About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.

DNA: In Search of…Signs of Endogamy

This is the fourth in our series of articles about searching for unknown close family members, specifically; parents, grandparents, or siblings. However, these same techniques can be applied by genealogists to ancestors further back in time as well.

In this article, we discuss endogamy – how to determine if you have it, from what population, and how to follow the road signs.

After introductions, we will be covering the following topics:

  • Pedigree collapse and endogamy
  • Endogamous groups
  • The challenge(s) of endogamy
  • Endogamy and unknown close relatives (parents, grandparents)
  • Ethnicity and Populations
  • Matches
  • AutoClusters
  • Endogamous Relationships
  • Endogamous DNA Segments
  • “Are Your Parents Related?” Tool
  • Surnames
  • Projects
  • Locations
  • Y DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and Endogamy
  • Endogamy Tools Summary Tables
    • Summary of Endogamy Tools by Vendor
    • Summary of Endogamous Populations Identified by Each Tool
    • Summary of Tools to Assist People Seeking Unknown Parents and Grandparents

What Is Endogamy and Why Does It Matter?

Endogamy occurs when a group or population of people intermarry among themselves for an extended period of time, without the introduction of many or any people from outside of that population.

The effect of this continual intermarriage is that the founders’ DNA simply gets passed around and around, eventually in small segments.

That happens because there is no “other” DNA to draw from within the population. Knowing or determining that you have endogamy helps make sense of DNA matching patterns, and those patterns can lead you to unknown relatives, both close and distant.

This Article

This article serves two purposes.

  • This article is educational and relevant for all researchers. We discuss endogamy using multiple tools and examples from known endogamous people and populations.
  • In order to be able to discern endogamy when we don’t know who our parents or grandparents are, we need to know what signs and signals to look for, and why, which is based on what endogamy looks like in people who know their heritage.

There’s no crystal ball – no definitive “one-way” arrow, but there are a series of indications that suggest endogamy.

Depending on the endogamous population you’re dealing with, those signs aren’t always the same.

If you’re sighing now, I understand – but that’s exactly WHY I wrote this article.

We’re covering a lot of ground, but these road markers are invaluable diagnostic tools.

I’ve previously written about endogamy in the articles:

Let’s start with definitions.

Pedigree Collapse and Endogamy

Pedigree collapse isn’t the same as endogamy. Pedigree collapse is when you have ancestors that repeat in your tree.

In this example, the parents of our DNA tester are first cousins, which means the tester shares great-grandparents on both sides and, of course, the same ancestors from there on back in their tree.

This also means they share more of those ancestors’ DNA than they would normally share.

John Smith and Mary Johnson are both in the tree twice, in the same position as great-grandparents. Normally, Tester Smith would carry approximately 12.5% of each of his great-grandparents’ DNA, assuming for illustration purposes that exactly 50% of each ancestor’s DNA is passed in each generation. In this case, due to pedigree collapse, 25% of Tester Smith’s DNA descends from John Smith, and another 25% descends from Mary Johnson, double what it would normally be. 25% is the amount of DNA contribution normally inherited from grandparents, not great-grandparents.

While we may find first cousin marriages a bit eyebrow-raising today, they were quite common in the past. Both laws and customs varied with the country, time, social norms, and religion.

Pedigree Collapse and Endogamy is NOT the Same

You might think that pedigree collapse and endogamy is one and the same, but there’s a difference. Pedigree collapse can lead to endogamy, but it takes more than one instance of pedigree collapse to morph into endogamy within a population. Population is the key word for endogamy.

The main difference is that pedigree collapse occurs with known ancestors in more recent generations for one person, while endogamy is longer-term and systemic in a group of people.

Picture a group of people, all descended from Tester Smith’s great-grandparents intermarrying. Now you have the beginnings of endogamy. A couple hundred or a few hundred years later, you have true endogamy.

In other words, endogamy is pedigree collapse on a larger scale – think of a village or a church.

My ancestors’ village of Schnait, in Germany, is shown above in 1685. One church and maybe 30 or 40 homes. According to church and other records, the same families had inhabited this village, and region, for generations. It’s a sure bet that both pedigree collapse and endogamy existed in this small community.

If pedigree collapse happens over and over again because there are no other people within the community to marry, then you have endogamy. In other words, with endogamy, you assuredly DO have historical pedigree collapse, generally back in time, often before you can identify those specific ancestors – because everyone descends from the same set of founders.

Endogamy Doesn’t Necessarily Indicate Recent Pedigree Collapse

With deep, historic endogamy, you don’t necessarily have recent pedigree collapse, and in fact, many people do not. Jewish people are a good example of this phenomenon. They shared ancestors for hundreds or thousands of years, depending on which group we are referring to, but in recent, known, generations, many Jewish people aren’t related. Still, their DNA often matches each other.

The good news is that there are telltale signs and signals of endogamy.

The bad news is that not all of these are obvious, meaning as an aid to people seeking clues about unknown close relatives, and other “signs” aren’t what they are believed to be.

Let’s step through each endogamy identifier, or “hint,” and then we will review how we can best utilize this information.

First, let’s take a look at groups that are considered to be endogamous.

Endogamous Groups

Jewish PeopleSpecifically groups that were isolated from other groups of Jewish (and other) people; Ashkenazi (Germany, Northern France, and diaspora), Sephardic (Spanish, Iberia, and diaspora), Mizrahi (Israel, Middle Eastern, and diaspora,) Ethiopian Jews, and possibly Jews from other locations such as Mountain Jews from Kazakhstan and the Caucasus.

AcadiansDescendants of about 60 French families who settled in “Acadia” beginning about 1604, primarily on the island of Nova Scotia, and intermarried among themselves and with the Mi’kmaq people. Expelled by the English in 1755, they were scattered in groups to various diasporic regions where they continued to intermarry and where their descendants are found today. Some Acadians became the Cajuns of Louisiana.

Anabaptist Protestant FaithsAmish, Mennonite, and Brethren (Dunkards) and their offshoots are Protestant religious sects founded in Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries on the principle of baptizing only adults or people who are old enough to choose to follow the faith, or rebaptizing people who had been previously baptized as children. These Anabaptist faiths tend to marry within their own group or church and often expel those who marry outside of the faith. Many emigrated to the American colonies and elsewhere, seeking religious freedom. Occasionally those groups would locate in close proximity and intermarry, but not marry outside of other Anabaptist denominations.

Native American (Indigenous) People – all indigenous peoples found in North and South America before European colonization descended from a small number of original founders who probably arrived at multiple times.

Indigenous Pacific Islanders – Including indigenous peoples of Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii prior to colonization. They are probably equally as endogamous as Native American people, but I don’t have specific examples to share.

Villages – European or other villages with little inflow or whose residents were restricted from leaving over hundreds of years.

Other groups may have significant multiple lines of pedigree collapse and therefore become endogamous over time. Some people from Newfoundland, French Canadians, and Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) come to mind.

Endogamy is a process that occurs over time.

Endogamy and Unknown Relatives

If you know who your relatives are, you may already know you’re from an endogamous population, but if you’re searching for close relatives, it’s helpful to be able to determine if you have endogamous heritage, at least in recent generations.

If you know nothing about either parent, some of these tools won’t help you, at least not initially, but others will. However, as you add to your knowledge base, the other tools will become more useful.

If you know the identity of one parent, this process becomes at least somewhat easier.

In future articles, we will search specifically for parents and each of your four grandparents. In this article, I’ll review each of the diagnostic tools and techniques you can use to determine if you have endogamy, and perhaps pinpoint the source.

The Challenge

People with endogamous heritage are related in multiple, unknown ways, over many generations. They may also be related in known ways in recent generations.

If both of your parents share the SAME endogamous culture or group of relatives:

  • You may have significantly more autosomal DNA matches than people without endogamy, unless that group of people is under-sampled. Jewish people have significantly more matches, but Native people have fewer due to under-sampling.
  • You may experience a higher-than-normal cM (centiMorgan) total for estimated relationships, especially more distant relationships, 3C and beyond.
  • You will have many matches related to you on both your maternal and paternal sides.
  • Parts of your autosomal DNA will be the same on both your mother’s and father’s sides, meaning your DNA will be fully identical in some locations. (I’ll explain more in a minute.)

If either (or both) of your parents are from an endogamous population, you:

  • Will, in some cases, carry identifying Y and mitochondrial DNA that points to a specific endogamous group. This is true for Native people, can be true for Jewish people and Pacific Islanders, but is not true for Anabaptist people.

One Size Does NOT Fit All

Please note that there is no “one size fits all.”

Each or any of these tools may provide relevant hints, depending on:

  • Your heritage
  • How many other people have tested from the relevant population group
  • How many close or distant relatives have tested
  • If your parents share the same heritage
  • Your unique DNA inheritance pattern
  • If your parents, individually, were fully endogamous or only partly endogamous, and how far back generationally that endogamy occurred

For example, in my own genealogy, my maternal grandmother’s father was Acadian on his father’s side. While I’m not fully endogamous, I have significantly more matches through that line proportionally than on my other lines.

I have Brethren endogamy on my mother’s side via her paternal grandmother.

Endogamous ancestors are shown with red stars on my mother’s pedigree chart, above. However, please note that her maternal and paternal endogamous ancestors are not from the same endogamous population.

However, I STILL have fewer matches on my mother’s side in total than on my father’s side because my mother has recent Dutch and recent German immigrants which reduces her total number of matches. Neither of those lines have had as much time to produce descendants in the US, and Europe is under-sampled when compared with the US where more people tend to take DNA tests because they are searching for where they came from.

My father’s ancestors have been in the US since it was a British Colony, and I have many more cousins who have tested on his side than mother’s.

If you looked at my pedigree chart and thought to yourself, “that’s messy,” you’d be right.

The “endogamy means more matches” axiom does not hold true for me, comparatively, between my parents – in part because my mother’s German and Dutch lines are such recent immigrants.

The number of matches alone isn’t going to tell this story.

We are going to need to look at several pieces and parts for more information. Let’s start with ethnicity.

Ethnicity and Populations

Ethnicity can be a double-edged sword. It can tell you exactly nothing you couldn’t discern by looking in the mirror, or, conversely, it can be a wealth of information.

Ethnicity reveals the parts of the world where your ancestors originated. When searching for recent ancestors, you’re most interested in majority ethnicity, meaning the 50% of your DNA that you received from each of your parents.

Ethnicity results at each vendor are easy to find and relatively easy to understand.

This individual at FamilyTreeDNA is 100% Ashkenazi Jewish.

If they were 50% Jewish, we could then estimate, and that’s an important word, that either one of their parents was fully Jewish, and not the other, or that two of their grandparents were Jewish, although not necessarily on the same side.

On the other hand, my mother’s ethnicity, shown below, has nothing remarkable that would point to any majority endogamous population, yet she has two.

The only hint of endogamy from ethnicity would be her ~1% Americas, and that isn’t relevant for finding close relatives. However, minority ancestry is very relevant for identifying Native ancestors, which I wrote about, here.

You can correlate or track your ethnicity segments to specific ancestors, which I discussed in the article, Native American & Minority Ancestors Identified Using DNAPainter Plus Ethnicity Segments, here.

Since I wrote that article, FamilyTreeDNA has added the feature of ethnicity or population Chromosome Painting, based on where each of your populations fall on your chromosomes.

In this example on chromosome 1, I have European ancestry (blue,) except for the pink Native segment, which occurs on the following segment in the same location on my mother’s chromosome 1 as well.

Both 23andMe, and FamilyTreeDNA provide chromosome painting AND the associated segment information so you can identify the relevant ancestors.

Ancestry is in the process of rolling out an ethnicity painting feature, BUT, it has no segment or associated matching information. While it’s interesting eye candy, it’s not terribly useful beyond the ethnicity information that Ancestry already provides. However, Jonny Perl at DNAPainter has devised a way to estimate Ancestry’s start and stop locations, here. Way to go Jonny!

Now all you need to do is convince your Ancestry matches to upload their DNA file to one of the three databases, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, and GEDMatch, that accept transfers, aka uploads. This allows matching with segment data so that you can identify who matches you on that segment, track your ancestors, and paint your ancestral segments at DNAPainter.

I provided step-by-step instructions, here, for downloading your raw DNA file from each vendor in order to upload the file to another vendor.

Ethnicity Sides

Three of the four DNA testing vendors, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and recently, Ancestry, attempt to phase your ethnicity DNA, meaning to assign it to one parental “side” or the other – both in total and on each chromosome.

Here’s Ancestry’s SideView, where your DNA is estimated to belong to parent 1 and parent 2. I detailed how to determine which side is which, here, and while that article was written specifically pertaining to Ancestry’s SideView, the technique is relevant for all the vendors who attempt to divide your DNA into parents, a technique known as phasing.

I say “attempt” because phasing may or may not be accurate, meaning the top chromosome may not always be parent 1, and the bottom chromosome may not always be chromosome 2.

Here’s an example at 23andMe.

See the two yellow segments. They are both assigned as Native. I happen to know one is from the mother and one is from the father, yet they are both displayed on the “top” chromosome, which one would interpret to be the same parent.

I am absolutely positive this is not the case because this is a close family member, and I have the DNA of the parent who contributed the Native segment on chromosome 1, on the top chromosome. That parent does not have a Native segment on chromosome 2 to contribute. So that Native segment had to be contributed by the other parent, but it’s also shown on the top chromosome.

The DNA segments circled in purple belong together on the same “side” and were contributed to the tester by the same parent. The Native segment on chromosome 2 abuts a purple African segment, suggesting perhaps that the ancestor who contributed that segment was mixed between those ethnicities. In the US, that suggests enslavement.

The other African segments, circled, are shown on the second chromosome in each pair.

To be clear, parent 1 is not assigned by the vendors to either mother or father and will differ by person. Your parent 1, or the parent on the top chromosome may be your mother and another person’s parent 1 may be their father.

As shown in this example, parents can vary by chromosome, a phenomenon known as “strand swap.” Occasionally, the DNA can even be swapped within a chromosome assignment.

You can, however, get an idea of the division of your DNA at any specific location. As shown above, you can only have a maximum of two populations of DNA on any one chromosome location.

In our example above, this person’s majority ancestry is European (blue.) On each chromosome where we find a minority segment, the opposite chromosome in the same location is European, meaning blue.

Let’s look at another example.

At FamilyTreeDNA, the person whose ethnicity painting is shown below has a Native American (pink) ancestor on their father’s side. FamilyTreeDNA has correctly phased or identified their Native segments as all belonging to the second chromosome in each pair.

Looking at chromosome 18, for example, most of their father’s chromosome is Native American (pink). The other parent’s chromosome is European (dark blue) at those same locations.

If one of the parents was of one ethnicity, and the other parent is a completely different ethnicity, then one bar of each chromosome would be all pink, for example, and one would be entirely blue, representing the other ethnicity.

Phasing ethnicity or populations to maternal and paternal sides is not foolproof, and each chromosome is phased individually.

Ethnicity can, in some cases, give you a really good idea of what you’re dealing with in terms of heritage and endogamy.

If someone had an Ashkenazi Jewish father and European mother, for example, one copy of each chromosome would be yellow (Ashkenazi Jewish), and one would be blue (European.)

However, if each of their parents were half European Jewish and half European (not Jewish), then their different colored segments would be scattered across their entire set of chromosomes.

In this case, both of the tester’s parents are mixed – European Jewish (green) and Western Europe (blue.) We know both parents are admixed from the same two populations because in some locations, both parents contributed blue (Western Europe), and in other locations, both contributed Jewish (green) segments.

Both MyHeritage and Ancestry provide a secondary tool that’s connected to ethnicity, but different and generally in more recent times.

Ancestry’s DNA Communities

While your ethnicity may not point to anything terribly exciting in terms of endogamy, Genetic Communities might. Ancestry says that a DNA Community is a group of people who share DNA because their relatives recently lived in the same place at the same time, and that communities are much smaller than ethnicity regions and reach back only about 50-300 years.

Based on the ancestors’ locations in the trees of me and my matches, Ancestry has determined that I’m connected to two communities. In my case, the blue group is clearly my father’s line. The orange group could be either parent, or even a combination of both.

My endogamous Brethren could be showing up in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, but it’s uncertain, in part, because my father’s ancestral lines are found in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland too.

These aren’t useful for me, but they may be more useful for fully endogamous people, especially in conjunction with ethnicity.

My Acadian cousin’s European ethnicity isn’t informative.

However, viewing his DNA Communities puts his French heritage into perspective, especially combined with his match surnames.

I wrote about DNA Communities when it was introduced with the name Genetic Communities, here.

MyHeritage’s Genetic Groups

MyHeritage also provides a similar feature that shows where my matches’ ancestors lived in the same locations as mine.

One difference, though, is that testers can adjust their ethnicity results confidence level from high, above, to low, below where one of my Genetic Groups overlaps my ethnicity in the Netherlands.

You can also sort your matches by Genetic Groups.

The results show you not only who is in the group, but how many of your matches are in that group too, which provides perspective.

I wrote about Genetic Groups, here.

Next, let’s look at how endogamy affects your matches.

Matches

The number of matches that a person has who is from an entirely endogamous community and a person with no endogamy may be quite different.

FamilyTreeDNA provides a Family Matching feature that triangulates your matches and assigns them to your paternal or maternal side by using known matches that you have linked to their profile cards in your tree. You must link people for the Family Matching feature known as “bucketing” to be enabled.

The people you link are then processed for shared matches on the same chromosome segment(s). Triangulated individuals are then deposited in your maternal, paternal, and both buckets.

Obviously, your two parents are the best people to link, but if they haven’t tested (or uploaded their DNA file from another vendor) and you have other known relatives, link them using the Family Tree tab at the top of your personal page.

I uploaded my Ancestry V4 kit to use as an example for linking. Let’s pretend that’s my sister. If I had not already linked my Ancestry V4 kit to “my sister’s” profile card, I’d want to do that and link other known individuals the same way. Just drag and drop the match to the correct profile card.

Note that a full or half sibling will be listed as such at FamilyTreeDNA, but an identical twin will show as a potential parent/child match to you. You’re much more likely to find a parent than an identical twin, but just be aware.

I’ve created a table of FamilyTreeDNA bucketed match results, by category, comparing the number of matches in endogamous categories with non-endogamous.

Total Matches Maternal Matches Paternal Matches Both % Both % DNA Unassigned
100% Jewish 34,637 11,329 10,416 4,806 13.9 23.3
100% Jewish 32,973 10,700 9,858 4,606 14 23.7
100% Jewish 32,255 9,060 10,970 3,892 12 25.8
75% Jewish 24,232 11,846 Only mother linked Only mother linked Only mother linked
100% Acadian 8093 3826 2299 1062 13 11
100% Acadian 7828 3763 1825 923 11.8 17
Not Endogamous 6760 3845 1909 13 0.19 14.5
Not Endogamous 7723 1470 3317 6 0.08 38
100% Native American 1,115 Unlinked Unlinked Unlinked
100% Native American 885 290 Unknown Can’t calculate without at least one link on both sides

The 100% Jewish, Acadian, and Not Endogamous testers both have linked their parents, so their matches, if valid (meaning not identical by chance, which I discussed here,) will match them plus one or the other parent.

One person is 75% Jewish and has only linked their Jewish mother.

The Native people have not tested their parents, and the first Native person has not linked anyone in their tree. The second Native person has only linked a few maternal matches, but their mother has not tested. They are seeking their father.

It’s very difficult to find people who are fully Native as testers. Furthermore, Native people are under-sampled. If anyone knows of fully Native (or other endogamous) people who have tested and linked their parents or known relatives in their trees, and will allow me to use their total match numbers anonymously, please let me know.

As you can see, Jewish, Acadian, and Native people are 100% endogamous, but many more Jewish people than Native people have tested, so you CAN’T judge endogamy by the total number of matches alone.

In fact, in order:

  • Fully Jewish testers have about 4-5 times as many matches as the Acadian and Non-endogamous testers
  • Acadian and Non-endogamous testers have about 5-6 times as many matches as the Native American testers
  • Fully Jewish people have about 30 times more matches than the Native American testers

If a person’s endogamy with a particular population is only on their maternal or paternal side, they won’t have a significant number of people related to both sides, meaning few people will fall into the “Both” bucket. People that will always be found in the ”Both” bucket are full siblings and their descendants, along with descendants of the tester, assuming their match is linked to their profiles in the tester’s tree.

In the case of our Jewish testers, you can easily see that the “Both” bucket is very high. The Acadians are also higher than one would reasonably expect without endogamy. A non-endogamous person might have a few matches on both sides, assuming the parents are not related to each other.

A high number of “Both” matches is a very good indicator of endogamy within the same population on both parents’ sides.

The percentage of people who are assigned to the “Both” bucket is between 11% and 14% in the endogamous groups, and less than 1% in the non-endogamous group, so statistically not relevant.

As demonstrated by the Native people compared to the Jewish testers, the total number of matches can be deceiving.

However, being related to both parents, as indicated by the “Both” bucket, unless you have pedigree collapse, is a good indicator of endogamy.

Of course, if you don’t know who your relatives are, you can’t link them in your tree, so this type of “hunt” won’t generally help people seeking their close family members.

However, you may notice that you’re matching people PLUS both of their parents. If that’s the case, start asking questions of those matches about their heritage.

A very high number of total matches, as compared to non-endogamous people, combined with some other hints might well point to Jewish heritage.

I included the % DNA Unassigned category because this category, when both parents are linked, is the percentage of matches by chance, meaning the match doesn’t match either of the tester’s parents. All of the people with people listed in “Both” categories have linked both of their parents, not just maternal and paternal relatives.

Matching Location at MyHeritage

MyHeritage provides a matching function by location. Please note that it’s the location of the tester, but that may still be quite useful.

The locations are shown in the most-matches to least-matches order. Clicking on the location shows the people who match you who are from that location. This would be the most useful in situations where recent immigration has occurred. In my case, my great-grandfather from the Netherlands arrived in the 1860s, and my German ancestors arrived in the 1850s. Neither of those groups are endogamous, though, unless it would be on a village level.

AutoClusters

Let’s shift to Genetic Affairs, a third-party tool available to everyone.

Using their AutoCluster function, Genetic Affairs clusters your matches together who match both each other and you.

This is an example of the first few clusters in my AutoCluster. You can see that I have several colored clusters of various sizes, but none are huge.

Compare that to the following endogamous cluster, sample courtesy of EJ Blom at Genetic Affairs.

If your AutoCluster at Genetic Affairs looks something like this, a huge orange blob in the upper left hand corner, you’re dealing with endogamy.

Please also note that the size of your cluster is also a function of both the number of testers and the match threshold you select. I always begin by using the defaults. I wrote about using Genetic Affairs, here.

If you tested at or transferred to MyHeritage, they too license AutoClusters, but have optimized the algorithm to tease out endogamous matches so that their Jewish customers, in particular, don’t wind up with a huge orange block of interrelated people.

You won’t see the “endogamy signature” huge cluster in the corner, so you’re less likely to be able to discern endogamy from a MyHeritage cluster alone.

The commonality between these Jewish clusters at MyHeritage is that they all tend to be rather uniform in size and small, with lots of grey connecting almost all the blocks.

Grey cells indicate people who match people in two colored groups. In other words, there is often no clear division in clusters between the mother’s side and the father’s side in Jewish clusters.

In non-endogamous situations, even if you can’t identify the parents, the clusters should still fall into two sides, meaning a group of clusters for each parent’s side that are not related to each other.

You can read more about Genetic Affairs clusters and their tools, here. DNAGedcom.com also provides a clustering tool.

Endogamous Relationships

Endogamous estimated relationships are sometimes high. Please note the word, “sometimes.”

Using the Shared cM Project tool relationship chart, here, at DNAPainter, people with heavy endogamy will discover that estimated relationships MAY be on the high side, or the relationships may, perhaps, be estimated too “close” in time. That’s especially true for more distant relationships, but surprisingly, it’s not always true. The randomness of inheritance still comes into play, and so do potential unknown relatives. Hence, the words “may” are bolded and underscored.

Unfortunately, it’s often stated as “conventional wisdom” that Jewish matches are “always” high, and first cousins appear as siblings. Let’s see what the actual data says.

At DNAPainter, you can either enter the amount of shared DNA (cM), or the percent of shared DNA, or just use the chart provided.

I’ve assembled a compilation of close relationships in kits that I have access to or from people who were generous enough to share their results for this article.

I’ve used Jewish results, which is a highly endogamous population, compared with non-endogamous testers.

The “Jewish Actual” column reports the total amount of shared DNA with that person. In other words, someone to their grandparent. The Average Range is the average plus the range from DNAPainter. The Percent Difference is the % difference between the actual number and the DNAPainter average.

You’ll see fully Jewish testers, at left, matching with their family members, and a Non-endogamous person, at right, matching with their same relative.

Relationship Jewish Actual Percent Difference than Average Average -Range Non-endogamous Actual Percent Difference than Average
Grandparent 2141 22 1754 (984-2482) 1742 <1 lower
Grandparent 1902 8.5 1754 (984-2482) 1973 12
Sibling 3039 16 2613 (1613-3488) 2515 3.5 lower
Sibling 2724 4 2613 (1613-3488) 2761 5.5
Half-Sibling 2184 24 1759 (1160-2436) 2127 21
Half-Sibling 2128 21 1759 (1160-2436) 2352 34
Aunt/Uncle 2066 18.5 1741 (1201-2282) 1849 6
Aunt/Uncle 2031 16.5 1741 (1201-2282) 2097 20
1C 1119 29 866 (396-1397) 959 11
1C 909 5 866 (396-1397) 789 9 lower
1C1R 514 19 433 (102-980) 467 8
1C1R 459 6 433 (102-980) 395 9 lower

These totals are from FamilyTreeDNA except one from GEDMatch (one Jewish Half-sibling).

Totals may vary by vendor, even when matching with the same person. 23andMe includes the X segments in the total cMs and also counts fully identical segments twice. MyHeritage imputation seems to err on the generous side.

However, in these dozen examples:

  • You can see that the Jewish actual amount of DNA shared is always more than the average in the estimate.
  • The red means the overage is more than 100 cM larger.
  • The percentage difference is probably more meaningful because 100 cM is a smaller percentage of a 1754 grandparent connection than compared to a 433 cM 1C1R.

However, you can’t tell anything about endogamy by just looking at any one sample, because:

  • Some of the Non-Endogamous matches are high too. That’s just the way of random inheritance.
  • All of the actual Jewish match numbers are within the published ranges, but on the high side.

Furthermore, it can get more complex.

Half Endogamous

I requested assistance from Jewish genealogy researchers, and a lovely lady, Sharon, reached out, compiled her segment information, and shared it with me, granting permission to share with you. A HUGE thank you to Sharon!

Sharon is half-Jewish via one parent, and her half-sibling is fully Jewish. Their half-sibling match to each other at Ancestry is 1756 cM with a longest segment of 164 cM.

How does Jewish matching vary if you’re half-Jewish versus fully Jewish? Let’s look at 21 people who match both Sharon and her fully Jewish half-sibling.

Sharon shared the differences in 21 known Jewish matches with her and her half-sibling. I’ve added the Relationship Estimate Range from DNAPainter and colorized the highest of the two matches in yellow. Bolding in the total cM column shows a value above the average range for that relationship.

Total Matching cMs is on the left, with Longest Segment on the right.

While this is clearly not a scientific study, it is a representative sample.

The fully Jewish sibling carries more Jewish DNA, which is available for other Jewish matches to match as a function of endogamy (identical by chance/population), so I would have expected the fully Jewish sibling to match most if not all Jewish testers at a higher level than the half-Jewish sibling.

However, that’s not universally what we see.

The fully Jewish sibling is not always the sibling with the highest number of matches to the other Jewish testers, although the half-Jewish tester has the larger “Longest Segment” more often than not.

Approximately two-thirds of the time (13/21), the fully Jewish person does have a higher total matching cM, but about one-third of the time (8/21), the half-Jewish sibling has a higher matching cM.

About one-fourth of the time (5/21), the fully Jewish sibling has the longest matching segment, and about two-thirds of the time (13/21), the half-Jewish sibling does. In three cases, or about 14% of the time, the longest segment is equal which may indicate that it’s the same segment.

Because of endogamy, Jewish matches are more likely to have:

  • Larger than average total cM for the specific relationship
  • More and smaller matching segments

However, as we have seen, neither of those are definitive, nor always true. Jewish matches and relationships are not always overestimated.

Ancestry and Timber

Please note that Ancestry downweights some matches by removing some segments using their Timber algorithm. Based on my matches and other accounts that I manage, Ancestry does not downweight in the 2-3rd cousin category, which is 90 cM and above, but they do begin downweighting in the 3-4th cousin category, below 90 cM, where my “Extended Family” category begins.

If you’ve tested at Ancestry, you can check for yourself.

By clicking on the amount of DNA you share with your match on your match list at Ancestry, shown above, you will be taken to another page where you will be able to view the unweighted shared DNA with that match, meaning the amount of DNA shared before the downweighting and removal of some segments, shown below.

Given the downweighting, and the information in the spreadsheet provided by Sharon, it doesn’t appear that any of those matches would have been in a category to be downweighted.

Therefore, for these and other close matches, Timber wouldn’t be a factor, but would potentially be in more distant matches.

Endogamous Segments

Endogamous matches tend to have smaller and more segments. Small amounts of matching DNA tend to skew the total DNA cM upwards.

How and why does this happen?

Ancestral DNA from further back in time tends to be broken into smaller segments.

Sometimes, especially in endogamous situations, two smaller segments, at one time separated from each other, manage to join back together again and form a match, but the match is only due to ancestral segments – not because of a recent ancestor.

Please note that different vendors have different minimum matching cM thresholds, so smaller matches may not be available at all vendors. Remember that factors like Timber and imputation can affect matching as well.

Let’s take a look at an example. I’ve created a chart where two ancestors have their blue and pink DNA broken into 4 cM segments.

They have children, a blue child and a pink child, and the two children, shown above, each inherited the same blue 4 cM segment and the same pink 4 cM segment from their respective parents. The other unlabeled pink and blue segments are not inherited by these two children, so those unlabeled segments are irrelevant in this example.

The parents may have had other children who inherited those same 4 cM labeled pink and blue segments as well, and if not, the parents’ siblings were probably passing at least some of the same DNA down to their descendants too.

The blue and pink children had children, and their children had children – for several generations.

Time passed, and their descendants became an endogamous community. Those pink and blue 4 cM segments may at some time be lost during recombination in the descendants of each of their children, shown by “Lost pink” and “Lost blue.”

However, because there is only a very limited amount of DNA within the endogamous community, their descendants may regain those same segments again from their “other parent” during recombination, downstream.

In each generation, the DNA of the descendant carrying the original blue or pink DNA segment is recombined with their partner. Given that the partners are both members of the same endogamous community, the two people may have the same pink and/or blue DNA segments. If one parent doesn’t carry the pink 4 cM segment, for example, their offspring may receive that ancestral pink segment from the other parent.

They could potentially, and sometimes do, receive that ancestral segment from both parents.

In our example, the descendants of the blue child, at left, lost the pink 4 cM segment in generation 3, but a few generations later, in generation 11, that descendant child inherited that same pink 4 cM segment from their other parent. Therefore, both the 4 cM blue and 4 cM pink segments are now available to be inherited by the descendants in that line. I’ve shown the opposite scenario in the generational inheritance at right where the blue segment is lost and regained.

Once rejoined, that pink and blue segment can be passed along together for generations.

The important part, though, is that once those two segments butt up against each other again during recombination, they aren’t just two separate 4 cM segments, but one segment that is 8 cM long – that is now equal to or above the vendors’ matching threshold.

This is why people descended from endogamous populations often have the following matching characteristics:

  • More matches
  • Many smaller segment matches
  • Their total cM is often broken into more, smaller segments

What does more, smaller segments, look like, exactly?

More, Smaller Segments

All of our vendors except Ancestry have a chromosome browser for their customers to compare their DNA to that of their matches visually.

Let’s take a look at some examples of what endogamous and non-endogamous matches look like.

For example, here’s a screen shot of a random Jewish second cousin match – 298 cM total, divided into 12 segments, with a longest segment of 58 cM,

A second Jewish 2C with 323 cM total, across 19 segments, with a 69 cM longest block.

A fully Acadian 2C match with 600 cM total, across 27 segments, with a longest segment of 69 cM.

A second Acadian 2C with 332 cM total, across 20 segments, with a longest segment of 42 cM.

Next, a non-endogamous 2C match with 217 cM, across 7 segments, with a longest segment of 72 cM.

Here’s another non-endogamous 2C example, with 169 shared cM, across 6 segments, with a longest segment of 70 cM.

Here’s the second cousin data in a summary table. The take-away from this is the proportion of total segments

Tester Population Total cM Longest Block Total Segments
Jewish 2C 298 58 12
Jewish 2C 323 69 19
Acadian 2C 600 69 27
Acadian 2C 332 42 20
Non-endogamous 2C 217 72 7
Non-endogamous 2C 169 70 6

You can see more examples and comparisons between Native American, Jewish and non-endogamous DNA individuals in the article, Concepts – Endogamy and DNA Segments.

I suspect that a savvy mathematician could predict endogamy based on longest block and total segment information.

Lara Diamond, a mathematician, who writes at Lara’s Jewnealogy might be up for this challenge. She just published compiled matching and segment information in her Ashkenazic Shared DNA Survey Results for those who are interested. You can also contribute to Laura’s data, here.

Endogamy, Segments, and Distant Relationships

While not relevant to searching for close relatives, heavily endogamous matches 3C and more distant, to quote one of my Jewish friends, “dissolve into a quagmire of endogamy and are exceedingly difficult to unravel.”

In my own Acadian endogamous line, I often simply have to label them “Acadian” because the DNA tracks back to so many ancestors in different lines. In other words, I can’t tell which ancestor the match is actually pointing to because the same DNA segments or segments is/are carried by several ancestors and their descendants due to founder effect.

The difference with the Acadians is that we can actually identify many or most of them, at least at some point in time. As my cousin, Paul LeBlanc, once said, if you’re related to one Acadian, you’re related to all Acadians. Then he proceeded to tell me that he and I are related 137 different ways. My head hurts!

It’s no wonder that endogamy is incredibly difficult beyond the first few generations when it turns into something like multi-colored jello soup.

“Are Your Parents Related?” Tool

There’s another tool that you can utilize to determine if your parents are related to each other.

To determine if your parents are related to each other, you need to know about ROH, or Runs of Homozygosity (ROH).

ROH means that the DNA on both strands or copies of the same chromosome is identical.

For a few locations in a row, ROH can easily happen just by chance, but the longer the segment, the less likely that commonality occurs simply by chance.

The good news is that you don’t need to know the identity of either of your parents. You don’t need either of your parent’s DNA tests – just your own. You’ll need to upload your DNA file to GEDmatch, which is free.

Click on “Are your parents related?”

GEDMatch analyzes your DNA to see if any of your DNA, above a reasonable matching threshold, is identical on both strands, indicating that you inherited the exact same DNA from both of your parents.

A legitimate match, meaning one that’s not by chance, will include many contiguous matching locations, generally a minimum of 500 SNPs or locations in a row. GEDmatch’s minimum threshold for identifying identical ancestral DNA (ROH) is 200 cM.

Here’s my result, including the graphic for the first two chromosomes. Notice the tiny green bars that show identical by chance tiny sliver segments.

I have no significant identical DNA, meaning my parents are not related to each other.

Next, let’s look at an endogamous example where there are small, completely identical segments across a person’s chromosome

This person’s Acadian parents are related to each other, but distantly.

Next, let’s look at a Jewish person’s results.

You’ll notice larger green matching ROH, but not over 200 contiguous SNPs and 7 cM.

GEDMatch reports that this Jewish person’s parents are probably not related within recent generations, but it’s clear that they do share DNA in common.

People whose parents are distantly related have relatively small, scattered matching segments. However, if you’re seeing larger ROH segments that would be large enough to match in a genealogical setting, meaning multiple greater than 7 cM and 500 SNPs,, you may be dealing with a different type of situation where cousins have married in recent generations. The larger the matching segments, generally, the closer in time.

Blogger Kitty Cooper wrote an article, here, about discovering that your parents are related at the first cousin level, and what their GEDMatch “Are Your Parents Related” results look like.

Let’s look for more clues.

Surnames

There MAY be an endogamy clue in the surnames of the people you match.

Viewing surnames is easier if you download your match list, which you can do at every vendor except Ancestry. I’m not referring to the segment data, but the information about your matches themselves.

I provided instructions in the recent article, How to Download Your DNA Match Lists and Segment Files, here.

If you suspect endogamy for any reason, look at your closest matches and see if there is a discernable trend in the surnames, or locations, or any commonality between your matches to each other.

For example, Jewish, Acadian, and Native surnames may be recognizable, as may locations.

You can evaluate in either or both of two ways:

  • The surnames of your closest matches. Closest matches listed first will be your default match order.
  • Your most frequently occurring surnames, minus extremely common names like Smith, Jones, etc., unless they are also in your closest matches. To utilize this type of matching, sort the spreadsheet in surname order and then scan or count the number of people with each surname.

Here are some examples from our testers.

Jewish – Closest surname matches.

  • Roth
  • Weiss
  • Goldman
  • Schonwald
  • Levi
  • Cohen
  • Slavin
  • Goodman
  • Sender
  • Trebatch

Acadian – Closest surname matches.

  • Bergeron
  • Hebert
  • Bergeron
  • Marcum
  • Muise
  • Legere
  • Gaudet
  • Perry
  • Verlander
  • Trombley

Native American – Closest surname matches.

  • Ortega
  • Begay
  • Valentine
  • Hayes
  • Montoya
  • Sun Bear
  • Martin
  • Tsosie
  • Chiquito
  • Yazzie

You may recognize these categories of surnames immediately.

If not, Google is your friend. Eliminate common surnames, then Google for a few together at a time and see what emerges.

The most unusual surnames are likely your best bets.

Projects

Another way to get some idea of what groups people with these surnames might belong to is to enter the surname in the FamilyTreeDNA surname search.

Go to the main FamilyTreeDNA page, but DO NOT sign on.

Scroll down until you see this image.

Type the surname into the search box. You’ll see how many people have tested with that surname, along with projects where project administrators have included that surname indicating that the project may be of interest to at least some people with that surname.

Here’s a portion of the project list for Cohen, a traditional Jewish surname.

These results are for Muise, an Acadian surname.

Clicking through to relevant surname projects, and potentially contacting the volunteer project administrator can go a very long way in helping you gather and sift information. Clearly, they have an interest in this topic.

For example, here’s the Muise surname in the Acadian AmerIndian project. Two great hints here – Acadian heritage and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Repeat for the balance of surnames on your list to look for commonalities, including locations on the public project pages.

Locations

Some of the vendor match files include location information. Each person on your match list will have the opportunity at the vendor where they tested to include location information in a variety of ways, either for their ancestors or themselves.

Where possible, it’s easiest to sort or scan the download file for this type of information.

Ancestry does not provide or facilitate a match list, but you can still create your own for your closest 20 or 30 matches in a spreadsheet.

MyHeritage provides common surname and ancestral location information for every match. How cool is that!

Y DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and Endogamy

Haplogroups for both Y and mitochondrial DNA can indicate and sometimes confirm endogamy. In other cases, the haplogroup won’t help, but the matches and their location information just might.

FamilyTreeDNA is the only vendor that provides Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests that include highly granular haplogroups along with matches and additional tools.

23andMe provides high-level haplogroups which may or may not be adequate to pinpoint a haplogroup that indicates endogamy.

Of course, only males carry Y DNA that tracks to the direct paternal (surname) line, but everyone carries their mother’s mitochondrial DNA that represents their mother’s mother’s mother’s, or direct matrilineal line.

Some haplogroups are known to be closely associated with particular ethnicities or populations, like Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and some Jewish people.

Haplogroups reach back in time before genealogy and can give us a sense of community that’s not available by either looking in the mirror or through traditional records.

This Native American man is a member of high-level haplogroup Q-M242. However, some men who carry this haplogroup are not Native, but are of European or Middle Eastern origin.

I entered the haplogroup in the FamilyTreeDNA Discover tool, which I wrote about, here.

Checking the information about this haplogroup reveals that their common ancestor descended from an Asian man about 30,000 years ago.

The migration path in the Americans explains why this person would have an endogamous heritage.

Our tester would receive a much more refined haplogroup if he upgraded to the Big Y test at FamilyTreeDNA, which would remove all doubt.

However, even without additional testing, information about his matches at FamilyTreeDNA may be very illuminating.

The Q-M242 Native man’s Y DNA matches men with more granular haplogroups, shown above, at left. On the Haplogroup Origins report, you can see that these people have all selected the “US (Native American)” country option.

Another useful tool would be to check the public Y haplotree, here, and the public mitochondrial tree here, for self-reported ancestor location information for a specific haplogroup.

Here’s an example of mitochondrial haplogroup A2 and a few subclades on the public mitochondrial tree. You can see that the haplogroup is found in Mexico, the US (Native,) Canada, and many additional Caribbean, South, and Central American countries.

Of course, Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) tell a laser-focused story of one specific line, each. The great news, if you’re seeking information about your mother or father, the Y is your father’s direct paternal (surname) line, and mitochondrial is your mother’s direct matrilineal line.

Y and mitochondrial DNA results combined with ethnicity, autosomal matching, and the wide range of other tools that open doors, you will be able to reveal a great deal of information about whether you have endogamous heritage or not – and if so, from where.

I’ve provided a resource for stepping through and interpreting your Y DNA results, here, and mitochondrial DNA, here.

Discover for Y DNA Only

If you’re a female, you may feel left out of Y DNA testing and what it can tell you about your heritage. However, there’s a back door.

You can utilize the Y DNA haplogroups of your closest autosomal matches at both FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe to reveal information

Haplogroup information is available in the download files for both vendors, in addition to the Family Finder table view, below, at FamilyTreeDNA, or on your individual matches profile cards at both 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA.

You can enter any Y DNA haplogroup in the FamilyTreeDNA Discover tool, here.

You’ll be treated to:

  • Your Haplogroup Story – how many testers have this haplogroup (so far), where the haplogroup is from, and the haplogroup’s age. In this case, the haplogroup was born in the Netherlands about 250 years ago, give or take 200 years. I know that it was 1806 or earlier based on the common ancestor of the men who tested.
  • Country Frequency – heat map of where the haplogroup is found in the world.
  • Notable Connections – famous and infamous (this haplogroup’s closest notable person is Leo Tolstoy).
  • Migration Map – migration path out of Africa and through the rest of the world.
  • Ancient Connections – ancient burials. His closest ancient match is from about 1000 years ago in Ukraine. Their shared ancestor lived about 2000 years ago.
  • Suggested Projects – based on the surname, projects that other matches have joined, and haplogroups.
  • Scientific Details – age estimates, confidence intervals, graphs, and the mutations that define this haplogroup.

I wrote about the Discover tool in the article, FamilyTreeDNA DISCOVER Launches – Including Y DNA Haplogroup Ages.

Endogamy Tools Summary Tables

Endogamy is a tough nut sometimes, especially if you’re starting from scratch. In order to make this topic a bit easier and to create a reference tool for you, I’ve created three summary tables.

  • Various endogamy-related tools available at each vendor which will or may assist with evaluating endogamy
  • Tools and their ability to detect endogamy in different groups
  • Tools best suited to assist people seeking information about unknown parents or grandparents

Summary of Endogamy Tools by Vendor

Please note that GEDMatch is not a DNA testing vendor, but they accept uploads and do have some tools that the testing vendors do not.

 Tool 23andMe Ancestry FamilyTreeDNA MyHeritage GEDMatch
Ethnicity Yes Yes Yes Yes Use the vendors
Ethnicity Painting Yes + segments Yes, limited Yes + segments Yes
Ethnicity Phasing Yes Partial Yes No
DNA Communities No Yes No No
Genetic Groups No No No Yes
Family Matching aka Bucketing No No Yes No
Chromosome Browser Yes No Yes Yes Yes
AutoClusters Through Genetic Affairs No Through Genetic Affairs Yes, included Yes, with subscription
Match List Download Yes, restricted # of matches No Yes Yes Yes
Projects No No Yes No
Y DNA High-level haplogroup only No Yes, full haplogroup with Big Y, matching, tools, Discover No
Mitochondrial DNA High-level haplogroup only No Yes, full haplogroup with mtFull, matching, tools No
Public Y Tree No No Yes No
Public Mito Tree No No Yes No
Discover Y DNA – public No No Yes No
ROH No No No No Yes

Summary of Endogamous Populations Identified by Each Tool

The following chart provides a guideline for which tools are useful for the following types of endogamous groups. Bolded tools require that both parents be descended from the same endogamous group, but several other tools give more definitive results with higher amounts of endogamy.

Y and mitochondrial DNA testing are not affected by admixture, autosomal DNA or anything from the “other” parent.

Tool Jewish Acadian Anabaptist Native Other/General
Ethnicity Yes No No Yes Pacific Islander
Ethnicity Painting Yes No No Yes Pacific Islander
Ethnicity Phasing Yes, if different No No Yes, if different Pacific Islander, if different
DNA Communities Yes Possibly Possibly Yes Pacific Islander
Genetic Groups Yes Possibly Possibly Yes Pacific Islander
Family Matching aka Bucketing Yes Yes Possibly Yes Pacific Islander
Chromosome Browser Possibly Possibly Yes, once segments or ancestors identified Possibly Pacific Islander, possibly
Total Matches Yes, compared to non-endogamous No No No No, unknown
AutoClusters Yes Yes Uncertain, probably Yes Pacific Islander
Estimated Relationships High Not always Sometimes No Sometimes Uncertain, probably
Relationship Range High Possibly, sometimes Possibly Possibly Possibly Pacific Islander, possibly
More, Smaller Segments Yes Yes Probably Yes Pacific Islander, probably
Parents Related Some but minimal Possibly Uncertain Probably similar to Jewish Uncertain, Possibly
Surnames Probably Probably Probably Not Possibly Possibly
Locations Possibly Probably Probably Not Probably Probably Pacific Islander
Projects Probably Probably Possibly Possibly Probably Pacific Islander
Y DNA Yes, often Yes, often No Yes Pacific Islander
Mitochondrial DNA Yes, often Sometimes No Yes Pacific Islander
Y public tree Probably not alone No No Yes Pacific Islander
MtDNA public tree Probably not No No Yes Pacific Islander
Y DNA Discover Yes Possibly Probably not, maybe projects Yes Pacific Islander

Summary of Endogamy Tools to Assist People Seeking Unknown Parents and Grandparents

This table provides a summary of when each of the various tools can be useful to:

  • People seeking unknown close relatives
  • People who already know who their close relatives are, but are seeking additional information or clues about their genealogy

I considered rating these on a 1 to 10 scale, but the relative usefulness of these tools is dependent on many factors, so different tools will be more or less useful to different people.

For example, ethnicity is very useful if someone is admixed from different populations, or even 100% of a specific endogamous population. It’s less useful if the tester is 100% European, regardless of whether they are seeking close relatives or not. Conversely, even “vanilla” ethnicity can be used to rule out majority or recent admixture with many populations.

Tools Unknown Close Relative Seekers Known Close Relatives – Enhance Genealogy
Ethnicity Yes, to identify or rule out populations Yes
Ethnicity Painting Yes, possibly, depending on population Yes, possibly, depending on population
Ethnicity Phasing Yes, possibly, depending on population Yes, possibly, depending on population
DNA Communities Yes, possibly, depending on population Yes, possibly, depending on population
Genetic Groups Possibly, depending on population Possibly, depending on population
Family Matching aka Bucketing Not if parents are entirely unknown, but yes if one parent is known Yes
Chromosome Browser Unlikely Yes
AutoClusters Yes Yes, especially at MyHeritage if Jewish
Estimated Relationships High Not No
Relationship Range High Not reliably No
More, Smaller Segments Unlikely Unlikely other than confirmation
Match List Download Yes Yes
Surnames Yes Yes
Locations Yes Yes
Projects Yes Yes
Y DNA Yes, males only, direct paternal line, identifies surname lineage Yes, males only, direct paternal line, identifies and correctly places surname lineage
Mitochondrial DNA Yes, both sexes, direct matrilineal line only Yes, both sexes, direct matrilineal line only
Public Y Tree Yes for locations Yes for locations
Public Mito Tree Yes for locations Yes for locations
Discover Y DNA Yes, for heritage information Yes, for heritage information
Parents Related – ROH Possibly Less useful

Acknowledgments

A HUGE thank you to several people who contributed images and information in order to provide accurate and expanded information on the topic of endogamy. Many did not want to be mentioned by name, but you know who you are!!!

If you have information to add, please post in the comments.

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Katharina Gockeler (1612-1677), One Child Survived – 52 Ancestors #369

Catharina or Katharina Gockeler was born in Schnait, Germany on October 9, 1612, to Hans Gockeler and his wife, Katharina, whose surname is unknown.

(Update – her parents were Wolff Gockeler and wife, Barbara, not Hans and Katherina. See the Wolff Gockeler article.)

For some time, Katharina’s surname was recorded as Lenz. She did marry a Lenz man, but in a small German village, it certainly wouldn’t be unheard of for the bride’s surname to be the same since families had resided in that area for generations. Martin Goll, the local historian, discovered that her surname was Gockeler, not Lenz, and provided me with updated information. A HUGE thank you to Martin for this and all of his other research which he has generously shared.

Katharina’s Childhood

Photo courtesy of cousin Wolfram.

Katharina’s parents and godparents stood beside the minister at the baptismal font before the alter in St. Wendelin Church as baby Katharina was baptized.

Hans Lenz, the baker, would have been attending church that day too. He lived where the red star is located, just a few feet away, across the market square from the church in Schnait.

Hans Lenz had a son, also named Hans Lenz, who was born on January 24, 1602. Hans the younger would have been ten years old at the time and was likely attending church with his parents. During Katharina’s baptism, he was probably squirming and fidgeting in that hard wooden pew, the way 10-year-old boys do, not very patiently waiting for church to be over.

I wonder if Hans remembered being present at Katharina‘s baptism. If Hans was a normal boy, he was probably either annoyed at having to stay late for the baptism, or distracted by a bug, leaf, or some such. However, 23 years later, Hans Lenz would marry that baby girl.

A lot would happen during that 23 years, though.

Schnait

Schnait, shown here in 1685, was a beautiful, quaint, village, nestled between hills, just a block or two in either direction.

Most residents were vinedressers, tending the vineyards on the rolling hillsides outside town, except for the obligatory butcher, baker, and candlestick maker in every village, plus the minister, of course.

The Gockelers had family in neighboring Beutelsbach, as did most families in Schnait, according to early records. Prior to 1570, Schnait was too small to have its own church, so the families in Schnait worshipped in Beutelsbach and were quite intertwined.

The War Begins

In 1618, the 30 Years‘ War changed everyone‘s life – causing terror for the next three decades. Nothing would ever be the same.

Of course, when the war began, no one knew how long it would last, or if Schnait and this part of Germany would be directly involved.

Katherina would have been six years old. Perhaps her parents tried, at least at first, to shield her from what was going on so she wouldn’t be afraid. Soon enough, though, everyone knew. And everyone was afraid.

Unfortunately, the war came to their doorstep and barged into their homes as an unwelcome guest. Catholic and Protestant Princes faced off against one another, their armies battling for decades on German soil. Wurttemberg was a central battlefield of the war, with its population declining by 57% during that time.

Starvation, illness, displacement, and the actual war itself, of course – all took a terrible toll.

The Plague

In 1626, a plague swept through the region, fueled by military conditions, battles, troop movements, and the behavior of the soldiers. Plague and illness were rampant in the camps, and the soldiers moved from place to place, marching across the countryside, again and again.

Celebrations and rituals of normalcy would have been most welcome.

Daydreaming

It’s likely that, a few years later, Katharina attended the wedding of Hans Lenz the younger when he married the Schnait church minister’s daughter, Agnes Eyb, about 1627. The girls certainly knew each other, even though Agnes was older than Katharina by 11 years. Perhaps Katharina looked up to Agnes as the Reverend’s daughter. They had known each other all of their lives and may have been related in one way or another, or many.

At 13, Katharina may have sat during weddings imagining herself as the beautiful blushing bride, one day marrying the love of her life.

God willing, and the war didn’t interfere, one day, it would be her turn.

The war, and thoughts of the war, permeated everything. Even a young girl’s daydreams.

That damned war.

Beutelsbach

Hans Lenz, the baker, and his bride settled up the road in Beutelsbach, while Katherina continued to live in Schnait with her parents.

Infant mortality hovered around 50% during normal times when a war was not taking place, but lack of food, marauding soldiers, pillaging, burning, and the destruction of homes and sometimes entire villages caused the infant mortality rate to rise steeply.

The war dragged on, with soldiers coming and going, taking whatever they wanted, and laying waste to wide swaths of the countryside. Everyone was in danger, all of the time, no matter which side the soldiers were on.

Pressure began to build leading up to the horrific Battle of Nordlingen, arguably the most important battle of the war, fought in September of 1634 not far from Beutelsbach, involving 58,000 soldiers.

Someplace between 12,000 and 16,000 were killed, mostly Protestants, with another 4,000 Protestant soldiers taken captive. How does anyone even begin to bury that many bodies?

The Protestant troops lost that battle, soundly beaten, routed, defeated, making the situation infinitely worse for the German Protestant towns, now occupied by angry, emboldened Catholic soldiers in direct, daily conflict with villagers.

What could possibly go wrong in that pressure-cooker?

By 1634, soldiers were quartered in Beutelsbach. After the Battle of Nordlingen, citizens and village authorities alike were reduced to either begging or bribing soldiers NOT to burn their homes – meaning that in most cases, the pitiful residents had literally nothing of any value left, and no food. Soldiers on both sides took everything.

Until that time, because Hans was a baker and vintner, his property was probably spared because the soldiers enjoyed eating and drinking. Armies run on their stomachs. In other words, Hans was useful to them, but after Nordlingen, that wouldn’t matter anymore.

Fire!

On December 6, 1634, three months after Nordlingen fell, the anger boiled over, and their greatest fear was realized.

Beutelsbach was torched by the soldiers. Anyone who resisted was brutally killed.

Katharina would have watched from Schnait, a mile or so away, as flames rose up and licked the sky. Black smoke billowed over the landscape, for hours, and pretty much everything, save the walled and fortified church, was consumed.

Residents in both locations were cousins probably hundreds of ways. In other words, there wasn’t anyone you weren’t related to, and often, closely.

There was nothing they could do in Schnait while Beutelsbach burned, except to gather as safely as possible, probably in the church, pray, and prepare to shelter any survivors.

God, let there be survivors.

The Schnait minister’s sister was Hans Lenz’s wife, Agnes, living in Beutelsbach.

Agnes was severely burned and was brought to her brother’s home in Schnait. Three days, later, on November 9th, she died and was buried in the Schnait churchyard the following day after her brother preached her funeral. Her brother scribed an agonizing entry in the church “Book of the Dead“ about his “dear sister“ who was burned in the great fire set by the soldiers. His grief-stricken entry is how we know what happened, and when Beutelsbach burned.

Agnes left behind her husband, Hans, and probably young children, if any survived.

Agnes and Hans had been married about seven years, so she would have given birth to at least 3 or 4 children in Beutelsbach, where they lived, although Beutelsbach church records don’t exist for this timeframe.

It’s likely that Hans and Agnes’s children either died as babies, children, or during that horrific fire.

It’s also possible that one of their children outlived Agnes. Martin Goll believes that Georg Lenz (1627-1663), who became a barber-surgeon in Beutelsbach was their child.

If that’s the case, then when Katharina Gockler married the widower, Hans Lenz, sometime about 1635, she would have raised her friend, Agnes’s child or perhaps children as well.

Katharina Marries Hans

As Katharina sat in the church watching Hans and Agnes exchange wedding vows when she was 13 years old, never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined for one minute that SHE would one day marry Hans.

In fact, if Katharina were dreaming about someone as her eventual groom, it would have been some cute boy closer to her age, sitting a pew or two over, thinking about frogs, not a man a decade older at 23.

Yet, it would come to be. Rising from the ashes.

A few months after the fire, sometime about 1635, Katharina Gockler married the widower, Hans Lenz. Again, we have no church records.

Given the circumstances when they began their married life, they did surprisingly well. The war was in its 17th year, give or take, and must have seemed “normal” in a terrible way. They had known nothing else as adults, and war had been a fact of life for most of Katharina’s lifetime – since she was six years old.

Katharina moved to Beutelsbach, where Hans was the baker and vintner, and, as a team, they started over.

Martin believes that a good portion of Hans Lenz‘s wealth came in some way from his wife, Katherina. During his lifetime, Hans built a new house at Siftstrasse 17, pictured above, which still stands today. Additionally, he had at least eight vineyards with just under one hectare, or about 2.5 acres. Most families made do with about one-tenth of that, or a quarter-acre vineyard.

Children

We know that Katharina had four children, based on either records after the war or their church death records as adults, where her name is spelled both Catharina and Katharina. We have no records of children who were born and died during the war, except inferences by silent, vacant spaces in the too-large gap years between births of known children, all of whom were born and died in Beutelsbach. If they died elsewhere after the war, we have no record of them.

  • If Hans and Katherina were married about 1635, they would have had about five children, every 18 months to two years, before having the first child who lived. How soul-crushing for Katharina. I wonder if she dreaded each pregnancy, fearing the death of yet another baby.

Finally, finally, a son was born and survived. Katharina must have been ecstatic and held her breath daily, praying for the best, but fearing the worst.

  • Hans Lenz, my ancestor, also a baker who became a vintner, was born in 1645, during the war, and died on January 22, 1725. He married Barbara Sing in 1669 in Beutelsbach and had 11 children, 6 of which survived to adulthood. Barbara was living for the births of her first six grandchildren, which must have brought her immense joy.
  • Daughter, Katharina Lenz was born on October 26, 1646, and died on October 13, 1689, outliving her mother. She was described as “simple“ in the church records. After her parents’ deaths, she lived with her brother, Hans, who utilized her share of their inheritance to care for her.
  • Another child would have been born in 1648, the year the war finally ended.
  • Maria Lenz was born on January 5, 1650, and died a week later. Another small wooden cross in the churchyard.
  • Another child was probably born in 1652.
  • A daughter, born on March 9, 1654, was also named Maria. She died in 1677 at the age of 23. Martin Goll found no spouse or children for her.

By 1654, Katharina would have been 42. Her childbearing years were over.

Only one of her children would live to reproduce. Lucky for me!

After the War

After the war ended in 1648, Katharina and Hans did quite well for themselves. By the time Hans died 19 years later, in 1667, he had accumulated a significant legacy to leave to his children and grandchildren – a total of 5 houses, ten vineyards, and over 15,000 liters of wine in his cellars. No, that’s not a typo.

Katharina died in Beutelsbach on October 25, 1677, outliving Hans by two months shy of a decade.

Given that her daughter, Maria, died in the same year, although we don’t have a date, I wonder if the plague or pestilence, as epidemics were then known, savaged Beutelsbach once again. Katharina’s granddaughter was born on July 27, 1677, and we have no further entry. I wonder if she died as well. Two additional grandchildren, ages 6 and 7, died two days apart in July of 1678.

This war was with an unseen organism, a germ of some description. One they couldn’t see and probably didn’t know how to fight.

Final Rest

Katharina would have been laid to rest just a few feet from their home in Beutelsbach, probably in the churchyard following her funeral service inside, near her husband and children. Hopefully, it was a beautiful fall day.

Early graves always surrounded the church, but this 1825 map shows that a second cemetery was in use by then, a block or so away from the church and where Katharina Gockeler lived for more than 40 years.

The Beutelsbach church cemetery had been in use since at least 1321 and probably since about 1080, when we know the collegiate church was formed. Given the early date, many regular and plague burials existed in the churchyard. Were graves being reused in Europe at that time, or would villagers have been unwilling or superstitious about digging up plague or smallpox victims, perhaps?

Was the new cemetery utilized because the old one was full, or maybe there were just too many people to bury at one time at some point – like possibly the 1634 fire?

Red stars mark the churchyard, the home where Hans and Katharina lived, and the cemetery. Martin Goll’s red border shows the properties owned by Hans Lenz at his death that were inherited by his son, Hans.

The individual “farms“ and garden plots adjacent to homes are marked with tiny trees, so it’s easy to miss the subtle crosses in the cemetery if you don’t look closely. It appears that today, the cemetery is expanded as needed where those trees used to stand.

As you can see on the map above, the cemetery on the 1825 map is still in use. It’s unknown exactly where Katharina rests, in that cemetery or the churchyard, but we‘re within a few feet, either way.

I can’t help but look at those two burial locations, and in my mind’s eye, view bits of my DNA dotting the landscape, like twinkling stars, if the DNA of those ancestors that I carry today could fluoresce.

Part of me is there with them, and I carry part of them in me today.

_____________________________________________________________

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How to Download Your DNA Match Lists & Segment Files

If you’ve taken an autosomal DNA test and you’re working to determine how your matches are related to you, meaning which ancestors you share, you’ll want to download your DNA match list.

There are three types of files that you can potentially download from each of the major autosomal DNA testing vendors.

Raw DNA file – If you want to upload your DNA file to another vendor for matching at their site (MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA,) you’ll need to download your raw data file from the vendor where you tested. I provided step-by-step instructions for this process at each of the vendors, here.

DNA Segment File – This file contains the segment information with each of your matches, including the start and end locations of your matching segment(s), the total number of matching (shared) centiMorgans (cM) above the vendor’s matching threshold, and sometimes the longest segment.

If you want to sort a spreadsheet to look for all of your matches on specific areas of chromosomes, this is the best way to achieve that goal. I use this information at DNAPainter when painting the segments of matches with whom I can identify a common ancestor.

You may be able to download filtered lists or individual match data as well, as opposed to an entire match list spreadsheet, but the methodology varies at each vendor.

Ancestry does not provide segment information at all. 23and Me combines this information with the next file.

Match List – This file will contain your list of matches along with other information about the matches which you will find genealogically helpful. I find using this file easier than viewing each match separately at the vendors when trying to obtain an overview or when searching for a particular surname in either my match list or their ancestral surnames.

I can also sort by haplogroup, for example, which can sometimes help immensely if that information is available.

Ancestry does not facilitate or allow downloading your match list. 23andMe combines this information with your matching DNA segments in one file.

Here’s a handy-dandy summary by testing vendor.

Vendor Raw DNA File DNA Segment File Match List
23andMe Yes, instructions here Yes, instructions in this article Yes, instructions in this article
FamilyTreeDNA Yes, instructions here Yes, instructions in this article Yes, instructions in this article
MyHeritage Yes, instructions here Yes, instructions in this article Yes, instructions in this article
Ancestry Yes, instructions here No, does not provide No, does not provide

I’ve written step-by-step instructions for how to download your Match List and DNA Segment file(s) at each vendor.

23andMe

Please note that 23and Me is the only vendor to limit your matches, which means you will only receive a file containing:

  • 1500 matches if you tested before the V5 chip, so before August 9, 2017, and have not established communications with matches that would have rolled off of your list otherwise. (I have 1805 matches, so have established contact with 305 that would otherwise have rolled off the end.)
  • 1500 if you tested on the V5 chip, so beginning August 9, 2017, but did not establish communications OR did not purchase the health option, OR did not purchase the yearly membership. If you established communications, those matches won’t roll off, and if you purchase the membership, the match threshold is raised. You may still need to establish contact to keep people from rolling off the larger list as well.
  • 5000-ish (23andMe doesn’t say exactly) if you tested on the V5 chip for BOTH ancestry and healthy AND purchased the yearly membership.

You will only receive match information for people who are listed on your restricted match list, not people who have rolled off as closer matches arrived. Therefore, I encourage you to retain your old match lists because some of your matches will be gone each time you download.

23andMe combines your match list with your segment file.

Sign on and select DNA Relatives on the toolbar.

Next, select “See all relatives.”

Scroll to the very bottom and click on Request DNA Relatives Data Download.

Your file will be prepared, and you’ll receive an email when the file is ready to be downloaded. Mine only took a minute or two, and I simply waited on my 23andMe page until the message appeared.

Save and open the downloaded file, and you’ll see a variety of information about each of your matches, in closest-match-first order, including:

  • Match name
  • Chromosome segment match information, including start and end locations, genetic distance (centiMorgans cMs,) and SNPs
  • Maternal and paternal sides if your parent or parents have tested
  • Number of matching segments
  • Relationship information
  • Birth year
  • Percent shared DNA
  • Haplogroups
  • Notes you’ve made
  • Family surnames
  • Family locations
  • 4 Grandparents’ birth country
  • Family Tree URL, external to 23andMe, if provided by tester

FamilyTreeDNA

At FamilyTreeDNA, your match list and segment information are contained in two separate files.

Sign on and click on Family Finder Matches under Autosomal DNA Results and Tools.

You’ll see your matches. At the top of your match list, on the right side, click on “Export CSV.”

You can select “All Matches” or “Filtered Matches.”

If you haven’t selected a filter, you won’t be able to make that selection. Generally, you want the entire match list.

Your match list will be prepared and downloaded.

You’ll find:

  • Match name
  • Relationship information
  • Shared DNA total
  • Longest segment
  • Linked relationship if you have linked that person to their profile card in your tree
  • Ancestral surnames
  • Haplogroups if tested
  • Notes you’ve made
  • Bucketing – Paternal, maternal, both, none
  • X-Match amount

Note – If you’re a male, valid X matches (meaning matches that are not identical by chance,) will always be on your maternal side because you received your Y chromosome from your father instead of a copy of his X. I wrote about X matching, here.

If your match is a male, an X match will always be through his mother’s line.

Segment information is available in a separate download on the chromosome browser page.

Under Autosomal DNA Results and Tools, click on the Chromosome Browser.

You’ll be able to select people to compare in the chromosome browser, but to download all of your matching segments to all of your matches, click on “Download All Segments.”

If you select people to compare your relationship, and then click on “Download Segments,” you’ll only be downloading the segments for the people you are comparing.

To download all of your segments, be sure the “All” is showing in the link and download before selecting anyone for comparison.

MyHeritage

MyHeritage also provides two separate files for matches and chromosome segment information.

Select DNA matches, then the 3-dot menu, then “Export DNA Matches.”

If you also want your individual segment information for your matches, also order the second file on that menu, “Export shared DNA segment info for shared DNA matches.”.

You’ll see a message that your report is being prepared and will be sent to the email address on file.

If your file doesn’t appear in your email box, check your spam folder.

Your match list provides:

  • Match name
  • Age
  • Country
  • Contact link
  • DNA managed by (if not the tester)
  • Contact link for DNA manager
  • Relationship information
  • Total cM
  • Percent of matching DNA
  • Number of matching segments
  • Largest segment
  • Has tree and tree manager
  • Number of people in their tree
  • Tree link and link to contact tree manager
  • Number of SmartMatches
  • Shared ancestral surnames
  • All ancestral surnames
  • Notes you’ve made
  • Has Theory of Family Relativity

Now that you have these files, what do you do with them?

Evaluating

Is there anything that stands out as remarkable, perhaps that you didn’t know or notice before? Patterns that might be informative?

I had a huge brick wall on my mother’s side that has since fallen, but retrospectively, had I reviewed these lists when that wall was still standing firm, there was a huge hint just waiting for me.

My mother has a very unexpected Acadian line through her great-grandfather, Anthony Lore, so 12.5% of her heritage.

On my match list, I see a large number of French surnames, but I didn’t know of any French ancestors on either side of my tree. Many surnames repeat, such as LeBlanc, d’Entremont (which is really unusual), Landry, and deForest. Why were these people on my match list? This is definitely smoke, and there must be fire someplace, but where?

Looking at the locations associated with these matches’ ancestors would have provided additional clues.

However, simply googling my great-grandfather’s surname in combination with those French surnames I listed above produced these 3 top search results.

Yes, you guessed it. Anthony turned out to be “Antoine” and Lore is spelled in a variety of ways, including Lord. His family is Acadian.

That’s Anthony Lore, which is how he was listed on the death certificate of his son, in the software on my computer, above, and here is Antoine Lore at WikiTree, below.

As you can see, that brick wall falling opened a whole new group of ancestors, and along with it, my appreciation of endogamy😊

Match lists facilitate viewing the big picture and can be a very useful tool for people seeking unknowns or trying to group people together in a variety of ways.

Do you have any brick walls that need to fall?

How can or do you utilize your match lists?

_____________________________________________________________

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

Thank you so much.

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Genealogy Research

Barbara Eckhardt (1614-1684), US President’s 10th Great-Grandmother – 52 Ancestors #368

Barbara Eckhardt was born about 1614 in the quaint winemaking village of Beutelsbach, Germany to Johannes Eckhardt and Elisabetha Baurencontz.

Barbara was the fifth child born to her parents, but only the second one to live. Her older sister, Anna Maria, born in 1611, was three years old when Barbara was born. Those two girls must have been quite close, given their proximity in age and that they were the only two daughters that survived.

I suspect that a child was born between those two girls, and went to rest in the churchyard, within the protective walls, where no gravestones remain today.

In 1615, another child was born to Barbara’s parents, and died, buried in the churchyard where generations of family members rested.

In 1618, the 30 Years’ War, a religious conflict between Catholic and Protestant states in the Holy Roman Empire erupted in Prague and spread like wildfire, with Germany bearing the brunt of the devastation during the next three decades. Three decades – that’s an entire generation. Before it was over, 8 million would perish in brutal warfare and its aftermath. Some parts of Germany were entirely depopulated.

Barbara’s mother had another baby in 1618. Nothing more is known of that child, but we can well imagine his fate.

In 1619 and 1622, two more children joined the family, and miraculously, survived. I suspect that another child was born in 1620, but after the war began, the church records were destroyed, and the only way we know about survivors was if they later died in Beutelsbach, after the end of the war. Records partially resumed in 1646.

Barbara’s schooling was assuredly disrupted, if she had any education at all, given that soldiers on both sides were pillaging and robbing all of the villages in this part of Germany. Barbara would have been unable to read or write.

In 1626, after the Battle of Nordlingen, a resounding defeat for the Protestants, soldiers garrisoned in Beutelsbach, where they remained for years, taking whatever they wanted. As bad as things were, they got even worse in 1634.

FIRE!!!

By 1634, the war had been raging for 16 long years, and the soldiers had been quartered in Beutelsbach for 8 years. Barbara would have been 20 years old on that cold, tragic day, in the late fall or early winter.

Beuteslbach town elders had been bribing the soldiers not to burn their village, but for some reason, that was no longer effective. Maybe the soldiers wanted more money than existed or could be raised. Maybe someone was angry. Tensions were constantly high, like a wire stretched taut, and nerves were ragged, so who knows what snapped.

The soldiers burned Beutelsbach, killing anyone who resisted. We don’t know if every home in Beutelsbach burned, or just most of them. We know the church was spared, but again, the church was fortified behind a wall.

People died, although with only a few exceptions, such as Agnes Eyb, wife of Hans Lenz, we don’t know exactly who died that day. Beutelsbach church records don’t exist from this time period.

As the flames began consuming the village, Barbara would have smelled smoke. Soon, blood-curdling screams would have been audible everyplace in town – agonizing screams as people and animals burned and were murdered.

Sheer terror.

Barbara would have heard the roar of the fire and homes collapsing, all around her.

Thoughts raced through her mind, like a mad scramble.

What should she do?

Resist?

The soldiers were killing anyone who resisted.

Try to assist the injured?

Could they be helped?

For God’s sake, they are family members.

Barbara had known everyone in the village for her entire life.

Or should she run?

Where would she go?

Was anyplace safe?

Could anything be saved?

OMG where’s my mother, brother, grandmother…

The residents must have wondered why God had foresaken them.

Barbara, along with her parents and older sister, Anna, probably rushed with their two younger siblings, Johannes Eckhardt, 15, and Cyriakus (Ceyer) Eckhardt, 12, from wherever they lived, racing up the church steps through the gate into the fortified churchyard and on into the church itself.

The doors slammed shut and were bolted.

If necessary, Beutelsbach citizens who made it that far would defend the church together, the last stand, or all die together trying.

They would have been protected, at least to some extent, from the soldiers who were slaughtering anyone who resisted, but they would have heard the carnage around them.

Was that someone’s voice they recognized?

They would have begged for God’s intercession – for him to save them, their family members, and their village. They would have bargained their life in exchange for someone else’s who was missing – not among them in the church.

Prayers and beseeching God for a miracle lasted for hours as the village burned.

Finally, the horror of the fire and wailing outside the church would subside to a whimper, then an eerie silence.

It was over, but was anything left? Whoever wasn’t in the church was probably dead or horribly injured.

They emerged to witness a nightmare scenario.

Could they even have funerals, or was a mass grave dug and hasty prayers said under the mocking eyes of the “victorious” soldiers?

We don’t know what happened in the aftermath of the fire. The residents would have had to find shelter someplace. Many, shellshocked, would have walked to a nearby village where they had relatives.

What else could they have done?

We do know, thanks to historian Martin Goll, that the number of Beutelsbach residents declined by about 50% during the war instead of growing as would normally have been expected. It was even worse elsewhere.

Martin reports that the Plague followed the fire, and people starved.

Yet, love somehow blossomed.

Wedding Bells

A war might be raging, and the village burned, but love found a way.

In 1636, Barbara Eckhardt would marry the butcher, Hans Sang (Sing) who lived up the road a mile or so, in the next village, Endersbach.

Barbara’s family may have sought shelter there after the fire, which would have allowed the young people daily proximity to each other to court.

Perhaps Hans helped Barbara’s family, or maybe her family even sought refuge with his. Regardless, they assuredly would have seen each other in church.

Barbara Eckhardt and Hans Sang, after saying their vows, settled in Beutelsbach. It’s likely that Beuelsbach needed a butcher after the fire.

Barbara and Hans set up housekeeping in the house adjoining the steps into the churchyard. They probably built this home, shown with the small red arrow in the drawing, below, literally on the ashes of whatever was there before. Perhaps it was where her parents had lived before the fire.

In this Beutelsbach drawing from 1760, 130 years later, you can see the circular church gate into the churchyard, and the adjacent building where Barbara lived with her family.

Family

Barbara had 7 children, well, that’s 7 that we know of. There are a lot of gaps between the children we know about that assuredly equate to children who died.

Barbara’s first child was probably born about 1637, following her 1636 marriage, and could have been Hans.

  • Hans Sing was noted in the church record as a “simpleton, with weak intellect, but he can repeat prayers.” He died in 1687 in Beutelsbach, which is how we know he existed at all.
  • Michael Sing was born in 1639 in Beutelsbach, married Anna Maria Schilling, and died on March 7, 1725, also in Beutelsbach. He was a butcher, like his father, as was his only surviving son, Johann Georg Sing.
  • Hans Georg Sing was born in 1640 in Beutelsbach, married Margaretha Ziegler in 1665, and died on January 21, 1676, in Grosheppach. He, too, was a butcher.
  • At least two children would have been born, likely in 1642 and 1644.
  • Barbara Sing, my ancestor, was born in 1645 in Endersbach, married Hans Lenz, a vintner, and baker, and died on July 10, 1686, in Beutelsbach. The fact that Barbara was born in Endersbach causes me to wonder if the family had to shelter again outside of Beutelsbach.
  • Another child was probably born, and died, in 1647
  • Anna Sing, also my ancestor, was born on March 6, 1648, in Beutelsbach, married Bartholomaus Kraft in 1666, and died on March 6, 1728, in Beutelsbach of a stroke.

In October 1648, the 30 Years’ War finally ended. For the first time in her life, Barbara was finally able to relax. She didn’t have to constantly be on alert for the smell of smoke, meaning that the town was burning again.

  • Her next child was probably born in 1650.
  • Martin Sing was born on May 15, 1652, in Beutelsbach and died early.
  • Another child was probably born in 1654.
  • Jakob Sing was born on April 30, 1655, in Beutelsbach and died there on July 17, 1713. Martin found no records of a spouse, nor of any children. Jakob would have been born when his mother was 41 years old, so it’s possible that he too suffered from a disability.

Plague

From 1682-1684, the Plague once again swept through Europe. Barbara, “hausfrau of Hans Singen,” died on April 7, 1684, followed by her husband, Hans, eleven days later, on April 18th.

An incredibly sad time for her family, many of whom were probably ill themselves.

At Barbara’s death, she had five living children and 12 known grandchildren, although there were likely more, specifically by the son who settled in Grossheppach, or other children who may have moved away.

Barbara’s Presidential Legacy

There was one child, though, that would secure Barbara’s place in history, and no, it wasn’t one of her sons.

  • Daughter Anna Sing (1648-1728) married Bartholomaus Krafft (1643-1713.)
  • Their son Johann Georg Krafft (1767-1724) married Anna Catharina Ritter (1673-1701.)
  • Their daughter Maria Margaretha Krafft (1700-1747) married Johann Martin Wolflin (1690-1745.)

These couples, above, are also my ancestors. I’m doubly descended from Barbara through both of her daughters, so Anna Sing is my ancestor too.

However, my ancestor, Johann Ludwig Wolflin is Johann Conrad Wolflin’s brother, so our common lineage bifurcates here.

The Presidential line continues:

  • Johann Conrad Wolflin (1729-1794) was born in Besigheim, Germany, immigrated in 1750, and died in Middletown, Dauphin Co., PA, where his surname was spelled variously, including Woelfle and Wolfle, then became Anglicized to Wolfley, which is how it must have sounded. He married Anna Catherine Shockey (1783-1803) in Pennsylvania and served in the Revolutionary War with his sons John and Jacob.
  • Their son Ludwig Wolfley (1766-1822) married Anna Maria Toot (1786-1841.)
  • Their son George Wolfley (1807-1879) married Nancy Perry (1812-1894.)
  • Their son Robert Wolfley (1834-1895) married Rachel Abbott (1835-1911.)
  • Their daughter Della L. Wolfley (1863-1906) married Charles Thomas Payne (1861-1940.)
  • Their son Rolla Charles Payne (1892-1968) married Leona B. McCurry (1897-1968.)
  • Their daughter Madelyn Lee Payne (1922-2008) married Stanley Armour Dunham (1918-1992.)
  • Ann Dunham (1942-1995) married Barack Obama I (1935-1982.)

Their son, Barack Hussein Obama II, became the 44th President of the United States and served two terms, from January 2009 through January 2017.

I’m incredibly grateful to Martin Goll for his research and paper (in German) on President Obama’s line in Beutelsbach, and for connecting the dots to his immigrant ancestor. I benefitted immensely, given that this is my lineage too.

You can view President Obama’s detailed genealogy, here.

Of course, this means that Barack Obama is my cousin, and we share multiple ancestral lines.

After signing in, using WikiTree’s Relationship tool, above, I determined that Barack and I are 7C1R.

All of my Lentz Cousins are related to President Obama as well. So are all of my closer cousins who descend from Margaret Elisabeth Lentz, who married John David Miller, whose daughter Evaline Miller married Hiram Ferverda, and gave birth to my grandfather, John Whitney Ferverda.

This pedigree chart shows my Lentz line back to Jacob Lentz, who married Fredericka Ruhle, the immigrants in our line, from whom my American Lentz cousins descend. Johanna Fredericka Ruhle, shipwrecked on the way to the US in 1818/1819, was the granddaughter of Johann Ludwig Wolflin whose brother immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1750 and established Barack Obama’s line.

How cool is this! Barbara Eckhardt’s legacy, and indeed that of many Beutelsbach families (and ancestors,) is American President Barack Obama.

_____________________________________________________________

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

Thank you so much.

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Genealogy Research

In Search of…Vendor Features, Strengths, and Testing Strategies

This is the third in our series of articles about searching for unknown close family members, specifically; parents, grandparents, or siblings. However, these same techniques can be applied to ancestors further back in time too.

In this article, we are going to discuss your goals and why testing or uploading to multiple vendors is advantageous – even if you could potentially solve the initial mystery at one vendor. Of course, the vendor you test with first might not be the vendor where the mystery will be solved, and data from multiple vendors might just be the combination you need.

Testing Strategy – You Might Get Lucky

I recommended in the first article that you go ahead and test at the different vendors.

Some people asked why, and specifically, why you wouldn’t just test at one vendor with the largest database first, then proceed to the others if you needed to.

That’s a great question, and I want to discuss the pros and cons in this article more specifically.

Clearly, that is one strategy, but the approach you select might differ based on a variety of considerations:

  • You may only be interested in obtaining the name of the person you are seeking – or – you may be interested in finding out as much as possible.
  • You may find that your best match at one company is decidedly unhelpful, and may even block you or your efforts, while someone elsewhere may be exactly the opposite.
  • Solving your mystery may be difficult and painful at one vendor, but the answer may be infinitely easier at a different vendor where the answer may literally be waiting.
  • There may not be enough, or the right information, or matches, at any one vendor, but the puzzle may be solvable by combining information from multiple vendors and tests. Every little bit helps.
  • You may have a sense of urgency, especially if you hope to meet the person and you’re searching for parents, siblings or grandparents who may be aging.
  • You may be cost-sensitive and cannot afford more than one test at a time. Fortunately, our upload strategy helps with that too. Also, watch for vendor sales or bundles.

From the time you order your DNA test, it will be about 6-8 weeks, give or take a week or two in either direction, before you receive results.

When those results arrive, you might get lucky, and the answer you seek is immediately evident with no additional work and just waiting for you at the first testing company.

If that’s the case, you got lucky and hit the jackpot. If you’re searching for both parents, that means you still have one parent to go.

Unidentified grandparents can be a little more difficult, because there are four of them to sort between.

If you discover a sibling or half-sibling, you still need to figure out who your common parent is. Sometimes X, Y, and mitochondrial DNA provides an immediate answer and is invaluable in these situations.

It’s more likely that you’ll find a group of somewhat more distant relatives. You may be able to figure out who your common grandparents or great-grandparents are, but not your parent(s) initially. Often, the closer generation or two is actually the most difficult because you’re dealing with contemporary records which are not publicly available, fewer descendants, and the topic may be very uncomfortable for some people. It’s also complicated because you’re often not dealing with “full” relationships, but “half,” as in half-sibling, half-niece, half-1C, etc.

You may spend a substantial amount of time trying to solve this puzzle at the first vendor before ordering your next test.

That second test will also take about 6-8 weeks, give or take. I recommend that you order the first two autosomal tests, now.

Order Your First Two Autosomal Tests

The two testing companies with the largest autosomal databases for comparison, Ancestry, and 23andMe, DO NOT accept DNA file uploads from other companies, so you’ll need to test with each individually.

Fortunately, you CAN transfer your autosomal DNA tests to both MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA, for free.

You will have different matches at each company. Some people will be far more responsive and helpful than others.

I recommend that you go ahead and order both the Ancestry and 23andMe tests initially, then upload the first one that comes back with results to both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage. Complete, step-by-step download/upload instructions can be found here.

You can also upload your DNA file to a fifth company, Living DNA, but they are significantly smaller and heavily focused on England and Great Britain. However, if that’s where you’re searching, this might be where you find important matches.

You can also upload to GEDMatch, a popular third-party database, but since you’re going to be in the databases of the four major testing companies, there is little to be gained at GEDMatch in terms of people who have not tested at one of the major companies. Do NOT upload to GEDMatch INSTEAD of testing or uploading to the four major sites, as GEDMatch only has a small fraction of the testers in each of the vendor databases.

What GEDMatch does offer is a chromosome browser – something that Ancestry does NOT offer, along with other clustering tools which you may find useful. I recommend GEDMatch in addition to the others, if needed or desired.

Ordering Y and Mitochondrial DNA Tests

We reviewed the basics of the different kinds of DNA, here.

Some people have asked why, if autosomal DNA shows relatives on all of your lines, would one would want to order specific tests that focus on just one line?

It just so happens that the two lines that Y and mitochondrial DNA test ARE the two lines you’re seeking – direct maternal – your mother (and her mother), and direct paternal, your father (and his father.)

These two tests are different kinds of DNA tests, testing a different type of DNA, and provide very focused information, and matches, not available from autosomal DNA tests.

For men, Y DNA can reveal your father’s surname, which can be an invaluable clue in narrowing paternal candidates. Knowing that my brother’s Y DNA matched several men with the surname of Priest made me jump for joy when he matched a woman of that same last name at another vendor.

Here’s a quote from one of the members of a Y DNA project where I’m the volunteer administrator:

“Thank you for your help understanding and using all 4 kinds of my DNA results. By piecing the parts together, I identified my father. Specifically, without Y DNA testing, and the Big Y test, I would not have figured out my parental connection, and then that my paternal line had been assigned to the wrong family. STR testing gave me the correct surname, but the Big Y test showed me exactly where I fit, and disproved that other line. I’m now in touch with my father, and we both know who our relatives are – two things that would have never happened otherwise.”

If you fall into the category of, “I want to know everything I can now,” then order both Y and mitochondrial DNA tests initially, along with those two autosomal tests.

You will need to order Y (males only) and mitochondrial DNA tests separately from the autosomal Family Finder test, although you should order on the same account as your Family Finder test at FamilyTreeDNA.

If you take the Family Finder autosomal test at FamilyTreeDNA or upload your autosomal results from another vendor, you can simply select to add the Y and mitochondrial DNA tests to your account, and they will send you a swab kit.

Conversely, you can order either a Y or mitochondrial DNA test, and then add a Family Finder or upload a DNA file if you’ve already taken an autosomal DNA test to that account too. Note – these might not be current prices – check here for sales.

You will want all 3 of your tests on the same account so that you can use the Advanced Matches feature.

Using Advanced Matches, you’ll be able to view people who match you on combinations of multiple kinds of tests.

For example, if you’re a male, you can see if your Y DNA matches also match you on the Family Finder autosomal test, and if so, how closely?

Here’s an example.

In this case, I requested matches to men with 111 markers who also match the tester on the Family Finder test. I discovered both a father and a full sibling, plus a few more distant matches. There were ten total combined matches to work with, but I’ve only shown five for illustration purposes.

This information is worth its weight in gold.

Is the Big Y Test Worth It?

People ask if the Big Y test is really worth the extra money.

The answer is, “it depends.”

If all you’re looking for are matching surnames, then the answer is probably no. A 37 or 111 marker test will probably suffice. Eventually, you’ll probably want to do the Big Y, though.

If you’re looking for exact placement on the tree, with an estimated distance to other men who have taken that test, then the answer is, “absolutely.” I wish the Big Y test had been available back when I was hunting for my brother’s biological family.

The Big Y test provides a VERY specific haplogroup and places you very accurately in your location on the Y DNA tree, along with other men of your line, assuming they have tested. You may find the surname, as well as being placed within a generation or a few of current in that family line.

Additionally, the Discover page provides estimates of how far in the past you share a common ancestor with other people that share the same haplogroup. This can be a HUGE boon to a male trying to figure out his surname line and how closely in time he’s related to his matches.

Big Y NPE Examples

Y DNA SNP mutations tested with the Big Y test accrue a mutation about every generation, or so. Sometimes we see mutations in every generation.

Here’s an example from my Campbell line. Haplogroups are listed in the top three rows.

I created this spreadsheet, but FamilyTreeDNA provides a block tree for Big Y testers. I’ve added the genealogy of the testers, with the various Big Y testers at the bottom and common ancestors above, in bold.

We have two red NPE lines showing. The MacFarlane tester matches M. Campbell VERY closely, and two Clark males match W. Campbell and other Campbells quite closely. We utilized autosomal plus the Y results to determine where the unknown parentage events occurred. Today, if you’re a Clark or MacFarlane male, or a male by any other surname who was fathered by a Y chromosome Campbell male (by any surname), you’ll know exactly where you fit in this group of testers on your direct paternal line.

Y DNA is important because men often match other men with the same surname, which is a HUGE clue, especially in combination with autosomal DNA results. I say “often,” because it’s possible that no one in your line has tested, or that your father’s surname is not his biological surname either.

Y and mitochondrial DNA matches can be HUGELY beneficial pieces of information either by confirming a close autosomal relationship on that line, or eliminating the possibility.

Lineage-Specific Population Information

In addition to matching other people, both Y and mitochondrial DNA tests provide you with lineage-specific population or “ethnicity” information for this specific line which helps you focus your research.

For example, if you view the Y DNA Haplogroup Origins shown for this tester, you’ll discover that these matches are Jewish.

The tester might not be Jewish on any other genealogical line, but they definitely have Jewish ancestry on their Y DNA, paternal, line.

The same holds true for mitochondrial DNA as well. The main difference with mitochondrial DNA is that the surname changes with each generation, haplogroups today (pre-Million Mito) are less specific, and fewer people have been tested.

Y and Mitochondrial DNA Benefits

Knowing your Y and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups not only arm you with information about yourself, they provide you with matching tools and an avenue to include or exclude people as your direct line paternal or maternal ancestors.

Your Y and mitochondrial DNA can also provide CRITICALLY IMPORTANT information about whether that direct line ancestor belonged to an endogamous population, and where they came from.

For example, both Jewish and Native populations are endogamous populations, meaning highly intermarried for many generations into the past.

Knowing that helps you adjust your autosomal relationship analysis.

Why Order Multiple Tests Initially Instead of Waiting?

If you’ve been adding elapsed time, two autosomal tests (Ancestry and 23andMe), two uploads (to FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage,) a Y DNA test, and a mitochondrial DNA test, if all purchased serially, one following the other, means you’ll be waiting approximately 6-8 months.

Do you want to wait 6-8 months for all of your results? Can you afford to?

Part of this answer has to do with what, exactly, you’re seeking, and how patient you are.

Only you can answer that question.

A Name or Information?

Are you seeking the name or identity of a person, or are you seeking information about that person?

Most people don’t just want to put a name to the person they are seeking – they want to learn about them and the rest of the family that door opens.

You will have different matches at each company. Even after you identify the person you seek, the people you match may have trees you can view, with family photos and other important information. (Remember, you can’t see living people in trees.) Your matches may have first-person information about your relative and may know them if they are living, or have known them.

Furthermore, you may have the opportunity to meet that person. Time delayed may not be able to be recovered or regained.

One cousin that I assisted discovered that his father had died just six weeks before he broke through that wall and made the connection.

Working with data from all vendors simultaneously will allow you to combine that data and utilize it together. Using your “best” matches at each company, augmented by X, Y, and/or mitochondrial DNA, can make MUCH shorter work of this search.

Your closest autosomal matches are the most important and insightful. In this series, I will be working with the top 15 autosomal results at each vendor, at least initially. This approach provides me with the best chance of meaningful close relationship discoveries.

Data and Vendor Results Integration

Here’s a table of my two closest maternal and paternal matches at the four major vendors. I can assign these to maternal or paternal sides, because I know the identity of my parents, and I know some of these people. If an adoptee was doing this, the top 4 could all be from one parent, which is why we work with the top 15 or so matches.

Vendor Closest Maternal Closest Paternal Comments
Ancestry 1C, 1C1R Half-1C, 2C I recognized both of the maternal and neither of the paternal.
23andMe 2C, 2C 1C1R, half-gr-niece Recognized both maternal, one paternal
MyHeritage Mother uploaded, 1C Half-niece, half-1C Recognized both maternal, one paternal
FamilyTreeDNA Mother tested, 1C1R Parent/child, half-gr-niece uploaded Recognized all 4

To be clear, I tested my mother’s mitochondrial DNA before she passed away, but because FamilyTreeDNA archives DNA samples for 25 years, as the owner/manager of her DNA kit, I was able to order the Family Finder test after she had passed away. Her tests are invaluable today.

Then, years later, I uploaded her results to MyHeritage.

If I was an adopted child searching for my mother, I would find her results in both databases today. She’ll never be at either 23andMe or Ancestry because she passed away before she could test there and they don’t accept uploads.

Looking at the other vendors, my half-niece at MyHeritage is my paternal half-sibling’s daughter. My half-sibling is deceased, so this is as close as I’ll ever get to matching her.

At 23andMe, the half-great-niece is my half-siblings grandchild.

It’s interesting that I have no matches to descendants of my other half-sibling, who is also deceased. Maybe I should ask if any of his children or grandchildren have tested. Hmmmm…..

You can see that I stand a MUCH BETTER chance of figuring out close relatives using the combined closest matches of all four databases instead of the top matches from just one database. It doesn’t matter if the database is large if the right person or people didn’t test there.

Combine Resources

I’ll be providing analysis methodologies for working with results from all of the vendors together, just in case your answer is not immediately obvious. Taking multiple DNA tests facilitates using all of these tools immediately, not months later. Solving the puzzle sooner means you may not miss valuable opportunities.

You may also discover that the door slams shut with some people, or they may not respond to your queries, but another match may be unbelievably helpful. Don’t limit your possibilities.

Let’s take a look at the strengths of each vendor.

Vendor Strengths and Things to Know

Every vendor has product strengths and idiosyncracies that the others do not. All vendors provide matches and shared matches. Each vendor provides ethnicity tools which certainly can be useful, but the features differ and will be covered elsewhere.

  • AncestryAncestry has the largest autosomal database and includes ThruLines, but no Y or mitochondrial DNA testing, no clusters, no chromosome browser, no triangulation, and no X chromosome matching or reporting. Ancestry provides genealogical records, advanced tools, and full tree access to your matches’ trees with an Ancestry subscription. Ancestry does not allow downloading your match list or segment match information, but the other vendors do.
  • 23andMe 23andMe has the second largest database. They provide triangulation and genetic trees that include your closest matches. Many people test at 23andMe for health and wellness information, so 23andMe has people in their database who are not specifically interested in genealogy and probably won’t have tested elsewhere, but may be invaluable to your search. 23andMe provides Y and mtDNA high-level haplogroups only, but no matching or other haplogroup information. If you purchase a new test or have a V5 ancestry+health current test, you can expand your matches from a limit of 1500 to about 5000 with an annual membership. For seeking close relatives, you don’t need those features, but you may want them for genealogy. 23andMe is the only vendor that limits their customers’ matches.
  • MyHeritageMyHeritage has the third largest database that includes lots of European testers. MyHeritage provides triangulation, Theories of Family Relativity, and an integrated cluster tool* but does not report X matches and does not offer Y or mitochondrial DNA testing. MyHeritage accepts autosomal DNA file uploads from other testing companies for free and provides access to advanced DNA features for a one-time unlock fee. MyHeritage includes genealogical records and full feature access to advanced DNA tools with a Complete Subscription. (Free 15 days trial subscription, here.)
  • FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder (autosomal)FamilyTreeDNA is the oldest DNA testing company, meaning their database includes people who initially tested 20+ years ago and have since passed away. This, in essence, gets you one generation further back in time, with the possibility of stronger matches. Their Family Matching feature buckets and triangulates your matches, assigning them to your maternal or paternal sides if you link known matches to their proper place in your tree, even if your parents have not tested. FamilyTreeDNA accepts uploads from other testing companies for free and provides advanced DNA features for a one time unlock fee.
  • FamilyTreeDNAFamilyTreeDNA is the only company that offers both Y and mitochondrial DNA testing products that include matching, integration with autosomal test results, and other tools. These two tests are lineage-specific and don’t have to be sorted from your other ancestral lines.

I wrote about using Y DNA results, here.

I wrote about using mitochondrial DNA results, here.

*Third parties such as Genetic Affairs provide clustering tools for both 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA. Clustering is integrated at MyHeritage. Ancestry does not provide a tool for nor allow third-party clustering. If the answer you seek isn’t immediately evident, Genetic Affairs clustering tools group people together who are related to each other, and you, and create both genetic and genealogical trees based on shared matches. You can read more about their tools, here.

Fish in all the Ponds and Use All the Bait Possible

Here’s the testing and upload strategy I recommend, based on the above discussion and considerations. The bottom line is this – if you want as much information as possible, as quickly as possible, order the four tests in red initially. Then transfer the first autosomal test results you receive to the two companies identified in blue. Optionally, GEDMatch may have tools you want to work with, but they aren’t a testing company.

What When Ancestry 23andMe MyHeritage FamilyTreeDNA
Order autosomal Initially X X    
Order Y 111 or Big-Y DNA test if male Initially       X
Order mitochondrial DNA test Initially if desired       X
Upload free autosomal When Ancestry or 23andMe results are available     X X
Unlock Advanced Tools When you upload     $29 $19
Optional GEDMatch free upload If desired, can subscribe for advanced tools

When you upload an autosomal DNA file to a vendor site, only upload one file per site, per tester. Otherwise, multiple tests simply glom up everyone’s match list with multiple matches to the same person.

Multiple vendor sites will hopefully provide multiple close matches, which increase your opportunity to discover INFORMATION about your family, not just the identity of the person you seek.

Or maybe you prefer to wait and order these DNA tests serially, waiting until one set of results is back and you’re finished working with them before ordering the next one. If so, that means you’re a MUCH more patient person than me. 😊

Our next article in this series will be about endogamy, how to know if it applies to you, and what that means to your search.

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Hans Sang (1614-1684); Survived the 30 Years’ War, But Not the Plague – 52 Ancestors #367

Hans Sang (Sing) was born in 1614 in Endersbach to Johannes Sang and Anna Enssle.

He was assuredly baptized in the former Collegiate Church, which still stands. The tower was constructed in 1729.

Hans would never have remembered a childhood without warfare.

In 1618, when Hans was only four years old, the Thirty Years’ War erupted, devastating this part of Germany. More than two-thirds of the residents perished, succumbing to warfare, starvation, plague, and other opportunistic diseases like dysentery and cholera.

Hans, however, was one of the lucky survivors.

Hans would one day become a butcher, which means he had to apprentice with someone. We don’t know his father’s occupation, which could have been a butcher as well.

We don’t know when Hans’ parents died, according to this genealogy based on church and civil documents, but based on the fact that his last known sibling was born in 1625, it would appear that both of his parents were living for at least the first 11 years of Hans’s life.

Records from that time are scarce to non-existent. What the soldiers didn’t burn, they destroyed or stole. It’s a miracle that the church itself wasn’t burned. The rest of the town may have been. For all we know, the minister may have died or been killed, with no replacement. In other words, there may have been no one to record anything.

The war raged around Hans. Perhaps the fact that he was a butcher’s apprentice saved him. Armies had to eat.

In 1634, Hans would have been 20 years old. In German culture, not quite of age to marry, but living in a warzone would have changed the norms of the day.

Endersbach, with her church marked by a red star in the center of town, above, was a mile or so down the road from Beutelsbach, her center marked with a red pin.

In fact, the families of the two towns intermingled regularly and had likely been related for centuries. Endersbach is first found in records in 1278 as Andrespach, so had been in existence for hundreds of years, as had Beutelsbach – both settlements along the Rems River.

Soldiers had been quartering in Beutelsbach for some time, and probably in Endersbach too. Pillaging was a given, but town elders, as well as the citizens, paid the soldiers as much as they could come up with to protect the town from burning.

Apparently, the payment either wasn’t enough, or something else happened, because in the late fall or early winter of 1634, neighboring Beutelsbach burned to the ground. The church was fortified, so it’s certainly possible that at least some of the residents took shelter within the church walls, inside the church, which held.

Would Endersbach burn too?

Did Endersbach burn?

The Endersbach church was also a walled church, built between 1468 and 1491 with the intention that the residents would all shelter within the church that could be much more easily defended than individual homes, clustered in the village. Homes also served as farms, with a barn, livestock and fields stretching out directly behind the house. Houses abutted each other for protection.

Fortified churches were built as defensive structures and incorporated military features, such as thick walls, battlements, and embrasures probably initially constructed to withstand the Ottoman invasions of the 1400s and 1500s.

By Silesia711 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62263490

You can see portions of the remaining Endersbach church wall in this contemporary photo.

When Beutelsbach burned, the Endersbach residents likely filled their leather fire buckets with water, shown below, gathered their families, and quickly ran to the church.

Probably a lot of praying occurred that day, not just for their own protection, but for their neighbors and relatives whose homes they could see burning in the distance as thick, acrid smoke drifted over the vineyards on its way to Endersbach.

There was never any doubt who was in charge during a war.

Following the torching of Beutelsbach, the local residents would have had to take up residence someplace else, at least for a while. Some probably sheltered with family and friends in Endersbach.

Heartache and disease accompanied them, with unsanitary conditions causing illness and death among those who didn’t burn or die defending their homes.

Perhaps that’s when Hans Sang or Sing took a shine to Barbara Eckhardt whose family was from Beutelsbach. Did her family seek refuge in Endersbach?

Hans and Barbara married sometime in 1636, in Beutelsbach, where Hans became a citizen.

Two years after that devastating fire, I’m sure Beutelsbach was still trying to recover and rebuild – still in the midst of a war. Regardless of everything else, life had to go on in some way. People still married, began families, and shepherded the next generation into the world.

We don’t know if every house burned, but we do know that Beutelsbach lost about 50% of its residents, perhaps more.

If the local butcher was one of those who perished or was burned out, Beutelsbach would have encouraged Hans, the butcher’s apprentice from neighboring Endersbach, to take up residence. Of course, Barbara’s attention would have sweetened that deal and made Beutelsbach look very attractive to Hans – a win-win for everyone.

Even though Beutelsbach church records weren’t kept again until after 1646, we do know something about Hans and Barbara’s children who survived and remained in Beutelsbach. Their death records often give an age, therefore revealing at least the year they were born.

After their marriage, life became at least somewhat normal, as normal as life can be during a war that has lasted your entire lifetime. Children were born, and some died. Everyone went to church on Sundays. Birthdays accumulated. Christmas was celebrated, and candles lit the church beautifully.

Hans did quite well for himself as the Beutelsbach butcher. His home and butcher shop was right at the base of Beutelsbach’s fortified church wall at Marktplatz 8.

The seam in the roof, just to the right of the red car, divides Marktpfalz 8, at left, from Marketpfalz 10. As you can see, it’s actually a small residence, snugged up against the church wall on one side.

Hans and Barbara lived in the last house before the church, or the first house when leaving the church. It was easy to pick up meat on the way past.

All homes were clustered in the center of town, their barns and field stretching out behind, as you can see on this 1832 Beutelsbach map. Vineyards, tended by the citizens, were located on the hillsides.

Unfortunately, in 1832, Marktpfalz 8 no longer existed, unless the numbering has shifted. The space is vacant on the map, so has apparently been rebuilt. It appears that the neighboring property, Marktpfalz 10, remains the same with a recognizable footprint.

However, it’s probably not the marketing and retail opportunity that made this location so desirable to Hans.

If Beutelsbach was to be attacked or burn again, all Hans and Barbara needed to do was grab their kids and literally run outside their front door and up the steps to be inside the wall.

Attribution by qwesy qwesy. You can see the number 8 on the grey door.

No one was closer to safety. We don’t know how many times they sheltered in the safety of the church, but we can say with certainty that they did during the first dozen years of their marriage as the war continued, day in and day out, swirling around them.

No wonder Hans and his bride set up housekeeping in Beutelsbach. Opportunity among chaos.

When the 30 Years’ War finally ended in 1648, Hans was 39 or 40 years old. He would have seen literally generations of soldiers marching through both Endersbach and Beutelsbach, up and down the roads, pillaging as they went. It didn’t matter which “side” the soldiers represented; no one was safe. Fear and running for safety was the only life Hans had ever known. The war was finally, finally, over.

I can only imagine the celebrations throughout Germany.

This print from Nuremberg shows a fireworks display celebrating the end of the war.

Martin Goll, a historian, and descendant who lives in Beutelsbach today, tells us that by the time Hans died, on April 18, 1684, he was a wealthy man, at least compared to other Beutelsbach residents.

Hans Sang or Sing had defied the odds. He lived through a brutal war that lasted three decades and took two-thirds of the people living in this part of Germany. He managed to not hurt himself badly enough as a butcher to perish of infection, didn’t starve to death, evaded or survived the plague, dysentery, and typhoid, well, right up until he didn’t.

Against incredible odds, Hans lived to be 70 years old – and then, and then – he died from the Plague. He wasn’t alone. Eleven days earlier, his wife, Barbara, died as well.

Ironically, this would be the Plague’s last stand in most of Europe for many years before it would rear its ugly head again.

I’d wager that many people in Beutelsbach died in the days and weeks surrounding Hans and Barbara’s deaths. Many more were probably quite ill, but recovered.

Did the minister survive? If so, was he well enough to perform funerals? Were the dead buried, then the funerals following at a later time?

Were Hans and Barbara’s funerals combined?

I’d love to hear what the minister had to say at Hans’s funeral before he was buried in the churchyard, inside the wall, just a few feet from his modest home that he shared with Barbara for nearly half a century. Surely, they were buried side by side, Hans joining Barbara a few days after she departed this life.

Those early graves aren’t marked in the churchyard today. We simply know that they are there, silent sentries to ensuing generations.

But wait, that’s not the end of Hans’ story – there’s more. There is something else that would cement Hans Sing’s place in history – just not in his lifetime. Hans never knew about this, because it hadn’t happened yet.

Hans Sing is the ancestor of a United States President. And yes, that means that President is my cousin.

I’ll tell you “the rest of the story” when I write about his wife, Barbara Eckhardt.

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DNA: In Search of…What Do You Mean I’m Not Related to My Family? – and What Comes Next?

Welcome to the second in our series of articles about how to search for unknown family members.

I introduced the series in the article, DNA: In Search of…New Series Launches.

This article addresses the question of “How did this happen?” and introduces the tools we need to answer that question. I’ve combined two articles into one because I really didn’t want to leave you hanging after introducing you to the problem.

We discuss the various kinds of DNA tests, when they are appropriate for your biological sex, and how one can use them to discover information about the person or people you’re seeking.

In other words, we begin at the point of making the discovery that there is something amiss, then review possible glitches. Once we confirm there is someone you need to search for, we discuss how to use genetic testing reasonably and in a planned fashion to solve that mystery.

Please note that I am NOT referring to unexpected ethnicity results in this article. This article refers to your match list and who you do and don’t match on that list. We will discuss ethnicity and how it can help you in a different context in a future article.

The Unknown

Some people have known all their lives that they were adopted, or that they didn’t know the identity of one parent, generally their father.

Other people have made or will make that discovery in a different way. Sometimes, that realization happens when they take an autosomal DNA test and don’t match people they expect to match, either not at all or in a different way.

For example:

  • You might not match a parent or a sibling.
  • You could match only people on your mother’s side, but no known relatives on your father’s side.
  • Your parents or siblings have tested, but you don’t match any of them.
  • Your immediate family hasn’t tested, but your first and second cousins have tested, and you don’t match any of them.
  • You recognize no people, families, or family names on your match list.
  • You think you know your genealogy, but nothing on your match list looks familiar.
  • If your parents and close relatives haven’t tested, not recognizing families might be explained if your family is part of a community of undertested individuals.
  • You might not recognize anyone or surnames if you know absolutely nothing about your family genealogy.
  • Sometimes, a sibling is reported as a half-sibling instead of a full sibling, which is an unexpected finding. This means that you only share one parent, not two. I wrote about this in the article Full or Half Siblings. The non-matching parent is generally the father. The question that follows is, which one of you, if not both, weren’t fathered by the man you thought was your biological father?

These discoveries are generally unexpected and unwelcome – a horrible shock followed by some level of disbelief.

I’ve been there.

My half-brother turned out to not be my half-brother, so we weren’t biologically related at all, although that didn’t change how much I loved him one iota.

Later, I did identify his father, but it was too late for them. My brother had passed on by that time.

Ironically, his biological family would have welcomed him with open arms.

If you’re interested, I wrote about our journey in a series of articles:

The Shock of Discovery

It’s difficult discovering that your full sibling isn’t a full sibling or not a sibling at all, but it’s even worse when you discover that one or both of your parents are not your biological parent(s) when you weren’t expecting that. Obviously, sometimes those two shockers accompany each other.

And no, if you don’t match your parents, siblings, first or second cousins, DNA tests can’t be “that” wrong in terms of matching. That’s generally the first question everyone asks.

Yes, we have seen a couple of instances of test mix-ups at the labs, many years ago, among the millions of tests taken. Better quality control procedures were introduced, and a mix-up hasn’t happened in a very long time. However, if you really think that’s a possibility, or you need peace of mind – order another test from the same vendor. If the second test comes back with the same match list as the first test, there is no lab mix-up.

Or, you can order a test from another vendor – something you’re going to need anyway to solve the mystery and for your genealogy. Hint – the two vendors you must test at directly are Ancestry and 23andMe because they don’t accept uploads. If you’re going to order another test, make it one or both of those.

Before deciding you’ve discovered a genetic disconnect, let’s take a deep breath and look at a couple of other possibilities first.

Be Sure the Vial or Transfer Wasn’t Confused

If you’re encountering a situation where you’re not matching relatives that you know have tested, or for some reason, you suspect something isn’t right, the first things that need to be considered are:

  • Are you positive that your relative(s) have taken a DNA test? You wouldn’t believe how many times someone has told me that they don’t match their mother/father/sibling and come to find out, their family member hasn’t tested. Did they order a test but never send it in? Did they send it in, but their results arent’ back yet?
  • Are you positive that your relative(s) tested at the same company where you did? Many times we discover that they’ve tested, but at a different company. Have your relative show you their results, take a screenshot, or give you their login to confirm you’re at the same vendor.
  • Are you missing all of your relatives or just one or two in the same line? If the answer is one or two, they, not you, may have a disconnect, especially if you match other people on the same side of your family.
  • Did you and a friend or spouse both swab or spit at the same time? If so, is there any possibility that your and their vials were inadvertently swapped when you put them in envelopes and mailed them?

If there is any doubt, check with that other person and see if they are experiencing the same issue. If you look at their results, you may recognize your own family. I’ve seen this occur at family reunions and at the holidays, where several DNA tests were taken by various family members.

  • This last situation is much more common and is caused by confusing files during a download/upload to another vendor. Do you manage multiple kits, and did you inadvertently download the wrong DNA file, or upload the wrong person’s DNA file to a different vendor?

If so, you’re looking at someone else’s results, thinking they are your own. If that person is a cousin, you may be even more confused because you may match some of the same people, just at very different levels. This could make your sibling look like a half-sibling or first cousin, for example.

If there is any possibility of an upload mix-up, or any doubt whatsoever:

  1. Delete the suspect file at the vendor where you uploaded the DNA file
  2. Delete the downloaded files from your computer
  3. Start over by downloading the DNA file again from the original vendor
  4. Label the downloaded file clearly, and immediately, with the tester’s name and date.
  5. Upload the new file to the target vendor before you download another person’s DNA file.

Step-by-step upload/download instructions can be found, here.

Not Parent Expected

If you discover that one of two parents is not the expected biological parent, you’ve discovered a genetic disconnect that is known by a number of different terms. Initially, the term NPE was used, but other terms have been added over the years, and they are sometimes used differently, depending on who is speaking.

  • NPE – Non-Parental Event, Not Parent Expected
  • MPE – Misattributed Paternal/Parental Event or Misattributed Parentage Experience
  • Undocumented Adoption – Regardless of how the situation occurred, it was not documented.

Please, please do NOT jump to conclusions and make assumptions about infidelity and duplicity. There can be many reasons for this occurrence, including:

  • Agreed upon “open” relationships
  • Intentional impregnation when one partner is infertile
  • Surrogacy
  • Infidelity
  • Rape
  • Sperm donor
  • Adoption
  • Unknown first marriage, with step-father raising a child as his own
  • Illegitimate birth of a child before marriage
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Intoxication
  • Coercion

In other words, the situation may have been known to the involved parties, even if they did not share that information with you or others. Prior to the last 20 years, no one would ever have considered that this information might ever be revealed. Social norms and judgments were very different a generation or more ago.

I wrote about this in the article, Things That Need To Be said: Adoption, Adultery, Coercion, Rape, and DNA.

Of course, these events could happen in any generation, but the closer to you, in time, the more evident it will be when looking at your matches.

Now that we’ve determined that we have an unknown parent or grandparent, how do we sort this out?

Let’s Start with the Basics

I’m going to begin by explaining the basics of the different kinds of tests, and when each test can be used.

In this series, we will be focused on searching for six individuals, separately – both parents and all four grandparents.

You will be able to use the same techniques for ancestors in more distant generations by following the same instructions and methodologies, just adapting to include more matches to reach further back in time.

We will be taking the search step-by-step in each article.

Four Kinds of DNA

For genealogy, we can work with four kinds of DNA:

We can potentially use each of these when searching for unknown ancestors, including parents and grandparents. Each type of DNA has specific characteristics and uses in different situations because it’s inherited differently by the son and daughter, below.

In these examples, everything is from the perspective of the son and daughter.

Y DNA testing is only available to males, because only males have a Y chromosome which is inherited directly from the father, shown by the blue arrow. In other words, the son has the father’s Y chromosome (and generally his surname,) but the daughter does not.

The Y chromosome can provide surnames and very close matches, or reach far back in time, or both. Ideally, Y DNA is used in conjunction with autosomal testing when searching for unknown individuals.

Mitochondrial DNA can be tested by everyone since males and females both receive mitochondrial DNA from their mother, passed to her from her direct maternal line, shown by the pink arrows and the yellow hearts. Both the son and daughter can test for their mother’s mitochondrial DNA.

Both Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA can reach far back in time, but can also be informative of recent connections. Neither are ever mixed with the DNA of the other parent, so the DNA is not diluted over the generations.

Think of Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA as having the ability to provide recent genealogy information and connections, plus a deep dive on just one particular line. Fortunately, when you’re looking for parents, the lines they test are the direct maternal (or matrilineal) line and the direct paternal (or patrilineal) lines.

Both Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests are deep, not broad. One line each.

Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA will both be able to tell you if that specific ancestral line is European, African, Native American, Asian, Jewish, and so forth. Additionally, both offer matching at FamilyTreeDNA, information about where other testers’ ancestors are found in the world, and more.

If you want more information about what these tests have to offer, now, I provide a Y DNA Resource page, here, and a Mitochondrial DNA Resource page, here.

Autosomal DNA is the DNA contributed to you on chromosomes 1-22 by your ancestors from across all your ancestral lines in your tree, shown by the green arrow.

Everyone receives half of their autosomal DNA from each parent, with the exception of the X chromosome, which we’ll discuss in a minute.

This means that because the parent’s DNA is cut in half in each generation, the contributions of more distant ancestors’ DNA are reduced over time, with each generational division, until it’s no longer discernable or disappears altogether.

Autosomal DNA is broad across many lines, but not deep.

This figure provided by Dr. Paul Maier at FamilyTreeDNA, in the MyOrigins 3.0 White Paper, illustrates that by the 7th generation, you won’t receive DNA from a few of your ancestors. Some may be contained in segments too small to be reported by DNA testing vendors.

Translated, this means that autosomal DNA matching is most reliable in the closest generations, which is where we are working.

There is no documented occurrence of second cousins who don’t match each other. 90% of third cousins match, and about 50% of fourth cousins. I wrote about that in the article, Why Don’t I Match My Cousin?

The 23rd Chromosome – Sex Determination

Autosomal DNA generally refers to chromosomes 1-22. The 23rd chromosome is the sex selection chromosome.

Males have a Y chromosome contributed by their father, and an X contributed by their mother. The Y chromosome is what makes males, male.

Females have an X chromosome contributed by both their mother and father, which recombines just like chromosomes 1-22, but women have no Y chromosome.

In this graphic, you can see that a male child receives the father’s Y chromosome and the mother’s X. The female child receives an X chromosome from both parents.

Only FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe report X chromosome results by including them with their autosomal DNA test.

Let’s take a look at how the X chromosome works in a little more detail.

X Chromosome DNA is another type of autosomal DNA, meaning it can be inherited from both parents in some circumstances. However, the X chromosome has a different inheritance path which means we analyze it differently for genealogy.

The father gives an X or a Y chromosome to his offspring, but not both.

If the child inherits the Y chromosome from the father, the child becomes a male. If the child inherits the X chromosome from the father, the child becomes a female.

Men only receive an X chromosome from their mother since they receive a Y chromosome from their father. Men can inherit a mixture of their mother’s X chromosomes that were contributed to their mother from both her mother (peach) and father (green.) Conversely, men can inherit their maternal grandmother’s or maternal grandfather’s X chromosome intact.

In this example, the mother and father have three sons. None of the sons can inherit an X chromosome from their father, whose X chromosome is shown in yellow. The father gives the sons his Y chromosome, not shown here, instead of an X, which is how they become males. Males only inherit their X chromosome from their mother.

The mother inherited one copy of her X chromosome from her father, shown in green, and one copy from her mother, shown in peach.

  1. The first son inherited his maternal grandfather’s green X chromosome, intact, from his mother, and none of his maternal grandmother’s peach X chromosome.
  2. The second son inherited a portion of his maternal grandmother’s peach X chromosome and a portion of his maternal grandfather’s green X chromosome. I’ve shown the portions as half, but the division could vary.
  3. The third son inherited his maternal grandmother’s peach X chromosome, intact, and none of his maternal grandfather’s green X chromosome.

This means if you match a man on his X chromosome, assuming it’s a valid match and not identical by chance, that match MUST come from his mother’s line.

In a future article, I’ll provide some X-specific fan charts and tips to help you easily discern potential X inheritance paths.

Women inherit an X chromosome from both their mother and father. They inherit their father’s X chromosome intact that he received from his mother, because he only has one X to give his daughter. Therefore, daughters inherit their paternal grandmother’s X chromosome from their father, because he passes on exactly what he received from his mother.

In this graphic, the father and mother have three daughters. You can see that each daughter receives the father’s yellow X chromosome that he inherited from his mother.

He doesn’t have a second copy of an X chromosome to mix with his mother’s.

Women inherit their mother’s X chromosome in the same fashion that men do. You can see in our example that:

  • The first daughter inherited her father’s yellow X chromosome, plus her maternal grandmother’s peach X chromosome, intact, and none of her maternal grandfather’s green X chromosome.
  • The second daughter inherited her father’s yellow X chromosome, plus part of her maternal grandfather’s green X chromosome and part of her maternal grandmother’s peach X chromosome from her mother. The portions of the mother’s pink and green chromosomes inherited by the daughter can vary widely.
  • The third daughter inherited her father’s yellow X chromosome, plus her maternal grandfather’s green X chromosome, intact, which is his mother’s X chromosome, of course. This daughter inherited none of her maternal grandmother’s peach X chromosome.

Women inherit two X chromosomes, one from each parent, while men only inherit one X, contributed from their mother. This means that X matches have different inheritance paths for women and men.

Because the X inheritance path involves the mother, many people confuse mitochondrial DNA inheritance with X inheritance. I wrote about that in the article, X Matching and Mitochondrial DNA is NOT the Same Thing.

Testing Strategies and Vendor Strengths

In the next article, we will be discussing detailed testing strategies based on multiple factors:

  • Who you are searching for in your tree
  • Who, other than you, is available to test
  • Sex of the tester(s)
  • Vendor strengths and unique offerings
  • Urgency, or not
  • Using combinations of vendor results and why you want to

Getting lucky may be what you hope for, but it’s not a strategy.😊

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Hans Lenz (1602-1667), Baker and Vintner During the Thirty Years’ War – 52 Ancestors #366

Hans Lenz was born on January 24, 1602 in the small village of Schnait, (Weinstadt) Germany to Johannes Lenz and Margarethe Vetterle.

Schait was a small village alongside the Rems River, nestled between hillside vineyards with a central church built about 1570, and maybe 40 houses. This drawing from 1685 in Andreas Kieser’s forest register book shows Schnait, with the Protestant church as its heart.

While Schnait looks peaceful and idyllic, a lot transpired in the years between 1602 and 1685.

Truthfully, Hans was lucky to have been born at all. In 1595, the plague swept through the region. Had either of his parents perished, Hans would never have existed.

Plague and warfare were a constant threat, not to mention dysentery and various illnesses that swept half the children away from their parents, and that’s in good times.

Hans was the firstborn child of his parents, arriving the year after their marriage. He probably had several siblings, but we don’t know who they were.

We know little about Schnait in the years between 1602 and 1618, but it’s likely that Hans was confirmed in the church when he was 12 or 13 years old, in about 1614 or 1615.

The minister who confirmed Hans was probably his future father-in-law.

In 1618, the 30 Years’ War began, which was both dynastic and religious, and would devastate Germany over the next three decades.

By Straty_ludnościowe_po_wojnie_30letniej.PNG: Mix321derivative work: Schoolinf3456 – This file was derived from: Straty ludnościowe po wojnie 30letniej.PNG:, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18755096

This region, marked with a red star on the 30 Years’ War Depopulation map above, saw massive declines in population. All locations in this part of Germany saw population reductions greater than 66%. Some villages were entirely burned and abandoned, their residents murdered.

It’s difficult to refer to anyone who lived in Germany during this time as fortunate, but comparatively, Hans Lenz was.

Hans Lenz was a baker.

Schnait was not burned to the ground during the war, so it’s possible that the “old bake house,” shown below, is the original baker’s home.

Historical bakery in “Haldenstraße 7” By Silesia711 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67028703

The baker was only located just a few steps from the church at Haldenstrasse 7. Perhaps people stopped and picked up baked goods on their way to and from church.

A village only needed one baker, and a baker’s oven would have been very specialized and expensive to construct. This was most likely where Hans either lived or apprenticed.

Generally, sons apprenticed with their father and stepped into their professions as adults. Of course, given the surrounding vineyards, everyone was involved in the wine culture.

What goes better with wine than bread!

Today, vineyards growing specialty grapes still surround Schnait which remains a small village. This satellite image only shows a total of about 2-3 miles across. The ancient vineyards follow the contours of the hillsides.

As an adult, Hans Lenz relocated to Beutelsbach, just a mile or so to the north. Perhaps they needed a baker. Those two villages were very closely associated.

Prior to 1570, Schnait was too small to have its own church so all of the Schnait residents attended church in neighboring Beutelsbach, just a short walk up the road.

Historian Martin Goll lives in Beutelsbach and also descends from the Lenz family. His primary language is German, and his correspondence is translated into English. I’m extremely grateful for his in-depth research on these families and the history of both villages.

Martin tells us that Hans Lenz “was one of the rich people in this time. He married the daughter of the reverend. Usually, a Reverend belonged to the upper class. It was impossible to marry in[to] such a family, if you have not been a member of an upper class family. So, Hans Lenz must have [had] parents which were coming from the upper class.”

But all was not peaceful in the Rems Valley.

In 1626, when Hans was 24, another epidemic broke out before the Battle of Nordlingen, pictured above, which occurred about 55 miles away on September 6th and was catastrophic for the Protestants.

After the battle, Beutelsbach became an army camp for the fortified town of Schorndorf.

By the time Hans married, in 1627, everyone was probably sick and tired of warfare.

In 1627, Hans was 25 years old and married Agnes Eyb, the daughter of the local reverend in Schnait. They were probably married by her father, or her brother who became the pastor after their father died.

Their only surviving child, George Lenz (1627-1663), was born later that year.

At some point, the young couple moved up the road to Beutelsbach, perhaps shortly after their marriage.

Perhaps the bakery protected the family, at least to some extent, for a little while.

Soldiers routinely raided farms and homesteads, but they might not have been so willing to burn the bakery. Everyone needs to eat.

However, their good fortune did not last.

In 1634, Beutelsbach was plundered and set on fire. Anyone who resisted was killed.

Martin tells us that “Agnes Eyb died during the 30 Years’ War. She left Beutelsbach before she died and went to Schnait, where her brother was the reverend at this time. She died in Schnait three days after she arrived, because she was injured when the house in Beutelsbach was burned.”

At the time Agnes died, her brother, Mathias Jacob Eyb was the pastor in Schnait and writes of his sister’s death in the Book of the Dead, “Young Hans Lenz’s wife, Agnes, died, who had been my dear sister, on December 9, 1634 and then was buried on the 10th.”

War is Hell.

Hans and Agnes had moved to Beutelsbach – and their home burned when the soldiers torched the town. People could probably see Beutelsbach burning for miles in every direction. It would serve as a warning to anyone else who considered resisting.

Unfortunately, we have almost no information about their children, with one exception. Martin reports that “The only son of the pastor’s daughter, George Lenz, becomes a surgeon in Beutelsbach, which was almost an academic degree by the standards of the time.”

Surgeons were the barbers of the day, plus they “bled” people as needed.

Given that Hans and Agnes were married from sometime in 1627 until her death on December 9, 1634, it’s likely that they had either 3 or 4 children. I can’t help but wonder if those children died when the town burned too, or had they already perished? Was Agnes pregnant or did she have a babe in arms when her home was set aflame? Was it burned at night when people were sleeping? Did she make the “mistake” of resisting, or was she simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?

How did Hans survive? Maybe he was gone, or fighting. Or did they, along with other residents, seek shelter inside the church walls?

Who took Agnes to her brother’s in Schnait?

Nearly everyone in Schnait and Beutelsbach was related, probably many times over. They would have watched Beutelsbach burn in horror, wondering if the soldiers would burn Schnait next.

A peasant begs for mercy in front of his burning farm; by the 1630s, being caught in the open by soldiers from either side was tantamount to a death sentence.

After Beutelsbach was plundered and burned, the next challenge was famine and plague, which spread easily because people were hungry and ate anything, down to and including sawdust and acorns, which proved fatal.

I can’t even imagine the level of desperation.

Martin’s research indicates that even with the horrors of war, Beutelsbach and Schnait fared better than most. By 1650, the population of Schnait had only declined by about one-third, and in neighboring Beutelsbach, by about half.

Let that sink in for a minute. They were the lucky ones because “only one-third” and “only half” of the residents perished.

By comparison, about one-third survived in neighboring towns, meaning two-thirds died. Both Schorndorf and Waiblingen were burned completely, with the exception of a few houses that somehow escaped, with a maximum of 20% of the population surviving.

It was a horrific time.

Martin says that there were no Beutelsbach church records that survived between 1620 and 1646, having been stolen or destroyed by the soldiers.

In 1634, when Agnes died of her burns, Hans Lenz would have been left with his surviving small child, who was 6 or 7 years old, to raise, and a bakery to rebuild, but mostly, he had to find a way to simply survive.

Update: The next paragraph is incorrect. Katharina’s birth surname was NOT Lenz. I am leaving the original text in case others find the same erroneous information. I am working with Martin Goll to publish the correct information in Katherina’s own article.

The next year, in 1635, Hans Lenz married Katharina Lenz (Note update – her surname is not Lenz,) also from Schnait.

For the first decade of their marriage, from 1635 to 1645, Hans and Katharina had no children that survived, which might well have been related to the ongoing war.

Martin tells us that Hans had another problem too. His bakery was repeatedly pillaged. It’s unclear whether Hans was able to come up with enough money to prevent his bakery from being burned or if that’s what happened in 1634 when Agnes died. He must have passionately hated the soldiers.

In order to avoid the torch, community assets had to be handed over to soldiers, and if that was not enough, the local authorities had to confiscate tangible private assets.

According to Martin, “In Beutelsbach, the man in charge was the custodian Johann Jakob Schmierer (1593-1660). He demanded this money, violently and brutally if necessary. Apparently, he was also thinking of himself and his own advantage. Because of this, Hans Lenz had trouble with soldiers in the quarters who claimed that Schmierer had sold them wine but had not delivered the amount paid to Lenz. This information shows that Hans was not only a baker but also ran a wine trade. The monastery custodian “ruled” the wine in the monastery cellar. He probably had Hans Lenz as his “negotiator” and got him into trouble by delivering too little, so the soldiers certainly had the upper hand.”

Soldiers always have the upper hand.

The Thirty Years’ War is considered to be the most destructive war in European history. While many civilians didn’t perish in direct warfare, they were by far the most frequent victims, with 4.5 to 8 million deaths, mostly from the effects of the war. Another source places the reduction of the population of the Holy Roman Empire by 7 million people, but that may also include those who left. People died from military action (3%), starvation (12%), bubonic plague (64%), typhus (4%), and dysentery (5%), plus unrecorded causes of death.

Hans would survive to see the end of the Thirty Years’ War, in 1648, and live another 19 years beyond.

Hans would have been 46 years old when the Peace of Westphalia treaties were signed in Munster after weeks of negotiation.

The difference in dress between the nobles who were both the instigators and beneficiaries of the war, and the people living in the countryside is telling.

Here’s the Dutch envoy arriving in Munster for negotiations. Contrast that to the farmer begging for his life and the houses of villagers burning, leaving them with nothing if they survived.

The residents of Schnait and Beutelsbach, along with the rest of Germany, must have rejoiced as soon as the word reached their ears. The horror was finally over. Hans had lived his entire adult life either amidst the fighting or fearing it. Soldiers quartered in his village and business, his home was pillaged several times and burned at least once, and his wife perished. Who knows how many family members he lost, directly or indirectly, in addition to his first wife.

In some way, Hans was able to acquire several vineyards. Martin speculated that perhaps Katharina’s parents were wealthy and the vineyards escaped destruction during the war, stating, “Hans was able to rebuild his property which was damaged during the 30 Years’ War. When he died, he owned 5 houses and 10 wine yards, much more than the average.”

Hans’ only son with Katharina, Hans Lenz (1645-1725), would build upon that fortune. In addition to his father’s houses and vineyards, the son built a new house and died with more than 1500 liters of wine in the cellar and a net worth of almost 15,000 guilders.

Martin marked Hans’ property on the Beutelsbach map, above, in red.

The lower buildings still exist today.

From 1650-1659, Hans was listed as a bread examiner, viewer, or inspector on the list of citizens. Who knew there was such a thing?!

Hans Lenz died on Christmas Eve, 1667 in Beutelsbach.

In the German tradition, the family would have gathered to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, either at home or at church, or both. I wonder if Hans had been ill, or if he died suddenly, either at home during the festivities or in church during the services.

Perhaps Krampus, the Christmas demon, visited and stole Hans away!

Hans was 65 years old and left three living children from his marriage with Katherina. His son George had already died four years earlier. It’s unknown whether or not Katharina was still living.

If Hans was buried at the traditional time, his funeral service would have been held on Christmas Day, and he would have been buried inside the walled churchyard, just a few feet away from his home at 17 Stiftstrasse and the bakery he rebuilt after the war.

Perhaps Hans is resting within the very walls that saved him.

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DNA: In Search of… New Series Launches

Today, I’m excited to announce a new series titled “DNA: In Search of…”

I receive queries every single day about how to search for either unknown parents or unknown grandparents using genetic genealogy.

While some of the techniques are the same when searching for these different people, others vary and depend on a combination of factors: Continue reading

DNA-eXplained Celebrates Tenth Anniversary!

This blog, DNA-eXplained, is celebrating its 10th anniversary today. How time flies!

I never thought for a minute about a 10th anniversary when I launched that first article.

I started blogging to teach people and literally “explain” about genetic genealogy – which is why I selected the name DNA-eXplained. Over time, it has also been nicknamed DNAeXplain, which is fine.

I hoped to be able to answer questions once, with graphics and examples, instead of over and over again off-the-cuff. I needed someplace where people could be referred for answers. Blogging seemed like the perfect medium for achieving exactly that.

Blogs allow writers to publish content attractively and react to changes and announcements quickly.

Blogs encourage readers to subscribe for email delivery or use RSS reader aggregation and can publish to social media.

Content can be located easily using browser searches.

Everything, all content, is indexed and searchable by keyword or phrase.

Blogging certainly seemed like the right solution. Still, I was hesitant.

I vividly remember working at my desk that day, a different desk in a different location, and anguishing before pressing the “publish” button that first time. Was I really, REALLY sure? I had the sense that I was sitting in one of those life-defining fork-in-the-road moments and once embarked upon, there would be no turning back.

I’m so glad I closed my eyes and pushed that button!

I knew we were going to be in for an incredible journey. Of course, I had no idea where that roller coaster ride was going, but we would be riding together, regardless. What a journey it has been!

A decade later, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and become friends with so many of you, both online and in person. I’ve met countless cousins I never knew I had, thanks to various blog articles, including the 52 Ancestors series which has turned out to be 365 and counting.

I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity! I thought I was giving to others, yet I’ve been greatly enriched by this experience and all of you.

So much has changed in all of our lives.

Looking Back

Today, as I look back at that very short first article, I can’t help but think just how unbelievably far we’ve come.

There was one Y and mitochondrial DNA testing vendor in 2012, FamilyTreeDNA, and that’s still the case today.

There were three autosomal testing companies, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and Ancestry, in addition to the Genographic Project, which was sunset in 2019 after an amazing 15-year run. GEDmatch was two years old in 2012 and had been formed to fill the need for advanced autosomal matching tools. In 2016, MyHeritage joined the autosomal testing market. All of those companies have since been acquired.

In 2012, FamilyTreeDNA broke ground by accepting uploaded DNA files from other vendors. Autosomal DNA tests cost about $300 although prices were dropping. I don’t anticipate prices dropping much further now, because companies have to maintain a reasonable profit margin to stay in business.

In 2013, when DNA-eXplained celebrated its first anniversary, I had published 162 articles.

That first year was VERY busy with lots of innovation occurring in the industry. You can read my end-of-year article, 2012 Top 10 Genetic Genealogy Happenings if you’d like to reminisce a bit. For comparison, here’s my Genetic Genealogy at 20 Years summary.

The World is Our Oyster

In the past decade, I’ve penned articles in a wide variety of locations, in several countries, on 5 continents.

I’ve written in my offices, of course, but also in cars, on buses, trains, and planes. I’ve crafted several articles on ships while cruising. In fact, writing is one of my favorite “sea-day” things to do, often sitting on deck if it’s a nice day.

I’ve written in cemeteries, which shouldn’t surprise you, on the hood of my car, and cross-legged on the floor at innumerable conferences.

I’ve composed at picnic tables and in countless hotel lobbies, libraries, laboratories, restaurants, and coffee shops. And, in at least 3 castles.

I’ve written while on archaeology digs, balancing my laptop on my knees while sitting on an inverted bucket, trying to keep dirt, sand, and ever-present insects away.

I’ve even written in hospitals, both as a visitor and a patient. Yea, I might not have told you about that.

I’ve pretty much taken you with me everyplace I’ve gone for the past decade. And we are no place near finished!

Today

This article is number 1531 which means I’ve published an article every 2.3 days for a decade. Truthfully, I’m stunned. I had no idea that I have been that prolific. I never have writer’s block. In fact, I have the opposite problem. So many wonderful topics to write about and never enough time.

A huge, HUGE thank you to all of my readers. Writers don’t write if people don’t read!

DNA-eXplained has received millions and millions of views and is very popular, thanks to all of you.

There have been more than 48,000 comments, 4,800 a year or about 13 each day, and yes, I read every single one before approving it for publication.

Akismet, my spam blocker only reports for 45 months, but in that time alone, there have been about 100,000 attempted SPAM comments. That equates to about 75 each day and THANK GOODNESS I don’t have to deal with those.

WordPress doesn’t count “pages,” as such, but if my articles average 10 pages each, and each page averages 500 words, then we’re looking at someplace between 7 and 8 million words. That’s 13 times the size of War and Peace😊. Not only do I write each article, but I proofread it several times too.

Peering Into the Future

Genetic genealogy as a whole continues to produce the unexpected and solve mysteries.

Tools like triangulation in general, Family Matching at FamilyTreeDNA, genetic trees at 23andMe, Theories of Family Relativity at MyHeritage, and ThruLines at Ancestry have provided hints and tools to both suggest and confirm relationships and break through brick walls.

Ethnicity chromosome painting at both 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA help unravel ancestral mysteries, especially for people with combinations of fundamentally different ancestries, as does Genetic Communities at Ancestry and Genetic Groups at MyHeritage.

Third-party tools that we love today weren’t even a twinkle in a developer’s eye in 2012. Products like DNAPainter, Genetic Affairs, and DNAGedcom pick up where the vendors leave off and are widely utilized by genealogists.

I hope that all of our vendors continue to invest in product development and provide the genetic genealogy community with new and innovative tools that assist us with breaking down those pesky brick walls.

Primarily, though, I hope you continue to enjoy your genealogy journey and make steady progress, with a rocket boost from genetic testing.

The vendors can provide wonderful tools, but it’s up to us to use them consistently, wringing out every possible drop. Don’t neglect paternal (male surname) Y DNA and matrilineal mitochondrial DNA testing for people who carry those important lines for your ancestors. All 4 kinds of DNA have a very specific and unique genealogical use.

I encourage you to test every relative you can and check their and your results often. New people test every single day. You never know where that critical piece of information will come from, or when that essential puzzle piece will drop into place.

Be sure to upload to both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage (plus GEDMatch) so you are in the database of all the vendors. (Instructions here.) Fate favors the prepared.

Thank You!!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me by reading and sharing my articles with your friends, organizations, and family members, by purchasing through the affiliate links, by buying my book, and by graciously sharing your own experiences.

Thank you for your suggestions and questions which plant the seeds of new articles and improvements.

I hope you’ve made progress with your research, unraveled some thorny knots, and that you’ve enjoyed this decade as much as I have. Tell me in the comments what you enjoyed the most or found most useful?

Here’s to another wonderful 10 years together!

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