The Gratitude List

You know, I’m sneaking off from what I’m supposed to be doing, like laundry and getting ready for Rootstech, to quickly pen this note to everyone.

Why?    

Because people are really amazing – including each of you, my faithful followers and genealogy addicts!

I’ve decided to create a gratitude list and tape it up right by my desk where it’s in plain site where I can see it.

Every. Single. Day.

Some days, I really need to see my gratitude list.

Everyone has things that go wrong, just about every day. In the past couple weeks, here’s the list of what I can think of, off the top of my head.

  • Furnace broke. Both need to be replaced. Probably AC unit too. Blah…
  • Garage door broke, in the middle of a storm no less.
  •  Water softener isn’t, which means I’m going to have slightly orange clothes.  Gets replaced Thursday.
  • Had to purchase new sewing machine. Old one succumbed to injuries from being forcibly ejected from dining room table. Has to do with a very excited rescued puppy.
  • Grass is growing in the perennial garden even though it’s only 43 degrees and the snow isn’t even entirely melted. I don’t even stand a fighting chance!
  • Ran sewing machine needle into the bone of my thumb beside my nail. Yes, I swore (and bled), a lot. No, this is not how the machine came to hit the floor.

Ok, I’ll stop.  You’re cringing – I can tell.

But that list is not what I want to focus on, because all told, it’s really just an inconvenience. It’s not terribly important, well except for that furnace issue in the middle of a Michigan winter. Here’s what is important. This list all happened while I was having my bad day(s):

  • My friend Tom is finding information for me to lookup at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in order to further unravel my line of incredibly confusing ancestors from Steinwenden, Germany. He has been tirelessly translating German script, making new discoveries in places I didn’t even know to look. Nominate this man for sainthood.
  • My friend Chris who lives in Germany surprises me almost every day with something else he’s found about Steinwenden, or one of those unruly ancestors. This week, he found a history of an early cemetery that was “leveled” in the 1950s. I’m so lucky Chris found me. Chris and Tom are an awesome team.
  • My new cousins on the Melsheimer line (discovered thanks to Chris) are e-mailing me AND are penning an extensive genealogy. Oh, to verify that indeed, this IS my line. I look forward to getting to know my new cousins.
  • My cousin’s mitochondrial DNA full sequence upgrade came back. Her mtDNA line confirms my ancestor’s mother is Lydia Brown (c1790-1840/50) whose mother is only known by the first name of Phoebe. For a long time, there was some question as to who my ancestor’s mother was, and now we know. How cool is that!! Maybe her mtDNA will help find her mother’s family. New blog fodder! 
  • A lovely blog subscriber/distant cousin sent me such an amazing thank you note that it stopped me dead in my tracks and caused me to cry. Sometimes saying thank you is an incredibly powerful tool of love.
  • I met my brother’s amazing biological half-sister (now my sister of heart too) and she is testing at FTDNA to attempt to resolve the question positively of whether she is a half sister or first cousin to my brother. What a Valentine’s Day gift from *our* brother.
  •  A man in Hawkins Co., TN is helping me try to find the land of my Charles Campbell. (Dang those non-recorded deeds.) If this man can’t do it, it can’t be done. By the way, positive thoughts for this man and his family please – their home and farm was flooded last week. 
  • Someone I’ve never met in person sent me a surprise gift – a miniature quilt measuring in total 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches. From her deceased mother’s miniatures collection, no less. Wow. Just wow. I am so touched. The beautiful tiny quilt has taken up residence in my display case with my mother’s doll clothes from when she was a child.

  • My husband is bringing me Starbucks and food, as I type this. Bless this man!
  • I received a thank you note from a young recipient of a care quilt. My quilt sisters and I make care quilts, as we can, for those who need some sort of special care, encouragement, love or a hug. Few people say thank you, let alone write notes. (Some are simply too ill.) This young lady is amazing for all sorts of reasons! She is the bright face and hope of the future.

My gratitude list is a LOT longer than that other list-that-shall-not-be named.

Know what all of these positive things have in common?  Yep, you guessed it.  With the exception of my husband and quilt-sisters, I would never have met any of these amazing people were it not for genetic genealogy combined with my blog.

So, DNA test, contact your matches, share stories, write, create a family tree, blog (it’s free), get the word out. Do whatever it is you need to do, in your own way, but do it.

If you’re alive, it’s not too late! (If you’re dead already, please let me know because there are a few people on the other side that I’d like you to ask questions of on my behalf.)

Then, create your own gratitude list so that you forget all about that “other” list of what went wrong. Best yet, those people on your gratitude list will be among the first to step up and help you when that “other” list gets overwhelming. Especially if you’re on their gratitude list too.

My research, my care-quilt mission in cooperation with my amazing quilt-sisters, and my blogs are my own ways of making the day brighter for others – paying the love forward. (Yes, I have two other blogs, here and here.)

May each and every one of you be blessed with many cousins and family of heart, especially if your blood family is rather small. Most of all, may you have an extremely long gratitude list.

What and who is on yours?

Tell them and make their day!

RootsTech Meetup with Roberta

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Folks attending RootsTech asked if there was a way to have a meetup. Given that I’m entirely new to this conference and venue, I wasn’t exactly sure how to make that happen.

Fortunately, Family Tree DNA has very graciously offered to host a meetup at their booth on Wednesday, February 28th, from 6:30 to 7:30 PM.

The RootsTech opening keynote happens at 4:30, followed by the Innovation Showcase. I’ll want to see those, and you will too! Fortunately, the keynote, along with some other sessions is livestreamed, so you can join in person or at home.

At 6 PM, the exhibit hall opens. After the opening session and Innovation Showcase, I’ll go directly to the Family Tree DNA booth, #1427, noted with the red arrow below, near the Cyber Café and Coaches Corner. Please stop by and say hello!

I’ll be wearing my purple chromosome browser DNA dress and will tell you the story about how it evolved, no pun intended.

The map below shows the entire conference area. The Family Tree DNA booth is designated by the red arrow, although the name isn’t shown on the booth on this map.

Here’s a close-up.

By the way, you can download and print a (much better) copy of the exhibit hall map at the link below that includes the names of the larger vendors. You’ll want to mark your printed copy with the location of the FTDNA booth.

Rootstech Expo Hall Vendor Map 2018

This map is slightly different than the official RootsTech map which only shows booth numbers. Being able to orient yourself visually by the vendors’ booths is really helpful, at least for me.

A very big thank you to Family Tree DNA. (PS – I bet they’ll have DNA kits on sale, although I don’t have any inside information – but they always do! You can swab right there or purchase one to go.)

See you at the RootsTech meetup – Wednesday evening, 6:30-7:30 – Family Tree DNA booth 1427.

Let me know if you’ll be at RootsTech. I can hardly wait – T-minus 3 days now!

______________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate.  If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase.  Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay.  This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 900 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc.  In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received.  In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product.  I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community.  If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA, or one of the affiliate links below:

Affiliate links are limited to:

RootsTech, Here I Come!!

Yes, it’s true.

Nothing like last minute decisions. Truthfully, RootsTech was an on-again off-again proposition for me, until a close friend told me that she won’t be needing her hotel room next door to the conference center. Now, her reservation is mine and my husband is booking flights.

It’s off to the race!

I’ve never attended RootsTech before. I’m not particularly fond of large conferences or large crowds, so RootsTech has never been a draw for me. Furthermore, I like the ancestor catch far more than the chase. For me, the chase is just a necessity and I don’t particularly enjoy that part.

I know you’re probably all laughing at me, because I do so much chasing. C’est la vie!

However, DNA changed all of that for me. I LOVE the DNA part of the chase. It speaks to the pushing-the-frontier-of-science nerdy part of my soul. I think I received the frontier-pushing gene from my ancestors.

DNA is such an incredibly personal thing to inherit. I can track pieces of it far back in time to ancestors I never knew and certainly don’t possess anything tangible that came from them – except for their DNA.

Not only that, but the same DNA is sharable, and shared, with many cousins who descended from those same ancestors. Pieces of my flesh and blood who lived and loved so long ago connecting those of us who live today. Meeting those myriad cousins, because of and through the DNA gifted to us by those very same ancestors – pure bliss!

Seriously, until the past few years, who could say they were introduced by their ancestors who were born in the 1600s or 1700s or even earlier with Y and mitochondrial DNA testing? DNA testing does that today.

Every. Single. Day.

As DNA testing has progressed, so have the vendors, tools and products that leverage our discoveries.

So, yes, the lure of genetics, genealogy and technology, all in one place is what has finally propelled me to RootsTech.

Are you attending? I’d love to meet you. Please, please find me, say howdy and introduce yourself. If we’re cousins, let me know. You can NEVER have too many cousins!

Here’s my picture, taken at the Dublin GGI Conference.  At RootsTech, I’ll be wearing some piece of DNA clothing every day.  And yes, I DO have enough DNA clothes to wear something different every day of the conference!

You can also recognize me by my signature “wisdom blonde” hair or maybe my special DNA bag. I can’t wait to meet you.

I’ll be blogging and covering the conference “from the floor,” your embedded DNA Reporter😊

Hope to see you there – but if you can’t attend, watch the free live-streamed sessions and of course, DNA-explained articles for news.

Unexpected Discoveries Through DNA Testing

Ying and yang.

I love genetic genealogy, but there is a risk, or allure, depending on your perspective, of unexpected discoveries. I’m definitely an “allure” person, not a risk avoider, but not everyone feels the same way.

Everyone who takes a DNA test for genetic genealogy may encounter two situations:

  • Discovering a close family member that you didn’t know existed previously
  • Discovering that you are not related to close family members

Of course, neither may happen, but either or both could.

It’s a double-edged sword. Plain and simple, do not test if you’re not OK with these possibilities. But please, read on about why you might just want to take that plunge.

In some cases, discovering the unknown is exactly WHY people are testing – to see if indeed they are related to a particular person in a specific way. Or, conversely, searching for close family including siblings, parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents.

Some people just want to embark on a grand adventure and see where it takes them – to learn more about “who I am.” It may well turn out to be the adventure of a lifetime.

My Brother Who Wasn’t My Brother

I’ve been living this, personally, for 14 years now. The Reader’s Digest version is that I finally found my half-brother in 2004 after decades of looking, only to discover not long before his death in 2012 that he wasn’t my biological half-brother after all.

By that time, we had bonded as family, so the DNA didn’t really matter in terms of our relationship.

This past week, I discovered a close match to David’s autosomal DNA. I then checked his Y DNA matches and discovered that indeed, the surname of his two closest Y DNA matches was Priest, the same surname as his autosomal match at either a half-sibling or first cousin level.

This means that in 2004, I was elated to find David and then shortly before his death, horribly saddened to discover the genetic truth. Then, this week, ecstatic to find his family who had known about his existance, but didn’t have enough information to find him.

To say this has been an incredible emotional roller-coaster is an understatement. If you’ve been following along through my recent “discovery” articles this week, thank you for your tolerance of my emotion and tear-filled authoring. I intentionally wrote in the time and space where I was at that moment. I wanted to share the authentic journey for anyone else who might find themselves on the same genetic rollercoaster. It’s a ride like no other.

If you haven’t been following along, you can read the three articles, in order, below:

Close Family

Autosomal DNA tests for genetic genealogy provide unquestionable answers about close relationships. No person at the second cousin level, or closer, who actually is related, has been shown to NOT match. In other words, you can count on matching your 2nd cousins or closer. ALWAYS.

Mostly all half-second cousins (half-2C) and second-cousins-once-removed (2C1R) will match as well. A non-match is EXTREMELY rare. Blaine Bettinger wrote about a case here and the extremely high burden of proof necessary to verify that indeed, the people being compared are actual 2C1R or half-2C and simply didn’t inherit any of the same DNA.

About 10% of third cousins won’t match. At that level, a non-match doesn’t specifically tell you anything except that maybe you aren’t lucky. The message for nonmatching second cousins and closer is much different.

Second cousins share great-grandparents.

Therefore, when you test someone who is supposed to be a 2nd cousin, or closer, and you aren’t an autosomal DNA match, the message is that you’re not really related in the way you thought you were. Said with no sugar-coating, you’re not biologically related and you do not share great-grandparents.

That’s a really, really, tough pill to swallow.

And that’s exactly what happened to me and my half-brother.

He wasn’t my half-sibling, and there was no question.

Older paternity tests that test only a few CODIS markers (and are still sold today by some DNA testing companies) had come back as inconclusive.

We didn’t know what to think. A few years later, the first autosomal tests for genetic genealogy were introduced, testing about 700,000 locations, and those results were conclusive and removed all doubt. David and I were not biologically related.

Y DNA testing in 2004 at Family Tree DNA had already told us that David’s Y DNA line was not Estes. However, without the autosomal tests, we didn’t know if the misattributed paternity (also called NPEs, non-paternal events) was in Dave’s generation, or in the two generations upstream, meaning the man we believed to be our common father, or his father.

One thing was clear.  There was a break in the line someplace between Lazarus Estes and David.

The chart above, borrowed from one of my presentations, shows:

  • Green proven Estes Y line
  • Yellow undetermined Estes line
  • Purple does not match green Estes line or tan David Estes
  • Tan does not match green Estes line or purple Anonymous tester

The green Estes line had been proven through John R. Estes, John Y Estes and Lazarus Estes by the test of Buster Estes combined with the known Estes DNA Y signature (known as a haplotype) as identified by many descendants of Abraham Estes in the Estes Surname Project at Family Tree DNA.

Without additional testers from William George Estes’s line, we couldn’t tell where the disconnect happened. A second descendant of William George Estes tested, shown in purple, and that person didn’t match the Estes Y DNA haplotype either. But, that person also didn’t match David. What a tangled web!

You can imagine my level of frustation.

At this point, just based on Y DNA information, before autosomal testing, it was certainly possible that David and I were indeed half siblings, but that our father wasn’t the son of William George Estes, or that William George Estes wasn’t the son of Lazarus Estes. There was clearly a break in the line, someplace.

Fortunately, autosomal DNA testing, when introduced, provided the answer which was that David is not my half sibling. I say fortunately, because it ended the years of painful speculation and not knowing. It certainly wasn’t the answer we wanted, but it allowed movement forward.

Click to enlarge any graphic.

Additional autosomal testing of other family members, both close and distant, subsequently confirmed that William George, my grandfather, and William Sterling Estes, my father, were indeed descended from the green Estes line. For example, if I were not descended from John R. Estes or John Y. Estes, I wouldn’t match other people who are descended from those ancestors. Other cousins descended from William George Estes’s children, other than the child represented by the yellow box, also match me and the Estes line.

That mystery was solved, but it only ushered in the next one. Who was David’s father? That puzzle would take another 6 years to solve.

The Flip Side

First and foremost, the DNA evidence didn’t change the way I felt about my brother. He will always be my brother.

What’s that old adage about doors? For every door that closes, another one opens. Every new beginning is the end of an earlier beginning.

DNA results provide new beginnings. For people who don’t know the identify of one or both of their parents, DNA testing is often their only hope. For people like David who discover that the parent, grandparent or great-grandparent isn’t who they thought, DNA provides the puzzle pieces in a box with no picture on the lid. Yep, assembly required.

Some puzzles are easier to assemble than others😊

Because second cousin and closer DNA testing is so reliable, and because millions of people have now tested for genealogy, the chances in the US of finding a second cousin or closer match is pretty good. If not now, soon. More people test everyday.

We found both a first and second cousin match for David. Those matches, combined with Y DNA results that provided us with a paternal surname identified the correct paternal family line – Priest.

It took all of about 4 hours of sleuthing to put the pieces together. Two whirlwind days later, I was meeting with David’s amazing biological family.

Sadly, David couldn’t join us in person, but I know he was with us just the same.

This reunion was an incredible joy and love filled experience. I fully realize that not everyone’s ending will be as happy as ours is, even without Dave’s presence. However, sometimes just solving the puzzle, even without the icing-on-the-cake reunion is satisfaction enough. That’s all I initially wanted, but I hit the jackpot as proxy for David.

Meeting David’s family and being able to help them come to know him as I did ended years of mystery for both families, connecting the dots that could never have been connected any other way.

My experience isn’t unique either. I have a cousin who thought she was an only child. Imagine her shock to discover that her father was not who she thought. Through DNA matching and putting puzzle pieces together, she uncovered the identity of her biological father along with several half-sisters who have welcomed her with open arms.

However, your mileage may vary.

Be Prepared

If you are seeking the truth, by all means, DNA test for genealogy. If you aren’t comfortable with the facts that could potentially be exposed, don’t test. It’s that simple.

One of the best things about DNA testing for genetic genealogy is the people I’ve met, the new cousins I’ve found, and the mysteries I’ve solved. I have absolutely no regrets. I welcome new experiences and this has been a journey like no other.

Without rain, there are no rainbows!

Companies

Recently, there seem to be a lot of new companies popping up. When testing for genetic genealogy, you need a well-established company that provides matching and other tools. There are only 4 companies that provide these types of tools, plus one after-market service provider, GedMatch. GedMatch doesn’t do testing, but you can upload results from testing companies to GedMatch for matching and to utilize their tools, many of which are free.

Additionally, both Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage accept compatible transfers from other testing companies, making it easier for your DNA to be fishing on your behalf more widely.

The testing companies, in my order of preference are:

  • Family Tree DNA – European testers, archives DNA for future testing, additional tests available, many tools including chromosome browser, surnames in common and phased matching, accepts compatible transfers
  • MyHeritage – European testers, tools include chromosome browser, common surnames and SmartMatching which shows common ancestors in trees with your DNA matches, accepts compatible transfers, subscription required for trees larger than 250 people
  • Ancestry – Very large data base, some European testers, Shared Ancestor Hints which are common ancestors in trees of DNA matches, common surnames, but no chromosome browser, does not accept transfers, Ancestry subscription required for full functionality
  • 23andMe – Chromosome browser, common surnames, no trees, does not accept transfers

Each company has its strengths and weaknesses and most serious genetic genealogists use all 4 plus GedMatch.

Adoptees and people seeking unknown parentage should test at or transfer to all four companies so that you can fish in all of the ponds. This article explains which companies accept transfers and when you would be better served to simply test at each vendor.

Happy ancestor hunting!_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 900 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA, or one of the affiliate links below:

Affiliate links are limited to:

Dear Dave: Meet Your Family – 52 Ancestors #185

For three days and nights, the tears rained like a defective faucet that I couldn’t turn off. A combination of nerves, excitement and sadness, all tossed together in a salad-spinner. That DNA match set off a tear tsunami. Finding your family meant, of course, that I got to revisit your final departure, on the anniversary of your funeral. No irony here. 

Yep, allergies in full bloom!

Sleep, however, eluded me successfully.

Would Helen read her messages about your DNA match?

Would she reply to me?

Would she answer my questions?

Would she tell me who her grandparents were? I didn’t want to seem too nosey at first. What I really wanted to ask was, “where was your father in July of 1954?”

Would she sense the fear and trepidation in my e-mail and become wary?

Would crossing my fingers help?

And then, suddenly, ding, there it was. An e-mail from Helen. Then one from another cousin with the same surname.

Helen apparently hadn’t held it against me that I had to correct my original e-mail, not once, but twice. I shouldn’t type when I’m nervous and somewhat overwrought – but had I waited for that to subside, I’d still be waiting.

We had come this far and reaching out was the only way to end the agony – regardless of the outcome.

Then the next step in the worry-chain began. If this sounds like “over the top” anxiety, all I have to say is that you’ve never stood in the shoes of someone during the discovery process of long-lost immediate family. I thought I understood it before, but empathy is no substitute for the proverbial mile in the moccasins. 

Would I ever hear back from Helen again?

Would she tell me who her father was. 

Did she have uncles?

Where did they live in 1954?

I did (mostly) resist checking my phone every hour during the night to see if Helen had replied.  I admit, I checked twice. Ok, maybe three times.

Was it only yesterday morning that Helen sent her phone number and invited me to call? Surely, it was at least a year ago. 

I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe right now, or maybe a parallel reality.  Of course, sleep deprivation doesn’t help any. Like Helen said, it’s like we’ve stepped over some transformational line in the sand that we didn’t even see – and now we’re suddenly on the other side wondering what the heck just happened.

This just happened so fast. We’ve been run over by a bus whose passengers are every emotion on the planet.

Life changed in the blink of an eye. Helen has a new sibling – her family just expanded. DNA did in an instant what 60 years failed to do. I’m just so grateful that she is welcoming of this news and not upset. 

Yesterday, after I finally composed myself enough to call Helen, sitting at my desk in my jammies because I just couldn’t wait any longer, I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. Of course, I did.

Thankfully, Helen is a lovely person.

Then Helen called me back again. Then I called her. Then we laughed, and cried, and talked and did it all over again. Several times.

Helen told me how she and her sisters had longed for a brother.

She told me how her father had moved north from Georgia in 1952, after her mother’s horrific death, and how the rumors swirled of a half-brother someplace, born about 1955.

You were conceived in July 1954.

Helen DNA tested to make genealogical discoveries. It never occurred to her that she might find her long-rumored half-brother.

Well, Dave, meet your half-sister, Helen.

No, not me, the other one. And yes, we are truly as joyfully happy as we look.

Rest assured, we’re trouble-makers together!  You have no idea what you’ve done by introducing us😊

Of course, because our lives cannot EVER be simple, Helen’s results are low for a half-sibling match, so there’s a possibility you’re first cousins. Helen’s other sister is DNA testing as well, just to confirm. 

Would taking a look at Helen’s father help?

Dave, meet the man we believe is your father!

He is positively either your father or your uncle.  Helen and her sisters say that you don’t look anything like the one other Priest brother that may have been in a northern state about the time you were conceived. The rest of the Priest brothers never left the deep south – and let’s face it, proximity is kinda critical in this situation.

When I saw that photo of Helen’s father, my breath caught. Could this really be the man you sought for so long? Let’s look at the two of you together.

What do you think, Dave?  Is this your father? I think he’s a dead-ringer for you. Of course, those pictures of you simply don’t do you justice. (No, I am NOT biased either!)

Because yesterday was Valentine’s Day, Helen and I decided to delay our meeting until this evening. Another 24 hours of torture!

In an amazing stroke of good fortune, Helen and I live about an hour apart. So I left two hours early, just in case. 

I prepared to gift Helen with what small things I have of you. I have nothing tangible from your lifetime on earth, except for a few photos and the prayer Jim wrote for your funeral. I put the prayer in an envelope, made Helen a thumb drive of your photos to keep and took my laptop so that we could look at your pictures together. 

I told Helen about our fun times together. Your determination to climb that wall at the fair and how you succeeded, in spite of how ill you were from your treatments. You and Helen are remarkably alike – unstoppable once you set your mind to something. I was awestruck by the unmistakable similarities.

Helen and I met at a lovely restaurant whose patient staff was incredibly tolerant of our long dinner. She brought me a white rose. I brought her a brother.

We ate. We laughed. We talked about you. Were your ears burning? They should have been.

We cried. Ok, I cried.

We exchanged meaningful looks and shocking stories. We swore, in your honor, of course! And we hugged.

We discovered that somehow we had known each other forever – just like you and I did. Deja vu.

We share the same regret – that you didn’t live long enough to meet Helen and your other sisters – who are now welcoming you posthumously with open arms.  Helen had experienced exactly the same longing I felt when I searched so long for you. 

They were looking for you Dave, while you criss-crossed the country feeling so alone in the world.

All that time, THEY WERE LOOKING FOR YOU!!!

They wanted to meet you, to love you. They wanted to have with you what I had with you.

So, via me as the intermediary, today you finally met your sister. What are the odds? Your non-half-sister helping you to find your real one.  No one could make this stuff up!

I felt so honored to tell her about the beautiful man I knew so that in some small way, she can come to know you too. Through me, you two connected, across time and space. A long-distance hand-hold with me as the human extension cord..

It’s the best we can do now.

But you know the most amazing thing, Dave?

You gave us something too. A surprise Valentine. Something precious that neither of us expected.

You united us in sisterhood. Yea, I know that sounds really corny – and you would probably guffaw a bit.

Perhaps the final gift of your life is to both of us, your two sisters who both love you now. Bringing us together so we can love each other too. A beautiful new beginning.

I certainly didn’t expect to receive that gift today. I thought I was gifting Helen with you. Ending a chapter. I never expected to recognize so much of what I love in you – in her. Perhaps by finding your family, I found a piece of mine too, a new beginning. I went to give, but instead we both received. For this gift from beyond, I love you all the more  

Two sisters through another brother. Sewn together from broken hearts. Best Valentine’s Day, ever. An amazing happy ending to an incredibly sad story.  

Thank you.

Love you, now from both of us. 

Bobbi and Helen

Dear Dave: I Found Your Father – 52 Ancestors #184

My Dearest Brother Dave,

It’s been 6 years last week that you left, departed this side, leaving your broken earthly vessel behind.

Six very long years. I thought the sun would never shine again, but somehow you arranged a gloriously sunny day to celebrate your funeral, and today as well. A fitting gift from a long-haul truck driver.

Since you can’t call me anymore as you crisscross the country in your big rig named The Black Pearl, I’ll just have to write to you and hope that the same airwaves that used to bring me your voice now transport my message to you.

You see, I finally found your father, or have at least narrowed the candidates and discovered your surname.

I remember how many years you searched, painfully and fruitlessly. DNA was the key, now that enough people have tested.

In 2004 when I finally found you, you explained how your mother had teased you with the names of at least three different men that were supposedly your father. How you tracked them down and arranged to visit. They were nice, understanding and sympathetic, but they weren’t your father.

I suspect that perhaps your mother didn’t know, considering the circumstances. We won’t revisit that, except to say it saddened me greatly to see you suffer so based on activities you had no part in. Worse yet, she left you an envelope hidden in a drawer with your name on it after her death in which you were positive you would find the answer. You ripped it open, but once again, no answer was forthcoming. A final disappointment. The first of two words that come to mind is heartless.

Our introductory phone call when I explained my understanding of who your father was – my father – which explained why you carry the Estes surname was one of the most emotional days of my life. You were finally found. A hole filled. The gap of almost 50 years gone.

You told me how you opened the envelope I had sent with the photos of “our” father, whom you already knew as a family member, but not as your father. I sent photos because I didn’t want you to think I was some crazy lady, or that my letter was some kind of scam.

You’d discover soon enough my own personal brand of crazy😊

Of course, at that time, I didn’t understand who in that family was actually your biological mother – and what that meant in terms of complex family dynamics. You’re so fortunate that, for the most part, your grandmother raised you, at least reducing your mother’s damage.

A few days after our first phone call, we met for the first time, talking for hours like we had known each other forever. Time and place simply disappeared and we floated on our own wave of giddy happiness. I still have that photo by my desk, with your arm around me. You watch over me every single day, right beside me.

You shared that I was your only living family member, except for your children, and how you had always longed for a sibling.

I knew in that moment what family meant to you, and that if needed, you would die for me. Literally.

I loved you instantly and completely.

I came to know you as a grizzled, hard-driving, long-haired tattooed trucker with a short temper for injustice – to animals or people. God help anyone that abused someone you loved, anyone in need, or an animal.

You told me you never said “the L word,” love. Tough as you were, love would make you vulnerable. Your wife of many years confirmed that to me. I just smiled. Love doesn’t need words.

As I said goodbye the second time, a few weeks later, you hugged me and whispered softly, almost inaudibly in my ear, “Love you, Sis.”

“What?,” I asked and you grumbled, “You heard me,” afraid that someone else would hear. I just smiled and hugged you again, tears running down both our faces. Except, yours were just allergies of course.

You told me every time we talked after that, because as a truck driver, we never really knew when our last conversation would be. Our last words spoken, always, from that day forth, were “love you.” I smiled through tears every time and I suspect you did too.

Danged allergies.

We had already missed so many years.

I still hear that Dave, and I know the next time I meet you, I’ll hear it again.

Damn, I miss you.

I knew before you died that we weren’t half-siblings after all. The original two paternity/siblingship tests we took suggested that, but they weren’t conclusive and needless to say, we certainly didn’t want to believe that message.

Our next clue was when I was eliminated as your liver donor candidate, although the medical team would not confirm why. However, the “new” autosomal DNA tests we took not long before you died proved it beyond any doubt.

I never had the heart to tell you.

It would have broken both of our hearts and we were already indelibly bonded as family. Nothing, no DNA test would ever change that.

Remember that half heart I gave you to protect you on your journeys?  You took half of my real one with you when you left.

For the sake of honesty, I tiptoed around the siblingship subject, testing the water. The limited commentary you did make told me that perhaps you already suspected, but were strongly rejecting that possibility out of hand. End of subject.

The truth could wait until the afterlife.

However, I made a vow to you that you never knew about. One day I would identify your father. I would find that puzzle piece.

Now herein lies a great irony, the best irony of all. I have to tell you – you’re going to love this story. Hope you’re sitting down on a cloud.

Your grandmother raised you in the Catholic church and sent you to Catholic school. You left the church in high school, but those childhood teachings have a way of taking hold permanently.

During your last days in the hospital and then in hospice, you requested a priest to do a “Last Confession” and whatever rituals are completed in the Catholic religion to prepare for death.

The hospital called the local priest. Then, hospice called the local priest.

No response, at all.

Then, your wife called the local Catholic churches.

Still no response, at all.

Then I called.

Nothing.

When I saw you that day, I knew the end was very near.

Still no priest to do your Last Rites.

I’m sure you remember that Jim, my husband, a former Eucharistic minister in the Catholic church before he sinned by getting divorced and continued sinning by remarrying to a non-Catholic heard your last confession. He performed the anointing of oil, (my chapstick) and holy water, (bottled water from my purse,) both of which I blessed with my very own hands. HERESY!

Jim was horrified and was just certain I was going to be struck dead by lightning on the spot for my heretical actions, but I did what needed to be done. Just like you would have done for me. Whatever you and Jim did in that room together with the chapstick and Dasani holy water brought you great peace. That’s all that mattered.

And I survived to tell the story.

Love you Brother, and I surely hope you’re not stuck in purgatory because of my last minute battlefield fox-hole improvisations. 😉

Your wife was a Baptist, which might have been part of why the Priest never showed up, or even called. Clearly, there wasn’t going to be a Catholic funeral for any number of reasons, not the least of which was because you were cremated by that time.

Yes, I know, yet another “sin.”

Oh well, we just added it to the long list and St. Peter will have to blame us because you really didn’t get to vote, being dead and all.

You had volunteered at the Baptist church, refinishing the basketball floor and other odd jobs, so your wife invited the Baptist preacher to “preach your funeral.”

Being in the middle of the winter, we worried about the weather, with me arriving from out-of-state and many truckers that had known you for decades driving hard to get back in time. We scheduled your funeral for 4 on Friday to accommodate their schedules so they could arrive in time and didn’t have to sacrifice pay to attend.

I remember hearing those big rigs parked outside the funeral home, lined up, up and down the street, their running lights turned on, with their engines all running in a rumbling trucker-tribute to you.

I smiled then to think about how much you would have liked that. The neighbors must have been mortified.

The room at the funeral home was full, standing room only, overflowing into the lobby and outside when it was time for your funeral to begin. Your photos were on the table in the front, and everyone was seated and waiting.

But, there was no preacher.

Another 5 minutes passed. Then 7. Then 10.

The preacher didn’t answer his cell phone.

Everyone was shuffling and shifting restlessly.

The funeral home said they couldn’t help.

I looked at your wife, who was in no shape to do anything.

She looked at me and said, famously, “You have to do something.”

OH GOD.

Were you there with us? Do you remember how I started your funeral?

I just walked up front, picked up the microphone and said:

“Hi, I’m Dave’s sister. I bet most of you never knew Dave had a sister. Well, he does.”

I told about how we met.

I told them how much I loved you.

And how much you loved me.  Sorry, your secret is out!

I told them that your gruff and tough exterior disguised a soft soul afflicted with pain.

I told them how you rescued animals.

Not everyone knew the story of how you acquired Dio, your abused Rotty, literally rescuing him from the hands of his abusers. But, most everyone knew he rode with you for years. Dio had more miles than most cars. It does my heart good to know the two of you are riding together once again, across the rainbow bridge.

I remember how inconsolably devastated you were when he died as you were fighting your own battle.  He went to wait for you and I know the reunion was one of sheer ecstasy.

I told them that I discovered you had taken that awful mountainous Idaho potato run so that you could see me because the drop-off terminal was about 10 miles from my house. Of course, you would never have admitted to that!

I was amused to discover that they thought your “sister,” who you stopped to see regularly, was code for a different kind of relationship. Perhaps because they teased you incessantly about loving your sister😊

That’s Ok, so did the manager at the hotel down the road where you would park your rig while we went to eat and came to the house to visit for awhile. I explained that you couldn’t get turned around on my dead-end road but he didn’t believe me. Remember the time we finally pulled out both of our IDs and showed him we were both named Estes? The shocked look on his face said it all.

Those were such good days and wonderful surprises when you’d call to say you were coming through.

I miss them so.

I still look in every black truck I see. I know better, but old habits and rituals of love die hard.

I told them how you announced you would sell your house and move up here to care for me when you thought I had cancer. Thankfully, I didn’t have cancer, but that proclamation meant the world to me. You’ll never know how much. Ok, well maybe you know now.

I told them how much you loved your children and how living long enough to walk your daughter down the aisle was your motivation to live for many months while you waited for the transplant that never arrived. I never told them that you didn’t get to.

I told them how much you didn’t want others to make the same mistakes you had – because love you as I do – you weren’t exactly perfect. None of us are.

So, that day, I became at once the comforter and the preacher. I gave you the ultimate loving send-off on that spectacular sunny winter’s day six years ago. Much like the beautiful day outside today. I always feel that these lovely sunny winter days that melt the snow on the roads are a gift from you.

“Preaching your funeral” was an honor, and one I could never have adequately prepared for. Maybe impromptu was better.

But there’s one thing I didn’t share with them.

That you really weren’t my biological brother. It didn’t matter. I don’t know how I could ever have loved you more.

In spite of thinking your surname really was Estes, biologically, it wasn’t.

Because you were on the “other side” by then, you already knew the truth. You also knew that it was out of love that I spared you that pain here on earth.

Before you passed over, you didn’t know that I had secretly sworn an oath to you as well, that one day I would unearth the truth.

Dave, that day is today.

And now, the ultimate irony. Karma at it’s very best.

You see, you never needed a priest. Despite all of our unsuccessful efforts.

Because you are one.

For years at Family Tree DNA, you’ve had matches to multiple Y DNA surnames.

Recently, two men tested whose surname was Priest, descended from John Anderson Priest born in 1798 in North Carolina.

They are your closest matches, but still, given the variety of surnames that you matched, I paid it little mind.

That is, until today.

Your autosomal DNA returned a match to a first cousin, whose surname just happens to be Priest. Looking at your matches in common, I saw several people with that surname. About 4 hours later, I had the relationships mostly unraveled!

So yes, indeed, you, my dear brother, are a Priest.

I can hear you laughing heartily.

Estes can be your middle name now.

David Estes Priest, with no comma. Our new private joke, even if you do have to enjoy it from afar.

I hope you can truly rest in priest, er, peace now. It’s solved. The last tie to bind you here is gone.

Fly free.

I’ll see you overhome.

Love you.

“Heaven,” from Dave’s rig.

 

Conrad Schlosser: Gems Excavated from the Rabbit Hole – 52 Ancestors #183

4-15-2018 – After this story published, we subsequently discovered that Irene is not a Schlosser, meaning Conrad is not her father. I am leaving this story because parts of this information have been on the internet for some time – and I want to be sure the entire story of why people thought Irene was a Schlosser, and how we know she isn’t, is available. For the rest of the story, including her correct surname, click here.

Just when you think you can’t wring out one more drop of history, you’re at the dead end of the road and out of luck entirely – one of those genealogical acts of kindness for which we all long arrives at just the right time.

Unveiling the layers of Conrad Schlosser’s life reminds me very much of peeling that proverbial onion.  I’m making progress, but some tears have been shed!

In my recent article about Conrad Schlosser, I felt very fortunate to establish his birth year as 1635, especially since the church records in Steinwenden begin in 1684.  It’s there that we first find Conrad in 1685 with his children marrying and baptizing their own children.

Conrad’s burial on February 13, 1694 at age 59 provides his birth year as either 1634 or 1635, but it doesn’t tell us where.

I had to utilize the history of the region, to discern more.

Who Lived in Steinwenden?

Local historians tell us that in 1685, when Conrad’s daughters were marrying and having children, only 6 families lived in Steinwenden with a total of 25 people.  We also know that many Swiss immigrants settled here.

Conrad Schlosser’s family at that time consisted of:

  • Himself
  • Anna Ursula, his wife, last name unknown
  • Anna Catharina, daughter, born about 1661, never married
  • Anna Maria, daughter, born before 1665, married in 1685
  • Carl, son, born about 1664, married in 1701
  • Anna Ursula, daughter, born about 1676, married in 1696
  • Johannes Peter, son born about 1680, died 1691
  • Johannes, son, born about 1680, died 1701

That’s a total of 8 people living in his household. He had another daughter, Irene Charitas, who was married by June of 1685 when her child was baptized, so she and her husband may have counted as a second of those 6 households.

  • Irene Charitas, daughter born about 1660 who was already married to Johann Michael Muller.

With just Conrad’s family alone, we have at least 10 or 11 of the 25 reported residents accounted for.

Therefore, putting 2 and 2 together, it seemed logical that Conrad Schlosser was one of those Swiss immigrants, especially since we know that Johann Michael Muller that married Conrad’s daughter WAS a Swiss immigrant.

But guess what?

I was wrong.

Conrad did not arrive with the Swiss immigrant group in 1684 or 1685.

My German friend, Chris, found an invaluable record in this article:

“Johann Jakob Hauser around 1660 constructor of the “moor mill” in Steinwenden. During the 30 years war, the region Steinwemden, including among others the villages Weltersbach and Steinwenden, was heavily depopulated. It is only in a tax list in 1671, that inhabitants are again listed, among them Johann Jakob Hauser, miller in Steinwenden. [compare the copy from 1800 of a not conserved original; copy printed in: “Weltersbach. Streifzüge durch die Ortsgeschichte”, a.a.O., page 19]. Around 1660, Johann Jakob Hauser and CONRAD SCHLOSSER rebuilt the moor mill. In the 1680s, the mill was owned by Johann Schenkel.”

It seems that Conrad was in or near Steinwenden all along, which means that Anna Ursula, his wife, who was having children by 1661 had to have been there too. Weltersbach is only a hop, skip and a jump from Steinwenden. Literally, maybe half a mile.

Of course, we don’t know if Conrad Schlosser and Anna Ursula arrived from some other place together to make their home in the Steinwenden area, or perhaps their families arrived together or from different places at the same time.

In Search of Taxes and a Mill

The next several days after this breakthrough were spent in a frantic scramble with a friend in Salt Lake City trying to find the historical tax list cited in the paragraph above. Unfortunately, that document does not live in Salt Lake City, but in two libraries in Europe.  Whoever thought the Mormon Church WOULDN’T have something!

I reached out again to Chris, asking if he knew of any resources, and indeed, he did the logical thing.  He tracked down the author of the book, Roland Paul, and e-mailed him.  Well, duh.  Sometimes we don’t think of the simple solutions.  Of course, thankfully, Chris is a native German speaker, which overcomes the next hurdle for me.

Roland Paul, historian of the Steinwenden region, as it turns out, had also written an article about the “Moormuhle” in Weltersbach, the very mill that Conrad was helping to restore.

I generally use Google translate, but the page about the mill is entirely locked down, it seems, and Google translate doesn’t work, nor can I copy and paste manually into a German/English translator.  Chris tells me that the article is not about the early history of the mill that Conrad restored, and says that Conrad’s mill was torn down recently. Unfortunately, that means there is nothing left of the 1660 mill that Conrad rebuilt to see today.

Crumb!

It’s fun to look at the old photo in that article that is the home of the mill built in 1825 by a man whose name just happened to be Adam Muller. Of course, the word Muller translates literally into the profession, “miller” and every village needed at least one, so there are lots of German Miller families. To the best of our knowledge, this Muller isn’t related to our Johannes Michael Muller, but I’d love to have a Y DNA test of one of his Muller descendants to know for sure.

If any Miller male descends from this man, I have a free Y DNA test for you!

Ironically, I spy the same doorway in that article that was in a photo taken by cousin Rev. Richard Miller taken in 1996 when he visited Steinwenden. He obviously saw the word Muller above the doorway too.

Although this building is not the same mill that Conrad rebuilt in 1660, it’s still a part of Steinwenden’s history. Since it was only built in 1825, it wouldn’t have been there in the late 1600s and early 1700s where our family walked up and down these streets.

Strolling Through Steinwenden

Since we’re visiting Steinwenden anyway, let’s take a stroll down the very streets that Conrad Schlosser, his wife Anna Ursula, Johann Michael Mueller the first, Johann Michael Mueller the second, his wife Susanna Agnes Berchtol, and her parents Hans Berchtol and Anna Christina walked down. Yep, the whole family was here and many made the decision to immigrate to America together too. This is our ancient home!

I just love the character of these old buildings.

Welcome to Steinwenden!

Cousin Richard was very generous to share his photos.  Above, the 1825 mill again.

I recognize this building (above) as residing in the old village center, across the street from the contemporary church built in 1852, which is not the same structure as the old church. I suspect the old church was build in the same location, however. I’m hoping for confirmation of that fact soon.

Cousin Richard visited the current church in 1996 and they took him to the bell tower, the only remnant of the original church. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Conrad as well as his older male children along with Johann Michael Muller (the first) helped construct the original church.

In the bell tower, we may well be looking at stones placed with their own hands, their fingerprints still in the mortar. If this bell tower could only talk!

The 1656 and 1671 Tax Lists

According to the records unearthed by Chris, there were no inhabitants of Steinwenden in 1656 as indicated in this statement, below.

Roland Paul was generous enough to send Chris a copy of the tax list from Weltersbach in 1671, along with some additional information which Chris was kind enough to translate.

Find enclosed the scan. Was Conrad Schlosser an ancestor of your acquaintance in the US? He [Conrad Schlosser] rebuilt the moor mill together with Jakob Hauser around 1660, after the mill had been destroyed in the 30 years war. My ancestors bought the mill in 1719. I am very interested in more details about Schlosser and Hauser, even more so since I currently write on an extensive chronicle about the moor mill.

So Roland’s ancestor bought the mill about 60 years after Jakob Hauser and Conrad Schlosser rebuilt it. Needless to say, I can’t wait to read his chronicle.

If rebuilding the mill was occurring as the area was being rebuilt and repopulated after the 30 Years War, in 1660, about the time that Conrad married – might this perhaps suggest that he and Jakob Hauser were potentially related?

I can’t help but wonder if Conrad’s wife, Anna Ursula is Jakob Hauser’s daughter.  Of course, there is nothing more, yet, to suggest this, BUT with few or no other families in the region, Conrad had to meet Anna Ursula somehow and we do know what Conrad was doing in 1660, about the time they married, and where.

Please note that this is unbridled speculation, and I probably shouldn’t even be thinking this out loud, let alone in print.  But maybe, just maybe, someone out there actually has some information about Jakob Hauser, the miller, and his family.

 

From Chris:

[The tax list] does not include information about Conrad Schlosser at all, only the names of the Steinwenden miller Johann Jakob Hauser, who rebuilt the moor mill together with Conrad Schlosser. Johann Jakob Hauser and Johannes Ingbert, a Swiss immigrant, were the only two inhabitants of the village of Weltersbach in 1671. But no names included here from the neighbor village Steinwenden, where Conrad Schlosser supposedly lived.

Where was Conrad Schlosser living?  Was he living at the mill with Jakob Hauser or with his family?  He had to be living in close enough proximity to work at the mill every day, and there are no other villages nearby.

I can’t help but notice that Johannes Ingbert was mentioned as a Swiss immigrant. This suggests that Swiss immigration began long before we find the Muller family in Steinwenden intermarried with Conrad Schlosser’s daughter in 1685.

Chris also found two additional resources, tax lists that might contain information from neighboring villages.  Would we be lucky enough to find Conrad there?

“Schatzungsbelagregister” from 1656 (no inhabitants in Steinwenden, but maybe interesting anyway because of family names in neighbor villages) and “Schatzungsprotokoll” from 1683-1684, available here at FamilySearch.

The 1683/1684 tax lists are from just before the records began on September 21, 1684 in the church in Steinwenden.

Of course, all of this begs the question of where Conrad’s children were baptized between 1661 and 1685.  And sadly, given the time and place, there were probably several children buried someplace too.  Did Conrad Schlosser and Jakob Hauser establish a cemetery for their family members?

If so, where?

The Old Cemetery Hill

As it turns out, Chris just might have found the answer to that question too.

My speculation was that the cemetery was around the original church, but that would not have been until 1684 and after.  What about between 1660 and 1684?  And what about before the 30 Year’s War?  Did the new inhabitants just continue to bury their loved ones in the same location as the inhabitants before the war?

We don’t have the exact answer to that, but Chris did find some very interesting information.

I think the old church tower would be most probably at the same location or very close to the current church. The current Steinwenden cemetery is today Northwest of the Steinwenden church. I attach a Google Maps screenshot with the Protestant church labeled with a green circle and the current cemetery labeled in red surroundings as well. That, however, does not answer at all the question, where Steinwenden inhabitants were buried at the time of Michael Müller and Conrad Schlosser. Since Steinwenden only counted a few families these days, it is quite possible that burials first took place around or close to the church and that only later on a larger cemetery was constructed. The cemetery then may have moved another time later on.

Chris provided the map below, with the current cemetery boxed in red, the contemporary church in green, and the old cemetery hill with the red balloon.

Chris provided a link to an article in German, which Google translate doesn’t, which states (as translated by Chris):

The Steinwenden centre is formed by the protestant church and the village square and the well system south of the church. Only a few metres south of it, on the old cemetery hill, is the local community house,newly constructed in 1992 and surrounded by a public park.

The photos in the article of Steinwenden are so enchantingly beautiful that they make my heart skip beats. I can just see my ancestors here.

The Location of the Mill

Chris found the location of the mill that Conrad restored.  In the aerial photo below, the mill is the red balloon and the small grey pin near the top is the church in the center of Steinwenden.

Google tells me that it’s one third mile or a 6-minute walk from the mill to church.

Steinwenden and Weltersbach are neighboring villages and obviously, Conrad lived someplace in this vicinity.

The location that Chris pointed out as the location of the mill can be seen below, as closely as I can zoom in. The creek, Moorback, runs between Moormuhle, Haupstrasse and Muhlbergstrasse. It was here, right here, that Conrad worked in 1660.  It may have been here that he lived as well.

I can’t tell you how much I wish that Google Street View was enabled here. Oh, to drive down this street!

Rabbit Holes

You know, there just have to be a few rabbit holes.  And I simply cannot help myself, so let’s take a look and see if there are any rabbits. First, let me say how very blessed I am to have friends, many of whom are blog followers and commenters.

The one hint about the origins of the Conrad Schlosser family that I do have, or might have, is the location given in this Steinwenden church entry:

28 April 1685 at Steinwenden were married Melchior Clemens, emigrant from Graffschaft Felkenburg with Anna Maria, legitimate daughter of Cunradt Schlosser, the same (place?).

Of course, what does “the same place” mean?  Does it mean the same place at the time the record was written, or the same place as in Graffschaft Felkenburg?

Update: Chris looked at the record and suggests that “the same place” refers back to where they were married – meaning Steinwenden, especially since we know that Conrad Schlosser was in the area by 1660. However, I am leaving the rest of this section for context…and just in case.

And if Conrad left Graffschaft Felkenburg in 1660 and Melchoir is listed as being from there in 1685, that’s quite a bit of time difference.  Of course, Melchoir’s family could have left at the same time as Conrad, or it might not mean that at all. But, since it IS my ONLY hint, I’m very grateful for all of my friends that are willing to go rabbit-hole hunting with me.

Another friend, George who draws maps professionally, to support his genealogy habit I’m sure, offered the following:

Roberta, I am by no means an expert on this, but I do draw maps as my day job and so took up your challenge to find out what happened to Graffschaft Felkenburg.

Treating the two words separately, it appears that Graffschaft (Grafschat) was a term for a “county” or “administrative district” (rough understanding) under authority of the Holy Roman Empire. I did find one reference to a “Principality of Felkenburg (Montefalcone) in a Google Book search.

I did a Google search on “Falkenburg County” and came up with the reference on page 465, Appendix II of a book named “Introduction to the study of international law designed as an aid to teaching, and in historical studies” written by Woosley, Theodore D. In 1879.

I have no clue if this is your Graffschaft Felkenburg, but it sounds promising and you may want to now search for Montefalcone.

Roberta, take a look at item # 7 on the following page. The spelling is Falkenburg, but the associated maps might help, or lead you further down the rabbit hole.

https://sites.google.com/site/ancestorsinthepfalz/home/1700—divisions

And because one rabbit hole isn’t enough, another friend did some footwork and offered the following:

Looking for Felkenburg and remembering one of the commenters of Conrad Schlosser’s entry said his ancestors with the same surname lived in Alsace, so I tried to google “comté felkenburg”. It seems there’s a Faulquemont in Lorraine which is named Falkenburg or Falkenberg in German, as the region passed between France and Germany quite a few times.

Then trying “Schlosser Faulquemont”, I found a book titled “Inventaire sommaire des archives communales de la ville de Strasbourg antérieures à 1790, rédigé par J. Bruncker, archiviste – Série AA Acts constitutif et politique de la commune, première partie”; roughly “Succinct summary of the district archives of the city of Strasbourg older than 1790, written by J. Brucker, archivist – constitutional and politic actes of the district, first part”.

https://books.google.ca/books?id=tpkNAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=fr#v=onepage&q&f=false

On page 121, subtitled “correspondance des souverains, corps d’état, gouverneurs, etc.” “AA. 368. (liasse) 46 pièce papier en bon état”
“1530-1536 (suite) […] Réponse du comte Louis à des lettres d’intercession et de recommandation du magistrat de Strasbourg en faveur de Simon Schlosser de Faulquemont, incarcéré”

Translation:
“correspondence of the monarchs, state, governors, etc.”
“AA. 368. (bundle) 46 piece of paper in good state”
“1530-1536 (continuation) […] Reply from the earl Louis to letters of intercession and recommandation of the magistrate of Strasbourg in favor of Simon Schlosser of Falkenburg, jailed”

So, there was some Schlosser in Faulquemont, Lorraine, back in 1530. Maybe not your family though, I don’t know how widespread the surname was, but they could be.

Another interesting entry: “Le comte palatin Louis […] prévient [le magistrat de Strasbourg] que les anabaptistes de Munster ont dépêché un émissaire, nommé Jean de Goele, vers Strasbourg, pour y acheter de la poudre et d’autres munitions de guerre, et que Knipperdolling doit également se rendre dans cette ville”

Translation:
“the palatin earl Louis […] warn [the magistrate of Strasbourg] that the Anabaptist of Munster send an emissary, named Jean de Goele, to Strasbourg, to buy powder and other war ammunition, and that Knipperdolling must also go to the city”.

Earl Louis would be Louis V, elector palatine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_V,_Elector_Palatine

Hmmm….Anabaptists. This is my Brethren line.

Google is my friend too.

I Googled Graffschaft Felkenburg and found an article, in German of course, and a photo of Falkenburg, a location in the Pfalz.

Von Bgfx – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27563727

From Wikipedia:

The ruin of the Falkenburg lies above Wilgartswiesen in the Palatinate Forest in the district of Südwestpfalz in Rhineland-Palatinate. Like almost all castles in the Palatinate Forest, it is built on a colorful sandstone rock as a rock castle. The Falkenburg was probably built in the 11th century as the successor of the Wilgartaburg and the protection of the neighboring villages.

The castle was first mentioned in 1246, although the construction of the castle, as with many castles in the area, may have taken place earlier. 44 years later, in 1290, a Werner von Falkenburg was mentioned in a document. From 1300 to 1313, the Falkenburg was pledged to Frederick IV of Leiningen, in 1317 she was mortgaged again, by Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian, this time to the Counts Palatine of the Rhine Rudolf II and Ruprecht I. 1375 Emich V. von Leiningen was the owner of Castle. Although the Falkenburg, which was measured in 1427, survived the German Peasants’ War, it was occupied in 1632 until it was returned to its owner in 1648. It was blown up in 1680 by French troops.

The fact that this location was destroyed would also explain why the location can’t be found contemporaneously.  The additional clue is that the word Graffschaft means administrative district.  Together, this seems to make sense.  The question is, of course, if it’s accurate.

If indeed, this is the location, it’s about an hour away from Steinwenden, still well within the Palatinate.

Is any of this relevant to our story?  Danged if I know.  Remember, we’re in the rabbit hole.

Aha, Finding a Rabbit – The 1684 Tax List

My friend Chris made another incredible find on the tax list from Steinwenden and surrounding villages in 1684.

The first Schlosser appearance occurs on page 271 at FamilySearch, or the original book page 185.

Conrad is listed, but I don’t see any tax calculated for him. The next film in the series is an extracted version of the tax list which gives us the date of April 17, 1684.  Note that there is one Hans Jacob Muller, mayor or sheriff (schulteuss) of the Weilerbach court, as well as a several other Mullers listed on the tax list with locations noted.

Also, Nikel Muller, Hans Muller and Hans Jacob Muller (twice) in Rodenback, along with Hans Jacob Muller in Ertzenhausen.

Hans Muller of Porbach and Hans Muller of Schweydelbach.  Are you getting the idea that Muller is a common surname?

The title says this list above is from Weylerbach and Conrad Schlosser is noted as being “of Steinwinden,” although the word looks to be Binwenden.  It’s not, it’s the German script. Why is Conrad being taxed or mentioned in Weylerbach?

It appears that the men listed at the top of this page are the “committee,” according to a German to English translation tool.

Weilerbach and Steinwenden aren’t terribly distant, about 5-6 miles with Rodenbach just beneath Weilerbach.

The next municipality in the tax book is Steinwenden.

Page 286 begins the tax list, and two pages later, we find Conrad Schlosser in the middle of the page.

The tax records for Steinwenden begin on FamilySearch page 288 or book page 220. That’s the original page 113 of the original book at the bottom right, or page 220 at the top right.

His actual tax is calculated two pages later, on page 289 at FamilySearch, or page 222 of the original book.

On this list, it shows that he either pays or is valued at 745, as compared to other people’s worth between 75 and 485 with the exception of one man, Jacob Nagel who has a value or pays a tax of 800 whatever the money was at that time.

There are a total of 15 entries, including Conrad. His son-in-law, Johann Michael Muller nor any Muller is listed other than the Mullers listed above. Are any of these relevant.  Possibly Hans Nickel Muller, but I don’t really know.

Here’s the translated page including the households.

This is slightly different than the earlier information that Steinwenden had a total of only 6 families comprised of 25 people in 1684.  This looks to be 15 households if you don’t count the people listed above as a “committee” with no tax amount. It’s also possible that some of these families lived in the same household.

Chris says the term “aussmarcker” is an old fashioned word that means a person who does not live within a parish and don’t have full resident rights, but owns lots in the parish area.

Bernhardt Schlosser’s Widow

Perhaps the best nugget is saved for last, on the following page (290 FamilySearch, original page 225) where we find the widow of Bernhardt Schlosser listed separately.

This widow is not taxed on a house, so it would be reasonable to speculate that indeed, Bernhardt might have been the father of Conrad and the still-living-widow is Conrad’s mother.  What are the possible scenarios?

  • Given that Conrad was born about 1634, and the widow is found in 1684, 50 years later, if this is Conrad’s mother, she would be between 70 and 90 years old. Chris points out that she could have not had a house and been living with Conrad (or someone else) or she could have had a home in such poor condition that it was considered to be worth nothing.
  • Bernardt could also be the brother of Conrad, so this widow could have been Conrad’s sister-in-law.
  • It’s also possible, but less likely, that Bernhardt is a son of Conrad, born around or before 1660 and having died before 1684, not long after marriage. This is the less likely of the various scenarios.

One thing we do know, though, is that the widow herself surely perished (or remarried, if she was young) very shortly after the tax date of April 21, 1684, because the Steinwenden church records begin in September 1684 and no widow of Bernhardt (or Gerhardt as it’s translated in this document) Schlosser is found in the death records. It’s also worth mentioning that the only records from 1684 in the book are baptisms and the death records don’t begin until 1685.  Does that mean no one died or was married between September and December of 1684, or were those records simply not recorded?  We don’t know the answer to that question either.

Conrad’s Wife

The two surnames we have from the 1671 tax list are Hauser and Ingbert.  By 1684, just 13 years later, I don’t find either surname in either Weylersbach or Steinwenden.

Did the miller Johann Jacob Hauser move away?  What about Johannes Ingbert?  Did they die or move?  I did find death records for both Ingbert (Ingvert) and his wife and both were born about 1600, so they were of an age that they could certainly have been having children in 1633. I find no records for any Hauser.

Was one of these two families the parents of Anna Ursula Schlosser, Conrad’s wife?

If not, would we be lucky enough to find Anna Ursula’s family name among those on the tax lists in 1684?  Perhaps if not her parents, then maybe uncles or brothers?

Here is an extracted list of the Steinwenden families in 1684:

  • Samuel Hoffmann
  • Hans Georg Schumacher
  • Conrady Schlosser
  • Nickel Orsel
  • Hans Sprentz
  • Gerdardt (Bernhardt?) Schlosser
  • Johann Engbiess (is this possibly Johannes Ingbert?)
  • Hans Peter Frolich
  • Simon Christmann
  • Jacob Schenckel (owned the mill according to local history)
  • Jacob Pletsch
  • Jacob Holtzhauser
  • Jacob Nagel
  • Michael Feyhel
  • Georg Jeserang

Is it too much to hope that Anna Ursula’s family is among these names?

Summary

Well, thanks for my rabbit-hole indulgence.

Where are we in evaluating where Conradt, probably along with Bernhardt Schlosser, came from?

I suspect that Conrad Schlosser probably arrived from closer rather than further away.

My gut feel is that generally the closer, simpler option is always more likely than further or more difficult. KISS for genealogy. Of course, during and after a time of horrific warfare, who is to say? Conrad wasn’t born yet when the 30 Years War reached the Palatinate in 1620.  His parents were either young, or young parents themselves.

By the time the 30 Years War ended, in 1648, Conrad would have been about 14 and as soon as he became of age, the lure of reconstruction and perhaps the ability to settle on land in the Palatinate was probably quite alluring.  He obviously did well for himself by 1684, about age 50, based on the fact that he was on the tax committee and one of the two wealthiest men in the village of Steinwenden. Nothing like being a big fish in a little pond. I wish we knew his occupation, the source of his wealth.

The Palatinate tended to be more protestant than Catholic, but the French were just the opposite.  Steinwenden was very clearly Protestant, so I would guess that Conrad was too. I would think the Palatinate locations for the Schlosser family would be more likely than the Wurttemberg area.

Without additional hints being uncovered, we’ll likely never know…but then again, that’s exactly what I thought about 3 articles ago too.

And since it seems that I’m destined for more rabbit holes, let me share one more hint that literally just this minute arrived from Chris:

In 1682 a daughter of Bernhard Schlosser from Steinwenden was married in the church of Steinwenden with the marriage entry recorded in the church book of Miesau. So here we go…

This tells us a couple things.  First, there was a church or at least a minister in Steinwenden in 1682 and second, perhaps their earliest books had not been started or have since been lost.

Given this new information, we may have the answer to where Conrad’s children were baptized.  Miesau is about 8 miles from Steinwenden and their church records begin in 1681. Baby steps backward in time.

You know what I’ll be doing for the rest of the day, don’t you?

I was stunned to see a second Schlosser name on those tax lists. I suspect that Bernhardt’s widow was indeed Conrad’s mother, but without any church death records, there is no way to verify. However, this brand new information tells us that Bernhardt had children marrying in 1682, so he was too old to be Conrad’s son.  We’re back to brother or father or maybe even uncle.

Chris, a Native German used to working with these records, agrees, but he said he’s not convinced enough to “put his hands in the fire over it.”  What a quaint saying, and I agree, although clearly with more rabbits to seek, we’re not done yet.

Are these people buried at the old the Old Cemetery Hill or by the old church tower in Steinwenden?  Very probably.

Where did Conrad Schlosser baptize his children, all born between 1661 and 1681?  For that matter, where was he married?  Are there church records that are awaiting us in the future? I checked and the church records for Weilersbach don’t begin until 1721, so we’re out of luck there – unless there is a burial after 1721 for someone born in the 1600s that might be relevant.  Sounds like another rabbit hole that needs to be investigated.

I’m beginning to have a rabbit hole list.

Where were Johann Michael Mueller and his wife, Irene Charitas Schlosser living in 1684?  They had a child baptized in the Steinwenden church on June 5, 1685.  I’m presuming that child was born that day since, sadly, he died the following day. Using a reverse conception calculator, Irene Charitas became pregnant about September 12, 1684, assuming the child was full term.

Given that the Steinwenden church records didn’t say anything about illegitimacy, and they surely would have if that was the case, we’re going to presume the parents were married before conception, meaning there is probably a church record for that lurking someplace too.

We know that they would have married in that region, because the Schlosser family clearly had lived there for a quarter century by that time. The couple had to live in the same proximity to “court.” Therefore, there are only three options as to where Johann Michael Muller and Irene Charitas Schlosser were living in April of 1684 when the taxes were taken:

  • They weren’t married yet, and both Johann Michael Muller and Irene Charitas were living with their respective parents or other family members. In this case, Johann Michael Muller’s family has to be present.  Who is the father of Johann Michael Muller?  Was he perhaps Hans Jacob Muller or Johannes Muller of Weilersbach? We do find a Hans Nickel Mueller and a Johannes Mueller in Steinwenden baptizing children at this same time. Hmmmm….rabbit hole.
  • They weren’t married yet and Johann Michael Muller had not yet arrived. If this is the case, then the couple fell madly in love and had a whirlwind courtship given that Johann Michael Muller arrived sometime after April and before mid-September when Irene Charitas became pregnant.
  • They were already married and living with another family, probably Conrad Schlosser, given that this family was apparently more well-to-do than their neighbors. From the 1684 list, we know that Conrad lived in Steinwenden. Furthermore, Johann Michael Muller and Irene Charitas Schlosser baptized their newborn baby, Johann Nickel Muller, in June in the church in Steinwenden – surely the closest location given that the baby was gravely ill and not expected to live. He died the following day. To assure the child’s spiritual salvation, they would have baptized the baby immediately in the closest church, which suggests they were living in Steinwenden at that time.

Lastly, were Conrad Schlosser’s wife’s parents among the families in Steinwenden on that 1684 tax list? We don’t know, but if I had to guess, and I do have to guess, I would suspect that either Anna Ursula’s father was Johann Jacob Hauser or that her family was found among the Steinwenden families in 1684.  Families tended to travel together in order to assist and support each other.

Yes, yes, I know, more rabbit holes.  But you know, sometimes you find those elusive golden rabbits!

A hearty and heart-felt thank you to all of my friends and rabbit-hole buddies. I literally could not do this without all of you!

DNA Love and Your “Big 8” – Plus Valentine’s Day Sales!

We’re approaching Valentine’s Day, and I’m reminded just how much I love genetic genealogy. I already loved genealogy before the genetic portion emerged. Since DNA has been added to our toolbox, I’m head over heels.

I can’t even begin to count the number of breakthroughs I’ve had using DNA. On EVERY LINE.

In order to further my own genealogy, I’ve purchased countless (I don’t want to count, truthfully) kits and tests for other people. I don’t regret any single one of those dollars, because they all helped ME. Yes, even kits that didn’t match helped me.

Why? Because they might have matched. Some did match. Some provide haplogroup information for my ”Big 8” meaning for all of my 8 great-grandparents.

Click to enlarge

As you can see, I still need to find test candidates for two of my great-grandparents to complete the “Big 8.”

My now-deceased aunt tested for the Margaret Claxton/Clarkson line before mitochondrial full sequencing was commercially available. When I wanted to upgrade her test to full sequence and autosomal, I couldn’t because the archived DNA quality was too poor. Now, I need to find another testing candidate to discover her full haplogroup aside from the rather generic H. Lesson learned – now I just order the whole shebang out the gate!

A second mitochondrial test that I need is for Evaline Miller, my Brethren great-grandmother.

Do You Qualify For a Free Test?

Shameless plug – If you descend from any of the following women through all females to the current generation, where testers can be either males or females, I have a free mitochondrial AND autosomal test for YOU at Family Tree DNA. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Margaret Claxton (1851-1920) Hancock Co, TN
  • Elizabeth Speaks (1832-1907) Hancock Co., TN
  • Ann McKee (1804/5-1850/50) Washington Co., VA, Lee Co., VA
  • Elizabeth, wife of Andrew McKee (1766-1814) Washington Co., VA
  • Evaline Miller (1857-1939) Elkhart Co., Indiana
  • Margaret Elizabeth Lentz (1822-1903) Montgomery Co., Ohio, Elkhart Co., Indiana
  • Fredericka Reuhle (1788-1863) Beutelsbach, Germany, Montgomery Co., Ohio
  • Dorothea Katharina Wolfin (b 1755) Beutelsbach, Germany
  • Dorothea Keubach (1729-1790) Endersbach, Germany, Beutelsbach, Germany

Let’s say you want to do the same thing, find people who are candidates to test for specific lines.

Finding Test Candidates

How might you find these people? Trees of autosomal DNA matches are a good choice. I mine my DNA matches at all vendors to see who might match me in the direct line needed to carry the Y or mitochondrial DNA of the desired ancestor. If someone has already DNA tested, they at least understand the subject and you’re not introducing the topic of DNA testing from scratch.

The three main testing vendors (along with GedMatch) each have a variety of tools to help find candidates.

  • Ancestry: Green leaf hints DNA+Tree Matching
  • Family Tree DNA: Phased maternal and paternal “bucketed” match results, trees and in-common surnames
  • MyHeritage: DNA+Tree Matching called SmartMatching
  • GedMatch: Search all GEDCOMs and GEDCOM 1 to All

As luck would have it, all three vendors are having Valentine’s Day DNA Sales too.

Valentine Day Sales and Testing Strategy

Now is a great time to test and transfer your autosomal DNA results for maximum matching.

Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA is having their “Sprinkle Some DNA Love” sale where the Family Finder autosomal test is on sale for $59.

If you want the option of Y, mitochondrial and autosomal, Family Tree DNA is the vendor to select, as they are the only vendor performing Y and mitochondrial testing and matching. You can purchase the Family Finder test today and add any of the other tests, either now or later. $59 is the least expensive price of all the vendors this holiday and you can transfer to MyHeritage and GedMatch for free!

MyHeritage

MyHeritage is on sale for $69 (or $59 if you purchase 2.) You can transfer Family Tree DNA kits to MyHeritage and vice versa without losing any quality or matches because Family Tree DNA’s lab runs the tests for MyHeritage. In fact, this is a great approach because transfers are free and you can fish in both ponds. Both vendors have advanced tools. MyHeritage tends to have European testers not in other data bases, so whether your transfer or test, you’ll want to be there if you have European heritage.

The transfer is free to Family Tree DNA, but there is a charge to unlock their advanced tools, so the best testing strategy would be to test at Family Tree DNA (where the test is less expensive) and transfer to MyHeritage. Total cost – $59 at Family Tree DNA where the total cost of testing first at MyHeritage and transferring to FTDNA is $88 (or $78 each if you purchase 2 kits.)

Ancestry

Ancestry’s test is also on sale for $69. You can transfer the Ancestry results to Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage, but the Ancestry test only covers about 25% of the same test locations as either Family Tree DNA or MyHeritage. As a result, at Family Tree DNA, you only receive your closest 20-25% of your matches and at MyHeritage, they utilize imputation to compensate for the shortcoming. Ancestry’s matching data base is quite large and their tools, though not as comprehensive as elsewhere, are easy to use.

You cannot transfer any results TO Ancestry, so my recommendation if you’re going to test at Ancestry would be to also test at Family Tree DNA and transfer your results to MyHeritage.

Of course, all three of these tests provide the much-sought-after ethnicity estimates.

Testing (and Money Saving) Strategy

Of the four vendors who provide autosomal matching, the comparative costs during the Valentine’s Day sale are as follows:

  • If you’re only going to make one purchase, you can purchase a kit for $59 at Family Tree DNA, have it available for upgrades and transfer to both MyHeritage and GedMatch for free.
  • You can test at Ancestry and Family Tree DNA, both, and transfer to MyHeritage and GedMatch for a total cost of $128 and be swimming in all the best ponds!
  • If you’re an adoptee or seeking an unknown parent, you’ll want to test at 23andMe as well. Their Ancestry Service kit is on sale for $79 now, but 23andMe has dropped to a distant 4th in terms of genetic genealogy.

How about buying a genetic genealogy valentine bouquet for someone you love!

Click here to “sprinkle some DNA love” at Family Tree DNA.

Click here to purchase at or transfer files to MyHeritage.

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 900 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA, or one of the affiliate links below:

Affiliate links are limited to:

Who Tests the X Chromosome?

Recently, someone asked which of the major DNA testing companies test the X chromosome and which ones use the X in matching. How does this difference influence the quality of our matches?

Vendor X in Download File Uses X in Matching X Included in Total cM Count
23andMe Yes Yes Yes
Family Tree DNA Yes Yes (if have a match on another chromosome) No
Ancestry Yes *No No
MyHeritage Yes No No
GedMatch N/A Separately No

*If Ancestry did utilize the X in matching, it wouldn’t benefit customers because Ancestry does not show segment information by chromosome.  In other words, no chromosome browser.

Family Tree DNA includes any size X match IF and only if the two people already match on a different chromosome.

GedMatch, of course, isn’t a vendor who does DNA testing, so they don’t provide download files.  They are solely on the receiving end.

X CentiMorgan Counts

Due to variations in the way vendors calculate matches and total cM counts, your mileage may vary a bit.

In other words, the 23andMe cM total, if an X match is involved, may be slightly more than a match between the same two people at Family Tree DNA, where the X match cM is not included in the cM total.

Conversely, you won’t show an X match with someone at Family Tree DNA if there isn’t also another segment on a different chromosome that matches.

In general, due to the thin spread of SNPs on the X chromosome, you will need, on average, a cM match that is twice as large as on other chromosomes to be considered of equal weight.

In other words, a 10 cM match on the X chromosome would only be genealogically equivalent to approximately a 5 cM match on any other chromosome.

X matches really can’t be evaluated by the same rules as other chromosomes due both to their SNP paucity and their inheritance path, which is why most vendors don’t include those segments in the total cM count.

X Matches

While including the X chromosome cM count is problematic, X matching can be a huge benefit because of the unique inheritance path of the X chromosome.

In the article, X Marks the Spot, we discussed the inheritance path of the X chromosome for both males and females. Females inherit an X chromosome from both father and mother, which recombines just like chromosomes 1-22.  However, men only inherit an X from their mother, because they inherit a Y from their father instead of the X.  Therefore, males will only inherit an X from their mother, and females will only inherit their father’s mother’s X chromosome.

Charting Companion software works with your genealogy software of choice to produce a lovely fan chart where the contributors of my X chromosome are charted in color, above. You can read more about Charting Companion here.

The great news is that if you and a match share a significant portion of the X chromosome, meaning more than 15 cM which reduces the likelihood of an identical by chance match, the common ancestor (on that segment) has to come from an ancestor in your direct X path.

I’m always excited to see with whom I share an X.  That piece of information alone helps me focus my ancestor detective efforts on a specific portion of my tree.

Some X segments can remain intact for generations and may be very old.  So don’t be surprised if the common ancestor of the X segment and another matching segment may not be the same ancestor.

Sorting by X

I wasn’t able to find a way to sort by X chromosome matches at 23andMe, but you can sort by the X at both Family Tree DNA and GedMatch.

At GedMatch, X matching shows on the one-to-many match page.  You can sort by either Total X cM or Largest X cM by using the up and down arrows, at right, below, in the X DNA columns.

After you identify an X match, be sure to run the X one-to-one match option to verify.

My GedMatch matches cause me to wonder if 23andMe is using a different reporting threshold for the X chromosome, because one of my matches at GedMatch is a close family member with no X match at 23andMe, but a total of 32 X cM and with a longest segment of 14 X cM at GedMatch.

That same individual matches me with the largest X segment of 14 cM at Family Tree DNA as well.

Family Tree DNA X Match Phasing

At Family Tree DNA, on your Family Finder matches page, just click on the X-Match header (at right, below) to bring all of your X matches to the top of your list.

If you have linked any kits of relatives to your tree, you will see numbers of phased kits on the maternal and paternal tabs with the red and blue male and female icons. In the example above, I have 3313 matches total, with 744 being paternal, 586 being maternal.

Next, click on the maternal or paternal tab to see only the people with X matches who match you on the  your maternal and paternal lines. Matches are automatically sorted into maternal and paternal “buckets” for you. Remember to check the size of the X match before deciding about relevance.

Who is your largest X match that you don’t already know?  Maybe you can find your common ancestor today.

Have fun!!!

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate.  If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase.  Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay.  This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 900 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc.  In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received.  In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product.  I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community.  If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA, or one of the affiliate links below:

Affiliate links are limited to:

I Am A River – 52 Ancestors #182

The quilt, “I Am A River” was inspired by a dream during a very difficult period in my life in the 1990s. In fact, I refer to it as “the decade from hell.”

The “elevator pitch” summary from that decade includes the death of my sister along with the prolonged death of my step-father and my in-laws. However, the worst catastrophe was that my (former) husband had a massive stroke which did not kill him but severely disabled him both physically and mentally – meaning I was thrust literally in the blink of an eye into many roles for which I was either ill-prepared or entirely unprepared.

In the spirit of “anything that can go wrong, will,” the stroke occurred at the same time that my much-beloved step-father was dying. My mother was a basket case and so was I. Of course, all of this affected my children in different ways too, and none of it positively. The “decade from hell” doesn’t even begin to convey the magnitude of the swath of devastation.

There were many decisions that I had to make flying blind, with the future entirely unknown.

The Dream

In the dream, various people stood at the intersection of branches of a river where the river split into two divergent paths.  They reacted in different ways. One person kept looking back, regretting what had been left behind. One person crawled up on the rocks and tried very hard to avoid making any decision. Me, I craned my neck, peering as far as I could down both sides of the river, upstream and downstream, trying my best to discern the future to make an informed choice.

I felt the soul-searing anchor weight of knowing my decision affected the lives of others as much or perhaps even more than those decisions affected me. I might have a chance to recover.  Others would not if I made a poor choice.

Since it was a dream, I could have been all three people – dreams don’t have to make sense and I only remembered the essence, not the details, upon awakening. I also never forgot. The simple message of that dream haunted me.

Of course, in reality, we can’t see very far down the river or into the future anyway and even if we could, we’d never know what was hidden around the next bend. We have to make the best decision we can at the time and then simply hold on for the ride. Especially when your bucolic “Lazy River” ride has turned into a class V whitewater rapids, defined as:

Extremely difficult. Long and violent rapids that follow each other almost without interruption. River filled with obstructions. Big drops and violent currents. Extremely steep gradient. Even reconnoitering may be difficult. Rescue preparations mandatory.

Except – there is no rescue.

The dream represented different approaches to an uncertain and terrifying future – looking backwards and attempting to dwell in the high cliffs of the past, climbing out of the water onto the rock, trying to delay a decision, or trying to peer into the future.  It was impossible to simply having faith and go with the flow. “The flow,” in this case, was strewn with peril and death.

I am not that faithful “go with the flow” person. I worry. I fret. I stew. I worry some more. Especially when other people’s welfare is involved. I’m much more willing to roll the dice about my own.

The great irony in all of this is that when forced, I make a decision and simply march forward, one foot in front of the other.

I hear the poem, Invictus, and try my best to believe it. I repeat the phrases “bloody but unbowed” and “I am the captain of my soul” and attempt to convince myself I’m not afraid. Mostly, I simply refuse to acknowledge the shrill voice of fear.

It’s only when I have the luxury, or torture, of time to decide that I agonize over the “what-ifs.”

So here I am, standing in the middle of the river once again. I’ve come to believe we all stand in this river many times in our lives.

DNA

DNA has shaped both me and my life – indelibly. DNA literally created what I am in a biological sense and accounts in many ways for who I am in terms of my traits.

However, for the past 18 years, DNA has shaped me through genetic genealogy as well – allowing me to become acquainted with my ancestors in ways never before possible. To identify with them in a very personal way. It has taken me to places I never dreamed I could or would go – literally, figuratively and scientifically. A new frontier – the one within.

We have the capacity today to be closer to our ancestors through available records and DNA testing than ever before.  A new horizon has been reached – the threshold crossed.

So, it’s only natural that I would look backwards to my ancestors, perhaps hoping for some shred of advice or imparted wisdom as I stand once again on what seems like the continental divide.

What did my ancestors do when they had decisions to make? How did they make them? What were they thinking? Is there a guiding light there someplace?

I’d settle for a glimmer.

Were they wanderlusts or unwilling refugees? Some of both? Is that heritable? Did they bequeath it to me?

I picked up, moved across the country and changed my life when I was in my mid-20s. I was certainly not unafraid, but I was infinitely determined. My mother called it stubborn😊 I call it tenacious. A rose by any other name. I have no regrets.

Then, fate intervened again some 13 years later with my husband’s stroke. That was one horrific day – and only a beginning that shoved me unwillingly through a doorway from which there was no return.  A one-way portal.

More than a decade later, my life transformed again when I lost my mother. I also remarried. I didn’t anticipate or expect any of those changes back when I was making that first decision to move across the country with my small children in tow.

Sometimes you receive wonderful gifts of fate, opportunities, and sometimes you have to make lemonade out of lemons. Often, you think you’re doing one and you wind up doing the other. Gifts, lemons and lemonade all chained together in the garland of life. That, of course, is exactly why we worry and sit in the middle of that river.

The unknown. That damned terrifying unknown.

So, what would my ancestors do?

WWMAD?

Let’s take a look and see what wisdom the ancestors might impart, based on what we know about their life-altering decisions.

My mother always voiced this lament that made me laugh which made her cringe:

“If you would only just behave.”

This from the woman who danced in the 1930s into the 1940s – trailblazing for others to follow. Ironically, her decision to dance was more driven by the fact that she had no other skill with which to support herself, rather than a burning desire to perform.  What she wanted to be was a bookkeeper – but college money was for boys in the family, not girls. Girls danced.

If you’re going to dance, do it well enough to dance professionally.  That’s professionally as in stage and theater, not a strip club.  Turn lemons into lemonade.

Not to suggest I’m anything like my mother, but let’s just say this photo of me was taken after the genetic genealogy conference in Houston.

Ok. So. That “well behaved” thing is obviously never going to happen.

But where did it come from?

Grandmother, Edith Lore Ferverda and Great-Grandmother, Nora Kirsch Lore

On to my next ancestors, who, I might add, are in this motorcycle photo taken in the early 1900s when motorcycle riding was entirely verboten for women.  Not only is my grandmother, Edith, in this photo, so is her mother, Nora, (last two, at rear) and her sisters. In case anyone wants to know where I got that “not well-behaved” propensity, um, it might be here! If you’re counting, this is four generations of misbehavior in a row.  Genetic much?

My grandmother, Edith Barbara Lore, (rear of the motorcycle) used to tell my mother, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

She would know.

Edith didn’t follow her heart and never really forgave herself for the lost opportunity – coloring the way she reacted to her family for the rest of her life. At some level, she spent her life grieving the opportunity she never took. Perhaps she was sitting on that rock in the river, or attempting to peer downstream.

Regret is poison.

Had my grandmother gone to Colorado with “the cowboy,” let’s just say that my life would not be the same and my grandfather would have been someone entirely different. I wouldn’t be me.

Ironically, the name of the man who so convincingly stole my grandmother’s heart and took it west with him, whom she was afraid to follow, is entirely unknown. Just “the cowboy.”

Fear – so often the ruler or our life – and our decisions.

Had Edith made a different choice, my mother and I would be different people, raised in Colorado, not Indiana. A ripple through the pond of life that would reflect for eternity – so long as my grandmother’s descendants live.

I don’t want to live my life with regrets like my grandmother – but who’s to say she wouldn’t have regretted following her love to the wild west. It’s a possibility either way. Life’s like that.  No promises. Uncertain at best. Sitting in that rock in the river.

Father, William Sterling Estes

My father, William Sterling Estes, made so many outright bad decisions from anyone’s perspective that I often want to shake him and ask, “What the Hell were you thinking?”  Clearly, I’m not looking for any advice from him.  Just like you don’t go to the bar and ask the drunk guy who is broke for financial advice.

My father wasted no time even trying to look upstream.  He was caught up in the adrenaline of the minute, swimming directly into the rapids without even a life vest. He did however, appear to develop a skill in the backstroke, especially after being caught in a net!

The best I can hope for comes from the old adage, “at least he can serve as a bad example.”

Grandmother, Ollie Bolton

My father’s mother, Ollie Bolton – that poor woman. She certainly didn’t live the life she signed up for as a misty-eyed bride of 18 tender years.

I don’t know if she lived her own dreams, or her husband’s. Did she really want to leave Claiborne County, Tennessee and move to Springdale, Arkansas almost immediately after she was married where her first few children would be born? Was that trip full of just-married “I’ll follow you anywhere” starry-eyed love? I’d bet the journey back was VERY different.

Ollie moved back to Tennessee a decade later with a husband, William George Estes, who wasn’t fond of work and was very fond of alcohol. They are pictured together below, although she may haunt me for that.

Ollie wound up with a husband that wasn’t, who drank more than worked and had a roving eye as well as other body parts. In the next chapter of her life, after a child burned to death and living in yet a third state where she caught her husband cheating, Ollie found herself alone, struggling and parceling out her children. I don’t know how much was by choice or because she had only poor choices available at that point.

How I wish I could talk to Ollie and understand how she made those horribly difficult decisions – her thought process and the circumstances I’ll never fully understand that affected my father so profoundly.

Choices.

So often our choices really aren’t our own. Thrown into the water and forced to swim or drown.

Forced upon us by circumstances in which we find ourselves. No one wants to be that person who is living with their children, destitute, ill, dependent and vulnerable in their old age.

My greatest fear isn’t death, and never has been, but that scenario! That!

GG-Grandfather, John Y. Estes

I think about my great-great-grandfather, John Y. Estes, who served in the Civil War, on the side of the Confederacy. He was listed as a deserter, supposedly captured, then became a POW. Did he put up a struggle, or was being “captured” really surrender or seeking the Union soldiers? Was he even serving of his own volition, or was he forced, conscripted? What did he think about when deciding to “desert,” if that’s in fact what happened? Was he brave or cowardly?

Eventually, after being held as a POW, John was released north of the Ohio River near the end of the war. I expect they thought the walk back to Tennessee on an injured leg would kill him, but it didn’t. Limping only slows you down. Sometimes impairments are more in the eye of the beholder and a matter of attitude. Maybe that tenacious, stubborn gene perchance?  Did I get a dose from both sides?

After his return to Claiborne County, Tennessee, John immediately sold his household goods to his eldest son who was only age 17 at the time. A transaction that raises eyebrows and provides nothing but questions. He continued to live in the home with his wife, because at least two more children were subsequently born.

Some 15 years after the Civil War, John Y. Estes walked to Texas with a bum leg. Why did he make that choice? What was the draw? Did he and Ruthy, his wife, discuss that choice before he left? What was their intention?

Was the attraction the land available in Oklahoma and Texas, although he never owned any there and appeared to abandon his land in Tennessee to his wife? Was this a form of unofficial divorce? Did he return to his roots? He lived on Choctaw land although his life in Oklahoma is murky at best.

Was he excited about an opportunity, looking forward? Or was he running from something, like his Civil War service or a marriage gone bad? Was he at odds with his wife? What was his motivation? How did he weigh the odds? Did he actually decide to walk 1000 miles, or did he just walk the first mile, then the second, then the third…until he had walked 1000? Analogous to simply jumping into the water and finding your self far downstream into uncharted waters.

Not only did he walk to Texas once, but he walked back to Claiborne County, then back to Texas again. Yes, three walks of more than 1000 miles each. Apparently his walk from the north to the south after the Civil War of 300 or 400 miles that was supposed to kill him was only training.

John was no spring chicken either. In 1865 when he was released as a POW, he was 47 and by 1880 when he first walked to Texas, he was 62. I can’t even begin to fathom walking to Texas, and back, and back to Texas again, at that age AND on a bad leg – so bad that his grandchildren’s recollection of him is that he was short and fat with bushy eyebrows and that he limped with one leg shorter than the other.

What drives, or inspires, someone to undertake a journey like that, at the age when others retire, especially with his “handicap”? Whatever in this world would cause him to undertake that journey a second and third time? Whatever it was, it must have been extremely compelling. Something caused him to plunge into the water and then swim upstream three times.

Why? What was he thinking?

And why did this man not leave a journal?  Some hint? So exasperating.

GG-Grandmother Ruthy Dodson Estes

And what of John’s wife, Ruthy Dodson? Did she proclaim “good riddance” when he left? Did he walk back to Tennessee, hoping to convince her to return to Texas with him? Did she actually decide not to go, or did she never decide, thereby deciding by not deciding? Was she attempting to peer down the river?

The only hint is that she says she is divorced in the 1880 census – but there is no divorce on record at the courthouse. Was she just saving face, missing him, and angry that John had left forever?

What did she think as he walked away for the last time? Did he turn around and look back with one last glimmer of hope? Was she too angry, stubborn or afraid to go?

Was she regretting a decision, or relieved? By 1883, when her son George moved to Texas too, she could have gone by train. But still, she stayed in Tennessee.

Ruthy had rheumatoid arthritis. Perhaps her health was simply too poor to travel that distance. The family story says that she was disabled for 22 years and her son, Lazarus, had to carry her down the mountain from her cabin to his so she could live with he and his wife. Did Ruthy’s health prevent her from making the decision to relocate to Texas?

Or, God forbid, was Ruthy’s deteriorating health part of what drove John Y. Estes to walk to Texas after being married for 39 years? Subtracting 22 years from her death date tells us that she was severely disabled by 1881.  I really, really don’t want to think John simply, literally walked away from a wife who needed help. Escaping down that river.

GGG-Grandfather, John R. Estes

The father of John Y. Estes, John R. Estes who was born and raised in Halifax County, Virginia packed his young family up after his military service in the War of 1812 and probably joined a wagon caravan through the mountains to Claiborne County, Tennessee. He was a young man then, but surely he knew that he was saying goodbye to his mother, father and siblings and would never see them again? How did he do that? Was he under the delusion that he would return to visit? His mother died not long after he moved, but his father lived another 40 years. Did he look backward up on those river cliffs, longing for what he left behind – wishing to see his parents one last time?

And what about his wife, Nancy Ann Moore who would sit in her father’s church one last time hearing him preach? Did she get to vote or did she simply get dragged into the water along with John?

At least I get to vote. Which means, of course, I bear full responsibility for the outcome of that vote. Ying and yang.

GGGG-Grandfather, George Estes

John R.’s father, George Estes, was a Revolutionary soldier, served 3 terms, moved a family in 1781 to what would become Hawkins and Grainger Counties in eastern Tennessee, stayed a year or so, but then rode back to Halifax County where he spent the rest of his life.

George’s reverse path is really quite different, because no one ever “went back.” But George did! He rode his horse eastward, backtracking, even though he wasn’t married and there was no obvious compelling reason. What caused him to return? I’d love to know what he was thinking, as his decision is counter-intuitive, especially as compared to the other people following that same migration route westward.

Why?

What caused George to swim back upstream?

GGGGGGG-Grandfather, Abraham Estes

Abraham Estes, an orphan in Kent, England, married at age 25 in 1672 and buried his young wife before setting sail for America 9 or 10 months later. There’s no question that he was leaving heartbreak. He had nothing left to lose, and everything to gain. He didn’t care about what was down that river, because staying was so much more painful than leaving.

His decision, I understand, but others are much murkier.

Those Brave Souls

One brave soul, the founder of each family line in America had to make the decision to sell everything, pay for passage on a boat – or sell themselves as indentured servants – leave their homeland and head for the colonies. Of course, that assumes they weren’t convicts or slaves who had no choice at all. Sometimes slaves threw themselves into the sea, with full intention of drowning – because they believed death was better than what would follow. Perhaps they were right.

How did our ancestors make migration decisions? Were they made with excited optimism or with faces lined with worry about potential death. Did they really have choices? It’s one thing to decide for yourself, but what of the choice made for your wife and children – knowing that the old wives’ tale foretold that one child would die in each family for each sea crossing. Would you be willing to sacrifice a child to the watery grave – or did you think you would be the lucky unscathed family? Was their faith in whatever they perceived God or their religion to be such that they felt a child’s death was pre-ordained? Or, did they believe God would watch over them?

I’m afraid my rock-sitting in the middle of the river doesn’t do those brave ancestors justice. There was no question that they were never going home. There was no going back – no breadcrumbs. There were no phones. Letters were uncertain and best case, horribly slow.  Many never arrived at all. Whatever and whoever they left behind was unquestionably forever – and the future was obscured in the fog of an uncertain journey in a small leaky boat traversing a massive and often angry sea.

There was no guarantee they would survive the passage – and they clearly knew that. Yet, they made the decision to leave anyway.

I’d love to know how they reached that decision. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

GGG-Grandfather, Jacob Lentz

The paternal Y-line DNA tells us that our Lentz line was found along the Volga River about 3500 years ago, one of very few men living today who match ancient burials there. They belong to the Yamnaya culture whose men decided in some way to “migrate” to what is today Germany.

We know, unquestionably that they left their homes, traveling thousands of miles, but why, and how was that decision made? Were they soldiers or did they arrive as settlers with families? Did they have any idea where they were going, or did they simply follow commands to travel west and attack villages as they went? Did they stay and settle, or just leave their DNA in the local population?

And then there was Yamnaya descendant, Jacob Lentz, the humble vine-dresser, too poor to marry his “wife,” causing their children to be born without the “benefit of marriage.”  In 1816 a famine and crop failure nearly starved the family, prompting them to leave Beutelsbach, Germany and set sail for the new world in the spring 1817 – only to become shipwrecked by a murderous sea captain, nearly starved for a second time, then becoming stranded in Norway. Jacob lost almost everything – except his wife and three of his children. One of his children perished. The wives’ tale fulfilled.

There’s far more that we don’t know than we do.

Brave – Jacob Lentz was an incredibly brave leader – finding his voice when compassion called, organizing the shipwrecked survivors into a cohesive group and finding passage, with no money, a second time. He and his family became indentured servants, but after serving their time, Jacob became a Brethren, moving once again cross country and acquiring land in Ohio. In spite of that horrific life chapter, Jacob certainly achieved his dream. But, there were costs, unspeakable literal life and death costs as he buried family members and friends at sea as they died of starvation. a fate impossible to even conceive of ahead of time.

Jacob must has been inconsolably wracked as he realized how others suffered and died because of his decision, including his own child.

Sometimes we drown in that river. Sometimes we watch others drown as a result of our decisions. Sometimes we wish we could drown.

How did Jacob balance the risk versus the potential reward?  Was his driving factor hunger and poverty? Was he desperate to marry his wife? How did he muster the courage to get on the SECOND ship to America, after his horrific experience on the first one? Was his driving desire desperation?

GGG-Grandmother, Fredericka Reuhle and her Parents

Jacob’s wife, Fredericka Reuhle, left Germany with her husband, children and parents on that ill-fated journey. She and her parents left some of her siblings behind. What a gut-wrenching goodbye that must have been. I know the famine and crop failure drove them to leave – but why did some choose to stay?

Fredericka’s parents were about age 60 at that time. We don’t know for sure that they survived, but they weren’t listed among the dead in Norway. Maybe they thought their days of decisions were over – only to make the most life-altering decision of their lifetime.

Did that decision lead to a new life or a slow death? Did they find themselves indentured as servants at age 60, or did they find only a watery grave at the end of their journey? Did they too drown in that proverbial river?

Some ancestors made an active decision to leave, or stay, but refugees from famine or war often had little choice. Convicts had none.

My ancestral lines include many religious refugees. The fighting between people of different religious (and political) views is as old as humanity itself. Some seeking religious tolerance.  Some left to escape religion entirely.

GGGGGG-Grandfather, Murtough McDowell

Murtough McDowell was a political refugee from Ireland who homesteaded in Maryland by 1722, before Baltimore even existed. He and his young wife were clearly seeking opportunities. It wasn’t possible to own land in Ireland at that time – not for poor Protestants anyway. Land wasn’t guaranteed in the colony of Maryland, but it was possible – and I’m sure it was that possibility along with almost constant warfare that drew him away from Kingsmoss outside of Belfast. I’d say he left with a smile on his face – right up until he waved goodbye to his parents if they were still living. He lived to realize his dream – with three land patents to his name. That river of life was kind to him, as best we know.

GGGGGG-Grandfather, Johann Michael Mueller

Johann Michael Mueller was probably a religious refugee – one of those reviled Pietists. The Germans were probably glad to see these folks move on – as the Swiss had been a generation or two before. No matter, America was the land of opportunity where religious freedom was tolerated if not encouraged in Pennsylvania. Michael Mueller/Miller immigrated with his half-brother, Jacob Stutzman – two young men probably full of life, seeking opportunity. The decision to leave was probably relatively easy for them, and they had each other for company. They literally dove into the water together.

Eventually, Johann Michael Miller’s descendants would marry those of Jacob Lentz on the prairieland frontier of northern Indiana, adjacent the Indian village.

Great-Grandparents, Curtis Benjamin Lore and Nora Kirsch

My mother’s grandfather, Curtis Benjamin Lore, above with wife Nora, was half Acadian. C. B. Lore, as he was called, made some questionable decisions. You know, like marrying a second woman before divorcing the first wife. Those pesky details.

However, unlike the decisions made by other ancestors, I very clearly understand HOW he made that decision – and it had to do with the shotgun of his soon-to-be father-in-law, Jacob Kirsch, who was a crack shot. Jacob, of course, didn’t know that the man who had gotten his daughter, Nora Kirsch, pregnant was still married to someone else – or I’m thinking that C. B. Lore wouldn’t have been afforded the option of marrying Nora – he would have been pushing up daisies instead. Jacob Kirsch had already lynched a man just two years earlier, so there would have been no doubt in C. B. Lore’s mind about what Jacob could and would do. That decision was probably easy.

One river branch was sure and certain death and the other was unknown.

GG-Grandfather Anthony Lore

C. B. Lore’s father, Anthony Lore or Lord, led something of a sketchy life and was rumored to be either a river trader or a pirate. The one thing we do know, for sure, is that at one point, after a terrible rift in his Acadian family caused by his mother renouncing the Catholic faith and becoming, gasp, Protestant, that Anthony simply picked up and left L’Acadie, south of Montreal. He followed Lake Champlain into Vermont where he met and married his non-Acadian, non-Catholic wife, Rachel Hill.

Why he made the choice to leave is evident. That religious split within the Lord family colored both sides of that family into future generations where the religious battle was fought over and over for generations. Not for Anthony – he simply left.

Anything downriver had to be better than staying.

The Acadians

The Acadians, staunch Catholics, began settling in Port Royal, Nova Scotia about 1603, before Jamestown was founded, but their new homeland wasn’t to be forever. In 1755, some 150 years later, they were forcibly evicted by the English. Originally arriving in Nova Scotia as Catholics seeking refuge, their choice to remain neutral in Canada to maintain peace had backfired. When deported, 6 generations after arrival, it was as refugees once again – stripped of everything, at the mercy of anyone and everyone – families scattered to the winds. The only choice they got to make was whether to try to find their family members, their way back to Canada or attempt to rebuild a life wherever the ship they were herded onto landed.

The Acadian people had both literally and figuratively been herded into the river water.

These brave people risked everything to find family again.  Untold numbers perished.  True grit.

The 1709ers

The 1709ers were another group of refugees who weren’t refugees to begin with but became refugees in 1709 as a result of their decision to leave Germany in search of the elusive dream – free land. Some of the flyers distributed in Germany espousing that alluring “fake news” still exist, encouraging people to travel to America to claim “free land” supposedly being provided by the Queen of England, so we know why these German families made this choice.

We know that the decision was probably made quickly and in an adrenalin-fueled haze – sometimes the decision point to actual departure accomplished within days. What they didn’t know or expect was that they would be stranded first in Rotterdam, then in England for a year or so, then on to America where that “free land” to which they convinced themselves they were entitled never materialized.

Their lives might have been better had they had heeded the colloquialism, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

It’s stories like this that cause me to overthink things today. Am I sure I have every piece of information I need to make the decision?  Is the info all valid?

The 1709ers are a great example of the decisions we fear making – a one-way street where the dream becomes a nightmare that won’t end and from which there is no recovery. Maybe these people were a little too anxious to plunge into that river.

Native Americans

And then, of course, my Native ancestors who are very nearly lost entirely to history in the “settling of America.” Genocide, pure and simple, using the excuse that they were pagans and in need of religious conversion.

There are only remnants of their blood running in my veins today. But their story, their history has never been stronger – even if I don’t know all of their names. Some have been resurrected through the DNA of their descendants. Even if it’s only their Y or mitochondrial DNA that introduces me to them – they are then positively identified as Native and we can honor their sacrifices. They had to make horrific decisions. Akin to “how would you like to die?” Not if, only how. They had no good options. Both sides of their river was filled with deadly, impassible, class VI rapids.

Sometimes, being nice to strangers really isn’t the answer. But, how do you know? Where do the concepts of humanity to others and self-preservation separate?

The River of Uncertainty

Decisions are frightening and difficult.  No hints as to the unknown future.  No peeking around the bend in the River of Uncertainty.

In the end, will we say that we could have missed the pain, but would have had to miss the dance – or will we, like the 1709ers, be irreparably damaged as a result of what was expected to be a choice full of smiles and opportunity. Will we drown in those rapids, nameless, like my Native ancestors? Will we wish we were dead instead, or die a burden to our children?

Or, will we be like the redeemed doubter, George Washington, who said in September 1776, writing to his cousin, after losing New York City to the British in the Revolutionary War, “If I were to wish the bitterest curse to an enemy on this side of the grave, I should put him in my stead with my feelings.” Then, uncertain, feeling inadequate and scared as hell, General Washington mustered the courage of his convictions and went on to win the war – and with it America’s freedom from England, irreversibly changing the course of history for the entire world.  Not to mention changing the life of every single American individually between then and now. He simply dove into the icy water, defying both fear and fate!

How does anyone know what’s down the river and around the bend? How can one best anticipate the future and make the decision with the least harmful outcome?

No one wants to become “that” burdensome ancestor who made a tragic decision.  We all want to be the success story – but none of my ancestors made the decisions they did knowing the outcome.

Therein lies the eternal human quandary. How to make the best choice.

Here I am, once again, having come full circle, in the middle of the river – left wondering what my ancestors would have done. The message I hear, strong and clear, is to consider carefully and then plunge with the courage of your convictions, embracing the opportunity, relishing the journey, and never looking back.

We are all the river and the river is life.

Journey

As you journey through life,
choose your destinations well,
but do not hurry there.

You will arrive soon enough.

Wander the back roads and forgotten paths,
keeping your destination in your heart,
like the fixed point of a compass.

Seek out new voices,
strange sights,
and ideas foreign to your own.

Such things are riches for the soul.

And if, upon arrival
you find that your destination
is not exactly as you had dreamed,
do not be disappointed.

Think of all you would have missed
but for the journey there,
and know that the true worth of your travels
is not where you come to be at journey’s end.

But in who you came to be along the way.

Roberta Estes