Yes, Ancestry is Glitchy Right Now – Here’s What TO and NOT TO DO

Public Service Announcement – Ancestry has been a bit glitchy for a few days/weeks and remains so. All vendors have issues from time to time, and it seems to be Ancestry’s turn right now. I wasn’t affected at first, but these tree-based problems seem to randomly come and go. So even if you’re not affected right now, you may be soon.

Here are tips on dealing with the reported issues, and perhaps more important, what NOT to do. Trying to fix things may just cause more problems.

What’s going on?

What’s Up With Ancestry?

A few days ago I signed on to Ancestry to discover that all of my tree branches beyond the first page displayed were “gone.” At that point in time, if I clicked on the right arrow, either no ancestors appeared, just those blank boxes to add parents, or in one case, one ancestor appeared with no parents.

This was uniform for all of my tree branches.

Needless to say, it struck panic into my genealogist’s heart. The saving grace is that indeed, no one but me has edit access to my tree – so I know positively that no one but me could delete anything.

Furthermore, I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that I had not deleted or broken the links of all of those ancestral lines. I don’t do “sleepwalk-genealogy” and if I did, I’d be much more likely to add someone😊

To try to quell the panic a bit, I used the Tree Search feature in the upper right-hand corner of the Tree page and yes, those “missing” ancestors were still in my tree file. They just weren’t showing correctly.

Technology Background

I spent years in technology and I learned two things:

  • Don’t panic and jump to conclusions
  • Sometimes things fix themselves, at least from the user’s perspective

After a couple of easy noninvasive steps, I decided to LEAVE THINGS ALONE and see what happened.

1-2-3 Things to Do

Here’s the 1-2-3 of things to do, in order.

  1. Sign out and back in.
  2. Try a different browser. If you are using a mobile app, use the computer and vice versa.
  3. Go away and check again later or tomorrow.

What Worked?

In this case, number three worked. The next day, everything was back to normal again with no residual damage.

Thankfully.

Had that not been the case, I would have started searching on social media for common issues and I would have called Ancestry’s support – no matter how much I don’t like doing that.

But there’s one thing I would NOT have done.

DO NOT

DO NOT start to repair things. If you start trying to reconnect people, when the underlying problem is actually resolved by Ancestry, Heaven only knows what a mess you’ll have with people double connected.

Twins and Duplicates

Another issue reported is that people are being duplicated in trees, including the tree owner/home person who finds that they have a twin with the same information.

Again, DO NOT start deleting and correcting.

What You CAN Do

Verify that indeed, only people you trust have edit access to your tree.

Under the name of the appropriate tree at upper left, select Tree Settings.

For another person to be able to either contribute to or edit your tree, you must specifically invite them to do so. Guests can only view your tree.

While Ancestry says that all invitees are editors, that’s not the case, as shown below when I clicked to invite someone.

As you can see, the default is “Guest,” but always verify after someone accepts your invitation.

Patience

Patience is difficult, but if you’re experiencing tree problems at Ancestry, just do something else for a few hours or a couple days.

Here are four great genetic genealogy activities you can do elsewhere that are productive.

  1. Download a copy of your DNA file from Ancestry and upload to MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, or GedMatch to find additional matches. Instructions can be found here.
  2. At FamilyTreeDNA, upload your file and get matches for free. Check Family Finder, Y or mitochondrial DNA matches, or order a Big Y test or upgrade. The Father’s Day sale just started and you can sign on or order, here.
  3. At MyHeritage, if you don’t have a DNA test, upload free and get matches here. Check your DNA matches using their new Genetic Groups filter. I provided instructions, here. While you’re viewing your DNA matches, be sure to check for SmartMatches, record matches and other hints. If you’re not a records subscriber, you can subscribe with a 14-day free trial here.
  4. At 23andMe, testers are limited to 2000 matches unless you purchase an annual subscription – then you’re limited to about 5000 matches. However, 23and Me does not roll matches off your list that you’ve connected to, invited to connect, made a note about or messaged. (At least they never have and mine remain.) Go to the last page of your DNA Relatives list, which are your smallest segment matches, and start working backward to be sure you’ve initiated some type of communication that will prevent them from rolling off your match list.

These tasks aren’t just busywork. You have no idea what kind of a gold nugget you may discover.

You’ll have accomplished several things, enlarged your horizons and maybe, just maybe, by the time you’re done your tree at Ancestry will have righted itself again.

What fun things did you discover?

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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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What is a Heteroplasmy and Why Do I Care?

Most people have never heard of a heteroplasmy – but you might have one.

You Might Have a Heteroplasmy If…

…You have no exact matches at the full sequence mitochondrial DNA level.

A heteroplasmy is one of the first things I think of when someone tells me they have no exact full sequence matches but several that are a genetic distance of 1, meaning one mutation difference.

That phenomenon usually means the tester has a rare mutation that no one else has, at least no one who has tested their mitochondrial DNA (yet) – and that mutation just might be a heteroplasmy.

Heteroplasmies are generally (but not always) quite recent mutations. Actually, heteroplasmies are mutations caught in the act of mutating – kind of like an insect in genetic amber – frozen in time in your generation.

By Anders L. Damgaard – http://www.amber-inclusions.dk – Baltic-amber-beetle CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16792582

Let’s say you might have a heteroplasmy. Or maybe you want to see if you do. Even if YOU don’t have a heteroplasmy, other people’s heteroplasmies can and will affect matching.

Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about heteroplasmies but didn’t know to ask😊

Heteroplasmies are Fascinating

A heteroplasmy is actually quite interesting because it’s a genetic mutation in progress.

This means you have two versions of a DNA sequence showing in your mitochondrial DNA at a specific location.

Said another way, at a specific genetic location, you show both of two separate nucleotides. Amounts detected of a second nucleotide greater than 20% are considered a heteroplasmy. Amounts below 20% are ignored. Generally, within a few generations, the mutation will resolve in one direction or the other – although some heteroplasmies persist for several generations and can sometimes define family branches.

If you’d like to read more about mitochondrial DNA, I wrote a series of step-by-step articles and combined them into one resource page, here.

Show Me!

You can easily check to see if you have a heteroplasmy by signing on to your FamilyTreeDNA account. Hopefully, you’ve taken the full sequence test.

Today, new testers, thankfully, can only purchase full sequence tests, so HVR1 results don’t present quite the same challenges when combined with heteroplasmies as they used to. We’ll talk about that in a minute.

If you have only taken the HVR1 or HVR1+HVR2 “Plus” test, as opposed to the Full Sequence, you can upgrade by signing on here and clicking on the “Full” button on the Maternal Ancestry section of your personal page.

These buttons will be pink if you’ve taken that test already, and grey if you need to upgrade. If you have an account at FamilyTreeDNA, you can add a mitochondrial DNA test to that same account by clicking on “Add Ons and Upgrades” at the top of your personal page. You can order a test if you’re a new customer, here.

How Do I Know if I Have a Heteroplasmy?

Your mitochondrial DNA has a total of 16,569 locations that you can think of as addresses. If your DNA at those locations is normal, meaning no mutations, they won’t be listed in your results.

Mutations are shown in your mitochondrial DNA results by a different letter at the end of the location.

For example, here are my mutations for my HVR1 region. Each of these locations in the HVR1 region has a mutation.

For locations that are shown in your results, meaning those where you have a mutation, you’ll see, in order:

  • A letter, either T, A, C or G
  • The location number
  • A different letter, typically another one of T, A, C or G, but sometimes a small d

For the first mutation, C16069T, the location address is 16069, the normal value is C, the mutation that occurred is T.

Heteroplasmies are shown in your mitochondrial DNA results by letters other than T, A, C, G or d at the end of the location.

I don’t have any heteroplasmies, so I’m switching to the results of a cousin who has a heteroplasmic mutation at location T16362Y to use as an example. The trailing Y means they have a heteroplasmy at location 16362.

But first, what do those letters mean?

The Letters

The letters stand for the nucleotide bases that comprise DNA, as follows:

  • T – Thymine
  • A – Adenine
  • C – Cytosine
  • G – Guanine
  • d – a deletion has occurred. There is no nucleotide at this location.

For location T16362Y, the first letter, T, is the “normal” value found at this location. If a mutation has occurred, the second letter is the mutated value. Normally, this is one of the other nucleotides, A, C or G.

Any other letter after the location has a specific meaning; in this case, Y means that both a C and a T were found, per the chart below.

Note – if you have a small letter t, a, c or g, it’s not a heteroplasmy, and I wrote about small letters and what they mean in the article, Mitochondrial DNA Part 2: What Do Those Numbers Mean?

Check Your Results

On your FamilyTreeDNA personal page in the mtDNA section, click on the Mutations tab.

If you’ve taken the full sequence test, you’ll see Extra Mutations. You’re looking for any mutation that ends in any letter other than T, A, C, G or d.

If you haven’t taken the full sequence test, you don’t have “Extra” mutations listed, but you can still view your mutations for the HVR1 and HVR2 regions.

Look for any value that has any letter other than T, A, C, G or lower case d at the end of the location.

The Y tells us that this location is a heteroplasmy.

Heteroplasmy Matching

Ok, let’s look at a heteroplasmy mutation at location 16326. A heteroplasmy can occur at any mitochondrial location. I’ve selected this location because it occurs in the HVR1 region of the mitochondrial DNA, so even people who haven’t tested at the full sequence level will see results for this location. Plus, the location at which the heteroplasmy occurs affects matching in different ways.

Using the example of T16362Y, the Y tells us that both nucleotides C and T were found. This location should match against anyone carrying the following values in the same location:

  • Y (letter indicating a C/T heteroplasmy)
  • T (standard or normal value)
  • C (mutated value)

However, currently at Family Tree DNA, the heteroplasmy only counts as a match to anyone with a Y, the specific heteroplasmy indicator, and the “normal” value of T, but not the mutated value of C.

This table shows how heteroplasmies are counted at FamilyTreeDNA. For heteroplasmy T16362Y, based on the value your potential match has at this location, you either will or will not be considered a match at that location.

Scenario Other Person’s Value Your Result – T16362Y
1 T16362Y – heteroplasmy indicator Match to you at this location
2 T16362T – normal value, not a mutation Match to you at this location
3 T16362C – mutated value Not counted as match to you at this location
  • If your match has a value of Y, the heteroplasmic C/T value, they are counted as a match to you, so no problem.
  • If your match has a value of T, the normal value, this location won’t be shown on their mutation list at all. They WILL be counted as a match to you so there’s no issue.
  • If your match has a value of C, the mutated value, in my opinion they should also be counted as a match to you, but they aren’t today. The logic, I believe, was that the most likely value is the standard or normal value and that the mutated value is much less likely to be accurate. Regardless, I’ve requested this change and am hoping for a matching adjustment in a future release for heteroplasmies.

Heteroplasmies do affect matching at the different levels.

Viewing Your Matches

Mitochondrial DNA, for testing purposes, is broken into three regions, HVR1 (hyper-variable region 1), HVR2 and the Coding Region.

At FamilyTreeDNA, you can view your matches at each level. The matches are cumulative, meaning that the HVR2 level includes the HVR1 level information, and the Coding Region level includes the HVR1 and HVR2 regions. That highest level which includes all three regions shows information from your entire your entire full mitochondrial DNA sequence.

Heteroplasmy Effects on Matching

If you otherwise match someone exactly, but one of you has a heteroplasmy and the other person carries the mutated value, you will be counted as a mismatch of 1 at the full sequence level.

A mismatch has different effects when it occurs in the HVR1, HVR2 or Coding Regions, respectively.

GD is an abbreviation for Genetic Distance which is how mutations are counted. A GD of 1 means the two people have one mutation difference between them.

In the following chart, the effects of you having a nonmatch, heteroplasmic or otherwise, in each of the regions is shown at each level. The region in which the mismatch occurs is shown in the first column, at left, and the effect the mismatch has on matching in each region is shown in columns 2-4.

The red sections are not counted as matches.

Mismatch Occurs in this Region HVR1 Level Match to Someone Else HVR2 Level Match to Someone Else Coding Region Level Match to Someone Else
HVR1 region nonmatch GD of 1 means no match GD of 1 means no match GD of 1 is a match
HVR2 region nonmatch Does not affect HVR1 – so you are a match GD of 1 means no match GD of 1 is a match
Coding Region nonmatch Does not affect HVR1 – so you are a match Does not affect HVR2 – so you are a match GD of 1 is a match

For purposes of this discussion, we’re assuming our two people being compared in the chart above match exactly on every other location so matching is not otherwise affected.

  • If your heteroplasmic nonmatch occurs in the HVR1 region – in other words, scenario 3 – you’ll fall into the HVR1 nonmatch row. That means you won’t be shown as a match at the HVR1 or HVR1+HVR2 levels, but you WILL be shown as a full sequence match.
  • If your heteroplasmic nonmatch is in the HVR2 region of addresses, it won’t affect your HVR1 matches, but it will affect your HVR2 and Coding Region matches. This means you will be shown as HVR1 match, not an HVR2 match, but will be a full sequence match.
  • If your heteroplasmic nonmatch is in the Coding Region, it won’t affect your HVR1 or HVR2 matches, but it will affect your Coding Region matches. However, it won’t preclude matches and you’ll be shown as a match in all three regions.

To be very clear, I have no issue with these match thresholds. It’s important to understand how this works, and therefore why heteroplasmic (and other) mismatches in specific regions affect our matches in the way they do.

Why Aren’t Mismatches of 1 Counted as Matches in the HVR1 or HVR2 Regions?

The match threshold at FamilyTreeDNA for the HVR1 and the HVR1+HVR2 regions, both small regions of about 1000 locations each, is that only an exact match is considered a match. Therefore, a heteroplasmic nonmatch in this region can really be confusing and sometimes misleading, especially if either or BOTH people have NOT tested at the full sequence level.

These are the match thresholds in effect today.

HVR1 GD or # of Mutations Allowed for a Match HVR2 GD or # of Mutations Allowed for a Match Coding Region GD or # of Mutations Allowed for a Match
0 – no mutations allowed 0 – no mutations allowed 3 mutations allowed

If both people match on either the heteroplasmy identified (Y in our case) or one person has the normal value – all is fine. But if one person has a heteroplasmy and the other has the mutated value – then a mismatch occurs. This is really only problematic when:

  • The heteroplasmy mismatch is in the HVR1 region and both people have only tested at that level, causing the two people to not match at all.
  • The heteroplasmy mismatch occurs in combination with other mutations that, cumulatively, push the two people over the GD 3 full sequence matching threshold.

The second scenario happens rarely, but I have seen situations where people don’t match their mothers, aunts, siblings, or other close relatives because of multiple heteroplasmic mutations occurring in different people.

And yes, this is hen’s teeth rare – but it does occasionally happen.

So, what’s the bottom line about heteroplasmies?

Heteroplasmy Bottom Line

  1. You can suspect a heteroplasmy if you have full sequence matches, but no exact matches.
  2. If you have a heteroplasmy in the HVR1 region, understand that you may not have many or any matches in the HVR1 and HVR2 regions. The remedy is to test at the full sequence level and check matches there.
  3. If you have a heteroplasmy and don’t match someone you expect to match – reach out to them and ask about their value at that specific location. If that location isn’t listed for them in their results, then they have no mutation there and your heteroplasmy is NOT the cause of you not matching with them.
  4. If you don’t match someone you expect to match, reach out to them and ask if THEY have any heteroplasmies. The easiest way to ask is, “Do you have any mutations listed that end with anything other than T, A, C, G or d?” Feel free to link to this article so that they’ll know where to look, and why you’re asking.

Do you have any heteroplasmies?

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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

Books

Genealogy Research

Two Rudolf Muellers Born on the Same Day in the Same Year in the Same Place – What? – 52 Ancestors #335

Seriously – only me. This would only happen to me. And I thought three Michael Kirsch’s living in the same village were bad.

We’ve been following Rudolph Muller’s life where we found him as an adult in Grossheppach, Germany.

click to enlarge images

In the Grossheppach records, cousin Wolfram in his one-place study of Grossheppach had discovered information indicating that Rudolph was from Switzerland, and more specifically, Stein am Rhein.

Wolfram also discovered a notation that Margretha, Rudolph’s wife, was from Kanton Zurich.

They were naturalized in 1662 and became citizens of Grossheppach.

Of course, this left us with many questions and only breadcrumbs reaching back to Switzerland.

Questions

The information in the Grossheppach records was recorded many years later. As genealogists, we’re all familiar with official records that contain incorrect information. I can’t even begin to tell you how many rabbit holes I’ve been down with those.

So, was Rudolph and Margretha’s information correct? If so, what more can we discover? Canton Zurich is a big place. Why was there no more specific information?

Before we continue to unravel this unbelievable puzzle, I need to thank several people, without whom this would NEVER have been solved:

  • My cousin, Tom
  • My cousin, Pam
  • My cousin, Wolfram
  • My village cousin, Chris (I’ll explain about village cousins in a separate article.)
  • Henry, the Stein am Rhein historian

And for the record, only Wolfram is related on this particular line. I’m just blessed with knowledgeable and generous cousins.

I’ve tried to give appropriate credit where credit is due, but there were probably 100 emails flying back and forth, so if I’ve omitted or confused credit for something, I just apologize in advance. In some cases, two people found the same thing about the same time because they are just that good!

We also unraveled more information about Margretha, Rudolph’s wife during this same exchange, but that will have to wait.

In the beginning, it looked like there wasn’t much of a mystery.

Famous last words…

It Looks Like Tom Solved the Riddle

From Tom:

I found a baptism of a Rudolf Muller, son of Jacob Muller and Ursula Muller on 8 Feb 1629 in Stein am Rhein Evangelical Church.

Hot diggity Tom. Great find. Rudolph Muller was born on February 22, 1629. From the Grossheppach records, we thought he was born about 1630 so this fits perfectly.

I sent this on to cousin Wolfram who speaks German as his native language.

From Wolfram:

Where is the baptism from?

I can translate for you the 4th entry incl. headlines. It is clearly readable:

Getauffte Kinder, im Jahr  // baptized children in the year

    1. DC. XXIX. I/ 1629

Monat und tag deß empfangenen Tauffs. / Namen. / Vatter. / Mutter. / Tester. //  Month and day of the baptism / Names. / Father. / Mother. / Godfather(&-mother)

    1. / Febr. / Rudloph. / Jacob Müller. / Ursula Müller. / H. Benedict Gulding[er]: Ellisabeth Win(t)zin. // this I do not have to translate 😉 But what is clear, the surename of the mother Ursula was also Müller. So her Father was “Müller”.

So, if this is the baptism record of Stein am Rhein, then it looks really quite good! As long there are no other Rudolph Müller in this book, either before (then the parents have to be checked or a later record Rudolph Müller (1640 latest).

Yes, we surely do need to check for another baby by the same name, but what are the chances? Rudolph isn’t a terribly common name. Plus, it’s not even preceded by Johann, so it’s even more unique.

It does bother me a bit that in the Grossheppach records, he’s mentioned, at least in some cases, as Johann Rudolph Muller. But not much. Often men were called by their middle name throughout their life, and of course, Muller and Mueller were interchangeable. Johann s the official first name of probably 90% of the German babies born during this timeframe, so he would have been called by his middle name. Even if his first name wasn’t actually Johann, the people in Grossheppach might well have assumed that it was.

A Marriage

In the meantime, Tom unearthed more:

I found a 1616 marriage also for this person’s parents.

Jacob Muller from Turbenthal

Ursula Muller from Nussbaumen

7 July 1616 in Stein am Rhein

I’ve gathered the family group: Jacob Muller and Ursula Muller, their marriage and the baptisms of their children.  There is no further evidence that they stayed in Stein am Rhein.

Perhaps they all relocated to Germany.

If this is your crew, I will translate them for you.  Let me know what you think at your convenience.  Exciting though!

I’m was happy, basking in family discovered, and I would remain happy for a few hours, right up until I checked my email again.

Pam’s Discovery

Cousin Pam who studied overseas was searching at the same time and found a transcribed record in a German local family book about Stein am Rhein. Local historians often volunteer their time to create these documents. Bless their generosity is all I can say.

click to enlarge

Rudolf Mueller born on February 22, 1629. That’s wonderful, confirmed Tom’s work, and would save Tom from translating those children’s records.

But then, Pam found another record from the same place that looked promising.

Hans (short for Johann) Rudolf Mueller.

Wait? What?

This is not the same family that Tom found?

This Johann Rudolph Mueller was born and baptized on May 22, 1629, in Stein am Rhein to different parents.

OH NO.

We really do have two babies by nearly the same name, in the same place, born three months apart – just like Wolfram mentioned. Is he psychic?

How is this even possible?

Hiccup

I skipped the hiccup which made this situation even more confusing.

The original records that Pam found showed the two babies born on the same day, but attributed to different parents. It appeared to be an erroneous entry in the family book, but as it turned out, the error was in the baptism date, not the record itself.

Yes, there were actually two babies born with the same or very similar names to two Muller/Mueller families.

I’m only showing the correct records here because I don’t want to confuse anyone else.

Trust me, we were very confused and so was the historian, Henry, who had compiled the website. He was kind enough to go back and check the original records.

Of course, since Tom had found the marriage of the parents Jacob Mueller and Ursula Mueller, I made the logical deduction that was the correct entry, and the entry for George Mueller and Magdalena Schnewlin was in error.

Wolfram Finds the Second Baptism

As it turns out, there WERE two babies by the same name, baptized in the same place, and they were both in that original record on the same page in the church book. Wolfram spotted it.

O.K. This is now really difficult and I am not sure, if we can surely say who was our Ancestor Johann Rudolph because the other baptism is below in line 13. With the parents Jörg Müller and Magdalena. This is really a pity. Furthermore according to the online family book neither the one nor the other has married. So for a definition there would be a marriage-record needed or some documents of local authorities which shows who has moved (if something like this is available at all…)

Wolfram

Tom concurred. Finding the marriage document of Rudolph Mueller or Hans Rudolph Mueller or Muller to Margretha/ Margaretha whatever her last name was would be crucial to determine which baby was our Rudolph Muller. Or was either baby our baby?

Now, I’m doubting everything.

The Census

From Wolfram:

I can’t get this topic out of my head. I checked the online family book of Stein am Rhein again. Henry Straub, who created the book included sources for the data. And on the page of the one Hans Rudolph Müller who was born in May 1629 (father: Georg Müller) he noted a “Bevölkerungsverzeichnis” as a source for the baptism, which is basically a CENSUS. And not only one but three. As I read correctly they are from 1634, 1637 and 1640. This source has not been noted with the one which was born in February 1629 (father: Jakob Müller). That indicates for me, this second one was not alive anymore even there is a minor option, that this family has moved away after 1630. So the probability seems to be high, that the first-mentioned (born in May and father Georg Müller) is the Johann Rudoph Müller we are searching for.

I think it is worthwhile and I will get in contact with Henry, the Stein am Rhein historian, and ask about his opinion. And I think he will be happy to have another connection outside of Stein am Rhein.

Henry Digs Deeper and Hits Paydirt

Henry, the historian replied to my email asking about the dual entries showing both baby Rudolph’s born on the same day.

Dear Roberta,

It seems that I made a serious mistake: there is only one Hans Rudolf Mueller (Müller) born/baptized in Stein am Rhein May 22, 1629, to Georg (Jörg) Mueller and Magdalena.

So far I can not say what went wrong (and might never find out).

There were two Rudolf Müller born in 1629 one “Rudolf” bapt. February 22nd and the “Hans Rudolf” bapt. May 22nd. The error was that I made a wrong connection to the parents.

The family of Jakob Müller and Ursula Müller apparently left Stein am Rhein, they were not registered in the census of 1634.

The 1634 Census

Henry provided the census record information.

Important other sources for Stein am Rhein exist, a kind of early census, made from 1634 till 1702. Georg (Jörg) Müller, his wife and children (still alive and not yet married) were last recorded in 1643:

“Das Dorf (hamlet, village) Hemishoffen

Nr. 8 Jörg Müller H
Hans – dienend
Magdalena Schnewli
Christen  –  dienend
Rudolf –  dienend
Anna

«dienend» indicates that they were not living any longer in the household of their parents. With other words that their parents had only a small farm and could not feed a larger family. The following census (1650) only contains the recently wed Hans Müller, his wife Anna Fischer(in) and their child Margret (1 year old).

Oh, this is heartbreaking. I can’t help but wonder what happened to Rudolph’s parents and where he lived. Who raised those children? Where did they go?

There are no further records in Stein am Rhein concerning Jörg Müller and any of his 3 other children.

Emigration (or immigration) were not always a one-step move; if nothing important (birth, marriage, or death) happened, no records were made. Unfortunately shortly after the 30 years’ war (1618-1648) in many of the parishes in Germany records were not kept or the precision is missing. Sometimes also the new arrivals preferred not to reveal much about their past.

If you like to have copies of the original records, please let me know, I recorded many documents with a digital camera.

Henry

And, of course, all if this is happening as the Thirty Years War raged throughout Europe. It’s amazing that there WAS a 1643 census AND that it still exists, along with church records from that timeframe.

Hemishofen

Jorg, short for George, lived in house number 8 in Hemishoften, literally, right next door to Stein am Rhein on the Rhine River.

The old buildings in Hemishofen are well-preserved today.

Hemishoften was probably just a wide spot in the road paralleling the Rhine, then as now.

This little hamlet is too small to have its own church, so the people who lived there would have traveled the mile or so to the church in Stein am Rhein.

At that time, these properties would have been the “cheap seats,” in part because they were outside of the city walls where no protection was afforded the residents. Any marauding soldiers approaching on the Rhine would have made quick pickings of isolated farmers with no protection.

It stands to reason that if they were already poor, and something happened, Jorg and Magdalena would not be able to support their children. But is this the right family?

Or, was our Rudolph the son of Jacob and Ursula?

Jacob Muller and Ursula Muller’s Family

Tom made me laugh with his next comment.

The only “saving grace” if you can call it that, is that if you find nothing else, it will make another interesting story.  THIS IS REALITY GENEALOGY AT ITS BEST!

Is that ever an understatement. How do you tell a super confusing story without it being super confusing?

Tom was already on this, unraveling the threads.

I mentioned yesterday that I gathered all of the records for the family: Jacob Muller & Ursula Muller.

The baptism of Anna Muller in 1622 indicates that Jacob Muller was then living in Biberach. An important point.

The death of Rudolf Muller, son of Jacob Muller of Biberach on 24 May 1629 (the year labeled the Pest Year), solves your problem.

Your Rudolf would seem to be this family: Georg Muller & Magdalena Schnewlin

Indeed, Tom solved this puzzle. Given that Jacob’s son, Rudolph died in 1629, five days before our Rudolph was born back in Stein am Rhein – our Rudolph must be Johann Rudolph Mueller, the son of George Muller and Magdalena Schnewlin. The couple living in Hemishofen in 1643, without their children.

Stein am Rhein

Now that we’ve confirmed that our Rudolph was indeed born ar at least baptized in Stein am Rhein, let’s bask for a minute in the beauty of this village on the Rhine River, located on the border between Switzerland and Germany.

Rudolph would have walked these very streets and seen these exact buildings as he grew up.

According to Wikipedia, in or about 1007, Stein am Rhein was a sleepy fishing village on the Rhine River. However, it occupied a strategic location where major road and river routes intersected. Emperor Henry II moved St. George’s Abbey to this location and granted the abbots extensive rights over the village and its trade so that they could develop it commercially.

This endeavor was quite successful. During the Reformation, the abbey was taken over by Zurich. Today, the abbey, 3 churches, the castle, city walls, tower, and gate along with many historic buildings remain and are extremely well cared for.

By JoachimKohlerBremen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54243437

By JoachimKohler-HB – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87543300

Rudolph’s ancestors may have lived in this village someplace. It’s actually very unusual that they lived in the countryside, especially during the war. People were either merchants or farmers. German and Swiss farmers lived inside the city wall and tended their fields outside. The city walls provided protection from invaders.

To a poor peasant boy who probably seldom got to town, Stein am Rhein would have been a sophisticated city and full of magic. I can’t help but view this through the eyes of an awed child as he entered through the city gate, above.

By JoachimKohler-HB – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87853275

The beautiful town hall.

By JoachimKohler-HB – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87858781

These frescoes are original. Imagine what they looked like when Rudolph visited these shops.

By JoachimKohler-HB – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87852766

By JoachimKohler-HB – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87862549

I supposed it goes without saying that I desperately want to visit Stein am Rhein. Of course, I say that about all of the locations where my ancestors lived.

You can enjoy more photos, here.

By Hansueli Krapf – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7084348

The Rhine passes the quaint village of Stein am Rhein, providing lifeblood. But Rudolph wouldn’t have sailed away on the Rhine River. Instead, he would have struck out overland for Grossheppach and a new life.

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New Genetic Groups Filter at MyHeritage

Recently MyHeritage released a new DNA match filter option for Genetic Groups.

Genetic Groups are different from ethnicity. Ethnicity looks at world founder populations and determines which populations you might be connected to genetically.

Genetic Groups, which I introduced here, is also connected to geography, but in a much more genealogically relevant way. Genetic Groups combines two things:

  • People you match and
  • Who are found in common geographics or genetic groups according to their genealogy

A genetic group might be people from Pennsylvania, where an ethnicity might be Germanic, which falls under North and West European. These two things could be derived from the same ancestor(s).

click any image to enlarge

How does that work? Well, the Pennsylvania Dutch were Germans. The Scotch-Irish, (or Scots-Irish if you prefer) were from Scotland and immigrated to Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. These Pennsylvania groups could be either or both. You get the idea.

This is exactly why you need to be able to filter your matches by Genetic Groups.

If you shift the genetic group confidence slider level to low, you’ll see all of your genetic groups. In my case, the two genetic groups in the Netherlands are of particular interest.

My mother’s grandfather immigrated from Friesland in the 1860s as a child, so I should have Dutch cousins at roughly the fourth cousin level.

Filters

MyHeritage already includes several filters which can be used in combination with each other.

They recently added Genetic Groups.

If you click the dropdown for “All Genetic Groups,” you’ll see the group you’re looking for. Click on the group.

I selected Friesland which is the area where my Ferverda family originated.

My 1,375 pages of matches is now reduced to 26 pages, and my top three matches, other than my mother, are three Ferverda cousins. Viewing shared matches will be illuminating.

I can focus that list of matches even further by adding other filters.

In this case, let’s try the location filter and select “Netherlands” which is the location where the tester currently lives.

Because I didn’t clear the original Friesland filter and added the Netherlands location, I have two filters applied to my DNA match list.

These two filters reduce my matches to 16 pages of people who very likely match me because of our shared Dutch ancestry. I can hardly wait to sort through these.

I could hone this list even further by filtering by, maybe, a shared location or a shared surname, or maybe only people with trees. Let’s see what that does.

Selecting the following filters, in addition to the two already in place above, reduced the pages of matches accordingly:

  • Has Theory of Family Relativity – 1 match
  • Has Smart Matches – 0 matches
  • Has shared surname – 5 pages of matches (some of these are VERY interesting!)
  • Has shared place – 13 pages
  • Has tree – 15 pages

Clearly, I’m going to check the Theory of Family Relativity first, because MyHeritage has already done the heavy lifting for me by identifying candidate common ancestors.

Next, I’ll work on shared surnames and then shared places.

It helps a great deal that I have my mother’s DNA at MyHeritage too, because I can immediately see if the match is valid or by chance. A valid match on this line will match me and Mom, both. Many will also triangulate with other testers which will help me further identify people who match me on my Dutch side.

Clearing Filters

Don’t forget to clear your filters when you’re done.

Any enabled filter will be shown in darker black, but it’s still awfully easy to forget you have filters enabled. Be sure to clear them before doing something else. The Clear Filters button is at far right.

Relatives

I’m fortunate enough that my mother tested before she passed away. I can verify that my Dutch matches match her as well, confirming that they are identical by descent, not just by chance. If you can, test your parents or upload their results if they have tested elsewhere.

But what if your parent or parents aren’t available to test?

Testing or uploading tests of siblings or known close relatives like aunts, uncles or cousins are extremely useful too. You can see if the people you discover through filtering match the family members you would expect.

You can order a MyHeritage DNA test here or upload a DNA file from another vendor, for free, here. To use the advanced tools, there’s a $29 unlock fee, but that’s less than a DNA test. Need download/upload instructions – look here..

Have fun!

What are you discovering?

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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

Books

Genealogy Research