Utilizing MyHeritage AutoClusters to Analyze your DNA Matches

AutoClusters are so much fun and can provide tons of information. I’m going to step through how to analyze your cluster matches easily and productively in conjunction with the MyHeritage tools, but first, a little light housekeeping.

First, please note that this article was presented as a webinar for MyHeritage as part of the MyHeritageDNA Facebook LIVE series. You can watch it anytime, free, at the permanent link, here, courtesy of MyHeritage and me. However, everyone learns differently, and some people do better with written instructions. You can follow the step-by-step instructions in this article.

Second, AutoClusters are a built-in advanced DNA tool at MyHeritage for customers who either:

I would encourage the subscription because many of the MyHeritage tools function best with a large tree. While MyHeritage does offer free trees of up to 250 people, to take full advantage of your DNA test plus tools, you’ll want a larger tree. Subscription features and pricing can be found here and you can try a free trial subscription here.

Third, if you’d like to transfer your DNA file from another vendor, I wrote step-by-step instructions, here.

Fourth, MyHeritage is having a $49 Halloween DNA sale, here, with free shipping if you purchase 2 kits.

And last, Genetic Affairs, the author of AutoClusters, provides additional functionality on their own website for use with FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe. Customers at Genetic Affairs cannot access MyHeritage data from the Genetic Affairs website since MyHeritage contracts with Genetic Affairs to provide AutoClusters directly to MyHeritage customers at no additional charge. I only mention this because the functionality described in this article and in the companion webinar discusses the functionality by using a combination of AutoClusters and the unique tools available only at MyHeritage.

Ok, housekeeping complete – on to AutoClusters!

Get yourself a cup of coffee or tea. We’re taking a deep dive here, beginning to end, but keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything that’s possible initially, or ever. It’s OK to take baby steps. Just know that AutoClusters can be a superpower to breaking down brick walls. Not only that, AutoClusters are simply FUN!

Let’s start with a basic question.

What is an AutoCluster and Why Do I Care?

An AutoCluster is an artful bouquet of hints, arranged by family group in a puzzle format.

AutoCluster technology, a form of genetic networks, is a way to display your matches who match you and who also match each other in a meaningful, colored-coded group. Each group, or cluster, shares a common ancestral line, somehow. That “how” discovery, or better stated, “which ancestor” discovery is up to you – but clusters provide huge hints!

We’re genealogists, right – we live for hints. Let’s take a look at how this works.

I would suggest reading through this article the first time, then working through the steps as you read it a second time with your own AutoCluster. Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to request one.

This example of my own AutoCluster report, which I’ll be using throughout this article, shows three different clusters.

Everyone within a cluster matches you, but not everyone matches each other. Each cluster is represented by colored cells, each of which represent the intersection of two people who match each other. In the third yellow cluster, everyone matches each other except for two people who don’t match each other.

Grey cells fall into both of the two clusters they are between. For example, the grey cells to the right of the red cluster in the red box match people in both the first red and second tan cluster.

What this means is that once you’ve identified the genesis of each cluster, you know that people who are grey members of both clusters descend from both lines which could represent the two people in an ancestor couple. In my tree, my maternal great-grandfather Joseph Bolton married Margaret Claxton/Clarkson, and I expect the grey people descend from this couple or from both lines individually. One way or another, they match people from both clusters.

The grey people are an additional hint – so don’t neglect them. In fact, some of these grey squares can be even more important that people within clusters because they span two clusters.

Ok, so how do I generate an AutoCluster at MyHeritage?

Requesting an AutoCluster

You’ll find the AutoCluster featured under the DNA menu, under DNA Tools.

Click “Explore.”

If you manage multiple kits, be sure to select the right kit for the right person.

In my case, I have a transfer kit, then I tested at MyHeritage for the health product, so I have two kits. A MyHeritage kit shows with the MH prefix, while a transfer kit shows a different prefix.

The matches and AutoClusters are slightly different between the two kits because the tests are run on different DNA chips.

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After selecting the correct kit, just click on the purple “Generate” button. Note that if your parents have tested, generating an AutoCluster for one or both of them will help you immensely with your own AutoCluster. If both of your parents have tested, you may want to work only with their AutoCluster reports, and not your own. They will have people in their clusters that you don’t because you didn’t inherit that particular piece of DNA from your parents.

Next, you’ll see a message informing you that your AutoCluster is being generated and will be sent to the email registered to your account.

Queue up Jeopardy countdown thinking music

Just a few minutes later, my AutoCluster arrived in my email box. (Note – check your spam folder.)

If you request multiple AutoClusters for different tests or accounts at the same time, take care not to mix them up. Voice of experience here…

You’ll receive 3 items in zip file. I save my files to my computer.

  • Readme file
  • HTML (with the colored circle)
  • Spreadsheet which is a different format of the html file

I don’t know how well the HTML file and the spreadsheet will display on non-computer devices, although I know the HTML file does display on an iPad. I generally work from my computer.

The HTML File

Just click on the HTML file to display your AutoClusters. You’ll get to enjoy seeing them “flying into place,” assembling into clusters. I told you these were fun!

You can play around a bit with options, but “cluster” is the default view and the only one we’re covering in this article.

Each colored cluster is a group of interrelated matches.

I have a total of 18 clusters.

Scroll towards the bottom to view the parameters used to generate the clusters.

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These parameters are not adjustable and have been optimized by MyHeritage to perform well for all customers, including testers with significant endogamy, such as people with Jewish heritage. At the system-generated threshold, I have 100 qualifying matches. Note that the system optimizes the thresholds individually for each person, and your thresholds might be slightly different than mine.

  • Min threshold 40 cM (often this level of match is in the 5C or more distant range)
  • Max threshold 350 cM (closer than 350 would probably be 1C or closer)
  • Shared DNA match minimum threshold 15 cM (overlap of matching DNA)

You’re probably wondering – where are the highest matches such as parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, etc.?

Close family members would be in many clusters. Placing one person into more than two clusters is simply not technically possible due to the constraints of a two-dimensional grid medium, so close family matches are excluded from clusters as to not be confusing. You can still use close family members in shared matching. In fact, they are extremely useful and we will discuss that shortly.

Fly your cursor over the cluster to view the cluster members and their match status to each other. In the grid, each person who matches another has a colored cell. In this example, my cursor is pointing to the cell where “cro” matches Bonnie. Names are obscured for privacy.

Scroll on down below the cluster box to view additional information about each member of the cluster. Many people don’t realize there’s more because they are excited about viewing their clusters and miss this important information about the cluster members beneath the grid.

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Your notes are critically important and you can search by notes. When I identify how someone is related to me, or even clues, I record that information in the notes. I SHOULD have recorded “TOFR” for the matches who have Theories of Family Relativity, and I have gone back and done that now. We’ll talk about TOFRs in a minute.

You may be able to identify the common line or ancestral couple based on the matches alone. Note that these matches may not all be from the same generation. For example, I have some matches in this group who descend from various Claxton ancestors, spanning at least 4 generations. That commonality is how I know the cluster is “Claxton/Clarkson” and not from one of their wives – at least to the most distant generation where I’m stuck.

Matches can span many generations in a “line” and probably involve multiple DNA segments, especially in larger clusters.

Click on “Tree” to view the tree of your match.

Click on “Name” to review their DNA match with you.

Note that your match may match you on more than one line and possibly on both parents’ sides. Inclusion in this cluster simply tells you they match on this line and does not eliminate any other lines.

Now, let’s begin our cluster analysis and drill down.

Select the Best Match

I always begin my analysis with what I think is the “best” match in a cluster.

  • Best could be the largest tree.
  • Best could be the largest match.
  • Best could be the largest number of ICW (in common with) cluster matches.
  • Best is any match with a TOFR (Theory of Family Relativity)

I make notes for all TOFR matches, after verifying, of course, indicating the common ancestors. I also note “TOFR” so I know, when looking at clusters, why I assigned that specific ancestor. When you have a TOFR, MyHeritage has already done the heavy lifting for you.

I note matches’ inclusion in a cluster to remind me to check those clustered matches first. When a match is in a cluster, AutoCluster has done the heavy lifting for you.

The key to success is to utilize multiple tools, together.

Like what?

The Success Triumvirate

Successfully identifying clusters, ancestors and how each person matches you is accomplished through a combination of three primary tools. I call this the “Success Triumvirate” because the three are quite interwoven.

We are going to use all three of these tools, together, so let’s talk about them individually briefly.

Theories of Family Relativity (TOFR)

TOFRs are super hints – theories about which common ancestors your matches share with you.

I wrote about Theories of Family Relativity complete with step-by-step instructions:

TOFRs connect you to your DNA matches by identifying a potential ancestor through a succession of trees and documents from different sources. You can do a number of things to help TOFRs, (and yourself), along.

  • TOFR formation requires a tree, so create one at MyHeritage, using their free TreeBuilder on your computer, or upload a tree that you’ve already created elsewhere.
  • TOFR does best if you complete the tree through grandchildren of each ancestor, at least, if possible, for each generation. Think of each person as a hand reaching out to latch on to the same person in another person’s tree. The more hands, the better your odds of success.
  • Include birth/death date and location, or as much as you know.
  • Accept Smart Matches where appropriate.
  • Make notes. Notes keep you from retracing your own steps.

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A TOFR connection as offered by MyHeritage may not be exactly accurate, but the common ancestor may be accurately identified anyway. For example, in the above TOFR, Margaret Claxton did not marry William Luke Monday, her sister did. The TOFR isn’t exactly correct, but the common ancestors are easily identified. I can take it from this point – no problem.

Always check to see if multiple TOFR paths exist because important hints may be hidden in those links. Think of yourself as a sleuth😊

Let’s take a look at one cousin in this Claxton cluster, Bonnie. What can we learn, and how? Let’s review Bonnie’s DNA match to me.

Reviewing Bonnie’s DNA Match

Clicking on “Review DNA Match” with Bonnie shows me a host of information divided into sections, beginning with a TOFR.

Bonnie Has a TOFR – Hot Diggity!

The first thing we see is that Bonnie does have a TOFR with the tester (me), so we can identify a potential common ancestor.

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Not only that, but Bonnie has a fairly robust tree of 4043 people, so she must be interested in genealogy at some level.

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Not only that, but there are two separate potential “paths” that connect me and Bonnie at a potential common ancestor. One may be more accurate than the other. Be sure to check all paths.

I can click on the little green dots that bridge trees by connecting what the system believes to be the same ancestor to view and evaluate that information.

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Clicking on this green dot would display the match criteria from both trees.

In this case, the weighted match was 76%. The information for Margaret herself was mostly the same, but her husband(s) and children were different due to the inaccuracy of showing her married to her brother-in-law.

Evaluate all TOFRs, links, trees and hints for accuracy. They aren’t gospel.

Another great source of hints is Smart Matches. You may, and probably will, have Smart Matches with people’s trees who are not DNA matches to you. Smart Matches are not necessarily connected to DNA matches specifically, but they do help TOFR form accurately.

Bonnie Has Smart Matches!

MyHeritage generates Smart Matches WITHOUT factoring in genetic matching. Smart Matches occur when enough common factors exist between a person in your tree and a person in another tree whether you are a DNA match with that person or not.

If you have Smart Matches with a DNA match, they will be listed when you review your DNA match with that person.

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To determine whether or not this Smart Match could be relevant to your DNA autocluster, be sure to notice whether this is a direct ancestor of both people. To be relevant to DNA, the Smart Match must be for a direct ancestor or at least lead to a direct ancestor.

Next, click “Review Smart Match.”

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The first thing you’re going to see is “Confirm Match,” and as a genealogist, that stopped me dead in my tracks.

That’s skull-and-crossbones frightening. I don’t know what “confirm match” means or does? Does it mean that all of their information will automatically be copied to my tree if I click that button? I certainly DON’T WANT THAT!!!

I may not want the “Improved Info” either. That information may not actually be improved. What do I do?

For a long time, I did nothing because I didn’t want to mess something up – but doing nothing isn’t the right answer either – because confirming Smart Matches helps TOFRs for everyone.

I wish MyHeritage provided a bit more information here, because “Confirm Match” doesn’t import any information into your tree automatically. You have the opportunity to review everything first.

There are two questions at this point you need to ask and answer independently:

  1. Is this the same person?
  2. If so, do I want any of this data to be imported to my tree?

If it IS the same person, go ahead and confirm – you’ll get to review each new or “improved” item at that point.

If it’s NOT the same person, scroll to the bottom of the page and reject the match.

In this example, Nicholas Speak is the same person, so I’ve clicked on “Confirm Match” which then allows me to review each piece of information that is different, individually. If I want to import that information into my tree, I click on the little arrow to bring the information into my tree, replacing mine. If I do nothing, no information is copied to my tree. It’s that simple. If I make a mistake, I can always edit my own information.

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Bonnie Has Shared Ancestral Surnames!

Another hint for DNA matches is “Shared Ancestral Surnames.” If you can’t figure out how you are related, take a look at these. Of course, Smith is extremely common, but groups of shared surnames are a huge hint, especially if you also have shared locations.

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You may discover more than one line that connects you to this tester – which sometimes makes things a little more complicated! That’s when location can become a life-saver.

Bonnie Has Shared Ancestral Places!

Shared ancestral places can be very useful, even if you can’t identify common surnames, especially in cases where surnames may not be useful. Unknown parent events and adoptions have always occurred, and a specific location may go a long way in terms of identifying the ancestors of both parties that may be related.

Purple pins with numbers mean you BOTH have ancestors from that location. Bonnie and I share 65 ancestors from one place. I definitely need to evaluate that location!

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Clicking on Tennessee shows the pins in that location. Clicking on a specific pin displays the ancestors from that location.

Note that the purple “65” pin location revealed this common ancestor whose surname is spelled differently in our trees. This surname transitioned back and forth, so there I no “right” or “wrong” way to spell it. However, a different spelling may keep the person from being recognized as the same individual by computer software.

Now, let’s review Bonnie’s shared DNA match information.

Bonnie’s Shared DNA Matches

We know that each of the people in the first cluster match the tester, me, and all but 3 (yellow stars) of the people who match me in the first cluster also match Bonnie

However, don’t think for one minute that there are only 8 people who match me and Bonnie both. There are only 8 who match us both AND are included in the cluster. These are judged to be out “best” common matches.

Looking at my DNA match with Bonnie, I see that there are 162 total shared matches.

The balance, other than the 8 in the cluster, did not meet all of the match threshold ranges to be included in the cluster. In other words, shared matches not in the cluster were either less than 40 cM or more than 350 cM, or the shared piece of the matching segment was less than 15 cM. In other words, the matches in the cluster are the strongest shared matches, other than close relatives, but they certainly aren’t the only shared matches.

I match Bonnie on two segments, one on chromosome 13 and one on chromosome 16.

Just because someone matches me and Bonnie, both, doesn’t necessarily mean the match is on the same segment. For example, they could match me on chromosome 10 and Bonnie on chromosome 1, while Bonnie and I match each other on chromosomes 13 and 16.

However, there’s certainly a good chance that someone matches us both on the same segment(s).

Reviewing the cluster matches between me and Bonnie, we discover the following information regarding these two specific segments on chromosome 13 and 16, only.

Shared Match with Bonnie Triangulation Chromosome & Location
Sharon Yes Chr 16 only
Renee Yes Chr 16 only
Wilma Yes Chr 16 only
John Yes Chr 16 only
Celeste Yes Chr 16 only
Shirley No Neither
Carolyn Yes Chr 16 only
Ray No Neither

Six people match me and Bonnie both on chromosome 16, none match me and Bonnie both on chromosome 13, so that means that both Shirley and Ray match both of us on a completely different chromosome segment.

Now, of course, the question becomes if those 6 people match Bonnie and me on the same or at least an overlapping portion of chromosome 16.

Triangulation

Triangulation, which I wrote about here, occurs when the tester matches two or more people on the same reasonably sized segment of DNA, and they also match each other on that same segment. The “matching each other” part is important, because it verifies the match is from the same side, Mom or Dad, and from a common ancestor, not identical by chance (IBC).

I wrote about identical by chance here, but in essence, IBC means that a piece of your Mom’s DNA and a piece of your Dad’s DNA accidentally combined in you to look like a match with someone else, but it’s a false positive. You do technically “match” that other person, but it’s because of chance recombination, not because you share DNA from a common ancestor on one side of your family or the other.

The matching to other known family members on that segment is the clue to eliminating IBC matches from comparisons. Each of your valid matches will match one of your parents, or the other. If your match doesn’t also match one or the other parent, it’s not a valid match.

This is known as parental phasing and is why it’s extremely important to have both or one of your parents test, if possible.

If the tester’s parents have tested, each of your cluster matches will match to one parent or the other in addition to the people in the cluster.

Bonnie Has Triangulated Matches!

At MyHeritage, when you review shared matches, you can see if your match triangulates with you by the presence of a little purple triangulate icon.

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Looking at my shared match list with Bonnie, I see Wilma has a purple icon, indicating triangulation between Wilma, Bonnie and me. Woohooo!

Clicking on the purple triangulate icon shows me the common triangulated segment(s).

In this case, Bonnie, Wilma and I only triangulate on one segment, on chromosome 16. Do the other cluster members also triangulate with Bonnie, Wilma and me on this segment? The ones who have a triangulation icon should since I’ve already determined that they only match me on chromosome 16 in common with Bonnie. Let’s see.

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I added the other people in the match cluster to see who else triangulates on any portion of chromosome 16. Just type the names from the cluster into the DNA match name box below the profile cards in the chromosome browser to add each person to the view.

Only the triangulated portion for all people compared is bracketed. That’s so important to remember. In the example above, all people match me and each other on the bracketed portion of chromosome 16.

In this example, two of the people compared do NOT triangulate on this segment, so no bracket is drawn. This might lead you to think that the three people whose DNA matches the tester on the same segment don’t also match each other – but you can’t assume.

If you remove the two people not matching on the segment from the chromosome browser, the other three now show the triangulation bracket.

Triangulated segments provide evidence that a specific segment descends from a common ancestor. The challenge, of course, is to identify the ancestors who contributed that segment generationally through time.

I wrote about triangulation at MyHeritage in the article Triangulation in Action at MyHeritage.

Downloads

You can only compare a maximum of 7 people at a time in the chromosome browser, but you can download your entire match list in a spreadsheet and work from there. I do that often.

There are three different downloads that provide different information and serve a different purpose.

Chromosome Browser Match Download

Scroll down to the bottom of the chromosome browser page to download the matching segments (to you) of the people shown on the browser at that time.

You can download the segments for the current matches showing in the chromosome browser by clicking on advanced options on that page.

Click on “Download shared DNA info.”

This download will happen immediately to your system. I use this technique when chromosome painting matches identified to a particular ancestor at DNAPainter. I also note for each match when I’ve painted their matching segments so I don’t waste time doing it twice.

The second and third download options are found on your DNA Match page.

Export Full Match List and Shared DNA Segments

By moving to your main DNA match page, you can download:

  • Your DNA match list which downloads information about each of your matches
  • Your matching DNA segments for all matches

By clicking on the three dots, you will see the two download/export options. Those two files hold different information.

The “entire DNA matches list” provides information ABOUT your matches, such as:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Country
  • Contact link
  • DNA manager
  • Status (new)
  • Estimated relationship
  • Total cMs
  • Percent shared DNA
  • Number of shared segments
  • Largest segment
  • Link to review DNA match
  • Has tree (yes/no)
  • Number of people in tree
  • Tree manager
  • Contract tree link
  • Number of smart matches
  • Shared ancestral surnames
  • All ancestral surnames
  • Notes

This is important, and I use this file a lot because it provides all of the information in one place and I don’t have to click on each match to evaluate. Plus, I can search and sort to my heart’s content.

Option two, the entire “shared segment DNA info” match list will show all matches, including maternal, paternal and IBC. It’s up to you to figure out which are which, but we have lots of tools and hints.

Your shared segment spreadsheet provides information about the shared DNA, only.

Let’s start by looking at Bonnie again.

Bonnie and Chromosome 16 on the Spreadsheet

Here are my two segment matches with Bonnie in the spreadsheet.

The MyHeritage tools, combined, provide you with the ability to sort your matches meaningfully into genealogically relevant clusters and identify ancestors. I’m going to utilize that information with the downloaded spreadsheet segment information.

Let’s take a look at that matching segment with Bonnie on chromosome 16.

In the shared DNA segment spreadsheet, I filtered for chromosome 16, sorted in lowest to highest order (end location, then start) and looked for matches that fall between these two locations.

In reference to the match with Bonnie, look for any match between 79914629 and 87713399.

I am showing only a partial list below. The actual number of matches to be on this segment of chromosome 16 is about three times as large as this graphic.

After downloading the spreadsheet, I added a Triangulation Group column and a comments column, at right.

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I’ve colored the cluster members yellow who match on chromosome 16 to Bonnie AND me in the cluster.

People who match me on chromosome 16 and are NOT in the cluster fall into one of the following categories:

  • Also match to me and Bonnie, but outside of the cluster threshold. You can see that there are a lot of matches below 40 cM, which immediately eliminates them from the cluster.
  • Match me and Bonnie, but on an overlapping piece of DNA not large enough to be included in a cluster – in other words, the overlap of the three people is less than 15 cM..
  • Match to me, but not Bonnie which means that either they are a match from the other parent’s side, or identical by chance.

Discerning which category each match falls into requires looking at each match and evaluating individually.

You can look at each spreadsheet row, individually, below, if you wish, but what I’d like for you to do is to focus on the groups that I created as I analyzed each match on the segment of chromosome 16 where I match Bonnie.

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  • Green row is Bonnie, our baseline person whose match is why I’m analyzing this particular segment.
  • Bright yellow shows the 6 AutoCluster triangulated chromosome 16 cluster members.
  • Lighter yellow rows are also matches and triangulations on the same segment with me and Bonnie, but not included in the AutoCluster
  • Pink indicates matches on Mom’s side on this same chromosome segment. Mom is in the database, so this is easy to discern.
  • Grey is IBC (darker) or likely IBC (lighter) meaning they don’t match either parent’s side entirely.
  • Bright red is a breakthrough!

You’ll notice that the “best” matches, meaning the ones in the cluster, are clustered together on the spreadsheet too.

The second group of matches, below, begins to have more IBC and matches to Mom’s side. A third group, which I’m not including here, is almost entirely Mom’s side.

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When I finished analyzing the matches on this segment of chromosome 16 from the AutoCluster, I had:

  • Bonnie (green) + 6 Claxton matches (bright yellow) reflecting the first cluster triangulation with Bonnie and me
  • 93 total people that matched me on some portion of chromosome 16 that I match in common with Bonnie. However, on this spreadsheet, matches to me on this segment include some matches who will not match Bonnie.
  • People not matching me and Bonnie both on this segment will include both matches on Mom’s side (pink), and IBC (grey).
  • A breakthrough (bright red) identifying this segment as Claxton, as opposed to Sarah Cook’s, James Claxton’s wife, which means that I can focus on other people with trees with common ancestors who match on that segment on Dad’s side. Someplace in those trees is the information that will someday identify James Claxton’s parents/ancestors.
  • Identified 28 (light yellow) paternal matches through this segment assigned to Claxton that match me and Bonnie, both.
  • Identified 30 (pink) Mom segments, some of which are Acadian and some of which are German. On Mom’s side, two different portions of chromosome 16 recombined from two different ancestors and I can tell where that dividing line occurs by using visual phasing and triangulation at DNAPainter.
  • Identified 26 (grey) IBC segments which are false positive (or likely false positive) matches and should be disregarded.
  • Made notes on each of those matches at MyHeritage.
  • Painted each valid segment at DNAPainter.

About That BreakThrough…

Why is this breakthrough important, and what does it tell me?

Bonnie is descended from the same Claxton line as I am, meaning she is a proven descendant of James Lee Claxton born about 1775 and his wife, Sarah Cook through their son, Fairwick/Fairwix Claxton. We don’t know where James Claxton was born, but likely in either VA or NC. He first appeared on the tax list in Russell County, VA, with no other Claxton males, not long before he married Sarah in 1799.

Bonnie and I match Jim on that same segment.

Jim’s ancestor was Solomon Claxton, born in 1801 in NC. In other words, Jim does NOT share James Claxton as a common ancestor. This means that Jim and Bonnie and I share DNA from a common Claxton ancestor. That segment of chromosome 16 cannot be from the Cook side, because Jim does not descend from the James Claxton/Sarah Cook line.

Therefore, other people who triangulate on that segment, who don’t show trees with Claxton ancestors, and have matching trees to each other will one day hold the key to our common ancestors who contributed that segment to all of us on chromosome 16.

That means I need to take the time to evaluate every one of their trees looking for their common ancestors with each other. It’s likely that common ancestor could be mine as well, or lead to mine.

Just One!!!

Remember, all of the discoveries above were made from analyzing just one chromosome segment match from the Bonnie row in the first AutoCluster. Just one!

Autoclusters intentionally only utilize your “best” non-close family member matches. This allows you to see the genetic relationships between multiple people, even without trees.

You then use the trees, TOFR, surnames, locations, Smart Matches, shared matches, triangulation, and previous research to identify the ancestral connection.

Just scanning this AutoCluster report, I can immediately discern that people share matches between groups of clusters. For example, clusters 1, 2, and 4 share members – for starters. That tells me that these clusters are related to each other. In fact, that’s exactly correct as shown after analysis when I was able to assign each cluster to either an ancestor or ancestral couple.

I discovered a HUGE amount of information researching just one common segment with one match, including a breakthrough which may, one day, if not today, lead to the identification of James Claxton’s parents.

Just think how much more there is left to discover! I need to review the match to Bonnie on chromosome 13 and the other 99 people in my AutoCluster, utilizing the same tools and techniques.

I can hardly wait to get started!

Clusters are Genetic Super-Powers

Clusters are your super-power matches. Take full advantage of them.

  • Every cluster tells a story.
  • If you can identify the common ancestors with one or two people, and it’s the same line, you’ve probably identified the genetic “cluster.”
  • Every match tells a story.
  • You may triangulate on multiple segments with different people.
  • Every individual segment tells a story
  • Each segment stands alone, meaning one segment can descend from the mother of the couple, and another segment from the father. Don’t assume that each shared segment descends from the same ancestor.
  • Don’t assume that if you match one person on two segments, that they both necessarily descend from the same line or couple. It’s possible that you are related on another, known or unknown, line.
  • Every segment match has an individual genealogical history that can lead to different ancestors, meaning that the genetic line is the same, but the ancestors may be different. You may match one person who descends from the son of another match, for example.
  • Each triangulated segment descended from common ancestors who contributed that segment to all triangulation group members.
  • The history of brick walls is held in unidentified matches to segments.

An example is worth 1000 words.

Walking Back In Time

Based on multiple triangulated matches to various people, the triangulated segment on chromosome 16 belongs to the following ancestors:

Generation Ancestor Via Match to…
1 Dad Assigned to Dad’s side via triangulated matches to known relatives
2 Ollie Bolton Culley, Stacey
3 Margaret Clarkson Fred, John
4 Samuel Claxton Wilma
5 Fairwick Claxton Joy, Eugene, Billy, I.B., Bonnie
6 James Claxton, Sarah Cook Brent, Delilah
7 Unknown Claxton parents Jim (NC), Kelsey (TN)

As you can see, based on the genealogy of my matches, I’ve walked the segment on chromosome 16 back in time 7 generations.

How do I get to generation 8?

Clusters are Genetic Super-Powers

Now I need to search the trees of matches on this same segment, but without identified common ancestors to me, looking for common lineages in their trees with each other.

This Claxton segment descended from some unknown ancestor(s) upstream of James Claxton. The key to the identity of those ancestors is held in their DNA segments and matches.

What I’m looking for are common ancestors of those chromosome 16 matches to each other. For example, if James Claxton’s father was named John Claxton and his mother was Jane Doe, finding several people with trees connecting to the Doe family would be especially relevant. Those are the more deeply hidden clues.

I need to do the exact same thing, following the same process, with each segment of every cluster match!

The solution to brick walls is held in unidentified matches to triangulated segments which point the way – like invisible “this way” arrows through that door from our ancestors.

AutoClusters are the genetic superpower!

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

Thank you so much.

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More Losses at 23andMe – Including No Ethnicity Update for V2, V3 or V4 Chip Customers

12-31-2020: Update to this article. 23andMe has reversed their position and provided ethnicity updates to both V3 and V4 chip testers. The status of V2 kits is unclear. Those kits show an update date in early December, but no update tag and nothing has changed in their ethnicity results. Additionally, 23andMe has restored the matches that were removed – although it’s unclear whether or not they have simply restored existing matches or if the previous threshold of 2000 matches is back in place as well. They have also restored some search functionality, such as within user-entered notes, but not all functionality. For example, you still cannot search matches by haplogroup.

Original article begins here:

Did you test with 23andMe prior to August 2017? If you were among the millions of customers who tested in the decade between 2007 and 2017, you tested on the V1-V4 chip.

Unfortunately, 23andMe has made the decision to no longer provide ethnicity updates for customers who have NOT tested on the current V5 chip.

Moving to the V5 chip is not an upgrade – it’s a completely new test that customers must purchase and spit-to-submit again. This means that if your family member that you purchased a test for died, you’re just out of luck. Too bad – so sad.

Last week, 23andMe published this article detailing their new ethnicity improvements. Everyone was excited, but then the article ended with this spoiler at the very bottom.

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I still can’t believe my eyes.

What – No Ethnicity Updates?????

In this industry, no company that I can recall has EVER failed to update ethnicity for earlier chips. Especially given that ethnicity is the hook that companies have used to entice many, many customers to test.

When FamilyTreeDNA changed from the Affymetrix chip to the Illumina chip in 2011, they retested every single customer FOR FREE.

FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, and Ancestry have continued to update results for all customers on any chip level. Those companies would be publicly skewered alive if they did anything else.

As far as I’m concerned, this is a betrayal of the trust of 23andMe customers.

We know now that companies can easily utilize imputation for equalizing different chips for genealogy purposes. All three other major companies do exactly that with their own tests and in the case of MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA, with transfers from the other three major companies, including 23andMe’s current and older chip levels. Of course, imputation “fills in blanks” with “realistic values,” which is not appropriate for medical testing – and the underlying goal of 23andMe is medical research, not genealogy

Therefore, genealogy customers are being penalized in an effort to force them to the V5 chip if they want to view their new ethnicity updates or have more than 1500 matches, and then, only with a subscription.

This “sales strategy” is simply not acceptable.

Matches Restricted

This no-ethnicity-update revelation comes on the heels of 23andMe reducing the match threshold to 1500 FOR ALL CUSTOMERS unless customers have tested on the V5 chip AND subscribe, both.

I wrote about that change, here.

That’s Not All – No Search by Common Surname or Ancestral Location

The genealogy community continues to discover more losses. Hat tip to my blog subscriber who noticed that customers can no longer search by common surname or ancestral location.

23andMe confirmed that change in an email saying:

  • You can search for profile names and current locations in the DNA Relatives search section.

Wow, I don’t want my matches knowing where I currently live. is that really what’s happening? Surely not.

But sure enough, here’s one of my matches, minus their name of course.

This gives me cold chills. This information should never, ever, be available unless the tester gives it directly to another specific person.

Why would 23andMe ever implement a feature like this that causes potential physical security risks to their customers? I’d wager most people have no idea that this information is displayed to all of their matches. Fortunately, it’s only displayed if you specifically enter the information.

To check your location status, remove or update this information, click on the down arrow beside your name in the upper right-hand corner of your 23andMe page, then on “Settings”.

Scroll down and click on “Edit Enhanced Profile.”

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Make any changes.

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This is also the section where you enter other information that will help you connect with matches in a meaningful way. Be sure to share a link to a family tree someplace. While 23andMe is discontinuing some of the features that are important for genealogists, that makes it even more important to utilize the remaining features.

23andMe also confirmed that:

  • You can no longer search for family surnames, other locations, or any other user entered information.

This change is infinitely sad, because surnames, especially unusual ones are critically important to genealogists, and in combination with locations.

You can filter by ancestor birthplaces, but that only means through the grandparent level.

Not terribly useful for genealogists, and the US is a very big place. Knowing someone’s grandparents were born in the US is not helpful. However, if I have an ancestor from a location like Germany, this might be more useful.

You can also filter by SOME of your family surnames, but not all of them. Apparently, only your top 20 in terms of how many people share that surname. Just take a guess which one is highest on my list. Probably yours too.

My own surname and that of all 4 of my grandparents is missing from this list. I don’t find an ancestral surname until one of my great-grandparents’ surnames, Miller, appears. This list is really only a list of the most common surnames in the US that I happen to have in my genealogy.

No Haplogroup Search

Another feature that has disappeared is the ability to search your DNA Relatives by haplogroup. Granted, they were only partial haplogroups, but they could rule out a lineage connection to your direct matrilineal line or, if a male, your patrilineal line. If you knew your grandparents or other haplogroup lineages, you could do the same for them.

But not anymore

Where Are the Genealogists?

How has 23andMe moved so far away from the genealogy community? This feels like death by 1000 tiny cuts. Whittling away our features along with our trust.

At one time, 23andMe had a genealogy ambassadors program where experienced genealogical ambassadors represented the genealogy community and provided input. Unfortunately, 23andMe dissolved the program a year or so ago, but then again, they didn’t seem to listen much to their ambassadors anyway.

Health AND Ancestry

23andMe is increasingly pushing the health AND ancestry test on the V5 chip. I’d wager their medical and research partners want specific data on this chip that’s not available on previous versions.

When clicking on my V4 account, the upgrade available is only for both health and ancestry. There is no “ancestry only” test available like there used to be.

The $99 price for the V5 upgrade is the same for my V3 kit. Yes, I tested twice (three times actually on V2, V3, and V4) to understand the matching differences between the V3 and the V4 chip.

Truthfully, given the way 23andMe is treating their current clients, I have absolutely no desire to gift them with my health information to turn into revenue.

Consent or WithDraw Consent to Share Genetic Information

While 23andMe can utilize research information from surveys in some ways without your explicit consent, assuming you answer their surveys, which I do not, they currently don’t share your genetic data unless you opt-in to consent.

I’m not comfortable with not knowing who is using my DNA information and for what research purpose – but your comfort level may vary. 23andMe’s “designer baby” patent in 2013 ended my participation in research.

If you click on “Research,” then “Surveys and Studies,” 23andMe will remind you if you haven’t opted in for research.

You can check your current consent status by scrolling to the bottom of this page after you sign in.

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You will see your current consent status, and you have the ability to update your status with a different choice. Please read every document provided before consenting.

You can also access your Research Consent and other account settings by clicking on the down arrow by your name, at the far right top, and then on “Settings.”

Research Consent is very near the bottom, under Preferences.

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May the Fleas of 1000 Camels Infest Your Armpits

May fleas infest your armpits, 23andMe, for removing the services and features that genealogists purchased and expect to continue to receive. Worse yet, you’ve damaged our collective credibility, because we’ve been recommending 23andMe to our family members and friends for years now, and purchasing kits for them, all in good faith. Now, we get the opportunity to apologize to our family members for your behavior. We trusted you, and we shouldn’t have.

In the past, 23andMe has always updated ethnicity for everyone. New medical and health reports weren’t always added, ostensibly because the necessary genetic locations weren’t on older chips, but genealogy features and updates were never held hostage before – nor was existing functionality removed except for trees.

In retrospect, the removal of trees was probably the first sign that 23andMe was seriously moving away from genealogists and was only paying lip-service in order to obtain our DNA for the very lucrative medical research business.

I haven’t always agreed with the decisions made by 23andMe in the past, but this time, I feel that 23andMe is intentionally acting disingenuously – blatantly arm-twisting their long-time genealogy customers by withholding updates we have every right to expect. Odd way to treat the community that stood by 23andMe and kept buying tests while the FDA had their health and medical reports shut down for two years, from 2013 to 2015 when they finally reached an agreement and began selling their health product again.

As a customer, your only recourse, other than complaining, which I encourage you to do (customercare@23andMe.com), is to opt-out of research consent. 23andMe may not hear our voices or care about our ethnicity or matches, but I bet they will notice the revocation of consent. Our DNA is a cash-cow for 23andMe as a DNA-broker.

Your other alternative to receive your updated ethnicity results, of course, is to purchase an upgrade and pay to test, again. Just like the only way to get more than 1500 matches is to upgrade plus pay a subscription fee – and then you’re still limited to 5000 matches. Upgrade or not, you won’t receive the other features they’ve removed.

Truthfully, there’s no way in bloody h*ll that a company is going to get me to spend MORE money by abusing my trust and attempting to strong-arm me in this fashion. Nada. That’s simply not going to happen.

I’d wager that treating genealogists in this manner is a very short-sighted strategy. We talk within this community and make recommendations to each other. 23andMe is generating a great deal of bad-will right now.

I left wondering what else existing customers will lose, and when the V5 customers will be arm-twisted to purchase a new test, yet again.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

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Is Adam Greulich’s Daughter the Mother of Johann Michael Kirsch? – 52 Ancestors #311

Not that this is confusing or anything. Just sayin’…😊

So, who was Johann Michael Kirsch‘s mother, and was she Adam Greulich’s daughter? I thought this was all settled, but come to find out, it’s not! Maybe I should have named this article, “Who Tipped Over My Apple Cart?” All it takes is one new piece of evidence to bring everything into question.

Hot on the Miniscule Breadcrumb Trail

Let’s follow this trail of tiny breadcrumbs and see where we emerge. We’ll start with the evidence we know, positively, to frame the quandary.

  • We know that Johann Georg “Jerg” Kirsch was married in 1650 in Durkheim to Margretha Koch.
  • We know that in 1660, Jerg was mentioned in a feudal letter as a co-lessee of the Josten estate in Fussgoenheim.
  • Based on that information, it’s presumed that Jerg and his family moved back to Fussgoenheim, from Durkheim about 1660.
  • We also know that about 1684, probably until after 1695, the family had to take shelter again in Durkheim. In fact, Jerg’s son, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch married in 1695 in Durkheim.
  • We know that by 1701, Johann Adam Kirsch, Jerg’s son is the mayor of the northern half of Fussgoenheim.

These records are all proven with documented evidence.

My deceased cousin, Walter Schnebel who lived in Fussgoenheim and descended from the Kirsch family included a reference about Adam Kirsch’s testimony in 1717 before the village council as they attempted to record information. The old records had been lost, and the only way to recover anything was to record what the oldest few people in the village knew. Adam’s brother, Wilhelm Kirsch was the “court man” who recorded the testimony.

Records, history, and customs had disappeared and faded away because of the need to seek refuge outside the village from about 1618 to after 1648 during the 30 Years’ War and from about 1684 to about 1698 during subsequent French aggressions that again burned and totally destroyed the quaint town and surrounding fields of Fussgoenheim.

Published village history revealed part of the Kirsch story, but unfortunately, it referred to an earlier book, Ortsgeschichte von Fußgönheim, written in 1925 by Ernst Merk that was only available in two locations in the US. One is the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints Family History Library in Salt Lake City, stored offsite, and not available online. This tells me that this old book has not been scanned – and the library is not open during the present Covid situation. For now, this option is off the table.

The second location is the library in Buffalo, NY.

I called my local library, although they do not participate in interlibrary loan outside of Michigan. I’ve never, not once, had any success obtaining any book through this library. Out-of-state libraries, generally, will only work with a local library, not individual out-of-state patrons to loan books. Talk about caught between a rock and a hard place.

Fortunately, a nice young man in the local library called the interlibrary loan librarian in Buffalo and explained the situation. He couldn’t actually “help” me in the traditional way, but he did by explaining to her what I needed and asked if I could call her directly. She indicated that I could, and I did.

I offered to pay, I explained about genealogy, and pretty much – I begged.

She told me that she could NOT scan this entire historical book for me (rats!), but she WOULD scan the cover, the table of contents, the first page in the section where Adam was mentioned, and the page plus next page that was referenced in the earlier work. Bless that woman! Beggars can’t be choosers!

I feel like I’m chasing a magic pink unicorn squirrel down a rabbit hole.

How did I get here anyway?

Walter’s Record

Walter’s exact verbiage, in German, about Adam Kirsch is as follows:

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

Using Deepl translator, this translated to:

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

This means that Adam was married to a Greulich female who was born about 1680 and died before 1706, the daughter of Adam Greulich, and that Adam Kirsch had lived in Fussgoenheim since about 1677.

I’m still not sure exactly what the Weistuhm 1717 and Vern. 1717 means, or how to access whatever those records are. Note – I’ve discovered that weistuhm means wisdom and in this context, conveyed in 1717.

Then, Walter shows all of Adam Kirsch’s children as being born to his wife, Anna Maria Koob, including Johann Michael Kirsch who was born about 1700.

Wait?

What?

Anna Maria Koob

The only reason we know about Anna Maria Koob is because she died on March 18, 1734, and was buried in Fussgoenheim. Her burial was recorded in church records indicating that she was buried on March 21st, age 54 years, which tells us that she was born in either 1679 or 1680, depending on when her actual birthday occurred. That record also tells us that she was the wife of Adam Kirsch.

This means that Anna Maria Koob would likely have married no earlier than 1700, and likely between 1700 and 1705.

Church records don’t begin in Fussgoenheim until 1726, but through death and other records Walter shows Johann Adam Kirsch’s children being born as follows:

  • Johann Michael Kirsch (eventually the Mayor) born about 1700 and died before 1759.
  • Johann Wilhelm Kirsch born in 1706, married in 1727.
  • Johann Jacob Kirsch born about 1710
  • Maria Catharina Kirsch born about 1715 and died in 1778.
  • Johann Peter Kirsch born in 1716 and died before 1760.

Johann Michael Kirsch is my ancestor, which means, of course, he’s the child of Adam Kirsch I’m most interested in.

Michael is Adam’s oldest known child.

If Adam had two wives, meaning that Anna Maria Koob was not his first wife, Michael Kirsch was the most likely of any of those children to descend from Adam’s first spouse – if any do. It would be very unusual for a couple to have no children, assuming the wife didn’t die in childbirth and also assuming that those children survived.

  1. Walter indicated in his spreadsheet that Adam’s first wife was deceased by 1706, but he gave no indication as to why he recorded that information.
  2. Walter also indicated, in Johann Michael Kirsch’s spreadsheet row that he was born about 1700 and that his mother was Anna Maria Koob.

Even more confounding – where did Walter find the information about Anna Maria Koob being Michael’s mother?

Both of those things can’t be true. One has to be false. Michael could not have been married to Ms. Greulich at the same time as Anna Maria Koob was the mother of the child born before Ms. Greulich died. Not only that, but Anna Maria Koob would have been barely old enough to marry by 1699/1700.

I’m so confused!!!

But now you understand why I felt that book was beg-worthy. It’s my last possible source.

The Long-Awaited Book

I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited.

I didn’t want to be “that person,” but 4 weeks later, I finally called to see if the library had been able to send the scans.

They had sent them, the next day, directly from their scanner which does not provide feedback regarding bounced email messages, etc. My e-mail provider didn’t recognize some strange email address consisting of all numbers, apparently, decided it was not legitimate, and bounced the email. I’ve been having issues with my email provider. Genealogy is difficult enough with email interfering!

Therefore, the library was done and I was waiting. I would have waited forever.

Thankfully, my friendly librarian found that file again.

So, the very first question I have is how a foot is connected to Fussgoenheim? As it turns out, fuss=foot in German, so this is a “canting arm,” meaning that it’s a sort of medieval play on words – or play on the town’s coat of arms. One mystery solved!

Next, the table of contents.

The following page reveals some of the early history of Fussgoenheim. We don’t know where the Kirsch family lived before the 30 Years’ War, but we do know that Jerg Kirsch’s wife, Margretha Koch’s family did indeed come from Fussgoenheim.

Maybe I can convince the Family History Library to scan this booklet when they open again. Maybe I can even go there myself and scan the book. Maybe I can find a portable OCR scanner. One way or another, I really, REALLY, want to read this entire history. I do have a newer 2 volume set of Fussgoenheim history, published in 1993 and 2001, but there is no index. I wonder if the local library in Fussgoenheim has an index, perhaps. Hmmm….

Adam is first mentioned on page 153 of the Merk book.

The portion involving Adam Kirsch’s testimony begins in item 5 and continues on to page 154.

Adam’s testimony is delivered in quotes, so this is literally what he said. His words, preserved 313 years later. If I could find the actual original document, the handwriting is probably that of his brother, Wilhelm, who is also my ancestor. In a way, it’s like being in the room with them, just for a moment.

Challenges

However, we have three challenges.

First, this page was scanned as an image, not text or copyable to be pasted into a translator. That means, of course, that I needed to retype this.

Second, this script is just awful. I struggled mightily to just read the letters, especially since I don’t speak German, so I can’t figure anything out based on known words.

Third, according to Christoph, a native German-speaker, the words Adam spoke were somewhat medieval and archaic – the German spoken in 1717, of course. It literally doesn’t translate well to today’s meaning, and we can’t discern any nuances.

The best we can do is to type it and combine the translation with Christoph’s interpretation.

Thankfully, my friend Tom typed it too, and between us all, I think we have the important gist of this passage, beginning with item 5.

Here’s Tom’s German version:

Hatte die gemeinde im oberen und niederen dorf die villige fronfreiheit and stunde hierbeivon undenklichen Jahren her in ruhigem besiss und genuss dergeftalten, oass hierinnen weder den dorfherrfchaften (damals Lothringen und Leiningen) noch der Liebsherrschaft (damals Kurpsalz) nichts zukommen mag. Adam Kirsch sagte zu diesem Punkt: “Sei wahr und wusste er in den vierzig Jahren, da er hier hauslich wohnte, oasf niemalen den Dorfherrschaften gesront worden, solches auch von seinen Dorfahren gehort; erinnert sich doch, als der hr. Graf Joh. Kahimir von Leiningen, Kammerprasident, auf Spener in vorigen Zeiten gezogen und er durch diefen Ort Fussgoenheim gezogen, die Untertanen ersucht worden waren diefelben Bagages nach ged. Spener zu fuhren, oass auch gemeldte Untertanen zum schuldigsten Respekt gegen der gnadigen Mitherrschaft folches eingegangen, doch aber dieses Angefinen bei dem loblichen Oberamt Neustadt durch Ad. Gruelich, Feinem Schwagervater fel. Anbringen lassen, welcher dann zuruckgebracht, dass diefes begehrten Zumutens wegen Gnad oder Freiheit obhanden fei. Es ware aber nachgehends diefem Schultheissen wieder acht Malter Habern in dessen Scheuer gestellt gewesen, welche aber die Gemeinda nicht wegfuhren wollen nach ?Spener, fodern der Schultheiss batte solche selbsten nach Spener fuhren mussen; ja als deffen, fuhr zuruckgekommen, aren sieben asen im Keller gehangen, welche der Schultheiss ebenmassig durch seine Leut (bat) fortschafen mussen und der Gemeind diesertwegen keine Fron aufburden dorfen.”

Und Jakob Antes bekundet: “Wenn er auch einen lieblichen Eid ablegen sollte, wisse er nicht, dass jemalen gefrant oder mur ein Pferd bis nor nas Dorf gegeben habe, desgleiden auch von feinem alten Nater, der fleichwohlen 88 Jajre alt geworden, niemalen gehort, dass sie gefront. Doch lieferte jesco ein jedes Dorf (das Ober – und das Unterdorf) fein Beethkorn der 14 Malter der gnadigen herrschaft der 4 Stunden weit, so sonsten porthero durch die Pachtgeber auf ihr Rathhaus…

Next, the translation using both Deepl and Google translate.

Adam’s Testimony

If the community in the upper and lower village had complete freedom from the civil liberty, and if it had been in quiet possession and enjoyment from time immemorial, it would have been able to ensure that neither the village lordships (then Lorraine and Leiningen) nor the body rule (then the Electoral Palatinate) would have nothing to do with it.

Adam Kirsch said on this point: “Be true and if he knew in the forty years since he lived here at home that no indulgence was ever given to the village rulers, and that he had heard such things from his ancestors; for he remembers when Count Johann Kasimir of Leiningen, chamber president, moved to Speyer in former times and he passed through this village of Fußgonheim, the subjects would have been asked to follow the same bagages to ged. Speyer, that even registered subjects had received such a request to show the same bagages to ged. Speyer, that they too had shown the most due respect for the gracious co-signership [co-rulership?], but that this request had been made to the commendable Oberamt Neustadt by Ad. Greulich, by his father-in-law himself, who then returned that this coveted unreasonableness was in custody because of grace or freedom.

Alternate last sentence translation: …but this turning to the laudable Oberamt Neustadt through Ad. Greulich, had blessed his father-in-law affixed, who then brought back that this coveted impertinence was incumbent on account of grace or freedom.

But it would have been placed after this sheriff against eight times in his barn, but which do not want to lead the congregation away to Speyer, but the sheriff would have had to lead such of his own to Speyer; yes, when he went back, there would have been a great number of hares hung in the cellar, which the sheriff (had to) remove evenly by his people, and for this reason the congregation must not burden any front.

Alternate translation: But afterwards it would have been put against eight Maltern in his barn against this mayor, who, however, did not want to lead the community away to Speyer, but the mayor himself would have had to lead them to Speyer; Yes, when he came back, there would have been bunnies hanging in the cellar, which the mayor had to carry away with his people and which the community could not burden the community with.

And Jacob Antes testifies: Even if he were to make a bodily oath, he did not know that someone had indulged himself or only gave a pure horse to the village, nor did he ever hear from his old father, who, though he was 88 years old, that she indulged herself. But each village (the upper and the lower village) delivered its grain of beets [beethkorn] to the 14 maltsters of the gracious dominion of the 4 hours far, otherwise the tenants to their town hall…

Father-in-Law

Of course, for me, the important sections are twofold:

First, Adam tells us that he has lived in Fussgoenheim for 40 years.

What we don’t know is whether that means that Adam was born in Fussgoenheim, or elsewhere.

We don’t know if that means Adam is currently age 40, so born in 1677.

We don’t know if it means that Adam was born someplace earlier and has simply lived in Fussgoenheim for a total of 40 years.

We do know that Adam’s parents were married in 1650, so Adam was born sometime after that and before 1678.

We also know that Adam didn’t live in Fussgoenheim for this entire time, because this entire area evacuated again in 1684 for more than a decade.

We know Adam was Mayor in 1701, but we don’t know when he became Mayor.

When Adam was mayor in 1701, if he was born in 1677, he would only have been 24 years of age. Part of me is doubtful, but I also know that the surrounding village histories tell us that very few people returned to the villages in the countryside to rebuild. So it’s possible that there were only a few people to choose from. His father, Jerg, the Josten estate leaseholder, was dead so perhaps Adam was the choice to become mayor. He was the youngest son, not the eldest. Maybe at that time, he was the only Kirsch son who had returned, although we know that eventually, more brothers lived in Fussgoenheim.

Does Adam mean he lived in Fussgoenheim for a total of 40 years? If we know the Kirsch family returned by about 1697 or no later than 1701, and had left in 1684, then Adam might have been born between 1661 and 1664, not in 1677. That’s certainly possible too and would get us to a total of 40 years actually living in Fussgoenheim.

The men testifying were referred to as “elder men,” the definition of which was not provided. I’m not sure a man of age 40 would qualify as either elder or elderly. AGe 60 might have been elderly at that time, and having been Mayor, he would have been considered a “village elder,” regardless. Given his father’s position and with his mother’s family having been from Fussgoenheim a century earlier, that alone might have been enough. He would have heard about the village customs through his parents and perhaps grandparents, providing him with perspective into the past.

Second, Adam Kirsch says very specifically that Adam Greulich is his father-in-law. Christoph indicated that Adam Greulich is deceased in 1717.

So Adam Greulich’s daughter, at some point, was indeed Adam Kirsch’s wife and may have been Michael Kirsch’s mother.

There is no marriage record in Durkheim for Adam and either wife, which could mean he married in Fussgoenheim before 1726, or elsewhere, or simply that the record no longer exists.

The fact that there is no marriage record for Adam Kirsch and his second wife, Anna Maria Koob suggests that marriage occurred before 1726 when the Fussgoenheim church records began, However, we also know that those existing records are incomplete.

What we do know positively is that in 1734, when Anna Maria died, Adam was still alive and she was married to Adam at that time.

What I Don’t Know

What I don’t know is whether there is documentation providing information that any of Adam’s children were born to Anna Maria Koob, although Walter attributed Adam’s children to Anna Maria.

It’s possible that some of Adam’s grandchildren, if born before 1734 when Anna Maria died could have been baptized with their grandmother, Anna Maria Koob, standing up at their baptism. If this occurred, that might explain why Walter would have assigned Johann Wilhelm Kirsch born in or around 1706 as the child of Anna Maria Koob.

I have only found one child that is even a possibility. Johann Wilhelm’s brother, Mayor Michael Kirsch and his wife served as Godparents to their child born in 1732. If other grandchildren were born and baptized before that time, it occurred in a neighbor village.

I don’t know if Walter simply noted Adam Kirsch’s testimony, but accidentally assigned Anna Maria Koob as the mother of all his children. Or perhaps he found that passage after he assigned her as the parent to Mayor Michael Kirsch who was born about 1700 and simply forgot to remove Anna Maria as Michael’s mother.

Walter seemed to be a meticulous genealogist with decades of experience reading original records, which is why I was so surprised to see him record conflicting information for Adam’s first wife and Johann Michael Kirsch’s mother.

For that matter, I would absolutely love to know why Walter assigned Anna Maria Koob as the mother of any of Johann Adam’s children and where he obtained that “died before 1706” information. To me, this would suggest he discovered something indicating that Anna Maria Koob was the mother of Johann Wilhelm Kirsch born in 1706.

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

Walter might have entered Anna Maria Koob as Michael’s mother by accident or a copy error. But Walter would never have written that Adam Gruelich’s daughter’s death occurred before 1706 if he hadn’t found something, someplace.

But what was it that Walter found, and where?

I don’t know.

Will DNA Help?

I checked church records in the database at Ancestry for Fussgoenheim and for any Greulich in the Pfalz in the right timeframes. Nothing. I can’t locate the family or even a candidate.

Unfortunately, Y DNA won’t help because I don’t carry the Y DNA of this line. Neither will mitochondrial, so we’re left with autosomal DNA.

Johann Adam Kirsch is my 7th great-grandfather. His wife, whichever one is my ancestor, would be as well. That means that she’s 9 generations back in time.

Carrying some autosomal DNA wouldn’t be unheard of at that distance, but I’d need to be able to identify someone else from the Greulich family.

Fortunately, I do have my mother’s autosomal DNA at both Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage. She’s a generation closer so more likely to match.

I checked for matches to the Greulich surname at both vendors. Of course, descendants might spell that name differently today. Three people had Gruelich in their tree at Family Tree DNA, but neither the trees nor the common segment track to that line. There is no match for Greulich at MyHeritage.

Searching for Koob won’t help, because Mom and I descend from Koob through at least one other line.

My Mom’s DNA is not at Ancestry, but I did search for the Greulich surname there in my own DNA match list. Three people have Greulich in their tree, but one definitely matches on a much closer, different line.

The shared matches with the other two suggest that we match through the same “other” line. Without a chromosome browser, there’s no way to discern more.

The End of the Line

I’m at the end of the line, up against that brick wall. Either way – whether Adam’s wife who gave birth to Michael Kirsch was Ms. Greulich or Anna Maria Koob. He was unquestionably married to both women.

Fortunately, we know the name of the father of Ms. Greulich. Based on what Adam Kirsch said in 1717, Adam Gruelich came “back” from Neustadt which suggests he lived in Fussgoenheim, even though there are no Greulich in the church records after they began in 1726. Perhaps the rest of his family was lost in the wars or eventually settled elsewhere. If his daughter who married Adam Kirsch was born about 1680, Adam Greulich would have probably been born before 1655 and maybe as early as 1630.

If Michael’s mother is Anna Maria Koob, we can’t identify her father either. There is a Johann Nicholas (Hans Nickel) Kob who is Mayor of the lower part of Fussgoenheim in 1701, the same year that Adam Kirsch is Mayor of the upper part of the village.

We have identified three of Hans Nickel’s children. Anna Maria could be another daughter.

The Koob family has lived in and near Fussgoenheim since the beginning of recorded history. In 1480, Debalt Kalbe was Mayor. Kalbe could be the phonetic pronunciation of Koob. In 1528, Lorenz Kob was Mayor. We also find the Koob family in Durkheim during the 30 Years’ War, living in nearby villages and eventually, leasing the Munchoff estate just south of neighboring Schaurnheim.

There are several Koob men in the region in 1485 when a tax was collected to raise money to fight the Turks. The Koob family is found early in at least three nearby villages, within walking distance, plus Fussgoenheim, of course.

If Walter is correct and Ms. Greulich died before 1706, Michael Kirsch probably only remembered his mother vaguely, if at all.

If she passed away while Michael was young, regardless of which woman was Michael’s biological mother, Anna Maria Koob would have raised him. She would have kissed his boo-boos and comforted him, taken him to church, watched proudly as he married and celebrated the birth of his first 5 children – her grandchildren one way or another.

If Michael’s mother died when he was older, and Anna Maria Koob didn’t raise him from childhood, she likely knew him his entire life. She may have even been related to his mother – a very common occurrence in small villages. If Anna Maria Koob wasn’t Michael’s birth mother, she was still his step-mother, probably having married Adam Kirsch sometime before the church records began in 1726.

Anna Maria Koob passed on when Michael was about 34 years old, before Adam who would join both wives within just a few years.

Michael would have sat with his father, perhaps with his hand resting on his leg or around his shoulders for comfort, in the church pew while the minister preached one last sermon that March day in 1734. Was Anna Maria’s death unexpected? She wasn’t elderly – only 54, with at least three children still at home. Michael was the oldest.

After the service, they would have carried Anna Maria’s casket out the side door, directly into the churchyard where Michael and Adam, along with the rest of the family, stood over her coffin – someplace near the graves of his maternal grandparents.

Michael would have said a somber goodbye over the grave of his mother, or perhaps both of his mothers, as the nesting spring birds sang them off to Heaven together.

Perhaps he watched them take flight.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Not Too Late!

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

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

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

See you on Wednesday!!!

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Floods!

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

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

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

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

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

Daughter Drama!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Servicemen

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

Jacob’s Death

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

The 1989 Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’ve Got Mail!

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

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

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

But, as it turns out, he was right.

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

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

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

Jenny had another surprise for me.

Remodel!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the Brick

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

I had an idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, as it turns out, I did!

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

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

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

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

Fabric Width:

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

Fabric Length

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Related?

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

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

Note the comments added by FTDNA during analysis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Mitochondrial DNA Facebook Group Launches

Mitochondrial DNA has so much untapped potential!

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

New Group!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come On Over

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

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

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

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

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

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

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

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

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

Marriage

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

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

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

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

Durkheim and Fussgoenheim

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. John’s Church in Durkheim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baptism

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

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

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

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

Co-Lessee of the Jostens Estate

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

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

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

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

Yes indeed, things were looking up for Jerg!

Children

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

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

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

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

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

But Then…

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bishop wrote on January 9, 1679.

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

Things became even worse in 1688.

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

Jerg’s Death

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

Marriage: 22 Feb 1695

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

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

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

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

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

Good question!

Jerg’s Legacy

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

How do we know this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 1743 Map of Fussgoenheim

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

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

Jerg’s Legacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Y DNA

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Free Y DNA Webinar at Legacy Family Tree Webinars

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

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

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

During this 90 minute webinar, I covered several topics.

There’s also a syllabus that includes additional resources.

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

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

Free for a Limited Time

Who doesn’t love FREE???

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

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

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

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

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

23andMe Changes – Download Matches Now or Lose Many

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

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

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Current Customers Losing Matches and Losing Out

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

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

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

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

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

More Features are Gone

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

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

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

Preserving Matches

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

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

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

Downloading Your “Aggregate Data”

click to enlarge

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

Click on “Download aggregate data.”

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

Download now before it’s too late.

Opinion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research