Jakob Lenz (1748-1821), Vinedresser, 52 Ancestors #128

Today, I get to write the article I thought I’d never ever write. For a genealogist, this is red letter day!  Not only the fact THAT I get to write about this person that I never thought I’d identify, but WHAT I get to write about him just defies any hope or expectation I could ever have had.  I could never have dreamed this big.  I’m really not exaggerating.  You’ll see!!!

Jakob’s story begins like all genealogy stories, but it ends very, very uniquely with information that was unknown to even Jakob himself!  No cheating and peeking ahead.

Jakob Lenz is the father of Jakob Lenz, or Jacob Lentz as he was known here in the States. The younger Jacob, Jacob Lentz, my ancestor, is the man who immigrated to America.

Until just recently, with the help of Tom, a retired genealogist who specialized in German records, no one had ever been able to determine where Jacob Lentz, the immigrant, was from, or who his parents were.  It wasn’t for lack of trying.  It was for lack of being lucky.

Partly, as you can see, it was because the first and last names were spelled differently in Germany, and partly because his wife’s name was remembered incorrectly, so I was looking for a marriage that didn’t exist, and partly because there were no online records until recently, so searching was a needle-in-a-haystrack proposition.

In the blink of an eye, that all changed with Tom’s discovery and opened the door into the world of my ancestors in the beautiful village of Beutelbach in Germany. Along with finding Jakob Lenz came several generations of ancestors, literally until the church records run out. Jakob and his ancestors were firmly planted in Beutelsbach and had probably been living there “forever” as far as they were concerned.

That’s what people in Europe often say when you ask where their family was from before where they live now. “We’ve lived here forever.” While that’s true from their perspective, which generally reaches back a couple to a few generations, sometimes, forever isn’t really ”forever,” as we’ll discover.

Jakob Enters the World

Jakob Lenz was born on February 1, 1748 in Beutelsbach to Johann Jakob Lenz and Katharina Haag.


Jakob’s baptism is shown here in the original church records, now available, albeit poorly indexed, at Ancestry. Genealogists must possess the minds of sleuths, and an intimate knowledge of German customs and records was critical for this process as well – skills I didn’t and don’t have and thankfully, Tom does.

His translation tells us that Jakob was born on February 1st and baptized the next day, on the 2nd and that his father was a vinedresser.


  1. Gottfried Jacob Bechtel, baker’s helper
  2. Maria Catharina, wife of Johann Reinhold surgeon (for minor wounds) here
  3. Anna Katharina, wife of Johann George Dobler, citizen and vinedresser, here

We don’t know how the godparents are related to the Lenz or Haag families, but they likely were.  The child was generally named after godparents, with the idea being that if something happened to both parents, the godparents would raise the child and assure their religious education.  In other words, without a will, this is how Germans universally provided for the possibility that both parents would die, a situation that happened all too often.

The records at Family Search originally discovered by Tom provided us with his birth information, and lists the source as well. We therefore knew this information was taken from the church records – we just needed to obtain that church record.


Beutelsbach has provided an invaluable service to genealogists seeking their family by reassembling the historical families from church and other records and providing the information online, and for free.


Here we find the records for Jacob with his parents listed at the bottom of the page, his siblings, his wife and his children, along with any notes found in the records.

In genealogy parlance, this kind of information is “to die for.” I had struck gold again on this line!  Twice in a month – I’m definitely on a roll!

Jakob’s Marriage

Jakob Lenz married Maria Margaretha Grubler or Gribler on November 3, 1772 in the church in Beutelsbach when he was 24 years old.


The document above, from the Lutheran church in Beutelsbach shows his marriage record.  It says they were “married the 18th Sunday after Trinity and that Jacob Lenz was the legitimate unmarried son of the citizen and vinedresser, Jacob Lentz from here.  Maria Margaretha is the legitimate unmarried daughter of the late Johann George Gr_bler, citizen and vinedresser from here.”

It’s interesting that his first name is spelled both Jacob and Jakob in various records and Lenz as both Lenz and Lentz.  No wonder we are confused today!  German spelling wasn’t any more standardized than it was in America during the same timeframe.

Maria Margaretha was the daughter of Johann George Gribler (as it is spelled in the Beutelsbach heritage book) and Katharina Nopp, also of Beutelsbach.


You can see the church spire in the center of Beutelsbach, like all European villages where the original church still exists. It is here that Jakob and Maria Margaretha sealed the union that lasted just 16 months shy of 50 years. A half century marriage in a time without antibiotics and where early death was far more common than elder years, is truly remarkable. They both, individually and together, certainly beat the odds.

Jakob’s Children

Jakob Lenz would not have been allowed to marry were he not financially stable and able to support a family. The last thing Germans wanted was people that the church and villages had to support, so they assured that people were truly financially “ready for marriage” before the marriage was authorized. Of course, that just meant that some children were born before the official marriage took place. Most people weren’t thwarted by administrative details.

Jakob Lenz and Maria Margaretha Gribler had 9 children, their first child being born just days after their first wedding anniversary.

  • Katharina Barbara Lenz was born November 17, 1773 and died September 4, 1817 in Beutelsbach of epilepsy. She never married. This makes me wonder if she was epileptic for her entire life. I expect she lived with her parents. Perhaps it was a blessing she died before they did.
  • Jakob Lenz was born July 12, 1775 and died less than 2 months later on September 1, 1775 in Beutelsbach.
  • Maria Magdalena Lenz was born October 1, 1776 and died November 1, 1849 in Beutelsback of old age. She never married.
  • Johannes Lenz was born January 16, 1779 in Beutelsbach and died October 29, 1813 at 34 years of age in Beutelsback, single, cause of death stickfluss (bronchitis or pneumonia). Occupation not given.
  • Philipp Jakob Lenz was born April 30, 1781 and died March 1, 1789 in Beutelsbach, just a few weeks before his 8th birthday.
  • Jakob Lenz was born March 15, 1783 and emigrated to America. This is my ancestor whose story is absolutely incredible. So incredible, in fact, that we had to tell the story in two parts, plus one for his wife, Johanna Friedericka Ruhle whom he married on May 25, 1808 in Beutelsbach. The church records tell us that Jakob left with his family to immigrate on February 12, 1817.

Wandert mit K. Erlaubnis vom 12.Februar 1817 mit seiner Familie nach Nordamerika aus.

Translated as:
Emigrated with children permission from the 12th February 1817 with his family to North America.

  • Katharina Margaretha Lenz was born November 2, 1785 and died January 6, 1858 in Beutelsbach at age 73 of old age. She married Johann Conrad Gos on April 21, 1807 in Beutelsbach and had 5 children. Johann Conrad immigrated to Russia in 1817 where he eventually died, but Katharina’s last child, Jakob Freidrich Gos, was born in 1823. Son Jakob Freidrich died in the poorhouse of emaciation and “wasting” in 1857, the year before his mother. Occupation: hafner (potter). It’s unclear whether Jakob Freidrich was the son of Johann Conrad Goss, perhaps home for a visit, or the son of a different father. We’ll never know, because Jakob Freidrich Gos never married, so never had children, at least none that we know about. If he had produced sons, we would have the possibility of Y DNA testing to see if his sons’ descendants match Gos men or men by some other surname. Katharina Margaretha’s secret has already gone to the grave.
  • Johanna was born July 2, 1788 and died October 10, 1788 at 3 months of age in Beutelsbach.
  • Christina was born January 1, 1793 and died “8-13” but no year given, probably 1793 at about 7 months of age.

Of their nine children:

  • 4, 2 boys and 2 girls, died as children at 2 months, 3 months, 7 months and just under 8 years of age, respectively
  • 2 died as adults, but before their parents, having never married
  • 2 married and had children
  • The son who had children immigrated to America in 1817
  • The husband of the daughter who had children left for Russia in 1817
  • 1 additional daughter lived to adulthood but never married
  • Only 3 children outlived their parents


Based on multiple church records, we know that Jakob’s occupation was that of a vinedresser in the vineyards surrounding Beutelsbach, the center of the wine region in Germany. The ancient vineyards on the sides of the hills, as you can see below, have been carefully pruned and lovingly cared for by generations of vinedressers, an occupation proudly passed from father to son.

Lentz Beutelsbach photo

In fact, according to the church records, we know that Jakob learned this occupation from his father and passed this occupation to his son Jakob who was also a vinedresser before he emigrated.

I can see the two Jakobs, father and son, working in the vineyard together, talking, making small talk, but the kind of small talk that sustains one’s soul after the other person is gone. Those are the moments that are bonding forever, even though at the time they seem routine and mundane. Like plowing the fields in Indiana or picking green beans on a hot summer morning when the grass was still slippery with dew. What I wouldn’t give today to pick a day, any day, to return back in time to visit the farm in Indiana – and I’m sure that Jakob Lenz, the son, especially during his hellish immigration to America, felt the same way.

War – The End of the Political World

In 1803, the Napoleonic War threatened and for the next 12 years, the Germans lived under constant threat of upheaval as Europe fought internal wars and redefined itself.  The French empire, led by Napoleon was pitted against an array of other European powers formed into various coalitions.


The battles were bloody and devastating, and the countryside was often laid to waste.  This History of the Kingdom of Wurttemberg tells us the following:

Once a Duchy within the Holy Roman Empire, on 1 January 1806, Duke Frederick II assumed the title of king Frederick I. He abrogated the constitution and united old and new Württemberg. Subsequently, he placed the property of the church under the control of the kingdom, whose boundaries were also greatly extended by the process of “mediatisation,” the loss of immediacy. Immediacy is the status of persons not subject to local lords, but only to a higher authority directly, such as the Holy Roman Emperor.

In 1806, Frederick joined the Confederation of the Rhine and received further additions of territory with 160,000 inhabitants. Later, by the Peace of Vienna of October 1809, about 110,000 more people came under his rule. In return for these favors, Frederick joined French Emperor Napoleon in his campaigns against Prussia, Austria and Russia. Of the 16,000 of his subjects who marched to Moscow, only a few hundred returned.

After the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, King Frederick deserted the French emperor, and by a treaty with Metternich at Fulda in November 1813, he secured the confirmation of his royal title and of his recent acquisitions of territory, while his troops marched with those of the allies into France.

In 1815, the King joined the German Confederation, but the Congress of Vienna made no change to the extent of his lands. In the same year, he laid before the representatives of his people the outline of a new constitution, but they rejected it, and in the midst of the commotion that ensued, Frederick died on 30 October 1816.

The End of Jakob’s Personal World

For the decade beginning when Jakob was 55, war and the threat of war was ever present.  That alone would be enough to cause a great deal of stress in the life of a German citizen who lived not far from the French border.  Furthermore, many Germans lost their lives and Germany switched sides late in the war.  I’m sure the populace was both confused and disenchanted, not to mention, afraid for themselves, their children and the future.  Germany’s army was fueled by mass conscriptions and many Germans had already died in Napoleon’s war.

Beginning in 1813, when he was 65, Jacob’s personal world began to unravel as well. In October of 1813, his 34 year old son died of pneumonia.

In 1814, Jakob would have stood by the grave while his grandson was buried.

Towards the sunset of Jakob’s life, he would have lived through the year with no summer, as 1816 was called. Jakob had been born during what was termed the “Little Ice Age” in which Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850 that brought dire consequences to its peoples.

The colder weather caused social strife impacting agriculture, health, economics, emigration, and even art and literature. The eruption of Mt. Tambora in April 1815 in Indonesia propelled ashes into the atmosphere, blocking the sun, reducing temperatures even further – although at the time, no one could have put 2 and 2 together to deduce cause and effect. The Tambora eruption caused a particularly cold year in 1816 in which crops failed throughout both America and Europe, forcing prices for what little food did exist in Germany and other parts of Europe into record high territory. Riots ensued.

Additionally, this famine was added onto the effects of the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars which lasted from 1803-1815.


Notice on this map of 1812, Germany really doesn’t exist, although it would by 1815 with Napoleon’s defeat.

From Jakob’s point of view, it probably seemed like the world he knew was coming to an end, between the wars, the cold weather and finally, 1816 with no summer.

It was reported that many people in 1816 spent the summer around a fire. The grape vines in many places died and few, if any, produced grapes. If Jacob loved those vines and vineyards, knowing each one personally as most vinedressers did, he would have grieved for them and been sickened at the pathetic sight of his beloved vineyards, always within view, on the hillsides.

Jakob practiced his craft as a vinedresser probably for more than half a century – and maybe longer if his health held. He probably began working in the vineyards when he was perhaps 15, or maybe younger, joining his father.  He probably worked at long as he could. He died at age 73, so it’s conceivable that he walked to work in the vineyards every day for 58 years or so. I would wager that he found the hillsides and vineyards both beautiful and peaceful.

If Jakob had not already retired, perhaps it was the year of 1816 that prompted him to do so. He would have been 68 years old and may have wondered what the world was coming to. Many people interpreted the climate change as a whole, and 1816 in particular, in Biblical terms.

Furthermore, Jakob may have had tuberculosis.

Jakob, his only surviving son, left in 1817 for America in the springtime, the year after the worst of the famine and when his father was 69 years old. Both men knew they would never see each other again. This must have been a gut-wrenching goodbye.

Jakob, the father, must surely have been terribly torn – wanting a better life for his namesake son and family, but also wanting Jakob’s company and help in his final years. Perhaps Jakob walked up the hills into the vineyard to watch his son’s wagon disappear into the distance so that no one would witness the hot tears he surely cried.  With his only son gone, he must have felt terribly alone and vulnerable in the face of an  uncertain future combined with old age.

Jakob the son would likely have been terribly torn between providing for his future and that of his wife and children by immigrating to a land with more opportunity, and staying in Germany to care for his aging parents. Not knowing if 1817 was going to repeat the agricultural devastation of 1816, not to mention the political unrest, made the decision particularly difficult, but it’s obvious that Jakob wasn’t taking a “wait and see” approach, since he had clearly made and acted upon his decision by February and probably departed Beutelsbach shortly thereafter, perhaps looking back one last time to see if his father was in sight and to sear the vineyards on the hillsides above the village that he would never see again in his memory forever.

Jakob, the father, would say a different kind of goodbye to yet another child a few months later on September 4, 1817 when his firstborn, Katharina Barbara, would die of an epileptic seizure. Given that she never married, she very likely lived with her parents. At 45 years of age, if she had been epileptic for her entire life, perhaps her death was a release. Still for an aging parent, Katharina Barbara’s decline and death must have been utterly devastating and horribly traumatic to witness. Watching your children suffer and being powerless to help is its own special kind of hell on earth.  Your worst nightmare come true.

Having witnessed seizures where the person stopped breathing, I can only imagine with horror watching your child seize and die.  How many times had they literally held their breath as she seized, but eventually resumed breathing.  This time, she didn’t.  I shudder to even think.  My heart just breaks for them, almost 200 years later.

Yet another catastrophe visited this family in 1817, which Jakob may have come to regard as the year from Hell. Katharina Margaretha Lenz’s husband, Conrad Gos, emigrated to Russia, leaving his wife and children behind.  Their support may have fallen to Jakob.

Jakob may have wondered just how much more he could take.

Jakob’s Death

JakobLenz death

Jakob Lenz died July 2, 1821 at 6AM in Beutelsbach and was buried two days later, July 4th, at 10 AM, as shown in the church record, above. Jakob’s death entry in the church records, according to the Beutelsbach website is as follows:

  • Ist hier geschult und aufgezogen worden.
  • Todesursache: Zehrfieber
  • Beruf: Weingärtner

Translated, this means:

  • Has been trained here and raised.
  • Cause of death: Zehren fever
  • Occupation: Vinedresser or liternally, wine gardener

It also gives his parents names and his father’s occupation as a vinedresser.  The record gives Jakob’s age at death as 73 years and 5 months.

Zehren fever translates as “hectic fever,” which, according to the dictionary, is described as a remittent fever, with stages of chilliness, heat, and sweat, variously intermixed, usually present in wasting diseases, in particular pulmonary consumption or tuberculosis.

Jakob’s body may have died, but his absolutely incredible Y DNA lives on in his male Lentz descendants who carry his Y chromosome.  The Y DNA is passed from father to son and follows the surname path, so all Lentz males today who descend from this line through son Jakob/Jacob who immigrated to America, barring an adoption of some sort, carry Jakob’s Y DNA signature.  Let’s take a look!

Jakob’s DNA, Another Chapter

Several weeks ago, cousin C. Lentz, a descendant of son Jacob Lentz, agreed to test his Y DNA. Never, in my wildest dreams did I expect results so unbelievably unique. C. Lentz was not the first Lentz male to test, but my previous Lentz cousin who tested is now deceased, and if we wanted to test additional markers, and order additional tests, we needed to have a new candidate.

Am I ever glad cousin C. Lentz agreed, because the information forthcoming that was not available at the time the previous Lentz cousin tested is nothing short of phenomenal. As in jaw-dropping fall-off-your-chair incredible.

The last chapter, at least as of today, in the epic journey back in time comes from Dr. Sergey Malyshev, a geneticist at the Institute of Genetics and Cytology of Belarus National Academy of Sciences who specializes in plant genetics. Plant or human, genetics is genetics and the underlying foundation is the same. As Dr. Malyshev said, the methods of DNA analysis are universal. There are no big differences in the methodology between the DNA analysis for plants or humans.

Dr. Malyshev is one of the volunteer project administrators for the R1b Basal Subclades project at Family Tree DNA. Cousin C. Lentz is a member of that project. Dr. Malyshev asked me to request the BAM file for cousin C. so that he could analyze the results. I want to emphasize that Dr. Malyshev is not affiliated with any other company or organization, and the information went no place other than to Dr. Malyshev.

I received an e-mail from Dr. Malyshev detailing the SNPs, or mutations, and the order they are found on the Y DNA tree, grouped by the older haplogroup designations, in bold below.  Underneath the headings are the SNPS that must be found positive (+) to indicate the individual is a member of that sub-haplogroup.


  • CTS1078/Z2103+
  • Z8128/Y4371+
  • Z2105+
  • S20902/Z8130+
  • CTS9416+


  • Z2106+


  • Z2108+
  • CTS1843/Z2109+

The exciting part was yet to come.

Dr. Malyshev said:

Under Z2109, Mr. Lentz’s haplotype (his personal results) and 2 other kits form the new branch, KMS67:

  • 442223 (Lentz)
  • 181183
  • 329335

Unlike Lentz, kits 181183 and 329335 are much more closely related to each other. They have 45 common SNPs. Thus, they form an additional subclade of R-KMS67 which is KMS75. The R-KMS67 branch is probably a very rare subclade. 181183 and 329335 belong to Burzyan Bashkir people. The relationships between Lentz and these Burzyan Bashkir men is very ancient. For example, the KMS75 marker was found in ancient DNA samples of the Yamnaya culture.

Ok, now I’m sitting bolt upright and wide awake. And not believing my ears.

The Yamnaya culture, as in 5,000 years ago?? Seriously? This ancient DNA was only recovered about a year ago! In fact, ironically, I wrote an article about the Yamnaya discovery because I found it utterly fascinating. Now that just seems like an uncanny coincidence.

Dr. Malyshev continues:

Thus, the separation of Lentz’s line from the Bashkir line could have occurred even before the Yamnaya culture appearance. At the moment, the distribution of R-KMS67 line in Europe is completely unknown. It will take time to understand it. It is clear that this line is very rare. Germany could be an important place for the Z2109+ people because several different subclades of R-Z2109 were found here. It will be important to check the 14168106 (A/G) marker that was also observed in samples from the Yamnaya culture. This is only possible by using the BAM file.

I ordered the BAM file, sent it to Dr. Malyshev and attempted to wait patiently, which was no small feat, let me tell you. Not being a carrier of the patience gene, I wrote to Dr. Malyshev and asked if he had been able to discern anything in cousin C. Lentz’s BAM file relative to marker 14168106 and the Yamnaya culture?

Dr Malyshev replied:

Yes, 14168106 (a change from nucleotide A to G) is positive for Lentz. I have prepared a special chart combining all data for the R-KMS67 branch.

Next, I had to know if the mutation at 14168106 preceded the Yamnaya culture or did it emerge during the Yamnaya culture, or can’t we tell for sure? In other words, is there any way to know if our Lentz ancestor was part of the Yamnaya, or did his common ancestor with the Yamnaya reach perhaps further back in time?

Dr. Malyshev again:

I think the correct answer on your question is we can’t tell for sure. The problem is that we do not have ancient DNA samples from the Western Yamnaya culture. It occupied a very big territory from the Balkan peninsula to the Severski Donietz and Don rivers in steppes near the Black Sea. We have only ancient DNA samples from the Eastern Yamnaya culture that occupied a territory to East from the Volga river in steppes near the Caspian Sea. At the moment we can only speculate that the Western Yamnaya culture was a source of R-Z2109 for both Europe and Asia. In such case the R-KMS67 branch has appeared in the Black Sea steppes, and then a main part of this branch has migrated in the Eastern direction to the Caspian Sea and formed the Eastern Yamnaya culture. Its descendants can be found around the Caspian Sea in Bashkortostan or even Iraq. However, a second small group of the R-KMS67 branch (including Lentz’s ancestor) could stay near the Black Sea for a while and then migrated to Europe together with the R-CTS7822 and R-Y14414 lines. This is only hypothesis, of course.

Dr. Malyshev mentioned the extensive area covered by the Yamnaya culture, which is shown on the map below, from Eupedia.

JakobLenz yamna culture

Dr. Malyshev is kind enough to allow me to include the chart he created that shows the branch of haplogroup R that our Lentz ancestor belongs to. As you can see, so far, our Lentz family is the only one found in Europe but we distantly match two men from the Burzyan Bashkirs in Russia and one man from Iraq.

JakobLenz Malyshev chart

I wrote about the Bashkir and the Yamnaya and events in history which could have propelled these cultures into the part of Europe that would one day become Germany in the first article about Jacob Lentz, the immigrant.

You can see the region where the Yamnaya people are found, and the Yamna culture. The river transecting the middle of the yellow region North to South, passing between the n and the a on the map below, is the Volga.

JakobLenz Yamna

Now that we know a little more about the Yamnaya as a whole, I had to ask where, in Russia, are the excavations that produced the remains that match our Lentz ancestors? On the map above, the locations are just above the last a in Yamna, on the Volga.

However, we can be much more specific in terms of the locations of the Yamnaya burials.

JakobLenz Samara

The burials were found in close proximity to the city of Samara in Russia. Samara, today Russia’s 6th largest city, was home to “nests of pirates” before 1586, at the bend around the island on the map above. Samara was a frontier post that began with a fortress on the island that protected the eastern-most boundaries of Russia from forays of nomads. Samara was the gateway between east and west, a crossroads of many trade routes. The Yamnaya were likely early inhabitants and could have been traders as well, some 3500 years before the first written records of Samara appear.

Maybe our ancestors were early pirates or perhaps the equivalent of toll takers, assuring safe passage for traders needing to cross the Volga or pass by the island on the waterway. Maybe they were soldiers or traders, or all of the above at different times.

This website tracks the locations where ancient DNA has been retrieved, and the maps below show the locations of the ancient burials from this website.

Three of the 4 Yamnaya burials are found on this map and all were from about 5,000 years ago, or about 3,000 BC.

JakobLenz ancient 1

The first burial was located just above the curve in the Volga River, above the island, on the River Sok, shown above.  The mileage legend on the maps is in the lower left hand corner.

JakobLenz ancient 2

The second burial is shown just east of the Volga River bend, above.

JakobLenz ancient 3

The third burial is shown just below the bend in the Volga River, just below the island. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there’s a theme here. I surely wonder about the importance of that island, perhaps a neutral ground for trade or a fortified island that was easy to defend? A settlement site perhaps, or a village maybe? All of the above at one time or another?

JakobLenz ancient4

There were additional burials found on the River Sok, above, but the quality of the DNA recovered wasn’t sufficient to determine if they are a match to our Lentz line and to the other burials.

JakobLenz ancient 5

Dr. Malyshev indicates that site 370 (above) can’t be eliminated either, although it is a bit further south and east.

JakobLenz ancient 6

Looking at the region as a whole, we can see the cluster of burials, above.

JakobLenz Stuttgart

Our Lentz line eventually settled in Beutelsbach, near Stuttgart, Germany, shown above on the same ancient burial map. Need I mention that Stuttgart is no place close to Samara, Russia? In fact, it’s more than half way across the entire Eurasian continent, as you can see on the map below.  That’s a massive distance interrupted by mountain ranges and inhospitable territory.

JakobLenz Eurasia

Looking at Google maps, you can see that it’s nearly an 8 hour plane ride.

JakobLenz Samara to Beutelsbach

This trip translates into about 3,500 miles, or the distance across the US diagonally from Key West, Florida, the furthest Southeastern point to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada which is in essence the end of the driving road in the Northwest.

jakobLenz Key West to Vancouver

I don’t know about you, but I have no desire whatsoever to make either one of those journeys, let alone by horseback, or chariot, or even perhaps on foot. If armies of that day and time moved at the same rate wagon trains did in the early US, they covered about 10 miles a day, on average. Of course, armies may well have stopped to fight and hunt and pillage and such – so their progress may have been much more sporadic and slower. One could not expect to travel for 3,500 miles through unknown terrain unimpeded and without being challenged by whomever the current residents were. People are funny that way – they don’t take kindly to invaders – especially not invaders that might have their eye on either their food or their women – or both. And an army has to eat!

That epic migration might not have been a single event, but a series of migration events separated by a significant amount of time, even generations.

Genetics and genetic genealogy, even though with our Yamnaya discovery we’re far beyond lineages we can track through paperwork back in time, isn’t much different than regular genealogy. You find one answer and it opens the door to hundreds of new questions. Genealogy and genetic genealogy are the pursuits that never end.

Now, of course, I want to know more about the Yamnaya and more about ancient Yamnaya burials with their ceremonial red ochre.

JakobLenz Yamnaya skull

More about these mysterious tall steppe-dwelling people who may well have developed the gene for and introduced lactose tolerance into the European population as they migrated westward, probably as unwelcome invaders.

More about men who will be found in eastern Europe who will carry our terminal SNP of KMS67, shared with the current day Burzyan Bashkirs and one man in Iran.

More about that intriguing DNA location 14168106, the location of an unnamed SNP just waiting to be named. Our SNP, our very own SNP, the one that belongs to us and some, but not all, of the Yamnaya, our relatives for sure and our probable ancestors. So far, that unnamed SNP belongs to no one else! No other living person so far discovered. No one else in the world except for our Lentz men and the ancient Yamnaya – reaching back some 5,000 years into the mists of time on the Volga River.

By Eternal Sledopyt – ru:Файл:Волга у Жигулей осенью.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19028715



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Additional Relatives Added to Phased Family Matches at Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA has been rolling out updates and upgrades fast and furious.

On July 7th, Family Tree DNA released Phased Family Matches which included phasing to people linked to your tree who have DNA tested who are related to you.  These phased matches allow Family Tree DNA to assign matches to maternal or paternal buckets, or both.  The people that could be utilized for this phased matching were as follows:

  • Parent(s)
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • First Cousins
  • Grandparents

Of course, because everyone wants the most people possible in their assigned parental buckets, the first clamor was for the addition of:

  • Half siblings
  • Half “other relatives” such as aunts, uncles, first cousins, etc.
  • Second Cousins
  • Third Cousins

Family Tree DNA said that there would be additional new developments shortly, and exactly 20 days later, they quietly rolled updated capabilities that includes matching to…..you guess it….all of the above, plus more, including:

  • Great-great-grandparents
  • Great-grandparents
  • Grand uncles
  • Grand aunts
  • Great-grandaunts
  • Great-granduncles

I’m certainly envious of anyone who can test their great-grandmother – although my grandchildren have their great-grandmother, grandmother and both parents in the system.

In my case, before this change, the only relative that I had in the system that originally qualified was my mother. I was very excited to have people in my maternal bucket and was wishing for people in my paternal bucket. I do have several cousins who have tested on my paternal side, but none as close as 1st cousins.

Imagine my delight when I signed on to my account and discovered 359 individuals in my paternal bucket and one in both, in addition to my 256 maternal phased matches.

Both Buckets

These 359 phased paternal matches come from the combination of the following 8 individuals that have tested and I had previouisly linked to me in my tree:

  • Half sister’s granddaughter
  • Two first cousins once removed
  • One first cousin twice removed
  • One second cousin
  • One second cousin once removed
  • Two third cousins

Of course, now I’m searching through my DNA matches to see if I have anyone else who qualifies that has tested.

And I’m thinking about any other cousins that would benefit my phased parental bucket assignments if I were to be able to convince them to test.

I unlinked and relinked a few people to see how many people were added to the buckets because of them.

The second cousin once removed added 12 new people. Yet, one of the third cousins added 82, so you really never know. Some of the people who might have been added to a bucket by the second cousin may have already been added to the parental bucket by an earlier match.

Regardless, the more people linked to your tree from third cousins closer, the better your chances for having people assigned to maternal and paternal sides of your tree, even without having your parents.

Keep linking people in your tree when you know where and how they connect to you – regardless of where they are located in your tree.  You never know how that may benefit you – which morning you may wake up and find additional information or more people in your buckets.  What a great surprise!!!

This is a pretty amazing feat if you think about it, given that just a few years ago autosomal testing wasn’t available at all, and even today, no other vendor does phased matching, assigning individuals to maternal or paternal buckets utilizing parents and other relatives when parents aren’t available.



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Y DNA Match Changes at Family Tree DNA Affect Genetic Distance

Recently, group administrators received information that Y matching has changed at Family Tree DNA.


This is a welcome update.

The new changes reflect less restrictive matching algorithms, reflecting knowledge gained about how mutations on the Y chromosome occur.

These new matching algorithms also affect the calculation of genetic distance. I wrote about genetic distance here, and this new information supplements the original article.

All changes result in less restrictive matching. Therefore, if you notice any changes at all, you should have additional Y DNA matches, not fewer, whether as a result of your own marker values of those of someone you now match, but didn’t before.

Normal Matching

Normally, if person 1 has a value of 12 and person 2 has a value of 14, on any marker, the genetic distance is counted as 2, the difference between the two values.


The new changes vary from the normal matching, depending on the marker and the values.

Null Value Markers

When a marker has a null value, meaning a value of 0, that marker will be counted as one difference when compared to other markers with numeric values.


The new genetic distance calculation of 1, when one individual has a marker value of zero, has been implemented to reflect that the mutation resulting in the deletion of one individual’s DNA at that location likely happened in one step, not in several.

Null values are most often seen on marker 425, but can appear elsewhere as well. All null marker values are treated in this same manner.

Dual Value Markers

Most markers with hyphenated values are being treated less restrictively. Family Tree DNA has provided the list of markers affected by this change, below.


Matching now looks at the total difference of the two values combined, not the difference at each hyphenated value individually. In other words, the order of the values no longer matters.


There are two changes in the above calculation when any two values are the same.

  • Change 1 – The common values cancel each other, regardless of where they appear in the marker.
  • Change 2 – The genetic distance is now 1 if there is a difference in the remaining markers, instead of the previous 3, in this example. In other words, the value of 1 reflects that there is a genetic distance and does not assume that the mutation occurred in 3 discrete steps.

However, in the instance where any two values are NOT the same, a different matching routine is involved.


In this case, the genetic distance is 2 because there are no common values to cancel and the mutations are much more likely to have occurred discretely.

Marker 464

Marker 464 typically has 4 values, 464a, 464b, 464c and 464d. However, this marker can be found with from one to several additional values, such as 464e, 464f, etc.


In the event where the common marker values are the same, above, the fact that one person has additional markers, regardless of how many, is counted as one difference, because the mutation that created these additional markers likely happened at one time.


In the event where the common marker values are not the same, as shown above, common values are cancelled, with the nonmatching values being counted as one genetic step, the same as in the dual value marker example above.  In this case, one genetic step is assigned for the 4 extra markers, and one additional step for the difference between markers 464b and 464c, for a total genetic distance of 2.

Thanks to Family Tree DNA for providing this additional information.



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Catharina Schaeffer (c1775-c1826) and the Invisible Hand of Providence, 52 Ancestors #127

Catharina Schaeffer was born about 1774 to Johann Nicholas Schaeffer and Susanna DeTurk in Berks County, Pennsylvania. While many church records still exist and are available for the genealogist, it appears that none of Nicholas Schaeffer’s children are found in the existing records – at least none that I’ve been able to find.

Although we do have Catharina’s father’s estate documents, there is no final distribution that includes Catharina by her married name, nor a mention of her husband, Peter Gephart.  In fact, there is no final distribution in that estate packet at all.

Catharina didn’t marry until 1799, half way through the estate settlement, so it’s not like she is absent in something where she should be present. However, given this tiny shred of ambiguity, I was very pleased to have autosomal DNA matches to descendants of Catharina’s parents and Schaeffer grandparents through other children.

Catharina’s father, Johann Nicholas Schaeffer, died on November 2, 1796, according to his estate documents.

A petition filed on April 3, 1798 relative to real estate lists Nicholas’s children, as follows:

John Schaeffer, Esther wife of Jacob Miller, Catharine, Daniel, Susanna, Mary, Elizabeth and Jacob, the 4 last of whom are minors. Nicholas’s widow is noted as Susanna.

Catherine is the anglicized version of the German Catharina.  The one document where she signs her name with an X, her name is given as Catharina so that is the name I’m using.

The 1798 document from her father’s estate tells us that Catharina is at least 21 years old, meaning she was born before April 3, 1777. Furthermore, I suspect that these children are listed in age order, given that we know from other estate documents that John is the eldest (born on May 30, 1771) and we know from this document that the youngest are listed last.

If the children were born every 2 years, and none died, then the 4 youngest would have been roughly 19, 17, 15 and 13. By inference Daniel would have been 21 and Catherina 23.   So we can comfortably say that Catherina was born about 1775 and unquestionably between 1773 and 1777, even if the middle three children are listed out of order.

Initially, Susanna, Nicholas’s widow, is awarded executorship, but she petitions the court to find another executor, at which point Valentine Gephart/Gebhart is appointed.

Nicholas’ estate mentions several Gephart men both in the list of accounts and at the estate sale, so these families were closely affiliated and probably near neighbors.

Catharina Schaeffer married Johann Peter Gephart Jr., known as Peter, on March 24, 1799 in Christ Lutheran Church in Berks County, known today as Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Catharina Schaeffer Christ Lutheran

The church, built in 1743, is still functioning today and this beautiful photo is from their Facebook page. I would like to think that Catherina’s memories of this church were glowing and beautiful, full of the freshness and hope of new love.  That chapter in her life wouldn’t last long.

Catharina Schaeffer Christ Lutheran2

Peter was born on June 10, 1771 and was the son of Johann Peter Gebhart and Eva, last name unknown.

On November 2, 1799, Catharina had daughter Elizabeth Gephart followed by son, John Gephart born on February 26, 1801.

It’s likely that Catherina had a child that was born and died in 1803, or perhaps the child didn’t die until 1804 sometime. It would be terribly unusual for a woman to not become pregnant at that age from 1802 through December 1804 without having a child in-between those dates. According to Peter’s estate papers and later guardianship records, there was no child born, that lived, after 1801. Neither was Catherina pregnant when Peter died in December 1804.

The Western Fever

According to research by Kierby Stetler and Gene Mozley:

In the year 1803, four men from Tulpehocken Twp., Berks County, went to Ohio to see the country and if they liked it, planned to buy some property and move their families onto it. They found some land they liked about 60 miles east of Cincinnati which was owned by a man in Virginia. They met with the owners’ agent in Ohio and contracted to purchase 1000 acres, then started for Virginia to close the deal with the owner. However, by the time they arrived at the man’s residence, he had died. Disappointed and exhausted from the trip, they returned to their homes in Berks County.

They gave such glowing accounts of the State of Ohio that the “western ern fever” became an epidemic in the neighborhood. As a result, 24 families decided to sell out and move to Ohio the following spring. A few in the meantime had moved to Center Co, PA but arrangements to join the group were made with them by letter. It was agreed that all would start as such a time as to meet in Pittsburgh on or about the same day. In this group from Berks County were our George Stettler, his children and grandchildren. George was nearly 65 years of age at this time.

The Stettler family would be Catharina and Peter Gephart’s neighbor to the south, in Montgomery County, Ohio.

In 1804, as one of the group of 24 families from Berks County, Catharina and Peter Gephart, along with their 2 young children joined the wagon train and made their way from Berks County, Pennsylvania to Montgomery County, Ohio.

Catharina Schaeffer Berks to Montgomery

The distance between Maiden Creek Township in Berks County and Miamisburg, in Montgomery County, near Peter Gephart’s land, is about 513 miles, which equated to about 51 days in a wagon. I would have been a long and tiresome journey, that’s for sure. However, there was a better route.  The History of German Township, Montgomery County, Ohio tells us more:

The following are the names of those heads of families who came to this valley from Pennsylvania in the 1804 colony, some of whom, however, settled outside the present limits of German Township: Philip Gunckel, Christopher, John and William Emerick (who were brothers), George Kiester, Jacob Bauer, George Moyer, John Gunckel (who subsequently returned to Pennsylvania), John and Christopher Shuppert. Peter Gebhart, George Stettler and his five sons, William, Henry, Daniel. George and Jacob, John Barlet, Abraham Puntius and George Kern (who came with them as far as Cincinnati, where he remained two years, coming to this township in 1806). There were twenty-four families of them when they started from Pennsylvania, but they did not all get to the Twin Valley. Some dropped off on their way hither and settled elsewhere, while others remained so short a time that they cannot be claimed as pioneers of this valley. The names of all such have been omitted.

We can see from the above list that the 24 dwindled to 19, and then to 18 when one family returned to Pennsylvania, then to 17 with the death of Peter Gephart. The following year, in 1805, another group arrived that included Valentine Gephart, among others.

There is actually a very important clue in the History of German Township information, and that is that George Kern came as far as Cincinnati. This tells us that these pioneers only came part way by wagon, likely as far as Pittsburg, where they purchased rafts and floated downriver to Cincinnati. Had they come overland, they would not have dropped south to Cincinnati, as it would have been out of the way.

From Cincinnati, they would have headed north to what is now Montgomery County.

It’s “only” 270 miles to Pittsburg, or 27 days in a wagon, from Berk’s County.

Catharina Schaeffer Berks to Pittsburgh

From Pittsburg, the caravan of German settlers would have floated down the Ohio from Pittsburg to Cincinnati on a flatboat.


In Cincinnati they would have unloaded the flatboat and purchased or hired wagons once again in order to head for Montgomery County. It’s only 50 miles or so from Cincinnati to Miamisburg, in Miami Township, only a mile or so from where Catharina and Peter Gephart would settle, beside the Stettlers.

Catharina Schaeffer Cincy to Montgomery

This “Miami Township” article by Jacob Zimmer, probably written in the 1880s, given that John Gephart died in 1887, tells us more:

It was in the spring or summer of 1804, that John Shupert, wife and six children, Christopher, Frederick, Jacob, Eva, Peggy and Tena, came from Berks County, Penn., locating about one mile southwest of “Hole’s Station,” where he and wife lived until death. Christopher was married and had one son, John, when the family located here, the latter of whom is now residing in the township. In the same colony from Berks County, Penn., came Peter Gebhart, wife and two children, John and Elizabeth, settling a short distance southwest of the station, where Peter died the same year. His son, John, now a very old man, is still a resident of Miami Township. Most of this colony from Berks County settled in German Township.

Hole’s Station became Miamisburg in 1818.

Another account of the 1804 journey is given in the book “Twin Valley” b J. P. Hentz, published in 1883:

They set out on their westward journey in the spring of 1804. Such a journey was at that time no small undertaking. It required many weeks for its accomplishment and was attended by no small degree of danger and hardship. The goods, women and children had to be conveyed by wagon over rough mountain roads. The country through which the emigrants had to pass was yet but thinly settled; wild beasts such as wolves, bears and panthers were still abounding in the forests; and Indians, more savage than savage brutes, were still lurking in forest and mountain fastness. At night they usually encamped by some stream, and whilst one party laid down to sleep, another kept watch around the encampment. Exposure and malaria often caused serious illness, and not unfrequently one fell victim to disease and was buried by the wayside. Our friends, on their way through Pennsylvania experienced many of these evils; they arrived however, at the time agreed upon in Pittsburgh without having met with any serious accident. Here they engaged river boats, on which they put their chattels and families, and then paddled down the Ohio River. Cincinnati was their destination by water. After a trip of about a week they landed at the latter place. This event occurred on the 20th day of June, 1804. From Cincinnati they went to New Reading, a hamlet not far distant where they arrived a fortnight, considering what next to do or where to next to direct their steps. A few of them found employment here and remained, but to the majority this did not seem as their Canaan.

They again took up their line of march, this time their course lay northward. They had heard of the Miami Valley and desired to locate in it, but they had no definite objective point in view, trusting rather to fortune and the guiding hand of Providence. Some distance north of Cincinnati they entered this Valley and were delighted with the country. It was so very different from the rugged mountain country which they had left in Pennsylvania. No mountains and rocks were to be seen here. The forests were much taller, the soil was more productive and the surface much more level than in the country from which they came. They passed over many an attractive spot where they might have located, but they moved on, doubtlessly prompted and guided by the invisible hand of Providence, until they reached the vicinity of the present site of Miamisburg. Here lived a wealthy farmer, whose name was Nutz, who spoke German. They were glad to meet a gentleman who spoke their own tongue. With him they stopped to rest and refresh themselves and after forming his acquaintance and finding him a genial and kindhearted man, they concluded to encamp awhile on his farm. It was now midsummer and the weather being warm and pleasant, they took up abode in the woods where they lived in wagons and temporary huts, for about two weeks.

A Mr. Philip Gunckel, being a man of superior intelligence and the only person among them who spoke the English language with any degree of fluency was for these reasons looked upon as a leader of the group. He searched the area looking for a proper location to build a mill, as he was by occupation a miller, “and at last found the object of which he was in search on Big Twin Creek, a branch of the Miami River. The precise point chosen by Mr. Gunckel was about 6 miles from the mouth of this stream, now within the corporate limits of Germantown. When he made known his decision to his companions, they all concluded to settle near around him. Upon this the encampment on the Nutz farm was at once broken up, the immigrants forded the Miami River, crossed over to the western bank ascended the steep bluffs adjoining and then traveled on in the direction of the Twin creek. And here, by the side of this stream, they rested at the end of their long and wearisome journey. Here now was their future home.”

Before winter set in, they had secured land and erected some sort of dwellings. The first winter was a long and lonely one. They had harvested no crops the previous year, nor had they earned anything with which to procure the necessaries of life, having spent nearly the whole summer in their journey. Provisions, even if they had the means would have been difficult to procure, as the settlers were but few and had just begun to clear away the forest, and did not raise more than their own wants required. Game was plenty, however. They did not starve during this winter, but they were obliged to live on a small allowance.

Early the following spring, they went to work to clear away the trees, turn up the soil and sow and plant. Their hardest work such as clearing, log-rolling buildings and harvesting was mostly done by crowds, collected together for the purpose from the entire settlement. They made, as they called it, a frolic of it; that is they united into a sort of one-family arrangement, and did their work by succession, first on one place, then on a second and third, etc., until they had made the round and had got through with all. They continued this habit of mutual assistance for many years and great harmony and good feeling prevailed among them.

Religiously, they were either Lutherans or Reformeds, and as in those days it used to be said that all the difference between the denominations was that in the Lord’s Prayer, the one said, “Vater Unser,” and the other said “Unser Vater.”

Unser Vater translates to “Our Father.”

Catharina’s husband Peter Gephart along with George Moyer filed a joint land claim after their arrival in 1804 and agreed upon how they would divide the land.


By December 1804, Peter was dead and Catharina, about age 30, was left in Ohio just months after arriving with 2 small children and few resources.  Losing a husband is tragic, but losing your husband on the frontier just months after arrival and before becoming established, with no food or resources is a disaster. It’s a good thing there was a group of settlers, even though there were only 17 families, otherwise Catharina and her children might not have survived that initial winter.  They obviously shared their food with Catharina and her children. By the winter of 1805, Catharina had remarried.

Were it not for the fact that Catharina was widowed, we would have little information about her life. For that matter, were it not for the fact that she was widowed, she would not be my ancestor.

Daniel Miller was appointed by the court to be the executor of Peter Gephart’s estate. We don’t know why, especially given that Catharina was Lutheran and Daniel was Brethren, but regardless of why, it was a fortuitous turn of events. It could possibly have been because Daniel also spoke German, although so did the rest of the Berks County group, although perhaps the Berk’s county group was not yet considered “established” or could not post the required bond. Furthermore, Daniel Miller may have spoken English as well, an important asset in dealing with the court. Daniel was also an Elder in the Brethren Church, so certainly considered to be a respectable man. And he lived close by.

Daniel’s son, David Miller, was 5 or 6 years younger than Catharina and either unmarried or a widower himself. I’d wager a bet that David set about helping Catharina with clearing her land and farm chores. After all, Catharina had a 3 and 5 year old child and couldn’t leave them alone to go out to chop trees and work the fields.

Catharina Remarries

One thing led to another, and well, let’s say that human nature, being what it is, Catharina became pregnant in September of 1805, followed by Catharina and David’s marriage in Warren County, Ohio on December 13, 1805. Their first child, David B. Miller, was born the following June.   In a small, conservative, community, that must have been somewhat of a scandal, because it’s not like no one would notice. Furthermore, while they were both German, they were religiously “mixed,” she being Lutheran and he being Brethren. That probably didn’t go over well with either group. However, it’s not like there were other Lutherans to choose from in terms of a spouse – the community was quite small, so maybe marrying a German was “the best” they could hope for at that time and both communities were more tolerant than they might otherwise have been.  At least, I hope so.

Subsequently, David Miller was appointed guardian for Catharina’s two children, a very common event for a step-father. This guardianship would have been in relation to the land and any other resources that the children would stand to inherit from their father’s estate when they came of age, in 1820 and 1822, respectively.

The 1806 guardianship order records Elizabeth Gephart as being age 8 and John is noted as being age 5.

Probably about this time, Catharina would have converted to being Brethren from Lutheran. We know that David Miller remained a Brethren, as he would have been dismissed from the church had Catherina not converted. Whether she truly converted, or did so in name only to keep peace in the household and larger community, we’ll never know. One hint might be if we could determine whether or not her Gephart children were Brethren. If they were, she was. If they weren’t, then it’s unlikely that she converted in more than name only.

Given that Catharina’s son, John, is buried in the Stettler (Lutheran) Cemetery just down the road half a mile from Peter Gephart’s land and Elizabeth Gephart Hipple is buried in a non-Brethren Cemetery in Miamisburg, it’s unlikely that either child was Brethren. So, I’d wager that Catharina was technically Brethren, in name if not entirely in spirit.

In 1810, Daniel Miller as executor of Peter Gephart’s estate, Catherina Miller as his former wife and the mother of his 2 children, and David Miller as her current husband and guardian of her children petition the Montgomery County court and tell the court how Peter and George Moyer divided the land they patented together.

I wondered why this was done in 1810, and not before, or not later, for that matter. It turns out that the patent was applied for earlier, but not actually issued until October 1809 and then it was issued in the names of George Moyer and Peter Gephart’s two minor children, precipitating the need for a court order to sign deeds.

Catharina Schaeffer land patent

Montgomery Count court note on page 341 reflect the following:

May term 1810– Daniel Miller and Katharine Miller (late Katherine Gephart) with the consent of her husband David Miller administrators of the estate of Peter Gephart [state] that Peter together with George Moyer were [in] possession of 2 tracts of land as tenants in common in Township 2 range 5, section 9 and fraction of 10…land sold to Daniel Mannbeck, land sold to Christopher Shuppert…land sold to John Shuppert…to Miami River…corner George Moyer’s land…425 acres (Moyers share was 447 acres). Peter surveyed in his lifetime…sold quietly to George Jeaceable. Request to execute deed. Elizabeth and John Gephart are Peter and Catharina’s children. Daniel Miller, David Miller and Catharina Gephart sign.

This land is located on both sides of S. Union Road between Upper Miamisburg Road and Lower Miamisburg Road. Union Road divides sections 9 and 10.

Catharina Schaeffer land

Peter Gebhart/Gephart and George Möyer’s property ran between modern-day Upper Miamisburg Road and Lower Miamisburg Road from Jamaica Road east to the Great Miami River, across the river from Miamisburg. An irregular strip comprising a northern third of nearly 448 acres was allotted to George Moyer. Peter Gephart was allotted the middle third of over 445 acres. The southern third was arranged to be sold to Johannes “John” Shuppert (Shüppart), Christopher Shuppert, and Daniel Mannbeck, in three 106-3/8-acre parcels for $200 each, but Peter Gephart died prior to concluding the transactions, hence the petition to the court to complete the transactions as administrators of Gebhart’s estate.

Christopher and Hannah Shuppert sold their tract, the south-central tract, to Peter’s cousin, Heinrich “Henry” Gebhart, Sr., for $300 later in 1810.

Catharina Schaeffer land close

The middle third is shown above, probably the area roughly demarcated by the brown field to the right of Union Road, if you drew lines east and west on the top and bottom of the field east to the Miami River and west to Jamaica Road. In fact, you can see the field lines, which likely followed the property lines, although the tract was irregularly shaped.

Catharina Schaeffer mound drawing

Interestingly, the Miamisburg Indian mound, attributed to the Adena culture, is located less than a mile away from the Schaeffer land. This would have been a familiar sight to Catharina. While cleared today, shown in a Google street view today, the area would originally have been forested as depicted in the drawing above.

Catharina Schaeffer mound today

1811 – A Year of Change

In 1811, Catharina served as executor for the estate of Peter’s uncle, Valentine Gebhart (1751-1810). This may have been the same Valentine Gephart that served as Catherina’s father’s estate executor, which would explain how Catharine met Peter. It’s unusual that Catharina was chosen to serve as Valentine’s executor. Perhaps she had a particularly close relationship with Valentine. Catharina and Peter’s cousin, Philip Gebhart sold three 160-acres tracts in Township 3, Range 5 East, Section 2 (Jefferson Township) around the town of Drexel. To me, Catharine settling the estate and affairs of Valentine feels like life coming full circle.  Valentine probably functioned somewhat as a parental or favorite uncle role for Catharina.

Catharina’s mother died back in Pennsylvania on September 26, 1811. That sad news would have arrived by letter with the next courier coming to Ohio. It’s hard to imagine not being able to be with your mother at the end to comfort her, and to bury her once she had passed over. There was no closure, no life celebration, only the sad news and grieving alone or with anyone in the group who would have known her mother and shared Catharina’s sadness. To the best of my knowledge, none of Catharina’s siblings settled in Ohio, so other than Peter Gephart’s relative, Valentine, who arrived in 1805, Catharina was without family.

Fortunately, David Miller’s father, Daniel, lived just a couple miles away, so Catharina married into a new Brethren family when she married David.

Life on the Farm

Catharina’s life probably calmed down substantially and began to run much more smoothly after her marriage to David Miller, settling into the seasonal rhythmic routine of sew and reap, cooking and laundry, church on Sundays, marriages, births and burials in the churchyard. That never ending cycle.

From 1806 to 1818, Catharina had 7 children, so she was perpetually busy with 9 children and a husband to look after.

David Miller farmed the land that Peter Gephart owned, probably on behalf of the “orphans,” his step-children, and his wife’s share.

David Miller 1810 tax Montgomery

The 1810 tax list of Miller men shows David paying taxes on land in that same location, and the 1814 tax list is even more specific.

David Miller 1814 Montgomery tax list

On this list, the last column indicates the individual who entered the land, meaning the original grantee. The land David is farming is listed as Moyer and Gephart – confirming that indeed, David is farming the Peter Gephart land.  The second David Miller entry in Randolph Township is David’s uncle.  Millers and Brethren Millers in particular are often very difficult to unravel, so it’s fortuitous that our David Miller did indeed farm Catherina’s land – because the location and land identifies the family uniquely.

That farming arrangement would work fine, until Elizabeth and John came of age, which happened in 1820 and 1823, respectively. At that time, the part of Peter’s land that was not Catharina’s dower right, typically one third of the value of the estate, would have become the property of the children, or would have been sold and the proceeds divided between the children.

That would leave David only to farm one third of the land, if that much, because the house would have been considered in that valuation as well, so the total acreage allotted to Catharina would have been less than one third of the total.

The 1820 census schedule in German Township, Montgomery County, shows us David Miller living beside John Gephart, his step-son.

David Miller has the following household members:

  • Male 0-10 Samuel Miller b 1816
  • Male 0-10 John David born 1812
  • Male 10-16 David B. b 1806
  • Male 26-45 David (the father)
  • Male 45+
  • Female 0-10 Lydia Miller b 1818 or Catharine b 1814
  • Female 10-16 Mary b 1809 or Elizabeth b 1808
  • Female 16-24 Susan b 1802 or Esther
  • Female to 45 Catharina (the mother)

It looks like spaces for 3 daughters are missing, unless Esther has already married.

In 1822, David Miller’s father, Daniel dies. Apparently Peter Gephart’s estate has not yet been finalized, and David Miller along with Catharina both sign a receipt that was found in Daniel Miller’s estate papers.

David Miller 1823 receipt

This one “signature” of Catharina is her only known signature, and it appears that she cannot read and write. Obtaining Valentine Gephart’s estate packet might yield additional information about Catharina and additional signatures of hers as well.

Sadly, Catharina died about 1826, at about age 51, leaving 9 children in total, 7 of which had been born to Catharina and David Miller. Their youngest known child was born in 1818, when Catharina would have been about 44.

For a long time, for some reason, it was assumed that Catharine died in childbirth in 1826 – probably because so many women did. Now, based on her father’s estate records being located, we know that it’s very unlikely that Catharine died in childbirth in 1826, because she would have been roughly age 51, give or take a year. Given that her last child was born in 1818, this reinforces her birth year as about 1775 and reduces the probability that she died in childbirth 8 years later.


I wish we knew where Catharina was buried, but we don’t.

We can speculate a bit, based on what we know of the history of the area.

David may have buried Catharina near Peter Gephart. Of course, we don’t know where Peter is buried either, but the Gebhart cemetery was in use quite early – at least by 1815 and probably earlier. However, since Peter died so soon after arrival, it’s questionable whether a burial ground had been established in the location that would become the Gephart Church at that time.

David could have buried Catharina in a Brethren Cemetery, and if that is the case, it is likely Happy Corners, then known as Lower Stillwater, although that church was several miles away, in Randolph Township.

David could also have buried Catharina in the old cemetery on the land his father, Daniel owned up through 1815, which was only a couple miles away. It’s possible that if Catharine and David lost any children, they would have been buried there as well. However, since the Miller family no longer owned this land in 1826, this location is questionable as well.

David could have buried Catharina in the Old Lutheran Cemetery in present day Germantown. The cemetery was in use by this time.

David could have buried her in the Schaeffer Cemetery in German Township, although that’s probably not terribly likely either.  It is unclear if and how Catharina would have been related to these Schaeffers.

A Miami Township map drawn in 2001 and copyrighted by Tom Midlam shows an unnamed cemetery on the northern part of section 10 of Miami Township which is the land owned by Moyer and Gephart. If the cemetery “cross” is located accurately, it would appear to be on the Moyer land. This cemetery is not named on the map, nor is it in the Miami County Cemetery Index. Given that information, it’s clear that this cemetery is an old family cemetery about which little information is available.

The area today is wooded, although it was likely cleared at one time. If Catharina was buried here, and the cross on Tom’s map is accurate, the cemetery would have been someplace in the forested area bordered on the northwest by Upper Miamisburg Road and South Union Road, at roughly the arrow below.

Catharina Schaeffer poss cemetery

It’s also possible that Catharina was buried in the Stettler Cemetery, located about a mile to the south of where they lived. The Stettler Lutheran Church was formed when the Berks County group settled in the area and it’s also where Catharina’s son, John, is buried as well.

Catharina Schaeffer Stettler

Hill Grove, where Catharina’s daughter Elizabeth is buried wasn’t established until 1863, so we know Catharina’s not there.

My gut feel would be that either Catharina was buried in the cemetery on the land just north of theirs that was presumably in George Moyer’s portion of the tract, or that she is buried in the Stettler Cemetery, because it was close by and her son is buried there as well. We know that the Stettler church was established very early and the residents would have had to establish a group burying ground as well, with perhaps Peter Gephart being the first – especially if the Gephart church wasn’t established yet.

One thing is for sure – wherever Catharina’s final resting place, it was a very sad day with a long line of stair-stepped children, ages 8 to 27, weeping for their mother.

The Early Churches

The Stettler Family tells about establishing the Stettler Church on the land owned by George Stettler who died in 1815 and is buried in the cemetery at the Stettler Church. This is also where John Gephart was buried in 1887.

There were two church congregations established early, the Lutherans and the Reformeds, commonly referred to as the Gebhardt Church and the Stettler Church, respectively. The land for the Reformed church was donated by the Stettler family in 1808.

The Stettler church is located just a mile south of the land owned by Peter and Catharine Gephart, as shown on the map above.

The Gebhart Church and cemetery is located East of Miamisburg, about 4 miles, and across the Miami River, from where Catharina and David lived.

Catharina Schaeffer Gephart church

There are marked burials here as early as 1833, and likely burials long before that.

It’s possible that Peter Gephart may have been the first burial at the Gephart Church in 1804.

Interestingly enough, according to the History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio, Vol 1, the two churches shared a minister from 1808 until 1813. Lutherans living in Miamisburg declined to join either church, saying that the distance to Gephart Church was too great and the roads too bad, and that they were too poor to be ferried across the Miami River to the west side to attend the Stettler Church.

Catharina’s children with Peter Gephart:

Elizabeth Gebhart/Gephart was born November 2, 1799 in Berk’s County and died on August 29, 1884 in Miamisburg, Montgomery County, Ohio. Elizabeth married William Hipple on April 7, 1820 in Montgomery County, Ohio. She is buried in the Hill Grove Cemetery in Miamisburg, just a couple miles from where she grew up in Miami Township.

Catharina Schaeffer Elizabeth Hipple

Elizabeth Gephart and William Hipple had the following children:

  • Catharine Hipple (1821-1887) married Frederick Kolling (Colling) in 1842 and had 4 sons and one daughter, Mary Kolling/Colling.
  • John William Hipple born October 5, 1822 and died November 20, 1893. He married Elizabeth Sherrits and they had 9 children.
  • Sarah (Salone) Hipple (1824-1916) married John Tobias in 1846 and John Coleman in 1856. She had 2 sons and 3 daughters, Clara Elizabeth, Mary Hannah and Hallie Sue Coleman.
  • Caroline Hipple (1828-1865) married Isaac Weidner and had 2 sons and daughter Amelia Aurora Weidner.
  • Clinton Hipple (1830-1910) married Magdalena Tobias in 1849, Eliza Jane Stettler in 1852 and Catharine Stettler Shade in 1874. He had 14 children between all three wives.
  • Jeremiah Hipple born in June 1834, married Matilda Tobias in 1849 and had 7 children.
  • Rebecca Hipple (1826-1914) married William Roark and had 3 boys and two girls, Laura Jane and Ellen Roark. Rebecca later married Leonard John Dangler.
  • Elizabeth Hipple was born in January 1839, married John Beck and had no children.

John Gebhart/Gephart was born on February 26, 1801 and died on January 19, 1887 in Miami Township, Montgomery County, Ohio. He is reportedly buried in the Stettler Cemetery, according to the family, although he doesn’t seem to have a marker. There are many unmarked graves.

Catharina Schaeffer John Gephart

John Gephart married Julia Ann Brosius in 1819. They had at least three children and probably more. This line is not well researched.

  • Jacob Gebhart (1820-1902) married Sidney Ann Medlar and had 2 children.
  • Peter P. Gebhart (1821-1856) married Sarah Shupert and had 5 children
  • Magdalena Gephart (1823-1889) married George Schmidt Gebhart and had 17 children
  • William Gebhart (1825-1891) married Mary Ann Bebhart and had 8 children.
  • Margaret Gephart born in 1827 married Isaac Loy and died Nov. 23, 1900, age 73 years 6 months 17 days in Greenfield, Hancock County, Indiana. Margaret and Isaac had 9 children.
  • Philip Gebhart (1829-1920)
  • John Gebhart (1832-1904) married Elizabeth Kauffman and had 3 children
  • Sarah Gephart born December 20, 1836 married Jacob Loy, died on June 1, 1913 in Pendleton, Indiana and had 7 children.
  • Henry Gebhart (1837-1907)
  • George B. Gebhart (1839-1907) married Nancy Cramer and had 5 children.
  • Susan Catherine Gebhart (1843-1913) married George Washington Burnett and had 5 children

Indeterminate Children

David Miller had two daughters whose mother is unidentified. We do have an avenue to determine whether their mother was Catharina Schaeffer or a previous, albeit unknown, wife. If a descendant of Esther or Susan Miller through all females from Esther/Susan to the tester, took a mitochondrial DNA test, we could compare it against a mitochondrial DNA test of a descendant of Catherina through all females descended from known daughters. If their mitochondrial DNA matches, they share the same direct maternal ancestor. If not, they don’t. Easy as pie. In the current generation, the tester can be a male but he must descend through all females.

Women contribute their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children, but only the females pass it on. So everyone in the world carries their mother’s mitochondrial DNA that is passed to them directly from the matrilineal line, unmixed with any DNA from the father’s side.

I have a testing scholarship for anyone who descends from Catherina’s known daughters through all females to the current generation. I have bolded the candidate lineages for testing, above and below, through Catherina’s daughters.

The two indeterminate daughters are:

Esther Miller Lear/Leer was deceased at the time that her father David Miller’s estate was distributed in Elkhart County, Indiana beginning in 1853.

If Esther is Catharina’s daughter, she was likely named for Catharine’s sister, Esther Schaeffer. Esther is also a Biblical name.

We don’t know Esther’s birthdate, but one researcher shows her marriage to Abraham Lear (also spelled Leer) on December 30, 1824 and names their source as a DAR record.

We do know that Esther was married before 1827 based on her children’s ages. Unfortunately, these dates do little to narrow the range of her birth from “before 1806” to “after 1806” which is the dividing line in the sand that makes a difference in terms of the identity of her mother.

Esther Miller and Abraham Lear/Leer had the following children:

  • Elizabeth Lear was born December of 1827 and died in August 16, 1913 in Holmesville, Gage Co., Nebraska. Her descendants show her birth date as December 5, 1825. She married Samuel Irvin in Elkhart County on May 11, 1845 and had 8 children including daughters Hilinda and Hettie Irvin.
  • Susan Lear was born April 12, 1832 in Elkhart County, Indiana and died on June 5, 1907 in North Liberty, St. Joseph County, Indiana. She married Israel Irvin on April 23, 1852 in Elkhart County and had 7 children including daughters Mary Catherine, Matilda Jane and Dora Irvin.
  • John W. Lear born in 1838. He married Samantha E. Shafer on September 18, 1872 in Elkhart County, Indiana. They had two children.
  • Sarah Lear born in October 1840 (census indicated both 1840 and 1843 at different times) and died after 1910 in Marion County, Kansas. She married Israel Eliphet B. Riggle on October 2, 1862 in Elkhart County. They had 3 children including daughter Arvilla A. Riggle.
  • Mary Lear was born probably about 1827 and died about 1850. She married John Liveringhouse on November 7, 1847 and had two children, William and Eliza Liveringhouse.
  • Catherine Lear married Isaac Shively on December 26, 1852 in Elkhart County and died in 1886 in Allen County, Kansas. She had 8 childreni ncluding 2 daughters, Mary Alice and Sarah Shively.
  • Hetty Lear married Henry Stutsman on April 30, 1857. They moved to Douglas County, Kansas and had 6 children, including 2 daughter, Mary and Martha Stutzman.

Susan Miller was born June 5, 1802 and married Adam Whitehead on February 17,1825 in Montgomery County, Ohio. She died on July 17, 1876 and is buried in the Whitehead Cemetery in Elkhart County, Indiana. Her birth is calculated from her age on the tombstone. If Susan is Catharina’s daughter, she would have been named for Catharina’s mother and sister, Susanna DeTurk and Susanna Schaeffer.

Susan Miller and Adam Whitehead had the following children:

  • Mary Ann Whitehead (1828-1916) married Samuel R. Miller in 1847 and had 7 children including four daughters, Susan, Eva, Mary Jane and Sarah A. Miller.
  • Elizabeth Whitehead (1829-1853) married Jacob Riggles and apparently had no children that survived.
  • Esther Whitehead (1831-1910) married Daniel Shively in 1852 and had 3 children including 1 daughter, Susan Shively who lived to adulthood.
  • John M. Whitehead (1833-1912) married Sarah Smith and had 6 children.
  • Susana Whitehead (1836-1916) married Jacob B. Riggle and had 8 children, including 3 daughters, Catherine, Mary V. and Etta Riggle.
  • Catherine Whitehead (1838-1919) married John Riggle in 1855 and had 3 children, including Lillian J. and Luna May Riggle.
  • Margaret Whitehead (1841-1851)

Catharina’s Children with David Miller

David B. Miller was born June 3, 1806 in Montgomery County, Ohio, died on September 26, 1881 in Elkhart County, Indiana and is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery that is located on his father, David Miller’s, land. David B. Miller’s stone is 4 sided, with wife Christina buried on one side.

David Miller son David stone

Two of their children are memorialized on one side. The third side is David and the fourth side is an inscription.

David Miller son David closeup

David B. Miller would have been named for his father. No one seems to have any record of what the middle B. stands for.

David B. Miller married Christina Brumbaugh before coming to Elkhart County and had 11 children.

  • Catherine Miller who died before 1893
  • William Miller born November 2, 1831, died November 4, 1831, buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.
  • Jacob Miller (1832-1902) married Catherine Whitehead in 1855 and had 4 children, then married Catherine Harshman in 1871 and had 3 more children.
  • Mary Miller (1835-1893) married Joseph B. Peffley in 1853. She died in 1893 in Manuel, Brazoria, Texas and had 9 children.
  • Eve Miller born July 1836, died April 2, 1838, buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.
  • John B. Miller (1839-1897), buried at Baintertown and was living with his parents in 1880 and was a physician.
  • Michael M. Miller born December 1842 in Elkhart County, died Sept 5, 1854 and is buried in Baintertown.
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Miller (1844-1925) married Samuel Pagen/Pagin, a physician, in 1899, had no children according to the 1900 census and is buried in Baintertown.
  • Daniel C. Miller (1847-1931) married Mary ? in 1885 and had no children according to the 1900 census. He then married Mary Kintigh in 1913 as a widower and is buried in Baintertown.
  • Susannah Miller (1849-1948) married Josiah Rohrer in 1870 and had 4 children.

Elizabeth Miller was born on April 6, 1808 in Montgomery County, Ohio, died on January 16, 1891 in Elkhart County, Indiana and is buried at Baintertown. She would have been named for Catharina’s sister, Elizabeth Schaeffer.

Elizabeth married Michael Haney in 1827 in Montgomery County, Ohio. They patented land very near David Miller in Elkhart County and had 5 children.

  • Matilda Haney (1834-1934) married John W. Baker in 1853. It appears that she died in Washington State.  Children are unknown.
  • Elizabeth R. Haney (1836-1900) married George Washington Alford and had 9 children including daughters, Eva, Jeanetta and Idealla Alford.
  • Joseph Beane Haney (1838-1920) married Lucinda Whitehead and had 5 children.
  • Mary “Molly” J. Haney (1844-1922) married Allen D. Gilkinson.  Children are unknown.
  • John Michael Haney (1847-1849)

Mary Miller was born in 1809 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married Jeremiah Bright on January 31, 1828 in Montgomery County, Ohio. Mary would have been named for Catharina’s sister, Mary Schaeffer.

According to the Elkhart County Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs, Mary and Jeremiah had five children, but I found evidence of 7 including two children who died young:

  • David Miller Bright (1829-1905) married Elizabeth Rinehart, died in Leelenau County, Michigan and had 9 children.
  • George W. Bright (1830-1852)
  • John Bright (1831-1928), died in Fairfield, Ohio.
  • Mary Bright (1833-1911) married John Garner Hall in and had one daughter, Sarah Jane Hall. Mary then married Jacob Alva Aurand and had 7 children including Mary Ellen Aurand.
  • William Bright (1835-1917) married Catherine Wagner and had 5 children.
  • Susannah Bright (1837-1838)
  • Daniel Bright (1838-1840)

Mary then married Christian Stouder on September 11, 1842 in Elkhart County and had four more children:

  • Lydia Stouder (1843-1893) married Samuel Neff in 1883 and had 6 children including Mary Alice, Anne and Desaline Neff.
  • Christian Stouder (1845-1927) married Elizabeth Hohbein and her sister, Catherine Hohbein and had 6 children between the two wives.
  • Samuel H. Stouder (1850-1891) married Margaret Rummell and had 5 children.
  • Unknown 4th child

David Miller daughter Mary Stouder stone

Mary died on October 22, 1863 and is buried at Union Center Cemetery, although her birth and death information was apparently never inscribed on her stone.

John David Miller was born April 6, 1812 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married Mary Baker there on January 24, 1832. They came to Elkhart County with or near the same time as David Miller. Perhaps John David is named for both Catharina’s father, Johann Nicholas Schaeffer and David Miller, his father.

Mary Baker and John David Miller had 10 children:

  • John Miller – died as a child
  • Catherine Miller – died as a child
  • Samuel Miller – died as a child
  • Unknown child
  • Hester Ann Miller (1833-1917 married Jonas Shively and had 8 children.
  • David B. Miller (1838-1922) married Susan Smith and had 9 children.
  • Mary Ann Miller (1841-1915) married Michael Treesh and had 7 children.
  • Aaron B. Miller (1843-1923) married Sarah Myers and had 5 children.
  • Matilda A. Miller (1844-1935) married John Dubbs and had 6 children.
  • Martha Jane Miller (1847-1935) married David Blough and had 7 children.
  • George Washington Miller (1851-1917) married Lydia Miller and had 6 children.

John David Miller married second to Margaret Elizabeth Lentz, widow of Valentine Whitehead. They had four children:

  • Evaline Louise Miller (1857-1939) married Hiram Ferverda and had 11 children.
  • Ira J. Miller (1859-1948) married Rebecca Rodibaugh and had 2 children.
  • Perry Miller (1862-1906) married Mary Jane Lauer and had 4 children.

Photo of John David Miller with Margaret and 5 of his children.

john david miller family

Catherine Miller was born March 17, 1813 and died September 24, 1876 and is buried at Baintertown. She was named for her mother.

Catherine married Conrad Brumbaugh in 1833 in Elkhart County and they had five children.

  • John W. Brumbaugh (1835-1910) married Sarah Peffley and had 9 children. He then married Mary Kintigh and had 2 additional children.
  • Lydia Brumbaugh (1838-1856)
  • Eve Brumbaugh (1840-1891) married Daniel Riggle in 1857 and had 12 children, including daughters Laura Ann, Anna J., Sarah Lilie, Jennie and Kittie Riggle.
  • Sarah A. Brumbaugh born about 1846, died after 1860.
  • Joseph Brumbaugh (1856-1921) married Ellen Martha Hissong in 1889 and had two children who both died young.

Samuel B. Miller was born in 1816 and married Rose Ann Bowser. He died March 1, 1877 and is buried at Baintertown. They had seven children:

  • Emanuel Miller (1838-1921) married Nancy Maurer and had 8 children.
  • Mary J. Miller born (1840-1920) married James Alford in1857 and had 3 children.
  • William H. Miller (1841-1915) married Delilah J. Alford in 1868 and had 5 children. He then married and Matilda J. Wahmeyer in 1898.
  • Desaline Miller born (1845-1904) married Gustavoius Alonzo Latta in 1870, died of strangulation according to her death certificate, no children reported in the 1900 census.
  • Albert J. Miller born (1846-1924) married Elizabeth Ulery and had 2 children.
  • Charles C. Miller born (1847-1910) married Sarah and had two children.
  • Cephus Miller born 1850, died after 1860.

Lydia Miller was born about 1818 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married John (Jonathan) Collier, also spelled Colyar, on September 18, 1834 in Elkhart County. She died about 1876. They had seven children:

  • David Colyar born in 1837, died in 1916 in Kapowsin, Pierce County, Washington married Susanna and had 2 children
  • Elizabeth Colyar (1838-1920), married Jesse Whitman and had one child, a son.  She died in Lone Star, Douglas County, Kansas.
  • Susan Louise Colyar (1839-1917) married George Jacob Hardtarfer and had 9 children including Lydia, Mary Louise, Minnie Bell and Ida Lenora Hardtarfer. Susan died in Douglas County, Kansas.
  • Mary Colyar born in 1842.
  • John Colyar (1845-1932) married Sarah Josephine Belden and had two children
  • Catherine Colyar born in 1848.
  • Louisa Emaline Adaline Colyar born in 1855.

Catherina Schaeffer’s Mitochondrial DNA

Mitochondrial DNA can provide us with an additional chapter in the life of Catherina Schaeffer Gephart Miller and her ancestors, taking us further back in time. Because mitochondrial DNA does not recombine with the father’s DNA, it’s passed intact from mother to child, but only female children pass it on.  On the pedigree chart below, you can see that the red circles are the path the mitochondrial DNA is passed down to a brother and sister, both of whom will carry the matrilineal line’s mitochondrial DNA, but only the sister will pass it on.  The brother’s children will carry their mother’s mitochondrial DNA.

yline mtdna

In order to view Catherina’s mitochondrial DNA, we have to find someone descended from Catherina through all females to the current generation. In the current generation, the tester can be male, so long as he descends through all females from Catherina.

I have bolded female candidates in her list of children and grandchildren.

I have a DNA testing scholarship for someone who descends from Catherina Schaeffer through all females to the current generation.


I’m sure that Catharina didn’t mean to live such an adventurous live. Her life probably didn’t start out that way either. From the time she was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, until she left in 1804 on the wagon train, there’s a good possibility she was never more than a few miles away from home – maybe never even in another county.

That all changed in the spring of 1804 when she set forth on the adventure of a lifetime. By the end of 1804, Catharina’s life had changed entirely – and not in a good way.

The trip to Ohio must have been exhausting, and perhaps exhilarating too. I can’t imagine being on a flatboat with two young children. I would be constantly terrified that one of them would escape from my clutches and perish in a watery grave. Flatboats didn’t have guardrails. The only protection you had in that day and age was common sense and a dose of good luck thrown into the mix.

In general, the group knew where they were going, but not specifically. They knew they were going to Cincinnati, but beyond that, they were waiting on Divine Guidance to give them a sign. Flying by the seat of your pants, or in this case, riding in a wagon directed by the invisible hand of Providence must have been a bit disconcerting for Catharina. Maybe she just didn’t think of the danger. Maybe she didn’t understand the scope of the danger. Maybe she just gritted her teeth and clenched her jaw…and prayed for deliverance.

Regardless, not long after Catharina thought she can literally come through the Valley of the Shadow of Death unscathed and was finally safe, the danger became intensely real when Peter died before year end, leaving her on the frontier to fend for herself. I surely have to wonder how he died. He was a young man. Maybe he stood in the wrong place felling trees, or maybe there was some other type of accident.

A year later, in December 1805, Catharina was remarried and pregnant with her third child. On the frontier, an expeditious marriage was best for everyone. Being single meant survival was in jeopardy. Being a single mother was even worse. The answer was to join forces with another through the bonds of matrimony – and the sooner the better. Catharina did what she needed to do.

Catharina must have been somewhat of a renegade woman to be appointed as the executor of the estate of Valentine Gephart in 1811. The court obviously thought her capable, even though it was a very unusual move.

Catharina had small children in her life, sometimes several, from a few months after her original marriage in 1799 until her death in 1826. Her youngest child then was about 8 years old, but about the time that her own children were no longer toddlers, Catharina’s oldest children began blessing her with grandchildren. This could well have been the highlight of her life. Her golden years, so to speak, but they didn’t last long and there weren’t entirely golden either.

The blank spaces in-between known children’s birth years testifies to the 4 grandchildren Catharina likely buried. Two of those grandchildren were also probably born in 1826, which makes me wonder if there was some type of illness within the community that may have claimed Catharine’s life as well as two or more of her grandchildren.

It also appears that Esther Miller who married Abraham Lear and Susan Miller who married Adam Whitehead also lost children in or about 1826 as well. Esther may have lost two children. It wouldn’t have mattered if Esther and Susan were Catharina’s children or step-children, she raised them from the time they were toddlers one way or the other, and their children were assuredly her grandchildren as well.

If 1804 was tragic, 1826 was a grief filled year for the Miller and Gephart families as well, losing Catharine and four or five grandchildren in that timeframe in addition.

At the time of Catharina’s death she had 4 living grandchildren, three from daughter Elizabeth and one from son John. Additionally, it appears that Esther and Susan would have had three between them in the same time period, if they didn’t pass away at or immediately after birth. Catharina’s grandchildren fit right in at the end of her own stair-stepped children. There were always babies in her household, I’m sure. Laughing, giggling, lifting the spirits of the adults. There is nothing so infectious as a baby’s laughter.

Although Catharina didn’t know them, eventually she would have at least 78 grandchildren and 14 step-grandchildren through Susan and Esther, if they weren’t her biological grandchildren.

Get ready for a shocker here, because Catharina had more than 300 great-grandchildren and another 63 either step-great-grandchildren or bio ones, if Susan and Esther were her daughters. Wouldn’t Catharina, who only knew 4 of her grandchildren, briefly, be surprised. It’s sad that her grandchildren never knew her with her undauntable pioneer spirit.

As I reflect on Catharina’s life, I’m struck by both the tragedy and the tenacity that tragedy must have built in the young Pennsylvania Dutch wife in a foreign wilderness who didn’t even speak English. Whatever she had to do, she did it. Adversity separates those who would fail from those who would succeed, but success doesn’t mitigate either sorrow or fear, both of which had to be present on the Ohio frontier on a daily basis as she looked at her two children and wondered what would happen to them.

I’m sure Catharina wondered if she had made the wrong decision leaving Pennsylvania, whether they had let their heads full of dreams of the land tempt them into harm’s way, and whether she should go back to Pennsylvania and return home to her mother. Going back wasn’t nearly as easy as traveling westward, because there was no river to float down – the entire trip was by wagon. Men who went back typically just rode a horse, which was far faster but not an option for a woman with two children. For whatever the circumstances the future would bring, Catherina was firmly planted on the land above the bluffs near the Miami River here she would create a new life on the frontier, with a new husband, and build a family that would lay the foundation for the future of hundreds of her descendants.

Perhaps Catharina coped with tragedy by letting that “Invisible Hand of Providence” guide and comfort her not just during the trip to Montgomery County, but throughout her life and ultimately, through the experience of death.



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Nine Autosomal Tools at Family Tree DNA

The introduction of the Phased Family Finder Matches has added a new way to view autosomal DNA results at Family Tree DNA and a powerful new tool to the genealogists toolbox.

The Phased Family Finder Matches are the 9th tool provided for autosomal test results by Family Tree DNA. Did you know where were 9?

Each of the different methodologies provides us with information in a unique way to assist in our relentless search for cousins, ancestors and our quests to break down brick walls.

That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is that sometimes options are confusing, so I’d like to review each tool for viewing autosomal match information, including:

  • When to use each tool
  • How to use each tool
  • What the results mean to you
  • The unique benefits of each tool
  • The cautions and things you need to know about each tool including what they are not

The tools are:

  1. Regular Matching
  2. ICW (In Common With)
  3. Not ICW (Not In Common With)
  4. The Matrix
  5. Chromosome Browser
  6. Phased Family Matching
  7. Combined Advanced Matching
  8. MyOrigins Matching
  9. Spreadsheet Matching

You Have Options

Family Tree DNA provides their clients with options, for which I am eternally grateful. I don’t want any company deciding for me which matches are and are not important based on population phasing (as opposed to parental phasing), and then removing matches they feel are unimportant. For people who are not fully endogamous, but have endogamous lines, matches to those lines, which are valid matches, tend to get stripped away when a company employs population based phasing – and once those matches are gone, there is no recovery unless your match happens to transfer their results to either Family Tree DNA or GedMatch.

The great news is that the latest new option, Phased Family Matching, is focused on making easy visual comparisons of high quality parental matches which is especially useful for those who don’t want to dig deeply.

There are good options for everyone at all ranges of expertise, from beginners to those who like to work with spreadsheets and extract every teensy bit of information.

So let’s take a look at all of your matching options at Family Tree DNA. If you’re not taking advantage of all of them, you’re missing out. Each option is unique and offers something the other options don’t offer.

In case you’re curious, I’ll be bouncing back and forth between my kit, my mother’s kit and another family member’s kit because, based on their matches utilizing the various tools, different kits illustrate different points better.

Also, please note that you can click on any image to see a larger version.

Selecting Options

FF9 options

Your selection options for Family Finder are available on both your Dashboard page under the Family Finder heading, right in the middle of the page, and the dropdown myFTDNA menu, on the upper left, also under Family Finder.

Ok, let’s get started. 

#1 – Regular Matching

By regular matching, I’m referring to the matches you see when you click on the “Matches” tab on your main screen under Family Finder or in the dropdown box.

FF9 regular matching

Everyone uses this tool, but not everyone knows about the finer points of various options provided.

There’s a lot of information here folks. Are you systematically using this information to its full advantage?

Your matches are displayed in the highest match first order. All of the information we utilize regularly (or should) is present, including:

  • Relationship Range
  • Match Date
  • Shared CentiMorgans
  • Longest (shared) Block
  • X-Match
  • Known Relationship
  • Ancestral Surnames (double click to see entire list)
  • Notes
  • E-mail envelope icon
  • Family Tree
  • Parental “side” icon

The Expansion “+” at the right side of each match, shown below, shows us:

  • Tests Taken
  • mtDNA haplogroup
  • Y haplogroup

Clicking on your match’s profile (their picture) provides additional information, if they have provided that information:

  • Most distant maternal ancestor
  • Most distant paternal ancestor
  • Additional information in the “about me” field, sometimes including a website link

On the match page, you can search for matches either by their full name, first name, last name or click on the “Advanced Search” to search for ancestral surname. These search boxes can be found at the top right.

FF9 advanced search

The Advanced Search feature, underneath the search boxes at right, also provides you with the option of combining search criteria, by opening two drop down boxes at the top left of the screen.

FF9 search combo

Let’s say I want to see all of my matches on the X chromosome. I make that selection and the only people displayed as matches are those whom I match on the X chromosome.

You can see that in this case, there are 280 matches. If I have any Phased Family Matches, then you will see how many X matches I have on those tabs too.

The first selection box works in combination with the second selection box.

FF9 search combo 2

Now, let’s say I want to sort in Longest Block Order. That section sorts and displays the people who match me on the X chromosome in Longest Block Order.

FF9 longest block


  • Take the Family Finder test or transfer your results from either 23andMe (V3 only) or Ancestry (V1 only, currently.)
  • Match must be over the matching threshold of 9cM if shared cM are less than 20, or, the longest block must be at least 7.69 cM if the total shared cM is 20 or greater.

Power Features

  • The ability to customize your view by combining search, match and sort criteria.


  • It’s easy to forget that you’re ONLY working with X matches, for example, once you sort, and not all of your matches. Note the Reset Filter button above your matches which clears all of the sort and search criteria. Always reset, just to be on the safe side, before you initiate another sort.

FF9 reset filter

  • Please note that the search boxes and logic are in the process of being redesigned, per a conversation Michael Davila, Director of Product Development, on 7-20-2016. Currently, if you search for the name “Donald,” for example, and then do an “in common with” match to someone on the Donald match list, you’ll only see those individuals who are in common with “Donald,” meaning anyone without “Donald” as one of their names won’t show as a match. The logic will be revised shortly so that you will see everyone “in common with,” not just “Donald.” Just be aware of this today and don’t do an ICW with someone you’ve searched for in the search box until this is revised.

#2 – In Common With (ICW)

You can select anyone from your match list to see who you match in common with them.

This is an important feature because it gives me a very good clue as to who else may match me on that same genealogical line.

For example, cousin Donald is related on the paternal line. I can select Donald by clicking the box to the left of his profile which highlights his row in yellow. I can then select what I want to do with Don’s match.


You will see that Don is selected in the match selection box on the lower left, and the options for what I can do with Don are above the matches. Those options are:

  • Chromosome Browser
  • In Common With
  • Not in Common With

Let’s select “In Common With.”

Now, the matches displayed will ONLY be those that I match in common with Don, meaning that Donald and I both match these people.

FF9 ICW matches

As you can see, I’m displaying my matches in common with Don in longest block order. You can click on any of the header columns to display in reverse order.

There are a total of 82 matches in common with Don and of those, 50 are paternally assigned. We’ll talk about how parental “side” assignments happen in a minute.


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Power Features

  • Can see at a glance which matches warrant further inspection and may (or may not) be from a common genealogical line.


  • An ICW match does NOT mean that the matching individual IS from the same common line – only genealogical research can provide that information.
  • An ICW matches does NOT mean that these three people, you, your match and someone who matches both of you is triangulated – meaning matching on the same segment. Only individual matching with each other provides that information.
  • It’s easy to forget that you’re not working with your entire match list, but a subset. You can see that Donald’s name appears in the box at the upper left, along with the function you performed (ICW) and the display order if you’ve selected any options from the second box.

# 3 – Not In Common With

Now, let’s say I want to see all of my X matches that are not in common with my mother, who is in the data base, which of course suggests that they are either on my father’s side or identical by chance. My father is not in the data base, and given that he died in 1963, there is no chance of testing him.

Keep in mind though that because X matches aren’t displayed unless you have another qualifying autosomal segment, that they are more likely to be valid matches than if they were displayed without another matching segment that qualifies as a match.

For those who don’t know, X matches have a unique inheritance pattern which can yield great clues as to which side of your tree (if you’re a male), and which ancestors on various sides of your tree X matches MUST come from (males and females both.) I wrote about this here, along with some tools to help you work with X matches.

To utilize the “Not In Common With” feature, I would select my mother and then select the “Not In Common With” option, above the matches.


I would then sort the results to see the X matches by clicking on the top of the column for X-Match – or by any other column that I wanted to see.


I have one very interesting not in common with match – and that’s with a Miller male that I would have assumed, based on the surname, was a match from my mother’s side. He’s obviously not, at least based on that X match. No assuming allowed!


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Power Features

  • Can see at a glance which matches warrant further inspection and may be from a common genealogical line – or are NOT in common with a particular person.


  • Be sure to understand that “not in common with” means that you, the person you match and the list of people shown as a result of the “Not ICW” do not all match each other.  You DO match the person on your match list, but the list of “not in common with” matches are the people who DON’T match both of you.  Not in common with is the opposite of “in common with” where your match list does match you and the person you’re matching in common with.
  • The X and other chromosome matches may be inherited from different ancestors. Every matching segment needs to be analyzed separately.

#4 – The Matrix

Let’s say that I have a list of matches, perhaps a list of individuals that I found doing an ICW with my cousin, and I wonder if these people match each other. I can utilize the Matrix grid to see.

Going back to the ICW list with cousin Donald, let’s see if some of those people match each other on the Matrix.

Let’s pick 5 people.

I’m selecting Cheryl, Rex, Charles, Doug and Harold.

Margaret Lentz chart

I’m making these particular selections because I know that all of these people, except Harold, are related to my mother, Barbara, shown on the bottom row of the chart above.  This chart, borrowed from another article (William is not in this comparison), shows how Cheryl, Rex, Charles and Barbara who have all DNA tested are related to each other.  Some are related through the Miller line, some through the dual Lentz/Miller line, and some just from the Lentz line.  Doug is related through the Miller line only, and at least 4 generations upstream. Doug may also be related through multiple lines, but is not descended from the Lentz line.

The people I’ve selected for the matrix are not all related to each other, and they don’t all share one common ancestral line.

Harold is a wild card – I have no idea how he is related or who he is related to, so let’s see what we can determine.

FF9 Matrix choices

As you make selections on the Matrix page, up to 10 selections are added to the grid.

FF9 Matrix grid

You can see that Charles matches Cheryl and Harold.

You can see that Rex matches Charles and Cheryl and Harold.

You can see that Doug matches only Cheryl, but this isn’t surprising as the common line between Doug and the known cousins is at least 4 generations further back in time on the Miller line.

The known relationship are:

  • Don and Cheryl are siblings, descended from the Lentz/Miller.
  • Rex is a known cousin on the Miller/Lentz line
  • Charles is a known cousin on the Lentz line only
  • Doug is a known cousin on the Miller line only

Let me tell you what these matches indicate to me.

Given that Harold matches Rex and Charles and Cheryl, IF and that’s a very big IF, he descends from the same lines, then he would be related to both sides of this family, meaning both the Miller and Lentz lines.

  • He could be a downstream cousin after the Lentz and Miller lines married, meaning a descendant of Margaret Lentz and John David Miller, or other Miller/Lentz couples
  • He could be independently related to both lines upstream. They did intermarry.
  • He could be related to Charles or Rex through an entirely separate line that has nothing to do with Lentz or Miller.

So I have no exact answer, but this does tell me where to look. Maybe I could find additional known Lentz or Miller line descendants to add to the Matrix which would provide additional information.


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Power Features

  • Can see at a glance which matches match each other as well.


  • Matrix matches do NOT mean that these individuals match on the same segments, it just means they do match on some segment. A matrix match is not triangulation.
  • Matrix matches can easily be from different lines to different ancestors. For example, Harold could match each one of three individuals that he matches on different ancestral lines that have nothing to do with their common Lentz or Miller line.

#5 – Chromosome Browser

I want to know if the 5 individuals that I selected to compare in the Matrix match me on any of the same segments.

I’m going back to my ICW list with cousin Donald.

I’ve selected my 5 individuals by clicking the box to the left of their profiles, and I’m going to select the chromosome browser.

FF9 chromosome browser choices

The chromosome browser shows you where these individuals match you.

Overlapping segments mean the people who overlap all match you on that segment, but overlapping segments do NOT mean they also match each other on these same segments.

Translated, this means they could be matching you on different sides of your family or are identical by chance. Remember, you have two sides to your chromosome, a Mom’s side and a Dad’s side, which are intermingled, and some people will match you by chance. You can read more about this here.

The chromosome browser shows you THAT they match you – it doesn’t tell you HOW they match you or if they match each other.

FF9 chromosome browser view2

The default view shows matches of 5cM or greater. You can select different thresholds at the top of the comparison list.

You’ll notice that all 5 of these people match me, but that only two of them match me on overlapping segments, on chromosome 3. Among those 5 people, only those who match me on the same segments have the opportunity to triangulate.

This gives you the opportunity to ask those two individuals if they also match each other on this same chromosome. In this case, I have access to both of those kits, and I can tell you that they do match each other on those segments, so they do triangulate mathematically. Since I know the common ancestor between myself, Cheryl and Rex, I can assign this segment to John David Miller and Margaret Lentz. That, of course, is the goal of autosomal matching – to identify the common ancestor of the individuals who match.

You also have the option to download the results of this chromosome browser match into a spreadsheet. That’s the left-most download option at the top of the chromosomes. We’ll talk about how to utilize spreadsheets last.

The middle option, “view in a table” shows you these results, one pair of individuals at a time, in a table.

This is me compared to Rex. You will have a separate table for each one of the individuals as compared to you. You switch between them at the bottom right.

FF9 chromosome browser table2

The last download option at the furthest right is for your entire list of matches and where they match you on your chromosomes.


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Power Features

  • Can visually see where individuals and multiple people match you on your chromosomes, and where they overlap which suggests they may triangulate.


  • When two people match you on the same chromosome segment, this does not mean that they also match each other on that segment. Matching on overlapping segments is not triangulation, although it’s the first step to triangulation.
  • For triangulation, you will need to contact your matches to determine if they also match each other on the same segment where they both match you. You may also be able to deduce some family matching based on other known individuals from the same line that you also match on that same segment, if your match matches them on that segment too.
  • The chromosome browser is limited to 5 people at a time, compared to you. By utilizing spreadsheet matching, you can see all of your matches on a particular segment, together.

#6 – Phased Family Matching

Phased Family Matching is the newest tool introduced by Family Tree DNA. I wrote about it here. The icons assigned to matches make it easy to see at a glance which side of your family, maternal or paternal, or both, a match derives from.

ff9 parental iconPhased Family Matching allows you to link the DNA results of qualified relatives to your tree and by doing so, Family Tree DNA assigns matches to maternal or paternal buckets, or sometimes, both, as shown in the icon above.

This phased matching utilizes both parental phasing in addition to a slightly higher threshold to assure that the matches they assign to parental sides can be done so with confidence. In order to be assigned a maternal or paternal icon, your match must match you and your qualifying relative at 9cM or greater on at least one of the same segments over the matching threshold. This is different than an ICW match, which only tells you that you do match, not how you match or that it’s on the same segment.

Qualifying relatives, at this time, are parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and first cousins. Additional relatives are planned in the near future.

Icons are ONLY placed based on phased match results that meet the criteria.

These icons are important because they indicate which side of your family a match is from with a great deal of precision and confidence – beyond that of regular matching.

This is best illustrated by an example.

Phased FF2

In this example, this individual has their father and mother both in the system. You can see that their father’s side is assigned a blue icon and their mother’s side is assigned a pink (red) icon. This means they match this person on only one side of their family.  A purple icon with both a male and female image means that this person is related to you on both sides of your family.  Full siblings, when both parents are in the system to phase against, would receive both icons.

This sibling is showing as matching them on both sides of their family, because both parents are available for phasing.

If only one parent was available, the father, for example, then the sibling would only shows the paternal icon. The maternal icon is NOT added by inference. In Phased Family Matching, nothing is added by inference – only by exact allele by allele matching on the same segment – which is the definition of parentally phased matching.

These icons are ONLY added as a result of a high quality phased matches at or above the phased match threshold of 9cM.

You can read more about the Family Matching System in the Family Tree DNA Learning Center, here.


  • You must have tested (or transferred a kit) for a qualifying relative. At this time qualifying relatives parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and first cousins.
  • You must have uploaded a GEDCOM file or created a tree.
  • You must link the DNA of qualifying kits to that person your tree. I provided instructions for how to do this in this article.
  • You must match at the normal matching threshold to be on the match list, AND then match at or above the Phased Family Match threshold in the way described to be assigned an icon.
  • You must match on at least one full segment at or above 9cM.

Power Features

  • Can visually see which side of your family an individual is related to. You can be confident this match is by descent because they are phased to your parent or qualifying family member.


  • If someone does not have an icon assigned, it does NOT mean they are not related on that particular side of the family. It only means that the match is not strong enough to generate an icon.
  • If someone DOES match on a particular side of the family, you will still need to do additional matching and genealogy work to determine which ancestor they descend from.
  • If someone is assigned to one side of your family, it does NOT preclude the possibility that they have a smaller or weaker match to your other side of the family.
  • If you upload a new Gedcom file after linking DNA to people in your tree, you will overwrite your DNA links and will have to relink individuals.
  • Having an icon assigned indicates mathematical triangulation for the person who tested, their parents or close relative against whom they were phased and their match with the icon.  However, technically, it’s not triangulation in cases where very close relatives are involved.  For example, parents, aunts, uncles and siblings are too closely related to be considered the third leg of the triangulation stool.  First cousins, however, in my opinion, could be considered the third leg of the three needed for triangulation.  Of course when triangulation is involved, more than three is always better – the more the merrier and the more certain you can be that you have identified the correct ancestor, ancestral couple, or ancestral line to assign that particular triangulated segment to.

# 7 – Combined Advanced Matching

One of the comparison tools often missed by people is Combined Advanced Matching.

Combined matching is available through the “Tools and Apps” button, then select “Advanced Matching.”

Advanced Matching allows you to select various options in combination with each other.

For example, one of my favorites is to compare people within a project.

You can do this a number of ways.

In the case of my mother, I’ll select everyone she matches on the Family Finder test in the Miller-Brethren project. This is a very focused project with the goal of sorting the Miller families who were of the Brethren faith.

FF9 combined matching

You can see that she has several matches in that project.

You can select a variety of combinations, including any level of Y or mtDNA testing, Family Finder, X matching, projects and “last name begins with.”

One of the ways I utilize this feature often is within a surname project, for males in particular, I select one Y level of matching at a time, combined with Family Finder, “show only people I match on all tests” and then the project name. This is a quick way to determine whether someone matches someone on Family Finder that is also in a particular surname project. And when your surname is Smith, this tool is extremely valuable. This provides a least a hint as to the possible distance to a common ancestor between individuals.

Another favorite way to utilize this feature is for non-surname projects like the American Indian project. This is perfect for people who are hunting for others with Native roots that they match – and you can see their Y and mtDNA haplogroups as a bonus!


  • Must have joined the particular project if you want to use the project match feature within that project.

Power Features

  • The ability to combine matching criteria across products.
  • The ability to match within projects.
  • The ability to specify partial surnames.


  • If you match someone on both Family Finder and either Y or mtDNA haplogroups, this does NOT mean that your common Family Finder ancestor is on that haplogroup line. It might be a good place to begin looking. Check to see if you match on the Y or mtDNA products as well.
  • All matches have their haplogroup displayed, not just IF you also match that haplogroup, unless you’ve specified the Y or mtDNA options and then you would only see the people you match which would be in the same major haplogroup, although not always the same subgroup because not everyone tests at the same level.
  • Not all surname project administrators allow people who do not carry that surname in the present generation to join their projects.

# 8 – MyOrigins Matching

One tool missed by many is the MyOrigins matching by ethnicity. For many, especially if you have all European, for example, this tool isn’t terribly useful, but if you are of mixed heritage, this tool can be a wonderful source of information.

Your matches (who have authorized this type of matching) will be displayed, showing only if they match you on your major world categories.  Only your matching categories will show.  For example, if my match, Frances, also has African heritage and I do not, I won’t see Frances’s African percentage and vice versa.

FF9 myOrigins

In this example, the person who tested falls into the major categories of European and Middle Eastern. Their matches who fall into either of these same categories will be displayed in the Shared Origins box. You may not be terribly excited about this – unless you are mixed African, Asian, European and Native American – and you have “lost ancestors” you can’t find. In that case, you may be very excited to contact other matches with the same ethnic heritage.

When you first open your myOrigins page, you will be greeted with a choice to opt in (by clicking) or to opt out (by doing nothing) of allowing your ethnic matches to view the same ethnic groups you carry. Your matches will not be able to see your ethnic groups that they don’t have in common with you.

FF9 myorigins opt in

You can also access those options to view or change by clicking on Account Settings, Privacy and Sharing, and then you can view or change your selection under “My DNA Results.”

FF9 myorigins security


  • Must authorize Shared Origins matching.

Power Features

  • The ability to discern who among your matches shares a particular ethnicity, and to what degree.


  • Just because you share a particular ethnicity does NOT mean you match on the shared ethnic line. Your common ancestor with that person may be on an entirely unrelated line.

# 9 – Spreadsheet Matching

Family Tree DNA offers you the ability to download your entire list of matches, including the specific segments where your matches match you, to a spreadsheet.

This is the granddaddy of the tools and it’s a tool used by all serious genetic genealogists. It’s requires the most investment from you both in terms of understanding and work, but it also yields the most information.

The power of spreadsheet comparisons isn’t in the 5 people I pushed through to the chromosome browser, in and of themselves, but in the power of looking at the locations where all of your matches match you and known relatives on particular segments.

Utilizing the chromosome browser, we saw that chromosome 3 had an overlap match between Rex (green) and Cheryl (blue) as compared to my mother (background chromosome.)

FF9 chr 3

We see that same overlap between Cheryl and Rex when we download the match spreadsheet for those 5 people.

However, when we download all of my mother’s matches, we have a much more powerful view of that segment, below. The 2 segments we saw overlapping on the chromosome browser are shown in green. All of these people colored pink match my mother on some part of the 37cM segment she shares with Rex.

FF9 spreadsheet match

This small part of my master spreadsheet combines my own results, rows in white, with those of my mother, rows in pink.

In this case, I only match one of these individuals that mother also matches on the same segment – Rex. That’s fine. It just means that I didn’t receive the rest of that DNA from mother – meaning the portions of the segments that match Sam, Cheryl, Don, Christina and Sharon.

On the first two rows, I did receive part of that DNA from mother, 7.64 of the 37cMs that Rex matches to Mom at a threshold of 5cM.

We know that Cheryl, Don and Rex all share a common ancestor on mother’s father’s side three generations removed – meaning John David Miller and Margaret Lentz. By looking at Cheryl, Don and Rex’s matches as well, I know that several of her matches do triangulate with Cheryl, Don and/or Rex.

What I didn’t know was how Christina fit into the picture. She is a new match. Before the new Phased Family Matching, I would have had to go into each account, those of Rex, Cheryl and Don, all of which I manage, to be sure that Christina matched all of them individually in addition to Mom’s kit.

I don’t have to do that now, because I can utilize the phased Family Matching instead. The addition of the Family Matching tool has taken this from three additional steps, assuming I have access to all kits, which most people don’t, to one quick definitive step.

Cheryl and Don are both mother’s first cousins, so matches can be phased against them. I have linked both of them to mother’s kit so she how has several individuals who are phased to Don and Cheryl which generate paternal icons since Don and Cheryl are related to mother on her father’s side.

Now, instead of looking at all of the accounts individually, my first step is to see if Christina has a paternal icon, which, in this case, means she phased against either Don and/or Cheryl since those are the only two people linked to mother who qualify for phasing, today.

FF9 parental phased match

Look, Christina does have a paternal icon, so I can add “Dad” into the side column for Christine in the spreadsheet for mother’s matches AND I know Christina triangulates to Mom and either Cheryl or Don, which ever cousin she phased against.

FF9 Christina chr 3

I can see which cousin she phased against by looking at the chromosome browser and comparing mother against Cheryl, Don and Christina.  As it turns out, Christina, in green, above, phased against both Cheryl and Don whose results are in orange and blue.

It’s a great day in the neighborhood to be able to use these tools together.


  • Must download matches spreadsheet through the chromosome browser, adding new matches to your spreadsheet as they occur.
  • Must have a familiarity with Excel or another spreadsheet.
  • Must learn about matching, match groups and triangulation.

Power Features

  • The ability to control the threshold you wish to work with. For matches over the match threshold, Family Tree DNA provides all segment matches to 1cM with a total of 500 SNPs.
  • The ability to see trends and groups together.
  • The ability to view kits from all of your matches for more powerful matching.
  • The ability to combine your results with those of a parent (or sibling if parents not available) to see joint matching where it occurs.


  • There is a comparatively steep learning curve if you’re not familiar with using spreadsheets, but it’s well worth the effort if you are serious about proving ancestors through triangulation.


I’m extremely grateful for the full complement of tools available at Family Tree DNA.

They provide a range of solutions for users at all levels – people who just want to view their ethnicity or to utilize matches at the vendor site as well as those who want tools like a chromosome browser, projects, ICW, not ICW, the Matrix, ethnicity matching, combined advanced matching and chromosome browser downloads for those of us who want actual irrefutable proof.  No one has to use the more advanced tools, but they are there for those of us who want to utilize them.

I’m sorry, I’m not from Missouri, but I still want to see it for myself. I don’t want any vendor taking the “trust me” approach or doing me any favors by stripping out my data. I’m glad that Family Tree DNA gives us multiple options and doesn’t make one size fit all by using a large hammer and chisel.

The easier, more flexible and informative Family Tree DNA makes the tools, the easier it will be to convince people to test or download their data from other vendors. The more testers, the better our opportunity to find those elusive matches and through them, ancestors.

The Concepts Series

I’ve been writing a “Concepts” series of articles. Recent articles have been about how to utilize and work with autosomal matches on a spreadsheet.

You might want to read these Concepts articles if you’re serious about working with autosomal DNA.

Concepts – How Your Autosomal DNA Identifies Your Ancestors

Concepts – Identical by…Descent, State, Population and Chance

Concepts – CentiMorgans, SNPs and Pickin’ Crab

Concepts – Parental Phasing

Concepts – Downloading Autosomal Data from Family Tree DNA

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

Please join me shortly for the next Concepts article – Step 2 – Who’s Related to Whom?

In the meantime:

  • Make full use of the autosomal tools available at Family Tree DNA.
  • Test additional relatives meaning parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, half-siblings, siblings, any cousin you can identify and talk into testing.
  • Take test kits to family reunions and holiday gatherings. No, I’m not kidding.
  • Don’t forget Y or mtDNA which can provide valuable tools to identify which line you might have in common, or to quickly eliminate some lines that you don’t have in common. Some cousins will carry valuable Y or mtDNA of your direct ancestral lines – and that DNA is full of valuable and unique information as well.
  • Link the DNA kits of those individuals you know to their place in your tree.
  • Transfer family kits from other vendors.

The more relatives you can identify and link in the system, the better your chances for meaningful matches, confirming ancestral relations, and solving puzzles.

Have fun!!!



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Game of Genomes

Game of Genomes

STAT is featuring a wonderful series called the Game of Genomes.

In this series, Carl Zimmer, a journalist, had his full genome sequenced AND managed to obtain the BAM file – which is no small feat. If you want to know why, you’ll need to read the article where he describes this saga.

In order to have his full genome sequence analyzed, Carl hand delivered the hard drive that his BAM file arrived on to a team of scientists.  Turning to several individuals at universities who used him as a case study, he is referenced as “Individual Z.”

Graduate students poured over his results, and then met with Carl to tell him what they found.

The great thing about this article is that, first, Carl writes about this extremely technical topic in a way that is understandable and interesting for normal air-breathing humans. No graduate degree required.

Second, and the part I find fascinating, is that Carl’s experience lets us peek beneath the hood into the underpinnings of the world of genomic sequencing along with giving us a periscopic view into the future.

Most people don’t realize we’re still on the frontier. Carl is on the very edge of that frontier.

You can read the series here. Keep scrolling for episodes – below the graphics.  To date, 5 episodes have been published. At the end, you can sign up for the next episode.

Lastly, you can view the Supplemental Materials produced by the various labs here.  Those are fascinating as well – but more technical in nature.

Burning Questions

So, I have to ask…

How brave are you?

Carl was told that he had 3,559,137 “differences” when compared to the reference human genome. Difference = mutation. Some of those differences could be protective, some could be carriers of disease, meaning they don’t affect Carl but would affect a child if his wife also carried that mutation, some could be harmless, some could be disease producing, and some could be deadly.

These differences have the potential to represent the full range of outcomes – and along with the outcomes – the full range of emotional terror – from nothing to full blown panic attack.

Carl also has some “broken genes.” We all do. Mostly, they don’t matter…but some could, would and do.  Carl’s apparently don’t – at least not much.

Would you want to know?

Would you want to know only if there was something that could be done?

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David Miller (1781-1851), Tamed 3 Frontiers, 52 Ancestors #126

David Miller was born on July 30, 1781 to Daniel Miller and Elizabeth Ulrich, according to his father’s Bible.

David Miller Bible entry

David has been said to have been born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, but I believe he was born in Washington County, Maryland, before his parents moved to Bedford County. His father, Daniel, is not found on the Bedford tax lists until 1785 and it’s known that during the 1781 timeframe, many people in Bedford County evacuated back to Maryland, from whence they had come. David’s grandparents, Philip Jacob Miller and Magdalena lived in Washington County during this time, and David’s parents lived there until they removed to Bedford County.  Furthermore, the 1850 census shows David’s birthplace as Maryland.

David Miller 1850 census

There is an oath of fidelity recorded for one Daniel Miller in Washington County, Maryland in 1778, although an oath of fidelity would be quite unusual for a Brethren man. However, Daniel’s father was naturalized so maybe an oath of fidelity was simply viewed as a necessary evil of survival at that time – even for a Brethren. Or maybe Daniel was shunned in Washington County, Maryland after his oath. Or maybe that Daniel Miller isn’t our Daniel Miller.

This was the most difficult of times for the Brethren, in the midst of the Revolutionary War in an area that had been suffering from Indian attacks that they described as depradations. According to various church histories, and specifically the History of the Church of the Brethren in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Brethren staunchly refused to flex even one little bit on their beliefs, even to defend themselves. This book, written in 1924 by Galen Royer, reports an earlier 1855 narrative that describes the Brethren as follows:

They are strict non-resistants; and in the predatory incursions of the French and Indians, in 1756-63, and in fact, during all the savage warfare, they not only refused to take up arms to repel the savage marauders and prevent the inhuman slaughter of women and children, but they refused in the most positive manner to pay a dollar to support those who were willing to take up arms to defend their homes and their firesides, until wrung from them by the stern mandates of the law, from which there was no appeal.

Their exclusiveness, opposition to education, their lack of interest in political matters, and above all, their non-resistant principle brought them into disrepute with their neighbors.

The History of the Early Settlement of the Juniata Valley by James Jones published in 1856 describes the massacre in Morrison’s Cove in Bedford County:

The savages swept down through the Cove with all the ferocity with which a pack of wolves would descend from the mountain upon a flock of sheep. Some few of the Dunkards, who evidently had a latent spark of love of life, his themselves away; but by far the most of the stood by and witnessed the butchery of their wives and children, merely saying, “Gottes wille sei gethan.”

This translates as “God’s will be done.”

This sentence was so frequently repeated by the Dunkards during the massacre that the Indians must have retained a vivid recollection of it. During the late war with Great Britain, some of the older Indians of the frontier were anxious to know of the Huntingdon volunteers whether the “Gotswiltahans” still resided in the Cove.

One Samuel R. Miller who lived in Elkhart County, Indiana in the 1880s wrote that he was born in Bedford County in 1820, and that his grandmother was in the field when an Indian attack occurred. 1777 was a particularly difficult year when the Dunkard Massacre occurred during which 20 and 30 Brethren were killed.

According to Samuel, “The Indians in that vicinity were exceedingly hostile in consequence of the encroachments made by the whites upon their hunting grounds. They killed 9 persons at one time during the wheat harvest.” Samuel’s grandmother was “present at this massacre and hid in the wheat field and thus eluded the Indians and effected her escape after they had gone.”

It is unclearly whether or not Samuel R. Miller is related to our Miller family or if he is a member of the Elder Jacob Miller line. Samuel R. Miller did marry the daughter of Susanna Miller Whitehead, our David Miller’s daughter, so his descendants could well match the autosomal DNA of the Johann Jacob Miller line, even if he is not paternally descended from this line. Both the Elder Jacob Miller, his descendants and the Johann Michael Miller line were found in Frederick (later Washington) County, Maryland, Bedford County, PA, Montgomery County, OH and Elkhart County, IN, as both families were died-in-the-wool Brethren.

However, Y DNA testing tells us that Elder Jacob Miller and the Johann Michael Miller line are not paternally related, which goes to show how quickly assumptions based only on location, family intermarriage and religious affiliation, especially with a relatively common surname, can get you into serious trouble.

Brethren Miller Michael

The chart above (click to enlarge) shows the Elder Jacob Miller line, second group from the top, and the Johann Michael Miller line with the yellow heading, and you can easily see that their marker values don’t match.  DNA testing removed decades of both speculation and incorrect conclusions, although you can still find much of that incorrect information still propagated in trees and elsewhere on the internet.

Furthermore, some people in both lines have themselves incorrectly connected to the wrong family based on first name assumptions and incorrect genealogy.  You can see an example of that in the Elder Jacob Miller group where the tester believed their genealogy connected them to the Johann Michael Miller line – but the DNA says otherwise.

The Miller families are exceedingly difficult due to constantly being located in the same area, interacting with each other and using common and the same first names in both families, like John and Daniel, for example.  You find multiple people in the same location with the same first names, from both families, at the same time.  Yes, it’s very confusing and no wonder people have connected to the wrong lines by virtue of genealogy alone.  Thank goodness for DNA testing.

If a male Miller descendant of Samuel R. Miller who was born in Bedford County in 1820 and married Mary Ann Whitehead ever takes a Y DNA test, we can tell them positively if they descend from the Johann Michael Miller line, the Elder Jacob Miller line, or neither.

Return to Bedford County

Our Miller family was back in Bedford County within a few years, if in fact they evacuated, and David Miller would never have remembered living elsewhere. Bedford County, more specifically, Woodbury Township, was his childhood home from the age of 4, if not earlier.

Daniel Miller first appears on the Woodbury Township tax list in 1785 and by 1789, is well established, farming 214 acres with 3 horses and 2 cows. There was just one problem, those 214 acres weren’t his. He rented land from a man named Cox who was somewhat of a land speculator. Many Brethren families are noted on the tax lists as renting land from Cox. According to the “History of the Church of the Brethren in the Middle District of Pennsylvania,” by 1790, all of the desirable lands were owned and all of the good land was claimed many years before. This area began to be settled in 1755.

This beautiful rolling valley named Morrison’s Cove would have been where David played and grew up in the Brethren church and among like-minded families. Bedford County at that time had no established church buildings, and services were held in member’s homes and barns.

David Miller Bedford fall

Today, this beaucolic scene is the old mill pond at Roaring Springs owned by David’s uncle, Daniel Ullery or Ulrich, however it was spelled on the day in question. David may have swum here as a child on hot summer days. In addition to his uncle Daniel Ullery and his wife, Susannah Miller, another uncle, David Miller lived in Bedford County as well as did another aunt, Esther Miller Maugans.

David Miller Roaring Springs

As a young man David would have been raised in Morrison’s Cove, but if the Miller family wanted to own land, it wasn’t going to be in Bedford County. Daniel, David and their sister Esther who was married to Gabriel Maugans decided to join their father, Philip Jacob Miller, on the frontier in Ohio about 1797.

As a teen of about 16, David would have traveled down the Ohio River with his family to settle in near the Clermont and Warren County border in Ohio, not far from the Ohio River. That must have been a great adventure for a teenage boy – traveling on a riverboat to the frontier.

David Miller Ohio River

From Bedford County to Pittsburg was about 100 miles by wagon. In Pittsburg, they would take a flatboat down the river to beneath Cincinnati where they would dock and unload near Bullskin Creek.

Philip's land map

From Bullskin Creek, Philip Jacob Miller, David’s grandfather, settled on the south side of the river, in Kentucky, and Daniel Miller along with his brother David settled about 60 miles north, at the red balloon above. Philip Jacob bought land just north of his sons, at the north end of the blue line, but never lived there and died in Kentucky in 1799.

Daniel and his brother David (not to be confused with Daniel’s son David, the topic of this article) both floated their way to Ohio along with their sister Esther Maugans and husband Gabriel, but the Ullery family would stay in Bedford County under after Daniel Ullery died. Daniel’s widow, their sister, Susannah, remarried to Armal Snider and they were one of the early couples to settle in Elkhart County, Indiana, with Susannah dying there on August 17, 1831. They were likely one of the very first pioneers.

David would have been about 16 or so when his parents, Daniel and Elizabeth decided to head for the frontier with his grandparents, Philip Jacob Miller and Magdalena, where the land was much less expensive than in either Bedford County, Pennsylvania or Washington County, Maryland where the Miller family had lived for two generations prior. Philip Jacob sold his land in Maryland in 1794 and had enough money to buy land for everyone in Ohio.

Philip Jacob Miller gathered his children and struck out for Ohio, headed for the good life, his final hurrah. The legacy he left his children, aside from their Brethren faith, was the land he bought and their resettlement in Ohio.

Miller family history tells us that they floated down the Ohio River on a flatboat, which was typical for pioneers of the day. In fact, a contemporaneous report says that these boats with pioneer families dotted the river everyplace you looked.

log raft

Upon arrival in Ohio, David would settle in Clermont County with his family.

Clermont County, Ohio

David’s father, referred to as the Elder Daniel Miller, was ordained a minister in the O’Bannion Church in Clermont County, Ohio in about 1797.

Elder Daniel Miller and his brother David (whom our David was named for) owned adjacent tracts of 200 and 100 acres about 2 miles south of Goshen, Ohio, on the northwest corner of OH132 and Woodville Pike – in the O’Bannon Church area – shown below today.

David and Daniel Clermont land map

David and Daniel’s land is shown, beginning at this intersection of Ohio 132 and Woodville Pike.

David and Daniel Clermont land

These lands are shown in Little’s (Lytle’s) bounty land survey (1802), although as far as the government was concerned, these lands were reserved for Revolutionary War military veterans. Even if settlers who were living there had obtained title from the Indians or someone else, they were still squatters in the eyes of the government. In 1802, David and Daniel’s land were shown as cleared.  Shortly thereafter, between 1802 and 1805, David and Daniel would move up the old Indian trace to Montgomery County, out of the realm of the bounty land surveys.

David and Daniel Miller’s land is shown below in relation to the location of the Stonelick Brethren Church today.

David Miller Clermont

After living between 5 and 8 years in Clermont County, the Miller clan would be on the move once again.

Montgomery County, Ohio

Sometime between 1802 and 1805, Daniel Miller would move to Montgomery County, Ohio. David would have been between 21 and 24 by this time, certainly old enough to either go with his father or stay in Clermont County. There is a very clear history of the Miller family maintaining connections between the two counties, even going back and forth to marry. The churches in the two counties were clearly thought of as sister churches as well, and many families in Montgomery County came from the O’Bannion Church in Clermont County.

There is some speculation that David was married a first time to an unknown woman before he married Catharina Schaeffer Gephart In Warren County, neighbor county to Clermont, on December 13, 1805. This speculation is based on the fact that Catharina wasn’t widowed until December 1804, so any child born to David before late 1805 had to belong to another mother.

David’s daughter, Susan Miller was born June 5, 1802, assuming that her family knew her birth date and it’s correct on her tombstone.

Daughter Esther Miller may have been born before Susan or may have been born approximately 1804, given that there are 4 years between Susan’s birth in 1802 and the first child born in June 1806 to Catharina Schaeffer after her marriage to David Miller.

The odd thing about this entire scenario is that there is a missing puzzle piece, but I don’t exactly know what it is. I wonder if that missing piece is that David and Catharina’s first child, David B. Miller, was born on June 3, 1806, just 6 months after their marriage in December 1805.

The reason I feel that something is missing is because David Miller obtained a marriage license in Warren County, Ohio, not in Montgomery County where David’s father was a minister and where Catherina lived. David had to have been in Montgomery County to meet Catherina. Catharina was very clearly living in Montgomery County at this time, because David’s father, Daniel, was made executor of the estate of Peter Gephart, Catharina’s husband, who passed away in December 1804. After their marriage, David Miller became the guardian of Catharina’s two children, John and Elizabeth Gephart.

David would have had to have been in Montgomery County to meet Catharina. Based on tax lists and later depositions, Peter’s land was a couple of miles away. Why Daniel Miller was chosen to administer the estate of Peter Gephart, we’ll never know. Daniel was Brethren and Peter was Lutheran – so perhaps the court made the selection.  One hint may be that one Johann Heinrich Gephart, known as Henry, owned land one farm away from Daniel Miller.  It’s unclear the relationship between Henry and Peter Gephart, but it does put a Gephart in the vicinity of Daniel Miller – an avenue for the two families to meet.

Another mystery is that the Gephart family, and Catherina’s Schaeffer family were all Lutheran. She is the only known convert. When and how did that happen? Was her conversion a function of marrying David?

One hint which may or may not be accurate is a statement made in David’s son, Stephen’s biography in the Kosciusko County History book which said that David moved to Montgomery County soon after his marriage and located within 4 miles of Dayton on Wolf Creek.  Keep in mind that Stephen never lived in Montgomery County and David died when Stephen was 8 years old.

On the map below, Wolf Creek runs diagonally from lower right to upper left.

David Miller Wolf Creek

Interestingly, Wolf Creek runs by Trotwood, in Randolph Township, today, the location of the Happy Corner’s Brethren Church near where David’s father, Daniel bought land in 1815, but David never lived there.

Our David is not found in Randolph Township in 1810, but in German township. The David Miller in Randolph County would be our David’s uncle, David Miller, who owned land and is buried there.

Jefferson Township butts up against both German and Miami Township and Daniel definitely bought land from Jacob Miller according to Montgomery County deeds, in Jefferson Township – so it’s likely that David and Daniel in Jefferson were our Daniel and his brother David.

A review of the Daniel and David Miller deeds in Montgomery County shows us the following information:

Date From To Section Twp Range Acres Amount
Aug 28, 1807 Jacob Miller Daniel Miller 34 (Jefferson) 3 5 150 Bear Creek $300
Sept 1, 1815 William Farmer Daniel Miller 26 (Randolph SW corner) 5 5 140.76 $1689
May 27, 1815 Daniel Miller Michael Hoovler 34 (Jefferson) 3 4 149.5 $2980
May 27, 1815 Daniel Miller Abraham Troxel 34 (Jefferson) 3 5 ½ – mill pond noted $20
March 21, 1826 Daniel Miller (David exec) Jacob Miller (son) 26 (Randolph) 5 5 100 ac N side SW 1/4 $1000
Dec 18 1827 John Miller Stephen, Jacob, Samuel, Abraham, Nancy, David (wife Elizabeth) 26 (Randolph) 5 5 40 acres SW side S quarter joining Jacob Miller land $500

The 1800 and 1810 census for Ohio is missing. However, we do have a tax list for 1810 that shows us the following information: 

David Miller 1810 tax Montgomery

As odd as this seems, the Elder Jacob Miller, who we are not related to, at least not paternally, sold Daniel Miller his land in Jefferson Township. I know, that left me shaking my head too – it’s so temping to make a family connection based on this sale.  The Elder Jacob Miller preceded the Brethren group of settlers to Montgomery County and he was probably responsible for recruiting many.

The Daniel in Dayton is the son of Elder Jacob Miller, although wrongly attributed in many genealogies.  We know for sure he lived in the Dayton City limits, as the house still stands today and is on the Register of Historic Places.

We know on the 1810 tax list that our David is the same David who is living in the same location as the Gephart land. I also suspect that the Daniel and David who own adjacent land in Jefferson Township, both entered by Jacob Miller are brothers, although I have no way to prove it.

In 1810, Daniel Miller as executor of Peter Gephart’s estate, Catherine Miller as his former wife and the mother of his 2 children, and David Miller as her current husband petition the court and explain how Peter and Philip Moyer divided land they bought together.  An excerpt is provided below:

Page 341 – May term 1810– Daniel Miller and Katharine Miller (late Katherine Gephart) with the consent of her husband David Miller administrators of the estate of Peter Gephart… that Peter together with George Moyer were in possession of 2 tracts of land as tenants in common in Twp 2 range 5, section 9 and fraction of 10…land sold to Daniel Mannbeck, land sold to Christopher Shuppert…land sold to John Shuppert…to Miami River…corner George Moyer’s land…425 acres (Moyers share was 447 acres). Peter surveyed in his lifetime, quietly to George Jeaceable. Request to execute deed. Elizabeth and John Gephart are his children. Daniel, Katharine and David all 3 sign.

In 1814, we again find David Miller farming the Gephart land, Daniel Miller in Randolph Township where we know he owned land, and David Miller, Daniel’s brother on the land in Randolph Township where he lived until his death.

David Miller 1814 Montgomery tax list

In 1830, according to the tax lists, John and George Gephart own the land that was previously farmed by David Miller who paid the taxes.

The 1820 census schedule in German Township, Montgomery County, shows us David Miller living beside John Gephart, his step-son.

In 1820, David has the following household members:

  • Male 0-10 Samuel Miller b 1816
  • Male 0-10 John David born 1812
  • Male 10-16 David B. b 1806
  • Male 26-45 David (the father)
  • Male 45+
  • Female 0-10 Lydia Miller b 1818 or Catharine b 1814
  • Female 10-16 Mary b 1809 or Elizabeth b 1808
  • Female 16-24 Susan b 1802
  • Female to 45 – Catharina (the mother)

Unfortunately, the female census columns are blurry and not all known females are accounted for.

In 1822, David’s father, Daniel, dies and in 1823 both David and Catharina signed a receipt found in Daniel’s estate having to do with her first husband’s estate.

David Miller 1823 receipt

We know where Daniel and Catharina’s farms were located due to both tax lists, deed transcriptions and current maps. We also know that David farmed Catharina’s farm before her death in about 1826.

David Miller Mont land map

The map above shows the land owned by David’s father, Daniel Miller on Bear Creek, at the upper arrow and the land owned and farmed by Catharina and Peter Gephart and later by David Miller on sections 9 and 10, at the lower arrow. These lands are about 2 miles apart.

David was the administrator of his father’s estate, along with his brother John with his brother-in-law John Becher (Booher, Bucher) and his brother Stephen Miller acting as their securities, as noted below. David’s signature is first, but it looks very odd. Maybe the paper slipped as he was signing.

David Miller 1822 signature

Roughly four years later, Catharina died too. David and Catharina had 7 children before her death, assuming that Susan and Hester were not Catharina’s children, leaving David with several children to raise, the youngest known child having been born in 1818, so about 8 years old.

In 1827, we find David still farming land that wasn’t his in German Township.  He owned 4 cows valued at $32 and no horses.  He still owned no land.

On the 1830 tax list, David still lives in German Township, owns no land, no horses.  He does own 3 cows valued at $24.  His step-son, John Gephart, now 29 years old owns land, 2 horses nd 2 cows.

In the 1830 census, David, living in German Township, is surrounded by many of the same neighbors, except John Gephart no longer lives next door.

David’s household looks like the following:

  • Male 10-15 Samuel b 1816
  • Male 60-70 David (the father)
  • Female 0-5
  • Female 15-20 Lydia b 1818 (age 12)
  • Female 20-30

This may not have been our David, as he would have been age 49, not 60-70, but there aren’t any other good candidates and he is clearly living in the right place.  Perhaps the census taker got the hash mark in the wrong column.

Either David has married a much younger woman and had a young child that did not survive to adulthood, or an unknown female is living with him, a widow perhaps, keeping house.

David wasn’t ready to settle down in the rocking chair on the porch.  He was getting ready to move on, once again.  Much like his father in Bedford County, David never owned land, and he packed up and moved to the frontier, again, where he could own land.  Only this time, the frontier was only a couple hundred miles away, two to four weeks by wagon.

But first, David married a mystery woman named Elizabeth.  I wonder if Elizabeth was aware that David was planning to move to the frontier when she married him, or if this was her honeymoon surprise.  “Surprise Honey, we’re moving to the edge of the earth, past civilization.  Yea, there are Indians, wild animals and no houses. It will be fun!   Woohooo!!!”

Elkhart County, Indiana

From the book “Rock Run Church of the Brethren Centennial 1850-1950”, the following is found on the first page:

In 1830 Elder Daniel Cripe led a group of Brethren from Ohio to Elkhart Prairie. Arriving in the spring, rude buildings were erected and the prairie was broken for the first crops.

The next year, Elder Cripe returned to Ohio and led another group of settlers to Elkhart County. There were now 16 families scattered over the county. He called them together and preached the first sermon ever delivered by a Brethren minister in Elkhart County. Later in this same year, a congregation was organized and a love feast was held.

The Elder Daniel Cripe was married to Magdalena Miller, David’s aunt, sister to his father, Daniel Miller. Magdalena Miller Cripe died about a decade later, in 1842 and Daniel Cripe died in 1859, in Elkhart County.

Daniel Miller’s estate was completed in Montgomery County, Ohio by 1830, and David Miller was in Elkhart County, Indiana by 1831 or 1832, probably arriving in the winter of 1831/1832 with Elder Cripe’s wagon train. By this time, David had remarried to a woman by the first name of Elizabeth. We know nothing more about her other than she died in the epidemic of 1838, on August 19th and was born December 19, 1777, according to her tombstone. She was buried on David’s property, now known as the Baintertown or Rodibaugh Cemetery. There is no question that Elizabeth is David’s wife, as her stone and David’s were both paid for with funds out of his estate.

David Miller Elizabeth stone

Clearly, Elizabeth is not the woman age 20-30 living with him in 1830, as Elizabeth would have been age 47 at that time.

This following extract from a letter written by Jacob L. Ullery in 1892 gives us some perspective about what the trip from Montgomery County to Elkhart County was like.

The first week we came to Saint Marys, Ohio.  The second week we came to
Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The third week we came to where we unloaded our wagon
on the west side of the Elkhart River bank in the woods about a mile west
of Goshen among the Indians.  There we put up a little shanty.  Then we cut
timber for a house and shop.  Then about the first work I done at the
carpenter trade, I went in the woods and cut a tree and split it in lumber
and made a weaver’s loom and some bed-steads.

We had no doctor and no goods.

I worked around till harvest, and then I went to the Elkhart Prairie to
“Credel” the wheat.  After the wheat was cut I helped to make hay in the
marsh, west of Goshen.  There I came among the rattlesnakes.

The last of August I went back to Ohio.  Again in 1831, I came back to
Elkhart County.  Then I helped to build the first frame house in Goshen and
helped build the first Saw Mill in Elkhart County.

In 1833 I went to Ohio again, sometime in February.  I was then 21 years
old.  In April, I was married to Susana Warner.

In various history books, David Miller is listed as a commissioner who established the location of Goshen, along with 2 or 3 other men. This David is noted as being from St. Joseph County in 1831, so we don’t know for sure that this is our David – and it looks doubtful because there are three land patents for a David Miller in St. Joseph County in the 1830s – and our David is definitely living in Elkhart County at this time. The books do indicate that Goshen was named in David Miller’s honor as he wanted that name to be bestowed – and our David lived near Goshen, Ohio from the time he was 16 until he moved to Montgomery County – so it’s remotely possible.

Goshen is also a Biblical settlement location.  The English Standard version of the Bible tells us that:

“My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan. They are now in the land of Goshen.”

David obtained a land patent on September 2, 1831, but we don’t know when he applied for that grant or how long the granting process took. It would have been several months, at least.

The History of Elkhart County tells us the area between the Elkhart River and Turkey Creek is known as “the Barrens” where the land undulates just enough to remove the water. This is the area where David’s home place was located.

It’s possible that David accompanied Elder Cripe in 1830 to select his land, returning home to Montgomery County to tie up his affairs and to wait for his land grant to be approved before leaving permanently for the northlands. I’m actually surprised that David left when he did, as his elderly mother didn’t die until sometime in 1832, by which time, David was already living alongside the Elkhart River. Notice of his mother’s death would have arrived with the next group of settlers to come north.

David subsequently applied for and obtained several land grants including the land he would eventually sell to sons John David and David B. Miller in 1841, for double what he paid for it. He also sold a grant to his son, Samuel.

If John David and David B. started clearing their land in 1832, about the time they arrived, they would have been done about 1841. It took a long time to clear land, as evidenced by this narrative written by one Samuel R. Miller, relationship unknown, who was born in 1820 and also lived in Elkhart County beginning in 1837.

At the age of 17 Mr. Miller entered 80 acres in Union Twp. and subsequently bought 80 acres in Elkhart Twp. and finally took up 120 acres where he now resides in Sect 17. Up to his 27th year, he was engaged in clearing land, handling the ax, mattock and maul and was persevering in his efforts to make the wilderness a garden and to secure for himself a home.

During the first years of his residence in this county, the family were supplied with fresh mean by his gun. Wild turkeys, deer, wolves, prairie chickens and wild geese were very plenty when he first came to Indiana. He has himself killed with his rifle several hundred deer. They were so numerous that the snow would be trampled hard by them near the cabin where a tree had been felled and they came to browse. Many a time by moonlight has he shot them. During his youth and manhood his toil has been incessant. He has split 800 rails in a day from the oak that grew on his section.

I’m telling you what, 10 years is a very long time to chop trees.

Here’s another peek into the past:

John L. Miller was born in Montgomery Co. in 1836. He is the son of David S. Miller and Saloma Leslie Miller. Mr. Miller has seen many changes in the county since he can remember, has seen Jackson Twp. when it was almost a wilderness, has seen the wild deer and wild Indians and other wild animals in this township. He can remember when night would come the timber appeared to be alive with wolves and other animals.

Land Grant Reconciliation

David obtained several land grants. Today, grants can be accessed at the Bureau of Land Management.  The county is listed beneath the serial number.

Name Office Serial Year Parts Sec Twp Range Acres
David* La Porte IN1700_.008 (Elkhart) 1837 E1/2SW 8 35 6e 80
David** La Porte IN1610_.132 (Elkhart) 1837 W1/2SE 32 36 6e 80
David*** Fort Wayne IN1430_.431 (Elkhart) 1831 W1/2SW 34 36 6e 80
David**** La Porte In1730-037 (Kosciusko) 1837 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5e 80
David Fort Wayne IN1440-239 (Elkhart) 1833 SW 1/4 5 35 6 160
David La Porte IN1600-240 (Elkhart) 1837 E ½ SW 1/4 5 35 6 80
David***** Fort Wayne IN1440-413 (Elkhart) 1834 E ½ SE 1/4 2 36 5 80
David La Porte IN1730-488 (Elkhart) 1837 SW !/4 28 36 5 160

*Land just to the west of the land in Jackson Township that David patented and sold to John David and David Baker Miller in 1841.

**Land to the east of David’s homeplace.

***The entry, signed by President Andrew Jackson, is David’s home place where the cemetery is located. Given the curvature of the land and the river, his homeplace also includes portions of section 33.

****Grant says David Miller Junior but this is the land that would be included in his estate in 1851, so it’s clearly this David.

*****David Miller and Samuel Stutzman

The grant shown below would become the land of his sons John David Miller and David B. Miller when he sold it to them in 1841 for $100 each for half of the quarter section (80 acres) each.

JDM David Miller land grant

David signed the receipt below.

JDM David Miller receipt

David also obtained a patent for lands that he would sell to his son Samuel. However, most importantly, he applied for land for his own homestead and received the patent in September of 1831.

David Miller homeplace grant crop

Note that David applies for this grant while still living in Montgomery County, Ohio.

David selected a piece of land that is divided by the Elkhart River and has two nice high locations, some tillable land, and the rest is swamp. The swamps were responsible for the summer sicknesses, as the pioneers reported no illness in the winter months, just the opposite of what we have today. These malarial fevers are likely what killed Elizabeth in 1838.

The Sickly Year

1838 is referred to as “the sickly year.”  Everyone was sick.

In the plat map of 1874 on page A-18, there is an article called “Ms. Violet’s Narrative in 1874”. Looking at the 1861 plat map, the Violet’s land is located a few plats (about a mile) north of David Miller’s land. She says:

“The summer of 1838 was exceedingly warm, dry and sickly. Perhaps ¾ of the inhabitants of the North part of Indiana and South part of Michigan was affected with intermittent fevers. Several near neighbors died including Elizabeth Miller the wife of David Miller.

The summer of 1839 continued to be dry but not so dry as last. There was still much sickness but not so many fatal cases.”

In the book, Elkhart County History by Chapman in 1881, they listed a group of farmers and their sales in 1845. The surnames were those of the David Miller neighborhood, as noted in deeds, land grants and plat maps and include Mikesell, Cripe, Hess, Howzer, Latta, Weybright, Thompson and Jackson. David Miller sold 200 bushels of wheat, 1600 bushels of corn and 700 bushels of oats. John Miller 1200 bushels of wheat, 1000 bushels of corn and 800 bushels of oats.


David Miller settled, or perhaps better stated, helped establish a community that is today called Baintertown, located along the Elkhart River just south of present day Goshen. This is the Elkhart River looking towards David Miller’s land.

David Miller Elkhart River Baintertown

Baintertown takes its name from Frederick Bainter, to whom the Wyland Mill was sold in 1860, but Baintertown was established by the Brethren Wyland brothers when they arrived from Ohio in 1830.

David Miller Baintertown Five Medals

Rex told me that the winter the settlers arrived was particular difficult. He said they arrived late in the season without time to construct appropriate shelter. The Indians still lived in a village nearby, and they helped the settlers, specifically the Miller family, select a location, very near their village, and helped them do what they needed to do to survive.

The Indian village was small, probably the remnants of the Pottawatomi village of Five Medals, and as more settlers arrived, the Indian people either died, moved away or were forced off of their land in the Indian removals of the 1830s.

However, Rex said that an old Indian Chief would visit and stay with David Miller and the two men would smoke a pipe together. David was sad when his Indian friend died, as his family would have perished without the Indians the year that they arrived.

The last known record of Chief Five Medals was in 1818, but 1830 was only 12 years later, so it’s certainly possible that Five Medals was still living, and living right where his village had originally been, beside or near David’s land on the Elkhart River.

Rex gave me this undated article from the Goshen newspaper.

Baintertown Settlers…..Wyland Town Revisited

The history of the tiny hamlet of Baintertown in Jackson Twp is interwoven with many aspects of early Elkhart County progress, Mills, the first Dunkard conference and one of the counties first estates are just a few examples.

A historical stone marker centered in a grassy triangle on county road 29 between Benton and New Paris is the only remaining testimony to the founders of the area that was once known as Wyland Town.

The marker notes the names of Jonathon, Jacob, John, Daniel, Christian and Solomon Wyland, the 6 brothers who traveled on horseback from Mercer Co., Ohio in the 1830s to tame the bountiful Elkhart Prairie.

According to local historians, the brothers entered a claim for 640 acres of land surrounding the Elkhart River there and established the county’s first sawmill.

In 1835 and 1840 a grist mill and a woolen mill were built by Jonathan and were known throughout the area as Wyland Mills.

Jonathan, apparently the more ambitious of the 6 brothers soon after his arrival erected what must have seemed like a mansion to those simple pioneers. His home was 40 by 60 and two and a half stories and boasted 18 rooms set off with two wide verandas.

The county road where the house once stood and where the marker now rests is commonly known as the Huntington Road. Although hard to imagine now, the narrow twisting strip of blacktop was once of the state’s first roads.

The legislature on Jan. 24, 1832 appointed Lewis Rogers to survey the area for the purpose of constructing a state road from Grant County to the county seat of this area.

Until the mills were built and the first harvest reaped, the Wylands, like other early settlers, relied on the abundance of wild turkey, venison, and walnuts, say historical ledgers.

Although it is not generally known, materials produced at the Wyland Mills and other mills in the county were shipped north via the Elkhart River and the Great Lakes and were received as far north as Buffalo NY.

The church played a significant role in pioneer life. Historians say the first Protestant denomination was the Church of the Brethren, or originally the Dunkard church.

Although a church building was not built until 1859 at Rock Run Creek, members congregated in their homes and anywhere that might be convenient.

The largest known gathering during the years before the church was constructed was then approximately 5000 members assembled for the church’s annual conference at the home of Jonathan Wyland.

“Settlers traveled from near and far, some came by horseback, many walked and others rode in crude wagons.” Writes one historian.

Daily sessions were held in Jonathan Wylands barn and the officials were designated members of the congregation.

Several of the first Dunkard ministers were Jacob Studebaker, reportedly the contractor for the original county courthouse in Goshen, [still standing and in use in 2009], Martin Weybright, Elder Joel Shively and the Rev. Isaac Berkey.

Finally the Wyland Mills were sold in 1860 to Frederick Bainter and the hamlet became known as Baintertown. Reportedly the village was never plotted or recorded because the residents had no desire to change their peaceful country life into “a booming city”.

The stone marker was erected in 1910 in memory of Iverson P. Wyland, grandson of Jonathan and a school teacher in Jackson Twp. for many years. It stands as a silent reminder that even though the area is calm and peaceful now, the winding waterway was responsible for transporting goods from the Wyland Mills all the way to Buffalo.

There is more to this story though, because there was a church built on David Miller’s land, where the cemetery is located, although we don’t know when the original church was organized. Organized in the Brethren sense means whey the congregation began meeting in homes, not when they built a church building.

Edward Clark bought the land from David Miller’s estate in 1861 and in 1877, he executed a deed to “Trustees, German Baptist Church” stating that when the property is no longer needed for this purpose, the land should be turned over to the cemetery trustees.

The church was located on the west side of the original cemetery.

The first known burial in the original “old section” of Baintertown cemetery was the grandson of David Miller, William Miller, son of David B. Miller and his wife, Christine. William died at 2 days of age on November 4, 1831 – so the family group had arrived by then.

The family had not been in this area long. Needing to establish a cemetery shortly after arrival was not a good omen. David has barely had his land 2 months and the first soil broken was possibly that shovel that buried his grandson.  The wagon train had probably just arrived.

We don’t know when a church was established in this location, but it was probably already in existence by 1877, likely meeting in people’s homes or in a log building when a church building from a Reformed Presbyterian Church in Waterford built in 1858 was dismantled and re-erected on the land deeded next to the original cemetery. By 1931, the church was no longer functioning, so the building was sold and the land became the west part of the cemetery on the north side of the road, where newer burials and parking are found today.

Another article is titled, “Baintertown, A Thriving Center” and was published in the 1976 Goshen News.

David Rodibaugh, Everett Miller’s grandfather was the pusher of the day. His ambition was to acquire a farm for each of his children. His daughter married Ira J. Miller, Everett’s father and they got the farm where the Baintertown school still stands northeast of New Paris.

Rex Miller owns this land today and the school still stands and is in use as a farm building. It’s even heated today, something it probably wasn’t originally. The old school sits at the intersection of road 29 and 142.

David Miller Baintertown school

David Rodibaugh first set up the saw mill, furnishing lumber for many houses and barns in the area. T.J. Harriman was his right hand man.

Next he built the woolen mill and manufactured blankets of all kinds. Later Reddens and sons set up the grist and flour mills and manufactured Never Fail Flour and ground corn meal.

The grocery store was run by Edward Barringer, Everett Miller’s great uncle.

About that time there came a rapid change in merchandizing. The mills, brick kilns and flour mills closed up as they could not compete with national brands, and Baintertown faded out much faster than it had grown. All the factories were torn down and all that remains is a stone in the small park strip, recording the fact that the 6 Wyland brothers landed in the area in 1832 and became very influential. In fact the town was first known as Wylandtown but later when a man named Bainter bought the woolen mill from Mr. Wyland the name of the town was changed to Baintertown. This was around 1862.

Baintertown, then Wyland Mills, saw it’s heyday during the lifetime of David Miller.

David Miller’s Brother, John

David’s brother, the Elder John Miller, also settled in Elkhart County in 1835. As reported in the biographies of the History of Elkhart County, “He was an active co-laborer of Elder Daniel Cripe, and did his share of the evangelistic work in those early days. He finally located in the Yellow Creek Church, seven miles southwest of Goshen, where he died in 1856.”

David Miller John Miller d 1856

The Yellow Creek Church is now the Solomon Creek Church, with the cemetery adjacent.  The map below shows the route from the Baintertown Cemetery, on David Miller’s land, to the Yellow Creek Church.

David Miller to John's map

John Miller is the last known Miller to own the Bible known as the Philip Jacob Miller Bible that ultimately belonged to Philip’s son, Daniel Miller. John bought the Bible at his father Daniel’s estate sale and brought it with him to Elkhart County, where it somehow left the possession of the Miller family and today resides with a family who has no idea why they have this Bible.  John’s signature is found in two places in the Bible.

John Miller signature 2

John Miller signature

The owners were very gracious and allowed me to visit the Bible several years ago. The only connection that we have found is that we believe the owner’s ancestor may have bought the house that John Miller once owned. If that is the case, then the Bible may have somehow been left behind. It has been passed down in their family, as a heirloom, ever since.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible and me crop

Marriage to Martha Drake

On June 6, 1839, David remarried a widow woman named Martha Drake who had at least one minor child. Interestingly enough, in the 1840 census, we find David’s neighbor in Elkhart County to be Ann Drake.

This would truly have been a scandal in the Brethren community, because Martha Drake was a….are you ready for this….a Baptist. Yes, and she didn’t convert either. Holy moley.

I bet this was not a uniformly approved marriage by David’s siblings, younger children, or anyone Brethren. And David’s entire group of friends and family were Brethren. This was indeed a scandalous “mixed marriage.” Obviously, David didn’t care. I do wonder if he separated from the church at that time, or stopped attending. I think this makes David Miller an official black sheep – at least from the Brethren perspective!

David’s 1840 household was comprised of:

  • Male 10-15
  • Male 50-60 David
  • Female 15-20
  • Female 30-40 Martha Drake Miller

Both of the children are probably Martha’s children.

Martha and David set about having 3 additional children by 1846.

Land Speculating

David may have been doing a bit of land speculating. Given that land was almost free for the taking – secured with a small payment – why not? That way land would be readily available for newcomers arriving from Montgomery County and elsewhere, and David stood to make a bit of money. The process of land patenting wasn’t quick or necessarily easy – but once you knew how – it was probably quite worthwhile to have readily available land for people who wanted to settle and start clearing and farming right away. The land patent process didn’t happen overnight.

David apparently farmed several tracts himself, based on these deeds in the chart below found in Elkhart County.

Year From To Qtr Sec Twp Rg Ac
1834, Apr 15 Benjamin Bennett and Susanna David Miller for $100 bk 1 pg 333 W ½ NW ¼ 35 36 6e 80
1834, Oct 3 Henry Matthews David Miller (mortgage and release*) E ½ SE ¼ 4 35 6e 80
1840, Nov 11 David Miller, Bk 6 pg 335 (3 ac) and 336 (3/4 ac) Fractions on Elkhart Riv 3 ¾ ac
1841, Mar 23 David Miller and Martha Samuel Miller for $100 bk 20- page 319 (recorded Nov 4 1852) bk 16 p 17 W ½ SE ¼ 32 36 6e 80
1841, Mar 23 David Miller and Martha John Miller Jr. for $100 bk 20-319 not rec until Aug 14 1856 N ½ SE ¼ 5 35 6 80
1841, Mar 23 Peter Wallmer and Anna John Miller bk 20-page 320 W ½ NW ¼ 5 35 6 81.3
1844, Oct 5 David and Martha Miller Solomon Conrad for $200 bk 9-433 E ½ SW ¼ 8 35 6 80
1845, Oct 18 David and Martha Miller (her mark) Laporte land office sale**1 E ½ W ¼ 8 35 6e 80
Aug 15 1849 David Miller and Martha Lot 147 in Goshen, bk 12-555
1851, Oct 18 David Miller and Martha David Miller Jr bk 14-512 for $100 S ½ SE ¼ 5 35 6 80
1855 David Miller est David P. Gross N ½ NW ¼ 15 35 7e 80
1855 David Miller est (land grant) John Troup W ½ NW ¼ 6 35 6e 79
1855 David Miller est Jonas Renfro Ne frac 33 36 6e 9
1855 David Miller est (home place) Jonas Renfro W ½ SW ¼ 34 36 6e 80
1855 David Miller est Moses Babcock Kosciusko

*Mortgage release was signed on June 13, 1835. Witness William Latta and Caleb Winger

**This notes that there is an affidavit in the Misc Record Book 15 page 165 dated Dec. 27 1918.

An Elkhart County patent map assembled by Boyd IT in 2005 shows that David Miller received a patent in Elkhart Township in 1831 for his homestead land in section 34. There were several 1831 patents to many individuals, but none earlier.

Furthermore, the land patent map shows that David also obtained a patent in section 32, the west half of the southeast quarter in 1837. This map shows the earliest grant to be in 1831, and that Nathaniel Drake also patented the land abutting David Miller’s on the north. I wonder if Nathaniel Drake is related to Martha Drake, David’s second wife. This might well explain how they met.

Imagine that…Baptists next door!

The Early Church

The Gospel Messenger published on March 6, 1909 page 149, tells us something about the early Brethren church in Elkhart County.


By J. H. Miller

In this article I am to tell about the history and the growth of the Church of the Brethren in Elkhart County, Ind. In this County was the first church organized in Northern Indiana, and Goshen was the center of the congregation.

It is said that Bro. Daniel Cripe organized the church about 1830. Soon after that, another brother, John Miller, moved to this “northwestern land,” as it was then called. I well remember of seeing both of those brethren and hearing them preach in German. They settled on Elkhart Prairie, and were from Montgomery County, Ohio: The first child of the Brethren, born in Elkhart County, was Rosanna Cripe. Those “newcomers,” as they were called, held their first meetings in their log cabins.

There are now nineteen congregations in the county, some reaching out into adjoining counties. There are fifty ministers living in the county. Of the number of ministers who formerly lived in the county, twenty-four have died.

There are twenty-three places of worship, and about 1,800 members, nearly as many as may be found in the other part of the State district. Among the number of ministers, strong men in their day, who have died in the county, were James Tracy and Amsey Puterbattgh. They were Brethren, useful men, and did a good work.

Meetinghouses were built about 1850. Their big wagons would go through the mud, woods and cross streams, in order to reach the place of meeting. My father’s turn would come about once in fourteen months. That was a big day for us children. All the ministers had a word for Jesus. Even the deacons were not excused, though there might be six or eight present. They had to bear testimony to the Truth preached. The deacons usually had the place on a bench in front of the preachers’ table.

After meeting a big dinner was served at the expense of those who had the meeting for that day. After dinner, from two to three hours were spent in social visits. Much love and union seemed to prevail among those early Christian fathers and mothers: Our neighbors were from eight to ten miles away, and we were always glad to see them.

In 1852 the Annual Meeting was held in Elkhart County, five miles south of Goshen, in Bro. Jonathan Wyland’s barn, 40 x 80 feet in size. It was estimated that there were about 4,000 people present. I remember of hearing my father speak of the large crowd. It is presumable that John Kline, of Virginia, was the moderator. It was thought by some that this was the first Annual Meeting held in Northern Indiana.

The second, in Elkhart County, was held in 1868; in Eld. Jacob Berkey’s barn. Henry Davy was moderator. In 1882 the meeting was held on Bro. John Arnold’s farm. I have in mind three Annual Meetings in Northern Indiana, and all were held in Elkhart County. At the present time Northern Indiana must have nearly 4,000 members. Many have been added to the church within the last eight months.

In those days the faithful ministers would walk and ride for miles to the place of worship. I remember that Bro. John Leatherman, when ninety years old, walked from ten to twelve miles on Saturday, returning home on Monday. These faithful old brethren were full of the missionary spirit.

I was born in Elkhart County, in 1838, hence have a fairly good knowledge of the workings of the church here. My prayer is that God may call many more faithful workers into his vineyard; and that many souls may be converted to Christ.

It’s remarkable to me that John Miller was still preaching in German, being the 4th generation to reside in America.  My mother tells of hearing her grandmother, Evaline Miller Ferverda (1857-1939), David’s granddaughter, speak in German – although most of the time she spoke English.  Mother said the Brethren Church at that time still gave sermons in German.


David may have moved to the frontier when it was barely settled, but all of his children learned to read and write, either before or after arriving in Elkhart County. We know this based on the signatures on his estate distribution. What we don’t know, for sure, is if the children attended the Whitehead School which would have been located about 4 miles distant, and required fording the Elkhart River and Turkey Creek, or if they were taught at home or in a makeshift school in someone’s home. One thing is for sure, school would not have been taught in the spring, summer and fall when help was needed on the farm. Survival was more important than education.

David Miller to Whitehead school

The Whitehead School was located on the west side of present day CR 19 north of CR 48 in Sect 17. Samuel Whitehead (1811-1874), one of 9 Whitehead brothers, 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, David Miller’s grandson, born in 1838 did attend this school in 1854.

Here’s what we know about early schooling in Elkhart County.

The Gospel Messenger March 23, 1907 page 182 Vol. 46 No.


By J. F. Neher, Guthrie, Okla.

It is interesting to note the changes that have come in a half a century or over. Fifty-five years ago I had my first experience in school. The schoolhouse was built of logs. The benches had no backs and were made of slabs by boring holes in each end; into these the legs were inserted.

On one side the house one log was cut out and along window put in to give light to a long table, which was made by boring holes into the log below the window; into these long pins were driven, on which a broad board was fastened, which served as a writing table.

The teacher was the father of a large family living near the schoolhouse. The rod was frequently used, but mostly severely on his own children.

He taught German and English, and a variety of text-books was used. One the higher classes recited their lesson from the Old Testament, another from the New Testament. One, a brother’s son, had for his text-book Brother Peter Nead’s book; and still another recited his lesson from an old German hymn book.

Other things might be mentioned that would seem odd to the student or schoolboy of today; but I believe if the use of the Bible had been retained, the masses today would have a better knowledge of the Good Book.

David’s Death

When David died on December 1, 1851, he left Martha with 3 young children.

David Miller Baintertown stone

David Miller is buried on the far east side of the Baintertown cemetery, just before it drops off into swamp, behind the tombstones below.

David Miller Baintertown burial

The closest thing we have to an obituary for David comes from the Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties, Indiana – 1893 by Goodspeed, page 698, which is actually about his son, David B. Miller.

David Miller came to Elkhart County about 1830 when the country was a wilderness, inhabited only by wild animals and wilder savages. He came to the county overland and settled on 80 acres, build a log house and immediately began clearing and improving. He raised 3 sons and 4 daughters of whom our subject’s (David B. Miller) father is the only one now living, but all reached mature years, married and became the heads of families. They are David, Samuel, John, Elizabeth, Catherine, Lydia and Susan. The mother of these children died in Ohio. David remarried having two children, Michael and Steven, both of whom are living in Milford Indiana. The father died in Jackson Twp.

We know this account is not fully accurate, because David had 9 children who lived to adulthood and married, including Susan mentioned above, born in 1802, before David married Catharina Schaeffer Gephart. Furthermore, he died in Elkhart Township, unless he was visiting someone at the time.

We know positively that David had 9 children before marrying Martha Drake and 3 after his marriage to Martha because of his long, drawn out estate.

The Estate

David died on December 1, 1851, almost exactly 20 years after arriving.

Their son, Stephen’s biography was included in the Kosciusko County History book gave David’s death date as November 5th instead of December 1st.

Apparently things had either slipped David’s mind, or perhaps he wasn’t well, because his land in Kosciusko County had to be “redeemed” by paying the back taxes for 1850 out of his estate.

I was fortunate to find David’s estate packet relatively intact in Elkhart County during a visit a few years ago. Many items didn’t have dates, but enough did that I was able to put together a timeline of what happened. And a lot happened.

You would never have known that this was a Brethren estate from the proceedings.

David’s inventory was appraised and then the sale occurred at the “home of the deceased” on January 3rd, 1852.  That must have been a cold auction.  What follows is his estate appraisal.

Number Items Appraised Value
16 Pigs 10.00
4 Larger pigs 7.00
2 Sows 5.00
6 Sheep firs choice 7.20
6 Sheep – Second choice 7.00
6 Sheep – Third choice 6.00
5 Sheep – fourth choice 3.75
1 Black horse 60.00
1 Small wagon 35.00
1 Windmill 1.50
1 lot Sheaf oats, 12.5 per dz 6.35
1 Lot of corn – 20 per bushel 36.00
4 Kettles 8.00
1 2 horse wagon 35.00
1 Harrow 1.50
1 Cultivators 1.50
1 Grindstone .50
1 Broad ax 1.50
1 Grubbing hoe .75
2 Iron wedges 1.00
1 Lot 2 augers 1.00
1 Lot foot ads drawing knife .50
2 Chopping axes 1.25
1 4 pronged fork and shovel .88
1 Lot of harness 2.00
1 Spear .25
1 Lot of irons and spades and c 1.00
2 Bee keeps 2.00
2 Barrell and reg 1.00
2 Calves 6.00
1 Black cow 10.00
1 Red cow 7.50
1 Bell cow 8.00
1 Speckled cow 9.00
1 Log chain 1.75
1 Lot of wagon tires 3.00
1 Lot of oats 25 bu 3.00
1 Mowing scythe .50
1 Wool wheel 1.00
1 Cut reel .50
1 Barrel and vinegar 1.00
1 Spinning wheel .12
1 Old ladle and old harness .25
1 Rocking chair 1.50
1 Bred tray .50
1 Box stove and 6 joint pipe and elbow 10.00
1 Bed and bedding 10.00
1 Bed and bedding 10.00
1 Bed and bedding 5.00
1 Saddle and reigns 9.00
1 Chest 2.00
2 Flax heckler 1.00
7.5 Yards cloth 18.75
6.75 Yards cloth 16.87 ½
1 Loom 2.00
1 Clock 2.00
1 Bed and bedding 5.00
1 Cupboard and cupboard ware 5.50
1 Cook stove and pipe 12.00
1 Lot of chairs 1.00
Total appraised value 241.53

The actual sale brought in $436.52. David was clearly actively farming with the cows, sheep and pigs listed, along with the farm equipment.  The number of sheep he had is probably directly related to the Wyland brothers’ woolen mill close by.  He also had a 2 horse wagon, but only one horse.  Maybe he shared resources with someone, or maybe he had lost a horse recently.

Did David have a family Bible tucked away in that chest?

At David Miller’s estate sale, John Miller bought steelyards for 1.25, a fish gig for 25 cents. The widow bought 2 calves. I always feel sorry for the widows whose entire household is up for grabs.  Her spinning wheel, her dishes and plates, her furniture.  How was the widow supposed to function, let alone raise three children?  Somehow, these resourceful women always found a way.  I remember watching my Mom cry at my Dad’s estate sale, and her things weren’t being sold, just his.  In a way, it’s a second death as the pieces of your loved one’s life are scattered to the winds.

So far, in this estate, everything looks normal, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long.

David, it seems, owned quite a bit of property, listed on this document from his estate packet.

David Miller land list

I compiled a list of property from tax receipts from the estate. You will notice that some sections and townships look to be incorrect – and they probably are. I have not corrected this, because I wanted to retain it as an example of why we need multiple sources for everything we can confirm in that manner. I don’t know if their handwriting was bad, or mine was, or the data was actually inaccurate – but clearly the “odd man out” data is highly suspect.

Three different pieces of land comprised David’s home place, in section 33 and 34.  The Elkhart River  was the boundary in section 33, which made for an odd sized piece of land.  This all makes perfect sense, once you look at the map.

County Tax Year Desc Section Twp Range Acres Sale
Home Tracts
Elkhart 1851 ½ NW 1/4 35 36 6 80
Elkhart* 1851 – home W ½ S 1/4 34 36 6 80 Jonas Renfro
Elkhart 1852 – home W ½ SW ¼ 34 36 6 80 Jonas Renfro
Elkhart 1852 – home W 1/2 NW 1/4 34 36 6 80 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1853 – home 34 36 6 80 Jonas Renfro
Elkhart 1854 – home W ½ SW 1.4 34 36 6 80 Jonas Renfro
Elkhart 1855 – home W ½ SW 1/4 34 36 6 80 Elkhart Twp Jonas Renfro
Elkhart 1856 – home W ½ SW ¼ 34 36 6 80 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1851 part of home 33 36 6 9
Elkhart 1852 – part of home In fee 33 36 6 9 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1854 – part of home 33 36 6 9 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1853 – part of home 32 9
Elkhart 1855 – part of home 33 36 6 9 (7) Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1856 – part of home 33 36 6 9 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1851 part of home NE? 33 36 6 16
Elkhart 1852 – NE fraction 33 35 6 16 – Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1853 – part of home 33 16
Elkhart 1854 – part of home NE fraction 33 36 6 16 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1855 – part of home 33 36 6 16 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1856 – part of home NE fraction 33 16 Elkhart Twp
Other Land
Elkhart 1851 W ½ NW 1/4 6 35 6 79 John Troup
Elkhart 1852 W ½ NW 1.4 6 35 6 79 Jackson Twp John Troup
Elkhart 1853 W ¼ NW ¼ 6 35 6 79 John Troup
Elkhart 1854 W ½ NW ¼ 6 35 6 79 Jackson Twp John Troup
Elkhart 1855 W ½ NW ¼ 6 35 6 79 Elkhart Twp John Troup
Elkhart 1856 W ½ NW 1/4 6 35 6 39 Jackson Twp
Elkhart 1858 W ½ NW ¼ 6 35 6 79 Jackson Twp
Elkhart 1859 W ½ NW ¼ 6 35 6 79 Jackson Twp
Elkhart 1851 N ½ NE ¼ 15 35 7 45
Elkhart 1852 N ½ NW ¼ 15 35 7 45 Benton Twp
Elkhart 1853 N ½ NW 1/4 15 35 7 80
Elkhart 1854 N ½ NE ¼ 15 35 7 80 Benton Twp
Elkhart 1855 redeemed from tax sale 1851/52 N ½ NE ¼ 15 35 7 80 Benton Twp
Kos 1850 E ¼ SE ¼ 5 34 5E 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1851 E ¼ SE ¼ 5 34 5E 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1852 E ¼ SE ¼ 5 34 5E 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1851 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1852 for 1851/1852 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5 80
Kos 1853 E ½ SW ¼ 9 34 5 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1854 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1855 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1856 E ½ NW ¼ 9 34 5 80
Kos 1858 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5

Martha petitioned the court in about 1855 for her dower lands to be set aside, possibly indicating her intention to remarry, which she did to Joel Applin on January 21, 1858. She is deceased, according to David’s estate records, by 1861. Her gravestone says she died on Sept. 11, 1860.

Martha’s dower land came out of the W ½ SW ¼ Sect 34 Twp 36 Range 6 and was listed as 10 and 40/100 acres. *In 1856 Samuel Miller, as executor, sold part of David’s land to Jonas Reutford or Reutfrow or Renfro, the NW corner of SW 1/4 of Sect 34 Twp 36 Range 6 along the Logansport road and Elkhart river,10 and 40/100 acres.  The northwest corner would have included the house.

David Miller sale notice

Aside from the land, there were other interesting receipts that provide us with a glimpse of David’s life.

  • January 21, 1851 William L. Baker submits a bill to the estate for 6.5 yards of shrouding – $3, 3 yards of bleached muslin – .45 and bolts and screws for coffin – .30

According to sources on Brethren history, the early Brethren were not buried in their clothes, but wrapped in a shroud that was wound around them. This suggests that indeed, David did have a Brethren burial – at least Brethren style.

David’s son, John David’s estate in 1902 was charged for a “robe” instead of burying him in his own clothes.

Furthermore, coffins were to be as simple as possible, and often, the deceased was buried and then the funeral service “celebrated” at the church, without the body. I wonder how much of this custom was related, at least originally, to the lack of refrigeration and embalming. In fact, when coffins were first taken into Brethren churches, it caused quite a ruckus and they were only allowed just inside the back door.

  • August 1851, Stephen Miller came of age.
  • Martha Miller is alive and signs with an X on January 8, 1852
  • John Latta guardian of the 3 Miller children in 1853, but by Aug 1, 1856 Latta is dead and Samuel Ridgeway is guardian.

Some estate distributions were begun in 1853, but by 1855, the bulk of David’s estate, tied up in land, becomes an issue.

  • May 4, 1853, Abraham Leer signs as receiving part of his estate as heir of David Miller.
  • May 3, 1853, Adam Whitehead signs for payment of his share of David’s estate.
  • May 4, 1853, David B. Miller signs for part of his share of estate.
  • In 1855, Adam Whitehead and Michael Haney are administrators of David Miller’s estate, and Conrad Brumbaugh signed a receipt in of partial settlement of his share of the estate as one of his heirs.
  • Aug 25, 1855, John Liveringhouse signs for part of his estate distribution as guardian of 2 minor heirs.
  • Aug 25, 1855, Samuel Ridgeway was guardian of 3 minor heirs.
  • August 25,1855, signs as receiving part of David’s estate as an heir. Mary Stowder
  • Aug 25, 1855, Milford Zunn (Zanin) (both names unclear) signs as heir of David Miller.
  • Aug 25, 1855, Jonathan Caly? Gives receipt for part of distribution of estate as heir. (Jonathan Colyar from 1853 receipt)
  • Aug 25 1855, S. B. Miller gives receipt as heir for part of estate.
  • In August 1855, Adam Whitehead is also guardian of David Drake, obviously Martha’s son.Receipt in David Miller’s estate “Received Feb 15, 1856 from John D. Miller ? on tombstones for David and Elizabeth Miller.”On April 1858, Samuel Ridgway is paying bills on behalf of the children. “Received of Samuel Ridgeway $1.20 for schooling of Stephen and Michael Miller, sons of the widow of the widow Miller.”

I wonder if this means that Matilda wasn’t being schooled, or perhaps her illness prevented her schooling, especially if she had something like Down’s syndrome, a very common occurrence in the youngest child born to late in life mothers.

The Lawsuit

Brethren simply did not file lawsuits. In fact, they would do just about anything to keep from confronting someone, and especially not in court. However, those Brethren traditions went by the wayside in 1855, when all of David’s heirs, including the widow, sued Adam Whitehead and Susan Miller Whitehead. While David may have separated from the traditional ways of the Brethren Church, by and large, his children did not – at least not his children from his marriage to Catharina Schaeffer.

The front of the estate packet shows the plaintiffs that sued Adam Whitehead and Susan, his wife.

David Miller estate suit

August term 1855

Petitioners Martha Miller the widow of David Miller decd, (Adam Whitehead and Susan Whitehead his wife are stricken here,) David Miller, Michael Haney and Elizabeth Haney his wife, John D. Miller, Mary Stouder, Conrad Brumbaugh and Cathearine Brumbaugh his wife, Samuel B. Miller, John Collier and Lydia Collier his wife, adults over the age of 21 years and Stephen Miller, Michael Miller and Matilda Miller, infants under the age of 20 years by Samuel Ridgeway their guardian and John Lear, Hetty Lear and Sarah Lear also infants under the age of 20 by Abraham Lear their guardian, Samuel Brumbaugh, Lydia Brumbaugh his wife, Samuel Irwin and Elizabeth Irwin, his wife, Israel Irwin and Susan Irwin his wife, Isaac Shively and Catharine Shively his wife, all adults over the age of 21 years and William Livinghouse and Sulvia? Livinghouse, also infants under the age of 20 by John Livinghouse their guardian. That David Miller deceased (is) their ancestor who about the year 1852 departed this life intestate leaving the said widow and your other petitioners and Adam Whitehead and Susan Whitehead who are made defendants here to and are his heirs at law who took title to all his real estate by descent.

Owned tracts to wit:

  1. E half of SE quadrant section 9 twp 34 range 5 Kosciusko county 80 acres
  2. North half of the nw quarter section 15 twp 35 range 7 80 acres Elkhart county.
  3. West half north NW quarter section 6 twp 35 north rage 6 east 79 acres Elkhart

Court finds:

  • Martha Miller (the widow) to get one third part as her dower.

Each of the following heirs to have their one twelfth part:

  • Susan Whitehead
  • David Miller
  • Elizabeth Haney
  • John D. Miller
  • Mary Stouder
  • Catherine Broombaugh
  • Samuel B. Miller
  • Lydia Collier
  • Stephen Miller
  • Michael Miller
  • Matilda Miller
  • The remaining one twelfth part to be set over to John Lear, Hetty Lear, Sarah Lear, Elizabeth Irwine, Susan Irwin, Catherine Shively, William Livinghouse and Eliza Livinghouse.

David’s oldest daughter Hester Miller married Abraham Lear in 1824 in Ohio. Beyond that, these individuals are challenging, to say the least.

Hester Miller and Abraham Lear’s known children are:

  1. Elizabeth Lear b Dec 1827 died Aug 16 1913 in Gage, Nebraska.
  2. Susan born April 12 1832 died June 5 1907 North Liberty, St. Joseph County, Indiana
  3. John W. Lear b Sept 1838
  4. Sarah born 1841 Elkhart County
  5. Another document references a deceased daughter of said Esther Lear.

Martha Dies

According to the estate documents, the orphans’ mother died “sometime in September 1860.”

A January 1861 letter to the court states that Stephen, Michael and Matilda Miller own 3.12th of land W ½ SW ¼ section 34 township 36 range 6 except the south end near the center of the south line donated in the decedents lifetime for the purpose of a graveyard. Also excepting the part of that section laying west of the Logansport/Goshen road.

On June 8, 1861 Samuel Ridgeway sold several pieces of David’s land to Edward Clark.

This 1874 plat map, at the bottom center right, shows the original David Miller land which includes the cemetery as owned by E. Clark.  IN 1874, David’s land is bisected by the railroad, in addition to the road.

David Miller 1874 plat

After Martha’s death, this partial paper was found in David’s estate packet.

“and 13 respectively and now reside in Elkhart County. Stephen resides with David Dousman and his working for himself. Michael is working for board and going to school and Matilda resides with Adam Whitehead.”

Filed by their guardian.

Daughter Matilda Miller Dies

Matilda was clearly very ill for some time before she died. Doctors were called, and paid. Sadly, the receipt never said what they treated her for.

By Dec. 8, 1861, Samuel Ridgeway is the guardian of the 3 Miller children. “Received of Samuel Ridgeway guardian for the heirs of David Miller decd $2 for taking of Matilda Miller while sick. Mary Berry”

Matilda Miller’s doctor bill was from Sept 27, 1861 to Sept 30th.

Oct 17, 1861 $23 for coffin.

Dec 9, 1861 shrouding for Matilda Miller, also paid for 10 days care of “Matilda in last sickness.”

Dec. 14, 1861 David Dausman and Samuel Rodibaugh to appraise estate of Matilda Miller.

Matilda’s estate consisted of one bed and bed clothing and bedstead for 22.00 and one chest for 2.00. I can’t help but wonder what was in that chest. Was it David Miller’s chest?

The Final Payments

On Jan. 15, 1864, the 3 youngest Miller children are referenced as “minor heirs of Matilda Miller deceased, there being 11 shares of said Matilda’s estate, and two of them having been paid to Stephen Miller and Michael Miller.”

Michael Miller became of age January 15, 1864 and was paid in full for David’s and Martha’s estate.

Matilda’s share was divided among her two brothers and the other 9 heirs.

The administrator’s final report was submitted Jan 16. 1864

Thirteen years and a month after David died, when his estate was finally settled, Martha had died, Matilda had died and his children were estranged. Some were probably Baptists, no less. Not quite the outcome David had envisioned in 1831 or 1832 when he arrived in Elkhart County with all of his children, full of hope.

David’s Homestead

David’s homestead was still owned by him, along with some other lands along the Elkhart River and in other townships, at his death. His homestead is on the border of Elkhart and Jackson Townships, bordering both sides of State Road 15 and County Road 29 on the south, today, two of the first roads in the area. CR 29 was an old Indian path. David’s house was located in an area where the train tracks are located today.

David patented 80 acres in the west half of the southwest quarter of section 34, township 35 (Elkhart), range 6 east. In his estate packet, we confirm that the cemetery existed at that time, and it is where David is buried as well, by the following sale order for the above land which said specifically…..“except for ½ acre on the south end near the center of the south line donated to the descendants of life-time for a graveyard.” This is today the Rodibaugh, also known as Baintertown, Cemetery, which was originally the David Miller cemetery, and by all rights, should be called the Miller Cemetery. This is where David and his second wife Elizabeth are buried. Martha (Applin), his third wife, is buried here near their daughter Matilda who died about a year after Martha. The old portion of the cemetery is shown below. David is buried far to the right, against the woods.

David Miller Baintertown

On the 1851 Elkhart County plat map, below, David’s land is shown as the David Miller estate, and on the 1874 map the land is owned by E. Clark. The previous location of the house to the right of the road is now where the railroad is located.  I believe this was the house where David lived, because it was the house given to Martha in her dower rights.  The original house was likely a quickly constructed rough hewn log cabin and after 40 years of use, may have not been in good shape. On the other hand, David’s son, John David’s log cabin built probably around the same time is still standing today underneath siding, sandwiched between additions.

David Miller 1851 plat map

Based on the 1851 plat map, David had three structures on his land.  Both were north of the river.  One was on the right hand side of what is now 15, looking north, and two to the left, near the intersection of what is now 42.

David Miller near house

Sitting at the intersection of 42 and 15, and looking left across the road to the west, you should be able to see David’s two houses sitting together – if they were still standing.

Moving slightly south, perhaps David’s house was near these white outbuildings today, seen above but barely visible between the trees, below.  When David owned the land, it may have been cleared.  Today, it is overgrown.

David Miller near house 2

David’s house that was sitting east of the road would have been torn down when the railroad went through, if not before.  It would have sat in the clearing below, and this was probably the highest elevation of his land.  David would have built his home where it was least likely to flood.

David Miller railroad tracks

Moving on south on 15, we can see the Elkhart River on both sides of the road.  This first picture is looking west.  David owned the land on both sides of the River here.

David Miller from 15 west

Looking east, you can see the railroad bridge today.  I wonder if the island was created after the railroad bridge was built with sediment accruing near the bridge base.

David Miller from 15 east

This was likely the shallowest location to ford the river, which was why the original trail was here, with the road curving on either side of the river.  This original path was followed by the road in the same location, followed by the railroad paralleling the road for miles.

The next map we find is an 1874 plat map, which is after Edward Clark bought David’s land.

The colored legend on the 1874 map is:

  • Yellow – David’s home place
  • Orange – David’s other lands
  • Green – David’s land sold to family members
  • Green dash – John David, David’s son’s lands
  • Blue – other fractional sections belonging to David

Note that on the 1874 map, the cemetery is noted. It also looks like CR 29 was slightly altered, perhaps when the railroad was laid.

David Miller 1874 plat map

The map below shows Jackson Township which joins with Elkhart Township, just beneath David’s land.  David also patented the land to the left of John David Miller and David B. Miller, labeled C. Broombaugh.  Conrad Brumbaugh was married to David’s daughter, Catherine.  The land beneath David B. Miller’s land labeled J. M. Whitehead is the land originally owned by Adam Whitehead and his wife Susanna Miller.  Tensions must have run high in these homes after David’s death and during the lawsuit – given that four of David’s children were neighbors, and Samuel lived just up the road.

Margaret Lentz 1874 Jackson Twp map

None of David’s heirs bought the homeplace, probably because all of his older children had farms of their own.  Several of the older children probably never lived there, and some only having lived on the homeplace a short time until they married.  The younger children had no funds with which to purchase the land. The younger children probably also inherited their mother’s portion of the estate, which was 1/3rd of the value of the estate, after her death when they came of age.

The photo below is the Elkhart River as it feeds into David’s land downstream slightly, taken from the park, looking west.

David Miller river from park

The section borders appear to not have been cleared, so they are visible today. This is the northern border of David’s land.

David Miller property line

The following photo is on the road running along the northern border of David’s land (CR 45 ) and is taken from near where the house was located looking East.

David Miller road

This would have been the high farmable lands when David cleared the lands, but today, the owners use this as yard. The only high portions of David’s land was land adjacent the house and then where the cemetery is located, both areas of which are surrounded by significant lowlands which would absorb the floodwaters and hopefully prevent the high areas from flooding.

David Miller field

David Miller higher lands.

David Miller highlands

An example of David’s swamp lands is shown below. In the summer this is probably an impenetrable mess of briars, snakes and mosquitoes.

David Miller swamp

Old trees demarcating the east boundary of David’s land on CR 45. I wonder if these trees were alive when he was.  In most places, it’s illegal to cut a boundary marker tree.

David Miller boundary trees

This list of items submitted as expenses to David’s estate shows the types of farm activities that took place annually on David’s land and how much David’s estate paid to have the activities performed beginning in 1850, which suggests that’s when his health was deteriorating:

Date Activity Amount Paid
Sept 10 Hauling wood .75
March 1850 ½ days haulting .75
March 20 Hauling wood .50
March 24 Threshing 1 day 2 hands and team 2.00
July 20 1 hand threshing 4 days 2.00
July 22 1 hand cleaning wheat 2 days 1.00
July 11 Paid for threshing 100 bushels wheat 5.00
July 30 Hauling wood .50
Aug 28 Making fence 1.25
Aug 30 Hauling rails 1 day 1.50
Aug 31 Hauling rails 1 day 1.50
Aug 31 1/3 note given for threshing 3.62
Aug 30 1/3 expenses of threshing 2.00
Dec. 2 Hauling wood .75
Dec 11 Hauling wood .75
Dec 12 Hauling wood .75
Dec 17 1 day butchering .50
Dec 30 Hauling rails with 2 teams 3.00
Dec 31 Hauling rails with 2 teams 3.00
Jan 1 1851 Hauling wood half day 2 teams 1.50
Jan 2 1851 Hauling wood .75
Jan 10 Hauling wood .75
Jan 18 2 hands building fence 1 day 1.00
Jan 20 Hauling wood .75
Jan 27 Resetting 84 ails from 1850 rails at 2 ? per hundred 4.62
Sept 4 150 fire? Iron from Hawks 7.50
Jan 3 1852 129.50 bushel wheat 3.90
Jan 3 Expenses of paying hands, horses, etc 7.00
Feb. 15 Hauling saw logs to Myland? 1.00
May 28 Hauling Mamon 2.00
May 29 Ditto
Oct 11 106 pounds beef 3.18
Oct 11 1 barrell salt 2.25
Nov 8 Hauling firewood 1.25
Nov 9 Hauling 3 saw logs 1.00
Dec 22 Hauling firewood 1.00
Jan 21, 1866 Hauling firewood 1.25
Aug 2 Cutting and fretting rep 3 acres whet 3.00
Aug 2 Half bushel flax seed .50
Aug 12 1 hand threshing with machine 6 days 3.00
Aug 16 1 hand cleaning wheat 4 days 2.00
Aug 20 Hauling rails and building 120 rods fence 25.50
Jan 14, 1867 Chopping and hauling wood 1.00
Jan 18 Half day butchering .50
Jan 20 Half day hauling wood .75
March 10 Hauling wood 1.5 days 2.25
March 1, 1868 Half day threshing by David .75
March 1 1.5 days threshing by Jacob .56
April 6 Hauling Mamon? With 2 teams 3.00
July 10 Hauling wood and hay 1.00
Aug 26 Threshing 1 day team and 2 hands 2.0
Sept 22 Haulting wood .25
Sept 28 Hauling wood .25
Sept 30 Hauling 8 load wood 1.25
Jan 13 1853 Hauling 7 loads wood 1.25
Jan 30, Hauling 2 loads wood .25
March 4 Threshing oalts 2.00
March 10 Threshing wheat 2.00
March 20 Hauling wood 2.00
April 13 Peeling rails 2 days by Jacob .75

It looks to me like hauling wood was the task that never ended.

David’s Children

David had children by at least two wives and probably three. I only wish David had a family Bible that had survived, because that Bible would likely tell us the story. Maybe it was in that chest, or maybe one of the children or his wife had already taken the Bible.  Maybe it still survives someplace today.

David Miller’s Children with an Unknown Wife

Esther Miller was deceased at the time that her father David’s estate was distributed.

We don’t know Esther’s birthdate, but one researcher shows her marriage to Abraham Lear (also spelled Leer) on December 30, 1824 and names a source as a DAR record. Odd for a Brethren family to have a DAR record.

We do know that Esther was married before 1827 based on her children’s ages. Unfortunately, these dates do little to narrow the range of her birth from “before 1806” to “after 1806” which makes a difference in terms of the identity of her mother.

In the 1850 census, Esther’s husband Abraham’s wife is listed as “C.” Three of Esther’s children are present in that census, Susan, age 18, John, age 14 and Sarah, age 7. Beyond that, there are two additional children in Abraham’s household, Isabel age 4 and Lucinda age 2. These two children are not mentioned in David Miller’s estate distribution, so I would take that to mean they are the children of Abraham and wife “C,” and not of Esther. Furthermore, I would also take this to indicate that Esther died between 1840/1843 when Sarah was born and 1846 when Isabel was born.

In the 1860 census, Isabel and Lucinda are both still living, so their omission from David Miller’s estate is not a matter of death. Additionally, in 1860, William Liveringhouse, age 12, is living with Abraham Lear. Known children of Esther Miller and Abraham Lear according to David Miller’s estate, marriage records and the census are:

  • Elizabeth Lear born December of 1827 and died in August 16, 1913 in Holmesville, Gage Co., Nebraska. Her descendants show her birth date as December 5, 1825. She married Samuel Irvin in Elkhart County on May 11, 1845 and had 8 children. None of the children listed in the one twelfth part are hers.
  • Susan Lear born April 12, 1832 in Elkhart County, Indiana and died on June 5, 1907 in North Liberty, St. Joseph County, Indiana. She married Israel Irvin on April 23, 1852 in Elkhart County and had 7 children.
  • John W. Lear born in 1838. He married Samantha E. Shafer on September 18, 1872 in Elkhart County, Indiana. They had two children.
  • Sarah Lear born in October 1840 (census indicated both 1840 and 1843 at different times) and died after 1910 in Marion County, Kansas. She married Israel Eliphet B. Riggle on October 2, 1862 in Elkhart County. They had 3 children.

David Miller’s estate distribution mentions the 4 children, above, but also mentions the following individuals who are also to receive out of Hester’s one 12th portion, indicating they are her heirs.:

  1. Hetty Lear
  2. Catherine Shively
  3. William Livinghouse
  4. Eliza Livinghouse

Another estate document references a deceased daughter of Esther Lear. Given that William Liveringhouse is living with Abraham Lear in 1860, I would interpret this to indicate that the deceased daughter had married a Liveringhouse. Mary Leer married John Liveringhouse on November 7, 1847 and apparently had two children William and Eliza, before she died, apparently not long before her father. Based on this information, I’m adding Mary Lear as a daughter.

  • Mary Lear was born probably about 1827 and died about 1850. She married John Liveringhouse on November 7, 1847 and had two children, William and Eliza.
  • Catherine is another daughter and a Caty Lear was living beside Abraham Lear in the 1850 census, with Catherine Stutzman, age 50. Abraham Lear’s mother was a Stutzman. Catherine Lear married Isaac Shively on December 26, 1852 in Elkhart County. Catherine Shively was listed in David Miller’s estate distribution.
  • Hetty Lear married Henry Stutsman on April 30, 1857.

Susan Miller was born June 5, 1802 and married Adam Whitehead on February 17,1825 in Montgomery County, Ohio. She died on July 17, 1876 and is buried in the Whitehead Cemetery in Elkhart County. Her birth is calculated from her age on the tombstone.

David Miller daughter Susan stone

Susan Miller and Adam Whitehead had the following children:

  • Mary Ann Whitehead (1828-1916) married Samuel R. Miller
  • Elizabeth Whitehead (1829-1853) married Jacob Riggle(s)
  • Esther Whitehead (1831-1910) married Daniel Shively
  • John M. Whitehead (1833-1912) married Sarah Smith
  • Susana Whitehead (1836-1916)
  • Catherine Whitehead (1838-1919) married John Riggle
  • Margaret Whitehead (1841-1851)

David Miller’s Children with Catherine Schaeffer

David B. Miller was born June 3, 1806 in Montgomery County, Ohio, died on September 26, 1881 in Elkhart County, Indiana and is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery. David’s stone is 4 sided, with wife Christina buried on one side.

David Miller son David stone

Their 2 children are memorialized on one side.

Miller, David B back 07

The third side is David and the fourth side is an inscription.

David Miller son David closeup

David married Christina Brumbaugh before coming to Elkhart County.

The book Genealogy of the Brumbaugh Family shows that Conrad born in 1811 married Catharine Miller and Christine born in 1814 married David Miller.

David Miller Brumbaugh book

David B. Miller had 11 children.

  • Catherine who died before 1893
  • Samuel R. Miller born 1820 who died in or before 1893
  • John B. Miller born 1839 died 1897
  • William Miller born November 2, 1831, died November 4, 1831, buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.
  • Eve Miller born July 1836, died April 2, 1838, buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.
  • Michael M. Miler born December 1842 in Elkhart County, died Sept 5, 1854 and is buried in Baintertown.
  • Jacob Miller was born in 1832 and married a Catherine.
  • Mary Miller was born in 1835
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Miller was born in 1844
  • Daniel C. Miller was born in 1847 and died in 1931.
  • Susannah Miller was born in 1849.

Elizabeth Miller was born on April 6, 1808 in Montgomery County, Ohio, died on January 16, 1891 in Elkhart County, Indiana and is buried at Baintertown. She married Michael Haney in 1827 in Montgomery County, Ohio. They patented land very near David Miller in Elkhart County and had 5 children.

  • Matilda Haney (1834-1934) married John W. Baker
  • Elizabeth R. Haney (1836-1900) married George Washington Alfrod
  • Joseph Beane Haney (1838-1920) married Lucinda Whitehead
  • Mary “Molly” J. Haney (1843-1922) married Allen D. Gilkinson
  • John Michael Haney (1847-1849)

Mary Miller was born in 1809 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married Jeremiah Bright January 31, 1828 in Montgomery County, Ohio. According to the Elkhart County Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs, they had five children, but I found evidence of 7 including two children who died young:

  • David Miller Bright (1829-1905) married Elizabeth Rinehart
  • George W. Bright (1830-1852)
  • John Bright (1831-1928)
  • Mary Bright (1833-1911) married Jacob Alva Aurand
  • William Bright (1835-1917) married Catherine Wagner
  • Susannah Bright (1837-1838)
  • Daniel Bright (1838-1840)

Mary then married Christian Stouder on September 11, 1842 in Elkhart County and had four more children:

  • Lydia Stouder (1833-1893) married Samuel Neff in 1883
  • Christian Stouder (1845-1927) married Elizabeth Hohbein and her sister, Catherine Hohbein
  • Samuel H. Stouder (1850-1891) married Margaret Rummell
  • Unknown 4th child

David Miller daughter Mary Stouder stone

Mary died on October 22, 1863 and is buried at Union Center Cemetery, although her birth and death information was apparently never inscribed on her stone.

John David Miller was born April 6, 1812 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married Mary Baker there on January 24, 1832. They came to Elkhart County with or near the same time as David Miller. Mary and John David had 10 children:

  • John Miller – died as a child
  • Catherine Miller – died as a child
  • Samuel Miller – died as a child
  • Unknown child – died
  • Hester Ann Miller (1833-1917) married Jonas Shively
  • David B. Miller (1838-1922) married Susan Smith
  • Mary Ann Miller (1841-1915) married Michael Treesh
  • Aaron B. Miller (1843-1923) married Sarah Myers
  • Matilda A. Miller (1844-1935) married John Dubbs
  • Martha Jane Miller (1847-1935) married David Blough
  • George Washington Miller (1851-1917) married Lydia Miller

John David Miller married second to Margaret Elizabeth Lentz, widow of Valentine Whitehead. They had four children:

  • Evaline Louise Miller (1857-1939) married Hiram Ferverda
  • Ira J. Miller (1859-1948) married Rebecca Rodibaugh
  • Unknown child – probably died in 1861
  • Perry Miller (1862-1906) married Mary Jane Lauer

Photo of John David Miller with Margaret and 5 of his children.

John David Miller Photo

Catherine Miller was born March 17, 1813 and died September 24, 1876 and is buried at Baintertown. She married Conrad Brumbaugh in 1833 in Elkhart County and they had five children.

  • John W. Brumbaugh (1835-1910) married Sarah Peffley
  • Lydia Brumbaugh (1838-1856)
  • Eve Brumbaugh (1840-1891) married Daniel Riggle
  • Sarah A. Brumbaugh born about 1846
  • Joseph Brumbaugh (1856-1921) married Ellen Martha Hissong

Samuel B. Miller was born in 1816 and married Rose Ann Bowser Dec. 13, 1837. He died March 1, 1887 and is buried at Baintertown . They had seven children:

  • Emanuel Miller (born 1838), noted as “cripple” in 1870 census
  • Mary J. Miller born (1840-1920) married James Alford
  • William H. Miller (1841-1915) married Delilah J. Alford and Matilda J. Alford
  • Desaline Miller born (1845-1904) married G. Alonze Latta, died of strangulation
  • Albert J. Miller born (1846-1924) married Elizabeth
  • Charles C. Miller born (1847-1910) married Sarah
  • Cephus Miller born 1850, died after 1860
  • James Miller born 1862

Lydia Miller was born about 1818 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married John (Jonathan) Collier, also spelled Colyar, on September 18, 1834 in Elkhart County. She died about 1876. They had seven children:

  • David Colyar born in 1837, married Susanna
  • Elizabeth Colyar born in 1838, married a Whitman
  • Susan Louise Colyar (1839-1917) married George Jacob Hardtarfer
  • Mary Colyar born in 1842
  • John Colyar (1845-1932) married Sarah Josephine Belden
  • Catherine Colyar born in 1848
  • Louisa Emaline Adaline Colyar born in 1855

David Miller had no children with his next wife, Elizabeth, who died in 1838, but he had three additional children with his last wife, Martha Dickerson Drake.

Children with Martha Dickerson Drake.

Michael Miller was born December 25, 1843, a Christmas baby, in Elkhart County. He died on October 20, 1908 of “la grippe,” a colloquial term for flu or an intestinal disorder, and is buried at Baintertown.

David Miller son Michael death cert

Michael married Mary Jane Sparklin about 1866. Mary Jane’s surname is taken from several of her children’s death certificates. They had seven children:

  • Mary C. Miller (1868-1945) married Marion Franklin Mock and George Hefner
  • Frank N. Miller born in (1873-1920) married Sarah Catherine Leedy
  • C. Miller born in 1873, died after 1880
  • Robert Miller (1877-1948) married Carrie Heeter
  • Martha Miller (1884-1948) married John Rapp, then McClellan Corner,
  • David Charles Miller born in (1887-1912) married Hilda Gertrude Huber
  • Susanna Miller born in 1891 married Irvin Hall

Steven Miller was born August 26, 1840 in Elkhart County. On July 4, 1861 he married Mary Magdaline Dausman. From the looks of his picture below with no indication of a beard, he clearly wasn’t old order Brethren.  Several more liberal Brethren churches were formed after “schisms” within the Brethren church.

David Miller son Stephen

From the History of Kosciusko County, published in 1887, we find the following:

David Miller Stephen 1

David Miller Stephen 2

David Miller Stephen 3

David Miller Stephen 4

Stephen died on October 24, 1926 in Syracuse, Kosciusko County, Indiana and is buried in the Syracuse Cemetery in Kosciusko County.

David Miller son Stephen stone

Stephen and Mary had eight children:

  • Ella Miller (1862-1926) married Andrew William Strieby
  • Michael Ferman Miller (1864-1938) married Olive Kirkendall
  • Samuel B. Miller (1866-1914) married Anna
  • Marion Sylvester Miller (1868-1933) married Martha Brower
  • Charles Miller was born in 1870
  • Emma Miller (1875-1947) married Frank Bushong
  • Earl Miller (1868-1933)
  • Hattie Viola Miller (1886-1972) married Ed Fisher

Matilda Miller was born on October 5, 1845 and she died on October 7, 1861 and is buried at the Baintertown Cemetery, with her parents.


For a simple Brethren man, David Miller was mighty complex. He died slightly over 100 years before I was born. Ironically, he had been entirely forgotten by his descendants in that intervening century – just 4 generations.  How quickly people forget.

I was the 5th generation to be born. Only his granddaughter, Evaline, my mother’s grandmother, was remembered by my mother, who was the only person to convey any family history to me. Mother never knew any of the Miller cousins, and there were hundreds upon hundreds, many of whom lived just a few miles up the road from where she was raised.

Now I realize that in part, not knowing her Miller cousins simply had to do with time and distance, but the other part was that untold story of division within the family. This family was twice divided in as many generations.

By the time my great-grandmother, Evaline Miller Ferverda was born to John David Miller, son of David Miller in 1857, the David Miller estate lawsuit was well underway. David’s children filed suit after his death, in 1855, pitting all of his children and widow against one daughter, Susan, and her husband, Adam Whitehead.

By the time Evaline died, in 1939, there had been two estate battles with divisive lawsuits.  Just before her father, John David Millers death, his son would petition the court for a guardianship and John David’s death in 1902 signaled the beginning of a war that made the Hatfield-McCoy feud look trivial.  It’s no wonder mother didn’t know any of her Miller cousins.

It also didn’t help in terms of knowing relatives that the Brethren Millers didn’t drive automobiles at that time.  They utilized horses and buggies for the most part.  Furthermore, Mother’s father, Evaline’s son, had broken with the Brethren Church and married a Lutheran woman.  They drove cars and were “modern,” including the fact that his wife worked and drove her own car no less.  Clearly, they didn’t fit in an extended Brethren family.  From their perspective, they were progressive.  From the Brethren perspective, they were outcasts and black sheep.

Making matters even worse, David Miller turned black sheep himself and married Martha Drake, a Baptist. Not unexpectedly, David’s youngest children were raised Baptist, not Brethren so there was a “not Brethren” and “progressive Brethren” (yes that’s an oxymoron) part of the family that the traditional Brethren part of the family probably wished to disavow.  Wow, things get complex quickly!

The Brethren Miller families seemed to cluster in different churches, probably in no small part to avoid each other.

The Miller family, twice divided by estates and bifurcated by religious differences would never recover – and a generation or two later didn’t even know they were related.

David certainly tried to take care of his family. He moved them to the frontier and patented land that he subsequently sold to his 3 sons. The daughters? Well, I guess they were expected to marry well.

David’s children were educated enough to read and write, including his daughters who signed receipts for their portion of their inheritance.

David married at least 3 times, and probably 4. His two eldest children were likely from his first marriage to an unknown spouse before his marriage in 1805 to Catherina Schaeffer, widow of Peter Gephart. David and Catherina had 7 more children before she died about 1826.

He married Elizabeth probably between 1830 and 1831, after the census and before leaving for the Elkhart County frontier.

Elizabeth was in her early-mid 50s when she married David who was 4 years younger, so there were no children from that marriage.

All of David’s children moved with him to the frontier, at least all of the children we know about. His daughter Susan was born in 1802 and Hester may have been born about 1800. They were both married in Ohio, but they came along on the journey to Elkhart County.

In addition, Elizabeth may have had her own children that moved with the family to Elkhart County, so it may have been a very blended family by that time.

David’s last marriage in 1839 to Martha Drake, a Baptist woman, was something I had never once considered as a possibility. Brethren simply did not marry outside the faith, and if they did, the spouse quickly converted. Martha didn’t. I wonder if this was a constant source of friction within the marriage, or if they had an understanding before the marriage. It’s also possible that he withdrew from the church, depending on the level of pushback he received. I would love to know, but none of that information filtered down, to the best of my knowledge. Were it not for the “vanity books” of the early 1900s published in many localities, we wouldn’t even know that juicy tidbit about the “mixed” marriage. You can tell by the way that verbiage is written, beginning with, “both of his parents were Christians,” that the topic had been brought up before – and the answer people were given.

I wish we knew something more of David, the man himself. We have nothing written in his hand, except receipts – and thank Heavens for those. The only personal story we have is of David and the Indian Chief.

David’s life was amazing. He grew up in the shadow of the Revolutionary War and Indian massacres. He helped his father tame the frontier in Bedford County, then floated down the Ohio where he did it a second time, in previously unfarmed and untamed wilderness in Clermont County, Ohio. He saw the land he cleared be lost due to the military bounty land, and then recovered, and he helped his father once again in Montgomery County to build a farm and a mill out of frontier land.

I find it utterly amazing that as a man, aged 50, half a century, at a time when men that age were considered “elderly,” he set out to tame the frontier once again. He probably felt he had a great deal of experience and after surviving 50 years on 3 frontiers, probably nothing much frightened him. The word that comes to mind is brave, unquestionably brave.

David lived for another 20 years on his Elkhart County land, on the Elkhart River, where the Indians told him would be a good location, beside their village. By the time David died, their village, and the Indians were gone, and Elkhart county was no longer the frontier.

David is buried on his land, in what was surely called the Miller Cemetery for years, probably up until Baintertown came into existence, after 1860. Not long afterwards, the name “Miller Cemetery” was forgotten, as was David. Relegated to nothing more than an almost illegible name on a tombstone along the Elkhart River in the back of a cemetery, buried 165 years ago on a cold winter day that was probably much like the day I visited 160 years later and found David’s land, his history and details of his life, once again.

What a story was waiting to be told!

A man who fathered at least 12 children,  11 of whom grew to adulthood.  A man who was married either 3 or 4 times, buried either 2 or 3 wives, lived on 4 frontiers and tamed 3.  David had at least 90 grandchildren, at least 22 of whom were born after his death.  He buried at least 12 grandchildren in the cemetery on his own land, probably digging their graves himself.  He rests beside two of his wives, among his children and grandchildren today.

David Miller Baintertown today

Thankfully, David’s story is no longer lost to his descendants.  He lived a remarkable life.

David Miller Bainterown today 2



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How Much DNA Do We Share? It Depends

I was curious how testing the same two people at the 3 different vendors, then uploading the results from those different vendors to GedMatch and repeating the matching process there would affect the amount of DNA reported as matching.

I have a third cousin who has tested at all 3 labs independently, meaning they did not upload a file from either 23andMe or Ancestry to Family Tree DNA. Furthermore, they downloaded their 23andMe and Family Tree DNA files to GedMatch. They have not downloaded their Ancestry results to GedMatch, so I can’t do the Ancestry to Ancestry comparison, unfortunately.

So, we have one pair of third cousins, 3 individual vendor tests (each) and 8 independent answers to the question, “How much DNA do we share?”.

First, the theoretical expected average (as reported on the ISOGG wiki page) is 53 cM for third cousins. Blaine Bettinger’s actual findings through the shared cM project indicate an average of 79 cM for third cousins, and the actual range found is 0-198 cM, after removing outliers. This isn’t the first time in genetic genealogy that we’ve found that the theoretical or expected results aren’t what really happens as we learn more about how DNA actually works.

Let’s see how reality stacks up for our third cousin pair.

Vendor Threshold Total cM Total Segments Largest Segment Est Relationship
Theoretical 3C Average, Actual Average and Actual Range 53 ISOGG, 79 Actual, Range(0-198)
At Vendors
FTDNA 7cM/500 SNPs 149*** 22 33.52 2nd-3rd cousin
23andMe 7cM/700 SNPs 134 6 40.8 2nd-3rd cousin
Ancestry V1 5cM after Timber** 132 8 Not provided 3rd-4th cousin
At GedMatch
GedMatch 1* (23andMe V3 to 23andMe V3) 7cM/700 SNP 147 6 43.7 3.3 gen to MRCA****
GedMatch 2* (FTDNA to FTDNA) 7cM/700 SNP 136 6 43.7 3.4 gen to MRCA****
GedMatch 3* (23andMe V3 to FTDNA) 7cM/700 SNP 136 6 43.7 3.4 gen to MRCA****
GedMatch 4* (Ancestry V1 to 23andMe V3) 7cM/700 SNPs 147.5 6 43.7 3.3 gen to MRCA****
GedMatch 5* (Ancestry V1 to FTDNA) 7cM/700 SNPs 147.5 6 43.7 3.3 gen to MRCA****

Total cM is rounded except for 147.5, which doesn’t round in either direction.

*GedMatch at default setting which is currently 7cM and 700 SNPs.

**Unknown if SNPs are being utilized at Ancestry as a threshold parameter, and if so, the threshold is unknown.

***Total cM at Family Tree DNA includes small segments if you match. At 23andMe and GedMatch, total segments means only the total number of segments over the match threshold. The number at Family Tree DNA would be 112 cM if only counting segments greater than 5cM and 107 if only counting cM greater than 7. Of note, in my comparison, there no matching segments between 5.48 and 11.09, so this may be an unusual circumstance.

****The actual generations to a common recent ancestor (MRCA) is 4, counting our parents as generation 1.  It is unclear whether GedMatch counts you as generation 1 or your parents as generation 1.

Results like this are a perfect illustration of why relationship ranges based on DNA are ranges, not absolutes. I know, unquestionably that my cousin is my third cousin. However, were I to utilize ONLY the averages, I would be looking at either a 2nd cousin utilizing the theoretical numbers or a 2nd cousin once removed utilizing the real average, neither of which are accurate in this case.  Averages are made up of everyone in the range, smallest to largest – and in this case, the results fall into the larger than average category.

All of the Total cM numbers are two to three times the theoretical expected Total cM, but all of the Total cMs are still within the observed and reported range for third cousins.

For more on relationship ranges, theoretical expected versus actual and ranges as reported from crowd sourced information see here and here and here.

Blaine Bettinger provides a free download of his latest Shared cM Project results, which includes a great chart on the last page that provides a minimum, average and max cM shown for each relationship type. Thanks Blaine, for this very useful tool!



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Family Tree DNA Introduces Phased Family Finder Matches

Family Tree DNA has released a first of its kind tool that sorts your matches into parental buckets by utilizing tests performed on parents and close relatives.

Phased FF2

On your matches page, if your parents or other close relatives have tested, and their tests are linked on your tree, your matches will be grouped into maternal or paternal buckets, or both, utilizing a proprietary matching and phasing algorithm.  You can see the appropriate bucket icon beside the match photo, as well as new tabs at the top to allow you to view your paternal, maternal or matches to both parents.

If your parents haven’t tested, or aren’t linked, your maternal, paternal and both tabs at the top of your page will reflect “0” and they won’t be relevant to you.  However, if your parents or other close relatives have tested, your tab, after processing, will show the number of individuals that fall into maternal, paternal or both match buckets.  Close relatives, at this point, are defined as parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and first cousins.

This is not just a sorting of matches, based on names of who matches you and a parent, like the “In Common With” tool, but true parental phasing. Each person deposited into a maternal or paternal bucket as a match must match you and your parent or otherwise designated individual in a prescribed way including:

  • On the same segment
  • At a specific threshold

The Phasing Threshold is Higher

The threshold to be indicated as a maternal or paternal match is higher than the normal matching threshold – so some people who do match you and a parent won’t be assigned to a bucket.


Acting conservatively, Family Tree DNA wants to be positive that this person really does fall into that bucket. You’ll notice that the example individual has 3 people that match both parents. At a lower threshold, there were a lot more dual matches when the product was in testing. At higher threshold levels, people tend to distinctly fall into one bucket or the other in non-endogamous populations. It was actually surprising how many people do legitimately match both parents.

So, to be clear, there are two thresholds in play here:

You will notice that some people who do match both you and a parent do not have a maternal or paternal indicator. That does NOT mean they don’t match you and a parent, but it does mean that the match was at a lower level, or not on the same segment, so Family Tree DNA feels that they can’t positively be assigned to a bucket. That doesn’t mean you should disregard them, but you probably should utilize the stronger matches first and scrutinize non-assigned matches closely by downloading your Chromosome Browser results.

Roughly 10-15 percent of your matches tend to be identical by either chance or population, and that percentage is higher in endogamous groups.  The dual thresholds are meant to minimize those ambiguous matches, yet leave them on your match list for you to analyze.  This is the best approach that provides an intuitive easy visual for those who want that type of approach, but allowing thorough analysis for those who prefer that methodology.  Personally, I like using them together.  The buckets are an easy way to quickly see which side your strongest matches are assigned to.  Given the dual threshold approach, the fact that a match is assigned to a bucket immediately indicates the strength of the match – so it’s a quick and easy gauge.

ICW is Improved

Additionally, you can now utilize the ICW (In Common With) tool, which has moved to the top of the match list, by clicking on the check on the left of the match and then clicking on either “In Common With” or “Not In Common With” to see who else matches, or doesn’t.

You may be very surprised to see that your “in common with” list for a match from your father’s side also includes people from your mother’s side. This is, of course, a red flag as to the validity of that particular paternal ICW match – and it’s so easy to spot now with the parental icons.

Please note that if you utilize the ICW tool when you are on your “All” tab, you will see all ICW matches, but if you are on the paternal, maternal or both tab, and utilize the ICW tool, you will ONLY see people that are ICW on that side of your tree.

So, for example, John Doe, a paternal cousin, matches me and my father and has the blue paternal icon assigned. On my “All” tab, utilizing he ICW tool, I see that John Doe and I have two matches in common. One of those matches is from my father’s side and one from my mothers. It’s easy to see looking at the blue and red icons. Now, if I go to my “Paternal” tab and then perform the ICW comparison with John Doe, ONLY the ICW match from the paternal side will show. You need to be cognizant of where you are on the tabs in terms of what the ICW tool matches mean.


In order for an individual to be eligible for maternal or paternal matching, they must have linked themselves to their parent or other close relative on their tree, not only in terms of name, but in terms of having DNA tested. In other words, the individual on your tree has to be linked to a tested individual in the system.

The Family Tree DNA Learning Center shows how to do this here. Please read this information in the Matches Section before linking people to learn about link hints.

Phased FF link hint

In some cases, if names are different, you won’t have a link hint. For example, my mother is in my tree with her maiden name, but she tested under her married name, so I didn’t have a link hint.  Link hints only work when Family Tree DNA can recognize the same names.  When I linked the two, meaning my mother’s kit to her name in my tree, the software changed her name to the name on her test kit.  So, I’ll be changing the name on her test kit to her maiden name:)

Phased FF4

By going to your tree and clicking on DNA matches in the upper left hand corner, you will see a list of your matches and you can select an individual and drag them to the same person in your tree. In this case, I’ve already done that with my mother, so the link is blue and I see the “already in your tree” message, but if that person wasn’t linked, the link wouldn’t show and I would see a “click and drag to your tree” message instead.

Phased FF3

Not Just Parents

In my case, my mother has tested, but my father is long deceased, so there is no testing for him. If I have uncles or even 1st cousins, I can link them to the paternal side of my tree and if matches match both me and my paternal family member utilizing the phasing criteria, they will be displayed as paternal matches.


This is a great new tool and the first of its kind in the industry that is actually performing parental phasing as well as utilizing other family members to replace missing parents.

Family Tree DNA has been preparing for this release for some time behind the scenes with the recently revamped tree user interface and the matching update released a month or so ago. This is very exciting, especially for people who want to see at a glance without having to download a chromosome browser spreadsheet who is maternal and paternal.

Additionally, the new software allows us to link people tested to our tree. In my case, I had an ancestor only tree, so I’ve been busy expanding my paternal side of the tree to accommodate all of those cousins I’ve recruited to test because I want those easy-to-see paternal buckets and I can’t test my father.

Family Tree DNA isn’t done either, so do expand your tree and link all of the people of KNOWN heritage, meaning known cousins, who have tested, to take full advantage of this new phasing feature and in preparation for future developments yet to come!

Woohoo!!!  Good job Family Tree DNA!



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The Stages of Genetic Genealogy Addiction

By Evan-Amos - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Evan-Amos – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

One of the people I’ve met through genetic genealogy, Eric, sent me an e-mail recently that he composed in a cab in Moscow headed to the airport. Yes, that’s right…in a cab. Ironically, the e-mail was titled “The Nine Stages of Genetic Genealogy Addiction,” which I’ve expanded to 10.

I’m sharing this with you, slightly edited, with Eric’s permission (thanks Eric). I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself and indeed, it is a very slippery slope!

And it all started so innocently…

1)   A friend suggests you drop $100 (now $200) on 23andMe to “do your DNA” and see whether you have “asparagus pee.” Why not? Will make for interesting family reunion and cocktail party conversation, plus, you can find out if you’re going to go bald too. You order the kit and east some asparagus, as a test. You check in the mirror to see if you hair is still as thick as it used to be. All looks well except OMG – there’s a hair on my shirt…and another one…

2)   After discovering that you do have asparagus pee and might go bald, you shrug and curiously click on the 23andMe’s admixture button. You get beyond the surprise of “I’m 50% Scandinavian—really?” and wonder what the list of “DNA relatives” means. You click. Three hours later, you remember that you created a family tree in high school back in the ‘80s, dig it out, put it on MyHeritage. Now you’re wondering who all these “smart matches” are. Yesterday, you had never heard of a smart match or DNA Relatives.

3)   Having discovered Ancestry’s little green leaves, you shell out for a subscription and find yourself able to use its databases to extend your tree twice as far (even while learning that the accuracy of the data in others’ online trees should be taken with at least a pound, if not a kilogram, of salt). You order a DNA test from Ancestry to see if you need to order a kilt or leiderhosen. You will later discover that most of that extended tree is wrong, and have to saw off branches, but by then, it’s too late… you’re hooked.

4) You realize that from a genetic genealogical point of view, a parent’s DNA is twice as valuable as your own, so you get each of your oldest ancestors (grands, their siblings) to send in a DNA kit … to all three personal genomics services companies – 23andMe, Family Tree DNA and Ancestry. Your family begins to doubt your sanity, but you don’t care as long as they agree to test.

5)   You discover both GedMatch and DNAGedcom and learn how to use the chromosome browsers built into 23andMe, GedMatch and FTDNA. You download your matches and begin recording your (elder generation’s) shared DNA and “DNA cousins” in an excel spreadsheet.

6)   The elementary chromosome mapping you learn from Roberta Estes’ and Jim Bartlett’s blogs teaches you that creating triangulated groups is a game of numbers, and you build “invitation templates” to reach out to everyone who shares at least 15 cM, then 10 cM, then 7cM with “your” DNA which of course includes all of your family members who have tested. This is first 100 people, then 1,000, then 10,000 folks. At first you’re quite unhappy that so many people don’t answer, but eventually you realize this has become an addiction and most people just aren’t into it as much as you are—and that’s okay; there’s enough data to work with, and if everyone answered, you’d actually be snowed under. Still, in spite of that, you ponder strategies to encourage more people to reply.

7)    You realize that even though you’re thrifty, there are ways to invest a little to make the process easier, so you start paying to get all your elders’ first cousins, and then second cousins tested so you can triangulate matches to them.

8)   The combination of lots of DNA, lots of family tree information, and lots of triangulation, gives you the confidence to “solve” first one “DNA cousin” (build a paper-trail relationship to someone you “met” via DNA testing), then a second, then a tenth. With each success, the next one gets easier with triangulation! This is starting to be a lot of fun. You now build trees for your matches to see if you can find a common ancestor. They think you’re wonderful! You feel guilty because you know you’re really not doing it for them.

9)   You learn a whole new language the includes words like pileup, haplogroup, triangulation, IBC. IBD, SNP and STR. You realize that your life will never be the same again. Your family no longer just doubts your sanity. You tell them there are no recovery programs and you don’t want one.

10) You are in a cab going to the airport half way around the world and you are not only thinking about genetic genealogy and wondering when your next set of DNA results for a fourth cousin once removed will be available, but you’re writing about the 9, ummm, make that 10, Stages of Genetic Genealogy addiction.



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

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