The Origins of Zana of Abkhazia

Recently, Margaryan et al published a paper titled The genomic origin of Zana of Abkhazia.

Margaryan was the lead author on the 2020 paper, the Population genomics of the Viking world. I wrote about that in the article, 442 Ancient Viking Skeletons Hold DNA Surprises – Does Your Y or Mitochondrial DNA Match?

Why are people interested in the origins of Zana? Who was Zana?


Zana was initially believed to have been a member of a group of Afro-Abkhazian people who lived in the Caucasus in the later 1800s.

Known as the African Caucasians, the Abkhazians of African descent lived in and near the settlement of Adzyubzha on the east coast of the Black Sea.

By Unknown author –, Public Domain,

This photo of an Afro-Abkhazian family is from “Caucasus. Volume I. The peoples of the Caucasus”, St. Petersburg., Kovalevsky P. I., 1914.

It’s uncertain how this group of African people came to live in this region, but they seem to have arrived when the region was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the 1600s, possibly as slaves to work the citrus plantations. In 1927, two Russian men visited the village and met elderly Africans. The Russian men felt that an Ethiopian version of their arrival story was likely accurate since there were several parallels between the names of the villages in Ethiopia and the Afro-Abkhazian villages.

By the 1800s, they spoke only the northwest Caucasian Abkhaz language.

The origins of Zana herself are cloaked in myth. One thing is for certain. Zana was exploited horribly.

How much of the story of Zana’s origins is accurate, and how much was concocted to justify her subsequent treatment is unknown.

The Story

Zana was reportedly living wild and naked in the forest in the Caucasus region. These mountains had long been rumored to hold creatures similar to Bigfoot, called Almasty in Russia.

The story goes that a traveling noble merchant, possibly Edgi Genaba, heard about an apewoman living in the forest and paid the local men to capture this poor creature sometime between 1850 and 1870. The locals forced her into a spike-lined pit.

The nobleman paid the men, named his captive Zana, shackled her, took her home, and enclosed Zana in a cage where she dug a hole in which to sleep. A slightly different version of the story says that Zana was sold from man to man until Genaba bought her.

Zana was apparently covered in thick red hair, powerfully muscular and at 6 feet 6 inches in height, towering over the local residents. When given clothes, she reportedly would shred them.

Genaba charged people who would come and gawk at the naked caged “apewoman” who could not or did not speak.

Zana did not try to escape and eventually, she was granted some reprieve by “only” being chained to a fence.

Eventually, Zana was taught to do chores and in essence, became a servant. She was also provided with alcohol. The local men repeatedly raped Zana while she was drunk.

Zana reportedly had a total of 6 children by unknown local men, although only four can be relatively assured and two proven. Zana apparently took the first two babies to a river to wash them, but the children died. After that, the local women took the following four children away from Zana to protect them since she apparently didn’t understand how to care for an infant.

None of Zana’s children had her thick hair. They all spoke normally and had families. Pictures remain of two of her children, a daughter, Kodzhanar and a son, Khwit. You can see photos of Kodzhanar, Khwit and Khwit’s children, here, in a supplement to the paper.

Zana died after living in captivity for about 20 years, having been taken advantage of, first by Genaba and eventually, by the village men as well.

But Zana’s exploitation didn’t even end there.

Dr. Bryan Sykes, once a respected geneticist, in his later years, became a Bigfoot hunter. After analyzing DNA evidence from Zana’s granddaughter and relatives, along with the remains of her son, Sykes suggested that Zana belonged to a “sub-species of modern humans,” and called her “half human and half ape,” according to a Daily Mail article published in April of 2015. Sykes published a book in 2015, whose title I refuse to print, in which he suggests that Zana’s ancestors exited Africa 100,000 years before and she and her ancestors had, in essence, become a Caucuses Bigfoot – or Almasty in the local vernacular. However, Sykes also states that Zana was 100% African, had genes from west Africa, yet resembled no west African group of people. If you’re scratching your head saying to yourself that those things are contradictory – you’d be right.

Thankfully, Margaryan has now published a respectful academic paper about Zana.

The genomic origin of Zana of Abkhazia

Margaryan paper abstract:

Enigmatic phenomena have sparked the imagination of people around the globe into creating folkloric creatures. One prime example is Zana of Abkhazia (South Caucasus), a well-documented 19th-century female who was captured living wild in the forest. Zana’s appearance was sufficiently unusual, that she was referred to by locals as an Almasty—the analog of Bigfoot in the Caucasus. Although the exact location of Zana’s burial site was unknown, the grave of her son, Khwit, was identified in 1971. The genomes of Khwit and the alleged Zana skeleton were sequenced to an average depth of ca. 3× using ancient DNA techniques. The identical mtDNA and parent-offspring relationship between the two indicated that the unknown woman was indeed Zana. Population genomic analyses demonstrated that Zana’s immediate genetic ancestry can likely be traced to present-day East-African populations. We speculate that Zana might have had a genetic disorder such as congenital generalized hypertrichosis which could partially explain her strange behavior, lack of speech, and long body hair. Our findings elucidate Zana’s unfortunate story and provide a clear example of how prejudices of the time led to notions of cryptic hominids that are still held and transmitted by some today.


Hypertrichosis, also known as “werewolf syndrome” is an extremely rare condition in which an abnormal amount of hair grows on the body. While this condition can develop later in life, it can also be congenital, or present at birth.

In some cases, hair grows all over the body, but in others, only grows in some places.

While Zana’s hair growth suggests hypertrichosis, Zana may have had other challenges as well given that she was nonverbal.

In medieval times, people who suffered from hypertrichosis often lived in courts and functioned as entertainers. In the 19th and 20th centuries, you could find them as performers in circuses and sideshows.

Congenital hypertrichosis, present from birth, can be inherited.

Petrus Gonsalvus, born in 1537 and referred to as “the man of the woods” spent his life in royal courts in Italy and France. He had seven children, four of whom apparently inherited the mutation for this condition from Petrus.

Petrus and his children with excessive hair, two of whom are shown above, were not considered fully human, although their court life allowed them to be well documented.

Petrus married Lady Catherine and their story may have been at least a part of the inspiration for the fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, published in 1740, 122 years after Petrus’s death.

Zana’s Son, Khwit’s Y DNA

Due to Zana’s circumstances, we have no idea who Khwit’s father was. Khwit and the father himself may have not known either, given how Zana was treated by the local men who raped her. Furthermore, Zana’s children were taken from her and she was non-verbal, so even if she did know, she couldn’t have told her children.

Khwit’s Y DNA provides tantalizing clues.

FamilyTreeDNA’s analysis of Zana’s son, Khwit’s Y chromosome places him in the R-Z2103 subclade of R1b associated with the Yamnaya culture, and more specifically on branch R-Y4364 which has its highest frequency in the Caucasus.

You can see that the flags beside the subgroups above R-FTA50400 are all represented in the Caucasus region; Armenia, Russian Federation, Turkey, and the Palestinian Territory. They also reach into the surrounding areas: Italy, Poland, Greece, Germany, and then beneath Khwit’s branch, we find Scotland represented by subclade R-FTA49702. Khwit and the man from Scotland share 14 variants that branch subclade R-FTA50400 from R-FGCLR459.

Scotland? Well, that’s unexpected.

Looking at the block tree, below, you can see that while the two men are related back in time, it’s distant and they are separated by many private variants.

How long ago did the common ancestor of Khwit and the Scotsman live?

Goran Runfeldt, Head of Research and Development at FamilyTreeDNA, indicated that an early estimate would be that the common ancestor of Khwit’s father and the tester from Scotland would have lived in the Caucasus about 2200 years ago.

He stated that additional Big Y-700 testing is underway and a more definitive MRCA date may be able to be established.

Zana’s Mitochondrial DNA

Of course, Zana’s children all carried her mitochondrial DNA. Her daughters passed Zana’s mitochondrial DNA on to their children as well.

Fortunately, Zana’s mitochondrial DNA helps reassemble the pieces of Zana’s history.

I reached out to Dr. Miguel Vilar, a member of the Million Mito team member in the hope of revealing more of Zana’s puzzle. Dr. Villar is a molecular anthropologist at UMD and former lead scientist for the Genographic Project.

Dr. Vilar offered:

The DNA data and old stories together paint a very sad picture for the historical figure of Zana. The PCA plot of the autosomal DNA suggests she was genetically related to the Dinka pastoralist people from South Sudan, a marginalized group known to be above average in height and body size. Further, Zana’s mtDNA results place her on a basal branch of L2b1b, which geographically would align with an East Central African origin.

The combination of Zana’s height, body size, hair, and (apparent) inability to speak certainly advanced or at least fostered the story of Zana not being human.

Unfortunately, these combined features seemed to justify the non-human treatment of Zana by the local residents, particularly the men.

Contemporary DNA analysis proves Zana was fully human with African origins. She was not admixed with non-African DNA. How she or her family came to the Caucasus, or when, is unknown, but it likely has to do with the Ottoman Empire slave trade that began in the 16th century. The legend of Zana has probably grown and changed with time and retelling.


Clearly, Zana’s original situation and later exploitation have been an ethical quagmire.

The authors of the Zana paper perhaps sum this up best:

Following her capture in the forest, Zana was deprived of her basic human rights, and treated as a slave: she was kept in captivity, likely forced to have sexual relations with local men, and worked in forced labor conditions. After she passed away, the accounts on her mythical figure attracted several scientists to unearth her story and her son’s bones were exhumed. Our study intends both to reveal the true human nature of Zana and grant her and her descendants’ remains the dignity they deserve.

Zana’s story isn’t over. Additional testing and analysis are being performed. Based on those findings, if any, we may be able to add another chapter to Zana’s story.

Zana, like everyone else, deserves the truth, even if unraveled and told posthumously. We can’t right the historical wrongs today, but at least we can correct the record.



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Robert Vernon Estes: Still Missing, But Not Forgotten – 52 Ancestors #339

Today was an incredible day – one I’ve been working towards and looking forward to for more than a year. One that Robert Vernon Estes earned more than 70 years ago.

Robert was a POW, captured in Korea on November 30, 1950.

Bobby is still MIA since he was never officially reported as either captured or known dead through official channels and his body was never returned.

He was declared dead, however, in 1954 after a fellow POW after release reported that Robert had died sometime around January 31, 1951.

This military photo in the Monticello paper is the only known photo of Bobby and we wouldn’t have that were it not for an incredibly tenacious volunteer at the White County Historical Society. I can’t thank her enough.

Our family has dispersed to the wind. Bobby is my father’s brother’s child. Bobby’s parents divorced as did my parents. I knew Bobby had died in the military, but had no details. Bobby’s father was involved in some type of accident that caused brain damage.

Bobby’s mother died before he was declared dead. I don’t know what happened to his step-father. Bobby’s brother went his own way and a generation or two later, the family had scattered to the winds.

Bobby died at 19, never married and had no children.

Seventy years later, I am Bobby’s closest remaining family member and as such, was the Gold Star Family representative at today’s memorial service. I think officially Gold Star family members are limited to immediate family – but my invitation addressed me as a Gold Star family member and I filled in for others now deceased.

I’m honored to represent Bobby, the first cousin I never knew, but who I’m named after.

I have written about Robert Vernon Estes twice.

Indiana War Memorial Foundation

The Indiana War Memorial Foundation had planned to honor Indiana’s Korean War MIAs in 2020, but had to postpone the event until this summer.

Today dawned hot and humid – a typical Indiana summer day with the exception of the high level smoke that made the atmosphere hazy in addition to hot and humid. The one blessing is that there was at least a hint of a breeze.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument

The Soldier and Sailors Monument, dedicated in 1902 sits dead center in the middle of Indianapolis, dead center in the middle of Indiana.

alexeatswhales, CC BY 2.0 <;, via Wikimedia Commons

Bricks, many engraved with the names of veterans, pave the circular street and sidewalks surround the towering monument.

As I turned the corner to hunt for a parking garage, the monument loomed above the city in front of me. You can’t miss it.

The streets were blocked today and families, having traveled from from all over the country were instructed to arrive early.

The ceremony would begin at 10.

I noticed the man on the motorcycle and thought to myself that he must be awfully hot.

After parking and walking the couple blocks to the circle, I discovered why the bike was present.

Rolling Thunder

Rolling Thunder is an advocacy group of bikers who are veterans founded in 1995. Their membership is committed to accounting for all POW and MIA soldiers from all wars.

You may remember Rolling Thunder to the Wall in Washington DC in 2010 and the blessing of the bikes.

The last Washington DC ride took place in 2019, but the local and state chapters are still extremely active in their support and advocacy.

I walked straight up to these men and thanked them for both their service and for joining us today. One veteran reminded me of my brother, and it was all I could do to keep my voice from cracking and try not to stare.

We will see these guys a bit later:)

Signing In

As each family signed in, we noted the name of our soldier and our relationship. I was one of the early arrivals and noticed both “sister” and “daughter.” Siblings were still alive, but all of the parents, born about 1910 or earlier, would be gone now. Every single one of them passed away without closure about what happened to their son.

Bobby’s mother died before he was declared dead, but not before she received a small box with a few of his belongings. I hope they brought her at least some level of comfort.

Today, in Indy, bricks laid in honor of our family members who never came home would be unveiled to honor their service and sacrifice.

Family Packets

Not to say that it was hot or anything, but in the packets provided for each family were the quintessential “funeral fans.” Now I don’t suppose everyone called them funeral fans. They were always stuck in the back of pews with the hymnals at church when I was growing up.

Everyone at funerals always nervously fanned, AND, often funeral homes bought the fans – for advertising of course. Jesus praying was always on one side and the funeral home’s name was always on the other.

A lovely brochure was also included in the packet with the scheduled events of the day.

Of course, honoring these brave men was the purpose of today’s somber event.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Before I go any further, I need to thank a number of anonymous people. I took many of these photos and videos, but not all. Our families had been assembled by virtue of common tragedy which provided us with an immediate bond. We talked, thanked the veterans and men in uniform present, shared photos, messaged back and forth, air-dropped and asked random people to please take our pictures in front of something or with other family members. By the time the ceremony actually began, we were on a first name basis and sharing stories.

In fact, perhaps the most amazing thing of all is what happened afterwards. You’re not going to believe this. But let’s get through the ceremony first.

Settling In

As people began to get settled, I stepped back far enough to get a photo of the tent that had (thankfully) been set up for the families in front of the Memorial. I had to stand back a LONG way. It’s HUGE!

As I kept backing up further to get this shot, I realized there was something going on in the street behind me.

Firetrucks and the Flag

Clearly security was a consideration for an event like this, and the streets were blocked off. The circle itself and the block leading to the circle.

I heard some commotion and turned around.

What are they doing?

Oh, look, it’s one of those huge flags.

I was excited to get to witness this. Look at the one guy literally “holding the bag.”

I remembered that my phone has video capability. Forgive the amateur behind the camera here – I had to flip it sideways at the end. It was quite an endeavor to keep the flag from touching the ground.

The flag was unfurled with a little help from one of the Rolling Thunder guys. Notice the firefighter with the now-empty bag. I wonder how they get the flag back in that bag.

I have to say, the flag being raised with synchronized ladders is an amazing sight and makes you feel really small and awestruck.

The flag was raised high above the street. I would love to have gone up to the observation tower in the Memorial and taken a look, but that building (ironically) wasn’t open, and besides, I didn’t want to miss anything outside.

I scoped out my seat near the end of the first row. People were milling around, but beginning to take their seats.

Preparations were taking place on the stage area and Rolling Thunder veterans were everyplace.

I happened to look back at the tent and saw the flag. You couldn’t miss the flag!

I was making my way to my seat at far left, above, and then I spotted “trouble.” The good kind of trouble:)


You’ve all been my readership family long enough by now to know that I cannot go anyplace without some adventure finding me or me getting in some kind of trouble. When trouble fails to find me, that’s how I’ll know I’m dead.

You may recall, my brother-who-was-not-my-brother was a long haul trucker, a biker and a wounded Vietnam Marine.

Trust me, if you’re ever in real trouble someplace, find one of these guys.

Standing near my seat was another group of Rolling Thunder guys. I swear, they were the security detail. I mean, who’s going to mess with anyone with legions of these guys around. No sane person, that’s for sure!

I thanked these men for their service AND what they do today. The voice of remembrance when it’s all too easy to forget.

We talked about the MIA and POW men still unaccounted for and I told them that even though Bobby is officially MIA, we know he’s deceased, of course. Everyone shook their head in agreement. One of the men asked me his name. Then I explained it is my name too, I’m named for Robert. And I kept Estes too. Then I told them about Dave.

Not a dry eye in the place. A bit of shoe shuffling, allergies and hugging.

Let’s just say we bonded. Notice my special friend to my left who is modeling my bag. These guys were so doggone much fun to visit with and explained more about what Rolling Thunder does, how they participate, and their commitment. Trust me, no one rides bikes, wears leather and hangs out in the intense mid-summer heat if they aren’t either related or committed.

Before sitting down, I decided to grab one picture of the families and the flag from the memorial steps.

The Ceremony Begins

I had a great seat with a wonderful view of the Memorial itself. All those years I lived in Indiana and I never really paid attention. I’m not sure I had ever seen the Memorial other than from a distance.

The Indiana National Guard’s 38th Infantry Brass Quintet, in full dress uniform, was located to the right.

I can only imagine how miserable they must have been. You would never have known it from their lovely music.

The dignitaries begin delivering remarks.

The flags are ceremonially escorted into the stage area by a color guard – you’ve guessed it. Rolling Thunder again.

Remember that I mentioned there was, blessedly, a breeze?

The most shocking thing happened a minute or two later.

The breeze blew the American flag right over, onto the ground with a resounding thud. An audible gasp emanated from the crowd. Everyone knows that the flag is never supposed to touch the ground. When I was younger I thought a flag had to be destroyed if it touched the ground. I wondered what would happen, not eventually to the flag, but in this instance. In the middle of a ceremony honoring a special class of our veterans.

Two men from Rolling Thunder walked up behind the dignitaries, picked up the flags and proceeded to stand for the duration of the ceremony holding the flags upright. What a beautiful picture.

The National Anthem was sung, acapella, by Staff Sergeant Ronald Walker, also in full dress uniform. This man is both brave and amazing!

Unveiling the Bricks

Next, the bricks were unveiled. I had been unaware that the blue tarp was actually covering the bricks.

I don’t have to tell you who did the unveiling do I?

I was pleased to see that the bricks for the Korean POW/MIAs had been placed together, not scattered around the plaza.

My neighbor had a better view than I did and kindly shared his video with me.

The unveiling of the bricks was followed by the wreath laying.

The wreath laying is a respectful tradition associated with either funerals or memorial services.

The Roll Call

I didn’t know about the concept of Roll Call before. Now I’ll never be able to unhear it.

The name of the soldier still missing is read. A veteran, in this case, a Rolling Thunder member, steps forward and says, “Still missing, Sir,” then steps back.

This was repeated 195 times as the names were read in alphabetical order.




Each family member in attendance had been given a sign with their soldier’s photo, if one was available, and asked to stand and hold the photo facing the crowd when it was their turn.

The veteran sitting next to me knew the name of my soldier and filmed this, then gifted it to me.

I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am.

I was saddened to notice how many men did not have representative family members present.

As the Roll Call finished, and the Rolling Thunder men exited, a bagpiper played Amazing Grace. One of two songs I can never get through dry-eyed.

Followed, of course, by the next song I cannot get through dry-eyed.

The flags or colors were retired in the same way they had been presented initially.

After the Ceremony

Robert Vernon Estes and his 194 comrades never received a funeral. Their families never had closure. Regardless of what happened to those men in Korea, it’s clear that they are not still living today.

It was sad that we needed to have this service, but it was beautiful and somber and cathartic. It may not be closure for the immediate family, but it’s at least recognition that these men have not been forgotten.

After the ceremony, there was a palpable sense of gratitude and relief. The camaraderie of sharing this experience with others was so meaningful and important. I’m struggling to find the right words to convey the mixture of sad and glad and relief still mixed with prayers that one day, at least some of these men’s remains will be returned for burial. A real funeral, with taps, and the 21 gun salute, and everything else that they deserve. Not an empty hole of nothingness.

I’m so filled with gratitude for the many people who made this possible.

Some, but not all of the volunteers who made this lovely ceremony possible for the veterans and the Gold Star families. Thank you so very much.

The beautiful wreath standing by the bricks.

The only other wreath-laying ceremony I have ever attended was when the DAR set the stone for my Revolutionary War ancestor on another beastly hot summer day.

The Rest of the Story

I attended the ceremony alone. The people sitting in the row behind me seemed friendly enough. As we waited for the ceremony to begin, we chatted pleasantly about our respective family members that we were honoring.

They did not know much about the history of the unit in which their family member had fought. I was trying to explain about obtaining records from NARA, and declassified unit records – in essence what I had done for Robert Estes.

I had noticed that someone representing the Indiana senator’s office was sitting two seats from me. I turned around and told the man behind me that he needed to talk to the person from the senator’s office and ask for liaison assistance.

After they spoke, our group began talking again, and I told him I think that the unit his family member served in fought with the unit Robert served in.

Their family was fortunate to have several people in attendance, while I’m the only one left in my generation in my line. By this time, it was noon and miserably hot – on the north side of 90. The committee had provided rollups and ice cold water while the families visited afterwards, but everyone was ready for something more.

They invited me along to eat with them. I hesitated, not wanting to be a third wheel and hoping they didn’t feel obligated to invite me. They said, “hey, you’re family,” and you know, it felt like family. We decided we would just all be family, at least for today. I was so grateful for the invitation and felt like we had a common bond. Maybe it was the emotion of the day – I can’t explain it.

We managed to find the absolute worst Italian restaurant I’ve ever eaten in – but the companionship was wonderful and we had a room in the back to ourselves.

After we finished, I mentioned that I had to go back to the memorial because somehow I had forgotten to find Bobby’s brick and take a picture – and I wanted a picture of me with the brick too.

They said they had to walk back that way anyway, so we went together.

The stage area was clear and everyone was gone, of course.  Only a few flowers remained. But those bricks are permanent and will still be there long after we are gone!

I was so very pleased to be present for the one thing of permanence that will remain of Bobby.

I wanted to photograph the rest of the bricks, together.

That’s When It Happened!


Robert Minniear is the other family’s MIA soldier. He went missing on November 30, 1950,

So did Bobby.

Both men’s families were from the same part of Indiana.

We just stared at each other dumbstruck with the realization of our discovery. Our family members indeed had gone missing the same day. Likely in the same battle in Korea. Spoiler alert – I came back to my hotel and did indeed verify that the two units were fighting together on that day.

Did our family members know each other? Before, or after they were captured, or both? Were they held as POWs together, or was their Robert killed during either the fighting itself or the horrific conditions immediately after?

Can the information I’ve found about Bobby’s unit help their family gain closure?

What are the chances that this would happen? That we would all attend this ceremony, sit together, strike up a friendly conversation, feel a bond, go to lunch, discover our common roots in the same town, then the revelation of the same MIA date? Did I mention that one of these men is also named Robert, born the same year I was and named for his Robert too?

I’d swear, if I didn’t know better, that the Robert’s were sort of nudging us.

As Mike, my new family member was reading the dates on the rest of the bricks, he noticed several other men who were MIA that same day and remain so:

  • Gene Ruby – PFC USMC
  • Everett W. Leffler – CPL US Army
  • Robert L. White – SGT US Army
  • Robert Lee White – CPL US Army (I hope these two men aren’t closely related – that poor family.)
  • Donald K. Mitchell – CPL US Army
  • James Mishler – PFC US Army

Maybe, just maybe, this story isn’t quite over just yet. Maybe information about one of our soldiers is information about all of our soldiers…

Maybe there’s a chapter yet to be written.

What’s the Difference Between Pedigree Collapse and Endogamy?

There has been recent discussion and confusion about the difference between pedigree collapse and endogamy.

Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences and what it means to genealogists.

Pedigree Collapse

Pedigree collapse occurs when the same person/people appear in your tree multiple times as ancestors.

In this example, you can see that John Smith and Mary Johnson appear twice, which of course means the ancestors further back in time in those lines all appear at least twice too.

Genetically speaking, our tester, Tester Smith, could be expected to inherit more of the DNA of John Smith and Mary Johnson because they are receiving an infusion of their DNA from both sides of their tree.

Each parent provides 50% of their respective DNA to each child, but contribute different pieces of their DNA to different children.

Each grandparent normally contributes approximately 25% to each grandchild, although it may be slightly more or less. Each great-grandparent contributes about 12.5% to each great-grandchild.

However, since John Smith appears twice in Tester Smith’s tree as a great-grandparent, John Smith would be expected to contribute approximately 12.5% of his DNA times 2 to Tester Smith. This means that approximately 25% of Tester Smith’s DNA descends from John Smith. The same is true for John Smith’s wife, Mary Johnson.

Let’s look at how this affects our chromosomes and matching.

Chromosome Perspective with No Pedigree Collapse

First, let’s look at a situation where there’s no pedigree collapse. Chromosome 22 has about 72 cM of DNA that is being compared for genealogy, so let’s use that chromosome for our example, with chromosome 22 being representative of all other chromosomes (except the X chromosome.)

If each grandparent contributes one fourth of each person’s DNA, then our tester’s mother would have received approximately 25% of her DNA from her 4 grandparents, respectively, or 18 cM from each grandparent.

For purposes of these examples, I’m going to use the 25% average amount of DNA inherited for each grandparent, but you can read more specifics here and here, if you’re interested.

In this example with no pedigree collapse, you can see that our tester received 9 cM or 12.5% of each of their great-grandparents’ DNA. The great-grandparents’ DNA combined in the grandparents and then Tester’s parents such that Tester received 18 cM or 25% of their DNA from each grandparent and 9 cM or 12.5% from each great-grandparent.

Note that Tester Smith received one 9 cM piece of each color of his 8 grandparents’ colored DNA. It’s easy to visualize inheritance this way.

Chromosome Perspective with Pedigree Collapse

Our second example shows pedigree collapse with John Smith and Mary Johnson being present as great-grandparents twice.

Note that Tester Smith inherited a segment of John Smith’s red DNA from their mother and one from their father. Tester also inherited one segment of Mary Johnson’s yellow DNA from each parent.

In this situation, the red DNA segment inherited by Tester Smith’s father from John Smith and the red DNA segment inherited from Tester’s mother from John Smith could potentially be:

  • The same DNA segment contributed by John Smith to both of his children, George Smith and Fred Smith, meaning those segments will match entirely.
  • Partially the same DNA segments meaning that some of John Smith’s DNA that Tester Smith inherited from his parents will match each other and some won’t.
  • Entirely different DNA segments meaning that although the DNA was inherited from John Smith in both cases, his children, George Smith and Fred Smith inherited different pieces of John Smith’s DNA. That DNA was passed through George Smith and Fred Smith’s children to Tester Smith. Even though both segments inherited by Tester descended from John Smith originally, they don’t match because they were different segments to begin with.

Tester Smith will inherit approximately half of the DNA from John Smith that his parents received, so their red segments of DNA could be exactly the same, partially the same, or completely different.

Since I am showing the red segments in different positions on the chromosomes, we’ll presume that the positions shown indicate chromosome location (addresses.) Since the red DNA is not in the same location on the mother’s and father’s chromosomes, the DNA from John Smith inherited by Tester from his parents are different segments.

Tester will have inherited 18 cM total from John Smith and 18 cM total from Mary Johnson (using averages). In this illustration, the red and yellow segments, respectively are two separate 9 cM segments. If by chance those two red (or yellow) segments had been inherited in adjacent locations, they would match as one 18 cM segment – even though they were really two separate segments inherited through two different parents. The phenomenon where segments from common ancestors joining each other again in descendants causes relationship predictions to be closer than the actual relationships.

Said another way, even though Tester Smith inherited 25% of John Smith’s DNA, John Smith is still a great-grandparent, albeit twice, not a grandparent even though vendors would predict someone with 25% shared DNA as a grandparent.

Of course, each generation further back in the tree means that the amount of DNA inherited from each ancestor is cut in half, so the effects of pedigree collapse become less pronounced the further back in time the collapse occurs.

Looking at our example, if John Smith and Mary Johnson were duplicated in Tester’s tree another generation further removed, Tester would inherit 6.25% times two from John Smith, or a total of 12.5% of his DNA, and the same from Mary Johnson. Another generation back in time, 6.25% total. Eventually, many of those segments will disappear entirely due to loss during recombination, so distant pedigree collapse is not necessarily discernable in this way.

To summarize, pedigree collapse occurs in a genealogical timeframe, meaning that you could at least potentially identify the ancestors who are duplicated in your tree. If you know where in your tree the duplication occurs, you can calculate the expected amount of DNA that you will inherit (assuming an exact 50% inheritance/recombination rate in each generation) from each of those ancestors.


Endogamy is different. Instead of one person or a pair of ancestors who are duplicated, testers will have no immediate ancestors who are the same in their tree, but they will have many historical ancestors who are identical.

Endogamy most often occurs in closed communities where out-marriage is either highly discouraged or impossible. Common examples include Jewish populations, especially in Europe with the Ashkenazi, Native Americans, Finnish people, Acadians, Amish, Mennonite and Brethren communities. Of course, there are many more.

These communities often married only within their own community for many generations. Each community member shares the DNA of many common ancestors from long ago.

In this example, the DNA from distant common ancestors is handed down to the parents from the grandparents, but the ancestral segments are shown in small pieces. I used 4.5 cM as the segment size, but endogamous samples have many small, fragmented segments below that threshold.

“Small” segments for purposes of this discussion are those below the 6 cM minimum vendor matching/viewing threshold of FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and 23andMe. Ancestry’s minimum match threshold is 8 cM. The take-away here is that none of those individual 4.5 cM segments would match between testers at any of those vendors because they are below all vendor’s thresholds.

The red arrows point to small segments where the mother and father both inherited small pieces of the same identical DNA from the same distant ancestors. Our tester will receive the pink and red DNA segment from both parents, because there is nothing else in that location for them to inherit.

The green arrows show examples of identical by chance matches where the yellow and red DNA, respectively, is not handed down from one parent. Instead, the two yellow and two red segments abut and are joined to form one 9 cM segment where two individual 4.5 cM segments converge – one inherited from the mother and one from the father.

This, of course, is the definition of identical by chance (IBC) where the DNA from two parents just happens to align in such a way that the tester matches another person. However, in ADDITION to being IBC, those two smaller segments just happened to be from common earlier ancestors in an endogamous population. Because endogamous populations have a limited amount of available DNA, it’s much more common to have small segments that match in descendants – and sometimes recombine to match in larger segments too.

In this case, the DNA of unknown distant ancestors just happened to be handed down and aligned adjacent to each other.

Our tester will match to anyone else who just happens to have inherited those two small ancestral DNA segments in the same location from that same population. When the original number of ancestors is limited, so are the number of DNA segments available for inheritance, and it’s very common for random ancestral segments to align in this way. Think of each ancestor’s tiny DNA segments salting a bowl of soup. You’re going to get some in every spoonful.

If those two adjacent 4.5 yellow segments are passed down together to the next generation, they add up to 9 cM, so will be considered a match to another person who inherited those same two adjacent 4.5 cM segments from that yellow ancestor – even though that unknown yellow ancestor could have lived ages ago – long before the possibility of genealogical matches. When no new DNA is introduced into populations, the only DNA available to be passed to the next generation is the ancestral DNA that has been salting the same pot of soup for generations.

This is exactly why we see the following situations in highly endogamous populations:

  • Many matches at lower cM levels due to identical by change recombination
  • Many small segments in common below vendor match thresholds
  • Significantly more smaller segment matches than non-endogamous individuals due to the historical ancestral DNA being passed and recombined from descendant to descendant.

A fully endogamous individual from the Ashkenazi population often has 4 or 5 times as many matches, or more, than non-endogamous individuals.

Conversely, some fully endogamous individuals from populations that have not tested many people will have very few matches, but may not be able to identify their genealogical relationship with any of their matches.

Segments Compared

In the article Concepts – Endogamy and DNA Segments, I provided several real-life examples of how endogamy affects DNA matches.

FamilyTreeDNA’s most recent matching update, among other things, has:

  • Removed the segments below 6 cM from the DNA match totals
  • Developed a new technique to determine and remove many identical by chance (IBC) matches
  • Fully imputed all transfer kits from other vendors (yay!,) meaning that early transfers who did not previously have distant matches now do
  • Recalculated everyone’s matches based on all of the above
  • Developed an improved relationship prediction algorithm
  • Re-predicted everyone’s relationships

While these changes benefit everyone, they provide huge benefits to people with high numbers of matches due to endogamy.

In this chart from the earlier article, you can see individuals predicted to the same relationship level, with segments as small as 1 cM showing, although matching never occurred at this level:

  • Non-endogamous matches at left
  • Jewish matches in the center
  • Native American matches at right.

The chromosomes of the Jewish and Native people look polka dotted by comparison to the non-endogamous people. All of their matching segments are shorter then the non-endogamous group at the same predicted level, because all of the small segments were included in the relationship prediction calculations.

The removal of segments below 6 cM at FamilyTreeDNA improves accuracy and relationship predictions for everyone. A white paper will be available soon describing their new techniques.

Population Genetics

While endogamous matches are frustrating for genealogists due to both the high number of matches and the difficulty identifying common pedigree ancestors, endogamous matches are very useful in another way.

Looking at our endogamous example again, let’s say our tester is entirely Jewish, with no admixture.

Our tester has a child with a partner who is entirely Asian, with no admixture. The DNA of these two populations does not fit the same genetic pattern.

In this example, the Asian person’s DNA is chartreuse green (for simplicity.) The Jewish DNA in the child has been divided in half, losing all of the army green, bright blue, and light blue segments, along with part of the tan, grey and yellow segments. Notice that the child still has two yellow segments and two red ones.

Population geneticists look for distinct patterns among populations of people who have lived exclusively together, in close proximity, or mixed often for tell-tale genetic signals where high frequencies of certain DNA patterns, or colors here, appear. Think of an island like Australia or New Zealand where there were no new populations available.

Those telltale small DNA segments, below matching thresholds, signal membership in or a genetic affiliation with that population. Of course, not all populations are quite as distinctive as the Jewish or Aussie/NZ populations. Some populations have not been isolated as long or more admixture has taken place. Think about Europe and those fluid borders.

Still, the signal of the founding populations is present for several generations, and sometimes longer if the testers ancestors were from the same population or region of the world and those identifying segments have been preserved during genetic recombination.

This individual’s ethnicity or populations would likely be predicted at or near 50% Jewish and 50% Asian. Those populations have been separated for tens of thousands of years and are relatively easy, genetically, to tell apart.

However, ascertaining between France and Germany is another matter altogether.

Real Life Examples

In the “picture is worth a thousand words” category, let’s take a look at some visuals.

Genetic Affairs has developed autocluster technology which I’ve written about several times. In the introductory article AutoClustering by Genetic Affairs, I provided examples of “normal” non-endogamous autoclusters.

A non-endogamous individual where other people from their family lines have tested would show several separate clusters. Individuals included in the same colored cluster match each other. Those clusters represent different ancestors or ancestral couples. For the most part, the people in individual clusters don’t match other clusters, although some will as the smaller clusters tend to represent generations further back in time. The people who match two clusters are shown by grey cells.

On the other hand, people who descend from an entirely endogamous population pretty much have one large interrelated square, not neatly arranged descending colored blocks.

My mother’s great-grandfather is Acadian, a highly endogamous population. She has no known pedigree collapse outside of the Acadian population. However, the Acadian population has substantial pedigree collapse meaning that most of her matches would have substantial pedigree collapse. All Acadians share the same founding ancestors from the early 1600s.

As researchers, we are fortunate to have meticulous Catholic church and tax records maintained by the Acadians. Other genealogists aren’t nearly as fortunate and therefore can’t necessarily differentiate between endogamy and pedigree collapse or a combination of both.

Mother would have inherited about 12.5% of her DNA from Antoine (Anthony Lord) Lore.

Mom’s orange Acadian cluster at upper left is oversized, much larger than her next cluster, and you can see that many orange-cluster people are related to each other. Mom has more Acadian matches than would normally account for 12.5% of her matches at the threshold used to generate the autocluster. These proportionally oversized autoclusters are the hallmark of endogamy.

One generation further downstream, my Acadian cluster, which accounts for 6.25% of my DNA is still my largest cluster, shown below, NOT clusters from my four grandparents as might be expected.

However, my Acadian cluster isn’t nearly as large as my mother’s, illustrating just how much was lost through recombination in one generation.

My friend and professional Dutch genealogist, Yvette Hoitink was gracious enough to provide an example of endogamy from an individual whose ancestors were from Winterswijk, a small village in the Netherlands.

Graphic courtesy of Yvette Hoitink

Yvette tells us that in Winterswijk, people were serfs, some until 1795, and were required to pay a fine if they married a serf belonging to a different landlord.

Now, in addition to being a small village, we understand why so many people were related to each other, and why the other clusters are so tiny. Do note that many of the people in the red cluster also match people in the other colored clusters too, as identified by the grey cells. Truly, everyone does seem to be related to (at least) some of this person’s other ancestors.

Courtesy Yvette Hoitink

Just so you don’t think all Dutch people are endogamous, Yvette also provided this autocluster of an individual from Friesland where people weren’t serfs during that timeframe.

Regional differences and population history, both on a large or small scale, really do make a HUGE difference.

Pedigree Collapse, Endogamy and Their Cousin, Population Genetics

I hope you have a better idea how pedigree collapse is different than endogamy and why endogamy is useful in population genetics.

  • Pedigree collapse means you have the same ancestor(s) present in your tree, but other than those lines, it does NOT mean that everyone in your tree is related to each other.
  • When everyone within a group is related somehow to everyone else, that’s endogamy.
  • Of course, like many things in life, these “states of being” are not exclusive and entirely separate. You can have pedigree collapse without endogamy, but long-term community pedigree collapse within a group of people, such as the Acadians, defines endogamy.
  • When endogamy is present, literally everyone is somehow related to everyone else, one way or another – especially distantly.
  • You can have endogamy without any known recent ancestors.
  • You can also have both pedigree collapse and endogamy, together, like my Acadian family line. If you do, I’m sorry😊!

With pedigree collapse, you have duplicate ancestors but you know who they are.

With endogamy, you’ll have a huge distant family, but it’s difficult or sometimes impossible to determine which ancestors, even if you DO know who they are, contributed specific DNA segments. Lots of matches with smaller matching DNA segments are prevalent and likely result from distant population-based matches.



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  • com – Lots of wonderful genealogy research books

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Stay Safe: Phishing Moves to the Next Level – Meeting Invitations and File Transfer Links

A very unusual and alarming thing happened yesterday.

Remember, my original career was in technology. I’m very sensitive about online privacy, cybersecurity, and compromised data. We are so heavily dependent on online everything today that with one misstep, your bank account could be drained in the blink of an eye. And no, I’m not being hyperbolic. Please take this seriously.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Bogus File Transfer Notification

Today, I received a new type of scam email – a WeTransfer from my email at DNAexplain to my email at DNAexplain. Yes, from me to me.

This file transfer is clearly NOT FROM ME and you may receive the same thing – from me or someone else.


Also, do not right-click to download photos or images in the email itself if you use Outlook or an email client on your desktop.

Delete the email immediately, then delete it from your trash folder. You want it to be removed entirely.

Whether you receive something like this from me or someone else, always CHECK  FIRST and be sure the sender actually did send you the files it says were sent. Don’t let your excitement overrule your sense of caution.


Your first clue, in this case, should be that the email was actually NOT SENT from WeTransfer.

Here’s what the email header looks like. Notice that the email didn’t actually originate with WeTransfer. Someone created an email that looks like the WeTransfer emails, but the actual sender isn’t WeTransfer. You can easily mouse over the sender to see who sent the email if it’s not displayed. However, remember, addresses can also be spoofed – so don’t let that alone reassure you.

Legitimate WeTransfer emails show as the sender. Here’s an old one I happen to have.

Note that the name isn’t capitalized and the grammar isn’t correct. This is probably not a native English speaker, but with social media, we have become somewhat numb to grammar and misspellings. A legitimate business email is unlikely to contain these errors. I have many colleagues and friends who do not speak English as a native language and they don’t make these errors.

These emails try to excite people into clicking before thinking. One of the file names towards the bottom (not shown above) says “Payment Certificate,” which for a business is an enticement. I’ve seen other phishing scams that say things like “payment authorization,” “birthday party photos” and even “grandma’s photo.” As a genealogist, that could suck you right into their trap.


Malware, designed specifically to compromise your safety, is delivered through a variety of mediums including:

  • E-mails with either attachments or links. Don’t open and don’t click, NO MATTER WHAT unless you are actually expecting something from someone. And even then, verifying through a different communications avenue is smart. DO NOT reply to the questionable email asking if the sender sent it. For example, my friend sent me a phone text with a link. I asked him through Facebook messenger if he sent the link and what it is. I may or may not ever click on it, especially if he forwarded something he found elsewhere to me.
  • Text and messenger links including Facebook, Skype, Slack, and other tools. If someone says things like, “I bet this hero dog won’t get 10 shares,” absolutely DO NOT click, forward, copy or share. Someone is attempting to manipulate you using your own emotions and desire to do good things.
  • Facebook games. DO NOT PLAY!!! It doesn’t matter what your name means. It does matter that you’ve allowed that app access to your information where they can then harvest personal information that you share. For example, you may play other fun games with your friends, like the states you’ve visited or those 20 questions. Bad actors use that information for social engineering. Also, don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know, and don’t make public posts that are literally visible to the entire world. Facecrooks writes about all kinds of Facebook scams on their Facebook page and on their website as well, including how to lock your account down.
  • Transfer programs or cloud links. Someone sends you a link to files or photos through a cloud-based link or transfer program, like WeTransfer or shared Google documents. If you were not expecting something like that from that particular person – don’t click. I’m verifying everything now since I received that dodgy transfer from myself. If you receive something unsolicited from me or anyone else, DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK unless you have verified in some other way that the real sender actually sent that specific item.
  • Calendar invitations, like Zoom for example. I received a fake invitation today. Yes, scammers have also invaded those as well.

Meeting Invites

Given the uptick in Zoom and other electronic meetings, it’s not surprising that cyber-crooks have infiltrated that space with phishing too.

I never really thought about that until today. Yes, a second “new style” phishing attempt arrived today too. What is this – worldwide phishing day?

These attempts are becoming quite pervasive, which is why I’m warning you.

I received this meeting invitation. It looked “odd” to me. However, my first glance saw the title, Payment Discussion Meeting. That would get anyone’s attention – especially if they are owed money or contract with any business.

However, I also realized this looked “odd.” So instead of clicking, I evaluated the invitation.

Here is the list of alerting issues that the invitation is fraudulent.

  1. “Payment Discussion” is designed to immediately grab your attention and overpower any caution you might have.
  2. Calendar invites or requests are from a person, not a “calendar event.”
  3. Calendar invites show all of the people invited. This shows one person, me. But at the bottom, it says that 4 people have accepted. But 4 people weren’t invited. This is designed to encourage you to accept to see who else has already accepted.
  4. Note that this email is labeled as “external” meaning that it originated outside of the organization. This will vary by invite and group and may say that people are not in your contact list. The take-away is that it’s not “normal” for invitations that I receive.
  5. This is not the normal meeting icon for these types of meeting invitations. I compared it to a known legitimate meeting invitation.
  6. There is no meeting link. There is always a meeting link in that location.
  7. I have no idea who Otis is. This is another enticement and why some people might click.
  8. This is an invitation, but no meeting time is specified. That never happens. You get invited to a meeting at a particular time, not just in general.
  9. The two dates don’t match. One says the 12th and one says the 15th.
  10. There is no list of names of who else is invited and who declined or accepted. That’s always present in the meetings I’ve been invited to.

There’s one more item that raises suspicion too – can you spot it?

What’s Safe?

It’s very difficult to know what’s safe. Always start out assuming everything isn’t. Yes, I know that’s not how people are wired – but it’s time to shift your perspective.

I highly recommend KnowBe4 – at this link. Many corporations use KnowBe4 for training and they offer free tools.

They also have an educational blog and offer free webinars.

Another good resource is

Please note that these are NOT affiliate links – just products and companies that I know are safe and work. Be careful when googling about security and stay with known current sites like PC Magazine’s security suite evaluation, for example. If you click on the wrong “security advice” link, that could be bogus too.

Your Safety Depends on Your Behavior

The bottom line is that your safety depends on your own vigilance and suspicion. Start out suspicious of everything and move from suspicious to reassured – not the other way around. Create an evaluation routine or checklist for yourself so you don’t stray from the safe path.

  • When possible, especially for all money-related accounts, enable two-factor authentication where the vendor texts or emails you a code to enter in addition to your password. Yes, it’s a pain, but the results of not using two-factor authentication are more painful.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Full stop!
  • If the topic or email arouses excitement, curiosity, sympathy, or anxiety, that’s probably by design and may signal that the sender is trying to manipulate your behavior through your emotions.
  • Always, ALWAYS mouse over links before clicking.
  • Verify. Verify. Verify. It’s easy to verify in advance but you cannot put the money back in your bank account once it’s gone. These fake websites look for all the world exactly like the real ones and you’re entering your user ID and password – giving them directly to criminals.
  • Use Antivirus software and VPNs like Norton, McAfee, BitDefender, or similar mainstream, well-known products to improve your online safety. Remember that they can’t always save you if you engage in risky behaviors and click on things that you shouldn’t.

Various products intercept some viruses and malware, but criminals are always cooking up something new.

Convincing you to do something unsafe through social engineering, like provide your account and password information is not something that security software can protect you from. I receive multiple emails daily informing me that I need to update my email password and account. Yea, right – and I’ve won the lottery too, a Nigerian prince is leaving me money and the IRS is going to arrest me unless I buy them Apple gift cards immediately. (Huge eye roll!)

Even the best software tools cannot protect you from yourself if you reveal information you shouldn’t through social media or social engineering manipulation. This is exactly what happened and continues to happen with the recent ransomware attacks. All it takes is one person that lets their guard down and the bad guys are in the door.

Novel phishing attempts are becoming much more prevalent. These crooks are very intelligent.

Don’t let this happen to you. Educate yourself. Protect yourself. You are your first and last line of defense.

You’re welcome!



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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Acadian Refugee Households at Camp d’Esperance 1756-1761 – 52 Ancestors #338

Anyone with Acadian ancestors knows that the Acadian families were forcibly deported from Nova Scotia beginning in 1755 by the English military in retaliation for refusing to sign a loyalty oath to the British king. This event was known as the Grand Derangement or Expulsion, along with other terms, I’m sure. You can read more about the expulsion, here, and view an Acadian timeline, here.

The expulsion began with the destruction of farms, burning of homes, and murder or “arrest” and deportment of the Acadian residents. Families were intentionally and cruelly separated, often permanently with no idea where other family members had been taken, or even if they were still alive. Questions about what happened to their family members and where they were taken haunted the survivors for the rest of their lives. It’s only through combing through historical records, and DNA of course, that we can post-humously reunite some of them today.

What Did Happen to the Acadians?

Many of the roughly 13,500 Catholic Acadians whose families had lived in this region for almost 150 years were simply killed outright.

Ships with captive Acadians were sent to the 13 American colonies, Britain, France, and the Caribbean. People were deposited a few at a time in unfamiliar places – broken and left at the mercy of people who didn’t want the burden of refugees who had nothing and couldn’t support themselves.

Other families hid in Quebec, where about one-fifth of those refugees died during a smallpox outbreak in the winter of 1757-1758.

Some found at least a temporary reprieve in New Brunswick or on Prince Edward Island.

Some hid in the woods among the Native Mi’kmaq people with whom they had a good relationship and in many cases, were related.

Another group found their way to little-known Camp d’Esperance where roughly one-third would perish from starvation.

A decade later, some families made their way to what is now Louisiana, founding the Cajun culture. Others melded into the communities where they found themselves or somehow, miraculously made their way to Quebec. 

The Ancestor Hunt

For descendants, figuring out what happened to our ancestors during this period of upheaval is quite challenging.

  • In some cases, we can trace our genealogical lines back to our ancestors were where they resettled a decade later. That’s how we discover we have Acadian ancestors.
  • Sometimes we know who their parents were in Acadia – but we have no idea what happened to the rest of their family, or where they lived during the decade or so between 1755 and 1765.
  • In other cases, we know who their parents were, but have no idea what happened to the ancestors found in Acadia. The trail simply goes cold which suggests they may have been killed or died during the 10+ years they were in exile.
  • In yet other instances, we can only find one or a few of their children. Families were often scattered, so finding their children might not tell us where those ancestors were, assuming they lived past the original depredations. However, it might also be a breadcrumb.

It would be another decade before the Acadian families could resettle in other locations. Some returned to different portions of Canada. Some stayed where they were, and yet others set sail for new horizons like Louisiana.

If you’re thinking to yourself that Acadian genealogy is complex and confusing – you’d be right! Plus, there’s that same name thing going on along with those “dit” nicknames.

Let’s look at an example of tracing our way backward.


In one of my Acadian families, the parents were “remarried” by the priest after they eventually made their way to Ste. Marguerite de Blairfindie, a small village known as L’Acadie in Quebec.

Acadians were Catholic and didn’t have had access to a priest in “New England” where various records state that this family was living before arriving back in Canada.

The good news is that combing through the children’s records tells us that they were born in “New England.” The bad news is that not one record tells us where.

The parents’ records often tell us when they were born and sometimes identify their parents – allowing us to find their baptism records back in the Acadian homeland.

The Forgotten Refugees

One group of Acadian families left Nova Scotia, but settled, at least for a while, on the Miramichi River, north about 250 miles overland but much further by water. On the map below, today’s Annapolis Royal was Port Royal during the expulsion.

Recently, the blog of the Association des Acadiens-Metis Souriquois published an article accompanied by a list of known refugees who sought shelter to the north.

  • The Acadian Refugee Camp on the Miramichi, 1756-1761” by Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc (January, 2018)
  • “List of Refugee Acadian Households at Camp Espérance on the Miramichi, 1756-1757,” appendix to “The Acadian Refugee Camp on the Miramichi, 1756-1761” by Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc English translation & glossary of place names by John Estano DeRoche, published with the author’s permission.

Please click here to view the article, list, and blog.

The first link is the historical article authored by Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc. I strongly recommend reading this well-written and heavily sourced paper if you have history anyplace in this region.

The second document lists households in index format for easy access. They are in alphabetical order, but searching with your browser search finds spouses surnames and such.

By Lesfreck (talk) (Uploads) – Own work, CC BY 2.5,

The group of Acadians who spent the winter, hungry and cold at Camp d’Esperance (Camp Hope) numbered about 1,700. About 400-500, including “all the (nursing) children,” perished due to the grim challenges they faced – the primary of which was food and shelter, followed by the scourge of smallpox that ravaged the survivors again the following year.

The Acadians and their Native allies ate moccasins, hides of deer, cattle, beaver, and dogs. The meat had already been consumed months earlier. They were down to anything that could be digested. Many still succumbed to starvation.

The winter of 1759-1760 ushered in another food shortage as severe as the winter of 1756-1757 had been.

This bay where the camp was located sure looks peaceful today. It was much different during those horrific winters.

Acadian Ancestors

In Acadian research, we have a saying, “If you’re related to one Acadian, you’re related to all Acadians.” The Acadian community was founded by a small group of French families who settled on the Island of Nova Scotia beginning in 1603. They intermarried for the next 150 years, with each other, the local Native population, French families and soldiers who arrived later, and probably with a few English soldiers stationed at the fort.

Fortunately, for the most part, the Acadian families have been successfully reconstructed, thanks to Catholic church records, tax lists and some very dedicated researchers.

Karen Theriot Reader, a professional genealogist, has compiled an extensive genealogy, complete with sources, and made it free to all researchers on Geneanet, here.

You can find Y DNA and mitochondrial information about Acadian ancestors at the Acadian Amerindian project at FamilyTreeDNA, here. One of our goals is to document each Acadian paternal Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA line. Both of those are critical to identifying which ancestors are Native American. For European ancestors, these tests help track the lines back to their origins overseas. 

If you don’t carry the Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA of Acadian ancestors, that’s fine. We want to reunite all Acadian descendants. Everyone, males and females, can take the Family Finder test or transfer an autosomal test from another vendor and join the project. Please do! You probably have lots of cousin matches waiting!

Creating a Chart

I created a chart of my known Acadian ancestors who would have been alive in 1755 when the expulsion began or born during the shadow decade or two following the expulsion. I completed as much as I know about where they lived in Nova Scotia, during the deportation purgatory decade (or so), and where they resettled later.

The deported Acadians would not have traveled directly to L’Acadie up the St. Lawrence River as drawn on the map above. They were first deported to Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and other places further south. I added reference locations on the map that are mentioned in the chart, below.

Please note that my research is not extensive, so I recommend confirming this information if these are your ancestors too.

After completing the chart, I then checked to see if they are on the Camp d’Esperance list.

Note that Acadia means someplace in the Acadian region on or near Nova Scotia, but the exact location is unknown. L’Acadie, noted as a resettlement area, is slightly southeast of Montreal and about 25 miles north of the Vermont border.

Name Birth-Death Comment Nova Scotia Deportation Location Resettlement Location
Jacques dit LaMontagne Lord (Lore, Laure, L’Or) 1678-1786 Born Port Royal, NS, died Nicolet, Quebec Port Royal New York in 1755 Quebec about 1766
Marie Charlotte Bonnevie 1706-1758 Born Port Royal, died at sea, married to Jacques Lord Port Royal Died at sea (I can’t help but wonder where they were taken from and to in 1758.)
Francoise dit d’Azy Mius Circa 1683-? Born Acadia, mother Native, death unknown, mother of Marie Bonnevie Port Royal Unknown, death not shown before 1755
Honore Lord 1742-1818 Born Port Royal, died St. Luc Parish, Quebec, father of Honore Lord born 1766 Port Royal Married c 1765 in New England, possibly New York St. Our, Quebec before 1771
Appoline dit Hippolyte Garceau 1742-1788 Born Port Royal, died L’Acadie, married to Honore Lord born 1742 Port Royal Married c 1765 New England St. Our Quebec before 1771
Daniel Garceau 1707-1772 Born Port Royal, died Yamachiche, Quebec, father of Appoline Garceau Port Royal Apparently, New England where Lore family was living Yamachiche, Quebec, probably before 1768
Anne dit Jeanne Doucet 1713-1791 Born Port Royal, died Sorel, Quebec, married to Daniel Garceau Port Royal Apparently New England St. Our, Quebec before 1771
Rene dit Laverdure Doucet Circa 1678-? Born Port Royal, death unknown, father to Anne Doucet Port Royal Unknown death not shown before 1755
Marie Anne Broussard Jan 1686 – ? Born Port Royal, death unknown, married to Rene Doucet Port Royal Unknown death not shown before 1755
Honore Lord 1766-1834 Born New England, died L’Acadie, father of Antoine Lord (Lore) New England New England St. Ours by 1771, then L’Acadie by 1777
Marie Lafaille 1767-1836 Born New England, died L’Acadie, married 1789 L’Acadie, to Honore Lord born 1766 New England New England L’Acadie by 1788


Francois Lafaille (Lafaye, Lafay) 1744-1824 Born Acadia, died L’Acadie, father of Marie Lafaille Acadia?, parents unknown Pledged their troth on Nov. 10, 1767, in the colonies L’Acadie by 1788 when children baptized by a priest
Marguerite Forest (LaForest, DeForet, Foret, Forais) 1748-1819 Married to Francois Lafaille 1767, remarried in 1792 in L’Acadie by a priest, died in L’Acadie, married to Francois Lafaille Port Royal Pledged their troth on Nov. 10, 1767, in the colonies L’Acadie by 1788 when children baptized by a priest
Jacques Forest 1707-? Born Port Royal, death unknown, father to Marguerite Forest Port Royal In 1763 on Connecticut census
Marie Joseph LePrince 1715-? Born Port Royal, married in 1734, death unknown, married to Jacques Forest Port Royal Husband on 1763 Connecticut census
Jean LePrince Circa 1692-after 1752 Born in Acadia, died after July 3, 1752, father of Marie Joseph LePrince Acadia Unknown, died after July 3, 1752
Jeanne Blanchard Circa 1681-? Born Port Royal, possibly deceased Port Royal, married to Jean Leprince Port Royal Unknown, may have died in Port Royal

Please note that the people listed as born in “Port Royal” were baptized there. They could have been born elsewhere. I know the priests did travel, but I don’t know how extensively, or how often.

Well, crumb, none of my ancestors are on the Camp d’Esperance list. However, I should check their children or siblings who aren’t my ancestors – especially if their siblings/children were old enough to be married.

Clearly, my ancestors might have been separated from the rest of their family, but then again, maybe not. Gathering every shred of evidence is always a good thing and the effort is never wasted – even negative evidence. Now I at least know where they weren’t.

What about you? Do you have Acadian ancestors? Where were your ancestors during and after Le Grand Derangement? Are they found at Camp d’Esperance?



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Nine Years and Future Plans – Happy Blogiversary

Happy Blogiversary!

Yes, blogiversary is actually a real word for a blog’s birthday.

It’s DNAeXplained’s 9th birthday and I nearly forgot.

How could I???

What do you get a blog for its birthday anyway?

History and Changes

I remember the 4th of July holiday back in 2012 – although that seems like about two lifetimes ago now.

I was trying to learn how to use WordPress, my chosen blogging platform, and to become familiar enough with how everything worked so I wouldn’t embarrass myself.

On July 11, 2012, I published my first very short blog article, just saying hello and inviting people to subscribe and come along for the ride. And what a ride it has been as we begin our 10th year together.

I was explaining DNA topics so often that I figured if I wrote the answer once as an article with pictures and graphics, I could save myself (and lots of other people) a great deal of effort. I could just link my blog article and not have to retype everything.

Seemed like a great idea…right?

That worked then and still does, well…except for a couple of considerations:

  • Increasingly, people don’t seem to be interested in learning, just in receiving “an answer.” In other words, they often don’t bother to actually read articles. Or, in one woman’s words, “You didn’t answer my question. You just gave me something to read.” Sigh.

I’m mortified when I read some of the answers provided to people on social media – especially realizing that the person asking the question has no idea how to discern between an accurate answer and something else.

Doubt that? Try an experiment. Select any topic where you are an expert. Go to a social media group about that topic. Review the questions and resulting answers. Bash head on table.

  • Things change over time. We’ve learned a WHOLE LOT since 2012 in the genetic genealogy space. Every vendor platform has changed multiple times. New products have been introduced which obsolete older products and their articles. Some vendors and tools have disappeared and new ones have emerged. DNA has become a household word.

The Unexpected

Blogging has resulted in a few things I didn’t anticipate:

  • Sometimes, bloggers becoming targets. This is especially painful when it comes from within the community. Mostly, I refuse to give any of that oxygen. Their hatefulness is really not about me. Still, it was shocking and painful at first.
  • I receive between 500 and 1000 emails every single day. Yes, EVERY SINGLE DAY. That’s in addition to blog comments and social media communications. It’s overwhelming, even after deleting obvious spam. This also means that I don’t catch up, am chronically behind, and never really get a break. (This is a big reason why bloggers burn out.)


Communications fall into several categories:

  • Some emails/communications are people reaching out about my (our) ancestors. Obviously, those emails are always welcome and often make my day. 😊
  • Some people are saying thank you or offering suggestions that I sometimes utilize as future article topics. I appreciate those too.
  • Some people comment or participate in a discussion. Those just require a quick approval and I’m always glad to see people engaging.
  • Some people inquire about consulting services. At this point, I don’t accept private clients and no longer write Y and mitochondrial DNA reports for people. That could change in the future, but right now, I simply refer people to others who I know are qualified based on the topic of the request.
  • Many emails are from someone who wants something. For example – “I’d like to write a guest post for your blog.” Translated – “I’d like to use the platform you’ve developed over the past 9 years, and your followers, to benefit myself.” The answer is a resounding “NO”! Truthfully, I no longer respond to these. The delete key suffices. But I still have to read them.


Some things have NOT changed:

  • I still love to explain and educate about the marriage of DNA and genealogy.
  • I still love to chase my ancestors.
  • No ad policy – you won’t see embedded ads in my articles. When bloggers allow ads, the ads provide revenue, but the blogger also risks a substandard product being displayed to their subscribers and visitors. There are sometimes relevant, curated, affiliate links within my articles for products that I use, but they never appear as an ad. I am not criticizing bloggers who do adopt the ad model – simply explaining to you why I don’t. And yes, I know I’m foregoing revenue with this decision, but I feel it’s the right thing to do.


Almost every aspect of genetic genealogy has improved over the past 9 years:

  • Autosomal test matches have increased and are often of a higher quality as a result of millions of people having tested at the four major vendors: FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, and Ancestry. We probably had an industry-wide total of about 2 million testers in 2012, and now I’d wager we have more than 40 million. More and better matches for everyone!
  • Y DNA testing (for men only) has improved by leaps and bounds, with a combination of SNP testing with the Big Y-700 test and STR testing being able to refine relationships at a very granular level. This paternal line test plus matching is only available at FamilyTreeDNA.
  • Mitochondrial DNA test numbers lag behind other tests, but the Million Mito Project will encourage more testers and refine mitochondrial match results in a meaningful way as well. We simply need more testers, just like we did with autosomal back in 2012. The mitochondrial DNA full sequence test is available at FamilyTreeDNA.
  • Every major DNA vendor has added state-of-the-art, innovative tools over the years.
  • Every major DNA vendor has been sold/acquired and we’ve all managed to survive, despite teeth-gnashing and predictions of doom.
  • FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage both accept transfers/uploads from other vendors, making swimming in all the genetic genealogy pools easier and more affordable for consumers. Click here for step-by-step download/upload instructions.
  • Public consciousness about DNA testing for genealogy, health, and traits has increased dramatically. We see TV and social media ads regularly today.
  • Techniques like triangulation, clustering, and various flavors of tree-matching have revolutionized what can be accomplished with genetic genealogy – both confirming and discovering ancestors. Newly discovered new cousins may be researching the same ancestral lines.
  • People seeking the identity of parents or other close relatives routinely solve those puzzles today, thanks to the millions of people who have tested. That was quite rare in 2012.
  • We are attracting a whole new savvy generation of testers who grew up with and understand technology.

The Future

What does the future hold for me and DNAeXplain? To be clear, DNAeXplain is the underlying business/website and is the blog, but I often use them interchangeably since both URLs resolve to the same location today.

First and foremost, I don’t have any intention of stopping. I’m passionate about genetic genealogy, have been for 21 years now, and love to write articles and share with you. In fact, in the last few months, I’ve added the Y DNA Resources one-stop educational page as well as Mitochondrial DNA.

I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and meet so many blog followers. Some of you turned out to be cousins. Of course, we’re all related eventually, someplace back in time.

I look forward to in-person conferences again, but don’t worry – I’ll continue researching, writing, and covering topics in this amazing industry.

Cousin Bait

I never considered that I might find cousins through blogging but that’s worked marvelously – both when I publish the articles and later too.

On a personal level, my 52 Ancestors series has been extremely successful for a couple of reasons:

  • Each article forces me to verify and update my research.
  • The articles act as cousin bait. Not only are they findable using Google, or the blog search feature, I post the article links at WikiTree, MyHeritage, and Ancestry on the profile card for that ancestor. I need to do the same at FamilySearch as well.

Upcoming Book

I’m very excited to be able to share with you that I’m completing a manuscript.

I can’t discuss more about the book just yet, but I should have the draft to the editor shortly.


The book of our life is written in chapters, just like the lives of our ancestors were.

I’m beginning a new chapter shortly – a move to someplace where it’s warmer.

I don’t know where just yet (I think a villa in Tuscany is probably out of the question), nor exactly when.

What I do know is that I’ve accumulated a HUGE amount of stuff over the decades that I’ve lived in this house. My mother passed away, so I have her things too.

Genealogy books are heavy and require lots of space.

So does paper, as in file cabinets and boxes of documents.

As most of you know, I’m a quilter – and fabric is heavy and requires space too.

Movers charge by some combination of distance, how much space your possessions require in their truck, hourly fees, weight and prep required.

Let’s just say that preparing to move is proving challenging!

Why am I telling you this?


Over the period of 9 years, I’ve written and published 1442 articles. That equates to one article about every 2.25 days.

That’s even hard for me to believe.

My goal has always been to publish:

  • One technical article during the week. Topics include things like DNA concepts, sales, new features, and various “how-to” articles.
  • One 52-Ancestors article each weekend.

I’ve exceeded that goal.

Needless to say, both of those types of articles take hours-to-days to research, compose and publish.

During these next few months as I’m migrating from one part of the country to another, and one chapter of my life to the next, I may miss my goal of publishing the 52-ancestors article each week. I’ve already compiled the easy ones given that the next one will be number 338.

Those articles require a significant amount of research and right now, I need to focus on reducing the file cabinets and bookshelves of stuff. And of course, like any genealogist, I have to sift through everything one paper at a time to be sure I’m not disposing of something I’ll regret – like, you know, my high school report card. 😊

It’s very difficult to not run down every rabbit hole! Hey, what is my friend in that picture beside me at the football game up to now? Oops, an obituary. What about my co-worker that I had a crush on? What do they look like? Who was sitting at the picnic table in that family reunion picture anyway? I don’t remember them. You get the drift.

The message for you here is “don’t worry.” Some of those emails and messages are from people who care about me and are checking in to be sure nothing is wrong when I miss publishing an article on my long-established schedule. I really appreciate their concern and have been incredibly fortunate to connect with so many wonderful people.

A year from now, we’ll be celebrating DNAeXplain’s 10-year birthday. I hope to be happily settled and writing prolifically again in a new office in a yet-to-be-selected distant location, experiencing an exciting new chapter of life. Maybe I’ll just take you along on that adventure through the power of storytelling! Don’t we wish our ancestors had done that?

It’s going to be a very, very interesting year!!!



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Thank you so much.

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RootsTech Connect 2022 Will Be Virtual and Free Again

Today, RootsTech announced that the 2022 RootsTech Connect conference will be held March 3-5, 2022, and will be fully virtual and free for attendees.

RootsTech has a worldwide reach, and with what the world is still facing with Covid and variants, I fully understand and support this decision. No one, me included, has to agonize about whether to attend in person, or not. No one is risking their life or health. Furthermore, decisions to book venues have to be made substantially in advance, and often there is no canceling without significant financial penalties. In other words, I’m sure FamilySearch waited as long as possible to decide with as much data as could be gathered, today.

Having said that, I’m also incredibly disappointed. Not with FamilySearch or RootsTech, just disappointed that circumstances aren’t different so that we can be with and see our friends in person. However, let’s focus on the good news.

RootsTech Connect 2021 was immensely popular, with over a million visitors from over 240 countries. For many people, especially those who couldn’t or didn’t travel to Salt Lake City, it was their first time attending. In fact, you can still watch the 2021 videos. The full DNA list with direct links is here. The main RootsTech 2021 site is here.

FamilySearch will, of course, continue to evaluate the in-person aspect of the conference each year. They have committed to retain the virtual component regardless – a huge benefit that reaches out to include so many.

You can subscribe for RootsTech updates, here.

See you there, one way or another!



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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Nora Kirsch Lore: Girlfriend, What Were You Thinking? – 52 Ancestors #337

I didn’t know much about my great-grandmother, Nora Kirsch when I was growing up, or when I first started researching my genealogy. She passed away in 1949, long before I was born.

I knew that Nora was an amazingly talented quilter, representing the State of Indiana at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, as described in my first article featuring Nora. That’s her legacy within the family. I think creating beauty and warmth for generations to follow is an absolutely WONDERFUL way to be remembered. But there was a LOT more, just waiting to be discovered.

I came to learn that Nora was born to German immigrant parents and had grown up at the Kirsch House in Aurora, Indiana. Mom and I eventually went to find the Kirsch House.

Genealogy is sort of like begetting where one thing just seems to beget another.

I was told that Nora made her own wedding dress and married incredibly handsome Curtis Benjamin Lore in 1888, descending the stairs at the Kirsch House into the parlor. That’s swoonworthy.

I knew Nora was eventually widowed and that C. B. Lore had died of Tuberculosis. That was a tale of lost love within the family.

I learned that tragically, Nora’s daughter, Curtis, had died of the same disease not long after. Life is simply not fair.

Then Nora’s life just sort of became a blur until, “and she died.” I didn’t know when, of what, or where.

Thankfully, newspaper articles from various locations have helped to remedy that and let me peek into her everyday life. Not just when she’s specifically mentioned, but also based on what is going on where she lived. Even the ads are amazing!

While your first reaction may be that some of these news snippets are very mundane and boring – simply reporting who visited whom – when assembled as the pieces of a puzzle, they tell the day-to-day story of Nora’s life.

It’s like sitting at her kitchen table.

And there are clues buried everyplace!

I had already scoured the Rushville newspapers, but now I’ve added Aurora, the town where Nora grew up, Greensburg where she lived when first married, and Wabash, Indiana, where she moved after Rushville. The story of how she got to Wabash…well…that’s the unexpected secret revealed here.

Photos and Newspapers

One note about photos before we embark on Nora’s spellbinding journey.

MyHeritage has dramatically improved their photo enhancement, which clarifies and brings photos into focus, photo colorization and photo repair over the last year or so. I decided to use that technology on my old photos in order to bring Nora to life as much as possible. It made a HUGE difference.

I do feel compelled to tell you that these photos aren’t the original black and whites – so I’m explaining that here instead of interrupting Nora’s story.

If you like what you see, you can try it for yourself.

Everyone can enhance or repair several photos at MyHeritage for free, but you can do as many as you want and connect them to the appropriate people in your tree with a full subscription. Other subscribers may have atached photos that you don’t have so you may get lucky there too.

Some of the newspaper articles used for this article are from MyHeritage too. You can sign up for a MyHeritage subscription with a free trial, here.

The Journey Began

Yes, this part of the journey to find Nora did actually begin in the cemetery. Odd, I know.

Mom and I traveled to Rushville, Indiana in the 1980s and located Nora and Curt’s graves. Before Mom said we needed to go there, I had never heard of Rushville, let alone know that we had any connection. It was just nice to be road-tripping with Mom and my daughter.

Mom had been to this cemetery at the time of and shortly after her grandmother Nora’s burial, in 1949, but hadn’t returned since. Rushville wasn’t exactly on the way to anyplace. Here’s Mom, looking quite sad, standing by Nora’s grave, not long after burial because no grass had yet grown where she was buried.

In the 1980s, I never thought about what Nora did after Curt’s death and before her own. I was only a fledgling genealogist back then and like all genealogists, wish desperately I had asked more questions when I had the chance.

Nora’s youngest child, Eloise, was still living and didn’t pass away until 1996. Eloise was in her 90s and had become quite frail, not to mention blind. It was Aunt Eloise who had provided most of what we knew. Eloise, thankfully, also sent Nora’s lovely quilts to Mom.

Eloise revealed a few additional pieces in the puzzle of Nora’s life, but not everything by any stretch. I’d wager that Eloise knew some things that she held close to her vest and that there were yet other secrets that Nora took to her grave – never sharing those with anyone.

As time elapsed and I began researching Nora’s parents, Jacob Kirsch and Barbara Drechsel, as well as Nora’s husband, Curt Lore, I began to piece together at least some of the rest of Nora’s story. The shadowy twilight decades of the 1930s and 1940s.

Perhaps Nora didn’t want them to be too clear.

A Letter from Nora

Ironically, it was at RootsTech in 2019, as I sat in the audience listening to Steve Rockwood deliver the keynote that important documents arrived, unsolicited, on my phone. Silent buzzing alerted me that a message had arrived.

A cousin had sent a handwritten letter from Nora herself.



I couldn’t help but look, given what it was, as Steve’s voice drifted into the background. (Sorry Steve.)

It would be that very letter and accompanying receipt that led me to learn more about Nora’s twilight years.

The newspaper digitization projects have allowed me to fill in so many gaps for Nora and Curt, both, in the past year or so.

Like, for example, Curt was involved in quite the scandal involving thoroughbred horse racing at the turn of the century – meaning 1899/1900 – THAT century. Lordy, Lordy that had to have been incredibly embarrassing and humiliating for Nora. It was never discussed and, truthfully, I doubt Nora’s daughters ever knew about it.

The Lore couple had become socialites in Rushville, Indiana among the families with “horse money,” although Curt and Nora never owned their own home which I found very odd. Curt did, however, own several racehorses and associated with the moneyed movers and shakers.

Curt was truly a jack-of-all-trades. He had his hand in anything and everything that might make money – an early entrepreneur. I think most of it was legal and aboveboard – but nothing would surprise me at this point. He often seemed to be treading on marginal ground.

Curt, orphaned at a very young age in Pennsylvania had become a wildcat oil driller. He learned how to do just about everything and translated that skill set into opportunity at every turn. In essence, Curt, warts and all, succeeded in spite of everything, including an exceedingly difficult beginning that would have doomed lesser men.

He was also benevolent, a member of various lodges, a comedian, and tough as nails. Curt, in many ways, seemed to be a walking contradiction. I’m sure Nora loved him, although some days she probably wondered why.

Before we reveal Nora’s final chapter, let’s go back to Aurora where she grew up and fill in pieces of her early life.

What made Nora the person she became?

Aurora Growing Up

Nora, the firstborn child, arrived on December 24, 1866. She was the perfect Christmas gift to her mother, a traditional German woman who clearly celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve that year, as was the German tradition.

Nora grew up with her three sisters and two brothers at the Kirsch House, a hotel, tavern, and restaurant in Aurora, Indiana.

In 2008, the Kirsch House didn’t look much like it looked in an earlier era, but it was recognizable.

The Kirsch House wasn’t always the Kirsch House. Proprietors named establishments after themselves. In August of 1875, Jacob Kirsch bought the French House and the Kirsch family moved in. As luck would have it, the Dearborn County Atlas was published the same year.

It’s easy to spot the L-shaped building beside the train depot.

The business directory referred to the establishment alternatively as a hotel, hotel and saloon, and as “fine accommodations for travelers.” The Kirsch House was located right beside the B&O train depot and just a few blocks north of the pier on the Ohio River. The foundry, barrel factory, carriage factory and warehouses were located either adjacent or nearby. Clearly, this was prime real estate for traveling businessmen.

We don’t know much about those years, but the local newspapers provide some information.

School Days

Nora’s earliest years would have been spent helping her parents at the Kirsch house, delivering orders with her sisters in their wagon, and playing with her first cousins who lived nearby. She would have attended weddings and funerals, even burying a few of her cousins and playmates because someone was always being born and dying – especially before the days on antibiotics. Thankfully, none of Nora’s siblings passed away, at least not that we know about.

Every Sunday, the family attended the German Lutheran church and Nora went to school on weekdays.

Nora was an excellent student, as was reflected in the newspaper.

  • November 15, 1877 – Honor Roll, Aurora Public Schools for the month ending November 2, 1877 and had a grade of 90 and above in attendance, deportment, and scholarship: Nora Kirsch in Room 4, with a grade of 91.

I thought that Nora attended the Lutheran School, but apparently not. The Lutheran Church was nearby, but perhaps the church didn’t include a school at that time, or tuition was charged.

The 1875 Atlas of Dearborn County shows us the location of the Public School at the lower right.

The school was quite a distance from the Kirsch House, at upper left. The Kirsch children would have walked to and from school.

This building, eventually known as the Southside School in Aurora opened in 1867 and stood until 1974, more than 100 years.

High School commencement was initially held at the Methodist Episcopal Church, but by 1879, it was held at the Opera House on Second Street, newly built in 1878. Admission was 10 cents.

Nora would have attended this school and probably graduated about 1884 or 1885 on the Opera House stage. The Opera House was located just a block or so from the Kirsch House on Second Street. The excited family would have walked together to the joyful event.

The first floor housed commercial businesses, but the second and third floors of the opera house seated 950 people. You can read more about the Opera House and the history of Aurora, here.

Nora’s parents ran the Kirsch House and her father, Jacob, dabbled more than a little in local politics. He was also a crack shot. The Aurora newspaper is full of stories about the pigeon shooting (hopefully clay) matches and Jacob’s winnings as he traveled far and wide.

  • September 18, 1879

I’d wager there was some betting, back-slapping, and celebratory drinking going on as well.

  • Lawrenceburg Register, October 16, 1879

Nora’s mother, Barbara, was surprised with a 31st birthday party when the establishment was still known as the French Hotel. What kind of gifts did she receive? Who attended?

The family lived at the Kirsch House, which meant, of course, that Barbara Kirsch and her daughters cooked incessantly, probably from before sunup to after sundown, washed never-ending dishes, changed beds, and did laundry – not just for the family – but for everyone staying at the Kirsch House.

Think bed and breakfast on steroids. I can’t imagine.

One newspaper article informed us that Jacob Kirsch did hire a bartender. That, of course, was the one job that would have been deemed “improper” for the women and he could unquestionably have done himself.

  • Lawrenceburg Register, July 15, 1880

In 1880 there was an accident at the Kirsch House. Children were playing outside, but thankfully, none were injured when a horse and runaway wagon tore the awning posts and awning off the front of the building. I would wager that Nora and her siblings were some of those children. Life could have changed in the blink of an eye. My entire family line might not be here.

That 1875 map shows that the Kirsch House was L-shaped, with a garden in back. The Kirsch children would have played in the garden area and out front on the sidewalk. There wasn’t anyplace else.

Aunt Eloise told me that Jacob Kirsch was extremely proud of his paved, covered sidewalk. He apparently felt that was the mark of a high-class establishment, differentiating his hotel from others.

You can see a later awning above, as unknown children play next door at the depot, probably in the early 1900s. The freight and ticket office was the red awning and bumpout behind the child dressed in white.

This early parade photo shows the Kirsch House with its awning in the background and the depot, at left.

Nora was on the honor roll again in 1880 and would turn 14 on Christmas Eve.

  • November 11, 1880 – Public school honor roll for students with 90 or above in attendance, deportment, and scholarship. Norah Kirsch with a grade of 91, Carrie with a grade of 90.
  • January 6, 1881 – George Phillips, Jake Kirsch and Ed. Mulbarger of this city were out on a hunting expedition near Poston, Indiana last week. Kirsch froze his ears during the hunt.

Jacob’s ears were frostbitten. OUCH!

  • Also, same day, under the heading of “Ida Londen’s Concert” we find that Ida’s pupils performed at the Opera House on Tuesday evening. Ida was a pianist and music teacher. “Nora Kirsch gave us a piano solo entitled La Balliena.”

So, Nora performed in the Opera House as well. That’s interesting to know. How fun! I can close my eyes and see her strolling across the stage, sitting down at the piano and commencing to play.

  • Lawrenceburg Register, February 2, 1882 – Jacob Kirsch signed a petition to organize a Public Library Association as an incorporated body for general circulation in the city.

While the original Aurora library consisted of books gathered in a local jewelry store (smart move on the part of the jeweler), Jacob was instrumental in founding and funding the library which was eventually moved into the City Building, shown above today. Nora assuredly utilized those services.

Nora’s parents spoke German, but Nora clearly read and spoke English quite well. Perhaps the library helped Nora become fluent in English, as German was the native language of her parents and was spoken at home. Although as hosts at the Kirsch House, Jacob and Barbara clearly spoke at least some English, and Jacob spoke English well. My grandmother, Nora’s daughter, understood German, but I’m not sure if she could speak the language.

  • Lawrenceburg Register, May 4, 1882

While the family lived at the “hotel,” probably in private living quarters, they certainly did normal family things – like have birthday parties. Nora’s dad, Jacob Kirsch turned 42.

I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that there was no private eating area. The family probably ate in the dining room with everyone else. I could not discern an internal “apartment” area when I visited.


  • Lawrenceburg Register, August 30, 1883

True to the identity that Jacob Kirsch established for the Kirsch House as the best accommodations in Aurora, the newspaper covered this “gala reception” hosted at the Kirsch House – complete with band. How I would have loved to attend, just to see the Kirsch House in all its splendor!

There’s another tidbit buried in this article. Jacob’s nickname was Jake.

My mother, daughter, and I visited the Kirsch House in the 1980s and I have no idea how they managed to fit 50 people, a band, and dancing in the public areas of the building – but they clearly did. The entire building, both floors, is 4256 square feet, so the downstairs that includes the tavern where we are standing, kitchen and restaurant areas, plus a parlor would have been about 2100 square feet.

Nora would have been 16 on the night of the party, and if she didn’t have to work that evening, which she probably did, she surely enjoyed herself as well. Maybe there were some young men present. 😉

  • September 10, 1885 – Miss Josie Young, an accomplished young lady of Osgood is the guest of Miss Nora Kirsch of this city.

I don’t know when Nora graduated from high school, exactly, but I’d wager it was in 1885. I base that opinion in part because she would have been 18 – and also because she was hosting a friend in September of that year when students would have been back in school.

  • June 3, 1886 – Miss Nora Kirsch is visiting Covington, KY.

By 1886, Nora has spread her wings somewhat and began to travel. She apparently went to Covington alone – likely on the train. I sure wish the paper had told us what Nora did in Covington. I suspect she had a friend that lived there.

Just a few weeks later, however, life for the Kirsch family would change, in an instant, and dramatically.

Two Deaths in 30 Minutes

August 19, 1886, was a dark day indeed. The news was reported in the Jeffersonville newspaper, and newspapers across the country, but the event took place right in Aurora.

  • Jeffersonville (Indiana) Daily News – August 19, 1886

What? A stabbing.

Followed by a lynching?

You might be wondering what this has to do with Nora or the Kirsch family. This article certainly provides no clue. Nor does the coroner’s inquest a few weeks later.

  • September 16, 1886

William Watkins stabbed Louis Hilbert to death and was then hung by a group of “excited men.”

There’s more to the story of course.

Hilbert had employed Watkins, an itinerant bricklayer who had a chronic habit of drinking too much. Hilbert paid Watkins and dismissed him for being drunk on the job, but Watkins returned – even more intoxicated and angry.

Warm words let to hot tempers and Watkins stabbed Hilbert to death. The surrounding men on the job site restrained Watkins. The local Farmer’s Fair was taking place, so the streets were full of people. A crowd gathered, becoming enraged when they realized what had just occurred.

The local constable arrived almost immediately and attempted to remove Watkins to the next town for his own safety, realizing Watkins would not be safe in the local town hall jail – but to no avail. The now enraged crowd swarmed the Constable’s buggy, removed Watkins to the nearby distillery yard, and immediately hung him.

How was the Kirsch family involved?

Jacob Kirsch was among the men who hung William Watkins shortly after Watkins had murdered Louis Hilbert. I do want to be very clear, Watkins was white. This incident was not connected to race.

Although the local papers didn’t name names, every single soul within a hundred miles knew who was involved and in what capacity.

For the most part, the sentiment seemed to be that Watkins certainly deserved what he got. But that sentiment was not universal, by any means, based on the fact that Watkins was afforded no trial and vigilante justice is a dangerous precedent.

While this seems like it might have been all-consuming for the Kirsch family, it apparently was not.

In 1917, the local paper printed a memory from February 1887 that gives us a peek into Nora’s life six months after the murders.

  • February 1, 1917 – Thirty Years Ago (dating to February 1, 1887) – Miss Norah Kirsch is entertaining Mrs. Lou Riddell and sister of Covington, KY.

This probably explains why Nora had been traveling to Covington, as well.

I would think that this incident would have caused Jacob to become somewhat of a pariah in Aurora, perhaps ending his career and the Kirsch House, but it didn’t.

Federal court records and the Indianapolis newspaper tell us that Jacob was subsequently, unsurprisingly, embroiled in a lawsuit.

  • March 3, 1887, Indianapolis News

Watkin’s estate administrator filed a lawsuit where we find the list of men involved in the lynching.

  • Versailles Republican

Although Jacob isn’t named in the Aurora newspaper, he was in the lawsuit that put both Jacob Kirsch, and the Kirsch House in jeopardy. $10,000 was a massive amount of money at that time – more than Jacob and the Kirsch House were worth.

This is a civil suit, and I’m actually quite surprised that criminal charges were never brought, but they weren’t filed against any of the men involved.

In 1887, Jacob Kirsch transferred the deed to the Kirsch House to his wife, Barbara. In essence, Barbara owned the property in fee simple, without Jacob, for the rest of her life.

I’d wager that the entire family was suffering under the weight of Jacob’s actions, including the six children who ranged in age from 10 to 20. Not only were they now reviled by at least some people, I’m sure this affected the family income given that they ran a tavern, restaurant, and hotel – not to mention that the entire family now stood to lose everything thanks to Jacob’s hot head.

  • October 7, 1887 – Greensburg, Indiana newspaper

It’s important to remember when reading political commentary from long ago that both political particles have changed dramatically since that time. Still, politics was utilized as an interpretation tool then too.

This connection to Greensburg may be relevant because Greensburg is where Curt Lore was living or at least transacting business about this time.

I don’t know how much of a social outcast the Kirsch family became. I’d wager that at least some number of Aurora families, even if they didn’t openly condemn Jacob’s actions certainly shied away.

Nora’s paternal grandmother, Barbara Lemmert Kirsch, then an 80-year-old widow was living with the family, along with Nora’s uncle Philip who was disabled during the Civil War.

Did Nora lose friends over this? Was she shunned? This would be particularly difficult for a young woman of marriage age.

Perhaps Nora could confide in her grandmother. Perhaps her grandmother Kirsch helped all of the children cope. I hope so. She wouldn’t be around much longer.

Curt Checked In and Never Checked Out

We know that Curt Lore, Nora’s eventual husband, was living in Warren County Pennsylvania in 1884 and 1885.

  • Warren County (Pennsylvania) Mail – November 21, 1884, January 13, 1885, April 21, 1885, and several other dates. – Set for Trial Curt Lore vs Jacob Davis
  • October 11, 1885 – There was a verdict for $159.38 for Plaintiff.

During this time, Curtis Benjamin Lore, a well-driller, checked in at the Kirsch House and never checked out of the family. We don’t know exactly when Curt arrived in Aurora, but by May 1887, there was a letter in the dead letter office for him.

  • Aurora Spectator – May 19, 1887 – The following is a list of letters remaining in the Aurora post office not called for: Mr. Curt Lore.

This suggests that Curt was actually living in or at least visiting Aurora for long stretches at or before this time. Curt would have known that Jacob Kirsch was a crack shot AND that he had been a member of the mob who hung Watkins. Everyone knew both of those things.

Note Jacob Kirsch’s competitive shooting scores just below Curt Lore’s letter notification. The irony is not lost on me. Might not have been lost on Curt either.

Whether Nora confided in her grandmother or not, she fell hard for Curt, an extremely handsome somewhat older man – ten years Nora’s senior.

Curt accidentally discovered the Blue Lick (artesian) Well in Aurora when drilling for gas, and he also discovered the beautiful daughter of the proprietor of the Kirsch House.

One of the attractive aspects of Curt might have been that he was not from Aurora, seemed a bit mysterious and he perhaps offered a ticket out.

Curt, as it turned out, wasn’t entirely honest, either about his age or his marital status. He failed to mention that pesky detail of a wife and 4 children back in Pennsylvania, the youngest still a baby – born in June of 1886.


The next piece of information we have about Nora is an unusual announcement in the neighboring city’s newspaper the day AFTER Nora and Curt were married.

  • Lawrenceburg Register, January 19, 1888 – Invitations are out for the marriage of Miss Nora Kirsch, eldest daughter of Mr. Jacob Kirsch of Aurora to Mr. Curtis B. Lore of Findlay, Ohio.

Their engagement was not reported in the Aurora newspaper, nor was the wedding.

Nora, by then a couple months pregnant, probably desperately wanted to leave Aurora for more than one reason.

Curt desperately wanted to leave too, before his soon-to-be father-in-law who just happened to be a marksman AND apparently had no qualms meting out justice discovered that pre-existing wife and four children issue.

Nosiree – Curt wanted to get the hell out of Dodge, well, er, Aurora before those beans somehow got spilled.

Nora and Curt’s first child, Edith, was born someplace in Marion County, near Indianapolis, on August 2, 1888.

New Beginnings

By October, Nora and Curt were living in Greensburg where no one knew about Nora’s connection to Jacob or the fact that Edith arrived a bit early. No one knew about Curt’s past either, not even Nora.

Greensburg was a great place to start over.

Two and a half months after Edith was born, Nora’s mother and sister came to visit.

  • October 25, 1888

The sisters took a bonding trip as well, although this surprises me given that Nora would have been nursing Edith who wasn’t three months old yet.

Nora and Carrie, her 17-year-old sister, traveled to Cincinnati to attend the Centennial Exhibition. Maybe their mother, Barbara, stayed in Greensburg with baby Edith. What grandmother wouldn’t love that!

In 1888, Cincinnati hosted the Centennial Exposition of the Ohio Valley and Central States. You can view the exhibit catalog, here. Those young women would have enjoyed the Exposition immensely, along with each other’s company.

One of the major attractions was the “Electric Light Plant.” A few years later, Curt Lore would be one of the investors in the first electric light plant in Rushville, Indiana.

We don’t know, but I imagine that Nora went home to Aurora over the holidays and again when her grandmother, Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch passed away at the Kirsch House on February 1, 1889.

  • June 27, 1889

Barbara Drechsel Kirsch’s sister, Mary had married, moved to Chicago, and was expecting her third child in July.

The Aurora newspaper reported that Nora’s parents came to visit in June of 1889. Jacob and Curt were apparently bonding – and that’s not all. According to Aurora articles later, Jacob bought a racehorse that Curt was training for him.

  • December 5, 1889 – Mr. and Mrs. Lohr are the guests of the Kirsch House, from Greensburg.
  • January 9, 1890 – Miss Carrie Kirsch was visiting her sister, Mrs. Curt Lore, at Greensburg several days last week.
  • January 23, 1890 – Jake Kirsch was visiting his daughter, Mrs. Curt Lore, at Greensburg, several days last week.
  • April 10, 1890 – Mrs. Curt Lore of Greensburg is visiting her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Kirsch.
  • June 12, 1890 – Jake Kirsch was on the sick list several days last week. Miss Lulu Kirsch is visiting her sister, Mrs. Curt Lohr, at Greensburg.

While most of these snippets came from the Aurora newspaper, some were found in Greensburg.

  • Greensburg Standard – August 6, 1890 – Curt Lore, Charles Belser, and Charles Evans and wives picnicked at Banta’s Thursday and reported a delightful time.
  • August 14, 1890 – Mrs. Curt Lohr of Greensburg visited her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Kirsch several days this week.

Nora may have gone home to attend the funeral of her mother’s sister, Margaretha Drechsel Rabe who died in Cincinnati, probably related to childbirth. Margaretha was only 38, yet had already buried two sons and a third would pass away in 1893.

  • September 25, 1890 – Mrs. Curt Lore of Greensburg is visiting her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Kirsch this week.
  • November 27, 1890 – Miss Carrie Kirsch is visiting her sister, Mrs. Curt Lore at Greensburg, this week.
  • Miss Carrie Kirsch has been visiting relatives in Greensburg the past week.
  • December 25, 1890 – Ed. Kirsch and sister Lulu are spending this week with their sister, Mrs. Curt Lore at Greensburg.

Obviously, Nora’s siblings visited her often. The railroad depot being located adjacent the Kirsch House was very convenient.

Nora probably wasn’t going much of anyplace because she was “in a family way” again.

  • Greensburg, March 14, 1891

  • Nora gave birth to another daughter, baby Curtis, clearly named after Curt, in March of 1891.

The Greensburg newspapers provide details about their life.

  • May 16, 1891 – A valuable mare belonging to Curt Lore was dangerously hurt Monday morning by coming in contact with a barb wire fence on Charles Evans’ farm. She is recovering.
  • September 2, 1891

Curt doesn’t seem to have the best of luck with horses. Seems that once again, Curt narrowly avoided disaster.

Also, under “Fair Notes” we discover more about their Curt’s racehorses.

For some reason, this just cracked me up. “Fancy goers.” It’s interesting that Curt owned at least 7 horses, and possibly more including Almont. It’s ironic. I can’t confirm when either of his parents died, but I know Curt’s horses’ names.

All might not have been well at home though.

In October of 1891, this notice appeared in the Greenburg newspaper saying that Curt and Nora were breaking up housekeeping. But apparently, at the end of the year, they were still living in Greensburg. “Breaking up” could have been interpreted a couple of different ways.

  • December 31, 1891

I had no idea that Carrie lived with Nora at any time. This close relationship between the sisters might explain why Carrie was married a few years later at Nora’s home. Well, that and the fact that Carrie’s parents didn’t care AT ALL for her husband. Turned out that they were right!

Sometime in early 1892, Nora and family moved to Rushville, about 20 miles north of Greensburg, which in turn was about 40 miles northwest of Aurora. I wondered when I found the original mention in the Greenburg newspaper whether their marriage was on the rocks based on the commentary that Nora would stay with her parents. But the December newspaper article suggests otherwise and tells us that Carrie was living with Nora there in Greensburg.

Curt was traveling a lot – drilling wells in other locations in both Indiana and Kentucky. This might explain the unexpected visitor some 20 years later, one that would haunt Nora.


Sometime before June of 1892, Curt and Nora rented a house in Rushville where they would live for the rest of their married life.

  • August 29, 1892

Curt was very clearly becoming more and more involved in horse racing. Now we know two of his horses’ names!

  • Aurora, September 8, 1892 – Mrs. Curt Lohr and children, from Rushville, are visiting her parents here at the Kirsch House.

A few days later, Jacob Kirsch’s life would change forever. In fact, Nora nearly lost her father.


  • Cincinnati Enquirer Friday Morning, October 28, 1892 (Warning – graphic description in article.)

Jacob was gravely wounded and was not expected to live. Nora was likely notified by telegram and probably returned home at once. It’s odd that neither the Rushville nor Aurora newspapers covered this news, although technology-based scanning and indexing is far from perfect.

The family believed that Jacob Kirsch fought in the Civil War, but there is little evidence to support this. Furthermore, Barbara knew him at the time and applied for his pension after he died. There were multiple Jacob Kirschs in southern Indiana who were likely confused and, I believe, conflated with their military files intermixed. However, the reference to Jacob as Captain Kirsch surely makes me wonder why he would be referred to as such otherwise.

All newspapers are very quiet for the rest of 1892. I suspect that Jacob’s recovery was slow, painful, and far from certain.

Life Returns to Normal

Life seemed to have returned to normal. Articles from the Rushville paper were published in Curt’s story, here. The Lore family maintained ties to Greensburg, and those articles add more meat to the bones.

  • Greensburg – August 18, 1893 – Curt Lore of Rushville was circulating among friends here on Saturday.
  • March 22, 1894 – Miss Carrie Kirsch is the guest of friends at Rushville, Indiana.
  • Aurora Dearborn Independent – July 5, 1894 – Mrs. Curt Lore and children, of Rushville, are visiting her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jake Kirsch.

1894 saw Curt become an entrepreneur, building an ice plant and electric power plant in Rushville. Of course, he continued horse-trading and well-drilling too. It seems Curt never stopped doing anything – he just added more.

The Rushville paper reported that Nora and the girls spent most of the month of December 1894 in Aurora.

  • Aurora, November 28, 1895 – Miss Lida Ruese left Wednesday afternoon for Rushville to spend Thanksgiving with her friend, Miss Carrie Kirsch, who has been the guest of her sister, Mrs. C. B. Lore for the past two months.

Carrie was obviously spending a lot of time in Rushville. Carrie and Nora were very close, born just over 4 years apart.

  • Greensburg, January 10, 1895 – Miss Carrie Kirsch is visiting her sister, Mrs. Curt Lore at Rushville.
  • August 2, 1895 – Curt Lore of Rushville spent Sunday here with friends.
  • October 25, 1895 – Curt Lore, of Rushville, spent the latter part of last week with friends here.
  • October 30, 1895 – Curt Lore of Rushville is here attending the gun shoot.
  • April 1, 1896 – Mrs. Curt Lore entertained a company with euchre last Saturday afternoon.
  • May 17, 1895 – Curt Lore and Wood Study rode down here Sunday evening from Rushville in one hour and 27 minutes, at a rate of over 13 miles an hour. Good. They made the trip on their wheels.

I’m not exactly sure what “on their wheels” means. Had Curt purchased an early automobile? Motorcycle?

In June 1896, Curt and Nora, including Nora by name, were both sued for a debt of $4,768 in connection with the ice house endeavor. Published in the paper, a sheriff’s sale was ordered to confiscate the lot where the ice house was located. A separate contract for $12,000 existed as well. Nora must have been worried sick.

Suits involving the ice house, the land the ice house was built on, and the equipment inside the ice house bounced back and forth in the courts for years. It’s difficult if not impossible to figure out who did what, or didn’t do what, to whom.

Life seemed to go on as normal for Curt. These setbacks seem like water off of a duck’s back for him. Nora, on the other hand, often went for “an extended visit” with her parents.

  • July 10, 1896 – Curt Lore of Rushville was here attending the ball games this week.
  • September 9, 1896 – Mrs. Curt Lore and daughters, Edith and Curt, of Rushville, returned home Saturday afternoon having spent the week with R. N. Wise and family.
  • December 23, 1896

Satin suspenders. I wonder if Curt wore satin suspenders.

I can’t help it, I just love the period ads in newspapers. They put the lives of our ancestors in perspective.

Carter’s Little Liver Pills will, apparently, cure anything that ails you😊

Oh wait, if an enemy vagrant current of air stole into your house last week, well, maybe this salt cure will undam your blood.

  • Connersville Times, July 16, 1897

In 1897, Curt took on a rather unusual “job,” assuming this was paid – baseball team manager. Who knew?

I suspect that the solicitation of subscriptions might have something to do with how Curt was paid. Curt certainly excelled at talking to people.

I wonder what Nora thought about all of Curt’s activities.

  • Greensburg Standard, September 8, 1897 – Mrs. Curt Lore and daughter, Miss Edith, returned to their home at Rushville Thursday after a pleasant visit here with Miss Stella Wise. They were accompanied by Miss Wise.
  • December 25, 1897 – Mrs. Curt Lore and charming daughters Curtis and Edith, of Rushville, are spending the holidays with Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Kirsch.

Where was Curt Lore during the holidays?

Turn out, Curt might actually have already been at the Kirsch House. In mid-November, the Rushville paper reported that Curt had contracted to “fit up an Aurora Hotel with a hot water heating apparatus.”

In 2008, when I last visited Aurora, the Kirsch House was undergoing a structural evaluation. The old “hot water heating apparatus” pipes that heated the structure were still in evidence in the hallway beside the stairway into the parlor, as you can see above. Curt’s handiwork, more than a century later.

  • May 13, 1898 – Curt Lore and daughters of Rushville spent Monday here.

In 1898 and 1899, Nora and Curt’s social status star seemed to be rising. According to the Rushville paper, they were increasingly engaged in social functions and Curt was a delegate to the Congressional Convention.

On April 8, 1899, Nora gave birth to their third child, another daughter, Mildred Elvira Lore in Rushville although it was never mentioned in the Rushville paper.

  • October 5, 1899 – C. B. Lore of Rushville is here attending the street fair this week.

Curt Lore had purchased a Warograph machine, which in essence showed early movies. He then formed the Cineograph Electric Advertising Company and then The Warograph Company.

He began taking his “show on the road” (pardon the pun) to carnivals and street fairs. I wrote about Curt’s many endeavors in this article. Let’s just say that his life was never dull or without drama. Within a month, he had started two new businesses, in addition to the ones he already had and lost one business partner.

I need a dance card to keep up with this man. Nora probably did too. When he did come home, she was probably just waiting for the next chapter in the “Drama of Curt.”

Of course, this is only the drama we are aware of because it made it into the newspaper.

  • Greensburg – December 26, 1899 – Curt Lore of Rushville was here this morning en route home from a visit with relatives at Aurora.

At least this year we know Curt was with Nora in Aurora, although he may have returned early.

1900 – A New Millennium

The new millennium dawned with Nora and Curt still living in a rented home in Rushville, moving in the horse-racing social circles. According to the census, two female servants lived with them. Their neighbor was Nora’s best friend, Ethel Coverston, wife of the railroad agent. Except for some bumpy patches, life seemed good – at least from this perspective.

In August, Nora’s paternal aunt, Katharina Barbara Kirsch who had married Johann Martin Koehler died. She had outlived at least three of her four children.

  • September 26, 1900 – Curt Lore and family, of Rushville, drove down last night and after spending the night here with friends, left this morning for Aurora for a few day’s visit.

“Drove down” – does that mean a buggy or a car? Surely not a buggy – all the way to Aurora? In 1900, wealthy people purchased some of the early automobiles for comfort and prestige. Few cars existed and the ones that did were hand-assembled and cost about $1000 each. I would think if Curt purchased an automobile, that might have been newsworthy in and of itself.

On August 2, 1900, Nora’s paternal aunt, Katharina Barbara Kirsch Schnell, 67, died in Aurora. Katharina had outlived her first husband, who was also her first cousin, Johann Martin Koehler, by decades, at least three of her four children, and at least one grandchild. Life was tough.

  • October 23, 1900 – Curt Lore of Rushville is visiting friends here today.
  • October 24, 1900 – Judge Frank Hall and Curt Lore of Rushville are attending court here today.
  • October 27, 1900 – Curt Lore and Frank Hall who have been attending court here for several days returned to Rushville this morning.

In November of 1900, news broke that Curt was embroiled in the granddaddy of all horse-racing scandals, noted as “the greatest fraud ever perpetrated” when it hit the national news. In September of 1899, an entire day’s race tickets that affected the standing of various horses were submitted to the national racing association for races that never occurred. The Rushville and national papers covered the scandal, but Greensburg and Aurora where several people lived who were involved did not.

Nora must have wanted to bury her head in the sand.

It was about this time that Curt’s focus shifted from horse racing to obtaining local construction contracts for bridge repairs and street sprinkling. The horse-racing scandal seems to have ended or at least dramatically reduced that part of Curt’s career, but he was still drilling for wells in Kentucky and elsewhere.

  • October 2, 1903

We know from this article that Curt worked with his brother and owned a motorcycle which at that time was pretty much a bicycle with a motor. I wonder if Nora rode his motorcycle too. Nora was no shrinking violet.

I love this picture of her some years later.

Nora with her three daughters; Eloise, Mildred, Nora, Edith (white hair), probably between 1930 and 1940.

Curt continued to travel a great deal with his oil drilling and to some extent, horse racing. It was on one of these trips that Nora suspected that he contracted Tuberculosis.

In July of 1903, Curt formed the C. B. Lore Drilling Company with two other men.

Nora was otherwise occupied.

On October 8, 1903, Nora gave birth to their fourth and last child, Eloise Lore. Curt had only returned from his trip a few days earlier. Perhaps now I understand why Nora had 2 servants in the 1900 census.

Less than three weeks later, Curt’s well-drilling paid off. He hit paydirt – one of the strongest and best wells ever sunk in that region. On land owned by the local liveryman.

Curt was back on the road soon, while Nora cared for their four children at home in Rushville.

By 1904, Curt’s well-drilling expertise was in much demand for both gas and water wells.

  • Versailles (Indiana) Republican, April 6, 1904

  • Versailles Republican, June 8, 1904 – Curt Lore, the gas driller, entertained a part of Aurora relatives at the Niebrugge home one day last week.

Apparently, Curt was at least temporarily living in Versailles while drilling this well. Nora and the girls were living in Rushville.

  • Greensburg, June 24, 1904 – Curt Lore of Rushville was here Wednesday on his way home from Dillsboro where he has been drilling gas wells.
  • Versailles Republican – September 7, 1904 – Frank Johnson, President of the Dillsboro Oil and Gas Company gives the Republican a statement that work will be resumed on the wells soon. No new well will be drilled, as has been reported, but drilling will begin at the depth which had been reached by Curt Lore when he claimed he struck saltwater.

Does this mean Curt was done drilling in Versailles? Does that mean he spent more time at home with Nora and the girls? If so, did he have an income? The newspapers often tell us just enough to spawn many more questions.

  • Greensburg, August 25, 1905 – Curt Lore, of Rushville, was here yesterday.

Nora’s uncle, Philip Kirsch, the disabled Civil War veteran who never married and lived at the Kirsch House with her family passed away on September 9, 1905. It was thanks to his will that we identified several of Nora’s aunts and uncles, especially the ones who had moved away, and their children. Philip tells us, among other things, that his brother John is deceased and has two children whose names he can’t remember.

Other than money left to his siblings and their children, Philip (left, above) bequeathed everything to “my dear brother Jacob Kirsch being for the kind treatment which has always been given me by him and all of his family.”


Beginning in 1906, Nora’s life was coming progressively more unraveled. It’s obvious that Curt is gone more than he is at home.

Someplace along the way, Curt contracted Typhoid, was ill for weeks on end, and nearly died. He did at least somewhat recover.

Nora’s maternal grandmother, Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel, died on January 3, 1906. Nora and the girls spend the holidays in Aurora and returned home the following day, apparently before her grandmother’s funeral.

By 1906, their eldest daughter, Edith Lore, was graduating from High School and received a scholarship, even at that day and time. Edith was scheduled to attend Business School in the state capital in Indianapolis when Typhoid struck the family in Rushville.

Nora did her best to protect her family. She sent three daughters to her mother’s in Aurora. One child, Curtis, remained at home to help Nora care for Curt. Curt survived Typhoid but remained ill, perhaps unknown to the family, with TB.

His behavior changed or maybe he simply had less patience and restraint. He managed to get himself arrested for “provoking the Marshall.”

Not to be deterred, Curt bid on and was awarded bridge repair and other contracts in and arround Rushville. He tried desperately to support his family, although according to Eloise, he was unable to fulfill those contracts and Nora had to somehow settle those affairs after his death. Eloise also said that at some point, Nora quietly approached the “powers that be,” or were, and asked that Curt not be awarded any additional contracts. Nora had clearly seen the writing on the wall, even if Curt hadn’t or didn’t want to believe the message.

On September 4, 1906, Nettie Giegoldt, Nora’s first cousin, her aunt’s daughter, died of Tuberculosis in Aurora at 26 years of age. The family had been caring for her for two years.

Nora’s mother and family were devastated, but this string of deaths wasn’t over.

  • December 5, 1906 – Curt Lore who has been working in the contracting business on the southern extension of the I. C. & S. traction line has returned from Scottsburg.

Wait? What? Curt’s working on the train line? What happened to well-drilling? When did this shift take place?

  • January 4, 1907 – Curt Lore of Rushville visited friends here Tuesday.
  • September 6, 1907 – Curt Lore of Rushville spent Wednesday here.

Nora’s maternal grandfather, George Drechsel, died in February of 1908 at 85 years of age.

Nora did receive a small respite in the summer of 1908 when she visited the new amusement parks in Indianapolis – although in those long skirts she must have roasted to death.

Nora’s sister, Louise, and her husband Todd Fiske had come to live at the Kirsch House with Nora’s parents after Todd lost his job as a civil engineer. On Halloween night, 1908, Todd took his own life in the garden at the Kirsch House by shooting himself as a party was taking place inside.

A couple of days later, the politician that Edith Lore worked for in Rushville, attempting to get him elected, was defeated. Edith who had planned to work for him in Washington was devastated.

A week later, on November 9th, Edith traveled by train to visit her grandmother at the Kirsch House. The entire family was devastated by Todd’s death and the manner in which it occurred. Edith stayed about a week and returned home to Rushville.

Whatever happened in Aurora profoundly changed the trajectory of Edith’s life.

None days later, on November 18th, Edith, Nora’s oldest child, unexpectedly married John Ferverda, at the minister’s house in Rushville.

  • November 20, 1908

It’s unknown whether Nora or Curt were in attendance, although if Nora had any inkling, she would have been at that wedding, come hell or high water. What we do know is that Curt was ill again and Nora was probably exhausted after months of illness, death, and uncertainty – on top of 4 children to care for.

Clearly, Nora and Curt both knew something was very wrong. Curt deeded his portion of Lot 5 to Nora for $1 on April 15, 1909. That must have been one very sad day for Nora. No more pretending.

Nora went about her activities, taking the girls to church and trying to make things as normal as possible for her children.

In June of 1909, Nora’s sister, Carrie came to visit, bringing devastating news. Carrie had married Joseph Wymond after eloping to Rushville in 1902, probably against the wishes of her parents. But Joe had a horrible secret. He had either before their marriage or shortly thereafter contracted syphilis – in turn giving it to Carrie. Wymond died in an institution in July of 1910, but Carrie would suffer until 1926 when she passed away of the same disease.

Truthfully, I’m surprised Jacob Kirsch didn’t kill Wymond.

Curt was ill for at least a year before his death in November 1909, meaning throughout all of 1909 as well as the end of 1908. He tried desperately to work, oiling the streets in June. This was probably their only source of income by this time.

The newspapers reveal that family members are somehow all deciding to come and visit. They too know what’s in the offing.

Another source tells us that Curt was actually ill for three years – which would include the Typhoid outbreak. I suspect that he was ill with both Typhoid and TB, concurrently. It’s nothing short of a miracle that he recovered at all, even if not completely.

It’s possible that both Curt and Nettie, Nora’s great-niece who died of TB in September of 1908 contracted TB during the family’s Christmas gathering in Aurora at Christmas 1906. Tuberculosis was quite contagious and far more widespread than we realize today, so that could simply have been an unfortunate coincidence.

Life continued to unravel. Nora and the girls had no income when Curt became ill and then died, and they would be slowly descending into both depression and poverty.

Two months before Curt’s death, Nora’s sister Carrie’s husband, Joe Wymond, was committed to a sanitorium where he would eventually die.

Nora and her sister were both devastated, and Nora knew what her sister’s fate would follow that same horrific path.

The end of 1909 was the bleakest of times.

1910 – A Downsized Life

Immediately after Curt’s death and prior to the 1910 census, Nora moved to a much smaller house and found a job.

I heaved a huge sigh of relief – especially about the job.

Now Nora could begin healing. Right?

Begin the next chapter of her life. Right?


Curtis, Nora’s daughter that helped care for Curt had also contracted TB. The young people in the community, Curtis’s friends, embraced the family and began holding fundraisers.

In January 1910, John Ferverda, Edith Lore’s new husband, the local railroad station agent was transferred from Rushville to Silver Lake, Indiana. Nora lost another cog in her support system when her daughter and son-in-law moved away.

Nora, despite everything that had transpired, still needed to raise two younger daughters, Mildred who turned 11 in 1910, and Eloise who turned 8.

In July of 1910, Joseph Smithfield Wymond, Carrie’s scoundrel husband died. I don’t know if Nora was furious or relieved, or maybe some of both. Mostly, she would have been very concerned about her sister, Carrie, who had the same disease. Carrie and Wymond were still legally married, but Carrie lost most of his estate to his family.

However, in August, Nora enjoyed a much-deserved respite. Along with her sisters, Nora visited her daughter and best friend who had also moved to Northern Indiana. Three of Nora’s sisters had been widowed within 18 months. They needed to smile and laugh together.

It’s a good thing Nora took this opportunity because it was likely the last time the Kirsch sisters and their daughters were all together. I hope this was a joyful, carefree time. It sure looks like they were enjoying themselves. Curtis is Nora’s daughter, of course. Aunt Cad is Carrie. I don’t know but suspect Nora’s sister Ida is obscured behind her sister, Lula. I don’t know the identity of the woman in the water, but it could have been John Ferverda’s sister – Edith’s sister-in-law. It doesn’t look like Nora to me. Nora probably took the picture. Oh, and by the way, these aren’t dresses, they are bathing suits.

In November 1911, Nora’s daughter, Curtis, entered a TB sanitarium, hoping for improvement.

By January 1912, the young people in the community, Carrie’s friends, were frantically fundraising.

On February 7, 1912, Curtis died, a month before her 21st birthday. Two years and three months after Curt had died.

The newspaper tells us that Nora’s best friend returned home for Curtis’s funeral. God knows Nora would have needed that.

A few days later, Curtis, so young and full of promise was laid to rest beside Curt.

Will this tale of tragedy and grief NEVER END for Nora? How much can one woman take?

You know it’s bad when you look backwards in time, and the “bad old days,”  retrospectively, look great.

Picking Herself Up – AGAIN!

Nora had to pick up and put herself back together. Again. She had no choice. Nora STILL had two daughters at home who were both grieving too.

Nora’s life had been anything but easy. Curt’s past and his hellish death would haunt Nora, as well as the knock that would come on the door one day.

Nora had been through unremitting, utter living Hell.

That woman was made of iron forged in the hottest of fires.

I Need a Breath

I truly cannot even begin to imagine what Nora was going through. She was now positioned at the proverbial fork in the road and there was no turning back.

There was also little opportunity for widows in the workplace. Women were supposed to get married and stay that way.

Had Nora tried to make the best of a marginal marriage – one based on a foundation of dishonesty? Truthfully, I don’t know. She truly seemed to love Curt and wanted to be buried beside him, with his surname. Not being buried with her “current” surname was a huge social departure at that time. I’m proud of her spunk. She had already faced down the most horrible situations possible – a triviling thing like a nonconformist surname was like, “pppssshaw.”

Regardless of what transpired within their marriage, she and Curt put smiles on their faces, raised their lovely daughters, and played their roles in polite society.

They never owned a home, so Nora had no assets to sell. The racehorses were probably gone years before – back when Curt was ill for so many months and couldn’t work.

Nora was only 46 years old, but she probably felt like she had lived a long century. Her husband who had been absent so much was now truly gone and never coming back – leaving her entirely alone.

Curt suffered terribly for about three years before his death. Nora and her girls had to bear witness.

Nora tried desperately to protect herself and her children from those dread diseases – both Typhoid and TB.

Nora’s oldest daughter, Edith, had married and moved away.

Nora’s best friend had moved away.

Her sisters had been tragically widowed.

Daughter Curtis had caught TB and passed away too.

Nora still had two daughters to raise and no form of income.

What were her options?

The Fork in The Road

Nora could probably have gone back to the Kirsch House, except her parents were aging by this time too. Nora knew that their time at the Kirsch House was limited.

This family photo taken about 1908, before Curt’s death, with Jacob in the white beard at upper right and Barbara in the black skirt shows that they are aging. Hotel work is neverending and exhausting – and the family had to do everything. They must surely have been chronically tired.

In 1912, when Nora’s daughter, Curtis, died, Nora’s father and mother were 71 and 64, respectively. Both at or beyond “retirement age” and both still working in a labor-intensive occupation.

Nora’s entire life for the past quarter-century had unfolded in Rushville. She didn’t want to leave what little stability and social support structure she had. She certainly didn’t want to move back to Aurora to a situation that would be dissolving sooner rather than later.

Nora picked herself up, dusted herself off, and managed to find a job.

The Way Forward

  • March 14, 1912

By spring, Nora had taken a position as a sales lady in the local department store selling hats in their new millinery shop. Life had to go on and Nora was one determined, resilient lady!

“Hats, why yes. Of course I can sell hats!”

These ads don’t tell us, but the Rushville 100th Anniversary edition newspaper published on October 22, 1940 reveals that the Mauzy’s Department Store after 1910 was a three-story brick building at the northeast corner of Third and Main.

While this is not the building, the photo on this postcard was taken half way between 2nd 3rd on Main. One of the tall buildings on the right at the next intersection would be the Mauzy’s Building. Nora would have walked up and down this sidewalk daily, wearing a stylish hat of course!

This 1913 postcard shows the business section of Rushville on North Main. One of those three-story buildings has to be Mauzy’s.

  • March 26, 1912

Just look at that hat!

Trust me, the British with their Fascinators have nothing on 1912 women in the US. I’d wager these hats weren’t cheap, either.

This Rushville building is labeled the “Bliss Bros” and is located on the north part of Main Street.

  • April 12, 1912 – Nora Lore to Jas. C. Clore part lot 5 in the original plat of Rushville, $300.

Nora sold the lot that Curt deeded to her before his death. I originally thought it had probably represented their dream together of building a home, but that wasn’t the case at all. This was the deed to Curt’s portion of the icehouse property. He had also been drilling for gas wells there.

This seems to have been Curt’s last-ditch effort to do what he could to provide Nora with an ace in the hole. Regardless, she surely could use that $300.

This lot is located at Morgan and Water today and looks to be unbuildable due to its proximity to the river. It was probably unbuildable then too – but more valuable for what you could potentially DO with it..

This 1879 Rushville map shows the lot number.

The lot to the left of Curt’s lot, now Nora’s, seems to be the old mill, although I can’t read it entirely. Notice the church in the block behind.

This postcard from 1912 shows the frozen mill race in about 1912, with the church steeple in sight. The old mill location is abandoned today, but I think Lot 5 would have been on the right-hand side of the photo, perhaps outside the picture.

Below, the lot at Morgan and Water today.

Riverside Park, the original horse racing track, is right next door, on the left and lot 5 is the parking lot with the red star. Nora and Curt lived at the red star in the upper right hand corner, and after Curt’s death, Nora moved to the green star on First Street.

Always on the lookout for an opportunity, maybe Curt hoped to build a tavern or an establishment that would leverage the racetrack traffic.

  • October 17, 1912 – Mrs. John Ferverda of Silver Lake is the guest of her mother, Mrs. Curt Lore.
  • November 20, 1912 – Mrs. John Ferveda of Silver Lake is the guest of her mother Mrs. C. B. Lore and family.

Fortunately, as Nora readjusted to her new normal, Edith came home often.

However, another challenge was soon to follow.


1913 didn’t start out well, at all.

Rushville was located along Flat Rock Creek which didn’t just look to be flood prone, it was. Although this beautiful stream looks deceptively gentle.

Just how badly Flat Rock could flood was something that Nora and everyone else in Rushville would soon come to understand very well, just two days after Easter in the spring of 1913.

This photo, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, shows downtown Rushville, much further from the river than Nora’s lot. Late March of 1913 ushered in what would become known as the Great Flood of 1913 when rivers throughout Indiana and the central US flooded due to a combination of snow runoff and rainfall. Areas closer to the river in Rushville saw loss of life.


The 100th anniversary issue of the Rushville Republican Newspaper in October 1940 called the March 25, 1913 event the “worst flood ever.”

I’m sure beyond a doubt based on this description that Nora was anything but high and dry, although if she was lucky, maybe the flood waters only reach her door, not inside. Maybe it depended on how many steps into the house. Perhaps Nora’s years in Aurora weathering the Ohio River floods had prepared her. Maybe this flood wasn’t nearly as difficult for Nora as others.

Maybe after all Nora had been through, this was “only a flood,” said in my most dismissive voice😊

It’s not like Nora didn’t already have enough to deal with. I’m sure Nora couldn’t help but think about the East Hill Cemetery where Curt and Curtis rested being inundated with floodwater too.

In this photo of Nora, taken in 1913, she does not look happy.

Nora may well have been modeling a hat and coat for her millinery position, but she looks intractably sad to me.

Fortunately, Edith came to visit again soon after the flood.

  • May 2, 1913 – Mrs. John Ferverda visiting with her mother, Mrs. C. B. Lore and family.

Somehow, in 1913, according to the date on this photo, Nora and her sister Ida went to  Florida.

Was that Nora’s favorite necklace. She’s wearing it in later 1920-era Chicago photos too. Nora apparently likes hats – maybe that’s why she got that millinery position.

Nora looks sad, but then again, she had just buried her daughter after burying her husband a couple years earlier. She has a right to be sad.

For a long time, I discounted this photo and didn’t think more about it – but Florida comes up again in 1940. Somehow, the Kirsch girls had a long association with Florida.


  • February 12, 1914 – Birth of Lincoln is Remembered – A girls quartet sang a medley composed of national airs. The girls who composed the quarter were <names omitted> and Mildred Lore.

Mildred is now 11.

  • February 24, 1914 – High School Observes Washington’s Birthday – …The next number scored a big hit with the audience. It was a girls quartet composed of Mary Louise Bliss, Mary Louise Poe, Esther Anderson and Mildred Lore. They sang a selection, “The First History Lesson” which contained historical facts, in a confused form – all of the great events taking place in the year of 1492.  This number caused a roar of laughter.  As an encore the girls sang, “They put Rushville upon the map in 1492, The boys quartet was singing yet, in 1492, Our team was playing basketball and winning games, but not quite all, The faculty was teaching then, in 1492.”
  • February 27. 1914 – The Misses Mildred Lore and Freda Hiner went to Milroy this morning to visit the schools of that place. They will remain over tonight to see the Rushville-Milroy basketball game.
  • March 11, 1914 – Mrs. John Ferverda has returned home to Silver Lake after spending a few days here with her mother Mrs. Curt Lore.
  • March 25, 1914 – Mrs. J. W. Ferverda has returned home to Silver Lake after spending time with her mother Mrs. Curt Lore.
  • May 2, 1914 – Mildred Lore sang in a comic opera.
  • June 1, 1914 – Mrs. Nora Lore and daughters Eloise and Mildred left this morning to spend the summer in Winona Lake, Indiana.

What happened to Nora’s millinery job? And how is Nora affording to spend the summer in Winona Lake? I’d wager, she is spending time with friends or maybe with Edith, but she still has to eat and pay rent on her home in Rushville.

  • September 19, 1914 – Mildred Lore (and others) gave a wiener wrist roast at the dam, north of this city, last evening and was followed by a theater party at the Princess.
  • October 2, 1914 – Mrs. Carrie Wymond returned this morning to her home in Aurora after spending a few days here with Mrs. Nora Lore.
  • October 15, 1914 – Mrs. Theodore Reed and…entertained at bid euchre yesterday afternoon at the home of Mrs. Reed in North Main street. There were 7 tables. An elegant dinner was served late in the afternoon. Mrs. C. B. Lore (and 2 others) served. In the evening, the husbands of some of the guests were entertained at dinner.

This is one of the few examples of Nora being involved with her former friends. I hope she was able to play cards too, and wasn’t just relegated to being a server. Was it difficult for Nora when the other husbands joined, emphasizing Curt’s absence?

It’s challenging to exist as a single person in a world made for couples.

  • October 17, 1914 – Miss Mildred Lore entertained last evening with an oyster stew, the following guests…(list omitted.)
  • October 20, 1914 – Mr. and Mrs. Will Coverston of Goshen arrived last night to be the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Curt Lore in west Second street.

Nora now lives on West First. I wonder if the reporter just typed incorrectly. Also included “Mr.” Ouch!

  • October 21, 1914 – Mr. and Mrs. Ed. L. Beer entertained at 6 o’clock dinner last evening Mr. and Mrs. Will Coverston of Goshen and Mrs. Curt Lore.

Nora’s best friend came back for a visit again.

  • November 25, 1914 – Miss Nora Lore spent the day with friends in Milroy.
  • November 26, 1914 – Mrs. Nora Lore spent the day with relatives in Indianapolis.
  • November 30, 914 – Miss Nora Lore was among the passengers this morning to Carthage.
  • December 12, 1914 – Mrs. Nora Lore was in Milroy on business today.

What was the business that Nora was “attending to” in Milroy? Who lived there. Beginning at this point, she went to Milroy a lot for quite some time. Based on what Eloise said, Nora had a clothing construction and alteration business out of her home.


  • February 15, 1915 – Mrs. Nora Lore was a passenger this morning to Milroy.
  • February 17, 1915 – Mrs. Nora Lore spent the day in Milroy on business.
  • February 24, 1915 – Mrs. Nora Lore spent the day in Milroy on business.
  • March 2, 1915 – Mrs. Nora Lore visited friends this morning in Milroy.
  • March 4, 1915 – Mrs. J. W. Ferverda returned to her home this morning in Silver Lake after visiting her mother, Mrs. Nora Lore in this city.
  • March 8, 1915 – Mrs. Nora Lore spend the day with friends in Milroy.
  • March 15, 1915 – Mrs. Nora Lore was in Milroy and Carthage today on business.
  • March 29, 1915 – Mrs. Nora Lore was in Carthage this afternoon on business.
  • May 4, 1915 – Mrs. J. W. Ferverda returned home this morning in Silver Lake after a visit with her mother, Mrs. Nora Lore of this city.

This would have been a joyful visit, with Edith now pregnant for Nora’s first grandchild and sharing the news. Things are definitely looking up for Nora!

  • June 5, 1915 – Mildred Lore performed “O Mother Dear Jerusalem” and “In the Upper Garden There” for a special Presbyterian church performance.
  • June 11, 1915 – Mildred Lore sang a duet, “Allegiance to Two Flags” for a Children’s Day church observance.
  • June 16, 1915 – Mildred Lore joined a group of girls being entertained.
  • June 25, 1915 – Patriotic Service to be Held – Program at First Presbyterian Church Sunday Night Calculated to Arouse Patriotism – No Sermon to be Preached – “Tenting Tonight” by Missed Kathleen Hogstett, Mildred Lore and Male Chorus.
  • July 6, 1915 – Mrs. W. R. Coverston of Goshen is spending a few days with Mrs. Nora Lore of this city.

Good, Nora’s best friend is visiting again.

Edith and Eloise were separated by 15 years – nearly a generation. Curtis was Edith’s best friend. After Curtis died, Edith became close lifelong with her sister, Eloise. After Edith’s death, Eloise, who had no children, became a “second mother” to Mom and a second grandmother to me.

  • July 9, 1915 – Miss Eloise Lore left today for Silver Lake where she will spend the summer. Miss Nora Lore left today for a visit in Goshen, Indiana. Mrs. W. R. Coverston returned today to her home in Goshen after a week’s visit with Mrs. Nora Lore of this city.

With Nora visiting in northern Indiana, who was taking care of 12-year-old Mildred? Perhaps Mildred was staying alone, or with friends. She seemed to be traveling on the train alone.

  • July 22, 1915 – Miss Mildred Lore was the guest of Miss Juanita Massey in Connersville last evening.
  • July 29, 1915 – Miss Mildred Lore went to Indianapolis Thursday for a short visit with friends and relatives.
  • August 25, 1915 – Miss Mildred Lore has returned from a short visit with friends and relatives in Indianapolis.

Carrie Kirsch Wymond lived in Indianapolis for some time. I suspect that’s who Mildred went to visit.

  • September 15, 1915

And here’s the answer. A woman way ahead of her time, Nora, clearly a very talented, resourceful seamstress now owns her own business.

This ad actually ran several times and includes the first mention of a phone which is a bit ironic since Curt, along with others, founded the local phone company.

  • November 2, 1915 – Mrs. Nora Lore was a visitor in Milroy today.
  • November 4, 1915 – Mrs. Nora Lore was a visitor in Milroy today.

I can’t help but wonder what Nora did in Milroy. Milroy is close by and she visited often.

November 24, 1915 – Edith Lore Ferverda gave birth to her first child, a boy, Harold Lore Ferverda. Nora’s first grandchild. She must have been thrilled.

  • December 4, 1915 – Word has been received here that a baby boy has been born to the wife of John Ferverda, formerly Miss Edith Lore of this city, at their home in Silver Lake.
  • December 21, 1915 – Miss Mildred Lore was part of the program given by 11 young ladies at the Old Melodies concert to be used for charity at the Graham Annex auditorium.
  • December 22, 1915 – Mrs. John Ferverda of Silver Lake, Indiana arrived today for a short visit with her mother, Mrs. Nora Lore of this city.
  • December 27, 1915 – Mrs. Nora Lore and her daughters, Mildred and Eloise went to Aurora to spend the holidays.
  • December 31, 1915 – John Ferveda of Silver Lake arrived today to make a short visit here.

Bringing the baby home to meet grandma. This would have been pure joy.

What a wonderful way to end the year.


Things seem to have stabilized for Nora and the girls and are looking bright for John and Edith.

  • January 8, 1916 – J. W. Ferverda, Big Four agent at Silver Lake and well known here has purchased a hardware store there in partnership with R. M. Frye. He has resigned his position with the railroad company. Mr. Ferverda married Miss Edith Lore of this city.

Before discovering this announcement, I didn’t know when John purchased the hardware store. Sadly, he would eventually lose the store. He was too kind-hearted and granted too much credit that could never be repaid.

  • January 10, 1916 – Miss Mildred Lore returned this morning from a visit of several weeks in Aurora.

I’m baffled about how a child in school could spend several weeks during the school year visiting. Mildred would have been 16.

This photo of Mildred was probably taken about this time.

  • January 13, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore and Mrs. John Ferveda of Silver Lake who have been visiting relatives in Aurora returned this morning.
  • January 17, 1916 – John Fervada returned to his home in Silver Lake this morning after spending the weekend in this city with his wife who is visiting her mother, Mrs. Nora Lore.
  • January 25, 1916 – Mrs. John Fervada left today for her home in Silver Lake after an extended visit with relatives in this city. She was accompanied by her mother, Mrs. Nora Lore.

Nora went home with Edith to help with the 2-month-old baby. Was Mildred, age 16, watching Eloise?

  • January 31, 1916 – A merry group of girls assembled yesterday in response to the invitations given out by Mrs. George Craig who entertained at dinner complimentary to the 18th birthday of her daughter Naomi. The pretty bevy of girls completed an effective picture as they gathered about the bedecked table, the center of which was embellished with a huge floral design of narcissuses banked up with ferns, that twined out upon the white linen. Four courses composed the delicious dinners, the appointments of which were charming. Those participating in the festal occasion were <names omitted> and Mildred Lore.
  • February 21, 1916 – Mrs. W. R. Covertson returned to her home in Goshen this morning after a visit with Mrs. Nora Lore of this city.
  • February 24, 1916 – Mrs. W. R. Coverston returned to her home in Goshen this morning after a visit with Mrs. Nora Lore of this city.
  • 28, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore was among the passengers this morning to Milroy.
  • March 6, 1916 – Mrs. John Ferveda (sic) of Silver Lake is the guest of her mother, Mrs. Curt Lore on West Second street.
  • March 6, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore spent the morning in Milroy.
  • March 13, 1916 – Mrs. John Ferverda of Silver Lake is the guest of her mother Mrs. Nora Lore.
  • March 21, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore visited in Milroy today on business.
  • March 24, 1916 – Miss Mildred Lore was a visitor in Indianapolis today.
  • March 28, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore spent Monday in Milroy.
  • April 3, 1916 – Mrs. Curt Lore will entertain a small company of friends at her home on West second street honoring Mrs. Will Coverston of Goshen who formerly resided here.
  • April 10, 1916

  • April 17, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore spent the day in Milroy on business.
  • April 29, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore went to Indianapolis this morning.
  • May 1 & 2, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore visited in Carthage this morning on business.
  • May 12, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore visited in Indianapolis today on business.
  • May 27, 1916 – Miss Eloise Lore will spend Sunday in Indianapolis.
  • June 2, 1916 – Miss Mildred Lore went to Brookville today for a visit of several weeks.
  • June 8, 1916 – Miss Mildred Lore has returned from a visit with relatives in Brookville.

Who lived in Brookville, Indiana?

  • June 9, 1916 – At the Charity Ball, Miss Mildred Lore and Fred Osborne and Miss Josephine Kennedy and Danning Havens as second couple led the grand march which was beautiful as the figures were made.
  • June 12, 1916 – Miss Mildred Lore went to Indianapolis this morning to spend the day.
  • June 13, 1916 – Miss Ruth Miller of Milroy is giving a house party for several of her girlfriends this week at the home of her uncle and aunt. Mildred Lore attending.
  • June 17, 1916 – Miss Eloise Lore went to Indianapolis today for a visit.
  • June 20, 1916 – Miss Mildred Lore has accepted a clerical position at the traction station.

I suspect this means that Mildred graduated from high school in 1916.

The traction station was across from the Presbyterian Church where Nora and the girls attended.

  • June 22, 1916 – Miss Eloise Lore is with relatives in Indianapolis for an extended visit.
  • Miss Mildred Lore went to Winona Lake this morning to spend the summer.

How did Mildred go to Winona Lake for the summer if she accepted a clerical position at the traction station two days earlier?

  • June 22, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore of this city and Mrs. W. R. Coverston of Goshen are visiting in Seattle and other points in the state of Washington, where they will stay for the remainder of the summer.

This, I find utterly baffling. How did Nora manage to take a trip to Seattle? How was she living? When one thinks of a poor widow woman, one thinks of someone who works every day. Maybe Nora wasn’t as poor as everyone thought? Maybe her business was doing well, although that’s not exactly the portrait Eloise painted.

Or maybe the train ticket was free because Mrs. Coverston’s husband worked for the railroad, as did Nora’s son-in-law – and they were going to visit someone’s relatives?

When Nora came home, she went to Lake Winona, probably with her sisters.

  • August 16, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore of this city will be visiting at Lake Winona for several days.
  • September 11, 1916 – J. W. Fervada (sic) of Silver Lake, formerly employed at the Big Four railroad station here, who married Miss Edith Lore of this city, sustained a fractured rib while unloading manure spreaders one day recently, according to word received here.
  • September 20, 1916 – Miss Mildred Lore has accepted a clerical position at the traction station.
  • October 2, 1916 – Miss Mildred Lore spent the weekend with friends in Indianapolis and saw “The Bird of Paradise” Saturday evening.
  • October 3, 1916 – Men organizing the Social Club [in 1896] were…C.B. Lore.

I wonder if this article startled Nora as much as it did me.

  • Aurora, October 5, 1916

  • Rushville, October 20, 1916 – Phi Delta Kappa Dinner Dance in Newcastle. Members of the fraternity from Anderson, Knightstown, Muncy and Rushville attended. A party motored from this city <names omitted> …and Mildred Lore.


Life had settled into a rhythmic, rather normal routine again, so what followed was QUITE the shock.

  • October 30, 1916 – Mrs. Nora Lore of this city and Thomas H. McCormack of Wabash were quietly married Saturday afternoon by the Rev. D. Ira Lambert. They will make their home in Wabash where Mr. McCormack is a foreman in a machine room.


Where did this come from?

“Quietly married?” What the heck does that mean?

Until I really LOOKED at their marriage license a second time, I never realized something very important. I had always wondered why this marriage was so hush-hush in the family. I presumed it was because it ended, at least functionally, when McCormick or McCormack abandoned Nora. They never officially divorced because you can’t divorce someone you can’t locate. He quite literally ran off.

While that may be partly the case of why this marriage was a taboo subject, that’s likely not the entire story. The fact that this marriage even occurred was so hush-hush that I literally did not know that her legal name was not Lore. That made tracing her 1933 World’s Fair quilt at the Exhibition impossible until someone spilled the beans.

There is more than a hint of scandal surrounding this marriage itself. Thomas McCormack was divorced THE SAME DAY he and Nora were married.


So he did what? Go directly from one courthouse to the other. He was divorced for a total of maybe, what, 6 or 8 hours? Start the day married to one woman and end it married to another? I can think of all kinds of bad jokes but I’ll restrain myself.

The same day. Yep, that’s what their marriage application says.

Furthermore, on the top of the application, it says, “Please do not publish.”  You think?

Imagine how unhappy they were when this was published anyway.

Also, and I have no idea if this is significant, but his surname is spelled elsewhere as McCormick, not McCormack. He signed as McCormack here too. Was he trying to cover something? Maybe it’s nothing at all, but now I’m on the lookout for everything.

How did Nora even meet this man who was living and working in Wabash?

It’s 90 miles from Rushville to Wabash. The train does pass through Wabash on the way to Silver Lake where Edith lived, but passengers don’t disembark in Wabash.

How long had Nora known McCormick/McCormack?

I found at least a partial answer to that question. Thomas McCormack and his family are living in Rushville in the 1900 census. His daughter was born in 1890 there, meaning that Nora’s children and his would have been the same age.

McCormack was a machinist in the 1900 census, but this Rushville newspaper entry on December 1, 1896 was quite interesting.

  • Arthur B. Irvin has received a letter from Thomas McCormack, who, with Joseph Phillips has located at Monkey River, British Honduras, Central America. They arrived there on the 19th of this month and have commenced raising bananas and coffee on a farm already purchased.

Apparently, he had a bit of the same adventurous spirit that Curt had. He’s also noted as a “wheelman,” going on bicycle excursions with groups of men.

  • January 8, 1897 – Thomas McCormack and Joseph Phillips who have been in Central America for the past two months returned home last Wednesday to stay. McCormack went on the Kennard, Henry county where his family are living.
  • February 15, 1901 – Thomas McCormick moved his family to Owensboro, Kentucky last Saturday where he is engaged in the manufacturing business.

By 1906, McCormack’s daughter was married in Kentucky where he was in the census in 1910.

What did Mildred and Eloise think of their new step-father?

What did Edith and John think of him?

I have so very many questions, but this is one of those topics where there is no one left to answer. This was the hush-hush taboo topic!

I suspect that Nora was both embarrassed and humiliated by how McCormick or however you spell his name treated her.


Ahem. Nora, girlfriend, what were you thinking?

Maybe Nora was lonely and didn’t want to be alone.

Maybe McCormick wasn’t honest with Nora either. Curt hadn’t been.

Maybe Nora was simply in love or thought she was.

This photo of Nora and Thomas McCormick was taken about 1920 in Chicago.

Nora doesn’t look happy here, either. In fact, she looks outright pained.

According to family members, Nora was anything but happy. It appears, that Nora had gone from bad to worse. Jumping from the frying pan into the fire. I just want to hug this poor woman.

I am sure that Nora’s marriage to McCormack left her friends and family all shaking their heads. One day in the not too distant future, she would be shaking hers as well.

Eventually, McCormick would abandon Nora but she looks miserable in the 3 photos we have that include them both.

In the 1930 census, Nora is living in Wabash, Indiana, listed as a widow, living with her mother, so he was absent by then and apparently, not coming back.

“Widow” was often used to cover the social embarrassment of either divorce or abandonment – both of which, at that time, reflected on the woman far more than the man.

What possessed Nora to get married literally hours after his divorce? Why?

How long was this planned?

Was Nora in a desperate financial situation?

Did Eloise even realize her mother had gotten married on October 28th?

  • November 1, 1916 – The surprise arranged last evening by Mrs. Silverton Bebout was in honor of her daughter, Helen, who was greatly surprised to be greeted by a number of her girlfriends. The home was decorated with Halloween ideas carried out in an original manner. After an evening spent playing games, and refreshments were served, the guests went on a serenading party. Guests included <names omitted> and Eloise Lore.
  • November 18, 1916 – Miss Mildred Lore went to Wabash today to join her mother, Mrs. Thomas H. McCormack, and make her home there.

What did Mildred and Eloise think about all of this?

I have SO MANY questions!


The Rushville paper continues to cover recent residents, even a year later.

  • June 28, 1917 – Miss Eloise Lore of Wabash is visiting friends and relatives here over the weekend.

On July 26th, 1917, Nora’s father, Jacob Kirsch died of stomach cancer in Aurora. She assuredly went home to help her mother and be with her family.

  • November 5, 1917 – Marriage of Miss Pauline Coverston of Goshen to Richard D. Wangelin of Indianapolis. Miss Coverston lived here formerly. Nearly a hundred guests were present including Mrs. Thomas McCormick and Miss Mildred Lore of Wabash.

Nora’s best friend’s daughter was married. Nora and Mildred were present, but her husband was not.

  • July 20, 1918 – The Misses Mildred and Eloise Lore of Wabash, formerly of this city, are visiting friends here.

By 1918, Eloise would have been 15, probably about the time this picture was taken.


Not all of the Wabash Plain Dealer papers are digitized, but many are and we can follow Nora’s life in Wabash through newsprint as well – at least to some extent.

Let’s start with McCormack. What can we discover about him?

  • January 15, 1914 – Tom McCormack was arrested by the police last night for public intoxication and locked in the Wabash County jail. He was arraigned in police court this morning on the charge and owing to the fact that this was his first offense, he was given his freedom.

This may not be “our” Thomas McCormack/McCormick. I saw another entry a few years later for a Tom, not a Thomas or T. H. McCormack and that seems to be a different person.

  • October 19, 1916 – In the divorce suit of Thomas H. McCormick vs Ellen McCormick, the defendant was called and defaulted and the evidence was heard.

Here’s the divorce action in the paper. We see that Thomas is the plaintiff, meaning he filed, and Ellen is the defendant. At that time, there was no such thing as “no fault” divorce. The actual pleadings, if they still exist, would be more explicit. However, I’ve discovered that normally they either claim adultery or extreme cruelty, because that’s the only grounds upon which one could obtain a divorce.

Divorce was quite rare. McCormick and Ellen had three children, born in 1885, 1887, and 1890. By 1916, they would have all been adults.

Ellen never remarried. McCormick remarried the same day the divorce was final. Was Nora somehow involved in this mess? I’m still baffled.

  • May 16 and 17, 1917 – For rent – large furnished rooms. Modern conveniences 279 East Main. Phone 69. Mrs. T. H. McCormack

McCormack and Nora lived on East Main and they were renting out rooms. The house still stands today.

I noticed a realtor sign in the yard and discovered that the home has 2776 square feet with 2 baths (today) and 4 bedrooms, but it’s stated that it could have 5 or 6 bedrooms. I love finding properties that are for sale, with photos!

I don’t know if McCormack owned this property or not, and it really doesn’t matter. This is where Nora lived.

The hardwood floors are original as are the staircase and windows. Nora walked here, slept here, and raised her daughters here, at least for a while. I can stroll through her home.

  • May 30, 1918 – T. H. McCormack on the list of subscribers to the Red Cross Fund for $10.
  • June 1, 1918 – Mrs. T. H. McCormack will leave Sunday on an extended visit in the southern part of the state.

Nora is clearly going to Aurora and probably Rushville too.

  • August 15, 1918 – Mrs. Louis Fisk of Indianapolis is visiting at the T. H. McCormack home.

Nora’s sister has come to visit.

  • August 17, 1918 – Mrs. Lou Fisk of Indianapolis is the guest of Mrs. T. H. McCormack on East Main Street for several days.
  • October 11, 1918 – Mrs. W. R. Coverston has returned to her home at Goshen after visiting with Mrs. T. H. McCormick.
  • October 16, 1918 – Thomas McCormick noted on the master list.

But it doesn’t say what the master list is for.

  • December 14, 1918 – Mr. and Mrs. John Ferverda and son, Lore, from Silver Lake will spend Sunday with relatives in this city.
  • Miss Mildred Lore, who has been seriously ill with influenza at her home on East Main street is improving.

They are still living on East Main.

  • April 17, 1919 – Mrs. John Servad (sic) and son, Lore, of Silver Lake are visiting at the home of T. H. McCormick on east Main Street.

This photo of Nora with her grandson, Harold Lore Ferverda was taken about 1920, based on his apparent age, possibly during this visit. Note the car in the background.

1920-1930 – Wabash, Chicago, Wabash

By the census in 1920, they had moved to Chicago. Nora lived in the house on East Main from late 1916 or early 1917 until sometime in 1919 or early 1920 – so between two and three years.

More baffling still, it appears that Mildred did not leave Wabash.

  • June 3, 1920 – The marriage of Miss Mildred Lore of this city, daughter of Mrs. T. H. McCormick of Chicago and C. F. Martin of this city, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Martin of LaFontaine took place this noon at 1 o’clock at the Presbyterian Manse. The young couple will make their future home in Wabash.

In September of 1921, McCormack and Nora moved back to Wabash

  • September 29, 1921 – Mr. and Mrs. T. H. McCormack of Chicago will make their future home in this city at 141 West.Hill Street. Mr. McCormack was formerly with the Cardinal Company and has returned to resume his former position.

This home no longer stands.

  • October 25, 1921 – Mrs. T. H. McCormack has returned to her home on West Main Street after visiting with friends and relatives in Aurora, Indiana for the past several weeks.
  • November 6, 1921 – Mrs. George Aultman who has been the guest of Mrs. T. H. McCormack for the past several days has returned to her home in Rushville.
  • November 16, 1921 – Mrs. George Aultman who has been the guest of Mrs. T. H. McCormack for the past several days has returned to her home in Rushville.

Mrs. Aultman is the lady from Rushville that accompanied Nora to see Carrie in the tuberculosis sanitarium all those years ago.

  • December 21, 1921 – Miss Eloise Lore of John Marshall High School, Chicago, will spend the holidays with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. T. H. McCormack on West Hill Street.

Now, it looks like Eloise stayed in Chicago! Who was she living with?

  • May 17, 1922 – Wabash Daily Plain Dealer – Mr. and Mrs. T. H. McCormack were visitors at Silver Lake yesterday.
  • June 21, 1922 – Miss Eloise Lore of Chicago will arrive in the city today to spend the summer with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. T. H. McCormack on West Hill Street.
  • June 21, 1922 – Mrs. Barbara Kirsch and Mrs. Carrie Wymond of Aurora, Indiana are visiting at the home of Mr. and Mrs. T. F. McCormick, West Hill Street.

Nora’s mother, Barbara, finally sold the Kirsch House in 1921 and officially retired, freeing her to see her family and enjoy life. She would have been 74 years old and probably quite relieved to be rid of that responsibility and work.

Photo enhanced and colorized at MyHeritage.

This 4 generation photo of, left to right, Nora, Mildred holding her son Jim Martin and Barbara and baby Jim Martin was taken in 1922.

  • June 21, 1922 – Mr. and Mrs. George Aultman of Rushville visited here yesterday at the home of Mr. and Mrs. T. H. McCormack on West Hill Street.
  • August 12, 1922 – Mrs. T. H. McCormick will go to Chicago, Monday.

Nora had moved with McCormick back to Chicago. They lived in Wabash less than a year the second time.

  • August 31, 1922 – Mrs. T. H. McCormick won an auction at the Dry Cleaner in Wabash.
  • December 22, 1922 – Mrs. T. H. McCormick will arrive in the city Saturday from Chicago to spend a few days with relatives and friends here. She will go on to Silver Lake for a visit before returning home.

My mother, Nora’s granddaughter was born a few days later. Nora came home for Christmas and to be with her daughter when the baby was born.

  • January 2, 1923 – Mrs. T. H. McCormick has returned to her home in Chicago after spending the holidays in the city with relatives and friends.
  • February 9, 1923 – Eloise Lore is visiting her mother in Chicago.

I suspect that Eloise was living with Mildred and her husband.

  • February 27, 1923 – Miss Eloise Lore returned last evening from a week’s trip to Chicago where she visited her mother. Mrs. T. H. McCormick.
  • June 29, 1923 – Mrs. T. H. McCormick of Chicago will arrive in Wabash tomorrow to be the guest of her daughter, Miss Eloise Lore until Sunday. She will go to Silver Lake Sunday afternoon to visit over the Fourth of July.

Nora visited Silver Lake often where her picture was taken with her three grandchildren, Mom as a babe in arms, her brother Lore looking at Mom, and cousin Jim Martin holding the handlebars.

At this point, Eloise, based on the way the newspaper snippet is written, appears to be living on her own in Wabash.

There are a total of 52 entries for Eloise between 1919 and August 1923. Then, silence. Mildred is found in the newspaper until her marriage to Claude Martin on June 3, 1920. Eloise married in 1929.

Mildred and Eloise were both stenographers.

Other than the fact that McCormick deserted her in this timeframe, we know little about Nora’s life between 1923 and 1930 with a few exceptions.

Nora’s brother, Edward, died at 54 of paralysis, likely a stroke, in July of 1924 in Edwardsport, Indiana. Two of his children had died as infants in the 1890s, but he left two children. Ed’s death was unexpected and must have hit Nora hard. He was her younger sibling, and her first sibling to pass away.

Nora’s beloved sister, Carrie, died a horrific death in 1926 of syphilis thanks to her unfortunate marriage, having been institutionalized for two and a half years. Carrie had no children. Only Nora’s two brothers had children, two each, that survived to adulthood.

In 1927, Nora’s parent’s younger siblings would begin to pass away as well, with John Kirsch who lived in Indianapolis dying in 1927.  Anna Maria Kirsch Kramer who had moved to Collinsville, Illinois when first married, the last of Nora’s paternal aunts and uncles left this mortal realm in October of 1929. It feels like the end of an era when that last person passes on.

The 1930s – Quilting in the Little House in Wabash

In 1930, Nora is once again found in the census living in Wabash. She is recorded as a widow, although she isn’t. Her elderly mother is living with her.

My mother had fond memories of visiting her grandmother and great-grandmother at “the little house” in Wabash and watching the women hand quilt on a quilt frame extended from the living room ceiling with pulleys.

Years later, Mom showed me the home and indeed, it matches the location on the census and on Barbara Drechsel Kirsch’s death certificate. Mom said she remembered Barbara Drechsel Kirsch sitting on this porch, inviting Mom to come and sit beside her when she was a little girl.

Nora’s mother, Barbara, died of a stroke on June 30, 1930, at home with Nora at 123 West Sinclair. Ironically, even though Barbara lived with Nora after she sold the Kirsch House and left Aurora, Nora said that she regretted that she could not help her mother more “when she needed it.” She meant at the Kirsch House, especially after Jacob died in 1917, I’m sure. Nora had absolutely nothing to regret. She had more on her hands than any human could have been expected to deal with, without factoring in Barbara’s situation.

I know Nora’s sisters helped as much as they could. Carrie lived at the Kirsch House for a long time after her husband’s death but had moved to Indianapolis by 1917. All of the Kirsch children moved away from Aurora, the last one leaving in 1920.

I suspect that like many quilters, Nora salved her grief by quilting.

In 1933, Mom’s family took Nora to the Chicago World’s Fair where her “Climbing Vine” quilt was on display in the Sears Pavillion, representing the state of Indiana. Of course, the country was in the throes of the Great Depression and the family could not afford to spend the night, so they drove round trip in one very long 24 hour day, taking food along for picnics. They would have picked one very excited Nora up at this little house in Wabash where she created award-winning quilts for the world to enjoy.

In the late 1980s, a full half-century later, Nora’s quilts were once again displayed and honored – but this time as a group in a national show hosted at Rockome Gardens in Illinois.

Me, my daughter and Mother celebrated Nora’s accomplishments together at the show. Mother was thrilled. Such an emotional day with Mom sharing her memories of Nora. Now, of course, mother has joined her.

That jacket Mom is wearing, her favorite, hangs on the back of a chair in my sewing area – just so I know she’s close. Kind of an unusual way to get a long-distance hug and reinforcement from Mom, but it works.


Nora translated the beauty of flower gardens into her many quilts. This one was named “Picket Fence.” Nora gave many quilts to her daughters, their children, and other family members.

In retrospect, I think that the 1930s in Wabash were, in many ways, Nora’s happiest years. Nora was in her mid-60s, her three living daughters were grown, married and doing well, and McCormick was gone. Nora enjoyed her grandchildren who lived nearby and came into her own as an artist, expressing her creativity through quilting.

Life wasn’t all roses though. I have no idea how Nora earned income and survived the Great Depression, although I suspect she continued to make clothes and other items, probably including quilts, for customers. I know she quilted during this time. This pink and green quilt is from fabric in colors that are now known as “Depression Pink” and “Depression Green” because they were produced during that time. It’s also telling that Nora was able to purchase enough of two fabrics to make a quilt. She wasn’t using just leftovers or scraps.

In 1938, Nora’s maternal Aunt Lina, short for Caroline, passed away in Kendallville. Lina’s life was somewhat of a mystery. What we do know is that she married a man named Johannes Gottfried Heinke in 1895 when she was about 40. She had one child who had died by 1900. Lina herself lived to the ripe old age of 84. Many women in this family lived into their 80s – if they could just get past those treacherous childbearing years.

Aunt Lou and Arthur Wellesley

Nora’s sister, Margaret Louise Kirsch, known as Lou, died of myocarditis in Cincinnati on June 1, 1940. Aunt Lou, the widow of Todd Fisk who had committed suicide at the Kirsch House in 1908 married secondly to Arthur Wellesley on October 27, 1920, in Aurora.

I don’t know where or how she met him, but my guess is at the Kirsch House given that they married in Aurora.

Arthur Wellesley seems to be quite the character. On their marriage license, he lists his home as Chicago, his birth location as Sydney, Australia and his occupation as “orthopedic specialist.” He doesn’t say anything about being a doctor.

However, over time, let’s just say his story evolved. Eloise and Mom said that he “treated people’s feet on Miami Beach,” which I found very odd – but indeed he did. I found that too in the newspapers.

However, there seems to be much, MUCH more to this story.

Arthur Wellesley appears to have been somewhat of a shyster. Over the years, his story seems to “evolved,” with him becoming increasingly “qualified.” He adopted the title of “Doctor” someplace along the way too.

In the 1930 census, the first census where I find any hint of him, he says he was born in Illinois and was first married at age 41, which would have been to Lou in 1920. His parents were from England. He lists himself as a physician and that he is a chiropodist, a profession similar to a podiatrist.

In the 1940 census, his education level is C7, which I believe means college 7 years.

A 1963 article published when he died paints an incredibly heartrending tale of bad luck.

Wait? What?

He was born in Chicago but his parents left in 1871 after the great fire?

But his marriage license to Lou said he was born in Australia.

His parents should be listed on the 1870 census, taken in April, but there are no Wellesleys there or anyplace close.

Ok, maybe a fluke.

Next, the family somehow went to the Australian outback where he grew up on a ranch?

Then he went to London to medical school in the 1890s? Medical school had to be the 1890s, because the Boer War and Boxer Rebellion both started in 1899 and lasted through 1901/1902 and his story places medical school before the wars.

Did he go to England in the 1890s? I did find a record in the UK Lunacy Admission Registers for one Arthur Wellesley who was committed for about 5 weeks in 1892. Arthur Wellesley is not a unique name, but it’s also not crazy common either.

After earning his medical degree and serving in two wars, he was a surgeon in India? The British commander, Sir Arthur Wellesley did indeed serve in India in 1911 and 1912.

Then, Arthur immigrated to San Francisco where his wife and two children died in the earthquake of 1906? Subtracting, that suggests that he had been married for perhaps 4-5 years, minimally, at that time.

How awful. So much loss and devastation for this poor unfortunate man. However, there’s no Wellesley of any kind on the list of people who perished in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, here. Nor is there any mention of his name in the newspaper there or in the surrounding area in 1906.


He’s also not in any census before 1920, anyplace in the US that I can find.

And then, there’s the little matter of the Australian man by the name of Arthur Robert Wellesley who was arrested for theft in 1912 and convicted in February 1913 to two years of hard labor. An earlier conviction by a man with the same name, in 1899, stated that his parents were from England. Australia’s convict records have been published on Ancestry.

And there’s that mental health admission during the decade he was claimed to be in England.

Are these men by the same name the same man as the Arthur Wellesley that Aunt Lou married?

If Arthur did arrive in the US about 1915, that would square with the end of his two years of hard labor. He could easily have “morphed” into a doctor in a location where no one knew anything about his past, and had no avenue to make that discovery. In the early 1900s, there was no standardized testing or licensing for physicians. You didn’t even have to go to medical school. His ads in the Miami papers said that he had come to that area in 1920 and set up shop. That would map to the year he married Lou.

Eloise always seemed suspicious and tight-lipped about Wellesley and “what happened to Aunt Lou.” But she wouldn’t talk about that either – just like she wouldn’t discuss the topic of Nora and McCormack.

Well, what did happen to Aunt Lou?.

In 1940, Lou and Arthur Wellesley had been vacationing in Cincinnati where she was admitted to the hospital with a heart condition. Her death notice in the Miami paper said she was hospitalized for two weeks before she died, but her death certificate stated that she had been suffering from heart issues since the previous fall. Of course, that information was provided by her husband, the doctor.

Lou died in June and was buried in Aurora beside Charles “Todd” Fisk, her first husband, in the Kirsch plot in the Riverside Cemetery. In September, the Miami paper printed a notice that Arthur Wellesley had returned from an extended vacation to Cincinnati and Hendersonville, NC, mentioning absolutely nothing about the fact that his wife had died during that trip. Nothing about his being bereft or grieving, just that he was returning from vacation.


His wife’s death didn’t even disrupt that vacation.

How does a doctor take an extended, months-long vacation? What happened to his practice?

In November, announcements in the Miami newspapers stated that Wellesley was reopening his practice in a new location.

I cannot help but wonder about Wellesley’s history, his apparent grandiose “over the top” lies about his former life, a possible conviction and prison sentence, possibly a mental health admission, and mention of a former wife and two children that died. That’s to mention the inconsistencies in his stories about this birth location, the Chicago Fire, and the San Francisco earthquake. Was anything he said the truth?

Today, looking back, I’m very, very uncomfortable with this scenario and can’t help but wonder about the circumstances surrounding Aunt Lou’s death. Was life insurance involved? Was her death more than it appeared?

Apparently, the Kirsch sisters were *at least* uncomfortable too and suspected something.

1940 – Visitations

Nora is shown in the 1940 census in Wabash, but beside her entry is a note that the information was provided by a neighbor. This explains why her age is incorrect. Maybe Nora was traveling.

A newspaper article from Rushville when she returned for a visit in September of 1940 with Mom, Eloise, and Edith provides us with a bit more information about Nora’s life and what she had been up to.

Nora, 74 years old in 1940, about the time this photo was taken with Mildred (left rear) and Eloise (right rear), said she was living in LaFontaine, Indiana where “Eloise is also living at present,” but that Eloise is “of New York.” Nora said all four of her girls were born in Rushville. [Actually, only 2 were.] She said, “Though at present I am living with my daughter. Mrs. Claude Martin, in LaFontaine, I think of returning sometime to Wabash. My husband’s death occurred some years ago and now that my daughters are married and have their own homes, I am more or less free to do some of the things I missed in my younger life.”

That’s probably a massive understatement.

Nora is smiling and looks happy in this photo, in the garden with her daughters, Eloise at left and Mildred at right.

It’s unclear where Nora lived between 1940 and 1944, but she went to live with Eloise in New York about 1944 and passed away in 1949.

I don’t know who this child might have been, but this is Nora sometime in the 1940s.

One thing we do know is that somehow, for some reason, Nora was paying property tax on a small place in Florida in 1940. I bet that after her mother died, she spent time there in the 1930s. There’s also that 1913 photo of Nora and Ida in Florida that remains a mystery, as well as this photo of Eloise and Mildred, also in Florida.

Based on their apparent age, I’d guess that this picture was taken in the 1960s. How the Kirsch girls came to be in possession of this property, and what happened to it, is still unknown. Perhaps I should do some deed research work.

Unraveling Nora’s Death

For many years, I knew little about Nora’s death other than I thought I recalled, generally, that she died in Lockport with Eloise. However, the New York death index showed no surname like McCormack, McCormick, Lore or even Kirsch. I actually had no idea what name she was using at that time.

Also, I didn’t know if her first name was recorded as Nora, Ellenora, Ellenore or something similar. I “kind of” knew what to look for, and where, but the index showed nothing remotely close.

Even if Nora had died in New York “with Eloise,” that doesn’t mean she died in the county where Eloise lived, assuming Eloise lived in Lockport in 1949. She did in the 1960s and 1970s, but I can’t vouch for 1949. The local clerk was less than helpful.

Nora could easily have died in a neighboring county where there was a large hospital. I didn’t know if she died suddenly or not, or the cause, but I suspected she had dementia. If so, she could have been in a nursing home. I had little to go on.

The Rushville paper saved me once again, providing the next breadcrumb.

  • Rushville, September 14, 1949

Nora’s funeral was held in Wabash before her remains were shipped to Rushville for burial beside Curt. I didn’t expect that.

The obituary says that Nora was visiting Eloise, not that she was living in New York. Of course, newspaper articles and obituaries are notorious for sending genealogists down the wrong rabbit holes. My own mother’s obit had to be published three times and still wasn’t accurate.

I needed Wabash records and at that point, their newspaper wasn’t yet available online.

Thanks to a friend, I did find a listing of Jones funeral home records in Wabash. Unfortunately, it required a lookup request and we were in the midst of pandemic lockdown. The good news is that the Allen County Public Library had this reference material and very graciously sent it to me as soon as they could. Librarians are boss!

Sure enough, there she was. Nora’s death date is accurate, but her birth location is misspelled, and her birth year is two years later. No matter. I had her.

From Jones Funeral home in Wabash, Nora went to the Todd Funeral home in Rushville, then on to the East Hill Cemetery where she probably had a graveside service of some description.

With the recent addition of New York newspaper articles, I found Nora’s death reported in two publications.

  • Niagara Falls Gazette, September 13, 1949

This article says that she died “at the home of her daughter,” which would have been in Niagara County. One more piece.

Apparently, Nora began life as a Lutheran, attended the Presbyterian Church in Rushville, probably in Wabash given that her daughter was married there, and finally, in Lockport as well. Lockport had become her home.

  • Lockport New York Union-Sun and Journal

In 1949, Nora’s brother, George “Martin” Kirsch had died on January 15th in Shelbyville, Indiana, also of a stroke. He left two children, Edgar and Cecile who wrote letters back and forth to Mother for years.

Nora survived only one sibling. Ida Kirsch, shown here in 1950 would live until 1966. Nora was close to Ida who you’ll remember from that 1913 photo in Florida.

Actually, I like the (unfortunately blurry) photo of Ida and Mom laughing better. Ida had a really, really rough life, married in her 40s to a “mean drunk” for 25 years before he passed away – but you’d never guess any of that from Aunt Ida’s lovely and cheerful disposition.

Ida had no children and few family members lived anyplace close to Cincinnati. She died in a predatory “widow’s home” where the widow signed over their real estate and other property for the promise that they would be cared for for the duration of their life. Ida became senile, lived in a room in the basement in the “home” and could not advocate for herself, even to ask for food. One of her nieces stopped in to see her once and discovered the inhumane circumstances under which she was forced to live.

Ida lived to be 89 and died on March 5, 1966, in Cincinnati. She’s buried with her family in the Riverside Cemetery in Aurora.

Two of Nora’s maternal aunts outlived her as well.

Nora’s Aunt Lou, short for Emma Louise Drechsel passed away just three months before Nora at 90 years of age She outlived three husbands and one of her two children. With Nora’s dementia, she may have been unaware or Eloise may not have told her.

Nora’s final aunt, Theresa Maria, “Mary” Drechsel who had moved to Chicago when she married lived until 1953.

Nora’s Traveling Funeral

The final question to be answered was Nora’s cause of death.

Nora died of a stroke. Her dementia and stroke were likely caused by atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries for the preceding decade. Her mother, Barbara, had died of a stroke too.

Nora was 81 years old when she passed over, closing in on 82. We know from that handwritten letter that Nora was experiencing dementia. I don’t know about Nora, but I certainly want to “walk on” if that happens to me.

Nora’s death certificate reflects that the end came quickly, in the middle of the night, at home.

Death certificates are so interesting. Nora’s father’s first name is not Jack, but Jacob, and her mother’s last name was Drechsel. Drexel was spelled phonetically. Her birth year is only one year too late, as compared to the second funeral home’s information that was two years different. Her birth year had possibly “adjusted” years before, maybe by her mother, to not reflect poorly on her parents.

Nora had a traveling funeral – from Lockport to Wabash to Rushville – apparently all in three days, and assuredly by train. It’s somehow ironic that the Kirsch House held coffins of soldiers who were shipped home, having arrived at the depot, as they “rested,” waiting to be collected by their families.

My interpretation of Nora’s traveling funeral would be that Nora felt that Wabash was “home,” which is why her funeral took place there. I do have to wonder how many people were left in Wabash to attend. I’d wager that Eloise rode with her and that Edith joined in Wabash. I don’t know where Mildred was living at the time – Indiana or Texas – but regardless, I’m sure she too came home one way or another.

The family’s final gathering place would have been the graveside in Rushville, completing Nora’s circle of life.

Nora was truly home, resting eternally beside Curt and Curtis. Grass would grow on her grave in the springtime, joining them seamlessly.

Not Forgotten

The threads of Nora’s life that we’ve been able to weave into a tapestry are truly amazing, even though the final chapters are still a bit fuzzy. I doubt we’ll ever be able to bring them into sharper focus.

Nora left Rushville in late 1916, and most of her friends there had either moved or were likely deceased by the time she made her final return 33 years later.

Nora spent most of the years between 1917 and 1940 in Wabash, so more than 20 years of her life.

Between 1940 and 1944, she lived someplace in Indiana, perhaps Wabash for part of that time. Nora clearly thought of Wabash fondly, in spite of McCormick, given her comments in that 1940 article when she returned to Rushville for a visit.

This is the last photo we have of Nora. She went to live with Eloise about 1944, and this may have been the “goodbye to Indiana” bon voyage photo taken with both of her daughters before their journey to New York began. Mildred and her son Jerry are standing beside Nora. Warren, Eloise’s husband is behind the group, and Eloise had her hand protectively through her Mom’s elbow.

Nora apparently still liked hats. She was dressed in high style, but she has the vacant look of dementia confusion in her eyes. Eloise is observing her mother caringly and protectively. I know Eloise faithfully watched over her for the next half-decade as Nora lived out her final years, hopefully among roses in the garden and fond memories of good times.

McCormick was the catalyst for Nora to leave Rushville, but in reality, he wasn’t in her life for long. From late 1916 to sometime after 1923, but gone before 1930 and dead in 1936. He changed Nora’s life but clearly didn’t ruin it. After what Nora had already survived, McCormick/McCormack, whoever and whatever he was, probably wasn’t much more than an embarrassing annoyance.

Nora seemed quite happy with her life in 1940, living with Mildred, pondering returning to Wabash, and talking about finally being able to do things she missed out on before.

I hope Nora was able to do just that – make up for those lost years. Nora survived and apparently chose to be happy, in spite of everything, everyone, and against incredible odds.

But I’d still like to know what she was thinking…



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FamilyTreeDNA Relaunch – New Feature Overview

The brand-new FamilyTreeDNA website is live!

I’m very pleased with the investment that FamilyTreeDNA has made in their genealogy platform and tools. This isn’t just a redesign, it’s more of a relaunch.

I spoke with Dr. Lior Rauchberger, CEO of myDNA, the parent company of FamilyTreeDNA briefly yesterday. He’s excited too and said:

“The new features and enhancements we are releasing in July are the first round of updates in our exciting product roadmap. FamilyTreeDNA will continue to invest heavily in the advancement of genetic genealogy.”

In other words, this is just the beginning.

In case you were wondering, all those features everyone asked for – Lior listened.

Lior said earlier in 2021 that he was going to do exactly this and he’s proven true to his word, with this release coming just half a year after he took the helm. Obviously, he hit the ground running.

A few months ago, Lior said that his initial FamilyTreeDNA focus was going to be on infrastructure, stability, and focusing on the customer experience. In other words, creating a foundation to build on.

The new features, improvements, and changes are massive and certainly welcome.

I’ll be covering the new features in a series of articles, but in this introductory article, I’m providing an overview so you can use it as a guide to understand and navigate this new release.

Change is Challenging

I need to say something here.

Change is hard. In fact, change is the most difficult challenge for humans. We want improvements, yet we hate it when the furniture is rearranged in our “room.” However, we can’t have one without the other.

So, take a deep breath, and let’s view this as a great new adventure. These changes and tools will provide us with a new foundation and new clues. Think of this as finding long-lost documents in an archive about your ancestors. If someone told me that there is a potential for discovering the surname of one of my elusive female ancestors in an undiscovered chest in a remote library, trust me, I’d be all over it – regardless of where it was or how much effort I had to expend to get there. In this case, I can sit right here in front of my computer and dig for treasure.

We just need to learn to navigate the new landscape in a virtual room. What a gift!

Let’s start with the first thing you’ll see – the main page when you sign in.

Redesigned Main Page

The FamilyTreeDNA main page has changed. To begin with, the text is darker and the font is larger across the entire platform. OMG, thank you!!!

The main page has been flipped left to right, with results on the left now. Projects, surveys, and other information, along with haplogroup badges are on the right. Have you answered any surveys? I don’t think I even noticed them before. (My bad!)

Click any image to enlarge.

The top tabs have changed too. The words myTree and myProjects are now gone, and descriptive tabs have replaced those. The only “my” thing remaining is myOrigins. This change surprises me with myDNA being the owner.

The Results & Tools tab at the top shows the product dropdowns.

The most popular tabs are shown individually under each product, with additional features being grouped under “See More.”

Every product now has a “See More” link where less frequently used widgets will be found, including the raw data downloads. This is the Y DNA “See More” dropdown by way of example.

You can see the green Updated badge on the Family Finder Matches tab. I don’t know if that badge will always appear when customers have new matches, or if it’s signaling that all customers have updated Family Finder Matches now.

We’ll talk about matches in the Family Finder section.

The Family Finder “See More” tab includes the Matrix, ancientOrigins, and the raw data file download.

The mitochondrial DNA section, titled Maternal Line Ancestry, mtDNA Results and Tools includes several widgets grouped under the “See More” tab.

Additional Tests and Tools

The Additional Tests and Tools area includes a link to your Family Tree (please do upload or create one,) Public Haplotrees, and Advanced Matches.

Public haplotrees are free-to-the-public Y and mitochondrial DNA trees that include locations. They are also easily available to FamilyTreeDNA customers here.

Please note that you access both types of trees from one location after clicking the Public Haplotrees page. The tree defaults to Y-DNA, but just click on mtDNA to view mitochondrial haplogroups and locations. Both trees are great resources because they show the location flags of the earliest known ancestors of the testers within each haplogroup.

Advanced Matches used to be available from the menu within each test type, but since advanced matching includes all three types of tests, it’s now located under the Additional Tests and Tools banner. Don’t forget about Advanced Matches – it’s really quite useful to determine if someone matches you on multiple types of tests and/or within specific projects.

Hey, look – I found a tooltip. Just mouse over the text and tabs on various pages to see where tooltips have been added.

Help and Help Center

The new Help Center is debuting in this release. The former Learning Center is transitioning to the Help Center with new, updated content.

Here’s an example of the new easy-to-navigate format. There’s a search function too.

Each individual page, test type, and section on your personal home page has a “Helpful Information” button.

On the main page, at the top right, you’ll see a new Help button.

Did you see that Submit Feedback link?

If you click on the Help Center, you’ll be greeted with context-sensitive help.

I clicked through from the dashboard, so that’s what I’m seeing. However, other available topics are shown at left.

I clicked on both of the links shown and the content has been updated with the new layout and features. No wonder they launched a new Help Center!

Account Settings

Account settings are still found in the same place, and those pages don’t appear to have changed. However, please keep in mind that some settings make take up to 24 hours to take effect.

Family Finder Rematching

Before we look at what has changed on your Family Finder pages, let’s talk about what happened behind the scenes.

FamilyTreeDNA has been offering the Family Finder test for 11 years, one of two very early companies to enter that marketspace. We’ve learned so much since then, not only about DNA itself, but about genetic genealogy, matching, triangulation, population genetics, how to use these tools, and more.

In order to make improvements, FamilyTreeDNA changing the match criteria which necessitated rematching everyone to everyone else.

If you have a technology background of any type, you’ll immediately realize that this is a massive, expensive undertaking requiring vast computational resources. Not only that, but the rematching has to be done in tandem with new kits coming in, coordinated for all customers, and rolled out at once. Based on new matches and features, the user interface needed to be changed too, at the same time.

Sounds like a huge headache, right?

Why would a company ever decide to undertake that, especially when there is no revenue for doing so? The answer is to make functionality and accuracy better for their customers. Think of this as a new bedrock foundation for the future.

FamilyTreeDNA has made computational changes and implemented several features that require rematching:

  • Improved matching accuracy, in particular for people in highly endogamous populations. People in this category have thousands of matches that occur simply because they share multiple distant ancestors from within the same population. That combination of multiple common ancestors makes their current match relationships appear to be closer in time than they are. In order to change matching algorithms, FamilyTreeDNA had to rewrite their matching software and then run matching all over to enable everyone to receive new, updated match results.
  • FamilyTreeDNA has removed segments below 6 cM following sustained feedback from the genealogical community.
  • X matching has changed as well and no longer includes anyone as an X match below 6 cM.
  • Family Matching, meaning paternal, maternal and both “bucketing” uses triangulation behind the scenes. That code also had to be updated.
  • Older transfer kits used to receive only closer matches because imputation was not in place when the original transfer/upload took place. All older kits have been imputed now and matched with the entire database, which is part of why you may have more matches.
  • Relationship range calculations have changed, based on the removal of microsegments, new matching methodology and rematching results.
  • FamilyTreeDNA moved to hg37, known as Build 37 of the human genome. In layman’s terms, as scientists learn about our DNA, the human map of DNA changes and shifts slightly. The boundary lines change somewhat. Versions are standardized so all researchers can use the same base map or yardstick. In some cases, early genetic genealogy implementers are penalized because they will eventually have to rematch their entire database when they upgrade to a new build version, while vendors who came to the party later won’t have to bear that internal expense.

As you can see, almost every aspect of matching has changed, so everyone was rematched against the entire database. You’ll see new results. Some matches may be gone, especially distant matches or if you’re a member of an endogamous population.

You’ll likely have new matches due to older transfer kits being imputed to full compatibility. Your matches should be more accurate too, which makes everyone happy.

I understand a white paper is being written that will provide more information about the new matching algorithms.

Ok, now let’s check out the new Family Finder Matches page.

Family Finder Matches

FamilyTreeDNA didn’t just rearrange the furniture – there’s a LOT of new content.

First, a note. You’ll see “Family Finder” in some places, and “Autosomal DNA” in other places. That’s one and the same at FamilyTreeDNA. The Family Finder test is their autosomal test, named separately because they also have Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests.

When you click on Family Finder matches for the first time, you will assuredly notice one thing and will probably notice a second.

First, you’ll see a little tour that explains how to use the various new tools.

Secondly, you will probably see the “Generating Matches” notice for a few seconds to a few minutes while your match list is generated, especially if the site is busy because lots of people are signing on. I saw this message for maybe a minute or two before my match list filled.

This should be a slight delay, but with so many people signing in right now, my second kit took longer. If you receive a message that says you have no matches, just refresh your page. If you had matches before, you DO have matches now.

While working with the new interface this morning, I’ve found that refreshing the screen is the key to solving issues.

My kits that have a few thousand matches loaded Family Matching (bucketing) immediately, but this (Jewish) kit that has around 30,000 matches received this informational message instead. FamilyTreeDNA has removed the little spinning icon. If you mouse over the information, you’ll see the following message:

This isn’t a time estimate. Everyone receives the same message. The message didn’t even last long enough for me to get a screenshot on the first kit that received this message. The results completed within a minute or so. The Family Matching buckets will load as soon as the parental matching is ready.

These delays should only happen the first time, or if someone has a lot of matches that they haven’t yet viewed. Once you’ve signed in, your matches are cached, a technique that improves performance, so the loading should be speedy, or at least speedier, during the second and subsequent visits.

Of course, right now, all customers have an updated match list, so there’s something new for everyone.

Getting Help

Want to see that tutorial again?

Click on that little Help box in the upper right-hand corner. You can view the Tutorial, look at Quick References that explain what’s on this page, visit the Help Center or Submit Feedback.

Two Family Finder Matches Views – Detail and Table

The first thing you’ll notice is that there are two views – Detail View and Table View. The default is Detail View.

Take a minute to get used to the new page.

Detail View – Filter Matches by Match Type

I was pleased to see new filter buttons, located in several places on the page.

The Matches filter at left allows you to display only specific relationship levels, including X-Matches which can be important in narrowing matches to a specific subset of ancestors.

You can display only matches that fall within certain relationship ranges. Note the new “Remote Relative” that was previously called speculative.

Parental Matching and Filtering by Test Type or Trees

All of your matches are displayed by default, of course, but you can click on Paternal, Maternal or Both, like before to view only matches in those buckets. In order for the Family Matching bucketing feature to be enabled, you must attach known relatives’ DNA matches to their proper place in your tree.

Please note that I needed to refresh the page a couple of times to get my parental matches to load the first time. I refreshed a couple of times to be sure that all of my bucketed matches loaded. This should be a first-time loading blip.

There’s a new filter button to the right of the bucketing tabs.

You can now filter by who has trees and who has taken which kinds of tests.

You can apply multiple filters at the same time to further narrow your matches.

Important – Clearing Filters

It’s easy to forget you have a filter enabled. This section is important, in part because Clear Filter is difficult to find.

The clear filter button does NOT appear until you’ve selected a filter. However, after applying that filter, to clear it and RESET THE MATCHES to unfiltered, you need to click on the “Clear Filter” button which is located at the top of the filter selections, and then click “Apply” at the bottom of the menu. I looked for “clear filter” forever before finding it here.

You’re welcome😊

Enhanced Search

Thank goodness, the search functionality has been enhanced and simplified too. Full name search works, both here and on the Y DNA search page.

If you type in a surname without selecting any search filters, you’ll receive a list of anyone with that word in their name, or in their list of ancestral surnames. This does NOT include surnames in their tree if they have not added those surnames to their list of ancestral surnames.

Notice that your number of total matches and bucketed people will change based on the results of this search and any filters you have applied.

I entered Estes in the search box, with no filters. You can see that I have a total of 46 matches that contain Estes in one way or another, and how they are bucketed.

Estes is my birth surname. I noticed that three people with Estes in their information are bucketed maternally. This is the perfect example of why you can’t assume a genetic relationship based on only a surname. Those three people’s DNA matches me on my mother’s side. And yes, I confirmed that they matched my mother too on that same segment or segments.

Search Filters

You can also filter by haplogroup. This is very specific. If you select mitochondrial haplogroup J, you will only receive Family Finder matches that have haplogroup J, NOT J1 or J1c or J plus anything.

If you’re looking for your own haplogroup, you’ll need to type your full haplogroup in the search box and select mtDNA Haplogroup in the search filter dropdown.

Resetting Search Results

To dismiss search results, click on the little X. It’s easy to forget that you have initiated a search, so I need to remember to dismiss searches after I’m finished with each one.

Export Matches

The “Export CSV” button either downloads your entire match list, or the list of filtered matches currently selected. This is not your segment information, but a list of matches and related information such as which side they are bucketed on, if any, notes you’ve made, and more.

Your segment information is available for download on the chromosome browser.

Sort By

The Sort By button facilitates sorting your matches versus filtering your matches. Filters ONLY display the items requested, while sorts display all of the items requested, sorting them in a particular manner.

You can sort in any number of ways. The default is Relationship Range followed by Shared DNA.

Your Matches – Detail View

A lot has changed, but after you get used to the new interface, it makes more sense and there are a lot more options available which means increased flexibility. Remember, you can click to enlarge any of these images.

To begin with, you can see the haplogroups of your matches if they have taken a Y or mitochondrial DNA test. If you match someone, you’ll see a little check in the haplogroup box. I’m not clear whether this means you’re a haplogroup match or that person is on your match list.

To select people to compare in the chromosome browser, you simply check the little square box to the left of their photo and the chromosome browser box pops up at the bottom of the page. We’ll review the chromosome browser in a minute.

The new Relationship Range prediction is displayed, based on new calculations with segments below 6 cM removed. The linked relationship is displayed below the range.

A linked relationship occurs when you link that person to their proper place in your tree. If you have no linked relationship, you’ll see a link to “assign relationship” which takes you to your tree to link this person if you know how you are related.

The segments below 6 cM are gone from the Shared DNA total and X matches are only shown if they are 6 cM or above.

In Common With and Not In Common With

In Common With and Not In Common With is the little two-person icon at the right.

Just click on the little person icon, then select “In Common With” to view your shared matches between you, that match, and other people. The person you are viewing matches in common with is highlighted at the top of the page, with your common matches below.

You can stack filters now. In this example, I selected my cousin, Don, to see our common matches. I added the search filter of the surname Ferverda, my mother’s maiden name. She is deceased and I manage her kit. You can see that my cousin Don and I have 5 total common matches – four maternal and one both, meaning one person matches me on both my maternal and paternal lines.

It’s great news that now Cousin Don pops up in the chromosome browser box at the bottom, enabling easy confusion-free chromosome segment comparisons directly from the In Common With match page. I love this!!!.

All I have to do now is click on other people and then on Compare Relationship which pushes these matches through to the chromosome browser. This is SOOOO convenient.

You’ll see a new tree icon at right on each match. A dark tree means there’s content and a light tree means this person does not have a tree. Remember, you can filter by trees with content using the filter button beside “Both”.

Your notes are shown at far right. Any person with a note is dark grey and no note is white.

If you’re looking for the email contact information, click on your match’s name to view their placard which also includes more detailed ancestral surname information.

Family Finder – Table View

The table view is very similar to the Detail View. The layout is a bit different with more matches visible in the same space.

This view has lots of tooltips on the column heading bar! Tooltips are great for everyone, but especially for people just beginning to find their way in the genetic genealogy world.

I’ll have to experiment a bit to figure out which view I prefer. I’d like to be able to set my own default for whichever view I want as my default. In fact, I think I’ll submit that in the “Submit Feedback” link. For every suggestion, I’m going to find something really positive to say. This was an immense overhaul.

Chromosome Browser

Let’s look at the chromosome Browser.

You can arrive at the Chromosome Browser by selecting people on your match page, or by selecting the Chromosome Browser under the Results and Tools link.

Everything is pretty much the same on the chromosome browser, except the default view is now 6 cM and the smaller segments are gone. You can also choose to view only segments above 10 cM.

If you have people selected in the chromosome browser and click on Download Segments in the upper right-hand corner, it downloads the segments of only the people currently selected.

You can “Clear All” and then click on Download All Segments which downloads your entire segment file. To download all segments, you need to have no people selected for comparison.

The contents of this file are greatly reduced as it now contains only the segments 6 cM and above.

Family Tree

No, the family tree has not changed, and yes, it needs to, desperately. Trust me, the management team is aware and I suspect one of the improvements, hopefully sooner than later, will be an improved tree experience.


The Y DNA page has received an update too, adding both a Detail View and a Table View with the same basic functionality as the Family Finder matching above. If you are reading this article for Y DNA only, please read the Family Finder section to understand the new layout and features.

Like previously, the match comparison begins at the 111 marker level.

However, there’s a BIG difference. If there are no matches at this level, YOU NEED TO CLICK THE NEXT TAB. You can easily see that this person has matches at the 67 level and below, but the system no longer “counts down” through the various levels until it either finds a level with a match or reaches 12 markers.

If you’re used to the old interface, it’s easy to think you’re at the final destination of 12 markers with no matches when you’re still at 111.

Y DNA Detail View

The Y-DNA Detail and Table views features are the same as Family Finder and are described in that section.

The new format is quite different. One improvement is that the Paternal Country of Origin is now displayed, along with a flag. How cool is that!

The Paternal Earliest Known Ancestor and Match Date are at far right. Note that match dates have been reset to the rerun date. At this point, FamilyTreeDNA is evaluating the possibility of restoring the original match date. Regardless, you’ll be able to filter for match dates when new matches arrive.

Please check to be sure you have your Country of Origin, Earliest Known Ancestor, and mapped location completed and up to date.

Earliest Known Ancestor

If you haven’t completed your Earliest Known Ancestor (EKA) information, now’s the perfect time. It’s easy, so let’s do it before you forget.

Click on the Account Settings gear beneath your name in the right-hand upper corner. Click on Genealogy, then on Earliest Known Ancestors and complete the information in the red boxes.

  • Direct paternal line means your father’s father’s father’s line – as far up through all fathers as you can reach. This is your Y DNA lineage, but females should complete this information on general principles.
  • Direct maternal line means your mother’s mother’s mother’s line – as far up through all mothers that you can reach. This is your mitochondrial DNA lineage, so relevant for both males and females.

Completing all of the information, including the location, will help you and your matches as well when using the Matches Map.

Be sure to click Save when you’re finished.

Y DNA Filters

Y DNA has more filter options than autosomal.

The Y DNA filter, located to the right of the 12 Markers tab allows testers to filter by:

  • Genetic distance, meaning how many mutations difference between you and your matches
  • Groups meaning group projects that the tester has joined
  • Tree status
  • Match date
  • Level of test taken

If none of your matches have taken the 111 marker test or you don’t match anyone at that level, that test won’t show up on your list.

Y DNA Table View

As with Family Finder, the Table View is more condensed and additional features are available on the right side of each match. For details, please review the Family Finder section.

If you’re looking for the old Y DNA TiP report, it’s now at the far right of each match.

The actual calculator hasn’t changed yet. I know people were hoping for the new Y DNA aging in this release, but that’s yet to follow.

Other Pages

Other pages like the Big Y and Mitochondrial DNA did not receive new features or functionality in this release, but do sport new user-friendly tooltips.

I lost track, but I counted over 100 tooltips added across the platform, and this is just the beginning.

There are probably more new features and functionality that I haven’t stumbled across just yet.

And yes, we are going to find a few bugs. That’s inevitable with something this large. Please report anything you find to FamilyTreeDNA.

Oh wait – I almost forgot…

New Videos

I understand that there are in the ballpark of 50 new videos that are being added to the new Help Center, either today or very shortly.

When I find out more, I’ll write an article about what videos are available and where to find them. People learn in various ways. Videos are often requested and will be a popular addition. I considered making videos, but that’s almost impossible for anyone besides the vendor because the names on screens either need to be “fake” or the screen needs to be blurred.

So hurray – very glad to hear these are imminent!

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for new developments. As Lior said, FamilyTreeDNA is investing heavily in genetic genealogy and there’s more to come.

My Mom used to say that the “proof is in the pudding.” I’d say the myDNA/FamilyTreeDNA leadership team has passed this initial test with flying colors.

Of course, there’s more to do, but I’m definitely grateful for this lovely pudding. Thank you – thank you!

I can’t wait to get started and see what new gems await.

Take a Look!

Sign in and take a look for yourself.

Do you have more matches?

Are your matches more accurate?

How about predicted relationships?

How has this new release affected you?

What do you like the best?



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