaret Lentz Miller are the 4 people being compared to William.  On William’s chromosome displayed below:

  • Rex=orange
  • Barbara=blue
  • Cheryl=green
  • Don=bright pink

Margaret Lentz chr browser

At the top of the chromosome browser you’ll see a selection on the left side next to the Chromosome Browser Tutorial that says “download to Excel (CSV format).” That selection will only download matching segments of the people you’re comparing, so I made that selection.

Margaret Lentz chr browser2

I repeated the process for C. Lentz as compared to these same 4 pink people, and combined the results into one spreadsheet where I color coded the results of the two Lentz men differently and deleted the segments below 3cM. C. Lentz is blue and William Lentz is apricot.

Margaret Lentz William and C

This chart took my breath away. We are literally looking at segments of Margaret Lentz’s DNA inherited by her descendants (assuming there no other family connection between these individuals.)

Let’s sort this in segment and chromosome order and see what we come up with.

Each of these rows is able to “stand alone” since we already know how these individuals are related.  They are closely related, 3rd cousins, and we’re trying to see which of their DNA is from a common source – meaning the Lentz DNA from Jacob Lentz and Fredericka Reuhl.

However, even though these individual matches work, due to the close known relationships, triangulation groups are always preferable.  But first, let’s look at matching groups.

Margaret Lentz match groups

In the chart above, I colored the 5 columns beginning with chromosome green when there is more than one match that includes any part of the same segment. Remember, we can’t see triangulation on this spreadsheet, because we only looking at matches to William and C. Lentz individually. These are just match groups at this point.

I added the column “Match Set” so that you can easily see the different matching groups. Because the green color used to indicate matching groups butts up against neighboring groups, it’s difficult to tell where one group ends and the next begins, so I’ve indicated that in the “Match Set” column by labeling each matching set of DNA.

The yellow match sets aren’t to siblings and may well triangulate.  The match sets colored green in the Match Set column are to both Don and Cheryl, who are siblings, and you can’t count matches to siblings in triangulation groups.

  • A match is when any two people match – like Barbara and William Lentz.
  • A match set is when any two pairs match on the same segment.
  • Triangulation occurs when any three people match on any portion of the same segment of DNA AND share a known common ancestor. Without the known ancestor or ancestral line, it’s just a match set.

Match set 1 doesn’t count as triangulation because William matches Don and Cheryl both who are siblings. Triangulation needs to occur between more distant matches.

Match set 2, which is yellow, could triangulate. To verify triangulation, we need to verify that Barbara matches Don on this part of the same segment.

I went back to Barbara’s chromosome browser and indeed, she does match Don on part of this same segment.  This segment does triangulate, as shown below – because all three people match each other on a portion of this same segment.

Margaret Lentz triangulation

The actual overlapping segment between all three individuals is from 121,679, 417 through 128,527,507 for probably about 6cM.

Of course, now if I could just find a Lenz descendant from upstream of Jacob, or a Reuhl upstream of Fredericka that matches some of these folks, I could determine if Margaret’s DNA is Lenz (Lentz) or Reuhl.

If you’re thinking this could go on forever, you’re right – except that the further out in time, the less likely to find a match, let alone on a common segment. It’s a genetic genealogical end of line instead of a more traditional one. What a fun challenge though.  And hey, there’s always hope that someone from Germany or another line that immigrated will test and match. That’s the beauty of DNA. You can learn from autosomal matches, Y DNA matches and mitochondrial as well, so you have three genetic educational opportunities for each ancestor.


Margaret’s early life is shrouded in a bit of mystery, other than we know she was born in Pennsylvania and was raised Brethren. Her first entrance on her own is when she married on her 18th birthday. Celebration or rebellion, or both? We’ll never know, but marrying ON her 18th birthday does cause the question to be asked.

Margaret’s life seemed to be typical in every way, which for women of that timeframe means we find them in census records and not much else. However, that would change in July of 1851 when her husband, Valentine Whitehead, suddenly died.

Margaret was just two months pregnant at that time with her 5th child, a daughter that would never meet her father. Margaret probably farmed for the next 5 years as best she could, in addition to being a mother to her children. Yes, she had the resources of the Brethren community, but the fact that she did not hurriedly remarry suggests she might have been far more independent that most women of her time. She also didn’t sell out and go back home, to Ohio, to her parents. That must have been a temptation for a young widow under 30 with 5 children. Was she simply that iron-willed, resilient and determined?

Five years later, Margaret remarried to John David Miller. They combined their 12 children into a blended family and added 3 more of their own, for a total of 15 altogether. If the photo of John David and Margaret indeed is in front of the cabin portion of their home, they did not add on during their lifetime and lived in just the cabin portion – a small house for such a large family.

John David’s obituary tells us that Margaret had 4 children after their marriage, but only 3 survived. There was a span of 3 years between Ira and Perry, so the child who died was likely born in 1861. There are no candidate children buried either at Baintertown or in the Whitehead Cemetery, but many graves don’t have markers. It appears that Mary Baker Miller didn’t have a marker until John David Miller died, more than 50 years later.

However, looking at the births of Margaret’s children, she may have had one more. Her first child wasn’t born for 2 years after she was married – something almost unheard of at that time. She could well have had a first child that died and Lucinda, born two weeks shy of Margaret’s 20th birthday could have been her second child.  The 1900 census doesn’t reflect that in the number of birthed vs living children, but the census has been known to be incorrect.

Margaret may have buried her first child in the Happy Corners cemetery where her parents would later rest. If so, that grave too is unmarked.

Margaret bore her last child when she was just 6 months shy of her 40th birthday.

By the sunset years of Margaret’s life, her 8 children who survived childhood gave her 38 known grandchildren, at least one and likely seven whose funerals she attended. Multiple grandchildren are noted once in the census, and then no more. There were likely additional grandchildren born who didn’t live long enough for a census to be taken. Unfortunately, losing multiple children was a way of life and expected before the era of modern medicine, in particular, antibiotics.

Margaret and John David Miller both lived to be quite elderly. He apparently became senile before he died, just shy of his 90th birthday and Margaret died not long afterwards of progressive heart disease.

Unfortunately, the blended family that seemed to work so well, from outward appearances anyway, came unraveled before John’s death. His children from his first marriage petitioned the court for guardianship, which appears to have driven a significant wedge between the two sets of children. That rift never healed, and in fact, became worse after John David’s death, pushing Margaret to the point where she withdrew her dower rights from John’s estate, deeding that third to her Miller children. John’s children from his first marriage would have been far better to let the will stand uncontested, but they didn’t.

It’s through this contested will that we discover that while Margaret’s children can read and write, she cannot – or at least she can’t at 80 years of age. We don’t know if she could have signed her name when she was younger.

Margaret was no pushover – and if those 7 Miller children thought they could push their elderly step-mother around, they were wrong. I bet both John David’s and Margaret’s funerals were “interesting,” to say the least, given the division within the family.  John David’s funeral was at the house, not the church, so I’d wager that Margaret’s funeral took place at home too.  I have to wonder what she might have thought, watching from above.  Was she chuckling to herself, or was she angry?

Even at her advanced age and in ill health, it appears that Margaret was still something of a spit-fire. She didn’t let her Brethren religion keep her from going to the courthouse and taking care of business several times in her last year.

Margaret died of hydro pericardium, an accumulation of fluid in the membrane that surrounds the heart. She also had mitral incompetency which means the mitral valve of the heart does not close properly, eventually causing congestive heart failure.

Margaret Lentz death

This ailment would not have manifested itself suddenly. It’s likely that as she cared for her aging husband, she was short of breath herself. As the stressful situation following his death unfolded, her health was worsening as well.

Margaret passed away on the 4th of July. Independence Day indeed!  Margaret’s death leaves me wondering once again if this was her way of making a triumphant exit statement, much as her marriage on her 18th birthday was her grand entrance.

I suspect that Margaret was part rebel, in spite of her Brethren upbringing.  In any case, she appeared to be a lot more independent  than was acceptable for Brethren girls or women – and it showed from time to time!

Perhaps I came by that trait honestly and it’s carried from generation to generation in some of those DNA segments!

Lighting Candles – Bill Howard, RIP

Dr. William E. Howard III

I received word today that one of my genetic genealogy “friends” has passed over. Dr. William E. Howard III was just known to us as Bill.

Most people didn’t know Bill was a PhD and had a distinguished career in astronomy. Genetic genealogy was his “second career,” after retirement, and he was responsible for devising the RCC methodology for determining the time to a most common recent ancestor for a group of men who have taken Y STR tests.

If you’re interested in his methodology, you can read more about it here or in the genealogy-DNA rootsweb archives and where he posted under the e-mails of and and  Bill created a YouTube video that explains this methodology which is both interesting and educational.  What Bill’s methodology lacked, unfortunately, was an easy user interface.

CeCe Moore has also provided this link to Bill’s talk at the I4GG Conference in 2014, never before released except to paid subscribers, titled “Using Correlation Techniques on Y-Chromosome Haplotypes to Determine TMRCAs, Date STR Marker Strings, Surname Groups, Haplogroups and SNPs.”

This article really isn’t about Bill’s methodology, but how his thought processes and willingness to think about genetic genealogy in a different way and look at possibilities helped to revolutionize and actualize an infant field. We need an army of Bills, each contributing in their unique and individual ways.

Genetic genealogy attracts many great minds, often retired from distinguished careers with decades of invaluable experience. I think the fact that genetic genealogy is a new field, not yet defined and put into boxes of known quantities is part of what makes this field so attractive to these bright minds. There is still ample opportunity for truly meaningful and even revolutionary contributions.

Bill wasn’t afraid of scrutiny and he wasn’t afraid to fail. If you’re afraid to fail, in essence, you’ve already failed. And in the public social media world, scrutiny can be brutal.

Bill exemplified the role of a research genetic genealogist. He thought outside the box and then sought to prove or disprove his theories. He shared freely and depended on people submitting their data to be analyzed in order to refine his processes. He was willing to work with anyone at any level of experience. He was never condescending or treated anyone disrespectfully – his professional demeanor was impeccable. Far from being intimidating, Bill was very unassuming and tried to explain difficult concepts in ways that people could understand.  He encouraged everyone.

Bill knew that he was ill and used his last few months to “tie up” many of his loose ends, submitting several papers to JOGG for publication. I hope that these papers can be published posthumously in order to preserve his methodologies for posterity and for others to build upon, or discard, as appropriate. That’s the way science works and Bill wanted to contribute to that process.

You left your exchanges with Bill feeling good about genetic genealogy and not diminished in any way, even if you didn’t understand or agree with his theories or findings. I feel enriched and honored to have counted him among my colleagues. It’s people like Bill that have helped this field emerge from the unknown to a dinner conversation topic at the table of strangers next to yours in a restaurant.

Bill reached for the stars – in terms of his scientific approach and methodologies as well as his enabling and encouraging can-do attitude. To me, the great generosity with which Bill approached genetic genealogy and his fellow travelers in this field, regardless of their level of expertise, is Bill’s legacy.

I hope that Bill can serve as an inspiration. We need mentors, guides and good examples – and Bill was that above anything. We are all students, everyday. Learning is lifelong, cradle to grave.

We are all diminished when the flame is extinguished, too soon. I hope that Bill’s quiet example and gracious approach to genetic genealogy, and people, serves to light other candles.

Rest in Peace, Bill.

Update 6-27-2016: For anyone interested, I know Bill Howard was active in genealogy groups along the beltway around Washington DC, into Virginia. I received word today that his memorial service has been planned, per the following message from his family.

We wanted to let you know that the family has planned a Memorial Service for my father, Bill Howard, for July 23rd, 2016 at 2pm at Redeemer Lutheran Church.
The address for Redeemer is:
1545 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, VA 22101

Concepts – Managing Autosomal DNA Matches – Step 1 – Assigning Parental Sides

Lots of people have struggled with exactly how to identify and work with autosomal DNA matches, create DNA match groups and triangulation groups, which isn’t at all the same thing. Add to that multiple testing vendors who provide you with different types information in different formats, and it’s a challenge.

Now I have a confession to make. I’ve gotten very behind on keeping up with matches and such.  Family Tree DNA recently made improvements to their matching algorithm which changes the matching amounts with several of my matches, so I’m going to “start over” with my matching spreadsheet and use the steps as an example for you of how you can do this.  Yes, I will preserve what info I have previously collected, of course, but if I’m adding something from previous information, I’ll tell you.

Goal: I want to see how much I can figure out from what I have available to me at the three vendors.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the lack of communication when people attempt to communicate with their matches – so let’s see what we can do with just DNA.

I don’t know how many steps this series will be. We’ll see.  I’m trying to do this in manageable “bites.”  And yes, there will be some homework, but don’t think of it that way.  Think of it as panning for gold – your ancestors!!!

Before we go on, let’s talk about who these techniques in today’s article work best for:

  • People with one or both parents
  • People with known cousins

Adoptees or people with no known cousins can still learn about sorting and matching, but will not be able to assign genealogical sides to matches without working with their matches to discover their shared ancestor.

Adoptees should be utilizing a different set of techniques taught by

People who are not adoptees but who have no known cousins who have tested will, hopefully, be able to identify ancestral groups based on the genealogy of the other people in match groups.  Perhaps they will discover new cousins.

So, stay with me and just skip steps that you don’t think apply to you AFTER reading them.

What We’re Doing in this Article

In this article we’re going to do the following:

  • Combine you and your parent(s) match results into a single spreadsheet
  • Do some preparatory maintenance
  • Sort the spreadsheet so you can see common matches
  • Identify matches to a maternal or paternal side of your family
  • Further identify parental “sides” based on known cousin matches

Matches and Stats

So let’s start with some basic information.

At Family Tree DNA, I have 1470 matches and my mother has 803.

Why does my mother have only about half of the number of matches that I do? Three of her 4 grandparents came from the old country.  All of the data bases are highly skewed towards “New World” testers.  My father’s line is very colonial and has been in the US, having children, lots of children, for hundreds of years now.

My father was deceased in 1963, so clearly I don’t have his DNA in any database, except the Y by virtue of other Estes males and at GedMatch by virtue of a phased parent kit.  We’ll work with GedMatch in a future article.

I provided instructions for how to download your chromosome browser matches at Family Tree DNA here. If you haven’t done that, do it now for the following people:

  • You
  • Both of your parents
  • One of your parents if you don’t have both
  • If you don’t have both parents, download the files for FULL siblings only

If you haven’t already done so, save the files as Excel files and not CSV files, as the CSV format does not support some of the coloration and other functions we’ll be doing. (File, save as, Excel Workbook)

Why Full Siblings?

If you have the DNA results for both parents, you don’t need your sibling data, and it will just add unnecessary bulk to your file. However, if you don’t have either parent or only one parent, your full siblings’ information will be helpful.

You receive 50% of your DNA from your parents. Your siblings do too, but not the exact same 50% (unless you are identical twins.)  Therefore, the matches your full siblings receive, especially in the absence of one or both parents, are as relevant to your genealogy as your own matches.  Therefore, you can obtain some of the matches your parents would have had, if you had their DNA results, by virtue of including your full siblings matches.

Selecting Files and Colors

You are going to be combining spreadsheet files for you, your parents and your full siblings if you don’t have both parents.

The file you want to combine is the file that shows your chromosome matches to other participants. When you download results from Family Tree DNA, there are two files titled:

  • Family Finder Matches
  • Chromosome Browser Results

The chromosome browser results file is the one you want and includes the following information.

sides header

Select the Chromosome Browser file to work with that holds your results and save it with a title something like “DNA Master Spreadsheet.”  That’s the file you’ll be adding to for the duration…meaning forever.

Before proceeding, I want you to think for a minute about coloration.  You’re going to color different family members’ results different colors so you can recognize them at a glance and so that sorting and discerning matches is easier.

In my case, I left my rows as white. I colored my Mom’s file pink and while I don’t have a father at Family Tree DNA, he would be colored blue if I did.  This makes it easy for me to see who is who and it’s intuitive for me.

If I was utilizing full siblings, I would likely color them in some way that makes sense but is easily distinguishable from the parents. Maybe sisters would be shades of pink and brothers would be shades of blue.  Whatever you select, make sure it makes sense to you.

Next, you’re going to create the master spreadsheet, and you WILL write down the legend.  Now you may think you’ll remember, but one time I copied additional matches into my spreadsheet and I inverted Mom’s and my colors, pink and white, and it was never right again.  That’s actually part of why I’m “starting over.”

Creating a Master Spreadsheet

Open your spreadsheet (now titled DNA Master Spreadsheet) and color the relevant rows in your color, unless your row color is white, then do nothing.

Open your parent’s spreadsheet(s) and color their rows appropriately.

sides mother

Here’s an example of Mom’s.

You are now going to copy and paste the entire set of information from your mother’s spreadsheet into your spreadsheet to make one combined spreadsheet. Do NOT do this until AFTER the rows are colored.

If you have both parents, repeat this same process for your father’s results after they are colored.

If you have both parents, you don’t need your siblings files because your siblings only inherited part of your parents DNA, and you already have both parents.

If you don’t have BOTH parents, then you’ll add your FULL siblings. Half siblings will be used later for another step, but NOT here because you can’t differentiate easily between what part of their DNA is from your common parent (especially if you share the “missing” parent) and perhaps from their other parent’s side.

If you are utilizing full siblings, then copy their information into the master spreadsheet as well – but not until AFTER it’s colored.

On another spreadsheet tab titled “Legend”, I recorded the following information:

sides legend

Do not neglect this step or you will one day be very sorry!  Voice of experience here.

A Bit of Housekeeping

Because my descendants (children, grandchildren) only received their DNA from me (and their father, ) I removed their results from this spreadsheet. Their DNA is not helpful for identifying MY ancestors.  I also removed the segments where mother and I match each other because they are irrelevant.  It won’t hurt anything if you skip this step.  It just reduces the size of your spreadsheet a bit. 

A Parentally Phased Spreadsheet

You have just created a parentally phased spreadsheet.

Isn’t this exciting?

Now, how does this work?

If you are not familiar with the terms, identical by descent (IBD), identical by population (IBP) and identical by chance (IBC), or need a refresher, this would be a good time to read the “Identical By…” article.

Time to Make A Decision – To Delete or Not

We’re doing to be using the terms centiMorgans abbreviated cM and SNPs.  If you’re not familiar with these terms, or would like to review information about using small segments, it would be a good time to read the concepts article about CentiMorgans and SNPs.

Some people remove segments from their spreadsheet below a specific cM size.

I don’t, but my goals may be different than yours. I want to know every single thing possible.  I also participate in the research aspect of genetic genealogy, so if I delete segments of any size, I’m deleting information that may be useful in one way or another, so I don’t delete.

You may not be interested in research, so let me share with you some rules of thumb.

I did a small study on parentally phased matches. You can read about the results in “The Threshold Study” section at the end of this article.

Suffice it to say that when I studied four families of three generations each of non-endogamous families, there seemed to be a cutoff at about 3cM/500 SNPs where segments below that level did not reliably phase for three generations in the same family, and segments above that tended to phase. By phasing, I mean the segment was passed from a grandparent, to a parent, to a grandchild intact.  If you need a refresher about parental phasing, you can read about that here.

On the chart below, from that article, green means the segment phased in all upstream generations and red means that it did not.  The black bar is about where the “reliable phasing line” occurred.

4 family phasing

In one case, in a fifth study, below, I had four generations to work with, and the same threshold seemed to work. 2, 3 and 4 match means that’s how many generations were upstream.  If the segment didn’t match on any upstream individual, it’s counted as a nonmatch.

4 gen phasing

What is the take home message here? If segments don’t even phase reliably within families, they aren’t going to be reliable elsewhere either.

So, unless you’re interested in research, like I am, then you could safely delete any segment below 3cM.

Other genetic genealogists who have been working with triangulated segments a long time use 5cM as a cutoff in non-endogamous populations. I wouldn’t delete segments larger than 5cM, but some do.  Look at it this way, larger segments put the relationship closer in time.  Smaller segments are further away.  If you’re an adoptee and you really only care, for now, about close relationships, then fine, delete as much as you want. But if you’re looking for colonial American ancestors, you might want to consider keeping those smaller segments, at least the ones over 3cM at 500 SNPs, which is the lowest number of SNPs reported by Family Tree DNA.

If you are going to delete, now is the time. Simply sort your spreadsheet by cM size and delete all the rows you don’t want.

Be SURE you know how to sort the entire spreadsheet and not just one column, because if you sort just one column, the rest of the data stays in place which means the rows are all messed up – as in forever.  (Highlight only the column header and sort.  Do not highlight the entire column.)

I’ll close my eyes while you delete!

Different Kinds of Matches Mean Different Things

You will see different types of matches as you work through your spreadsheet.  Don’t do anything to your spreadsheet yet – read this next section first.

Matches if You Have Only One Parent

  • Matches to you only and not your parent – this means they match to your other parent or are IBC.
  • Matches to your parent only and not to you – this probably means you didn’t receive that DNA from your parent (or it’s IBC) but this match is still genealogically very valuable to you.
  • Matches to both you and your parent – this is a phased match meaning you received the matching DNA from that parent because the person matches both you and your parent ON THE SAME SEGMENT.  Why is “on the same segment” capitalized?  Because you can match the same person on different segments through different parents.  Yea, I know, cruel joke!
  • Matches both you and your parent, but not on any common segments – this means your match is either to the other parent, IBC or we’re dealing with an anomaly.  In some cases, a single matching segment has become split into two due to a read error.

Matches if You Have Both Parents

  • Matches to one or both of your parents – You received the matching segment of DNA from the parent whom the other person matches as well. If you are from a highly endogamous population, expect that several of your matches will match you and BOTH parents, potentially on the same segment.  That means your parents shared a common ancestor at some point in time.
  • Matches to your parent(s) and not to you – this means that you did not inherit that DNA from your parents. These are still very valid genealogically relevant matches for you because they match your parents.
  • Matches to only you and neither of your parents – this means the match is either IBC or you have barely missed the matching threshold due to an anomaly. I would label these as suspicious (IBC?) until I could look at them individually and they would be the last matches I worked with.

Sibling Matches with One Parent

If you have full siblings and one parent, you can have the following matches:

  • Your matches match you, at least one sibling and one parent on the same segment. This means that the match is from that parent’s side of your tree, at least on that segment.
  • Your matches match you, at least one sibling and does not match your one parent. This means that the match is from the missing parent’s side of the tree or you and your sibling are identically IBC.

Sibling Matches, No Parent

  • Your matches match you and at least one sibling on the same segment.  This means that you inherited this DNA from a common parent or the segment is identically IBC.
  • Your matches match you and none of your siblings. If you have only one full sibling, this might happen about 25% of the time, but the more siblings you have, the lower the possibility that a match won’t match any of your siblings. This could indicate an IBC segment.  If you know who your match is, for example, a first cousin on your father’s side, and they match you and your sibling(s), that segment of DNA is very likely from your father’s side.

Let’s Start Matching

You are going to sort (not filter) your spreadsheet by column four separate times, in the following column order:

  • End Location
  • Start Location
  • Chromosome
  • MatchName

What this gives you is a spreadsheet sorted by match, but within match the spreadsheet is sorted by chromosome, start and end position, in that order.

Here are my first two matches.  You can see that they are in chromosome order, smallest to largest, for each matching individual.

Sides matches

Since there are no pink interspersed rows, neither of these two people match my mother, so they are either from my father’s side or are IBC. To have an IBC match of 23.73 cM would be highly unusual.  I have seen non-parentally phased segments as high as 8cM which indicates an IBC match, but that’s unusual and I’ve only seen it once.

Add Columns

Add four columns to the right of Matching SNPs column labeled:

  • Side
  • Triangulated
  • Tree
  • Relationship
  • MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor)
  • Comments

sides add columns

Some people retain a lot more information in the spreadsheet, such as e-mail address and a communications history other than in comments. I don’t, but you may want to.

Now you’re ready for the fun stuff!!!

Assigning Sides

You’re going to work your way through the entire spreadsheet (after you’ve sorted as per the instructions above) and you’re going to identify the “side” that your matches fall on, as best you can.

Do NOT, and I really mean do NOT assume. So if you see a surname you just KNOW matches one side of your family, do NOT assign it a side unless:

  • you know that person and how they match
  • they match your parent or close relative

When I did this step, I had 10 sure foolers that would have been WRONG if I had made that assumption.  Don’t fall into that trap.

Let me give you two quick examples.

One of my mother’s surname lines is Lore which is spelled a variety of ways, including Lohr.  There was a Lohr male, but he did not match my mother, so he is clearly not from her side.

There is an other individual with the surname Dotson, which is one of my father’s lines, but she matches both me and my mother.

No assuming allowed!  Thank goodness for tools.

A Phased Parent Match

sides phased parent

Here’s what a phased parent match looks like. You can see that Alfred matches me and Mom both on at least some of the same segments.  This firmly puts this individual on “Mom’s side.”  In the column labeled “Side,” type Mom.

Let’s take a minute and look at this match, row by row.

sides phased parent segments

The rows where Alfred matches my mother but not me are shown in yellow in the chromosome column. This means that either I didn’t inherit those segments, or they were IBC matches.

The rows colored green are the segments where Alfred matches both mother and me.  That’s a respectable size segment, so very unlikely to be IBC and probably inherited from a common ancestor.

The rows colored red are where Alfred matches me, but not mother, meaning these segments are NOT parentally phased. If you look at the segment size, all of these with one exception are below 3cM, so would have been deleted if you are deleting small segments.

There is also a possibility that Alfred matches me and not Mother on some segments because he could ALSO match me on my father’s side. In my case, it’s very unlikely because my parents have very different geographic ancestry, but it’s not entirely impossible and we always need to keep that possibility in mind.

So, while I’m labeling this person, Alfred, as a match on Mom’s side, each segment always needs to be evaluated on their own merit when you’re actually evaluating the strength of matches. We’ll cover that in a later article.  For today, we’re just assigning “sides” based on parental and identified relative matches.

In case you’re wondering, I selected the colors for these segment matches utilizing stop light colors.  Green is go, a good match, red means stop, no phased match and yellow is “OK,” not green and not an alert.  Both yellow and green are genealogically relevant to you.  Red is not, at least not relative to this parent.

If a person doesn’t match BOTH you and your parent, do NOT label the side at all.

In other words, just because that person doesn’t match you and your Mom doesn’t mean they are from your Dad’s side. Yes, I know this is counter intuitive, but they could also be IBC (identical by chance) and someplace between 10 and 20% of your matches will indeed be IBC.  So we are ONLY assigning sides when we are positive.

If you have full siblings in the spreadsheet as well, (because you have only one or no parents) you will have additional colored rows. If your sibling matches you, your mother and Alfred, for example, just type Mom for your siblings “side” as well if they fall into this grouping.

I don’t have a full sibling, but here’s an example of what a match between Alfred, me, mother and my full sibling would look like.

sides sibling

If a match matches you and one of your parents, but not on any overlapping segments, I put a Mom? in the “side” column to indicate that the person does match both me and Mother, but the match needs additional inspection. This happens very rarely, but I do see it occasionally, example below.

sides parent no common segments

How Well Does This Work?

Using this technique, I was able to label a total of 7139 spreadsheet rows as Mom’s side. Remember, you’re labeling BOTH your Mom’s and your common matches (the pink and white, above,) so you can’t just sort the “side” column for “Mom” and count to see how many of your rows you labeled.

Some people only label their (white) rows with the “Mom” label. It does make sorting easier, but I label both Mom’s and mine because I want to easily see on Mom’s grouping which ones also match me.  Therefore, I label both Mom’s and my rows “Mom” when we share a common match.

Filtering vs Sorting

Sorting columns sorts the column from either highest to lowest or lowest to highest and shows you all of the data in all of your rows.  Filtering allows you to view just selected data, not displaying the rest.  Filters can be layered so that you can filter one column, then filter another column for a smaller subset.

To find just my rows that were labeled Mom, I filtered the “side” column by the cell value of Mom – which shows me all the rows with the value of Mom in the “side” column – and just those rows.  There are both pink and white rows showing.

To utilize filtering, when you only want to see a specific subset of data, click on “filter” under “Sort and Filter.”

sides filter

Now we’re going to add a second filter by clicking on the down arrows by the column header we wish to filter.

sides filter selection

I filtered the name column for Roberta Estes, which shows you only the rows with “Mom” that also have Roberta Jean Estes in the Name column.  This then gives you the total number of rows that have BOTH Mom in the “side” column and Roberta Estes in the “name” column. (Hint, when using filters, don’t forget to clear the filter after you complete your function.  Otherwise, you’re only working with the filtered set of data and you may think you’re working with the entire spreadsheet.)

That total, visible at the very bottom of the page after filtering, is 3532.

sides total assigned 2

So, of my total rows of matches, 3532 of my 16,861 rows of matches are phased to my mother’s side, or 21%. That means the balance are either my father’s side or IBC.  Given that my mother had only about one third of the matches I did, 21% isn’t bad.

Next we are going to work with our known cousins whom we match in the spreadsheet. This works whether you have parents and/or siblings in your spreadsheet or not.

A Phased Cousin Match

Even if you don’t have parents to match, you’ll hopefully have matches to known cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.. This is why we encourage genetic genealogists to test everyone they can find who will test.  (The exception is that if your aunt tests, you don’t need her children to test – but you do need her siblings.)

This is exciting, because based on where your relative falls in your tree, you can assign them to the proper side of your family.

sides phased cousin

In this case, while my father is not available for testing, I know this individual and we are second cousins, so there is no question which “side” this match is from, especially since they don’t also match my mother. If I have full siblings, they probably match AP as well and you would see their colored rows interspersed in this match too.

Go back through your spreadsheet and assign positively identified cousins and family members from your non-phased parents side.  In this case, people who I know positively are related to my father I’ll label Dad, because this person matches me on my father’s side of the tree.

Finish your entire combined master spreadsheet in this manner.

I was able to add 501 rows to my spreadsheet positively identified as my father’s side utilizing this methodology. This gives me a total of about 3% of my total spreadsheet rows.  Not nearly as high as my mother’s side, but we’re no place near finished.

You might wonder how many people I had to work with on my father’s side. I had a total of 30 positively identified individuals.  The closest to me was a 1st cousin once removed, and several that were quite distant.  I have sponsored tests for about half of these individuals. The rest, I got lucky.  I didn’t know most of them before I took up the hobby of genealogy.  Several, I met through DNA testing.

With my mother and known cousins, I was able to identify about 25% of my matches to one side or the other, even without my father’s DNA. That’s pretty remarkable, especially given that my mother has so many fewer DNA matches than me.

Lesson Summary

Here’s a summary of what we’ve accomplished.

  • Created a spreadsheet with all of your chromosome matches, with your rows colored white.
  • If you have a parent, add their chromosome matches to the same spreadsheet, after coloring all of their rows appropriately. I suggest pink for Mom and blue for Dad.
  • If you don’t have both parents, but do have full siblings, add their chromosome matches into the spreadsheet, after coloring their rows with a specific color.
  • Delete small segments if you wish.
  • Sort your spreadsheet into match order.
  • Review all of your matches and label the matches that match you and either parent with the appropriate side.
  • Review matches with known family members and assign the appropriate “parental side” to that cousin match.

Have fun!

Next Article

In the next article, we’ll create match groups and figure out who is related to whom.

Fredericka (Not) Moselman, But Ruhle/Reuhle (1788-1863) and The Voyage From Hell, 52 Ancestors #123

Fortune cookie

Fredericka Lentz is one of the women we only knew through her husband and children, as of two weeks ago. Last week, we expanded Fredericka’s life through German church records, and this week…well…you won’t believe what we found.  I don’t want to spoil this absolutely incredible, almost unbelievable story, so you’ll just have to follow along.  Consider this your “get a cup of tea” warning:)

Not one story remains about Fredericka individually, and were it not for stories about her husband, written by their grandson as a tribute to her husband Jacob, we would have known almost nothing about Fredericka, nor would we have had tidbits to take our research further. I was incredibly grateful that her surname, Mosselman, was provided in that document.

The tribute written about Jacob Lentz, Fredericka’s husband, includes the following sentence about Fredericka, and that was it:

“He married Frederica Mosselman who was born in Wuertemburg, Germany March 8, 1788. She died March 22, 1863.”

Of course, the story of Jacob’s tribute applies to Fredericka too, by proxy. You can read the tribute letter in full here, in Jacob’s first article.

Not Mosselman

As grateful as I was for the tribute letter, recent research by a retired genealogist specializing in German records (thanks Thomas) has revealed that Fredericka’s surname wasn’t Mosselman, Moselman, Musselman or anything similar. In fact, her surname was Ruhle, also spelled Reuhle.

Of course, researchers searched for a Lentz – Mosselman marriage for decades – all to no avail – because it never happened. In the meantime, the marriage of Jacob, also spelled Jakob, and Fredericka, also spelled Fridrica, along with the births of their children had been indexed in the Buetelsbach church records where both of their families lived for centuries.  Jacob’s last name there was spelled Lenz.  You can read the article about how the brick wall fell here. While it’s an article about Jacob, it certainly applies equally to Fredericka too.

Thomas, who broke through that brick wall, sent this information:

Jacob Lenz, bapt 15 March 1783 in Beutelsbach, Schorndorf, Wuerttemberg, son of Jacob Lenz & Maria Margaretha Grubler. Jacob was a vinedresser.

Fridrica Ruhler, bapt 14 March 1788 in Beutelsbach, d/o Johann Adam Ruhler, vinedresser & Dorothea Katharina ?

 Had the following children together without the benefit of marriage:

  1. Jacob Friedrich Lenz, born 28 Nov 1806 in Beutelsbach.
  2. Johannes, born 9 Dec 1811 in Beutelsbach; died 9 May 1814 in Beutelsbach.
  3. Elisabetha Katharina born 28 March 1813 in Beutelsbach.
  4. Maria Barbara, born 22 August 1816.

This information, while not yet complete, certainly was very compelling and got the proverbial ball rolling.

Of course, the surname Reuhle is spelled Ruhle, Ruhler and other variant ways. Spelling was not standardized and neither was penmanship.

Our Fredericka was born and baptized a Lutheran. Below, her baptism record.  Her entry is the last one on the second page.

Fredericka 1788 birth

Here’s a closeup.

Fredericka Ruhle 1788 baptism

Can you read that German script?  Me either.  Thank goodness for people like Thomas who can and do for those of us who cannot.

According to the church records, Fredericka, as her name was spelled in America and how I’m spelling it for consistency, was listed in one church record as Johanna Fredericka, which probably accounts for why the 1850 census in Montgomery County, Ohio lists her first name as Hannah. Obviously the census taker wasn’t German and didn’t understand German naming conventions where the middle name is used as the given name.

We next find Fredericka in the church records in 1806.

A Bit of Scandal

Last week’s 52 Ancestor’s story was part two of Jacob’s story, which it so happens needed to be told before Fredericka’s story.

German church records revealed a great deal – who stood up with the child being baptized, sometimes the birth date along with the baptismal date, sometimes the father’s profession and always if the parents were or were not married.

Jacob and Fredericka were not married when their first child was born on November 28, 1806, and the church dutifully recorded that detail. Jacob, however, claimed the child, named after himself, and he and Fredericka were subsequently married on May 25, 1808.

Lentz Jacob and Fredericka marriage

According to “Understanding Your Ancestors” by Leslie Albrecht Huber in an article which first appeared in the Germanic Genealogy Journal:

Illegitimacy in the 1700 and 1800s took on a much different appearance than illegitimacy today. Although it was common for couples who weren’t married to have children, it was uncommon for these couples not to marry eventually. In essence, many illegitimate children were born into family units, although their families lacked the official blessing of the state church. These couples often lived together and considered themselves families at the time of the child’s birth.

Couples delayed marriages for several reasons. Sometimes, they didn’t have the money to pay the marriage fee. Other times, the church was far away or the pastor wasn’t easily accessible. Some German states, in an effort to control the booming population, placed legal restrictions on marriage, making it more difficult. And sometimes, the couple simply didn’t feel that much concern about whether marriage or children came first. Peasant society had its own marriage customs apart from the customs of the state church. In earlier times, the community had viewed living together, making a commitment to one another, and especially having children as basically equivalent to getting married. Despite valiant efforts by churches, stamping out traditions and convincing people to first perform the ceremony in a church proved difficult.

At that time in Germany, a male had to prove he could support a family before the couple was allowed to marry, so a good many children were born before their parents married. Jacob was a vinedresser in a vineyard, so he clearly wasn’t wealthy.  Like most of the other people who lived there, he was a peasant.  Their second child, named after Fredericka, came along in1809, a little over a year after their marriage.

A second son, Johannes, arrived in December 1811 and died on March 9, 1814, probably buried in the churchyard in Buetelsbach, shown in the vintage postcard below.

Fredericka Beutelsbach postcard

Just 19 days after her son’s death, Fredericka gave birth to Elizabeth Katharina who would die on the way to America and was buried at sea.

Two years later, their last child to be born in Germany, Barbara, arrived in August of 1816 and was reported in the tribute letter to be a baby when Jacob and Fredericka left for America in 1817.

The church records tell us that Jacob and Fredericka obtained permission to immigrate on February 12, 1817. They probably left shortly thereafter, because they had to travel from Beutelbach to a port city where they would board a ship destined for America.

I have to wonder if Fredericka made one last trip to the cemetery, perhaps to say goodbye to her grandparents, siblings who had perished, and her child. It’s very difficult for a mother to leave a child behind, even one who is buried.  I’m sure leaving was a mixture of sorrow and anticipation mixed with a touch of fear, dread and excited expectation for what the future held.  I wonder if Fredericka had any type of foreboding about the trip.

Jacob and Fredericka probably sold most of whatever they had. Peasants didn’t own land, so their holdings might have been a cow, furniture and some tools.  They turned whatever they had into money to pay their passage, probably took one trunk of belongings for the entire family, or maybe two, and set out with in essence what they could carry for the new world sometime in the spring of 1817.

Of course, they couldn’t have anticipated the extreme danger and high seas adventure they would endure for the next 2 years. Their lives turned into an episode of “Survivor” with no “out” for them.  Their lives not only took a tragic turn, it also took one that had the potential to change the permanent course of their future, derailing their dreams, and along with them, the lives of everyone in America who descends from them today.  They almost didn’t make it to America.  One of their children, Elizabeth, didn’t.

However, Jacob and Fredericka didn’t set sail alone.

Fredericka’s Parents

Fredericka’s parents are shown on the Family Search site, along with her siblings, based on church records.

Fredericka parents Family Search

Furthermore, it looks like Fredericka’s grandmother was also a Lenz. According to church records these same families lived in Beutelsbach and the neighboring village, Schnait, for as long as memory served, beyond the reach of church records, and they were inter-related over and over again.  The very definition of endogamy.

Fredericka’s siblings were:

  • Johann Ludwig who was born June 3, 1790 and died in the same village where he was born on April, 17, 1847. He married Sabine Mayerle in 1830 and then Maria Magdalena Vollmer in 1846. They had one male child, Johann Ludwig Ruhle, born in October 22, 1846 and died in Stuttgart on August 13, 1893.

Fredericka Johanna Ludwig Reuhl

  • Johanna Dorothea born March 18, 1793, below.

Fredericka Johanna Dorothea Reuhl

  • Johann George born April 25, 1794

Fredericka Johann George Reuhl

Catharine Margarethe born March 20, 1797, her birth recorded below, marked with the cross which means that she died as an infant, perhaps not long after her birth.  The Beutelsbach heritage site shows her death as October 23, 1797.

Fredericka Catherine Margarethe Reuhl

  • Johanna Margarethe born January 20, 1800, her birth recorded in the church records below.

Fredericka Johanna Margarethe Reuhl

There’s one more piece of information here for us. According to the tribute to Jacob, one of Fredericka’s sisters immigrated with the couple.  Johanna Margaretha is the sister who immigrated with Fredericka.  The word immigrated, in German of course, auswandern, is written under Johanna Margaretha’s name.  She would have been just 17 when they left.

Fredericka Family Search

According to church records utilized to create a tree and assemble families at Family Search, Fredericka’s parents were married on June 5, 1787, with Fredericka being the oldest child born the following March.

Beutelsbach has assembled a wonderful heritage book and put the family information online. This is a very rare and blessed event.

According to this information, Fredericka’s father, Johann Adam Ruhle was born January 30, 1764 in Schnait and left for America. Her mother, Dorothea Katherina Wolfin was born August 10, 1755 in Beutelsbach and left for America as well.  At least now we know that Fredericka wasn’t also saying goodbye to her parents in the graveyard on that cold late-winter day in 1817.

Fredericka’s parents were married on June 5, 1787 in Beutelsbach.

Fredericka Beutelsbach parents marriage

The church record, shown below, is somewhat unusual because the date of the event is shown below the records, not above the record.

Fredericka parents marriage

When I first saw the birth records of Fredericka’s siblings, I wondered why there were only children born from 1788 to 1800, a span of 12 years. I wondered Fredericka’s mother had died young.  At that time, I didn’t yet have her mother’s birth record, so I didn’t know her age at marriage.  The fact that her mother didn’t marry until she was 32 years old reduced her reproductive years to about 12.  Few children doesn’t always mean the wife died young.  I do wonder why she waited until age 32 to marry.  There must surely be a story there that we’ll never know.

The most surprising piece of information in these records is that Fredericka’s parents also immigrated to America. In addition to Fredericka’s youngest sister, her brother Johann George Ruhle born in 1794 immigrated as well, but her brother Johann Ludwig who was born in 1790 did not.  He died in 1847, a “weingartner” in Beutelsbach at age 57 of a brain injury.  I wonder how he felt being the only family member left behind?

In Germany, you didn’t just pack your bags and set off for America. You had to apply for permission to leave.

Permission to Leave

This book, “Königlich-Württembergisches Staats- und Regierungsblatt: vom Jahr … 1817,” in English, the “Royal Württemberg State and Official Gazette: by the year… 1817,” copied at Google, has the actual German records of who was authorized to leave.

Fredericka permission to leave

On page 199, you’ll note in the text (9 lines from the bottom) that Jacob Lenz and Johann Adam Ruhle are listed one after the other. The date of the publication of this group is on the following page, given as March 1718.

I asked Thomas about this list, and he indicated that it wasn’t at all a social listing, but official legal notices of people about to depart so that their debtors, if they had any, were aware they were about to emigrate and could settle up outstanding accounts. Those practical Germans.

I utilized one of the online translators to translate this and it says:

“Young Jakob Lenz under representation of old Jakob Lenz. Johann Adam Ruhle under representation of the shoemaker, Wilhelm Schweizer.”

How the heck did Thomas find this? He Googled in German.  In this case, “Jacob Lenz auswandern 1817.”  Practical Thomas!

Thanks again to Thomas, we have the published list of who applied and was granted permission to leave in Wurttemberg between 1816 and 1822.

On this list, we find the following Lenz men. The first date is the date of application and the second is the date of approval to leave.  Keep in mind that this includes their family, wife and children, even adult children if they are still living at home.

    • Lenz, Daniel Beutelsbach Schorndorf November 14, 1816 November 18, 1816 Weingaertner
    • Lenz, Daniel Schnait Schorn Dorf 19 Apr 1817 1 May 1817
    • Lenz, Gottfried Beutelsbach Schorndorf 29 Mar 1817 April 7, 1817 single
    • Lenz, Jakob Lenz young Beutelsbach Schorndorf 19 Mar 1817 28 Mar 1817

All of these Lenz men were from either Beutelsbach or Schnait, so they would be family members of some description. Those two towns are about two miles apart.

The Reuhle men were listed as follows:

    • Ruehl (in), Katharina Plieningen Stuttgart February 24, 1817 2 Mar 1817 to America or to Russia
    • Ruehle, Johann Adam Beutelsbach Schorndorf 19 Mar 1817 28 Mar 1817
    • Ruehle, Matthaeus Calw April 10, 1817 April 14, 1817 Nadler to Russia

The only Reuhle from Beutelsbach is Johann Adam, Fredericka’s father.

Their application date and their approval dates for the Lentz and Reuhle families are the same. These people emigrated as a family group.  So it wasn’t just Fredericka’s sister who came to America, but her parents and brother as well.

It must have been very difficult for Fredericka and her family to say goodbye to her one sibling left behind. Her brother Johann George was 27 when they left, but he wasn’t married, so there was nothing really to hold him to Beutelsbach.  I wonder why he stayed. Maybe he was the one with the foreboding.

The Journey

The tribute to Jacob tells us a somewhat incredulous story of the journey to America. While this story is very unusual, it’s so unusual that there must surely be a grain of truth someplace. No one would just make this up.  Here is what the tribute says:

Finally all arrangements were completed and bidding farewell to all their relations he and his family with his wife’s sister began their journey in 1817 (the words “in 1817” are omitted in the second version) to the land of his dreams. Thus they left Wuertemburg, Germany to return no more.

Ships were very different then than what they are now, and as their finances were limited. They did not have the best accommodations that were furnished to the more favored, even in that early day.  But they were willing to endure the hardships of an ocean voyage that they might come to the land about which they had heard so much.  Strange as it may seem to us now, they were to spend about 3 months on the ocean before landing on American soil (the words “on American soil” are omitted from the second version).  But now comes a very strange and trying part of their experience.

They experienced much of the ocean storm and the time seemed long. As the time came that they could reasonably expect to end their journey and set foot on the new world, everyone was making preparation to quit their ocean home.

But many days passed by and no land came in sight. Everyone became restless and there were many misgivings.  They sought explanations from the captain of the ship but his explanations were not satisfactory.  One part of their diet was a large kettle of soup or hash of which they all partook.  Some actions on the part of the captain as he was about where this food was being prepared at a certain time aroused suspicions of those in charge of preparing the food and instead of serving this food it caused the arrest of the captain of the ship.

A sample of the food was preserved and found to contain poison enough to kill many more than were on board this vessel. The captain’s purpose was to poison the crew and turn the ship over to pirates. He was later executed for this.

The ship without a captain wandered around in the northern waters for some time and finally landed (shipwrecked) way up on (the western coast of) Norway where they have six months of day and six months of night; thus were your (my) early ancestors brought to a disappointment in life that they were never able to find words to express. Landing in Norway where conditions were very unfavorable and where but few people live, instead of in America.  Their money all gone, strangers in a strange land, unable to speak the language, without (a) home (and) friends or prospects (“or prospects” omitted from second copy), a sad condition.

Fishing and weaving were the only things in sight and this they did, thus managing to get along for a few months. It was not possible for them to save anything out of the meager rewards for their work, but they still kept their steadfast purpose, to finally in some way reach America.  (Second copy says “It was not possible for them to kept their steadfast purpose, to finally in someway, reach America.”)

After 6 months of weary waiting in that northern climate, an opportunity came their way. A certain ship was to leave their port for the new world and proposed to enter (so they entered) into a contract, stipulating that they should be bound out to services to anyone that would pay their passage and food expense.  The time of service was to be determined by the bidding of interested employers after landing in America.  They would be indentured servants. (Previous sentence not in second copy.)  It was stipulated that the family was not to be separated.

With this contract they set sail the second time for the land beyond the sea, not knowing what would befall them or how they would be dealt with in the future (rest of sentence not in second copy) that was veiled with clouds that seemed to be very dark. All they knew was to commit their all into the hands of the overruling Providence “That doeth all things well, patiently labor, and wait for the future to unroll whatever was in store for them.”

(The passage was $30 each for mother and father and $15 each for Jacob and Fredericka. Elizabeth died on the ocean and Barberry was a baby.)

They landed in New York on the 1st day of January 1819 (rest of sentence omitted in second copy) some 18 months or more after leaving Germany.

Additionally, another family line said that Jacob and family wound up in Bergen, Norway and that they were in the hospital there for several weeks.

Truthfully, I discounted the hospital part, figuring there were no such things at that time, and I questioned the Bergen information. However, who would just pull the town of Bergen, Norway out of their hat?  That too was so specific that it seemed their might be grains of truth there too.

Thomas and I discussed this scenario and both of us agreed, and Thomas set about googling and searching once more.

Start Writing Part 3

A few hours later, I received an e-mail from Thomas, quite late one night, that was titled, “You may have to start writing part 3.”  I laughed when I saw that, figuring he was pulling my leg since I had to write two stories about Jacob, but I stopped laughing very quickly when I saw the contents of that e-mail.

Thomas had found confirmation that at least the shipwreck had happened, at the Norwegian archives along with a translated, a list of people who had been on the ship and who had died after arrival in Bergen.  Holy chimloda!

“Emigrants from the Zee Plough who died before, during or after arrival in Bergen and was buried from Korskirken.”

Kirskirken translates as “The Church of the Cross,” shown below.

Fredericka Church of the Cross

By Thomasg74 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 no,

The list of burials includes their age and location of birth, in addition to their death date and burial date.

There were 3 individuals from Beutelsbach and 4 from Schneit, spelled Schnejdt.

This strongly suggests that indeed, this was the ship that Jacob’s tribute recants. None of our family members are among the list of those who died while in Bergen, but there is a Ruhl child born after arrival in Bergen who died.  However, that doesn’t mean our family members didn’t die on the way, and we know that Elizabeth, Fredericka’s daughter, died at some time during the voyage.

Furthermore, based on this record, we now have the name of the ship, the Zee Plough which is Dutch and translates to Sea Plow.

For me, and I think for Thomas too, this was like throwing gasoline on a fire and resulted in frantic Googling on both his part and mine. E-mails were flying back and forth like a house afire very late into the night, or more accurately stated, into the early morning.  At one point, Thomas said, “I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone” and I knew exactly what he meant.  The best description I can give of this experience is “intensely surreal.”  I have never experienced anything like this in my 35+ years of genealogy research and neither had Thomas.

The question remained, though, whether this just happened to be ship with German passengers that shipwrecked near Bergen, or whether this was the ship Jacob and Fredericka were on. Were her parents on this ship too?  Did they survive?  Her siblings?

This scrap of information introduced so many questions.

Fredericka Zee Plough

This is a drawing of the Zee Plough.

Now, googling in both German and Norwegian, Thomas found the Norwedian Wikipedia page about the Zee Plough.

The Sea Plow

The Zee Ploeg was a Dutch emigrant ship which sank off Bergen in the autumn 1817 on its way from Amsterdam to Philadelphia with around 560 emigrants from Württemberg onboard. The passengers were farmers and craftsmen who were members of a religious movement (separatists) inspired by Württembergeren Johann George Rapp (1757-1847).  He had established the society “Harmony” in Pennsylvania in 1805.

Even though the Wikipedia page says that the ship sank, it didn’t, but was disabled when its masts broke.

The year 1816 had been difficult, with poor harvests and a very cold winter.  At this time over seventeen thousand emigrated from Wurttemberg.

The Zee Plough was 136 feet long, 32 feet wide and almost 16 feet tall, with 3 masts. In September 1815 conducted a trial voyage to Suriname with Jan Poul Manzelmann as captain and they returned on July 4, 1816. On behalf of the Handelshuis Zwichler & Comp, the ship now carrying 560 emigrants to the United States.

The boarding was scheduled for 30 March 1817, but was first carried out a month later. Not until late in August, the captaincy from Amsterdam with Hendrich Christopher Manzelmann from Lübeck as Captain with his 21-man crew.  The ship had to return after 11 to 12 days due to the storm in the English Channel , and a minor casualty.  At the next attempt the Captain went up North and High North Scotland, but fell again in a storm.  This time the masts broke and the ship ended after a time by Skjellanger, northwest of Bergen, on September 25.  The ship was towed to the port of Bergen on September 29, and was anchored.

Before the accident 100 passengers died of famine and disease, including all of the thirty who were born aboard. The passengers did not disembark, and while the ship lay at anchor at Sandvik Flaket (a marine channel, shown below) an additional sixteen died.

Fredericka shipwreck

This channel is truly far north in Norway.

Fredericka Shipwreck Norway

Possibly due to these deaths Lars Monrad (1762-1836) believed that the ship had to be quarantined because of the outbreak.

Fredericka Elsesro

The ship was towed to Elsesro, just north of Bergen, shown on the map above.

The painting of Elsesro, below, from about 1807, would have been much like Fredericka would have seen.

Fredericka Elsesro painting

Fredericka must have been extremely grateful to see terra firma and to know that they weren’t all going to die on that ship, floundering in the sea. It was a long way from Sandvik Flaket to Elsesro.

Fredericka shipwreck to Bergen

A few days later, the ship was towed to Bergen and anchored and the survivors were allowed to debark. I’m sure they couldn’t get off that ship quickly enough.  Food, any food, was most welcome I’m sure, as was solid ground.

Bishop Claus Pavels (1769-1822) expressed concern about how the penniless town of Bergen should be able to accept these refugees. Many of the sick were eventually lodged in a farm in Kong Oscars gate 22 (St. Jorgen’s Hospital, now the Leprosy Museum, shown below), which was at that time a military hospital.

Fredericka hospital

Ironically, there is mention in the Lentz oral history of the group staying in a hospital in Norway for several weeks. The oral history seems to have been accurate.  This hospital is where Fredericka and her family would have lived for some time.

In Bergen an additional 40 passengers died and were buried in peace at the Church of the Cross in Bergen.

Fredericka church

By Thomasg74 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 no,

Fredericka would have seen this tower of the ancient church as she attended those 40 or so burials.

By Thomasg74 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 no,

By Thomasg74 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 no,

Were some of her distant family among those who died?  Had her family members been buried at sea?  Her daughter?  Her parents, brother and sister?

Graveyards in Europe are not treated with the same reverence as they are in the US. Graves are routinely reused in Europe. The graveyard beside the church is now a park, but still referred to as “Grave.”

Fredericka chapel

The interior of the church,  where I’m sure Fredericka prayed fervently for deliverance of her family.  They couldn’t stay in Bergen, they couldn’t go back, so they had to go on.  More danger lay in front of them.

The ship Sea Plow could not be repaired and was sold at auction in December 1817.

In October 1817, the Norwegian government compiled one of two lists of the names of the surviving passengers. This list was published in an article by Dr. W. Weintraud.  I’m attempting to obtain a copy of this list, hoping that it will confirm that Jacob and Fredericka were on this ship, and that perhaps her parents survived as well.

Weintraud reference

Oh, and just as an aside, the Western Reserve Historical Society claims the journal is not in the Ward collection, although I wonder if they looked elsewhere.  The Allen County Public library lists this document in their catalog and you can order the film from the Mormon Church, so I haven’t struck out yet!

During this time, while the German families were stranded in Bergen, some Norwegian families of a similar religious persuasion (Rappites) began to consider emigration as well, and were soundly discouraged from that line of thinking. A Norwegian government official said about a visit when they came to speak with him about the possibility: “I advised them against the thought. I recounted the misfortunes the Germany emigrants had been exposed to and explained that the easy and inactive life the emigrants were leading at the moment – it was perhaps this which had misled these peasants – would come to an end as soon as the season allowed us to send them back to their homeland.”  The Norwegians did immigrate beginning in the 1820s, despite being soundly discouraged from doing so.

The Germans, however, from Wurttemberg could not go back. That was one of the stipulations of leaving.  The Duke of Wurttemberg had officially warned his subjects that the door operated only in one direction.  Other parts of Germany did allow a return, but only after posting a bond, something none of these people could do.

They also couldn’t stay in Bergen where they were unable to support themselves and unwelcome, so finding a way to America was their only option. Life must have seemed very bleak at that time for the Jacob and Fredericka, with no good options.  I wonder if they second-guessed their decision to leave.

After a few months most of the passengers departed for Philadelphia. Around 80 of them rented sailing ship “Susanne Cathrine” which sailed August 13, 1818.

The rest (273) went on the ship “Prima” of Larvik, owned by H. Falkenberg and Captained by Jacob Woxvold. Prima was hired by the Norwegian government, and arrived after a redirect to Baltimore in January 1819. Around 100 Germans returned to Germany. Some of the passengers filed afterwards lawsuit against Captain Mantzelmann to recover freight and other costs.

Who Was Johann George Rapp?

Have we discovered perhaps the reason behind Jacob and Fredericka’s emigration? Was religion behind this exodus, rather than weather or economic opportunity?

In the article titled, “George Rapp’s Harmonists and the beginnings of Norwegian Migration to America,” Karl Arndt tells us more about George Rapp, his son Frederick and his religious sect called the Harmonists and also known as Rappites. At the time of the sailing, George and Frederick Rapp had established the town of New Harmony, Indiana, land on the frontier of a newly formed state. The Rapps recruited heavily in Wurttemberg, holding out the lure of free land from the government and paid passage for those who would come and settle.

For Germans who spent their entire lives, for generations, tending vines on someone else’s lands, the allure of land was irresistible. In addition, the Rapps ordered a large selection of grape vines and fruit trees.  The families who came along knew just how to tend those vines.  In one of the letters to Germany, the Rapps stated:

“There are no poor people here who must suffer need or who could not feed themselves.  Much less would they have to worry that their sons would be taken away as soldiers, the laws of the land here are exactly the opposite of a monarchy.  Everyone has the freedom to express himself freely.  Also complete freedom of conscience is introduced in all America so that every person according to the conviction of his own conscience can perform unhindered his Divine service.”

Those are powerful words to families who have just suffered famine in Germany in 1816.

In order to encourage immigration and migration to New Harmony, Indiana, the Harmonites invested in money to pay passage for many Germans, several of whom disappeared after they disembarked here in the US after their passage was paid. The Harmonites continued to try.  Initially, about 150 people of the nearly 600 who embarked on the Sea Plow were believed to be Harmonites.  About 60 wanted to take them up on their offer of paid passage from Norway after the shipwreck.  In the end, about 15 wound up in New Harmony, Indiana.  Not a very good investment for the Harmonites. The supreme irony is that the Harmonites eventually said of these Germans that “they are too wild for our community.”  Of course, “wild” is very much a matter of perspective.

There was one detrimental factor that many people just couldn’t get past, relative to the Harmonites or Rappites as they were known. As Arndt stated, “George Rapp’s most effective substitute of self-disciplined celibacy lacked the essential mass appeal.”  I do wonder, if George was celibate, how was his son Frederick was born.  But, I digress.

The Harmonites had trouble recruiting and keeping people. Few want to commit to a life of celibacy.  Eventually they were so successful with the recruits that stayed that there was no one left in future generations to perpetuate their cause.  Recruiting for a celibate religion is a difficult task indeed.

It’s very doubtful that Jacob Lenz and Fredericka here Harmonites. It’s very clear from looking at the births of their children that they were not celibate.  They are also not noted by name, nor are her parents or siblings, in any Harmonite correspondence.

Fortunately, some of the Harmonite letters still exist, and contain valuable information about what happened.

On February 24, 1818 Christian Friedrich Schnable wrote from Bergen stating that the emigrants had already sacrificed their worldly estate and they found themselves in a land where they could not remain. He states:

“On September 5th, we lost all masts, also we were very badly treated by our disloyal captain.  He did not give us the food which he was obligated to give us according to contract.  This brought about great sickness so that over 200 souls died.”

We know that a total of 353 Germans sailed for America in 1818, and we know that between 560 and 600 people sailed initially in 1817 on the Sea Plow, so the difference would indeed be between 207 and 247 people. Starving yourself and watching others die of starvation intentionally at the hands of the cruel captain must have been a horrific ordeal.


After floundering at sea for weeks, starving, being towed to Elsesro and finally to Bergen where the surviving passengers were allowed to disembark, I wouldn’t blame Fredericka if she dropped to her knees, kissed the ground and gave praise. Surely, as she watched fellow passengers die, she knew that she and her family may have been next.  Did her daughter die during the voyage?  Her parents, brother and sister?

By Gerd A.T. Mueller - User:Gatm - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Gerd A.T. Mueller – User:Gatm – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

These reconstructed buildings on the Bergen waterfront are very similar to what Fredericka would have seen. Norwegian cities cling to the waterfront as the mountains rise behind them, as you can see in the photo of Bergen, below.

By Espt123 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Espt123 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

In Norway Jacob and Fredericka worked, fishing and weaving fishing nets, until they could arrange passage again, except the second time, they had no funds and had to agree to become indentured servants upon arrival to pay for their passage.

According to the tribute letter, their daughter, Elizabeth died at sea, although it is unclear whether it was during their first unsuccessful attempt to arrive in America or the second, successful, attempt.

Regardless, that must have been a very, very sad time for Fredericka. I can only imagine the agony of dealing with a child growing ever-increasingly ill, then realizing they were going to die, then watching them die, probably while holding them.  The mother, I’m sure, prepared the child’s body for burial, such as it was, at sea.

Bodies buried at sea were typically wrapped in some type of cloth and weighted so they didn’t float. The only thing worse, I think, than watching your child disappear beneath the waves would be to watch it float as the ship sailed away  in the distance – or worse yet, floating alongside for days.

Elizabeth would only have been 4 or 5 years old when she died.

Fredericka must have asked herself if the seemingly cursed voyages to America were really worth all of this trouble and heartache. After all, coming to America was Jacob’s dream, not Fredericka’s.

On To America

In the summer of 1818, 80 of the more well-to-do passengers chartered the ship Susannah Catharina and arrived in Philadelphia two months later, on October 23rd.

Arndt tells us that once in port, the Germans were not allowed to go ashore unless they could prove they would not be a public burden. “Since most of them could not show proof, they were sold or had to permit themselves to be sold at public auction.”  The Harmonite offer of redemption was only valid of course for those who would follow their ways and join them in New Harmony.  Even so, the Harmonites had problems converting “Indiana” money and debts into something a ship captain from Europe docked in Philadelphia would accept as payment to allow the passengers with unpaid passage to depart.

Arndt reports that Rapp had suggested that the passengers with unpaid passage be indentured with a special clause stating that the liberated person should be free again within 6 to 9 months in return for the repayment of the money for their passage. This would buy Rapp time to deal with his monetary conversion issues and not obligate the passengers after their debt was paid. Typical indentures lasted roughly 5-7 years.  The Jacob tribute story indicates their indenture was for 3+ years.

Clearly Jacob and Fredericka were not on this ship, as they didn’t have any money and they report their arrival in January of 1819, but Rapp’s suggestion for the October passengers, still on board that ship in mid-November, may well have applied to the next group that arrived in January as well. It’s known that the ship Susanna Catharina was still anchored in the harbor will into the spring of 1819, likely with Germans still aboard who could not pay their passage and who were waiting for Rapp to redeem them.

Furthermore, the information above regarding a reduced period of indenture correlates with another part of the Jacob Lentz tribute story, as follows:

A certain ship was to leave their port for the new world and proposed to enter (so they entered) into a contract, stipulating that they should be bound out to services to anyone that would pay their passage and food expense. The time of service was to be determined by the bidding of interested employers after landing in America.  They would be indentured servants. (Previous sentence not in second copy.)  It was stipulated that the family was not to be separated.

With this contract they set sail the second time for the land beyond the sea, not knowing what would befall them or how they would be dealt with in the future (rest of sentence not in second copy) that was veiled with clouds that seemed to be very dark. All they knew was to commit their all into the hands of the overruling Providence “That doeth all things well, patiently labor, and wait for the future to unroll whatever was in store for them.”

(The passage was $30 each for mother and father and $15 each for Jacob and Fredericka. Elizabeth died on the ocean and Barbery was a baby.)

They landed in New York on the 1st day of January 1819 (rest of sentence omitted in second copy) some 18 months or more after leaving Germany. Very soon after landing advertisements were sent out giving contract notice,  description of the family, amount of money to be paid and setting the date when they would be bound out to the one that would pay the money for the least period of service.

The momentous day soon came. They were placed on a platform before the crowd, the contract read, the amount of money to be paid was stated and the bidding began.  Of course anyone had the privilege to talk with them beforehand.  The bidding was in time of service.  One bidder would offer to pay their fare for 10 years services, another for nine, another for 8, another for 7, and so the bidding continued until finally their service was declared to the successful bidder for 3 years and 6 months.  They went with him to his home at Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, wondering, wondering, wondering what it all meant to them.

They worked with a will and did their best to please their employer so he would have no just cause to hold them for service longer than the specified time.

They soon found that their employer and his wife were very good people asking reasonable work and supplying them with a comfortable home and an abundance of food. Contrasting this kindness with what they had to meet in the two preceding years, they were content and the future looked brighter to them, as they were now sure that in a few years of time they would be free to start life over again in this land where they had longed (long hoped) to be.

After they had worked about 8 months their employer invited them into his parlor one morning and kindly explained to them that according to customary wages, they had earned enough to pay their fare across the ocean and that was all he wanted, that he appreciated very much their faithful service. There were at the liberty to do for themselves and to work for who or where they would and their wages would be theirs to do with as they wished.

Freeing them of over two and a half years of service was so unthought-of on their part that they could never thank those people enough for their great kindness. So he often told it to his children and asked them to tell it to their children – that they might know and appreciate this kindness that was shown to them at the time it meant so much.

The Ship Prima

The last ship to leave Norway with the shipwrecked Germans was the Prima. On May 4th, 1819, a few months after the Prima’s arrival earlier that year in January, another Harmonite letter tells of the near catastrophy.  These ships carrying Jacob and Fredericka seem jinxed.  I can only imagine their horrific fear as they once again were endangered on the sea, seemingly sure to perish.

This letter reports that the group passed through a violent hurricane that threatened to capsize their ship.

We find additional information about this journey in a paper written by Ingrid Semmingsen titled “Haugeans, Rappites and the Immigration of 1825,” published in “Norwegian-American Studies, Volume 29” in 1983. This immigration is referring to the Norwegian immigration to the US.

Semmingsen states that aboard the Zee Plough were:

“About 500 emigrants – all from Wurttemberg, petty farmers and craftsmen who had resolved after the unusually severe winter of 1816 to leave for America. 1816 was the year “when summer never came.” Some of the immigrants, probably about 150, called themselves separatists.  They were religious dissenters and political malcontents who stoutly resisted any attempts by the Norwegian authorities to induce them to return to Germany.  They maintained they would be subject to persecution there.  They were followers of Johann George Rapp, gone to America in 1803.

Some of the Germans had paid all or part of the passage due the Dutch shipping company and they brought legal action against the skipper in an attempt to regain their money. Several of the emigrants still had some funds left, but most of them were poor.  A certain percentage were “nonpaying passengers” who had entered into an agreement with the skipper that they would raise the necessary funds on arrival in America by enlisting as indentured servants or laborers.

The whole group of emigrants was in miserable condition after floundering in the North Sea storm for nearly 2 months, during which time a number of them had perished. As a result, there were orphans among them and some 40 of the passenger were so feeble that they were sent to a hospital.

Fortunately the Norwegian doctor who was put in charge of them found nothing contagious. Nevertheless some deaths did occur after arrival in Bergen.

As events would have it, the entire group had to spend the whole winter in Bergen. The sailing season was past and the city authorities in cooperation with the Norwegian government had to take measures to provide them with housing and other necessities.  The years 1817-1818 were the worst Norway had to endure after gaining independence in 1814.  Crown Prince Carl Johann who would become king in 1818 even gave assistance from his own private funds.  Finances were desperate and political unrest was smoldering.

Even under more normal circumstances, it would have been a formidable task for a city with fewer than 15,000 inhabitants to improvise charitable organizations to assume responsibility for 500 practically helpless foreigners, many of them political refugees. In 1817 it must have seemed an event of catastrophic proportions.  Not until the summer and fall of 1818 did the immigrants leave Bergen.  The first group left  in August and docked in Philadelphia in late October and the second on the vessel Prima did not arrive in Baltimore until shortly after New Year’s, 1819.

Semmingsen goes on to say a few pages later that:

The Norwegian government had advanced 1,300 pounds toward their transportation which it hoped would be refunded when the ship reached an American port. The full cost of transportation ran to 2,200 pounds and the difference was arranged for by a naturalized German in Kristiana named Grunning.  More is known about this second crossing.

One of the crew of the Prima, presumably one of the officers if not the captain himself, wrote an account of the journey which was published in a Norwegian newspaper in 1826. He reported that there were 2 Catholic families among the passengers and the rest were Lutherans.

The people were described as religiously-minded, virtuous, and, considering their social class, well-bred. All of them had prayer books. Every morning and evening they prayed to God in a solemn and touching manner and sang hymns in clear, pure voices.

Before retiring they entertained themselves with song, dance, music, and games. On occasion they also passed the cup of friendship among themselves.

Skipper Woxland chose the southern route. This was undoubtedly wise considering the lateness of the season when he set sail. He took the Prima south to the coast of Portugal so as to utilize the trade winds, and it paid off “With the never-failing dominance of this wind” they reached the West Indies, but there they ran into trouble. They had to fight a raging storm, the shipowner reported to the government, and they had to dock in Baltimore instead of in Philadelphia, which was their real destination.

But according to the report the ship, crew, and passengers were well received. A committee was appointed by the citizens, which consisted partly of fellow-countrymen of the newcomers. They brought food aboard the ship and also raised money to help defray travel expenses.

Furthermore, arrangements were made to secure employment or land for the emigrants. Everything was managed “in the best of order” to everyone’s satisfaction.

Only the leave-taking with the skipper and the crew was a sad experience for the emigrants. Many of them had learned to speak Norwegian during the long stay in Bergen, and they promised that they would never forget dear Norway or “the kindly disposed citizens of Bergen.”

Not all the passengers were as favorably impressed by their reception in America as this report would imply — at least not four persons who were bound for Harmony and who, a few months later, sent a letter from Philadelphia to “Dearly beloved brothers and sisters in God’s congregation in Bergen.”

To be sure, they praised the skipper and crew who, with God’s help, exerted themselves to the uttermost in order to save ship and passengers when a “terrible storm” almost caused the ship to capsize; but they were dissatisfied with Harmony, which had not “given orders to redeem us.” They also had encountered trouble with getting their passage paid for, and they were forced to seek release from paying the big bill “charged against us for the care we received in Bergen.” Clearly, the emigrants also had to work as indentured servants. “Then we were sold for the passage money: one down south, another up north; only four of us are here together, the others are scattered.”

However, they continue, “America is a good country. Poor people live better here than the wealthy ones in Bergen and Germany. Wages are good. While we are in service, we are given good food and clothing and we have many free periods. We hope that we will soon earn our freedom and then be gathered together as one congregation.”

The Lawsuit

Apparently, there was indeed a lawsuit, although the outcome is questionable. The Jacob Lentz tribute says that the Captain was hung.

According to this information from the Norwegian archives website, and auto-translated, it looks like the Captain may have been in jail and the suit may have been dismissed. However, look who filed the suit.

Carl O Gram Gjesdal mention proceedings against Zee Plogs captain in jail in the new year 1818. The occasion will, according to Gjesdal, have been that two passengers, Jacob Lentz and John Fiedler, had appealed to the authorities and received a licence to ‘ on ustemplet paper for the person in question under the law that let make the cases that they find themselves occasioned that grow toward the bemeldte captain, kapt. Poul Jan Manzelmann ‘.  Do you know where this thing is located? It should have been accusations of drunkenness, poor seamanship, embezzlement, brutality, abuse, and murderer tampering attempts.  He was also of some of the responsibility for that small children died during the crossing due to malnutrition. It was difficult with the evidence, and DOM’s formulation, according to have been Gjesdal,: ‘ the captain should replace them to citanterne for erholdt forlite provisions after unwilling men’s discretion … By the way he should as far as compensation is concerned, is considered to be free.  Iøvrig rejected the case. ‘ Mvh Arnfrid

This tells us a couple very interesting things. First, Jacob, according to the earlier discussion, would have been one of the passengers that originally paid his way and that of his family.

Second, this begs the question of why Jacob would have been the one to file the suit. Was it burning anger over his daughter’s death?  His in-laws perhaps?  Or had Jacob assumed something of a leadership position among the immigrants?  Why Jacob?


After arrival, Jacob, Fredericka and the remaining three children were indentured to a kind family living in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. In addition, the tribute letter says that Fredericka’s sister also immigrated with them, but her sister’s name is not given, nor is any additional information.  The fact that Fredericka’s sister was mentioned, but her parents and brother were not begs the question of whether the rest of her family perished, or perhaps the oral history has lost those pieces of information.

I have never been able to find any information about the sister, but given that we didn’t have a name, and I was looking for a Mosselman female, I would never find her of course.

One thing I do know is that the sister does not seem to be living with Jacob and Fredericka in the 1840 census, which is the first census we have enumerating the family.

To date, I have not had any success finding Fredericka’s parents or brother in America. Her father, Johann Adam Ruhle would have been 56 years old in 1820, the first possible census where he could have appeared.  Her brother, Johann George, would have been 26 and would only have been individually recorded in the census if he were a head of household.  They could have been indentured at that time as well.  There is so much we just don’t know.

Freedom in America

The Jacob Lentz tribute letter reports that the family was not split apart when they were indentured to a couple who lived in Shippensburg, PA. Even more remarkable, this very kind couple released them from their indenture after only 8 months for “service rendered.”  Finally, they were free in America to make their own way, but what a price they had paid.

Adam Lentz, Fredericka’s first child born in America, was born August 30, 1819 in Pennsylvania and named after her father. This suggests that Fredericka got pregnant while at sea, in the first couple weeks of December 1818.  She probably did not realize she was pregnant when they were auctioned, which makes the fact that they were released 8 months into their indenture even more remarkable.

Perhaps, the family simply felt sorry for the very pregnant Fredericka who was working desperately hard so that their indenture would not be extended, in addition to caring for her own family. Typically, a pregnancy during an indenture extended the time the individual had to remain indentured, because the owning family did not get full service from that individual during the pregnancy or while the woman was caring for a newborn.  Often, the indenture was extended for up to 2 years.

The tribute letter tells us that Jacob and Fredericka stayed in Pennsylvania for nearly the next decade, moving to Montgomery County, Ohio in 1828 or 1829. Unfortunately, we don’t find the family on the 1820 or 1830 census in either Pennsylvania or in Ohio, so those two decades are still blank slates.

Montgomery County, Ohio

Fredericka had daughter Mary, on May 9, 1829. In the 1850 census, when Mary and her new husband were living with Jacob and Fredericka, Mary’s birth state was recorded as Ohio.

Lentz, Jacob 1850 census

In 1860, Mary’s birth location is also recorded as Ohio. In 1910, in Bartlesville, Washington County, Oklahoma, she gives her birth location as Pennsylvania as she does in the 1885 Kansas census where she is listed as M. A. Overlees.  Based on the birth locations of her children, Mary seems to have moved to Indiana between 1852 and 1854, to Illinois between 1866 and 1870, to Kansas before 1885, to Oklahoma before 1910 where she died in 1916.

Based on the varying information, we don’t know if Mary was born in Pennsylvania before Fredericka came to Ohio, if Mary was born in Ohio, and if so, if Fredericka was pregnant in a covered wagon at 41 years of age. For her sake, I hope not.  I strongly suspect that the earlier 1850 census where Mary was living with her parents would have been more accurate than a later census.  Fredericka, after all, knew unquestionably where her daughter was born.

It’s likely that Jacob and Fredericka were in Montgomery County in or by 1829, and were somehow missed in the 1830 census.

We also don’t find Jacob Lentz on tax lists in Montgomery County until the mid-1830s. In 1841, they purchased land from their son, Jacob F. Lentz, who seemed to be somewhat of an early realtor.

This would be the only land that Jacob and Fredericka owned, their homestead, and where they spent their final years. By 1841, Jacob was 58 years old and Fredericka was 53 – old to begin farming, but very grateful I’m sure that the past quarter century of turbulence and turmoil were over.  Jacob left when he was 34 years old to establish a more stable life – and it wouldn’t be until 24 years later that he finally owned his own land.  I’m sure this was really not what he and Fredericka had anticipated.  It had been a long, hard journey.

Fredericka and Jacob lived their lives on a farm just north of the intersection of Olive and Shiloh Springs Roads from at least 1841 through Fredericka’s death in 1863.  Today, a church stands on the front part by the road, plus two houses, but the rest is farmland just like it was when Jacob and Fredericka lived there.

Lentz Jacob land satellite close

This house, one of the two standing on the land they owned may have been the original farmhouse. If so, this was the only home Fredericka had that was “hers.”

Lentz Jacob house closeup

Jacob and Fredericka sold their land to son George in 1855. Jacob would have been 72 and Fredericka 67.  A year later, George sold it back to them as a life estate.  This deed was not registered until 1865, but since Fredericka signed to release her dower rights, we know that it was indeed executed in 1855, as her portion of the deed says, since she had been dead two years by 1865.  As far as I know, dead people can’t sign deeds, although apparently at one time dead people could vote in Chicago.

The deed does not show that they signed with an X, so apparently they could both sign their names, but probably in German script. Unfortunately, deeds recorded in deed books don’t hold original signatures.

We don’t know if Fredericka ever learned to speak or write English. They lived among a group of Germans in Ohio, attending the Brethren church whose services were in German as well.  If Jacob and Fredericka did learn English, it was probably very rudimentary. Ironically, Fredericka likely had at least a passing knowledge of Norwegian.

Religion and Life in Ohio

Jacob and Fredericka both started life as Lutherans, but ended their journeys on this earth as a part of the pietest movement. Even though they traveled on the ship with a group of Rappites, and one of their Lenz kinsmen seems to have been of that persuasion, there is nothing to indicate that Jacob and Fredericka embraced that religious leaning.

At some point in their lifetime, Jacob and Fredericka became Brethren.  Fredericka lived in the time when the wife followed her husband’s direction, so we’ll never know if Fredericka actively converted, or converted because her husband thought it was a good idea.

What we do know is that their two oldest children were not Brethren, but the rest seemed to be except for the youngest, Mary, who removed to Oklahoma. Mary’s husband was a Baptist, so perhaps she too was being a good and dutiful wife – not to mention there were no Brethren churches on the Oklahoma frontier.

Jacob and Fredericka attended the Happy Corner Brethren Church in Montgomery County. This church was established in a log cabin about 17 years before they arrived in Ohio.  It was a small church and would have provided a close, family-like atmosphere of other German families, something very welcoming to Fredericka, I’m sure.  Other than her husband and children, Fredericka had no known family in America, no sisters to talk to, no cousins, no one of her own blood on this entire continent, except perhaps for that elusive sister who was likely back in Pennsylvania, if alive at all.  Her brother may have survived as well, but if he did, he wasn’t living near Fredericka in Ohio.

The church stood at the intersection of Old Salem and North Union Road, about two and a half miles from where Fredericka lived. This would have meant that unless they had a buggy, which was very unlikely, they would have hitched the horses to the farm wagon and the family would have ridden to church in the wagon.  I’m not sure what they would have done in the rain.

Lentz Jacob church to home

The white church building at that location today was built not long after Jacob and Fredericka began residing in the cemetery down the road.

Lentz Happy Corner

One of the things that church woman have done forever is to quilt. They made quilts for their families, for newlyweds, for new babies and for missionary and charity work.  I quilted at my home church with my mother and she quilted with her grandmother.  Often, when a minister left a church for a “calling” elsewhere, the congregation women made him a quilt to say goodbye.

Several years ago, I became aware of a Happy Corner quilt for sale. I was extremely excited, until I realized it was made in about 1945, 80+ years after Fredericka died.  None of these women would have even known Fredericka.  Nonetheless, in an odd way, I felt that this quilt stitched the past and present together.  I know that Fredericka likely participated in a similar activity, 100 years earlier.

Fredericka happy corner quilt

Fredericka’s Death

Thankfully, the tribute letter also tells us when Fredericka died. Her gravestone was too badly deteriorated by the time cousin Steve Lentz took photographs, so if dates were ever there, we can’t read them now.

The Brethren newsletter was called the Gospel Visitor, and while Jacob’s death in 1870 was submitted by the local minister, Fredericka’s was not. It’s sad, because in many ways it seems that Fredericka spent her entire life being unrecognized and later, forgotten.

The cemetery is not directly adjacent, beside or behind the church, which is somewhat unusual.

Lentz Happy Corner cemetery satellite

The church is on the southwest corner of the intersection of Old Salem Road and North Union Road, and the cemetery is located a few hundred feet east on Old Salem Road, marked by the small grey pin above.

It’s a beautiful cemetery, punctuated by mostly older burials.

Lentz Happy Corner cemetery

Cousin Steve visited years ago and took photos of both Jacob and Fredericka’s stones.

Lentz, Jacob-Fredericka graves from Steve-a

In the photo above, Jacob’s stone is the white stone with his name showing. In front of his stone and to the left in the photo is a small stone with no visible name.  That stone belongs to Fredericka.

Lentz, Fredericka Lentz grave from Steve

You can see at one time that it said Fredericka wife of Jacob Lentz.

By the time I visited in 2004, you couldn’t even see the stone because it was obscured by a very healthy yucca plant, as seen below..

Lentz Happy Corner cem

Jacob joined Fredericka 7 years later. Unfortunately, it appears that there was no space beside Fredericka for Jacob, so their graves are slightly offset.  At least they are buried in earth and not in the Atlantic Ocean someplace.

The Children

Wives were helpmates to their husbands and mothers to their children, and not necessarily in that order.

I’m sure Fredericka’s children were near and dear to her heart.  If she was like other mothers, there is nothing more important.

Let’s look at what we know about each of the children. Unfortunately, Jacob did not leave a will when he died, and no probate was filed, so I’ve used alternative information to assemble the names and lives of the children.

Beginning with the 1840 census, I correlated known or suspected children against the census entry. Jacob Lints is shown in Madison Township with several family members. I’ve noted Jacob’s children where they would fit according to their known birth dates and the census categories.

  • Male 50-60 (born 1780-1790) Jacob
  • Female 50-60 (born 1780-1790) Fredericka
  • Male 5-10 (born 1830-1835) unknown, possibly Lewis
  • Male 10-15 (born 1825-1830) Benjamin born 1826
  • Male 15-20 (born 1820-1825) George born 1824 married in 1846
  • Male 20-30 (born 1810-1820) Adam born 1819 married 1843 to Margaret Whitehead
  • Female 10-15 (born 1825-1830) Mary born 1829, married 1848
  • Female 15-20 (born 1820-1825) Margaret born 1822, married December 1840 to Valentine Whitehead

The children of Jacob and Fredericka as I know them today::

  • Jacob Freidrich Lentz (spelled Lenz on his baptismal record) born Nov. 28, 1806 in Beutelsbach, Germany and married Sophia Schweitzer on May 6, 1830. In the 1880 census he is listed as a real estate agent census and shows parents born in Baden. He is identified as Jacob’s son in a local Dayton history book. His children are listed as Harriett born 1836 and married Jacob Shumaker, Margaret “Mary” born 1839/1840 married Cincinnatus Stimson, Jacob Franklin born 1840 and married Sarah “Sallie” Quimby Pierce, Cyrus Lentz born 1834 and married Mary Elizabeth Whitehead in Elkhart County, Indiana in 1855 and Charlotte Elizabeth Lentz born 1831/1833 married Daniel Donson. Jacob died on March 23, 1887 in Dayton, Ohio and is buried in the Woodland Cemetery. Jacob’s first name, at least, was for his father and his grandfather as well.

Lentz Jacob Friedrich baptism

  • Johannes Lenz was born on December 9, 1811 and died in Germany on March 9, 1814, just 2 years and 3 months of age.

Fredericka Johannes Lenz 1811.png

  • Fredericka (Freidrica) Lentz born in Beutelsbach, Germany July 3, 1809, married Daniel Brusman in Pennsylvania, identified by her son Lafayette’s death certificate as Fredericka Lentz.  According to the 1850 census, she had daughter Adaline born 1832 in Ohio, Margaret born 1835, died 1874, Ann born 1838 married James Gallagher and had daughters May and Effie, Lafayette born 1841 married Sarah Coffman, Jacob born 1844 and married Margaret Covery and Lorenzo born in 1848 and married Nancy Jane Harmon. Daniel Brusman died before the 1860 census and at some point, Fredericka remarried to Harry Gallagher. She died October 8, 1897 and is buried in Polk Grove Cemetery, Montgomery County, Ohio. Fredericka was named for her mother.

Fredericka Friedrica 1809

  • Elizabeth Katharina Lenz was born in Beutelsbach, Germany, on March 18, 1814 and died at sea on the way to America.  Katharina was Fredericka’s mother’s middle name, by which most German women were called.

Fredericka Elizabeth Catharina Lenz 1814

  • Barbery Lentz, baptized Maria Barbara Lenz in Germany on August 22, 1816, was a baby when her parents sailed for their new home. Sister Yost is mentioned in Jacob’s obituary. Barbara married Henry Yost and her death certificate in Elkhart County, Indiana gives Jacob’s name as her father. Based on her death certificate, she was born August 21, 1816. The 1850 census shows her children as Jane born 1841, Harrison born 1846 and William born in 1849 but dead before 1860. The 1860 Montgomery County census shows Lucretia age 7 and Lucy E. age 3. The 1870 census shows them in Montgomery County, but by 1880 they were in Elkhart County, Indiana. Barbara died on November 9, 1899. Her father’s name was given correctly, but her mother’s was listed as “don’t know” then scratched out. The informant was Jane Pollock, probably her daughter, who would clearly have known her grandmother before Fredericka died in 1863 when Jane would have been 22 years old. Many German babies were given the first “saint’s name” of Maria. Jacob’s mother was Maria Margaretha and his sister was Maria Magdalena.

Fredericka Lenz, Maria Barbara 1816

Maria Barbara’s birth record in the church book in Beutelsbach, Germany and her death certificate in Elkhart County, Indiana, below.

Lentz Barbara death cert

  • Adam Lentz born August 30, 1819 in Pennsylvania, married first in 1843 in Montgomery County, Ohio to Margaret Whitehead who died in 1844 in Elkhart Co. He then married Elizabeth Neff in 1845 in Elkhart County, then left and went to Montgomery Co., Illinois where he was listed the 1880 census with his parents having been born in Wurttemberg. By 1900 he was in Bates County, Missouri. The tribute letter states he was the son of Jacob. Adam died August 4, 1906 in Adrian, Bates County, Missouri. Adam had children Mary born 1848, Henry born 1850, Warren born 1853, Aaron born 857, Samuel born 1860, Marven born 1860, Clara Ellen born 1864, George William born 1867, John Adam born 1867, Charles Alfred born 1873.  Missouri did not maintain death records until about 1910. Adam was named for Fredericka’s father.  One of the two tribute copies came from Adam’s grandson.
  • Margaret Elizabeth Lentz was born December 31,1822 in Pennsylvania and married Valentine Whitehead December 31, 1840 in Montgomery County, Ohio. He died in 1851 in Elkhart County, Indiana. She remarried to John David Miller on March 30, 1856 and died July 4, 1903. She identifies her parents as being born in Wurttemberg in the 1880 census.  Her death certificate names her father as Adam Lentz, who was actually her brother. Margaret had children by Valentine Whitehead; Emmanual born 1849 married Elizabeth Ulery, Mary Jane married John Ulery, Jacob Franklin married Eva Bowser, Lucinda married Joseph Haney, Samuel married Henrietta, Sarah born 1864 died 1867, Ida born 1867 died 1893. By John David Miller Margaret had children: Evaline Louise born 1857 and married Hiram B. Ferverda, Ira Miller born 1859 and married Rebecca Rodibaugh and Perry Miller born 1862. Margaret Elizabeth was named for Jacob’s mother, Maria Margaretha and his sister, Catharine Margaretha. Fredericka’s sister was also named Catharina Margaretha and of course, Elizabeth was the name of the child who died on the way to the US.

Fredericka Margaret Lentz Miller death cert

On her death certificate, Margaret’s father is listed as Adam, who was her brother, and her mother is unknown. Her son-in-law was the informant, which explains why the names were incorrect.

john david miller family

Margaret is shown here with her grown Miller family.

  • George W. Lentz born Feb. 11, 1824 in Pennsylvania, married Sarah Spitler or Spitzler about 1845. She died in 1853 and he married Catherine Blessing in 1855 in Montgomery County, Ohio, and gives his parents as having been born in Wurttemberg in the 1880 census. Jacob Lentz is living with George in 1880. George has children with Sarah Spitzler; Mary Ann born 1846, Susanna born 1848, Sarah born 1851, Lucinda born 1853, Jane born 1849. With Catherine Blessing he had Amos born 1855, Martha born 1857, Isaac born 1859, Lydia born 1861, Aaron born 1862, Emma born 1865, Amanda born 1867, Ida born 1868, Jesse born 1870, Ira born 1872, Anna Belle born 1875, Warren George born 1877 and Effie born 1880. George died Oct. 19, 1887 and is buried in the Bear Creek Cemetery in Montgomery County. George was named for Fredericka’s brother Johann George.

Fredericka George Lentz Catherine Blessing

George Lentz and Catherine Blessing

  • Benjamin Lentz born May 7, 1826, married first Sarah Overlease (Overlees) in Montgomery Co, remarried to Catherine Halderman in 1859 in Elkhart Co., Indiana. In the 1880 census, gives his parents birth location as Wurttemberg.       His death certificate gives Jacob as his father, but his mother is listed as unknown. With Sarah he had children: Adam J. born 1850, Henry born 1853, Lewis born 1856. With Catherine he had children: Whitney James born 1879, Ira born 1860, Alice born 1864, Milton James born 1869, Matilda born 1862, Josephus born 1866 and Hulda Margaret burn 1874. Benjamin died October 17, 1903 in Kosciusko County, Indiana. We don’t know who Benjamin was named for, but all Germans were named “for someone,” often the person who stood up with them when they were baptized as their Godparents. Godparents were expected to take the child who was their namesake to raise in the event of the death of the parents.

Fredericka Benjamin Lentz crop

Benjamin Lentz

Lentz Benjamin death cert

  • Mary Lentz born May 9, 1829 in Pennsylvania, married Henry Overlease on December 1, 1848 in Montgomery Co., Ohio and in the 1850 census, the couple was living with Jacob and Fredericka (listed as Hannah) Lentz. Mary died on May 18, 1918 in Bartlesville, Washington Co., Oklahoma and is buried in the White Rose Cemetery. In 1860, they too were living in Elkhart County, Indiana. In 1880, in Neosho Co., Kansas, Mary gives her parents’ birth location as Wurttemberg. Mary had George born 1850, died 1871, Warren born 1852, Sarah born 1854, Mary Ann born 1857 married a Forrester, Milo born 1860, Francis born 1866, William born 1870, Perry, Laura Frances died 1916, Jesse L born 1877 and Effie born 1875 married a Wylie and moved to Portland Oregon. Mary and her husband were Baptists. Mary would have been named for Jacob’s sister Maria Magdalena, perhaps, or his mother, Maria Margaretha.

Fredericka Mary Lentz Overlease

Mary Lentz Overlease

  • Possibly Lewis Lentz born in 1832. Lewis Lentz may or may not be the son of Jacob and Fredericka. He is living with Barbara Yost, Jacob and Fredericka’s daughter, in 1850 and there is a male in Jacob and Fredericka’s household in 1840 of this age. Lewis’s death certificate says his father’s name is George, but Lewis moved to Indiana when young with and his children would never have known his parents in Ohio. If Lewis was the child of Jacob and Fredericka, we don’t know who he was named for.  It would be very interesting if Lewis’s descendants participated in DNA testing.

Fredericka Lewis Lentz death cert

We have the death certificates for 3 of Fredericka’s children, and on all three, her name is unknown. I find that incredibly sad.  The woman who sacrificed so much forgotten so quickly.


Fredericka’s mitochondrial DNA would have been contributed to all of her children, but only passed on by her daughters. Only females pass mitochondrial DNA to their children.  Therefore, anyone today who carries her mitochondrial DNA must be related to Fredericka though all females, although in the current generation, males can test, so long as they connect to Fredericka though an all female line. 

In the section above, candidate grandchildren are noted in bold, and I am listing them individually below.

The 3 surviving daughters of Fredericka Ruhle Lentz with female descendants:

1. Fredericka Lentz Brusman married Daniel Brusman

  • Adaline Brusman born 1832 in Ohio
  • Margaret Brusman born 1835, died 1874
  • Ann Brusman Gallagher born 1838 married James Gallagher
    • May Gallagher
    • Effie Gallagher

2. Barbara Lentz Yost married Henry Yost

  • Jane Yost born 1841
  • Lucretia Yost born 1853
  • Lucy E. Yost Pollock born 1857 married a Pollock in Indiana

3. Margaret Elizabeth Lentz Whitehead Miller married Valentine Whitehead, then John David Miller

  • Mary Jane Whitehead Ulery born 1851, married John Ulery
    • Margaret Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ulery Mutschler married Albert Mutschler
  • Lucinda Whitehead Haney born 1842 married Joseph Haney
  • Evaline Louise Miller Ferverda born 1857 and married Hiram B. Ferverda
    • Edith Estella Ferverda Dye married Tom Dye
      • Ruth Dye
    • Elizabeth Gertrude Ferverda Hartman born 1884 married Louis Hartman
      • Louisa Hartman Tenney married Ora Tenney
        • Helen Tenney Nine married Norman Nine
          • Lisa Nine
      • Roberta Hartman Frush married Rulo Frush
        • Carol Frush Slaymaker married William Slaymaker
          • Nadine Slaymaker
          • Nancy Slaymaker
    • Chloe Evaline Ferverda Robinson born 1886 married Rolland Robinson
      • Charlotte Robinson Howard married Bruce Howard
        • Susan Howard Higg married Richard Higg   
        • Mary Carol Howard Bryan married David Bryan
          • Kerrie Bryan
          • Julie Bryan
        • Sally Howard         
    • Margaret Ferverda Glant born 1902 married Chester Glant
      • Mary Glant Wigner married Varrill Wigner
        • Kari Anne Wigner
      • Joyce Ann Glant Zimmerman married Delferd Zimmerman
        • Nancy Zimmerman
        • Beth Zimmerman

I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone who descends from Fredericka Lentz and carries her mitochondrial DNA.

Autosomal DNA

One of the issues we have with autosomal DNA is that so many of the people who have tested today descend from the marriage between Margaret Lentz and John David Miller.  We can’t tell which DNA is Lentz DNA and which is Miller DNA.  If you have tested or want to test and descend from the Lentz (or Lenz) line through any child, please contact me and let’s see if we can discover which DNA belongs to Jacob and Fredericka.


Fredericka’s life initially seemed to be rather mundane, the unexciting routine line of a pietist Brethren wife in the early 1800s. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Fredericka was born in 1788 Beutelsbach, Germany as a Lutheran. She married in 1808 to Jacob Lenz, later spelled Lentz, after having their first child in 1806.

Fredericka and Jacob suffered through the famine year of 1816 when crops didn’t develop, which may have helped them decide to emigrate in 1817. They applied for emigration permission in early 1817, not waiting to see if another devastating agricultural year would follow.  Crop failures in 1816 had caused a sharp increase in food prices followed by demonstrations in front of grain markets and bakeries which escalated into riots, arson and looting.  The summer of 1817 in Germany would have been similar, had they waited, but their summer of 1817 was infinitely worse.

The Dutch ship, Sea Plow, was scheduled to board on March 30, 1817, but didn’t board until a month later. They sailed, but after 10-12 days, they had to return to port after they encountered problems and a casualty of some sort.

They left again, apparently sometime in late July or August, and Captain Manzelmann attempted to sail north of Scotland. The story is never fully told, but apparently the Captain attempted to poison the passengers and then starved many of them.  Roughly 200 died, including all babies born.

On September 5th, the ship lost all of her masts and was floundering.  They finally shipwrecked on the northern coast of Norway which sounds terrible, but in actuality, saved their lives. The ship was towed towards Bergen, where they were apparently quarantined for a time, probably in Elsesro, on September 25th.  Finally, on September 29th, 1817 the ship was towed to Bergen and anchored.

Bergen was less than happy with this situation. People were hospitalized and dying.  More than 40 additional passengers, of the roughly 560 immigrants died in Bergen and were buried, bringing the death count to over 200.  The Bergen population was trying to figure out how to feed and care for everyone while the Bergen politicians were trying to figure out how to send them all back to Germany.  Nothing could be done during the winter months, as the season was over and sailing was unsafe – and these folks had certainly had enough of unsafe sailing.

We do know that Jacob and Fredericka were on this ship, because Jacob filed suit against the Captain, although it appears the suit may have been dismissed. According to the note at the Norwegian National Archives, Captain Monzelmann was everything Jacob had described, and perhaps more.  Negligent, drunk, scheming and a cold-hearted murdered, starving his passengers.  He’s lucky they didn’t out right kill him.  I don’t know why they didn’t.

In the late summer of 1818, out of desperation, Norway commissioned a boat to sail for America with the Germans aboard. The second journey was also fraught with peril, sailing into a hurricane someplace between the Caribbean and Baltimore, Maryland, where they put into port because they had to.  The journey was over, the crew saved the ship and passengers, even though they never made it to Philadelphia, their original destination.  At least they arrived alive.  I’d wager there wasn’t enough money on earth to get those passengers on another ship of any description.  Baltimore it was!

Fredericka, I’m sure, vowed to never set foot on a ship again. We don’t know if her parents survived or if her brother or sister survived, although I suspect if anyone survived, it would have been her sister since she was mentioned in the tribute to Jacob Lentz.

The Norwegians hoped to recoup their costs when the ship arrived in America by having the passengers indenture themselves to pay for their transportation. The costs were more than just transportation and included the costs of caring for them for the year while they were in Bergen as well.

Given that many of the passengers had originally paid their own way, found themselves in a life-threatening predicament through no fault of their own, shipwrecked in a foreign land and had to indenture themselves and their family members to buy their freedom after arriving in America – indenture must have been a bitter pill to swallow. What else could go wrong?  Or, perhaps they were just grateful to be alive.

For Fredericka, pregnant and having suffered the death of her daughter, Elizabetha, if not additional family members en route, she had suffered enough.

We know from the story that Fredericka and her family were indentured, but not for as long as they could have been – only 8 months or so. This seems to be the first stroke of good luck they encountered.  Perhaps a good omen!

Fredericka may have lost additional children. There are two somewhat suspicious blank spaces between her children’s births. There is a 4 year gap between Adam’s birth in 1819 and George in 1824, and a three year gap between Benjamin born in 1826 and Mary born in 3 years and 2 days later in 1829.

Jacob and Fredericka reportedly stayed in the Shippensburg area for roughly a decade before they headed to Montgomery County, Ohio about 1829. They are not in the 1830 census, but we do find them in the mid-1830s on tax lists, in the 1840 census and in 1841, purchasing land from their son.

They had finally achieved the American dream, although it had been a very long time coming. They were in their 50s, quickly approaching their golden years.

It wasn’t until recently that we were able to piece Fredericka’s family back together – and it was quite challenging.

The fact that Fredericka and Jacob had become Brethren didn’t help. Brethren are known for their lack of record keeping within the church.  Brethren also don’t like government or anything having to do with filings documents at court houses and only did the bare minimum necessary.  So it should not surprise us that Jacob had no will nor was a probate filed upon his death.  His children, if he had anything left, simply took care of things themselves and apparently without legal bickering, as no lawsuits followed.

Fredericka was alone in Montgomery County except for her husband and children. There was no extended family, no village full of cousins, aunts and uncles like where she grew up in Germany.  Given the heartache and loss Fredericka endured getting here, she likely clung to her family closely.  But alas, some of her children were drawn by the same bright shiny allure that drew Fredericka and Jacob to America – affordable land on the newest frontier.

Before her death in 1863, several of her children would have already packed up the wagon and left for the next frontier, where land was available cheaply – following the same path into the unknown that Jacob and Fredericka has themselves followed a few decades before. The frontier at that time was Elkhart County, Indiana.  At least her children had each other there, along with cousins and other German Brethren church members.  That’s more than Fredericka had.  Her offspring was beginning to build a new extended group of family members in new villages dotted across the American landscape near Brethren churches.

Of Fredericka’s living children, the following left for Elkhart County, Indiana before her death:

  • Margaret Lentz Whitehead
  • Benjamin Lentz
  • Adam Lentz
  • Mary Lentz Overlease
  • Lewis Lentz (if he was her son)

It must have been excruciating for Fredericka to realize she was seeing those children, and her grandchildren, for the last time in her life as she waved goodbye, watching them disappear into the distance until they were no larger than a dot…and then they were gone…forever.  She repeated this scene, not once or twice, but either 4 or 5 times.  That poor woman.  Bless her heart.

Four children remained near their parents in Montgomery County, Ohio, and it’s likely that Fredericka lived with son George and his family from 1855 until her death in 1863.

  • Jacob Lentz
  • Fredericka Brusman Gallagher
  • Barbara Lentz Yost
  • George Lentz

Barbara Lentz Yost and her husband also went to Elkhart County, but not until after Fredericka and Jacob had passed on.

I find it incredibly unfortunate that not one of her children who had a death certificate, which means the 3 or 4 children who died in Indiana, had Fredericka listed as the mother. She was always listed as “unknown.”

However, Thomas may finally have solved the mystery of where her Mosselman surname came from, although it’s actually rather disconcerting.

Captain Manzelmann was a very important figure in the lives of Jacob and Fredericka in a less than positive way. Jacob sued him.  Manzelmann may well have been directly responsible for the death of their daughter and perhaps other family members.  Manzelmann would have been a name repeated in Jacob’s stories as the epitome of evil.

Two generations later, writing Jacob’s tribute and trying to remember his grandmother’s surname, the name Mosselman may have come to mind and sounded very familiar. It may have gotten attached to Fredericka as her surname.  If this is in fact the case, posthumously, I’m sure it was very distressing to Fredericka, for multiple reasons.  It would have been most distressing to have been given the name of her daughter’s murderer, if in fact Elizabetha died on the first part of the journey.  Even if Elizabetha didn’t die until the second journey, it still stands to reason that Fredericka could well have blamed the evil Captain, because had he not starved them and shipwrecked them, there would have been no second voyage.  Either way, Manzelmann was clearly a villain and Fredericka would not want to be mistakenly attributed his surname.

As I look back as these past two weeks when the information just seems to flow in buckets with an unreal sense of urgency – perhaps I can now better understand.

Not only is Fredericka no longer unknown to us, her life was not quiet or boring. It was probably far more “exciting” than she ever wanted.  She may always have regretted leaving Germany, given the cost of passage was a quarter century of her life and at least one child.  It seems like she and Jacob were caught in a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation.  Famine was a possibility either way.  If they were hungry in 1816 in Beutelsbach, they nearly starved in 1817 and 1818 didn’t promise to be much better.  As indentured servants, at least they ate and nobody died, at least not that we know of.

Now we know the story of her unspoken bravery, her stamina, and her silence. Sometimes silence isn’t quiet, it’s just that we didn’t know the rest of the story.  Even though we have nothing in her own voice, I can hear her across the years speaking to us – and can feel the fire-forged iron that enabled her to survive.

Fredericka, we hear you, and we now know that your surname was not, absolutely was not Mosselman, but was Ruhle or Ruehle. We know your story, how you suffered and survived, in spite of everything.  We know who you were and we know who the Manzelmann monster was, the two never to be confused again.  Thank you for helping Thomas and I make that discovery and set the record straight.  Now, you can truly rest in peace!

Fredericka RIP

Emigration to Unexpected Places

This week while working with German records, I came across something very interesting, and as I thought more about this particular document, I realized that there is a deeper message here than is initially evident.

The document is a list of individuals who had obtained permission to emigrate from Wurttemberg, Germany between 1816 and 1822.  At that time, one had to file for permission to emigrate, obtain permission, and the list of those departing was a legal document published to forewarn any debtors.  This list happens to include, in some cases, the destination of the departing German citizen.  It’s obvious that this information was not essential, because at least half of the entries don’t have any destination.  They really didn’t care where you were going.

Some destinations are very specific, particularly if they were moving to another German town outside of Wurttemberg.

Several destinations gave locations like “to America or Russia” and sometimes “to America and Russia” and others “some to America and some to Russia.” Either the emigrants hadn’t yet made up their mind, or the German authorities really didn’t care which of the two destinations.

My ancestors were in the “America” group, but I never thought about Germans migrating to Russia.  In general, my assumption has been that migration was generally westward, and Russia is significantly east of Germany.

Emigration Germany

Even more interesting are the entries that say Kaukasus which is dramatically distant. The Caucasus is just north of the Middle East, in the area considered Eurasia, the dividing line between Europe and Asia, between the Black and Caspain Seas.  In 8 cases, they gave the name of the town, Odessa, which is in the Ukraine on the Black Sea.  So, Russia may not mean the closest portion of Russia – although no part of Russia was close to Germany.  Russia as a location may indeed mean traveling thousands of miles east and south.  Not exactly the direction in which we think of relatively contemporary population migration.

There were 3605 records total, many without additional information. But those that do provide additional information are quite interesting:

  • 327 America (including North America)
  • 501 Russia (some say Georgian, one says Crimea)
  • 112 Kaukasus (one says Russia – Kaukusas)
  • 11 Asia (1 says Russian Asia)
  • 16 Poland
  • 17 Austria
  • 8 say Odessa, which is in the Ukraine on the Black Sea.

Some name other German towns.

A couple of people are noted as Separatist, one is divorced, two are single females with illegitimate children. Several are noted as widows or widowers.  One says “with wife without permission.”

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this list are locations not listed. No other countries are listed, other than what is shown above.  South America is not listed.  No place in southern or western or northern Europe is listed.  Neither is Scandinavia.

I would never have thought about “backward migration.” In genetic genealogy, unless you are one of the Vikings who basically invaded pretty much anyplace in Europe and the Mediterranean that could be invaded, we think of settlement and migration as moving northward and eastward into Europe out of the Middle East, Asia and the Caucasus.  I have never, not once, thought about people from central Europe migrating back into Eurasia, back into the Caucasus from southwestern Germany – over 2000 km or about 1300 miles.  They did, however, and became known as the Black Sea Germans.

Emigration Odessa

Georgia, on the other hand, is even further – about 3680 km or 2300 miles.

Emigration Georgia

At 10 miles a day in a wagon, it would be 230 days to Georgia or 130 days to Odessa. You had to really, really want to go there.

On the other hand, the trip to America was “just” 600 km (370 miles) or so to Rotterdam where you boarded a ship, sailed and waited, probably seasick, for between 2 and 3 months to arrive.  You then climbed aboard a wagon again to your final American destination which was probably relatively close to your port of arrival – at least compared to the Caucasus.

Emigration Rotterdam

We’re not surprised to find “German” DNA in America of course, but finding “German” DNA in the Middle East or the Caucasus could well lead to interpreting the data incorrectly if we adhere to the model of only forward (nearing northward and westward) migration. In these records, we find documentation that significant backwards migration did occur, and relatively recently.  We can’t assume that where DNA is found today is where it originated nor that the expansion area follows the generally accepted direction of population migration.

Of course, we’ve always know that about destination locations, like the British Isles for example, but we don’t often think of places in Russia and the Caucasus which was at that time under Russian rule as immigration locations for European emigrants.  That small stream of Russian emigrants, over time added up to a significant population.  The first Russian census was taken in 1897 and it showed 1.8 million Germans living in Russia.

If you’re interested in further information, there is a very interesting website that includes a history and map of German Russian settlements from the 1700s and 1800s.

Family Tree DNA Father’s Day Sale

2016 Father's Day Sale

We knew it was coming, and it’s here. I just received this announcement from Family Tree DNA.

The Father’s Day Sale is Upon Us!

Beginning at midnight tonight (Wednesday, 6-15, Houston, TX, USA time) and running until 11:59 pm (CST) on Monday, June 20th, our Father’s Day Sale will be in effect, bringing discounts on upgrade pricing as promised, as well as some select testing bundles! Invoiced orders during the sale will also receive the sale pricing as long as the balance is paid by the end of the sale period.

2016 FD Sale prices

Upgrades to existing kits are available at the following sale prices, in green, including mitochondrial DNA:

2016 FD upgrades

Click here to order beginning on Thursday, very first thing in the morning, right after midnight, at 12:01!!!

Ancestry Autosomal Transfer Update

As you probably know Ancestry recently changed their file format for their autosomal raw data files, and the new format of these files is currently not compatible with our system. We are working to adjust to make our system compatible with these files as soon as possible. We have this placed at a high priority so that those Ancestry testers who have tested under their new chip may transfer to our database.

Please note that this issue only affects those who have recently tested with Ancestry – people who have tested with Ancestry prior to the recent change in their testing chip are still able to transfer.

If you tested at Ancestry prior to about the middle of May, 2016, you tested on their old V1 chip and you can transfer your Ancestry autosomal data file to Family Tree DNA for “free,” but pay $39 to unlock the file for matching. And $39 is a whole lot less than $99 to retest.  It’s a great value and Family Tree DNA has a chromosome browser and other tools for you to utilize.  If you’d like to see more about the features and tools available to Family Tree DNA customers as well as transfer kits, click here.

Click here to upload your Ancestry or 23andMe V3 results to Family Tree DNA.

Trying to Make Ancestors Out of NADs

Ok, so color me dense, but I’m trying to figure out exactly HOW one would go about making an ancestor out of one of Ancestry’s New Ancestor Discoveries (NADs).

Bear with me while I work through this, and maybe you will have some ideas, because frankly, I can’t figure it out. I’ve had absolutely no luck with this.

If there was a chromosome browser, and given that I’m mapping my DNA segments to ancestral families, I would be able to see where these folks fall – and identify a family group by where they match. But since Ancestry has no chromosome browser, I’m in the dark about how to turn an NAD into an ancestor.

Like probably everyone else, my NADs have varied over time. Some have come and gone, and come, and gone. I have been pretty vocal about the relative uselessness of NADs, but with the recent new more refined NAD algorithm, I thought, perhaps, just perhaps, I might find something resembling a hint that I can use.

Keep in mind that yes, I am a 35 year plus genealogist, so my tree is already fairly robust. That’s one way I know for sure many of the NADs couldn’t possibly BE ancestors, because all of the slots in that timeframe are already full and proven.  At one point, someone asked me how I knew, so I wrote about how I had proven each generation in my tree, by paper. Many have been subsequently proven genetically as well utilizing triangulation.

After Ancestry’s recent revision, I’m graced with four NADs. Three are entirely new, and one remained from before the update.

New NADs

So let’s take a look at these NADs, but first, let’s look at Ancestry’s revised NAD creation criteria.

Ancestry’s New NAD Criteria

Ancestry’s new criteria for NADs is:

Previously, you needed to match at least 2 members of a known DNA Circle to be given a New Ancestor Discovery. Now, users must match at least 3 members of a small (15 members or less) DNA Circle to be given a New Ancestor Discovery. For larger DNA Circles (16+ members), users must match 20% of that Circle to be given a New Ancestor Discovery. For example, if there is a DNA Circle of 10 people, you will need to match at least 3 people to get a New Ancestor Discovery. And if there is a DNA Circle of 30 people you will now need to match 6 people instead of 2.

Now, let’s look at each NAD and see what we can determine.

NAD 1 – Robert Shiflet

Unfortunately, one of my NADs is still Robert Shiflet. The reason I have so many matches in common with him is because his wife is the sister of my ancestor, and several descendants have tested.  I wrote about this here.

Shiflet NAD chart

In the case of the Robert Shiflet Circle, I match 4 of 6, so clearly he is NAD material, even though he is absolutely positively NOT my ancestor.

NADs 2 and 3 – William Sullivan and Hariet Nickels

Let’s move on to William Sullivan and Hariet Nickels, which, according to a compilation of 355 Ancestry trees, were married to each other. (I’m sorry, but that ‘compilation of 355 trees’ makes me shudder.)

NAD Sullivan

This couple is from South Carolina and Georgia, locations where I don’t have any ancestors, but their offspring made their way to Tennessee, where I do have ancestors, but no dead ends in that timeframe.

The William Sullivan DNA Circle includes 14 people other than me, and I match 5 of those individuals.

NAD Sullivan Circle

There are three Ancestry tools to utilize for each person in the Circle:

  • Pedigree and Surnames (matching trees)
  • Shared Surnames
  • Shared Matches

Each of these tools are available by clicking on the link to the matching individual in the Circle.

NAD tools

I checked each of these three tools for all of the matches, and in one case, I found a common family surname. By looking at that link, I know that we do indeed share a common ancestor in the Dodson line.

A second person seems to also be related to the Dodson family through one of the wives lines, Durham.

A third person descends from the same Dodson line as the first person. He obviously does not have his Dodson line far enough back in time, but having worked with this family for decades, rest assured, it’s the same line.  Thomas Dodson born in 1681 in my line is the grandfather of “Second Fork” Thomas in my matches line and the common ancestor of both lines.

NAD Dodson

I utilized all three tools and could find no discernable link to the other two individuals that I match in the tree.

You can also look at the trees for the people in the Circle whose DNA you don’t match, but who match someone else in the Circle. This didn’t produce anything relevant either.

My strongest match in the NAD Circle is to the individual who also descends from the Dodson line. I checked shared matches with him first, hoping that he and I would both match someone with a leaf tree link in my match list, but unfortunately, there were no matches to anyone with a leaf tree link to me, which would have, of course, told me immediately at least the identity of one common ancestor.  Three of 5 matches have no tree and a fourth has just a minimal tree, so there is no help here at all.

NAD no shared match

Unfortunately, the best I can do with these two married NADs is to say that the only commonality I can find with some of the group is a link to the same Dodson/Durham family.

NAD 4 – Henry Garrett

Nad 4 is to Henry Garrett who was married to Nancy Farris, according to Ancestry and 179 compiled trees.

NAD Garrett

My Faires line, also sometimes spelled Farris, was from Washington County, VA, as was Henry Garrett’s wife, Nancy Farris, according to Ancestry.

So, my first thought is that we connect through the Faires/Farris family line, and that may be true. But I’m glad I didn’t stop there.

NAD Garrett Circle

In the Henry Garrett Circle, there are a total of 8 individuals plus me. Of those, two of the groups of family members connect to me through the Andrew McKee Circle where we are all members.  The third individual that I match had the Faires/Farris connection  also matches my McKee cousins.

I was confused, until I looked at the common surnames with the third person, and look what I found:


Yep, a McKee ancestor who also lived in the same location. I don’t know how Mary McKee connects, but it’s likely that she does, given his matches to me and all of my McKee cousins.  It just so happens that some of my McKee cousins also descend from Henry Garrett.

Since all three of my matches in the Henry Garrett Circle also have McKees in their trees, two of those proven to my line, and the third from the same location – I’m guessing here that my Henry Garrett NAD is really a McKee connection, perhaps with some Faires/Farris thrown in for good measure. 

NAD Summary

So, in summary, none of the NADs are my actual ancestors, but are connected in some other way.

Name of NAD Common Line
NAD1 Robert Shiflet His wife is my ancestor’s sister.
NAD2 William Sullivan Married to NAD 3, three of 5 matches have common Dodson line.
NAD3 Hariet Nickels Married to NAD 2, three of 5 matches have common Dodson line.
NAD4 Henry Garrett 3 matches of which 2 are two family groups of individuals who are in my Andrew McKee Circle. The third match also had a McKee ancestor in the same location. Henry Garrett also married a Farris who may be related to the Faires family from the same location and who are my ancestors as well.

The Question

So I’m still back to the same question I started with. How would I actually work any of these back to prove they are an actual ancestor?  So far, none of the NADs are ancestors, and these all seem to be connected via a spur of some sort, or “spuradically.”  I know, bad pun.

Let’s look at my actual Circles of proven ancestors to see which ones of those would qualify to be NADs, if I didn’t have them listed in my tree as ancestors.

Circles – Proven Ancestors

I created a Circle Chart to see which of my confirmed ancestor Circles qualify to become NADs.

Of my 21 DNA Circles, only one has 16 or more members if you count family groups as 1 and not the family group members individually. Two have more than 16 if you count individuals in family groups separately.  Family groups consist of people that are closely related, such as siblings. In the chart below, I have counted groups as “1.”

Generations Ago means counting me as generation 1, how far back in time does this ancestor occur in my tree.

My Matches – Total Circle shows the number of matches I have to circle members, and the size of the circle, counting family groups as only 1.  In the first example of Jane Dobkins, there are two total in the group, and I match 1 which is a family group, not an individual.

NAD Qualifications shows whether this Circle should qualify to be a NAD if I didn’t have this ancestor is my tree.

NAD Created shows whether a NAD was actually created for this Circle when I replaced my current tree with a very small tree that only included my parents and grandparents.

Circle Name Generations Ago My Matches -Total Circle NAD Qualifications NAD Created
Jane “Jenny’ Dobkins 6 1 group of 2 matches total No No
Daniel Miller 6 3 of 5 total Yes No
Elizabeth Ulrich 6 2 of 5 total No No
Jacob Lentz 5 2 of 5 total No No
Fredericka Moselman 5 2 of 5 total No No
Fairwick Claxton 5 2 groups of 3 total No No
Agnes Muncy 5 1 group of 2 total No No
Andrew McKee 6 3 of 4 total, of those 3, 2 are groups Yes No
William Harrell 5 1 group of 2 total No No
Mary McDowell 5 1 group of 2 total No No
David Miller 5 1 group of 2 total No No
Rachel Levina Hill 4 3 of 3 total, one of which is a family group Yes No
Jotham Brown 6 1 group of 6 total No No
John Hill 6 1 of 2 total No No
John R. Estes 5 2 groups of 3 total No No
Nancy Ann Moore 5 2 groups of 2 total No No
Henry Bolton 5 3 of 11 total Yes No
Nancy Mann 5 6 of 17 Yes Yes
Joseph Preston Bolton 4 3 of 7 Yes No
Joel Vannoy 4 4 of 4 Yes No
Phebe Crumley 4 4 of 4 Yes No

These Circles are all confirmed to be my ancestors. It’s unclear how Ancestry would “count” individuals in family groups relative to creating NADs.  In the chart above, I counted a family group as “1” because that’s how it’s shown, but I suspect that even through Ancestry groups the family group together, they are counting the group members separately.  The reason I think this is that some circles only have two members total, plus me.  I don’t match both other individuals, but in every case, I do match the family group, which consists of at least three people.

NAD Jenny Dobkins

On the main Ancestry DNA page, this Circle is shown with 5 members, which counts the family group members individually.

NAD Jenny Dobkins main page

I decided to do an experiment and I linked my DNA results to a much smaller tree consisting of me, my parents and grandparents, to see how many of my Circles would actually become NADs.  This is where a lot of newbies begin, so let’s see what the newbie experience would be, relative to NADs and which NADs really could be turned into ancestors with enough research. 

Reverting to a Newbie

By connecting a very abbreviated tree, I have put myself in the same position as a new person who just knows their grandparents names – or that of an adoptee, except adoptees don’t even have that much information. They are truly flying blind.

Let’s see what the newbie experience is like. After giving Ancestry enough time to cycle through the process, about three days, just to be sure, my Circles disappeared, of course, which I fully expected and is appropriate because there is no one in my tree beyond two generations.  Because there is no common ancestor in a tree, Circles can’t form, but NADs can form, and should, from some of those Circles.

So what happened?

The same 4 NADs remained, which is exactly what should have happened of course. I expected that too.

However, what I very clearly didn’t expect was for only one new NAD to appear, out of my 21 total Circles and 8 Circles that clearly met the NAD qualifications.  Only one Circle became a NAD – Nancy Mann.


I fully expected at least A FEW of my previous Circles to become NADs. Eight Circles appeared to be qualified based on Ancestry’s stated NAD criteria, but only one actually turned into a NAD.  Even the 100% group, Joel Vannoy and Phebe Crumley, where all 4 people in the Circle matched each other for some reason didn’t become NADs.

Of the 5 NADs granted by Ancestry, we know that the original 4 are incorrect, and we know that the one NAD created from Circles that I had with my robust tree is accurate.  This is what a newbie would see.

How would a newbie ever go about telling the difference, except by beginning to work the genealogy backwards in time from their grandparents. And in this case, they will only be able to “hit” one of 5 NADs, because only one is an actual ancestor – 4 are false positives, red herrings or maybe hints, but only hints if you have a robust ancestry to figure out WHERE that hint resides – an advantage a newbie wouldn’t have.  And frankly, none of those hints were one bit helpful.

Given this situation, where 4 of 5 NADs are wrong, are NADs useful at all or are they exciting distractions leading people down dead-end paths?  I feel particularly bad for adoptees who have no information to utilize to try to build backwards to connect with their NADs.


In the case of an adoptee, they can’t build backwards from any known family, so they would have to contact a group like and utilize special methodologies developed by the adoption groups that match groups of people with common ancestors in their trees.

During one of our conference calls, one of the Ancestry folks talked about how excited adoptees are to see a list of NADs. For many, that would be their first clue as to their family history or genealogy, and their first connect to their family, ever.  I’m sure it would seem like a gift from above.  Of course, adoptees wouldn’t have any Circles, because they are hunting for their ancestors and they don’t yet have trees.

I couldn’t help but wonder when the Ancestry representative made that comment how many of those NADs are accurate – and if that adoptee is embracing people as ancestors who are somehow connected to them, but not their actual ancestors.

Not being an adoptee, I know how hard it is to saw branches off of your family tree when you’ve proven your own work to be incorrect, or the work of another in whom you had confidence (or if you’re a newbie, that tree you copied) and I’d hate to be the one to have to take that NAD (or 4/5ths of their NADs) away from an adoptee, because it’s not really an ancestor.

The sad part is that while I have enough information to determine that 4 of 5 NADs are incorrect – the newbie or adoptee doesn’t.  They just have to go on faith.

Common Segments

It’s common knowledge that Ancestry does not give us a chromosome browser. I routinely use segments to prove a common ancestor, or at least an ancestral line.

In one case, we had oral history that Marcus Younger’s wife was a Hart.  Sure enough part of the Younger group matched individuals from the Hart family dead center in the middle of a Hart triangulated segment.

Here’s an example of what this kind of triangulation looks like.

NADs triangulation example

These particular segments are triangulated to the Hart family and triangulated to the Younger family as well, meaning that all of these people match each other on this segment, as well as me, so this is as much confirmation of Marcus Younger’s wife being a Hart as we will ever receive, short of a Bible turning up on E-Bay. The county records where this family lived no longer exist, so we were left with family rumors and later, DNA.

I keep waiting for a Hart NAD to appear. That’s one I could really embrace.  However, it’s quite far back in time, 8 generations.  Would a Circle or a NAD even be formed?

NADs are formed when you match multiple people in Circles who have a confirmed common ancestor. A Circle has to exist before NADs can be formed.  How are Circles formed?

NAD and Circle Formation

First of all, you have to have enough people matching each other to create a Circle or a NAD. That means it’s unlikely that you’re going to have Circles in the closest few generations – because there just aren’t enough descendants of your grandparents, or maybe even your great-grandparents to create a Circle, which is required before the creation of a NAD happens.  My closest Circles are my great-great-grandparents, the 4rd generation counting me as generation 1.  I do have leaf matches to the 9th generation, but only Circles to the 6th generation.

Second, leaf matching and Circles don’t go beyond 9 generations, so if the common ancestor is beyond that in your tree, you won’t get a matching leaf, a Circle won’t be created, and neither will a NAD. That’s really unfortunate, because I think a lot of us really do carry family DNA that is recognizable from that long ago.  We see it routinely elsewhere.

Third, Ancestry creates what they call confidence scores and Circles are created based on confidence scores. They don’t tell us exactly how these confidence scores are created, but in their white paper, they do tell us that more distant matches have lower confidence scores which is also confirmed by looking at the last page of my “leaf” match list. It appears that Ancestry does not display matches below the moderate confidence level.

NAD confidence level

Based on my Circles shown in the Circle Chart, the new person is only going to receive Circles or NADs for generations 4, 5 and 6.

I have matches through generation 9, and in some cases, 10-12 “leaf” matches in generations 7-9, but no Circle has been formed, which causes me to wonder if anyone has Circles between generations 7 and 9?

Being Alone and Right Means No Circle

This past week, I discovered that my ancestor whose name has been believed for years to be Fredericka Moselman was Fredericka Ruhle.  Actually, her baptized name was Hanna Fridrika Ruhle.  I now have her baptismal record, and her marriage record to Jacob Lentz, both confirming her surname.  I corrected her surname on Ancestry to Ruhle, and boom, I’m gone from the Circle.  And Fredericka has not shown up as a NAD.

So, now I’m left with a quandary.  The only way to see who else is in the Fredericka Moselman circle is to change her name back to the erroneous surname.  Or, in this case, to look at her husband’s Circle which is identical to hers.  However, if I correct his name too, I’ll be thrown out of that Circle as well.  If a former Circle doesn’t appear as a NAD, I have no way of viewing Circles that aren’t connected to me.


Back to the Question

I think we’ve come full circle (pardon the pun), and I still have my original question. How does one go from seeing a NAD to proving that NAD is an ancestor?  We can’t do it with DNA at Ancestry because we don’t have a chromosome browser.

If you have identified a NAD as a direct ancestor, or even used a NAD that was not an ancestor to find your way to a new ancestor, please tell me how.

And I hope, I really hope, it wasn’t just by copying someone else’s tree – because if it is – you’ve very likely just copied the cumulative errors of many – especially if they copied someone else’s tree, who copied someone else’s tree, etc. Tree copying is the equivalent of a genealogical social disease.

Did you simply use the NAD as a hint and pursue traditional genealogy to prove the connection? Was the ancestor the person actually listed as the NAD, or a different person?  Do you have proof in the form of documentation?  And by proof, I mean proof that the documentation is actually for this particular person.

I only mention this because I’ve seen so many conflated trees where someone took any documentation by the same name and added it to their tree as proof.  Let me give you an example.  A man who lived in North Carolina and from the census, was born in Virginia, was not naturalized in the state of New York, a location where he never lived.  Obviously a man born in Virginia had no need to be naturalized.  Same name does not mean same person.  Just saying.

If you turned a NAD into an ancestor, did you track from the NAD forward in time to you, or from one of your lines backward in time to the NAD? If so, how did you know which line to track backwards?  Did your match or matches from the NAD circle download their DNA to either Family Tree DNA or Gedmatch where you could utilize chromosome matching?

If you’ve had success turning NADs into ancestors, please let me know and explain how in the comments.

Jacob Lentz (1783-1870), The Brick Wall Falls, 52 Ancestors #122 Part 2

You remember Jacob from last week, you say? What is he doing back again?  What more could there possibly be to tell?  Hold tight, because a huge, huge brick wall fell this week.  Behind that wall, a gateway to the past with generations of family waiting to be discovered.  Come along…let’s crawl over the wall rubble and see what’s on the other side!

Remember my opening in Jacob’s original article where I said, “…if they (my deceased cousins, family and ancestors) are listening…well…I still have some questions that need answers that I think can only come from beyond.”

You’ve probably guessed what happened already. I don’t know exactly WHO in the beyond is responsible for this, but I very clearly know who in the here and now was inspired to deliver this gift.

One of my blog subscribers named Thomas (who I didn’t know personally until this week) is a retired specialist in German records, and, as it turns out, can read German script and knows what he is doing a whole lot better than I do. Thomas took the Jacob Lentz puzzle upon himself as a challenge – one that had stumped me and the other Lentz researchers for decades now.

I quite freely admit that I don’t read German, I can’t decipher the script, and I have limited, as in very limited, experience with German records. Thomas has every qualification that I don’t.

Let me say, Thomas has won first prize, and the Jacob Lentz family is clearly the benefactor.

The Brick Wall

One blog commenter said, “It’s a shame the tribute doesn’t mention a village nor Jacob’s parents’ names, it probably meant the info was already lost by the grand-children’s time. If Jacob even bothered to tell his own children…”

I thought the exact same thing myself, but thanks to Thomas, we’ve overcome that obstacle. However, it turns out that the obstacle was much larger than I had imagined, and there were multiple obstacles.

The Red Herring(s)

Remember the tribute that Jacob’s grandson penned said that Jacob Lentz had married Fredericka Moselman?

Here’s the quote:

“Jacob Lentz was born in Wuertemburg, Germany May 5, 1783 and he died in Dayton Ohio April 10, 1870 and is buried 13 miles northwest of Dayton. He married Frederica Mosselman who was born in Wuertemburg, Germany March 8, 1788. She died March 22, 1863.”

Well, guess what, Jacob’s grandson was wrong. Fredericka’s surname was NOT Moselman, or Mosselman, or Musselman or anything close.  Where he came up with that name, I have no idea, because it was entirely inaccurate.  This just goes to illustrate how inaccurate family stories, with the very best of intentions, can be, and how twisted information can become in just two generations.

That also means that for the past 20+ years, I’ve been searching for the wrong couple. It’s no wonder that I never found that marriage, because it didn’t exist.  That erroneous surname steered me far off course, and caused me to disregard the correct information.

I even went so far at one point as to compile a study of locations in Wurttemberg where the surname Lentz and Moselman were both common – and I came up with a big fat zero, except for large cities. There were just no records of any Lentz-Moselman marriages during the right timeframe.  So my assumption (there’s that word again) was that either the records had been lost or not yet transcribed.  After all, there was a lot of warfare in Germany.

There was another small issue too. Lentz wasn’t spelled Lentz in the German records, it was spelled Lenz, and Jacob was spelled both Jakob and Jacob.  Oh, and Fredericka was spelled Fridrica and she was baptized as Johanna Fridrica.  Jacob’s birth date was wrong too, but the year was accurate.  But hey, other than those 6 little problems, I had all the correct information to work with.  It’s amazing that anyone found them, but Thomas did.

So, the first thing, after I picked myself up off the floor and started breathing again, was to ask Thomas how he did it.

How Did He Do It?

The first clue to Thomas was that Jacob’s eldest son would never have been baptized Jacob Franklin Lentz in Germany. Franklin was not a German name and Thomas postulated that it might actually be Jacob Friedrich Lentz.

Jacob Friedrich Lentz typically went by Jacob F. during his lifetime.  His son’s name was Jacob Franklin, so perhaps it was assumed by someone that Jacob’s middle name was Franklin too.  Regardless, I’m very glad for Tom’s sharp eye and intuition fueled by years of experience, because he was right.

We did have a birth date for Jacob F., son of Jacob Sr., the immigrant. Of course, that too could be incorrect, but at least it was a guidepost by which to perhaps light the way.

Secondly, Thomas mentioned that Moselman was an extremely uncommon surname in that region, so he had some suspicion it might not be accurate.

So Thomas began by looking for Jacob Friedrich Lentz born November 28, 1806 in Wuerttemburg to a father named Jacob Lentz and a mother named Fredericka, with no surname. As it turns out, Jacob Friedrich’s birth date was accurate.  I think that was our saving grace, because it was the breadcrumb Thomas needed to begin to connect the dots.

Once Thomas found Jacob Friedrich with a matching birthdate, and potential parents, he used the other children whose names and birth dates I had noted in the article. We had 4 children total to work with:

  • Jacob “Franklin” Lentz born November 28, 1806
  • Fredericka Lentz born July 3, 1809
  • Elizabeth Lentz, birth year unknown but born in Germany
  • Barbary Lentz born August 21, 1816

Scattered German Records

Another challenge was that the records for this family were not all in one place online.

Thomas started out searching at MyHeritage and wound up utilizing both and FamilySearch for records and trees with record sources. Family Search has indexed many records, but there are no images.  Ancestry has the images, but their indexing leaves much to be desired.  Additionally, names are not spelled or indexed consistently.  However, by working back and forth with both record groups, you can make headway, as I’ve discovered in the past couple days.

Thomas says:

“I decided to check the Wuerttemberg records on I found Jacob Friedrich Lenz’s baptism and that he was illegitimate but the father acknowledged his son.  I also noted the term ausgewandert and noted this.  Looked for the other children and they reasonably matched.  I then looked for the parents and they reasonably matched datewise.  I found their marriage after the fact in 1808.”

Ausgewandert means “immigrated.” The entire family as noted above were marked as such in the church records.  Bless the church clerk or Reverend, whoever took the time to go back and note on their baptism records that they had immigrated. The German clergy often took great care to note what happened to their church members.

Thomas continues:

“The handwriting is not too bad but the ink bleed through and ink stains are atrocious and make deciphering the information very difficult.  For example, Fridrica’s surname is given as Ruhl(in) and Ruhler and can sometimes even be read as Ruhla.  The surname appears to be Ruhl/Ruhle. I’ve seen what also looks like Ruhler at times but Ruhl(in) seems to be consistent.

Similarly with her mother’s maiden name as Wolflin in baptismal records but something else at her marriage to Johann Adam Ruhl.  I thought his name Adam also tied to the child born in America.”

For those who don’t know, the surname for an unmarried German female is noted with an added “in.” So an unmarried daughter of Jacob Lenz, in a marriage record, would typically be recorded as “Margaretha Lenzin, daughter of Jacob Lenz and Fridrica Ruhle.”  When Fridrica married, her name would have been referred to as Ruhlin, but later just as Ruhl or Ruhle.”  Of course, there were exceptions to just about every rule, pardon the pun.  Just to keep things interesting!

Thomas sent this information:

Jacob Lenz, bapt 15 March 1783 in Beutelsbach, Schorndorf, Wuerttemberg, son of Jacob Lenz & Maria Margaretha Grubler. Jacob was a vinedresser.

Fridrica Ruhler, bapt 14 March 1788 in Beutelsbach, d/o Johann Adam Ruhler, vinedresser & Dorothea Katharina ?

 Had the following children together without the benefit of marriage:

  1. Jacob Friedrich Lenz, born 28 Nov 1806 in Beutelsbach.
  2. Johannes, born 9 Dec 1811 in Beutelsbach; died 9 May 1814 in Beutelsbach.
  3. Elisabetha Katharina born 28 March 1813 in Beutelsbach.
  4. Maria Barbara, born 22 August 1816.

Hmmm, maybe now we have a clue as to why Jacob Lentz might not have said too much about life in Germany to his children.  I bet not one of them knew about that “without benefit of marriage” tidbit.

A few hours later, I received even more information. Thomas had found the family at FamilySearch where, apparently, someone was working on the Ruhle line.  Even though daughter Fredericka was missing from the records above, she wasn’t missing in actuality, so that completes the 4 children we knew about, plus one, Johannes, who died as a toddler in Germany, that we didn’t know about previously.

This link is to the tree at FamilySearch. You must be a member, but you can set up a free account very quickly and easily, and the sheer number of records there are quite worthwhile.§ion=details&person=LHFV-8H4

Lentz Family Search

Here’s the tree at Family Search which so generously begins with Jacob’s daughter, Fredericka as “Friderike,” the child missing from Thomas’s record searches elsewhere. These individuals and their children in this tree are all tied to church records as sources.  What a Godsend!

The Record

Jacob’s actual baptism record is shown below. It’s the last entry on the left hand page.

Lentz Jacob baptism

Very difficult to read. Believe it or not, this is one of the better pages in terms of legible information.  I’m sure glad Thomas has more experience at this than I do.

Lentz Jacob baptism crop

Here’s a closeup of the actual record.  Jacob’s birth date in the tribute was recorded as  May 5th, 1783, but he as baptized on March 15th.  You can’t, to the best of my knowledge, be baptized before you are born.  However, they were close.  Perhaps he was born on March 5th and the family remembered May instead of March.  Both are spring M months.

Jacob and Fredericka had son, Jacob Freidrich, in 1806, before their marriage, shown in the record below.

Lentz Jacob Friedrich baptism

Having a child before marriage wasn’t terribly unusual in Germany, and while there was some social stigma attached to an illegitimate birth, most of the time, the parents subsequently married, as soon as they could afford the fees and the requisite red tape was taken care of. The stigma both legal and social disappeared at that time.

Johanna Fredericka Reuhle (Ruhle) and Jacob Lenz officially married on May 25, 1808.

Lentz Jacob marriage Family Search

Family Search source reference shown above and the actual record at Ancestry shown below.

Lentz Jacob and Fredericka marriage

These church records tell us that Jacob was a vinedresser, as was his father. What do we know about vinedressers?


A vinedresser is described as a person who trims, prunes and cultivates vines. Also described as one who works in a vineyard.

This German depiction of a vinedresser from 1568 shows him using a tool known as a fork-hoe.

Lentz vinedresser

Vinedresser is an ancient term, used by Jesus in the Bible. In John 15:1, according to E. Rademacher, theologian, in his article “The Vine and the Vinedresser” which tells us the following:

Jesus begins His analogy of the vine and branches by saying that He is the “true vine” and God the Father is the “vinedresser” (or husbandman). He has mentioned the Father twenty-three times already in the immediately preceding context. Now He pictures the loving care of His Father for Him and the disciples through the picture of a vinedresser’s concern for his plants.

A vinedresser, or husbandman, is more than a mere farmer. Grapes are more than an annual crop. The vinedresser’s grape vines remain with him for decades. He comes to know each one in a personal way, much like a shepherd with his sheep. He knows how the vine is faring from year to year and which ones are more productive or vigorous than others. He knows what they respond to and what special care certain one’s need. Every vine has its own personality. And the vinedresser comes to know it over the years. The vinedresser cares for each vine and nurtures it, pruning it the appropriate amount at the appropriate times, fertilizing it, lifting its branches from the ground and propping them or tying them to the trellis, and taking measures to protect them from insects and disease.

So, when Jesus calls His Father the Vinedresser, He is describing Him in terms of His relationship and attitude as well as His actions in the lives of the disciples. We cannot stress enough how important it is to recall the attributes and actions of the Father from the previous context. To call Him a vinedresser is to tell them He cares for them personally and is wise to know exactly what to do to make them fruitful. With such a Vinedresser, the branches can experience complete confidence and security.

When Jesus describes Himself as the vine, He calls Himself the “true” vine. By “true” He means, “genuine.” But why does He use this picture of Himself? And, what does He mean by this? He uses the definite article to describe Himself and thereby says I am “the” vine, not “a” vine. This use of the article may indicate that He has a specific image in mind. He is “the” true vine in contrast to something that the disciples might consider the true vine. This emphasis may indicate He is alluding to something in Scripture to which the disciples would be familiar.

This painting by James Tissot is titled “The Vinedresser and the Fig Tree” and was painted between 1886 and 1894, purporting to show the life of Jesus Christ.

Lentz vinedresser painting

In Greek mythology, a vine-dresser is mentioned in the Illiad, written in about 1100 BC, so a vinedresser is indeed an ancient occupation, reaching back at least 3000 years.

We don’t know how far back vinedressers reach in the Lenz line.  Based on the records, Lenz men were vinedressers for several generations.  I wonder if the occupation was heritable in that the father taught the son much like an apprentice, or if sons became vinedressers not because their father taught them the trade, but because there was nothing else to become.

Germany is renowned for beer, not wine. How did Jacob and his ancestors become  vinedressers?  Perhaps the history of Beutelsbach will give us a hint. 


Beutelsbach is a town district or Stadtteil within the town of Weinstadt (“Wine City”) in Rems-Murr district, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.  Beutelsbach was first mentioned in 1080 and was one of the oldest properties of the House of Württemberg.

The settlement was founded around 1080 in a tributary valley of the Rems on the banks of the Schweizerbach. Little did Konrad von Beutelsbach suspect that he was to be the first in a line of lords, counts, dukes and – much later – even kings, who would go down in history as the Royal House of Württemberg. To this day the former village of wine growers in Beutelsbach is still known as “The Cradle of Württemberg”.

Lentz 1800s map

This map from the 1856 shows Beutelsbach and neighboring Schnait both as important villages.  Of course that was long before the formation of Weinstadt.

The Beutelsbach history project tells us that in earlier days, pre-1900, Beutelsbach had from 500 to 2000 residents and has been entirely Protestant since the Reformation.

The Beutelsbach coat of arms was first displayed on the town hall gate archway in 1577 as a market town symbol.

Lentz Beutelsbach coat of arms

Today, Beutelsbach has about 8,000 residents, while the entire city of Weinstadt has about 25,000.


Weinstadt, literally “Wine City,” is located in the Rems Valley approximately 15 km east of Stuttgart.

The town is composed of five districts or Stadtteile which were formerly independent towns and villages. They are Beutelsbach, Endersbach, Großheppach, Strümpfelbach, and Schnait. The five towns were combined to form the new city of Weinstadt in 1975.  Jacob and Fredericka have connections to at least 4 of those 5 former towns.

As the name implies, Weinstadt is best known for its vineyards and production of wine. The Remstalkellerei (Rems Valley Winery), in the Beutelsbach neighborhood of Weinstadt, is a cooperative owned by the local growers and is the tenth-largest winery in Germany.

Lentz winery

The Remstalkellerei web page, above, has some beautiful photos of the area.

Lentz Beutelsbach photo

This view shows one of the districts surrounded by the vineyards on the hills.

The city limits of Weinstadt span the river Rems, which flows through the Rems Valley (Remstal) into the Neckar Basin. The Stadtteil Großheppach lies to the north of the Rems, while the other Stadtteile lie to the south. At the southern part of the city, the vineyards climb the slopes at the edge of Schurwald. All Stadtteile have vineyards; that is the source for the name “Weinstadt.”

Lentz Weinstadt screen grab

The picture above, from the Weinstadt webpage shows the beautiful area.  the inscription on the arch says something like, “In the cellar deep ripens in the barrel of the noble wine.”  Sometimes online translators aren’t wonderful, but they are the best option we have.  Even if the words aren’t exact, I still get the idea and this heart of German wine country is exquisitely beautiful.

On the map below, you can see Beutelsbach and Weinstadt, with the Rems River running through Weinstadt. Beutelbach is clearly the hillside where the grapes grew in the vineyards.

Lentz Beutelsbach map

You can see on this satellite view that yet today, the surrounding hillsides are still vineyards. The vineyard where Jacob and his ancestors for generations were vinedressers is very probably in this very picture.  He walked and lovingly cared for the vines on this land.  Grape vines, properly cared for, can live for more than 100 years.  Jacob may have known some of these vines personally as did his ancestors.

Lentz Beutelbach satellite

The vineyard patterns are very artistic and poetic in and of themselves.

Lentz Beutelsbach vineyards

The records of the Lenz family intertwine with families from the village of Schnait. Looking at this map, I can clearly see why.  It’s only one and a third miles away.  You can see the villages from each other, I’m sure.  Just as I’m sure the resident of both villages worked in the vineyards.

Lentz Beutelsbach to Schnait

Other Lenz Males to America

As I mentioned in Jacob’s original article, we know that Jacob’s DNA matched that of my now deceased cousin, Paul Lantz, so we know that these men probably shared an ancestor from this part of Germany. We also know that our line of Lenz men reach back in time to Schnait as early as 1601 when Johannes Lenz, probably born about 1570, married Margaretha Vetterlin.  Lenzs were likely living there earlier, before church records, as well.

It’s possible that Paul’s Lantz ancestor, originally a Lenz, of course, came from Beutelsbach. If he came from Schnait, we won’t have that record.  Paul’s ancestor, Michael Lanz, according to the 1850 census was born in 1773 in Pennsylvania.  That means his father, whoever it was, had to have been born before 1753, probably before 1750, assuming a marriage at age 23, which was relatively young, and immigrated before 1773.

Michael Lantz was first found in Washington County, Maryland when Michael’s daughter was baptized in 1794 with Elizabeth Lantz, a widow, as her sponsor. Washington County, Maryland was settled mostly by people from Pennsylvania.  Coincidentally, I have researched that county for another one of my ancestors, the Millers, the family my Jacob Lentz’s daughter married into.  No small irony there.

I checked the census for Washington County, Maryland in 1790. We don’t know if Michael Lantz’s father was living (at all) or living there at that time, but it’s probably a good bet given that 4 years later, Michael had married and was having a child baptized.

I searched for Lentz, Lantz, Lenz, Lance, Lens, Lans, etc.

We find these men with the census categories; free white males over 16, free white males under 16, free white females, all other free, slaves

  • Jacob Lantz – Washington County, Maryland 1, 4, 3, 0 ,0
  • John Lantz – neighboring Frederick County, Maryland 1, 0, 4, 0, 0
  • Leonard Lentz/Lantz – Frederick County, Maryland – 4, 4, 6, 0 , 3
  • Christian Lance – Washington County, Maryland – 1, 3, 2, 0, 0
  • George Lance – Washington County, Maryland – 1, 4, 3, 0, 0
  • Elizabeth Lance – Washington County, Maryland – 1 female, herself

All of these men except John Lantz have male children who could have married between 1790 and 1794.

In the 1800 Census, we fine Michael Lantz in Williamsport, Washington County MD:

Michael Lantz: 1 male over 26, 2 females under 10, 1 female under 26

By 1810, according to the census, Michael was living in Indiana Co, PA.

Between 1800 and 1810, several Lantz individuals married in Washington Co., MD with the first names of:

  • Barbara
  • Christian
  • Elizabeth
  • Magdalena
  • Mary*
  • George
  • Elizabeth*
  • Catherine
  • Henry*
  • Christina

We don’t know if these people were related to Michael through siblings or other family members, or just happen to share the same surname.  Two of them* appear to be children of Jacob Lantz who died in 1801, and one may be Jacob’s son’s widow, Elizabeth.  There is obviously at least one other Lantz family with marriage age children during this time.

Jacob Lantz’s will was written in Washington County in 1797, probated in 1801, and mentions son Jacob (who had died and left his wife Elizabeth), Henry and Mary along with married daughters Elizabeth, Magdalena and Barbara. Names are important in German families, because they repeat.  Everyone is named “after” someone.

Given that the “widow Elizabeth Lantz”, probably son Jacob Jr.’s wife, was a witness to Michael’s daughter’s baptism in 1794, these families were connected.

If Michael was Jacob’s son, he is omitted from the will.

Jacob could have been Michael’s uncle or other family member.

According to Paul Lantz’s work, Michael Lantz’s children are as follows.  Too bad there isn’t a Christian Lantz among the children.

  • Susanna
  • Elizabeth
  • Jacob
  • Julia Ann
  • Margaret
  • John
  • George
  • Catherine
  • Martin
  • Nancy
  • Fredrick
  • Mary
  • Sarah

Let’s look at the Beutelsbach church records to see if there are any males who could have been either Michael’s father or grandfather who immigrated to America.

According to the Beutelsbach heritage book page for Lenz, which indicates all of the individuals to immigrated to “Amerika,” there is only one male of the right age who immigrated at the right time and either was or had sons of an age that they could have been the father to Michael Lantz.

Christian Lenz born in 1699 in Beutelsbach immigrated in 1746 to Pennsylvania, according to the church records. He had two sons, Christian born in 1728 and Johann Jakob born in 1729 in Germany who came to America.  Daughters were Maria Barbara and Anna Maria.  We don’t know if he had other children after immigrating.

Given that we find a Christian in Washington County, and a Jacob who died in 1801, this is likely the same family, if not those same individuals. We could be one more generation down the tree, so to speak.  Jacob who died in 1801 had three married daughters, so he would have been at least 50 years old and likely older, so born 1750 or earlier.  He could have been the son of either Jacob born in 1729 or Christian born in 1728, or he could have been Jacob born in1729, the son of Christian who immigrated.  If Jacob was Christian’s son, he would have been 69 when he wrote his will and 72 when he died – a reasonable scenario.  If the Christian living in Washington County, Maryland in 1790 was Jacob’s brother, he would have been 62 in 1790, a reasonable age to have had a son, Michael, in 1773 at age 45.

A Common Ancestor?

Christian, the 1746 immigrant, may not be the ancestor of Michael Lantz, but he’s the best and only candidate we have from Beutelsbach. Of course, another Lenz from another village close by could have immigrated as well.  Christian is a much more unusual name than Jacob.

If Christian is Michael’s ancestor, how does the Christian who was born in 1699 connect to our Lenz family?

End of Our Line

Our Lenz line ends with Hans Lenz and Margaret Vetterlin who were married in 1601 in Schnait. The record states that they no longer live in Schnait, but doesn’t say where they do live.  Hans would have probably been born around 1570, or earlier, or perhaps as late as 1580.

End of Michael’s Line

Michael’s line extends back to a Hans Lenz born in 1630 in Schnait who married Gertraud Glaudner.

My Hans, born in 1570 and marrying in 1601 could have been the father of Hans born in 1630, if he had a second marriage to a younger wife. Otherwise, unless his wife was having children when she was 50, my Hans was not the father of Michael’s Hans.

So it appears likely that our common Lenz ancestor reaches farther back yet into antiquity, in the village of Schnait, in the vineyards of Germany.

Another branch of Michael’s lineage is well documented on this page by Joe Hartley. If any of these Lenz/Lenta/Lantz men take the Y DNA test, they should match our line too.


I have barely slept this week, and have thought of nothing other than these families in Buetelsbach and the wine country along the Rems River. I have read and absorbed so much history and I still can’t find enough.

It has been and continues to be a very emotional journey. Finding my ancestors has that effect on me, and finding a cascade of 7 or 8 generations on both sides is nothing short of overwhelming, in the best of ways.  I feel that they have been brought to life again, connected and now their lives can be documented and they can be remembered.  No longer is there a blank space beside Jacob Lentz’s birth location.   Fredericka now has her correct surname and has been reconnected with her family.  I can just hear her breathing a huge sigh of relief.

I have to thank Thomas, again, and the unnamed transcribers who have worked so hard on the Beutelsbach records. The records on this site are in German, but they include the notes which give information about when the person immigrated, their occupation, and anything else in the old, nearly unreadable, records. There are several free German to English translators on the internet to help with those most valuable notes.

Is Oenophilia Hereditary?

Oenophilia, the love and appreciation of wine – is it heritable?  Did I inherit it from Jacob and Fredericka?  Is it in my DNA?

As I’ve lived the discovery of both the Lenz and Reuhle lines this week Beutelsbach, heart of the German wine country, the irony hasn’t missed me that my former husband and I used to make and bottle wine under the name of “Ore Creek Winery.” We lived on Ore Creek at the time.

Lentz wine bottles

I even hand stitched bottle label “jackets” for when we entered the wine into competitions, although most of the wine never made it outside of the house, truthfully.  Our production capacity was very limited.

Lentz wine bottle jackets

I’ve always had a passion for wine, beginning when I lived overseas as a teenager in 1970. You couldn’t drink the water so you had to drink wine, beer or scotch.  That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it:)

I came home, having studied overseas, thinking we should have wine every evening with dinner – nearly giving my mother a heart attack, since the legal drinking age in Indiana at the time was 21 and let’s just say I was no place close. Wine in Europe, at that time, was a regular part of a meals.  Felt right at home to me!  Now we know why.

My fascination with grapes and the beauty of grapevines and vineyards has continued throughout my life.  Wherever we travel, we always visit the wineries, even though I don’t care for dry wines.  Now ice wines and Catawbas, those are TO DIE FOR, but I digress…

My passion for wine and vines extends beyond wine itself.  I made a grape quilt for a couch cover, which is currently in the possession of my daughter and grand-puppies who like it as much as I do.

Lentz grape quilt

My current husband, Jim, and I were married outside a beautiful old stone building in the shade of ancient trees with wine casks in the background at the Mon Ami winery on Catawba Island in Lake Erie. Vineyards and wineries speak to some very primal place in my soul and I am drawn to them like a moth to the flame.  Jim had no idea when he asked me here, to have dinner at the winery for our first date, exactly what he was doing.  Eight years later, we would be standing beneath the boughs beside the vineyards, just like my ancestors.

Lentz Mon Ami wedding

This was a glorious day, and the last time that the entire family was together. My children stood up with me, my mother, seated in blue at left, walked me down the aisle, although I’m not sure who was steadying whom.  My granddaughter and brother, also Jacob’s descendants were guests but not visible in the photo above.  However, you can see the wine casks in the background.  Little did I know how appropriate this really was – perhaps even prophetic.

Our reception was in the cooking school at the winery with a professional chef who was also an entertainer.

Lentz reception

The wine flowed freely all evening, with the winery pairing their wonderful variety of wines with the various courses – and there was a full evening’s worth of scrumptious courses. The reception was most memorable and the most fun I’ve ever had at any wedding reception. It also generated the largest bar bill I’ve ever seen!  Jacob would have been proud!  We kept several vinedressers gainfully employed, I’m sure.

Lentz reception me and Mom

Mom and I were having a great laugh about something. Jacob was mother’s great-great-grandfather, passing away 52 years before she was born.  I’m sure Mother has been assisting with ancestor hunting from the other side, but I surely do miss her.  She would probably be very upset with me publishing this picture because she doesn’t look “very ladylike.”  I love the candid photo because we are both laughing and it reminds me of our many adventures and escapades together – many of which were indeed, laughable.

Lentz 3 generations

Three generations of Jacob’s descendants.

Apparently, judging from my grape, vineyard and wine-related affinities, and those of my family, the grape does not fall terribly far from the vine, even after several generations.

Concepts – Downloading Autosomal Data from Family Tree DNA

In the new Concepts series titled Managing Autosomal DNA Matches, we’re going to be working with your DNA information from several sources. In order to create matching spreadsheets, you’ll need to download your autosomal information from Family Tree DNA.

Sign on to your account and click on “Matches” under the Family Finder section. You can reach this section by either clicking on the “myFTDNA” link in the upper left corner, or by clicking on the Matches option shown on your main page.

download 1

We’ll be downloading two files.

File 1 – Family Finder Matches

The first file is a list of your matches. That file download link is found at the bottom of your match page in the lower right hand corner.

download 2

Click on either orange button.

A file will download.  I create a file folder by date and save by download date.

On a Windows PC, you’ll be given the option of downloading and saving to the location of your choice.

download 7

The file contains a list of your matches along with other relevant information.

download 3

You can click on the graphic above to enlarge. Match information includes name, e-mail, match date, relationship range, suggested relationship, total shared cM, longest block, haplogroups and ancestral surnames.

File 2 – Chromosome Browser Results

The second file you’re going to download is your file that contains the matching segments with all of your matches.

To find this link, you’ll need to select someone, anyone, to compare in the chromosome browser.  We just need to get to that page, so who you select doesn’t matter.

This is my mother’s account, so I’m selecting me to compare.

On the dropdown box below the picture, select “compare in chromosome browser.”

download 4

Family Tree DNA will then add me to the list of people to compare.  You could select 4 more, but in this case, we simply want to get to the results page, so click on the big blue compare button.

download 5

Hint:  If you aren’t actually comparing people, you can take the shortcut to the Chromosome Browser by clicking the Chromosome Browser button beside the match button in the middle of your main page.

download 1

Regardless of which way you get to the top of the Chromosome Browser page, at the top of the chromosome browser page, you will see three options.

download 8

The first option, on the left will only download the matches currently showing in the chromosome browser.  In this case, it would be only for me and mother.

The second option shows the same data in a table.

You’re not interested in either of those two options. You want to click on the third option, on the far right, “Download All Matches to Excel,” which will produce a file with the following information for all of your matches.

download 6

This file shows you the matching information on each chromosome location for every one of your matches.  We’ll be using this information to group relevant matches in the next article.

When you’re ready to download the files from Family Tree DNA to your computer, do the download for all people involved on the same day, at the same time, so that their results will be in sync.

Preparing for the Managing Autosomal DNA Series

For the first part of the Managing Autosomal DNA Matches series, you’ll want to download your results and those of your parents or parent, as described above. If you don’t have living parents, you’ll want to download the files of your siblings.  If you have one or both parents, you don’t need the files of your siblings.

By the way, if you’re lucky enough to have grandparents who have tested, by all means, we need their file too.

This series also presumes at least a rudimentary working knowledge of Excel.  Specifically you’ll need to know how to sort correctly (meaning sort the entire spreadsheet, not just a specific column) and how to colorize cells.

You may want to refer to training videos for Excel including “Twenty with Tessa, Tips and Suggestions for Spreadsheets” which is focused on using spreadsheets with one name studies and genetic genealogy, but the principles are the same.

I have not taken this class, but some have joined and taken the basic Excel class which they found very useful.

Transferring Results from Ancestry and 23andMe

For the next step, you’ll need your results and those of both or either of your parents at Family Tree DNA.

If you have tested your parents or siblings at Ancestry (before the middle of May 2016) or at 23andMe on the v3 chip (before November 2013), you’ll want to transfer their files to Family Tree DNA, assuming they have not already tested at Family Tree DNA.

The transfer is free, but it costs $39 to unlock the file.  That’s a lot less than retesting.  It takes a few days to process, so do the transfer now so that you’ll have their results. To be clear, we need your results and those of either or both of your parents at Family Tree DNA for the first article.  If you have both parents, that’s the ideal situation.  If not, one parent will do.  If you have grandparents, by all means, we need them too.

Having said that, in future articles, we will also be working with other known relatives, such as uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.  If you have tested other known relatives elsewhere, now would be a good time to transfer their results as well, although we won’t utilize their information in the first article.