About Roberta Estes

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

Pandemic Journal: Chaos

I didn’t want to write this article, because it’s tough, and sad, and awful. But, I would have wanted my ancestors to record those times too, maybe especially those times, so I am doing the same. Think of this as a letter from someone far away – in the past. You know the outcome when you’re reading this, but I don’t as I write it.

Dangerous Myths

Let me begin by saying that anyone who states any of the following is not only flat out wrong, they are a danger to everyone else:

  • Covid isn’t real (it is)
  • Covid is a hoax (just no)
  • Covid isn’t any worse than the flu (very wrong, here’s why)
  • Covid isn’t that bad (ask those dead people and their families, see here)
  • Covid is just going to go away (guess again)
  • Almost everyone recovers (nope, many are left debilitated)
  • Covid doesn’t affect children (tell that to my friend whose 6 -year-old is dead, see this article)
  • Masks are an attempt to take our rights away (think drunk-driving laws and seat belts)
  • Masks don’t work (wrong, view this)
  • Covid only kills “old people” or people “something is wrong with anyway” (this thinking horrifies me)

Not only is that last statement incorrect, but it’s also a horrible statement, all by itself.

Update – please note this compiled resource titled “You asked, we’re answering: Your top Coronavirus questions” for questions and answers about Covid, including sources.

And yes, those are actual quotes that I’ve heard SINCE my cousin was diagnosed in late July. Not months ago when no one knew much about this virus, this month, the month where we’ve crossed 5.6 million Covid cases in the US alone, the month where deaths have topped 174,000. Oops, that was yesterday. Today that number has grown by 1,113 to more than 175,000 and that total is assuredly significantly undercounted.

That’s the size of Pembroke Pines, Florida, Salem, Oregon, the state capital, Oceanside, California, Newport News, Virginia or Providence, Rhode, Island, another state capital. There are many smaller cities, including 8 more state capitals. Check it out here.

If a bomb had dropped and annihilated every single resident of one of these cities, the entire country would be in mourning and everybody would be doing everything possible to help. But there is no collective effort to do anything as simple as even wearing a mask to eradicate this preventible Covid-bomb.

If anyone came across a car flipped upside down in a lake with someone trapped inside, and all they had to do was put on a mask and the trapped person would magically be levitated out of the car, with no risk whatsoever to the mask-wearer, every decent person would be donning that mask immediately. They would be lauded as a hero, yet every single one of the 175,000 deaths that have occurred since spring is the direct result of someone ELSE not taking appropriate precautions.

Our personal safety is directly connected to the actions of the unknown people around us – unless somehow we can manage to stay home, contact-free entirely for the duration. Click either image above or below to enlarge.

Now the bad news – we’re on track to cross 300,000 deaths by Thanksgiving.

Those predicted death numbers may be LOW, depending on what happens between now and then. Best case, with universal mask-wearing beginning now, that total would “only” grow to a quarter million. Another 75,000 dead souls, families suffering, and that’s the best case.

If you click the above image to enlarge, look at “mandates easing” where the death toll is north of 540,000. Keep in mind, schools have just opened, in-person in many places. You can’t eat in a restaurant or gather in groups, but hundreds of kids can be together without masks all day. Talk about an infection vector for the entire community. What is wrong with this picture?

You could be one of those deaths, or someone you love, including children.

Even the kids understand, at least some of them. The headline of the student newspaper, the Observer, from ill-prepared Notre Dame University reads, “Don’t make us write obituaries.”

The US has more than a quarter of the deaths worldwide, yet we only have 4.25% of the world population.

How can anyone read these numbers and not realize there’s something TERRIBLY wrong here and that Covid is excruciatingly real.

If I sound outraged, I am. Frankly, I’m furious. Furious about the needless suffering and deaths of all the people I’ve already told you about in my past pandemic journal articles. Now, for my friend’s brother that died 4 days ago, and no, he was not co-morbid and was only 44. There was nothing “wrong” with him. Outraged about the unnecessary pain being experienced across this country.

And, for my cousin and his family.

My Cousin’s Story

I’m sharing my cousin’s story, disguised to obfuscate his identity. His identity doesn’t matter, because his story is the exact same story of thousands and thousands of other people. Multiply this by 175,000 plus another thousand or so people added every single day.

Not everyone who becomes ill with Covid dies, but 175,000+ people have been mowed down one-by-one by the Covid-monster, and this is their story too – and that of their families and friends. Not to mention all of those undercounted and who died later of complications. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the actual count is double or more.

Many who become very ill with Covid and don’t perish, don’t fully recover either. We’re only just learning the extent of the after-affects because Covid hasn’t even been with us a year. Yet it has ruined countless lives across the globe and is no place near finished.

I’m calling my cousin “Bob,” just for purposes of reference. I met Bob through genealogy, just like I’ve met so many of my dear cousins. My immediate family is very small, and I’ve been very blessed over the years to make connections with many cousins with whom I’ve forged long-lasting relationships. If you are thinking, “well, at least this wasn’t someone close to her,” you’d be wrong. When you have a small family, others, if you’re lucky, become your family-of-heart.

Bob and I researched our common genealogical line together, sharing frustrations and victories. He looked forward to the day when he could retire and spend more time on genealogy research. We planned our next avenue of attack.

Bob’s is in his early 50s. In fact, I think he “celebrated” his birthday while in a Covid coma, in the hospital on a vent. Happy Birthday Bob.

Bob was fortunate because, in his profession, he could work from home. He did and always wore a mask when he absolutely had to go out. He even ordered his groceries and wiped them down.

Bob lived in a city that became a Covid hotspot this summer. So much for the virus being destroyed by heat. He became even more cautious. Covid got him anyway.

His Facebook profile photo shows Bob wearing a mask, setting a good example, and he encouraged others to wear masks too. He washed his hands, often, and was sad that he couldn’t see family members. Bob lived alone. His children had fledged before Covid.

Just 42 long days ago, Bob decided to attend a family birthday party. It was inside, but he told me that everyone had been distancing from others, washing hands, and wearing masks. He was missing his family terribly and wanted to go.

I know how he felt, because those of us who have been the MOST cooped up are feeling the effects the most profoundly. You look at these opportunities and wonder, if you don’t attend, if you’ll ever get another opportunity. Someone there could die, including you. You’re squandering the days of your life missing out when others get to have fun, laugh, and you’re alone, in isolation. Stuck at home. Without your family. Looking at pictures of everyone else enjoying themselves. And most of the time, nothing bad happens, which of course makes you feel like it’s safer than it is. I mean, what are the chances, right?

No wonder depression is rampant and alcohol purchases are up 25%.

With Covid, you only get to be wrong once and other people are contagious long before they have any idea they have it.

Bob was exceedingly grateful for Facebook, social media and smartphones so he could connect with people, especially his kids – and talked about how difficult quarantine was.

He especially loved dogs and cats and enjoyed walking outside in the open where he could see other people’s dogs, although he didn’t ask to pet them anymore because that makes distancing awkward and difficult.

As it would turn out, Bob was “safe” at home, not “stuck at home,” although that’s certainly how it feels some days – especially when you’re watching other people engaging in the activities you want to do.

Bob attended that party. He told me a few days later that everyone there, EXCEPT ONE PERSON, wore a mask.

EXCEPT ONE PERSON

Two days later, Bob and I were chattering, exchanging our favorite memories of John Lewis who had passed away. John inspired Bob who told me that John “never bowed,” inspired him to do better, be better, be courageous, and to stand up for what is right. His favorite photo of John was walking with children at Comic-Con, lighting the way for a future generation.

The next day, Bob asked if anyone knew where there was a rapid Covid testing location, couching the question as “asking for a friend.” Queue up nervous laughter. No one wanted to be nosey and ask, but rest assured, every one of us wanted to know.

Bob took every opportunity to educate positively, and Covid was no exception.

Bob obviously found a Covid testing location, because two days later, just 6 or 7 days after the party, he posted that he had tested positive, then explained that his symptoms began with a cough but no fever, so he thought it was just bronchitis. Then, the rest of the symptoms followed, one-by-one, including a few non-standard symptoms like diarrhea and nausea. The fever seemed to be the LAST traditional symptom to develop.

Surely, he thought, he couldn’t have Covid. Everyone except one person wore masks and they distanced as best they could inside. And it was only once, one event. He had only taken one slight chance.

Bob’s Facebook feed was filled with well-wishers, of course, but also of some people who either currently had Covid or had had Covid recently, offering advice. Others were, themselves, waiting for test results.

I suspect if you posted on your Facebook page and asked how many have had Covid, you’d be quite surprised. I personally know several. Many people don’t talk about it, because there is some level of social stigma attached. ESPECIALLY if they haven’t been wearing a mask or have been out-and-about without distancing – because no one likes to hear “I told you so,” even if it’s unspoken.

Bob and I messaged and emailed back and forth. We discussed the situation in a couple of exchanges, then…..silence.

SILENCE

Do you have any idea how difficult silence is to endure when you know that someone you care about has Covid?

You have no idea how you’re going to find out what is going on. All you can do is wait, and attempt patience.

Bob’s friends and family who live distantly, me included, began posting encouraging but not nosey notes of encouragement on his timeline.

We all knew something was very wrong, because silence is not like Bob. Neither are short postings. Bob is never at a loss for words.

Three days later, one sentence. “I’m in the hospital.”

A family member posted a few hours later that he was stable. Thank goodness.

Exhale.

The next day, they started Bob on Remdesivir, but two days later, one word from Bob on his Facebook feed.

“ICU”

A few hours later, Bob posted that he was feeling better, and again another few hours later, just a couple words.

I heaved a huge sigh of relief, because although he was in ICU, he was obviously on the mend and improving. That’s the purpose of the ICU, but he was clearly very ill.

The next day, Bob posted a very odd message that he was listening to a specific song. When I listened to the lyrics, I wondered if he was trying to tell us something. I was relieved that he was finding comfort in music, and that was allowed in ICU. I hoped he had a phone charger and earbuds.

And then, for 6 days, there was nothing at all.

Not. One. Peep.

I know Bob’s family had to be going through living hell, so I wasn’t about to bother them. Not only was he obviously critical, but they couldn’t be with him. Bob was even more “alone” than he had ever been at home, and in a much worse way.

I remember vividly when my former husband had a massive stroke at age 47. He had been fine. There was nothing wrong with him until our world fell apart – much like Covid.

Then, a few days later, another stroke, then blood clots, DVTs that moved into pulmonary embolisms. Every minute of every hour of every day could be his last – and that went on for days, weeks and then months. Death by inches. The difference is that we knew he wasn’t contagious AND I was sleeping in the chair in his hospital room for much of the time.

That period of time was so horrific that I literally came away with what could probably be considered PTSD. It affected other family members in different ways, none of them good, literally tearing the family and family members into shreds.

Bob’s family, I’m sure, is experiencing even more extreme stress, watching him deteriorate from a distance with a cascading series of critical issues – any one of which could take his life – unable to comfort or touch him.

Bob’s last message was 22 days ago.

He was put on a vent and remains in a medically-induced coma.

Every few days, a family member updates the rest of us.

Updates

First, I’m extremely grateful for any news, because otherwise all I would be able to do is google daily for an obituary. How morbid is that?

Bob’s family has been riding an emotional roller coaster. They are living in the first ring of hell, closest to the fire. Been there, done that and no one escapes unscathed. The pain never abates or stops.

I remember all too well: “Oh, we have improvement. He’s getting better.” Only to be followed by: “Can you step into the consultation room please.” That room should just have been labeled the “bad news” room because, trust me, good news was not conveyed there. Just those words struck terror into your heart. And if the doctor called your phone, it was critical. I remember my phone ringing once while I was in line in the hospital cafeteria, just minutes after I had left my husband’s bedside. I just left everything where it was and literally ran.

For days, I’ve checked for information about Bob the last thing at night before I go to sleep, first thing in the morning before I get out of bed, and roughly every hour in-between. It’s emotionally exhausting, and I’m no place close to the first ring of hell where his family is living right now.

I can’t even make him a care quilt, because he obviously can’t have anything in Covid ICU, and even if he could, he couldn’t take it home with him for fear of exposing others.

Six days after the final message from Bob, his kidneys failed. Bedside surgical dialysis, because on a vent, he can’t go to the dialysis center.

Still hoping for a full recovery.

I couldn’t help but think to myself that I, at age 38, was entirely unprepared to deal with the sudden onslaught of medical terminology and rapid-fire leaning that had to occur in order to advocate for my husband. Bob’s poor kids, much younger than I was at the time, must be struggling mightily. My heart goes out to them. I wish I could help.

Then, more days of silence.

On my end of the world, my cat, Phoenix, our rescued fur-child died, my friend’s brother died of Covid, and two close family members are in need of immediate care quilts which means they may need other types of assistance as well. The nastiness on social media has ramped up. I have friends whose homes are threatened by wildfires in California and I don’t even want to talk about the stress surrounding my husband’s job. Things are coming a bit unraveled. Together, we’re managing. Thank Heavens the flowers are blooming and I can walk outside in the yard.

chaos glads

A rogue gladiola has popped up, somehow. Could it be a wink from Dad on the other side that somehow, things are going to be alright? I want to believe that.

Still Hopeful

I check many times every day for news about Bob and try to remain positive.

Seven days later, a family member says that Bob’s kidneys are improved, thank God, BUT now he has blood clots and a blood infection. He’s still on the vent and in a coma.

The family is discouraged but still hopeful for a full recovery. Imagine the story Bob’s going to hear about what happened during that coma when he is revived.

By the time we finally received the blood clot news, Bob had been on a vent for 13 days. All I can say is that I hope his brain is actually silenced and asleep and he’s not suffering in a “closed in” way.

More silence, then hopeful news. Bob’s oxygen levels had improved and so had the blood infection. Hurray!!!!

Permission to be hopeful. Bob was headed in the right direction.

Roller Coaster

But then, two days later, the roller coaster plunged again. Bob has a new and different type of blood infection, AND the blood clot in his leg moved to his lungs which means it’s a pulmonary embolism.

I lived through this with my husband. Pulmonary embolisms can be fatal without the complications of Covid. My husband said it was the worst pain he had ever experienced in his life. He begged to die. Maybe the coma is a good thing for Bob right now.

Bob’s family said they would update us as soon as they had something to report.

That was 4 days ago – 98 hours and counting.

Radio Silence

I know his family members are suffering terribly. It must be exceedingly difficult for them to post updates when the last thing they feel like doing is posting to social media. Sometimes reducing things to words is more than the mind can bear, especially when you’re trying to remain positive, but the news isn’t. Not to mention they may not be ready for a deluge of communications.

Grieving, especially real-time in public, is difficult at best and something most of us have little experience with. No one wants that baptism-by-fire experience either.

I’m sure they are completely overwhelmed. I can only hope they have some sort of support.

I pray that no news means Bob hasn’t passed and that he is on the road to recovery. That’s all I can do. I feel entirely helpless. Perhaps telling his story will help even just one person avoid Covid.

As for me, I’ve had a headache for more than a week now, and I’m still checking for news every hour or so. Compared to the utter hell and agony that his family is living through, my experience is nothing. I’m sure it’s just cumulative stress because, well, you know, 2020.

Checking…

Waiting…

Checking…

Waiting…

Bottom Line: Wear the Mask, Stay Home, Wash Your Hands

Here’s the bottom line:

chaos wear the mask.png

  • Wear the mask
  • Stay home or stay distant
  • Wash your hands

I did not ask Bob if the person at the party who did not wear a mask had tested Covid-positive. They could never have tested if they were asymptomatic and never knew they were spreading death and misery at a level beyond anyone’s imagination.

Does whoever gave Covid to Bob know that they are responsible for his illness and perhaps his death? Probably not.

It’s possible that Bob picked the virus up elsewhere, NOT at the party. We have community spread throughout the US now. Maybe getting gas or who knows. However, if everyone had worn a mask and isolated, all at once, in the spring, and weren’t taking unnecessary chances, we’d have wrestled this viral scourge to the ground months ago and it would not be burning through our population like a wildfire consuming dry timber.

Stay safe at home. If you don’t need to expose yourself, don’t. Just don’t. If you could ask Bob if any outing is worth the price he’s paying – I know what his answer would be and so do you.

The devastation on Bob’s life, assuming he lives, may include life-long disability.

If Bob passes away, his hospital bills will decimate his estate.

If he lives, those bills may wipe out his retirement nest-egg, if they don’t force him into outright bankruptcy. My husband’s hospital bill was in the millions. Thankfully, insurance paid most of it, but it took me years to pay the balance even AFTER I used all the retirement funds.

If anyone seriously doesn’t know someone who has had a severe case of Covid, or a family who has suffered through this, PLEASE send this article to them. Although, at this point, I’m beginning to think that people who oppose wearing masks and continue spouting talking-points that justify their anti-mask and anti-distancing positions are engaged in willful ignorance.

Think about all of those 175,000+ people who have died. Every single one of those families is going through this or some similar experience. These deaths are torturous, not just for the victim, but for their family and friends too.

Some people who “recover” don’t completely recover, even though they don’t die.

The toll a Covid illness takes isn’t just on the patient, but radiates like ripples in a pond, affecting their immediate and distant family, ripping a hole in the stability of their family fabric, inflicting trauma that will never heal. Those ripples spread further into the community and society as well, through networks of friends and colleagues. While every single family is individually devastated, with their own hell-version of this story, the tentacles reach throughout our society, destabilizing everything from family units to the economy.

And you want to know what’s worse – we are still NOT in control of this virus.

We’ll have another 175,000 deaths before long unless we change our approach. We’re headed into winter when people are back inside, flu season hits and schools are reconvening in person now.

When I titled this article “Chaos,” I was referring not just to what is happening to my cousin’s family and friends, but to the pit of hell inferno and unrelenting sorrow that the rest of us collectively are staring into if we don’t do something different, and quickly.

The best predictor of future performance is what happened in the past – and 175,000 deaths over 6 months is a grim prediction. There’s still time to change our collective behavior, but we absolutely must if we want to slow and stop this raging wildfire. There is no miracle cure. The only thing that can save us – is us.

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room

It’s not a silly little moment
It’s not the storm before the calm
This is the deep and dyin’ breath of
This love we’ve been workin’ on

We’re goin’ down
And you can see it too
We’re goin’ down
And you know that we’re doomed
My dear
We’re slow dancing in a burnin’ room

Don’t you think we outta know by now?
Don’t you think we shoulda learned somehow?

chaos just wear it.png

Epilog

August 25th – My cousin, Bob, died today, a month to the day after he was diagnosed and 28 days after being admitted to ICU. Yesterday, just four hours before he died, his family posted that while he still had bacterial pneumonia and blood clots, that his lungs were improving. Then, he was gone. His body just couldn’t fight anymore.

This monster took him, but not with out the assistance of the legions of people who refuse to wear masks. They killed him just as assuredly as if someone had driven drunk and hit him. The difference being that because we can’t trace this virus back to the string of people who transmitted it, the responsible parties can glibly live their own lives, in full denial of the havoc, wake of destruction and grief that they are leaving behind.

Search Techniques for Y and Mitochondrial DNA Test Candidates

I utilize DNA matches in various ways, some of which are a little unusual. In many cases, I mine autosomal DNA matches to search for people whose Y and mitochondrial DNA can provide descendants, including me and them, with additional insights into our common ancestors.

Y and mitochondrial DNA connects testers to their ancestors in ways that autosomal cannot. It’s a different type of DNA, not combined with the DNA of the other parent, so it’s not diluted and halved in each generation like autosomal DNA. Y and mitochondrial lines each descend from only one ancestral line, rich in historical information, with the ability to reach far back in time along with the ability to connect testers recently.

You First

The very first thing you can do to further your own research is to test yourself in three ways:

  • Autosomal DNA – Test at all 4 primary testing vendors, meaning FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, Ancestry and 23andMe. The reason for testing at (or transferring to) multiple vendors is because they each have a unique focus and tools. Perhaps more importantly, they each have different people in their databases. Each testing company has benefits. FamilyTreeDNA has people who tested as long as 20 years ago and are no longer available for testing. MyHeritage has many European testers and you’ll find matches there that you won’t find elsewhere if your ancestors came from Europe. Ancestry has the largest database, but fewer advanced tools.
  • Full Sequence Mitochondrial DNA Available at FamilyTreeDNA, this test allows focus solely on your matrilineal line, meaning your mother’s mother’s mother’s line directly without confusion introduced by DNA from other lines.
  • Y DNA – For males only, also available at FamilyTreeDNA, provides focus on the direct patrilineal, or surname, line.

Obviously, if you haven’t upgraded your own Y and mitochondrial DNA tests to the highest level possible, the first thing you can do is to test or upgrade to the highest level where you receive the most refined amount of information.

(There’s a sale at FamilyTreeDNA right now, lasting until August 31, 2020, so it’s a great time to upgrade or order Y and mitochondrial. Check it out here.)

Different Kinds of DNA Serve Different Genealogical Purposes

Let’s look, briefly at how the various types of DNA tests benefit genealogy. Autosomal tests that you and family members can take will help you find other family members to test for specific Y and mitochondrial DNA lines.

Remember that you can test family members in addition to yourself, so if you’re a female, you may want to recruit your father or an uncle or brother to represent your patrilineal line DNA. If you’d like to read a brief article about the different types of DNA and their benefits, 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy is a good resource.

Y and Mito Pedigree.png

In this image, you can see that if you’re a male you can test for both your Y (blue-square) and mitochondrial DNA (red-circle) ancestral lines. If you’re a female, you can test only your mitochondrial DNA because females don’t have a Y chromosome. Both males and females, of course, can test (green) autosomal DNA which reveals a different type of connection to all of your ancestral lines, but with autosomal, you have to figure out which people match you on which lines.

Y and mitochondrial DNA provides you with a different type of information about laser-focused specific lines that you can’t obtain through autosomal testing, and reaches back in time far beyond the curtain when surnames were adopted.

personal pedigree

You personally can only test for the red-circle mitochondrial DNA line, and perhaps the blue-square Y DNA line if you’re a male. Unless you find family members to test for the Y and mitochondrial DNA of your ancestors, you’re leaving valuable information unresearched. That means all those colored boxes and squares that aren’t blue or red.

I’ve solved MANY brick walls using both Y and mitochondrial DNA, often in conjunction with autosomal.

Let’s take a look at each type of DNA testing a little more in-depth, so that you understand how each one works and why they are important to genealogy.

The Specifics

Y DNA – Y DNA descends through the direct male paternal line and is inherited by men only. You match against other Y DNA testers, hopefully finding surname links.

The Big Y test and upgrade at FamilyTreeDNA provides testers with all 111 traditional STR markers, plus another 589+ STRs available only in the Big Y test, plus a scan of the balance of the rest of the Y chromosome that is useful for genealogy. SNP results are increasingly being used for genealogy, in addition to STRs.

SNPs group men into genetic lineages and STRs help with defining and refining the closest generations when matching to each other. Often, the benefits of these two tests overlap, which is why I recommend that males test to the Big Y-700 level which provides 700+ STR markers plus all SNPs with mutations that define ancestral lineages.

Y DNA haplogroups, derived from SNPs, reveal the geographic part of the world where the lineage originated, such as Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa, as well as a migration path across the continents based on where SNPs are and were historically found. Ancient DNA samples are being added to the database.

If you or a family member took an earlier Y DNA test, you can upgrade to the Big Y-700 today which provides you with matching for both the STR markers and separately, SNP markers, along with other genealogical tools.

You can order or upgrade your Y DNA here. Don’t forget family members accounts you may control. They may agree to have their kit upgraded too.

To upgrade, sign in to your account, and click on your desired upgrade level under Y DNA testing.

ymt y upgrade.png

Then click on upgrades.

ymt upgrade.png

I wrote about Y DNA in these recent articles:

I have more Y DNA articles planned for the future.

You can search for additional articles by going to the main page of this blog and enter “Y DNA” into the search box for additional articles already published.

Many features such as the matches maps, haplogroup origins and ancestral origins pages are the same for Y DNA results as mitochondrial DNA results. You can view mitochondrial articles here.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) – Mitochondrail DNA descends through the direct matrilineal line to both sexes of children. Everyone has mitochondrial DNA and it is inherited matrilineally by you from your mother, from her mother, from her mother, etc.

The FMS or full mitochondrial sequence DNA test tests the entire mitochondria that provides information about your direct matrilineal line. Family Tree DNA provides matching, which can sometimes lead to genealogical breakthroughs such as when I identified Lydia Brown, the mother of my Phoebe Crumley and then a couple years later, her mother, Phoebe Cole – via mitochondrial DNA. Those discoveries led us to her mother, Mary Mercy Kent, via genealogy records. All we needed was to punch our way through that initial brick wall – and mitochondrial DNA was our battering ram.

Additionally, you’ll receive a full haplogroup designation which allows you to look back in time before the advent of surnames and identifies the location where your ancestral line came from. For those seeking confirmation of Native American heritage, Y and mitochondrial DNA provides unquestionable proof and doesn’t wash out in time as autosomal DNA does.

Mitochondrial DNA includes haplogroups, matching and other genealogical tools.

You can order or upgrade you or a family member’s mitochondrial DNA here.

To upgrade, sign in to your account, and click on the desired upgrade level.

ymt mt upgrade

Then click on Upgrade if you’re upgrading or Add On if you’re ordering a new product for yourself.

ymt add ons upgrades.png

I wrote several mitochondrial DNA articles and compiled them into a summary article for your convenience.

Autosomal DNA – With autosomal DNA testing, you test once and there’s not an upgrade unless the vendor changes DNA testing platforms, which is rare. Each of the four vendors compares your DNA with all other people who’ve taken that test, or transferred from other companies. They match you with descendants from all of your ancestral lines. While the Y and mtDNA tests look back deeply in time as well as recently on one specific line, the autosomal tests are broad but not deep, spanning all ancestral lines, but limited to approximately 10 generations.

Each autosomal vendor has unique benefits and focus as well as shortcomings. I’ve listed the major points for each vendor relative to searching for Y and mitochondrial
DNA testing candidates. It’s important to understand the advantages of each vendor because it will help you understand the testers you are most likely to find in each database and may help focus your search.

FamilyTreeDNA’s Family Finder

  • Because FamilyTreeDNA archives customer’s DNA for 25 years, many people who tested Y or mitochondrial DNA 20 years ago and are now deceased upgraded to autosomal tests when they became available, or have been upgraded by family members since. These early testers often reach back another generation or so into the past to people born a century ago.
  • Advanced autosomal matching integrates with Y and mitochondrial DNA along with surname and other projects
  • Phased Family Matching provides the ability to link family members that match you to your tree which allows Family Tree DNA to group matches as paternal or maternal by utilizing matching segments to the same side of your family
  • Genetic Affairs, a third-party tool available for testers, builds common trees by reading the trees of your matches and comparing their trees with your own to identify common ancestors.
  • Genetic Affairs builds trees and pedigrees of your matches by searching for common ancestors in your MATCHES trees, even if you have no tree or don’t share those ancestors in your tree. This functionality includes Y and mitochondrial DNA if you have tested. This facilitates discovery of common ancestors of the people who you match, which may well lead you to ancestral discoveries as well.
  • Genetic Affairs offers clustering of your shared matches.
  • DNA file transfers are accepted from other vendors, free, with a $19 one time fee to unlock advanced tools.
  • Family Tree DNA has tested people worldwide, with a few location exceptions, since inception in the year 2000.
  • No direct triangulation, but Phased Family Matching provides maternal and paternal side triangulation when matches can be grouped into maternal and paternal sides.
  • Matches and segment match information are available for download.
  • The great thing about the advanced matching tool at Family Tree DNA is that it facilitates searching for people who match you on different kinds of tests, so it helps determine the potential closeness or distance of Y and mitochondrial relationships.

MyHeritage

Ancestry

  • Ancestry has the largest database, but did not begin testing until 2012 and did not test widely outside of the US/UK for some time. They now sell tests in 34 countries. Their testers are primarily focused in the US, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, and diaspora, with some overlap into Europe.
  • Ancestry offers ThruLines, a tool that connects testers whose DNA matches with common ancestors in their trees.
  • Ancestry does not provide a chromosome browser, a tool provided by the other three primary testing companies, nor do they provide triangulation or matching segment location information necessary to confirm that you match on the same segment with other people.
  • Ancestry has issued cease and desist orders to third party tools that perform functions such as clustering, autotrees, autopedigrees or downloading of matches. Ancestry does not provide these types of features for their users.
  • Ancestry does not accept transfers, so if you want to be in Ancestry’s database, you must test with Ancestry.
  • No Y or mitochondrial DNA testing available.
  • Match list is not available for download.

23andMe

  • The primary focus of 23andMe has always been health testing, so many people who test at 23andMe are not interested in genealogy.
  • 23andMe tests are sold in about 50 countries, but not worldwide.
  • 23andMe provides a chromosome browser, triangulation, segment information and a beta genetically constructed tree for close matches.
  • 23andMe does NOT support a genealogical tree either uploaded or created on their site, making tree comparisons impossible.
  • Genetic Affairs AutoCluster works at 23andMe, but AutoTree and AutoPedigree do not because 23andMe does not support trees.
  • 23andMe does make match files available for downloading.
  • No Y or mitochondrial DNA full testing or matching, but basic haplogroups are provided.
  • 23andMe caps matches at 2000, less any matches that have opted out of matching. My matches currently number 1770.
  • 23andMe does not accept transfers from other vendors, so if you want to be in their database, you must test with 23andMe.

Reaching Out to Find Testers

Unfortunately, we only carry the mitochondrial DNA of our mother and only men carry the Y DNA of their father. That means if we want to obtain that DNA information about our other family lines, we have to find people who descend appropriately from the ancestor in question and test that person.

I’ll share with you how I search for people who descend from each ancestor. After finding that person, I explain the situation, why the different kinds of tests are important, and offer a testing scholarship for the Y or mtDNA test at Family Tree DNA if they have not already taken that test. If they’ve tested their autosomal DNA elsewhere. I also explain that they can transfer their autosomal DNA file for free too and will receive new matches.

Here’s an article with links to upload/download instructions for each testing company. Feel free to share.

Each DNA testing company has different features, but you can use all of the companies to find people descended in the appropriate way from each ancestor. It’s easier if you know how to utilize each vendor’s tools to optimize your chances of success. I’m going to step you through the search process with hints and tips for each vendor.

Finding Y DNA and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at FamilyTreeDNA

Because FamilyTreeDNA tests for both Y and mitochondrial DNA and has for 20 years, you stand a better chance of finding a candidate there who may have already tested, so that’s where I always begin.

Y DNA

Let’s say, for example, that I need to find a male descendant of my Ferverda line in order to ask them to test for Y DNA. The person can be descended from either a close relative, if I know of one, or a more distant relative that I don’t know, but need to find through searching other ways.

Search for Surnames and Projects at Family Tree DNA

First, search the FamilyTreeDNA website for your goal surname among existing testers, and then the appropriate surname project to see if your line has already tested.

ymt ferverda

On the main page, here, scroll down to until you see the prompt, above, and enter the surname. Be sure to consider alternate spellings too.

ymt ferverda search.png

In this case, I see that there is a Ferverda surname project with 18 people, and scrolling on down, that 4 people with this specific surname have tested.

ymt results.png

However, searching for an alternate spelling, the way it’s spelled in the Netherlands, I find that another 10 people have tested.

ymt ferwerda

Of course, some may be females, but they probably know males by that surname.

First, I’m going to check the Ferverda DNA project to see if a Ferverda male from my line has tested, and if so, to what level.

Click on the project link in the search results to see the DNA Project.

ymt admin.png

Note two things. First, the administrator’s name, as you may need this later. If you click on their name, their email address is displayed.

Second, click on DNA Results and select Y DNA if you’re presented with a choice. If the project has a public facing page, and most do, you’ll see something like the following information.

ymt project

Hey look, it’s my lucky day, given that both of these men descend from my ancestor. I happen to know that they have both taken the Big Y test, because I’m the project administrator, but you won’t know that. One way to get an idea is if they have less than the full 111 markers showing, they probably haven’t taken the Big Y, because a 111 upgrade is included in the Big Y test today.

You have three options at this point to contact one of these men:

  • See if the people are on your own autosomal DNA match list, or the match lists of kits from that family that you manage. If so, you can view their email address and contact them. If you haven’t yet tested autosomally, meaning the Family Finder test, at Family Tree DNA, you can transfer autosomal tests from elsewhere, for free, which means you will be viewing matches within hours or a couple days. Otherwise, you can order a Family Finder test, of course.
  • If the person with the Ferverda or Ferwerda surname is not on your Family Finder match list, reach out to the project administrator with a note to the person you want to contact and ask the administrator to forward your email to the project member.
  • If the administrator doesn’t answer, contact Family Tree DNA support and make the same request.

Checking Family Finder, one of those people is on my match list and I’m pretty sure it’s the right person, because when I click on his profile, not only does the haplogroup match the DNA project, but so does the ancestor.

ymt ferverda profile.png

Searching Family Finder

If there isn’t a DNA project match you can identify as your direct line ancestor, you can search your Family Finder matches for the surname to find a male with that surname. If your match has a tree, see if your ancestor or ancestral line is showing, then note whether they have taken a Y DNA test. They may have taken a Y test, but have not joined a project or not entered any “earliest known ancestor.” You can see which tests they’ve taken by looking at the little tabs above their profile on their tree, or on their profile card.

ymt ferverda tree

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Regardless, you’re now in touch with a potential contact.

Don’t dismiss females with that surname, or people who show that surname in their ancestral surname list. Women with the surname you’re looking for may have husbands, fathers, brothers or uncles who descend from the line you are seeking.

ymt search field.png

Utilize Genetic Affairs

My ace in the hole at FamilyTreeDNA is the Genetic Affairs AutoTree and AutoPedigree function.

Genetic Affairs is a third-party tool that you can use to assist with analysis of your matches at FamilyTreeDNA.

ymt genetic affairs

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At Genetic Affairs, selecting AutoTree generates trees where common ancestors of you and your matches, or your matches to each other, are displayed.

Your goal is to identify people descended from a common ancestor either directly paternally through all males for Y DNA or through all females to the current generation, which can be males, for mitochondrial DNA.

This article provides step-by-step instructions for the Genetic Affairs AutoTree and AutoPedigree functions.

Mitochondrial DNA

Mitochondrial DNA lineages are a bit more challenging because the surname changes every generation and DNA projects are unlikely to help.

The AutoTree/AutoPedigree report through Genetic Affairs serves the same purpose for mitochondrial DNA – building trees that intersect with a common ancestor. I generally drop the “minimum size of the largest DNA segment shared with the match” to 7 cM for this report. My goal running this report for this purpose isn’t to analyze autosomal DNA, but to find testing candidates based on how my matches descend from a specific ancestor, so I want to include as many matches as possible.

Family Finder Can Refine Y and mtDNA Information

In some cases, a Family Finder test can refine a potential relationship between two people who match on either Y DNA or mitochondrial. Additionally, you may want to encourage, or gift, specific matches with an upgrade to see if they continue to match you at higher testing levels.

Let’s say that two men match closely on a Y DNA test, but you’d like to know how far back the common ancestor lived.

ymt y matches.png

In this instance, you can see that the second match has taken a BIg Y and a Family Finder test, but the exact match (genetic distance of 0) has not. If the first individual cannot provide much genealogy, having them take a Family Finder test would help at least rule out a relationship through second cousins and would give you at least some idea how far back in time your common ancestor may have lived. If you do match on Family Finder, you receive an estimate of your relationship and can check the match level possibilities using the DNAPainter Shared cM Tool. If they upgrade to the Big Y-700 test, you may be able to differentiate your line from theirs, or confirm when and where a split occurred – or that there is no split.

This same autosomal testing scenario works for mitochondrial DNA.

For people who have taken both tests, Family Finder plus either Y or mitochondrial DNA, the Advanced Matching menu allows you to select combinations of tests and projects to query.

ymt advanced

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Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at MyHeritage

MyHeritage provides a wonderful tool called Theories of Family Relativity (TOFR) which finds common ancestors between you and your DNA matches, even if the ancestor is not in both trees, so long as a path exists between the two testers’ trees using other trees or research documents, such as census records. Of course, you’ll need to verify accuracy.

ymt tofr.png

At MyHeritage, select DNA Matches, then “Has Theory of Family Relativity.”

ymt mh ferverda

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You can see that I have 65 matches with a Theory of Family Relativity. Additionally, I can then search by surname.

ymt mh ferverda tree.png

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If I am looking for a Ferverda Y DNA candidate, I’ve found one thanks to this TOFR.

If you don’t find a tree where your match descends from your ancestor in the desired way, you can also widen the search by de-selecting Theories of Family Relativity and instead selecting SmartMatchs or shared surname combined with the name of your ancestor. There are many search and filter combinations available.

Let’s look at a mitochondrial DNA example where I’m searching for a descendant of Elizabeth Speaks who married Samuel Clarkson/Claxton.

ymt smartmatches

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In this case, I have one SmartMatch, which means that someone by the name of Elizabeth Speaks is found in my matches tree. I need to look to see if it’s the RIGHT Elizabeth Speaks and if my match descends through all females to the current generation. If so, I’ve found my mitochondrial DNA candidate and I can leave them a message.

You can also view SmartMatches (without a DNA match) from your own tree.

I can go to that person in my tree, click on their profile, and see how many SmartMatches I have. Clicking on 13 SmartMatches allows me to view those matches and I can click through to the connected trees.

ymt mt speaks.png

I can also click on “research this person” to discover more.

If you’re still not successful, don’t give up quite yet, because you can search in the records for trees that shows the person whom you seek. A SmartMatch is only created if the system thinks it’s the same person in both trees. Computers are far from perfect.

ymt mh trees

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Narrow the search as much as possible to make it easier to find the right individual, and then view the trees for descent in the proper manner.

Another wonderful tool at MyHeritage is the Genetic Affairs AutoCluster tool, built-in for MyHeritage users.

ymt mh cluster.png

The above cluster shows that one person carries the surname of Elizabeth’s husband. Viewing the accompanying spreadsheet for the AutoCluster run reveals that indeed, I’ve already identified a couple of matches as descendants of the desired ancestral couple. The spreadsheet shows links to their trees, my notes and more.

ymt cluster ss

Clusters show you where to look. Without the cluster, I had only identified two people as descendants of this ancestral couple. I found several more candidates to evaluate and two mitochondrial candidates are found in this cluster.

Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at 23andMe

23andMe is a little more tricky because they don’t support either uploaded or created user trees which makes finding descendants of a particular ancestor quite challenging.

However, 23andMe attempts to create a tree of your closer relatives genetically. which you can find under “DNA Relatives,” under the Ancestry tab, then “Family Tree” at the top.

I’ve added the names of my ancestors when I can figure out who the match is. Please note that this “created tree” is seldom exactly accurate, but there are often enough hints that you’ll be able to piece together at least some of the rest.

Here’s part of my “created” tree at 23andMe. I’m at far right.

ymt23 tree.png

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If you’re a genealogist, your eyes are going to glaze over about now, because the “people” aren’t in the correct locations – with maternal and paternal sides of the tree swapped. Also, please note, the locations in which they place people are estimates AND 23andMe does NOT take into account or provide for half-relationships.

That said, you can still obtain candidates for Y and mitochondrial DNA testing.

In this case, I’m searching for a mitochondrial DNA candidate for Evaline Miller, my grandfather’s mother or a Y DNA candidate for the Ferverda line.

I can tell by the surname of the male match, Ferverda, that he probably descends through a son, making him a Y DNA candidate.

Both Cheryl and Laura are possible mitochondrial DNA candidates for Evaline Miller, based on this tree, depending of course on how they actually do descend.

I can contact all of my matches, but in the event that they don’t answer, I’m not entirely out of luck. If I can determine EXACTLY how the match descends, and they descend appropriately for mitochondrial DNA, I can view the match to see at least a partial haplogroup. Since 23andMe only uses relatively close matches when constructing your tree, I’m relatively likely to recognize the names of the testers and may have them in my genealogy program.

By clicking on the Ferverda male, I can see that his Y haplogroup is I-Z58. That’s not nearly as refined as the Y DNA information at Family Tree DNA, but it’s something if I have nothing else and he doesn’t answer my query that would include the offer of a Y DNA test at Family Tree DNA.

ymt 23 hap

You can search at 23andMe by surname, but unless your match has entered their ancestral surnames and you recognize surnames that fit together, without a tree, unless your match answers your query, it’s very difficult to determine how you connect.

ymt 23 search.png

You can also view “Relatives in Common,” hoping to recognize someone you know as a common match.

ymt relatives in common

Please note that 23andMe does allow testers to enter a link to a tree, but few do.

ymt tree link.png

It’s worth checking, and be sure to enter your own tree link location.

Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at Ancestry

Ancestry’s ThruLines provides an excellent tool to find both Y and mitochondrial DNA participants.

Ancestry organizes their ThruLines by ancestor.

ymt thrulines

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Select your desired Ancestor, someone whose DNA you seek. Clearly, Y DNA candidates are very easy because you simply choose any male ancestor in the correct line with the surname and look for a male match with the appropriate surname.

In this case, I’m selecting Martha Ruth Dodson, because I need her mitochondrial DNA.

ymt dodson.png

By clicking on her “card” I then see my matches assigned to her ThruLine.

Ymt ancestry thruline

Obviously, for mitochondrial DNA, I’m looking for someone descended through all females, so Martha’s daughter, Elizabeth Estes’s son Robert won’t work, but her daughter, Louisa Vannoy, at left is the perfect candidate. Thankfully, my cousin whom I match, at bottom left is descended through all females to the current generation, which can be male or female, so is a mitochondrial DNA candidate.

Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates in Trees in General

I’ve utilized the combination of trees and DNA matches at FamilyTreeDNA through Genetic Affairs, Ancestry and MyHeritage, but you can also simply search for people who descend from the same ancestor based on their tree alone at the vendors who support trees as part of genealogical records. This includes both Ancestry and MyHeritage but also sites like Geneanet which is becoming increasingly popular, especially in Europe. (I have not worked extensively with Geneanet yet but plan to take it for a test drive soon.)

My reason for utilizing DNA matches+trees first is that the person has already been introduced to the concept that DNA can help with genealogy, and has obviously embraced DNA testing at least once. Not only that, with the assist of a Theory of Family Relativity, ThruLine or genetic Affairs automation tools, it’s much easier to find appropriate candidates.

Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at WikiTree

If you reach beyond DNA testing companies, WikiTree provides a valuable feature which allows people to specify that they descend from a particular ancestor, and if they have DNA tested, how they descend – including Y DNA, mitochondrial DNA and autosomal.

Here’s an example on the profile of John Y. Estes at WikiTree, one of my Estes ancestors.

ymt wiki.png

If someone descends appropriately for either Y or mitochondrial DNA line, and has taken that test, their information is listed.

In this case, there are two Y DNA testers and two autosomal, but no mitochondrial DNA which would have descended from John’s mother, of course.

You can click on the little green arrow icon to see how any DNA tested person descends from the ancestor whose profile you are accessing.

ymt wiki compare

Of course, the same surname for males is a good indication that the man in question is descended from that paternal line, but check to be sure, because some males took their mother’s surname for various reasons.

Here’s my line-of-descent from John Y. Estes. I can click on anyone else whose DNA information is listed as well to see how they descend from John. If they descend from John through all females, then they obviously descend from his wife though all females too which means they are a mitochondrial DNA candidate for her.

ymt wiki relationship.png

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Clicking on autosomal testers may reveal someone appropriately descended from the ancestor in question.

You can then click on any ancestor shown to view their profile, and any DNA tested descendants.

By clicking on name of the descendant whose DNA test you are interested in, you’ll be able to view their profile. Look for the Collaboration section where you can send them a private message that will be delivered by email from WikiTree.

ymt collaborate

Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at GedMatch

One final avenue to find Y and mitochondrial DNA candidates is through GedMatch, It’s probably the least useful option, though, because the major vendors all have some sort of tree function, except for 23andMe, and for some reason, many people have not uploaded GEDCOM files (trees) to GEDmatch.

Therefore, if you can find someone on GedMatch that tested elsewhere perhaps, such as LivingDNA who also provides a base haplogroup, or 23andMe, and they uploaded a GEDCOM file (tree) to GedMatch, you can utilize the GEDmatch “Find common ancestors” automated tree-matching functionality.

gedmatch mrca matches

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GEDmatch produces a list of your matches with common ancestors in their trees, allowing you to select the appropriate ancestor or lineage.

I wrote step-by-step instructions in the article, GEDmatch Introduces Automated Tree Matching.

Additionally, GEDmatch includes the Genetic Affairs AutoCluster tool in their Tier1 subscription offering,

ymt gedmatch.png

Gedmatch users who know their Y and mitochondrial haplogroup can enter that information in their profile and it will be reflected on the autosomal match list.

ymt gedmatch hap

Summary Chart

In summary, each testing vendor has a different focus and unique tools that can be used to search for Y and mitochondrial DNA candidates. Additionally, two other resources, WikiTree and GEDmatch, although not DNA testing vendors, can lead to discovering Y and mtDNA candidates as well.

I’ve created a quick-reference chart.

  Family Tree DNA MyHeritage Ancestry 23andMe Wikitree GEDmatch
Y DNA Test Yes No No No, partial haplogroup provided No test, listed by ancestor No, user entered
mtDNA Test Yes No No No, partial haplogroup provided No test, listed by ancestor No, user entered
DNA Projects Yes No No No Some Some
Strengths other than mentioned categories 20 year worldwide customer base, phased family matching European focus, SmartMatches, wide variety of filters Largest autosomal database Genetic tree beta DNA by ancestor May include users not found elsewhere who tested outside the major companies
Drawbacks No direct triangulation or tree matching No Genetic Affairs AutoTree or AutoPedigree Can’t download matches, no triangulation, clusters, AutoTree, or AutoPedigree No trees, 2000 match limit “One tree” may be incorrect Few trees, no AutoTree or AutoPedigree
Clustering Genetic Affairs Included in advanced tools No, prohibited Genetic Affairs N/A Included in Tier1
Genetic Affairs AutoTree & AutoPedigree Yes No No No, no tree support N/A No
Tree matching between users No, through Genetic Affairs Theories of Family Relativity ThruLines No Not directly MRCA common ancestors in Tier1

Now it’s your turn. Which Y and mitochondrial DNA lines can you find today?

Happy Hunting!

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Fussgoenheim, Mutterstadt and Palatinate Families During the Thirty Years War – 52 Ancestors #303

Several of my German families lived in the Palatinate in Germany before, during, and after the Thirty Years’ War.

The Palatinate, also known as the Pfalz, encompassed an area that stretches today from Bad Kreuznach in the north to Schweigen in the south. It is bounded on the east by the great Rhine River, and on the west by the smallest German state, Saarland.

30 Pfalz map.png

I’ve indicated these landmarks with the arrows, above. The Palatinate is the roughly circular area in the center.

30 Europe map

You can see in this larger photo of the region that not only does this area share a border with France, it’s small as compared to its massive neighbor.

During the Thirty Years’ War, the areas on the western side of the Rhine were utterly devastated, laid to waste, and depopulated for decades stretching into generations.

Historian and archivist, Winfried Seelinger at the Dannstadt archives calls this region, “God’s Little Acre” and says that it has probably always seemed so. Not only is the Rhine basin the warmest, sunniest corner of Germany, its fertile fields grow the famous German wines along with fruits and vegetables. As he says, people who descend from ancestors here come from sturdy stock – survivors of wars, pestilence, misery, and hard work. For those who did survive, there are many more who didn’t.

After the Thirty Years’ War ended, some of the original families tried to return to the area where they had previously lived. Virtually nothing was left – no semblance of their previous life except perhaps for rubble. The homes were destroyed, probably burned, and the fields were overgrown from 30 years of neglect.

30 15 years.jpg

To give you an idea of what 10-15 years of neglect in a field looks like, the photo above is the field behind my house. When we first moved here, the owners mowed the entire field because it was used as a horse pasture. No trees were standing. The woods on the far side of the field was mature when we arrived.

Sometime between 10 and 15 years ago, they stopped mowing the part of the field on the left half of the photo where the trees are growing. Keep in mind that this field is down a steep hill that is probably the height of a two story house, or maybe more, so the trees on the left are probably 3 or 4 stories high today. And this in just half of the duration of the war. After 30 years, the German farmers would literally have to start over, especially if they were growing investment crops such as orchards and vineyards where the vines and trees must be mature to produce. I can only imagine the level of dejection they must have felt if they did return to survey the extent of the damage and they found a scene like this amid ugly, overgrown rubble reminding them of death. The mocking ghost of a life that once was.

Some families did not attempt to return. Many didn’t survive and for those who did, thirty years is a generation. Young couples in 1618, if alive, were old in 1650. Few records survive from contemporaneous resources. Many that do were written later, or, in some cases, have to be inferred.

Before I discuss the records that involve multiple ancestors, I want to review the Thirty Years’ War and how it affected the Palatinate, called the Pfalz at that time in Germany. The region, on the fertile Rhine plain but within sight of the mountains and Palatinate Forest was then and is still known for its vineyards. In fact, one of the 1700s records in Fussgoenheim refers to the “wine tavern.”

30 vineyard

By Dr. Manfred Holz (Diskussion) – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28597736

Hambach Castle, now rebuilt and overlooking vineyards, below, near Neustadt, guarded the way on the old Roman trade routes and marked a location on the Way of St. James, also known as the Camino de Santiago, the point from where Emperor Henry IV began his pilgrim’s Walk to Canossa in 1076.

30 Hambach castle.jpg

By Dr. Manfred Holz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16403797

The Palatinate is steeped in history, and the families that resided there at the beginning of the 30 Years’ War likely had lived on same lands in the Rhine Valley, God’s Little Acre, for time out-of-mind – loving, fighting, defending their rich heritage. They were the descendants of Celts who had settled along the Rhine River hundreds to thousands of years before.

The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 and was quite influential across Germany and England by 1534, eventually rocking the religious foundation of all of Europe. Early, the Palatinate remained Catholic, but in the 1560s, under Elector Frederick III, adopted Calvinism and became the bulwark of the Protestant cause in Germany. The Palatinate was divided into two parts, the upper and lower region. The area west of Mannheim, Worms and Ludwigshafen was in the lower region, known as the Rhenish Palatinate.

The Thirty Years’ War began in 1618 when the Protestant-dominated Bohemian Estates offered the Crown of Bohemia to Frederick the Vth, grandson of Frederick III, rather than the conservative Catholic, Emperor Ferdinand II.

Frederick V accepted the Bohemian Crown in 1619 and was driven from Bohemia in 1620.

By this time, the Thirty Years War was in full swing and the Catholic troops utterly devastated the Palatinate over the next three years.

30 war hangings

This epoch was absolutely brutal in the Pfalz as is illustrated in this drawing titled, “Les Grandes Miseres de la guerre,” drawn in 1632/1633.

According to Winfried, the area of the Palatinate where my ancestors are found after the war was entirely depopulated and abandoned. The population of this region was almost entirely wiped out, beginning in 1620 with the Palatinate Campaign, also known as the Spanish conquest of the Palatinate.

In August 1620, the Army of Flanders in the service of the King of Spain and headquartered in Brussels, 25,000 men strong, marched into the Lower Palatinate. By the first of October, they had taken several major cities. Fighting raged throughout the region with the Catholic troops engaged in scorched-earth warfare.

One by one, the major cities fell and the smaller villages were pillaged, looted and burned. In November 1623, nearby Mannheim fell, leaving only the fortified city of Frankenthal under Protestant control. Frederick fled into exile, but the citizens had no place to go as the Spanish occupied the Palatinate.

30 Frankenthal.jpg

A year later, Frankenthal, shown above, where many of my family members had sought refuge, fell too and would not be reconstructed until 1682. During that time, people lived amid the ruins as best they could. In 1789, Frankenthal was again burned to the ground. No place was safe and people earlier displaced were once again on the move, seeking shelter anyplace they could find hope of safety.

The Protestant army in the Palatinate was a volunteer effort coordinated by an English knight. They became isolated into pockets by defeats in several regions and finally in March of 1623, James I, King of England and the father-in-law of Frederick V, ordered their surrender.

Frederick believed that his possessions would be restored to him, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, his lands were given to Bavaria and a Catholic counter-reformation was underway.

The population reduction in the Palatinate as a whole exceeded 66%.

This War didn’t end until 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia.

Thirty years is an entire generation, or more. People had found some semblance of a new life wherever they made their “temporary” home, had forged alliances, and were in no hurry to return to devastation in the countryside.

Exile

The few people who survived the onslaught sought exile in Bad Durkheim, Frankenthal and Speyer, all three of which saw enduring warfare and eventually succumbed to the Catholic troops, and fire.

Winfried tells us that the entire Palatinate agricultural region was entirely devoid of population from about 1634 to 1650, and that repopulation was very slow thereafter. Everything had been entirely destroyed, including church and civil records. By way of example, only 5 families returned to the Dannstadt, a village of about 7,500 people today, and probably fewer returned to Schauernheim.

In both 1652 and 1660, the Bishop of Speyer issued calls for people to come and settle, or resettle, in the Pfalz. Many Swiss and Germans from other areas along with displaced Jews began lives in the villages of the Palatinate.

But warfare STILL wasn’t over.

More War

In 1673, King Louis XIV declared war on this part of Germany, annexed the lands to the Rhine and in 1674, this area was again ravaged by his armies.

The Bishop wrote on January 9, 1679.

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

Winfried indicated that this description applied to all regions in the Pfalz

In 1688, the French King sent nearly 50,000 men with instructions “that the Palatinate should be made a desert,” launching what would become known as the Nine Years’ War or the War of the Palatine Succession. His commander gave the half-million residents a 3-day notice that they must leave their homes, causing thousands to die of cold and hunger. Many who survived became beggars on the streets of other European cities. Again, France devastated the area, annexing it for their own.

30 Speyer

This etching shows the city of Speyer before and during the fire of 1689. Speyer was one of the locations that refugees from the villages and farms of the Palatine had fled. Once again, they would have to seek safety elsewhere as the city of Speyer almost totally destroyed.

From 1689-1697, French troops under Louis XIV once again ravaged the Palatinate. Many refugees fled across the Rhine, with France eventually offering incentives for the residents to return when they realized they needed residents to work the land and people to tax. Some did return, but many didn’t, having established new lives. Enough was enough.

Peace and tranquility returned to what was left of the Pfalz as the villages rebuilt not only their churches and homes, but also their population and civil structure. The French, however, were never far away, lurking like a watchful predator. The village of Rehhutte was occupied by French troops from 1734-1745.

In 1756, catastrophic weather conditions including hail destroyed the entire harvest.

Then in 1789, you guessed it, France invaded again.

In 1807, yet another French army did the same. By now, every castle on the Rhine had been destroyed. The French occupied the Palatinate until 1808, sending anything of value back to the coffers of King Louis XIV.

This dark period in history finally ended in 1816, almost 200 years after the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War with Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo when Europe was re-divided, and the Pfalz was given to Bavaria where it remained until after the first World War. The Holy Roman Empire and feudalism ended, along with serfdom and constant invasions, which, combined, made the lives of both peasants and wealthier citizens miserable.

Anyone who could immigrate or leave did in the 1700s with many settling with other Palatinate Germans in Pennsylvania. The outward-bound tide continued into the mid-1800s.

30 peasant.jpg

The carnage that occurred during the 1600s and 1700s has been described as nothing sort of war crimes. In this drawing, a peasant begs for mercy in front of a burning farm. Few received grace and were more likely to join those hung in the trees.

The Thirty Years’ War itself wasn’t just violent, but led to unremitting famine and plagues. Warfare not only killed soldiers, but legions of civilians as well. Many regions were entirely abandoned, for not only years but in some cases decades.

The population was almost, if not entirely, displaced at one time or another. In most cases, multiple displacements – constant insecurity and danger that only occasionally eased for a bit and never ended.

Pestilence and disease raged. Typhus, scurvy and bubonic plague accompanied the soldiers, infecting everyone in their wake. What few contemporary records exist provide harrowing details of starvation in huge numbers, including reports to the church of cannibalism.

Truthfully, I find it nothing short of amazing that I exist at all today. I am the descendant of people made of unremitting grit and who were the fortunate few. Grit, bravery and determination only take you so far. Eventually, either you’re either lucky, or not.

My Palatinate Families

Needless to say, most Palatinate records, specifically village and church records begin in the 1700s, after the wars of the 17th century ended and the regions had some opportunity to rebuild. It’s not surprising, given what they had endured at the hands of the Catholics that the area was almost uniformly Protestant, Lutheran to be exact, with a few Jewish immigrants and Huguenot refugees settling in the abandoned areas.

My mother had several German lines from the Palatinate.

The first couple, Philipp Jacob Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lemmert immigrated and settled in Ripley County, Indiana in 1847. As it would be revealed, other close and more distant family members from Fussgoenheim and Mutterstadt also immigrated to the same or nearby locations – retaining family bonds forged in Germany.

Mom’s second line was George Drechsel, from Speichersdorf, and Barbara Mehlheimer, from Goppmannsbuhl, who immigrated in 1852, settling in neighboring Dearborn County, Indiana.

Their children, Jacob Kirsch and Barbara Drechsel married in 1866 in Aurora, Indiana.

Mom’s third German line was the immigrant Johann Michael Miller who immigrated in 1727 and married Susanna Agnes Berchtol. Both of their families were from the Steinwenden/Krottelbach area of the Palatinate. Their children would marry other German families for generations, every generation until my German-speaking great-grandmother married a Dutch immigrant instead of a nice German boy.

Additionally, Mom had several lines known as 1709ers, German people desperate to leave the Palatinate. There was a major freeze in the winter of 1708/09 in the Palatinate. On January 10, 1709 the Rhine River froze and was closed for five weeks. Wine froze into ice. Grapevines died. Cattle perished in their sheds. Desperate, thousands of Palatinate citizens traveled down the Rhine to Rotterdam in late February and March, seeking relief.

Rotterdam was completely overwhelmed and shipped them on to England where the Germans had heard that the Queen was giving free land in America. Their exodus was an unwise gamble born of desperation because they wound up stranded in impoverished tent cities in England in 1709 before eventually finding their way as laborers to the colonies.

Mom also had ancestors from other parts of Germany, but in this article, I’m focusing on the families that lived in the Rhine basin near the neighbor villages of Mutterstadt and Fussgoehein where these families were living after the Thirty Years’ War.

While I’m telling the stories of each of these ancestors as individuals in my 52 Ancestors series, the heartache spread throughout the entire Palatinate, affecting everyone. There was personal loss made worse by a mass mourning. The survivors, while hungry and desperately poor, were still the lucky ones. Most of the people died. All of their homes were destroyed. That they survived at all is nothing short of miraculous.

I’ve placed the several families in German towns and villages in “God’s Little Acre” as far back as I can. After we lose their specific family lines, sometimes we can glean additional tidbits from community history.

Acknowledgements

Before going further, I want to take this opportunity to thank the following people for their assistance in compiling not only the specific family records, but the history of the region and earlier records of those who carried the family names, but whom we can’t directly place as ancestors. Given the repopulation of the area after 1650, it’s very likely that later citizens in the 1700s with a specific surname were related to the earlier residents of the same name.

  • Walter Schnebel – a cousin, now deceased, grew up as a neighbor to the Kirsch family in Fussgoenheim and compiled a great deal of historical information over several decades of research. His family has graciously contributed his research for future generations.
  • William – a very generous researcher in a nearby village who has graciously offered to assist my search and photograph some of my family locations. William, I can’t thank you enough.
  • Noel – a lovely blog-subscriber who took photographs of the Kirsch ancestral home in Fussgoeheim during her vacation. She’s amazing and I’m so grateful.
  • Tom – my friend, cousin and retired German genealogist who I have become very close to over the past several years. I don’t know how I’d do this without him.
  • Christoph – my good friend whose ancestors lived where my ancestors lived. They probably knew each other. Christoph, a native-German speaker and history buff discovers absolutely amazing resources that I can’t find. Christoph and Tom joined my life about the same time when Christoph discovered an error I had made!
  • Winfried Seelinger – historian and archivist at the Dannstadt archives who gracioiusly sent me valuable family and historical information about this region during the Thirty Years’ War.
  • Elke Hall – my German translator in the 1980s and 1990s when I first began this journey. She retired many years ago, but I still find historical and genealogical gems in her long and lovely letters.
  • My cousins, Marliese (now deceased) who wrote letters to the Kirsch family in Aurora, Indiana during WWII and her daughter Heike.
  • My cousin Joyce (deceased) whose husband Don is also descended from the Koehler, Kirsch and Koob ancestors. Joyce and her husband were stationed in Germany during the 1960s and she began her research then and was kind enough to share before she passed away.
  • Cousin Irene Bultman, also sadly deceased, who lived near Aurora, Indiana and provided me with the Kirsch letters that Marliese had written.
  • My mother who accompanied me on the trips to find her relatives, or at least the trail they had left behind. I miss her.

30 Mom cemetery Kirsch

  • My cousins who have taken DNA tests and provided records to help unravel our family.
  • Countless others who have contributed hints, tips, photos or kindnesses. We are not on this journey alone and breakthroughs are so often thanks to the generosity of strangers.

I am incredibly grateful for the presence of these people in my life, their giving spirit and their patience with my never-ending questions.

Let’s start with the Kirsch family beginning with the immigrant parents. Like many families from these villages, I descend from multiple ancestors in the same family line. In small villages, you marry whoever is available to marry, which means you often marry cousins, close or distant. One of the benefits of the displacement due to warfare was the addition of new DNA to the pot, but it also made tracing the families immensely more difficult.

The Kirsch Family 

Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Philip Jacob Kirsch, farmer 1806 Andreas Kirsch, Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler 1880 Born  Fussgoenheim, Germany, died Ripley County, Indiana Katharina Barbara Lemmert
Andreas Kirsch, farmer 1774 Elias Nicolaus Kirsch, Susanna Elisabetha Koob 1819 Fussgoenheim Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler
Elias Nicolaus Kirsch 1733 Johann Michael Kirsch, Anna Margaretha 1804 Fussgoenheim Susanna Elisabetha Koob
Johann Michael Kirsch, Mayor until 1757 C 1700 Johann Adam Kirsch, Anna Maria Koob Before 1759 Lived in Fussgoenheim, birth location uncertain Anna Margaretha, surname unknown
Johann Adam Kirsch, unterfauth, mayor in 1701 C 1677 Johann Georg Kirsch, Margaretha Koch Before 1740, alive in 1717 Lived in Fussgoenheim, birth location uncertain Anna Maria Koob
Johann Georg (Jerg) Kirsch, baker, co-tenant of Josten estate in 1660 letter C 1620, married 1650 Bad Durkheim where is a baker Before 1695 Lived in Fussgoenheim, probably born elsewhere Margaretha Koch
Line 2
Maria Catharina Kirsch 1701-1711 Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, Anna Maria Borstler After 1772 Married and lived in Fussgoenheim, birth and death locations are uncertain. Johann Theobald Koob
Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, gerichtsmann, court man C 1670, son of Johann George Kirsch born c 1620 Johann Georg Kirsch, Margaretha Koch Abt 1723 Lived in Fussgoenheim, birth location uncertain, married in 1695 in Bad Durkheim Anna Maria Borstler

 

Johann Georg (Jerg) Kirsch, above C 1620 Before 1695 Lived in Fussgoenheim, probably born elsewhere Margaretha Koch

Based on these records, it appears that Johann Georg Kirsch, known as Jerg, spent the time during the Thirty Years’ War in Bad Durkheim, settling in Fussgoenheim after the war.

30 kirsch map.png

In the Kirsch line, you’ll note that the birth locations of the three oldest generations are uncertain. There are no church records in Fussgoenheim until 1726.

We do have a marriage record for Johann Georg Kirsch in 1650 in Bad Durkheim, followed by a record in the archives stating that in 1660, he is the co-lessee of the Josten estate in Fussgoenheim. Of course, that doesn’t tell us where he was between 1650 and 1660, where he was born or where the family was before that time.

There is nothing to indicate that the Kirsch family was in Fussgoenheim prior to the Thirty Years’ War.

Kirsch Immigrants to the US

Walter Schnebel’s records indicate that Kirsch family immigrants from Fussgoenheim, other than my ancestors, include:

  • Anna Margaretha “Marie” Kirsch born Feb. 16, 1804, my ancestor’s sister, married Johann Martin Koehler who died in Germany. She immigrated with her brother’s family and children, and died on Nov, 30, 1888 in Dearborn County, Indiana.

Walter lists an Illinois group.

  • Daniel Kirsch born September 7, 1795 to Daniel Kirsch and Eva Rosina Haas, married Catharina Barbara Lehmann, immigrated in 1836 and died on December 19, 1837 in Monroe County, Illinois.
  • Johannes Kirsch born July 13, 1817 to Johann Daniel Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lehmann, married Elizabeth Knewitz, then Maria Katharina Mohr, died March 24, 1861 in Monroe County, Illinois
  • Maria Catharina Kirsch born March 19, 1821 to Johann Daniel Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lehmann, married Andreas Probst, died July 18, 1877 in Monroe County, Illinois.

There seem to be three distinct groups, the Monroe County, Illinois group, the Dearborn County, Indiana group and a St. Louis, Missouri and area across the river in Illinois group.

  • Johannes VI (John) Kirsch born October 14, 1804 to Georg Heinrich Kirsch and Anna Barbara Ellspermann, married Margaretha Beckmann, died August 1, 1883 in Lawrenceburg, Dearborn County, Indiana. Immigrated in 1853 with their children.
  • Anna Elisabetha Kirsch born Dec. 14, 1828 to Johannes Kirsch IV and Maria Catharina Koob, married Philipp Jacob Kohler (Koehler), died June 28, 1876 Aurora, Dearborn County, Indiana.
  • Johannes (John William I) Kirsch born August 1, 1835 to Johannes Kirsch IV and Maria Catharina Koob, immigrated in 1859, married Caroline Kuntz in Dearborn, Indiana.
  • Andreas Kirsch born October 23, 1817 and Valentin Kirsch, brothers, born August 29, 1819 to Johann Adam Kirsch and Maria Catharina Koob immigrated on September 16, 1936 from Le Havre to New York on the ship “Henry IV.” It’s likely that Andreas is the same person whose gravestone stood at the now-defunct St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Franklin Twp., near where Philip Jacob Kirsch lived, with a death date of Sept. 19, 1891. If this is correct, Philip Jacob is his uncle and it’s likely that Valentine lived locally as well.

It’s unclear from Walter’s spreadsheet if he connected thee following immigrants back to the Fussgoenheim families, or if he was searching for potential Kirsch family members in the US. After looking at the rest of his spreadsheet surnames, I suspect he connected these families in some fashion. Ironically, in the early 1980s in St. Louis, I recall seeing a restaurant named the “Kirsch House” and thought it remarkable. Now, of course, I wish I had stopped.

  • Diether “Peter” Kirsch and Susan immigrated to Ohio and had 5 children who began being born in 1842.
  • Johannes “John” and Cathie lived in Cleveland, Ohio between 1880 and 1900 along with their 5 children born beginning in 1850.
  • Adam Kirsch and Charlotta Louisa in St. Louis Missouri and St. Clair County, Illinois having children born beginning in 1869 in Illinois.
  • Adam Kirsch and Mary having children in Ohio beginning in 1877.
  • George Kirsch and Caroline having children in Cleveland Ohio beginning in 1874.
  • Martin Kirsch and Elizabeth Bernhardt having children in Madison, Illinois beginning in 1885.
  • William Kirsch and Lizzie Langenwalter having children in the US beginning in 1891.
  • John Kirsch and Emma Salomi Bauer having children beginning in 1890 in St. Louis, MO, Collinsville, IL beginning in 1890.

In the future, if Kirsch males from these lines take the Y DNA test, we’ll know if they connect for sure.

Kirsch DNA

There is a Kirsch DNA Project at Family Tree DNA.

We have a male representing the Y DNA of the Kirsch line.

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Maria Catharina Kirsch. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Maria Catharina through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Koch Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Margaretha Koch Bef 1630 Stephen Koch Married in Bad Durkheim, died in Fussgoenheim Johan Georg (Jerg) Kirsch
Stephen Koch Bef 1610 Bad Durkheim

Margaretha was likely born during the Thirty Years’ War and Stephen before.

Koch DNA

We don’t have either the Koch Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Margaretha Koch. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Koch male that descends from the Stephen Koch line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Margaretha Koch through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Boerstler or Borstler Family 

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Maria Boerstler C 1670 Johann Adam Borstler After 1736 Lived in Fussgoenheim, married in 1695 in Bad Durkheim Johann Wilhelm Kirsch
Johann Adam Boerstler Before 1650 Lived in Bad Durkheim when his daughter married Margarethe
Line 2
Anna Barbara Boerstler 1695 Johann Jacob Boerstler and Anna Stauber 1762 Born in Schauernheim, died in Mutterstadt Johann Sebastian Reimer
Johann Jacob Boerstler, Mayor of Schauernheim 1694-1702 C 1659 1704 Lived and died in Schauernheim, possibly born in Beindersheim near Frankenthal although documentation is lacking Anna Stauber

Borstler family records are found in a wide range of villages in the Palatinate. In addition to the villages where my ancestors and earlier mentions are found, Walter also shows connections to Lambsheim, Assenheim, Rehutte and Oppenheim, all in this same general area.

30 Borstler map

Johann Adam Borstler along with Margaretha and Hans Jacob were found in the early records, their births having taken place between roughly 1640 and 1655. Hans Jacob died in 1704 in Schauernheim.

Schauernheim and Dannstadt church records both begin in 1673.

The Borstler family is found early in Fussgoenheim where one Theobaldt Burstler (probably Borstler) is living in 1717 and noted as an old man who has knowledge of the earlier customs, rules and rights of citizens.

Walter Schnebel shows that Johann Michael Boerstler born about 1659 is interviewed in 1717 as well, being the leaseholder of the Munchhof estate.

This would suggest that both of these men were from Fussgoenheim and had knowledge of the area from before the warfare in the 1600s, establishing the Boerstler line in this specific area.

The Borstler family is found as a leaseholder at the Munchhof estate south of Schauernheim and in the early Schauernheim records.

In 1704, Hans Jakob Borstler died after being noted as the Mayor from 1694-1702. This is my second Boerstler line.

Hans Michael Borstler died in 1724 and was noted as a leaseholder at the Munchhof estate. His son, Johannes was born about 1684 and married Maria Margaretha Koob in 1724 in Dannstadt. They continued as leaseholders at Munchhof where Johann Theobald Koob, displaced from Fussgoenheim, then living in Weissenheim am Sand, purchased one quarter of the leasehold estate in 1748.

Boerstler Immigrants to US

Hans Michel Borstler born August 1701 in Schauernheim to Johann Michael Borstler and Anna Margaretha Lackinger, died 1767 in Berks County, PA, married Anna Catharina Krehl in Assenheim in 1726.

Jacob Borstler born 1700 in Fussgoenheim to Johann Theobald (Dewald) Borstler and Maria Catharine Kemp (Kamp), married Catharina Peter in PA about 1727 and died in Berks County, PA.

George Borstler (Berstler,) brother of Jacob, above born about 1712, died in Alsace, Berks County, PA.

Borstler DNA

We don’t have the Y DNA of a Borstler male. I have a testing scholarship for any male who carries that surname and can document descent from the Boerstler line.

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of either Anna Maria Borstler or Anna Barbara Borstler. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from either woman through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Stauber Family

Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Stauber 1659 Hans Stauber 1729 Schauernheim Johann Jacob Boerstler
Hans (Johann) Stauber, farmer Before 1639 Schauernheim Margarethe

The Stauber family is found in Schauernheim, according to the Schauernheim history, with Anna born there in 1658 or 1659, but her sister Margarethe was born on October 2, 1641 in Speyer. We don’t where the Stauber family lived before the war, but they were clearly in Speyer during that time.

30 speyer.png

Stauber DNA

We don’t have the Y DNA of a Stauber male. I have a testing scholarship for any male who carries that surname and can document descent from the Hans Stauber line.

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Stauber. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Stauber through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Koob Family

The Koob family married into the Kirsch family many times over several generations.

Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Susanna Elisabetha Koob 1731 Johann Theobald Koob, Maria Catharine Kirsch After 1776 Fussgoenheim Elias Nicolaus Kirsch
Johann Theobald Koob, leaseholder at Munchhof C 1705 Johann Dietrich Koob, Anna Catharina After 1766 Died either Fussgoenheim or Munchhof Maria Catharina Kirsch
Johann Dietrich Koob, Mayor in 1730 C 1670 1734 Died Fussgoenheim, birth location uncertain Anna Catharina, surname unknown

The Koob family was found in early records in Fussgoenheim and surrounding villages.

30 Koob map.png

The first mention that Walter found of the Koob surname was in the 1430s where Jost Kob is mentioned as a leaseholder, then in the 1470s and 1480s where Lorenz and Christmann Kob are noted as mayor, respectively, and Velten, Hensel, Hans and Henrich are noted as jurymen. Walter did not indicate where, but since this is the Fussgoenheim spreadsheet I’m using, I’d presume it was there.

Claus Koob is mentioned in 1553 and is noted as the mayor in Schauernheim in 1520.

In 1530 and 1540, Hans and Wendel Kob are noted as jurymen, presumably in Fussgoenheim, with Wendel also noted as a leaseholder. Both also contributed to defend against the Turks in 1585, as did Henrich and Michel.

In 1585, according to Winfried, there is a tax list to “defend against the Turks.” In a separate section of taxed individuals who have a lot in Schauernheim but live elsewhere, we find Wendel Kob, noted as the mayor. We would interpret this to mean he was the mayor of Fussgoenheim during the Turkish invasion.

In 1595 in Mutterstadt, it was noted that the family sought safety for 16 years in Frankenthal. We find mention of children of a Valentine Koob and Margaretha whose children were born in both Mutterstadt and Frankenthal between 1627 and 1649.

Records survive in neighboring Schauernheim earlier than in Fussgoenheim. In those records, we find Andreas Koob who died in 1627 and was the mayor there in 1617.

Between 1613 and 1627, Endres Koob is the Mayor in neighboring Dannstadt. Andres, probably the same person, is noted in September 1592 on the war tax register and again in 1617 on a tax list, noted as Mayor.

We find Koob family members by 1714 in nearby Weisenheim am Sand.

The Koob family was known to have been in Fussgoenheim in the early 1700s. Fussgoenheim records indicate that in 1701, Hans Nikel Kob was mayor and still living in 1717, noted as an old man. Elder residents were providing information about property, family lines, citizenship and such before the war.

Johann Dietrich Koob was mayor in 1730.

Between 1573 and 1701, no information is known about who was mayor, but in 1528, Lorenz Kob was mayor and in 1480, Debalt Kalbe was noted as mayor. This history reaches far back before the Thirty Years’ War, so I suspect that the Koob family was displaced, but then returned.

A Hans Simon Koob died in Schauernheim in 1708 and 1712. In 1709, he’s mentioned as a vineyard owner, so obviously there were two men by the same name living there in that timeframe.

We also find early Schauernheim marriages to Koob females, even though we don’t know who their parents were. Records connect the Schauernheim and Fussgoenheim Koob families, as well as Koob family members who lived in Weissenheim am Sand prior to 1743.

The Koob family living in Weissenheim am Sand who would provide shelter to Johann Theobald Koob after he was expelled from Fussgoenheim in 1743 was likely the son of Hans Nikel Koob, the Mayor of Fussgoenheim.

These families were all somehow connected and lived in this area before the Thirty Years’ War. It’s that connection and alliance that may have saved them.

Koob Immigrants to the US

Georg Koob born August 15, 1865 and his sister, Maria born April 4, 1868 to Johann Dieter Koob II and Elisabeth Claus immigrated to the US.

George Koob died in Port Clinton, Ottawa County, Ohio on May 21, 1942.

Koob DNA

We don’t have Koob Y DNA so I have a Y DNA testing scholarship for any Koob male descending directly from Koob males through all men.

We also don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Susanna Elisabetha Koob, so I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Susanna Elisabetha Koob through all females to the current generation, which can be male or female

The Koehler Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler 1772 Johann Peter Koehler, Anna Elisabetha Scherer 1823 Born in Ellerstadt, died in Fussgoenheim Andreas Kirsch
Johann Peter Koehler, farmer C 1723 Johann Peter Theobald Koehler, Anna Elisabetha Ulzhöfer 1791 Married in Ellerstadt in 1762, died there Anna Elisabetha Scherer
Johann Theobald Koehler, tax collector in Rehhutte 1696 Johann Thomas Koehler, Anna Barbara Garnschrag 1767 Seckenheim, tax collector in Rehhutte, Neuhofen in 1735, died in Neustadt Anna Elisabetha  Ulzhöfer
Johann Thomas Koehler C 1663 Mathes Koehler, Anna Maria Zee 1729 Born Seckenheim, married and died in Ladenburg Anna Barbara Garnschrag
Mathes Koehler, church council member, gemeindsmann C 1645 Wolfgang Koehler 1708 Married in Ivesheim, died in Seckenheim Anna Maria Zee
Wolfgang Koehler, beer brewer and baker in Seckenheim 1622 Johannes Koehler 1708 Born Neckarau, died Seckenheim unknown
Johannes Koehler Before 1600 1675 Born Mannheim, died Neckarau unknown

From the records, it looks like the Koehler family may be one that crossed the Rhine for safety. I’d wager that there are Koehler family lines there that connect with ours that are later found in Ellerstadt. I believe that Marliese indicated that her oral family history indicated as much and that her family had located some distant family members.

30 Koehler map

Walter Schnebel notes that Johann Theobald Koehler “came in 1761 from the Rehhütte/Limburgerhof to NW.” I don’t quite know what NW stands for, although I suspect Neustadt. Generally, it’s an abbreviation for a town and sometimes, only Walter can decipher them, except he can’t now.

It’s also worth noting that the translation of his wife’s name, Anna Elisabetha Ulzhöfer was translated years ago quite differently, as Jlleshofer.

Walter’s research indicates that in the 1720s, the family lived in Rehhutte and in the 1740s, they seem to have moved to Ellerstadt where numerous records exist.

Koehler Immigrants to the US

The only known Koehler immigrants are the children of Johann Martin Koehler, who died in 1846 in Fussgoenheim, and Anna Margaretha Kirsch who immigrated with her brother after Martin’s death. Three of her four surviving children married in America.

Koehler DNA

We have a Y DNA tester representing the Koehler line.

We do not have Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler’s mitochondrial DNA. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Margaretha Elisabetha through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Scherer Family 

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Elisabetha Scherer 1741 Johann Philipp Scherer, Anna Margaretha 1784 Born Heuchelheim, died Ellerstadt Johann Peter Koehler
Johann Philipp Scherer, innkeeper at the Lion Inn in Heuchelheim 1702 1755 Heuchelheim death, birth unknown Anna Margaretha surname unknown

Heuchelheim bei Frankenthal is only 8 miles up the road from Ellerstadt.

30 Scherer map.png

Walter shows a Johannes Scherer, “from Burchsal” in Fussgoenheim having a child in 1758 that died 6 years later. Given that Johann Peter Koehler was from Ellerstadt and they married there in 1762, this is may not be the same family line. Bruchsal is the opposite direction from Ellerstadt as Heuchelheim.

Scherer DNA

We have neither the Y DNA of the Scherer line, nor the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Elisabetha Scherer.

I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male Scherer descending from Johann Philip Scherer through all males to the current generation.

I also have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Elisabetha Scherer through all females to the current generation which can be either male or female.

The Ulzhöfer Family (formerly translated as Jlleshoefer)

I believe this name is spelled Ulzhöfer, based on Walter’s records, but it was originally translated as Jlleshoefer.

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Elisabetha Ulzhöfer 1704 Ulrich Ulzhofer 1735 Born Bruehl, married Seckenheim, died Rehhutte Johann Peter Theobald Koehler
Ulrich Ulzhöfer

This record reaches back to the time when families would have still been resettling after warfare.

30 Ulzhoefer map

This location of Bruehl is far from the area where the Koehler family is found and may not be the correct Bruehl.

Ulzhoefer DNA

We don’t have either the Y DNA of Ulrich Ulzhoefer or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Elisabetha Ulzhoefer. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from Ulrich Ulzhoefer directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Ann Elisabetha Ulzhoefer through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Garnschrag Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Barbara Garnschrag 1666 Hans Valentine Garnschrags 1747 Ladenburg Johann Thomas Koehler
Hans Valentine Garnschrags Bef 1646

Ladenburg is only a few miles from Mannheim and an area where refugees from west of the Rhine seem to have settled.

30 Garnschrag map.png

Garnschrag DNA

We don’t have either the Y DNA of Hans Valentine Garnschrag or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Barbara Garnschrag. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from Hans Valentin Garnschrag directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Ann Barbara Garnschrag through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Zee, Zeh Family

 Ancestor Birth Death Location Spouse
Anna Maria Zee 1646 1722 Married Ivesheim died Seckenheim Mathes Koehler
Friedrich Zee, Zeh Bef 1625 1694 Died Ivesheim

Village center to village center is about a mile, so these people could literally have lived within sight of each other. I wonder if any type of bridge existed at the time.

30 Zee map

Note that the surname See is also in Fussgoenheim. I don’t know if this is a different spelling of the same name, and if it’s the same family. These records date back to the Thirty Years’ War, so these families could have wound up just about anyplace.

Zee, Zeh DNA

We don’t have either the Y DNA of Friedrich Zee or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Maria Zee. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from Friedrich Zee directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Ann Maria Zee through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Lemmert Family 

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Katharina Barbara Lemmert 1807 Johann Jacob Lemmert, Gerdraut Steiger 1889 Mutterstadt Philipp Jacob Kirsch
Johann Jacob Lemmert, farmer 1775 Johann Peter Lemmert, Maria Katharina Reimer 1808 Mutterstadt Gerdraut Steiger
Johann Peter Lemmert, farmer 1736 Johann Peter Lemmert, Anna Maria Steiger 1781 Mutterstadt Maria Katharina Reimer
Johann Peter Lemmert, customs officer, farmer 1705 Balthasar Lemmert, Anna Barbara Ortwer 1738 Mutterstadt Anna Maria Steiger
Balthasar Lemmert, customs agent, landlord of the White Swan 1676 Johann Jakob Lemmert, Katharina Funckh 1750 Mutterstadt Anna Barbara Ortwer
Johann Jakob Lemmert, court cognant 1636 Needs to be translated 1714 Mutterstadt Katharina Funckh
Line 2
Rosina Barbara Lemmert (line 2) 1669 Johann Jakob Lemmert, Katharina Funckh 1743 Mutterstadt Johann Jakob Renner
Johann Jakob Lemmert, above 1636 1714 Mutterstadt Katharina Funckh (Funk)

Unfortunately, Walter doesn’t have Lemmert on his spreadsheet. His focus was Fussgoenheim, and I have only found Mutterstadt Lemmert records.

Lemmert DNA

We need the Lemmert Y DNA and I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male descending from a Lemmert male through all males to the current generation.

We also don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of either Katharina Barbara Lemmert or Rosina Barbara Lemmert, so I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from either woman through all females to the current generation, which can be male or female.

The Funckh (Funk) Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Katharina Funckh C 1635 Ventin Funckh Lived in Mutterstadt Johann Jakob Lemmert
Veltin Funckh Before 1615

The Mutterstadt Family History book shows the only Funk as Oswald Funk born about 1647 in the Canton Bern, Switzerland and died in 1708 in Mutterstadt. However, the note says the married couple moved from Switzerland about 1710 to Mutterstadt. One or the other is incorrect – perhaps a typo. I do wonder if Oswald Funk is connected to Veltin (Valentin).

Funckh (Funk) DNA

We don’t have either the Funckh (Funk) Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Katharina Funckh (Funk.) I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from Ventin Funckh (Funk) directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Katharina Funckh (Funk) through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Reimer Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Maria Katharina Reimer 1740 Philip Heinrich Reimer, Anna Barbara Renner 1803 Mutterstadt Johann Peter Lemmert
Philip Heinrich Reimer 1718 Johann Sebastian Reimer, Anna Barbara Borstler 1756 Mutterstadt Anna Barbara Renner
Johann Sebastian Reimer, judge 1692 Ludwig Reimer, Anna Margaretha 1766 Mutterstadt Anna Barbara Borstler
Ludwig Reimer, court cognant, master sentinel, watch-master, lieutenant, judge 1651 Bartholomous Reimer, Odilla Kobss 1712 Mutterstadt Anna Margaretha surname unknown
Bartholomous Reimer 1617 1707 Born and died in Mutterstadt, married in 1650 in Frankenthal Odilla Kobss (is this another spelling of Koob?)
Line 2
Maria Saloma Reimer 1752 Johann Jacob Reimer, Rosina Barbara Renner 1791 Mutterstadt Johann Philipp Steiger
Johann Jacob Reimer, shoemaker 1723 Johann Bernard Reimer, Anna Katharina Sager 1795 Mutterstadt Rosina Barbara Renner
Johann Bernard Reimer, gerichtsverwandter, schoffe, court related, alderman C 1687 Ludwig Reimer, Anna Margaretha 1757 Mutterstadt Anna Katharina Sager
Ludwig Reimer, above 1651 Bartholomous Reimer, Odilla Kobss 1712 Mutterstadt Anna Margaretha surname unknown
Bartholomous Reimer, above 1617 1707 Born and died in Mutterstadt, married in Frankenthal Odilla Kobss (is this another spelling of Koob?)

These records suggest that the Reimer family was from Mutterstadt before the war and returned after. The Koob family was in Mutterstadt before 1650, so the families would have known each other before they sought refuge in Frankenthal.

30 Reimer map.png

As I look at the 12 km (7.5 miles) path to Frankenthal, today, I think about the hundreds of families that walked that exact route on their way to desperately-needed safety, probably leaving everything behind except literally what they could carry. Lucky families might have had a cart and an ox to pull it.

It’s interesting to note that Walter shows an Ottilie Koob born about 1627 in Mutterstadt to Valentin Koob and Margaretha. While two children are attributed specifically to Valentin and Margaretha, one born in Frankenthal in 1649 plus Ottilie, four other children were born during this period to unknown parents. Barbara was born in 1637 and another Ottilie in 1644, both in Mutterstadt. Johann Franz and Johann Debold Koob/Kob were born in Frankenthan in 1649 and 1659 respectively. With that much age spread, it’s unlikely that all these children were born to the same parents, not to mention two Ottilies.

Is Odilla Kobss the younger Ottilie Koobs who was born in 1627 in Mutterstadt andperhaps married in Frankenthal while the family was sheltering there?

Reimer DNA

We have Reimer Y DNA, but we don’t have mitochondrial of either Maria Katharina Reimer or Maria Saloma Reimer. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from either woman through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Sager, Seger Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Katharina Sager 1689 Rudolph Sager 1751 Born Ruchheim, married and died Mutterstadt Johann Bernard Reimer
Rudolph Sager Died Ruchheim Elisabetha surname unknown

The name is spelled Seger in some records.

The village of Ruchheim is just up the road from Mutterstadt.

30 Sager map

Sager, Seger DNA

We don’t have either the Sager Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Katharina. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Sager male that descends from the Rudolph Sager line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Katharina Sager through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Steiger, Staiger Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Maria Steiger 1705 Daniel Steiger, Maria Katharina Klein 1789 Mutterstadt Johann Peter Lemmert
Daniel Steiger, church elder, kirchentester 1669/1670 Johann Theobald Steiger 1736 Mutterstadt Maria Katharina Klein
Johann Theobald Steiger, Mayor 1673-1693 C 1625 1694 Mutterstadt
Line 2
Gerdraut Steiger 1783 Johann Philipp Steiger, Maria Saloma Reimer 1829 Mutterstadt Johann Jacob Lemmert
Johann Philipp Steiger, farmer 1748 Johann Martin Steiger, Maria Magdalena Weber 1794 Mutterstadt Maria Saloma Reimer
Johann Martin Steiger 1716 Johann Theobald Steiger, Anna Katharina Bereth 1758 Mutterstadt Maria Magdalena Weber
Johann Theobald Steiger 1689 Blasius Steiger 1742 Mutterstadt Anna Katharina Bereth
Blasius Steiger, Mayor 1794-1814, customs collector for 7 years 1655 Johann Theobald Steiger 1733 Mutterstadt Anna Clara Bayer
Johann Theobald Steiger, above C 1625 1694 Mutterstadt
Line 3
Anna Maria Steiger C 1658 Johann Theobald Steiger 1734 Mutterstadt Johann George Orth
Johann Theobald Steiger, above C 1625 1694 Mutterstadt

The Mutterstadt Family History book says that Johann Theobald was born in Mutterstadt in 1625, which is during the Thirty Years’ War. This suggests the Steiger family lived in Mutterstadt before the war.

Steiger, Staiger DNA

We don’t have either the Steiger Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of either Anna Maria born 1658, Anna Maria born 1705 or Gerdraut Steiger. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from the Steiger male line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Maria, Anna Maria or Gerdraut Steiger through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Bayer Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Clara Bayer C 1655 Mutterstadt Blasius Steiger

The only other Bayer family in the Mutterstadt Family History book is Maria Katharina Bayer born about 1745 in Assenheim and who died in Mutterstadt.

Walter, however, shows a Konrad Bayer born about 1760 who left for the Ukraine in 1785 with 5 persons.

In 1758, an Elias Bayer (Baier) was born in Roxheim to a Joahnnes Bayer and Katharina Schmid.

It’s unclear if any of these Bayer individuals are connected to Anna Clara Bayer.

Bayer DNA

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Clara Bayer. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Barbara through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Bereth Family

 Ancestor Birth Death Location Spouse
Anna Katharina Bereth 1696 1721 Born Schwetzingen, married and died Mutterstadt Johann Theobald Steiger
Johann Georg Bereth C 1656 1710 Schwetzingen Margaretha Ackerman Maudach (of Huguenoten)

I was not able to find a location by the name of Huguenoten. Cousin Joyce recorded that she was “of Huguenoten,” but I now suspect this was an indication that she was a Huguenot refugee. Was he as well?

30 Bereth map.png

Schwetzingen is across the Rhine River from Mutterstadt, which causes me to wonder how this couple met. Is Swetzingen a location where the Bereth family took refuge from the war?

Bereth DNA

We don’t have either the Bereth Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Katharina Bereth. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Bereth male that descends from the Johann Georg Bereth line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Katharina Bereth through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Klein Family

 Ancestor Birth   Death Location Spouse
Maria Katharina Klein C 1675 Daniel Klein 1733 Mutterstadt Daniel Steiger
Daniel Klein Before 1655 Mutterstadt

Daniel’s parents were probably displaced when he was born.

The Mutterstadt Family History book shows a Jacob Klein born about 1610 in Mutterstadt, married Sept. 9, 1640 in Frankenthal to Veronica and had son Johannes about 1659 in Mutterstadt. This suggests that the Klein family sought refuge in Frankenthal too.

In the Jewish section of the book, Abraham Klein was born about 1759 in Obrigheim, in the Pfalz, married Rosine Theresia Kahn. Two of his children died in Mutterstadt. This line does not seem to be related to Maria Katharina whose name is decidedly more Protestant, with a traditional saint name of Maria.

Klein DNA

We don’t have either the Klein Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Maria Katharina Klein. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Klein male that descends from the Daniel Klein line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Maria Katharina Klein through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Orth Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Barbara Orth 1685 George Orth 1757 Married and died in Mutterstadt Balthasar Lemmert
Johann Georg Orth, baker Before 1665 Abt 1696 Mutterstadt Anna Maria Steiger

It’s noted in her marriage record that her father’s name is George Orth, citizen of Mutterstadt, but it was translated in other records as Ortwer and in one record as Ortel.

The Mutterstadt Family History books shows his name as Johann Georg Orth, a baker. Walter had access to the original records, not to mention was quite familiar with Mutterstadt families and who they connected to, misspellings or not.

Walter had no records for Ortwer, but several for Orth. However, his earliest Orth records are children born to Johann Jacob Orth and Anna Maria Becker in Gonnheim beginning in 1670.

Another Orth group was born 1700-1730 in Freinsheim, but at least one died in Ellerstadt.

It’s unclear whether any of these connect to the Mutterstadt family.

Orth DNA

We don’t have either the Orth Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Barbara Orth. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from Johann George Orth directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Barbara Orth through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Renner Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Barbara Renner 1721 Johann Peter Renner, Anna Katharina Schuster 1787 Mutterstadt Philipp Heinrich Reimer
Johann Peter Renner, court cognant, farmer 1679 Johann Peter Renner 1746 Mutterstadt Anna Katharina Schuster
Johann Peter Renner, farmer 1645 1709 Born Frankenthal, died Mutterstadt Susanna Elisabeth Wentz
Johann Jakob Renner, farmer, Mayor 1655-1661 1610 Mutterstadt Margaretha Buchheimer or Anna Elisabetha unknown
Line 2
Rosina Barbara Renner 1732 Johann Adam Renner, Anna Barbara Raparlien 1773 Mutterstadt Johann Jacob Reimer
Johann Adam Renner, farmer 1695 Johann Jakob Renner, Rosina Barbara Lemmert 1746 Mutterstadt Anna Barbara Raparlien
Johann Jakob Renner, farmer 1662 Johannes Renner 1730 Mutterstadt Rosina Barbara Lemmert
Johannes Renner, farmer 1632 Mutterstadt
Johann Jakob Renner, farmer, Mayor 1655-1661, above 1610 Mutterstadt Margaretha Buchheimer or Anna Elisabetha unknown

Johann Jacob Renner, born about 1610 served as mayor in Fussgoenheim from 1655-1661.

Walter’s note, also found in the Mutterstadt Family History book, says, “Family fled to Frankenthal for 16 years because of the chaos of war, came back to Mutterstadt in 1650.”

This tells us that at least a few families managed to tough it out in Mutterstadt until 1634. I wonder if they left during the Palatinate Campaign from 1619-1622 and returned, only to leave again in 1634. I wonder what caused them to leave in 1634. There must have been some precipitating event. How I wish for journals of my ancestors. Walter’s note about leaving for 16 years in 1734 appears on multiple families, which would suggest that they all decided, together, that it was indeed time to leave, understanding what would happen to everything. Yet, they decided to walk away because their alternate choice was death.

Walter shows that a Wendel Renner was born about 1575 and had 2 known sons, Marx and Hans Sebastian who lived in Dannstadt and Schauernheim. Johann Jacob and/or Johannes Renner might have been his sons as well.

The Renner family was clearly established in this area before the Thirty Years’ War.

Renner Immigration to the US

Walter lists several immigrants:

  • Johann Jacob Renner born October 17, 1702 in Mutterstadt to Johann Jacob Renner and Rosina Barbara Lemmert was the brother of my ancestor, Johann Adam Lemmert. Johann Jacob married Helena Barbara Sach in 1726 Oggersheim and died in Chester County, PA in 1766.
  • Hans Veltin (Johann Valentin) Renner born Dec. 10, 1703 in Dannstadt to Johann Diether Renner and Magdalena Cheru, married Anna Margaretha Wessa and died in 1780 in Bedminster, Bucks County, PA.
  • Anna Kunigunde Renner born April 1, 1711 in Dannstadt to Johann Martin Renner and Anna Magdalena died in 1749 in Pennsylvania.
  • Her brother, Hans (Johann) Conrad Renner born May 5, 1715 in Dannstadt married Verena Becker, immigrated in 1738 and died in 1749 in Pennsylvania.

I wonder if this group traveled together.

Renner DNA

We don’t have either the Renner Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Barbara or Rosina Barbara Renner. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Renner male that descends from the Renner line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Barbara or Rosina Barbara Renner through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Schuster Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Katharina Schuster C 1690 Mutterstadt Johann Peter Renner

Anna Katharina Schuster was having children in Mutterstadt by 1718 and until 1734.

The Mutterstadt Family History book shows only later Schusters who originally hailed from Altlussheim.

Schuster DNA

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Katharina Schuster. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Katharine Schuster through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Wentz Family

Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Susanna Elisabetha Wentz C 1640 1721 Died in Mutterstadt Johann Peter Renner

Walter’s records provide us with Susanna’s name and notes that they had 2 children in Mutterstadt. Given that Johann Peter Renner was born in Frankenthal, it’s certainly possible that they were married there. The Mutterstadt family book shows no Wentz until in the 1700s.

Wentz DNA

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Susanna Elisabetha Wentz. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Susanna Elisabetha Wentz through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Weber Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Maria Magdalena Weber 1724 Johann Martin Weber 1751 Mutterstadt Johann Martin Steiger
Johann Martin Weber, court man, church elder 1700 Elke could not read father’s name. 1748 Mutterstadt Maria Magdalena Schunck

While we can’t make a connection, the Weber surname is found in the region by historians and researchers. Y DNA from the various lines would confirm or eliminate the possibility that this was the same family line.

30 weber map

Walter Schnebel finds one Albertus Weber, an alderman, born about 1640 marrying Apollonia Beck in Weisenheim am Sand.

The Mutterstadt Family History book shows Hans Weber born about 1520 in the small village of Wiesoppenheim Worms. He died about 1590 in Mutterstadt. He is listed on the register of those paying taxes to defend against the Turks in 1584 on the Neustadt register.

Weber DNA

We don’t have either the Weber Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Maria Magdalena Weber. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Weber male that descends from the Johann Martin Weber line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Maria Magdalena Weber through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Schunck Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Maria Magdalena Schunck 1688 Johann Georg Schunck 1748 Married and died in Mutterstadt Johann Martin Weber
Johann Georg Schunck Bef 1668 Died in Missling, Baden (?)

This record came from my now deceased cousin, Joyce, who researched in Germany while her husband was stationed there. She notes that Johann Georg Schunck died in Missling, Baden. I don’t find Missling or Misling or anything similar on a map. Clearly, it existed at one time.

Baden, at that time, bordered the Pfalz, on the right of the Rhine River.

30 baden.png

The Mutterstadt Family History book shows a Caspar Schunck born about 1695 noted as a “wagner from Missling (Baden)” where Missling has the German character that translates to English as ss. He married about 1714 and had 4 children in Mutterstadt.

Leonhard Schunck was born about 1655 and had a child in Mutterstadt in 1686, so the Schunck progenitor had come from Missling to Mutterstadt sometime before 1686. I wonder if Leonard was the brother of Johann Georg Schunck.

Schunck DNA

We don’t have either the Schunck Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Maria Magdalena Schunck. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Schunck male that descends from the Schunck line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Maria Magdalena Schunck through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female

The Rapparlien, Rapparlie, Rapparlier Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Barbara Rapparlien 1701 Abraham Rapparlien, Anna Barbara Hoertel 1750 Mutterstadt Johann Adam Renner
Abraham Rapparlien, gutsbestaunder, (unknown translation) 1669 or 1672 Abraham Rapparlien, Anna Blancart 1736 Mutterstadt Anna Barbara Hoertel
Abraham Rapparlien, baker, judge or court bailiff Before 1645 1696 Born in Guines near Calais, France, died in Mutterstadt Anna Blancart

The Rapparlien family wasn’t the only family from near Calais. Christian Deyo who died in 1686 or 1687 in Mutterstadt was also born near Calais. The Calais region and Huguenot families are discussed, here.

30 Rapparlie map

I strongly suspect but cannot prove that the Rapparlien family was French Huguenot.

The Mutterstadt family history book notes beside the entry for Abraham Rapparlie the elder that religious refugees came around 1662 to Mutterstadt. Abraham did well for himself as a baker and a judge or bailiff in the court in Mutterstadt. His wife, Anna Blancart was born in Flanders.

30 Flanders 1509.jpg

This map of Flanders in 1609 shows that it encompassed part of what is today France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Calais and Guines was part of Flanders at that time.

30 Calais 1477.png

Calais in 1477.

In spite of the war-related upheaval in the 1600s, the Rapparlie family felt that there was more opportunity in Mutterstadt than elsewhere. Perhaps because after the war, so much of the land had been depopulated, and settlers were actively being sought. This is somehow ironic as we think of the mass exodus of residents from this region throughout the 1600s. It never occurs to us that some people would welcome the opportunity to settle on and work vacant land.

30 Calais Guines

Guines is located about 6 miles from Calais.

Unfortunately, the Protestant records only exist for 1668-1685, while the Catholic records remain from 1628-1796. Abraham was born before 1645, so his records aren’t available, and his known children were born between 1664 and 1687, in Mutterstadt.

The great news is that these records were transcribed in 1891 for the Huguenot Society of London. The transcription document states that Guines was the religious center of Protestantism in the north east of France in 1685, at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Protestants were “very numerous” in the district after 1558. Thankfully, a transcript of the Protestant records is available, here, and while Rapparlie doesn’t appear, having left about 1662, the records are full of Blancart and similar names.

Rapparlie, Rapparlien, Rapparlier DNA

Along with another Rapparlie researcher, I began the Rapparlie DNA project at Family Tree DNA several years ago. To date, we have two males who descend from the Mutterstadt line. Not only do they not match each other, neither of them match anyone on Y DNA, at least, not yet.

We need additional Y DNA testers from the Rapparlie line. I have a DNA testing scholarship for a Rapparlie male descended from the Muttertstadt line through all males to the current generation.

I have a mitochondrial DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Barbara Rapparlie(n) through all females to the current generation which can be male or female.

The Blancart Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Blancart C 1642 1717 Born in Flanders, died in Mutterstadt Abraham Rapparlie(n)

Anna was likely born in the Huguenot community near where Abraham Rapparlie(n) was born, Guines, near Calais, now in France. The Blancart name is found with various spellings such as Blanchart and Blanchard in the Huguenot transcriptions.

Blancart DNA

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Blancart. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna through all females to the current generation which can be male or female.

The Hoertel, Hertel Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Barbara Hoertel 1682 Johan George Hoertel 1735 Mutterstadt Abraham Raparlien
Johann Georg Hoertel, juror in Mutterstadt, miller in Rehhutte C 1643 1715 Mutterstadt, Rehhutte Anna Catharina

Rehutte isn’t far from Mutterstadt. There doesn’t seem to be much there today, but Johann George was a miller.

30 Hoertel map.png

Hoertel, Hertel DNA

We don’t have either the Hoertel Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Barbara Hoertel. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Hoertel male that descends from the Johann Georg Hoertel line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Barbara Hoertel through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

Lessons from the Community

We can easily see that while individual genealogies are exceedingly valuable, we gain a broader understanding of those families if we evaluate the historical events that were occurring in the region. Evaluating their family networks, meaning the the families with whom they are affiliated, their FAN (Friends and Neighbors) Club, hat tip to Elizabeth Shown Mills, often produces additional insights. When possible, people stay together and travel with family members because survival, historically, had demanded such.

Let’s face it, you’re more likely to look after blood kin, your brother and his children, for example, than a stranger. The more family you had nearby, the more assistance was available, and the better your chances of survival.

Having grouped our families and their locations in detail by surname above, let’s see what kind of information we can glean by looking at the community, meaning the entire family grouping, as a whole.

Family Location Before War Refuge Location During War After War
Kirsch Unknown Bad Durkheim Fussgoenheim
Koch Unknown Bad Durkheim Fussgoenheim by marriage
Boerstler/Borstler Unknown, possibly Beindersheim Bad Durkheim Mutterstadt, Fussgoenheim, Schauernheim
Stauber Unknown Speyer Schauernheim
Koob Fussgoenheim Frankenthal Fussgoenheim, Munchhof, Weisenheim am Sand
Koehler Mannheim, Neckarau East of Rhine Ladenburg, Iversheim, Seckenheim, Rehhutte, Neustadt, Ellerstadt, Fussgoenheim
Scherer Unknown Distant – Heuchelheim Ellerstadt
Ulzhofer Unknown Possibly Bruehl – distant Bruehl, Seckenheim, Rehhutte
Garnschrag Unknown East of Rhine Ladenburg
Zee Unknown East of Rhine – Iversheim Seckenheim
Lemmert Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Funckh (Funk) Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Reimer Mutterstadt Frankenthal Mutterstadt
Sager Unknown Unknown Ruchheim, Mutterstadt
Steiger Mutterstadt Unknown Mutterstadt
Bayer Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Bereth Unknown, possibly Huguenot, wife “of Huguenoten” East of Rhine – Schwetzinger Schwetzinger, Mutterstadt
Klein Unknown Frankenthal Mutterstadt
Orth Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Renner Mutterstadt Frankenthal Mutterstadt
Schuster Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Wentz Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Weber Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Schunck Unknown Unknown Misling, Baden, Mutterstadt
Rapparlie(n) Guines near Calais Guines near Calais Mutterstadt
Blancart Flanders Guines near Calais Mutterstadt
Hoertel Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt, Rehhutte

Epilog

Based on this information, it looks like the entire remaining population of Mutterstadt may have gone together to Frankenthal in 1634. Koob from Fussgoenheim is also found in Frankenthal. There are no reports of these families in Speyer or Bad Durkheim. 

30 walk.jpg

I can’t help but see in my mind’s eye the image of parents, pregnant mothers, carrying crying children, tears streaming down their own faces, helping the elderly along, hand in hand, desperate but not beaten. Perhaps Mutterstadt was burning behind them, and other villages around them.

The escape to Frankenthal must have lived on as legend in these families for generations. Or, perhaps it was so horrific that the stoic Germans dared never mention that departure from life as they knew it.

Other families sought shelter in different locations.

The Boerstlers were clearly in the region before the war and may have already had ties to Bad Durkheim where we find family records. The Kirsch progenitor married in Bad Durkheim, but we don’t know where the Kirsch family was from before the war.

This compiled work allows us to search the records of both Frankenthal and Bad Durkheim for specific families, surnames and records – much more productive than shooting in the dark.

Several family members who are later found together are also clustered east of the Rhine in the same and adjacent villages.

Furthermore, this type of summary project helps me flesh out the details in their lives. To imagine their flight to Frankenthal with their neighbors who were also their relatives, both close and distant, perhaps helping each other as they stumble and fall along the path, encouraging each other in an attempt to rein in their own terror.

I can feel the overwhelming dread they experienced when returning to Mutterstadt and Fussgoenheim, walking down that same road in the opposite direction some 16 years later, minus several family members resting someplace in graves. Returning home, such as it was. Perhaps they visited the cemetery beside the rubble of the church to tell their family members that they had come back.

I suspect they brought along with them other refugee families who needed new permanent homes. Maybe they were now relatives too. And of course, some children would have married and babies would have been born. Refugees or not, some things about human nature never change.

Returning to “God’s Little Acre,” was, for them, perhaps the sprouting of seedlings after a devastating forest fire. They had survived. Raised children. Brought new life into the world. And now, the next generation would begin anew, carving a future out of the ruins of the past.

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6 & 7 cM Matches: Are 172 ThruLines All Wrong?

Are some 6-8 cM matches valid and valuable? If not, then are my 172 ThruLines that Ancestry created for me that include my 8 great-grandparents surnames at that level all wrong? Or the total of 552 ThruLines at 6 and 7 cMs all wrong?

We all know by now that about half of 6 and 7 cM matches will be identical by chance, meaning not valid, but that leaves about half that ARE valid. We need clues to be able to figure out IF these matches are valid, and the logical place to start is by utilizing three techniques.

  • First, if both of our parents have tested, does the person also match our parent, and if a chromosome browser is available, on the same segment.

If the answer is no, no need to go any further, this match is not valid. If yes, then we know if phases through one generation and we need to keep looking for evidence.

  • Second, the same litmus test, but with our closest known relatives that have tested. Does the match also match aunts, uncles, siblings, first cousins, or other known proven close relatives? Of course, if they match on the same segment, that’s family phasing and the beginning of triangulation and strongly, strongly suggests descent from the same common identified ancestor.

Note that Ancestry does NOT show you Shared Matches below 20 cM, so don’t assume those shared matches to family members don’t exist. Check your family members’ kits directly. Don’t rely only on Ancestry’s shared matches.

  • Third, surnames and trees that suggest common ancestral lines of DNA matches. That’s what Ancestry does for us with ThruLines. Let’s take a look at what I’ve found sorting and grouping my 6-8 cM matches at Ancestry.

There’s way more information than I expected to find.

Focus on Grouping

With Ancestry’s upcoming purge of all DNA customers’ 6 and 7 cM matches, inclusive, I’ve been very focused on grouping and saving those matches for future use. Otherwise, they will be gone forever, along with my genetic connection and any useful genealogical information.

I’ve written about the upcoming Ancestry purge here, here and here – including preservation strategies and how to communicate with Ancestry to share your feelings about this topic if you so choose. Note that this disproportionately affects people seeking unknown ancestors a few generations back in time.

Raise your hand if you have no unknown ancestors before 1870 or so…

Ancestry’s 6-8 cM Matches

I’ve been recording statistics as I’ve been grouping and working with results, and thought I’d share what I’ve found with you.

Ancestry tota.png

I have a total of 92,931 matches at Ancestry. This includes endogamous Acadian, Mennonite and Brethren lines, which produce lots of matches, but also multiple German and Dutch lines of relatively recent immigrants with almost no testers. So it probably evens out.

You’ll note that of my matches, 3,757 are estimated by Ancestry to be 4th cousin or closer, and Ancestry categorizes the rest of them as Distant matches, from 6-20 cM, although some of those wind up being closer than 4th cousins.

I have 27,926 6-cM matches, 16,846 7-cM matches and 11,428 8-cM matches. I was initially saving 8-cM matches because Ancestry was initially rounding 7.6 up to 8 and the only way to save all 7-cM matches was to save all 8-cM matches. Last week, Ancestry added decimal points so you don’t have to save 8-cM matches anymore, just all 6 and 7.

Without additional tools, all of those matches are overwhelming – but that’s exactly WHY we need technologies such as clustering, triangulation, ThruLines which Ancestry provides, a chromosome browser, family phasing, shared matches below 20 cM, and more.

You can certainly look at known genealogy and make inferences about common ancestors when you match someone genetically, and that’s very useful in and of itself.

However, you need more than just the fact that you match someone to confirm that you share a specific common ancestor biologically, not just on paper. Having said that, just having the breadcrumb of a DNA match to lead you to your cousins isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.

Of my total matches:

  • 18% are 7 cM
  • 30% are 6 cM
  • That’s a total of 48% of my matches that would have been lost later in August if I hadn’t grouped them.

Some people feel that matches at this level aren’t useful, but the line in the sand is very thin between a 7.99 cM deleted match and an 8.0 retained match where the former is lumped into the “not useful, so no big deal to lose” bucket and the other is just fine and potentially useful.

I get it, I really do, that everyone gets tired of explaining that NO, you can’t find one match and assume a valid connection, and yes, digging for evidence is work. There is no magic wand. Smaller or larger matches, they all need additional cumulative evidence to indicate that the match is valid, and how.

It’s time-consuming and frustrating educating people HOW to utilize all DNA matching appropriately. Those smaller matches take more effort to work with and require more evidence of legitimacy, but there are absolutely, assuredly many legitimate, useful, matches between 6-8 cM.

Furthermore, many of those matches reach back in time to those elusive ancestors we are seeking and can’t yet identify. We need more and better tools, not less data. Conversely, some 6-8 cM matches are as close as third or fourth cousins. I found 4 in one family and we’re sharing photos of our ancestors who were siblings, born in 1827 and 1829, respectively.

I’m not throwing half of my 6-8 cM coins away because some are gold and some are counterfeit.

If you are, I’ll take all of your coins and I’ll be happy to sort out the gold, thank you😊

Where’s the Gold?

Ancestry filter

You can search and sort in any number of ways at Ancestry. First, I checked to see how many of my 6 and 7 cM matches had common ancestors as identified by Ancestry via Thrulines.

6 cM 7 cM Total
Common Ancestors (ThruLines) 274 278 552

If I had not grouped these, I would have lost all 552 matches that Ancestry connected to common ancestors through ThruLines. Of course, each connection needs to be individually verified using traditional genealogical record searches. Keep in mind that ThruLines can only find matches where people connect in trees.

Without these 6 and 7 cM matches, any connecting genetic path or breadcrumbs to these people is gone.

Great-grandparents’ Surnames

Since I can filter by segment match size and surname, combined, at Ancestry, I decided to take a look at my 6-7 cM matches that would be purged had I not grouped them, and see what I can discover by surname utilizing the surnames of my great-grandparents.

That’s just 3 generations for me, meaning I could expect to carry more of the DNA of these ancestors than of ancestors further back in time.

I started with the “Match name” of Estes, meaning that the person who took the test has that name. Of course, some women could use their married surname, so this doesn’t mean that my match to that person is via that surname. It’s just a starting point, but probably a good hint.

I had 12 Estes surname matches in the 6-7 cM range. Of those:

  • 4 had no tree
  • 1 had a private tree
  • 1 had an unlinked tree
  • None had common identified ancestors meaning ThruLines
  • That leaves me with 7 candidates to work with directly, including the unlinked tree
  • Of those, I knew how 5 of their trees connect to the Estes line

Of course, I have the benefit of having worked with the Estes genealogy for decades along with the benefit of trees and other resources not at Ancestry. Connecting these lines took me about 15 minutes. In essence, I’ve turned them into virtual “ThruLines” by identifying the common ancestor, even if Ancestry didn’t.

I have not yet worked with the rest of my surname matches in the same way, but by preserving them by grouping, I can in the future.

I searched for both the “Match Name” and the “Surname in the Matches’ Trees,” separately. Some who carry the surname aren’t going to have trees and conversely, finding the surname in your matches’ trees is by no means an indication that that particular surname or ancestor is why you’re matching. However, it’s a great hint and a place to begin your research, including shared matches.

Be sure to check alternate spellings of surnames too.

Note that a surname that can also be part of a name returns all possible connections. For example if I’m searching for the Lore surname and the name of my match is Loreal Jones, it will still appear in the Match name list. The same applies to the name of the managing person.  However, scrolling through these is pretty easy.

So, what did I find?

Results!

I created this chart of what I discovered using the surnames of my great-grandparents along with common alternate spellings.

Surname Match Name Surname in Matches’ Trees Comments
Estes, Eastes 13 matches, no ThruLines 208 matches, 20 Thrulines
Bolton 6, no ThruLines 121, 14 Thrulines All 6 surname matches have trees and I can place some immediately.
Vannoy, Van Noy 2, no ThruLines 49, 10 ThruLines I can place 1 of the 2 surname matches and connect them to the Vannoy line. Their tree is unlinked and another is private. Checking the “include similar surnames box” resulted in 2355 results. Won’t do that again.
Ferverda, Fervida, Ferwerda 0 2, no ThruLines Confirmed a common ancestor in the Netherlands with one tester. An 1860s immigrant line.
Miller 175, 1 ThruLine 2248, 95 ThruLines Very common surname and Brethren. Shared matches, if over 20 cM which is Ancestry’s threshold would potentially be very helpful.
Clarkson, Claxton 2, no ThruLines 96, 22 ThruLines I need to break down a brick wall in this line. Also, maybe someone has a photo of my great-grandmother. I was able to provide a photo of someone else’s ancestors discovered as a 6 and 7 cM match to 4 family members.
Lore, Lord 112, no ThruLines 209, 10 ThruLines Acadian, endogamous. Lore is part of many other names.
Kirsch 0 18, 0 ThruLines 1850s German immigrant line. This was VERY helpful. I’ve already found previously unknown cousins and one line that I thought was defunct, isn’t.
Total 310, 1 ThruLine 2951, 171 ThruLines Total 3261 matches and 172 ThruLines

I’m not willing to throw these away.

Continue to Provide Feedback to Ancestry

I find the assertion that these smaller matches are neither accurate nor valuable simply mind-boggling. Clearly, as you can see above, these matches provide invaluable clues for us, as genealogists, to follow. Over time, I’ve proven many matches in this range (who have tested at or transferred to other vendors with a chromosome browser) to triangulate with several generations of family members using DNAPainter, so at least some matches are quite valid. And yes, we do have tools to accumulate evidence – the same exact tools we use for larger matches.

Imagine how much else is actually buried in those matches that could be distilled into useful information with technology tools.

I fully understand it’s in Ancestry’s best interest to delete these matches to free up processing resources, but I’m far from convinced that it’s in our best interest as avid genealogists.

I also realize that many if not most genealogists who aren’t as focused as many of you reading this article won’t notice or care, but that’s not the case for truly committed genealogists with years invested in this work. There’s valuable information there for those of us willing to commit our resources and invest our time to work on the matches.

The Proof is in the Pudding

The proof is in the results – those 3,261 surname matches that serve as immediate hints and 172 ThruLines that Ancestry themselves has assembled for us.

The more I work with these matches, the LESS convinced I am that they should be deleted. There is certainly chaff to be sifted and discarded, but Ancestry could take a more precise, surgical approach instead of a wholesale decapitation that will remove 48% of my matches and more for other people. I would certainly be more than happy to be part of a proactive discussion focusing on how to delete less useful matches or those we’ve determined to be invalid, but preserve the rest.

Of course, the easiest option would simply be for Ancestry to allow us to elect to retain current and elect to receive future 6-8 cM matches by checking a simple box and continue to provide those for those of us who care and are willing to work with them.

Yes, the remaining matches after the purge will indeed “be more accurate,” as Ancestry says, because fewer will be false, but many of the very matches you need to identify those elusive distant ancestors will almost assuredly be gone. The baby will have been thrown out with the bathwater.

It’s generally not any individual match itself, but groups or clusters of matches that point the way – shared matches and ThruLines. If half or more of the cluster we need is gone, with no way to connect the genetic dots, we may never discover the identity of those ancestors. That’s a shame, because it negates the very benefit of being in the largest autosomal database. In a way, both Ancestry and we as their clients are victims of their own success.

Perhaps Ancestry will yet reverse their decision and if not, perhaps Ancestry’s competitors will see an unfulfilled opportunity here. I’d be glad to be a part of those discussions as well.

Take a look. What valuable nuggets are hiding in your smaller matches? Be sure to group those matches to prevent their deletion.

Provide Feedback to Ancestry

There’s still time to provide your feedback to Ancestry if you don’t want to lose your 6-8 cM matches later this month. Ancestry needs to serve all of their genealogical customers who have taken DNA tests, not just the most convenient. I encourage Ancestry to develop useful tools as others have done instead of deleting the matches we need in order to unmask those unknown ancestors.

  • Email Ancestry support at ancestrysupport@ancestry.com although there have been reports from some that this email doesn’t work, so you may need to utilize another contact method.
  • You can initiate an online “chat” here.
  • Call ancestry support at 1-899-958-9124 although people have been reporting obtaining offshore call-centers and problems understanding representatives. You also may need to ask for a supervisor.
  • Ancestry corporate headquarters phone number on the website is listed as 801-705-7000.
  • You can’t post directly on Ancestry’s Facebook page, but you can comment on posts and you can message them.
  • Ancestry’s Twitter feed is here.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Genetic Affairs Instructions and Resources

I’ve created this summary article that includes links to the various step-by-step instructional articles I’ve published about Genetic Affairs, a wonderful DNA analysis tool. I’ll add more articles as they are published.

Genetic Affairs is a third-party tool created by Evert-Jan Blom that works through the Genetic Affairs website for FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe and is integrated into products for other vendors such as MyHeritage and GEDmatch. Unfortunately, one vendor, Ancestry, has issued a cease-and-desist order, preventing the usage of Genetic Affairs and other third-party tools altogether for customers who have tested there.

Different features are available at different vendors based on their product offerings, as noted below.

AutoCluster

Genetic Affairs cluster

Article: AutoClustering by Genetic Affairs

This article explains the basics of AutoClustering of matches and how autoclusters benefit genealogy.

AutoTree and AutoPedigree

Genetic Affairs reconstructed tree 2

Article: Genetic Affairs Reconstructs Trees from Genetic Clusters – Even Without Your Tree or Common Ancestors

geneticaffairs autocluster dashboard.png

This wonderful tool scans your matches and their trees, and constructs trees of you and your matches that share common ancestors. The best thing about this tool is that it reconstructs trees of your matches to each other in a cluster, even if you DON’T share a common ancestor in a tree with your matches (that also match each other.) This tool is HUGELY helpful in identifying ancestors that are unknown to you and includes the option for Y and mtDNA to be incorporated into the trees if you’ve taken those tests at Family Tree DNA.

AutoPedigree + WATO

Autopedigree WATO chart2.png

Article: Genetic Affairs: AutoPedigree Combined AutoTree with WATO to Identify Your Potential Tree Locations

WATO, short for “what are the odds,” is a calculation method that provides ranked hypothesis that show you where you “might” fit in the composite tree of your matches. This is the “AutoPedigree generate hypothesis automatically” option under AutoCluster analysis and is particularly useful for people with unknown parentage, unknown close relatives or clusters that they can’t identify.

  • AutoPedigree+WATO can only be used with results at FamilyTreeDNA, and not at any of the other vendors for the same reasons as AutoTree/AutoPedigree. I encourage my matches to upload their DNA files from other vendors for free to FamilyTreeDNA so that everyone has more information points to work with.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

August Hot News: Ancestry Match Tagging Script, DNA Sales, DNAPainter Newsletter & More

August news.png

This wasn’t exactly how I had in mind to convey these news items, but you know that saying, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans,”? Well, let’s just say it’s one of those weeks/months and years.

So, this article is going to be short and sweet, and I promise a more detailed article in a few days.

However, you need at least some of this info ASAP, so here it is in its rather unrefined raw state.

  • Ancestry Tagging Script
  • Ancestry Acquisition Update
  • Summer Sales
  • MyHeritage Sale
  • FamilyTreeDNA Sale
  • DNAPainter Free Newsletter
  • New Ancient Ancestor

Ancestry Tagging Script (to Save Your Sanity)

A very nice person, Roger Frøysaa, has written a free javascript to group your Ancestry matches. Of course, I’m referring to your 6-8 cM matches that are subject to the upcoming purge later in August.  I’m using Roger’s gracious gift, but struggling because the script keeps timing out, or Ancestry’s backend keeps timing out, etc.

You might need to be at least somewhat comfortable with computers for this to work and it doesn’t work on a tablet or iPad, but does work on a Mac.

I have the latest version of both Chrome and Edge browsers installed on a relatively new computer with lots of memory. For me, the script works best on Edge and in the middle of the night when Ancestry’s servers are less busy. Still, I can’t seem to get below my 6.2 cM matches without the script or Ancestry bombing. It doesn’t help any that my internet service has been flaky this week too.

The author recommends Firefox. (Update. I’ve installed Firefox and it’s running like a champ.)

Here are the instructions: https://docs.google.com/document/d/100BqYdjeVdwmHaT9gTL3miknxm7bKik4KwcHaoUX72I/edit?fbclid=IwAR04u0VQaaVeG-6pkif-ILYmLPQgHTtCf13A0lW4EMPTm0QwOb1hDb9o7L4

Print these out, read them thoroughly, and follow them step by step.

Here’s a link to the script on GitHub: https://github.com/lrf1/ancestry_scripts/blob/master/ancestry_dnsmatches_grouptagger_v2.js

Here’s a YouTube video about how to use the script: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnqGChJL0kw&fbclid=IwAR04iTVzcaKF8YJx2ewX_2rMEXQFaFaNIW5YfPQMlJYG6yfd1U6NvCN47Vc

Individual tweaking is required.

In my case, I have named the group where I want my 6-8 cM matches saved “1saved.” I selected that name because the 1 locates it near the top and I’ll know what’s there.

August ancestry 1saved

Following Roger’s instructions, 1saved should be row 3, but I had to enter row “2” in the script to get the matches to save to the group 1saved.

// MODIFY THE FOLLOWING LINES AS NEEDED

var groupTitle = “1saved“;

var groupRow = 2;

Regardless, the script works, and truthfully, all I really care about is that these matches are preserved.

My biggest problem occurs after the script bombs the first few times, and it will – you’ll need to restart it. Until the script manages to work its way to the location in the file, which is increasing further down in the scrolling, where it discovers matches to be tagged, I must re-enter and re-enter the script to reinitiate the searching.

This is by NO MEANS a complaint because I’m very grateful for this free tool. It’s just an observation that I hope will help you too. Having said that, I can’t tell you how many surnames like Bolton, my grandmother’s birth surname, Estes and Vannoy by various spellings, my great-grandmother’s surname I’ve seen scroll past as they are being tagged. There’s gold in those matches.

Furthermore, many people are reporting successes now that they’re actually looking at these smaller matches. If half of these are identical by chance, or false positives, that means half are NOT false and you need to use your analytical skills to figure out which is which.

Someone asked me earlier if I know anyone who will run the script or tag on behalf of someone else. I don’t, but you could ask on any number of Facebook groups, specifically the AncestryDNA Matching group or the ISOGG group.

If you’re NOT going to use the script, I recommend the following methodology to save at least some of your highest quality matches that are most likely to be relevant.

Select both “Common Ancestors” and “Shared DNA.” Enter the levels of shared DNA you want to view, meaning 6-6 or 6-7 or 7-7, which will display all of your matches where a potentially shared ancestor has been identified (ThruLine.)

August ancestry common plus 6.png

This won’t save anyplace near all of your 6-8 cM matches, but it will save the potentially most beneficial.

I wrote the article, Ancestry to Remove DNA Matches Soon – Preservation Strategies with Detailed Instructions, here, and Ancestry Match Purge Update here.

Note that Ancestry has stated they are delaying the purge until “late August,” but I’m seeing multiple people report that their 6-8 cM matches are already gone, so if you want to save them, one way or another, don’t delay.

Ancestry Acquisition Update

Ancestry’s announced acquisition by Blackstone Group, which I wrote about here, has raised questions about privacy. An article this week in Vice quotes both an Ancestry and Blackstone spokesperson on the topic who say that Blackstone will not have access to user data nor will it be shared with Blackstone’s portfolio companies.

Summer Sales Have Arrived

Late summer always ushers in summer DNA sales.

Right now, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, and Ancestry are having sales.

AncestryDNA is on sale for $59, here.

MyHeritage is on sale for $49, here and has a significant customer base in Europe where most of my ancestors originated.

Of course, FamilyTreeDNA has Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA in addition to autosomal plus 20 years’ worth of testers in their database.

Regardless of where you’ve tested, having family members in the same database makes your own test so much more valuable because many of your matches will match family members too. I’m in all of the databases, and several of my family members are as well.

Remember, you can transfer tests for free to both MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA from other vendors. Instructions for each company can be found here.

MyHeritage Sale

The MyHeritage DNA kit is on sale right now for $49 and free shipping with 2 or more.

August myheritage

Don’t forget that if you’ve tested elsewhere, you can transfer to MyHeritage for free and pay just $29 to unlock the advanced tools, such as Theories of Family Relativity, or subscribe to the full records package and the unlock is free.

Family Tree DNA Sale

Family Tree DNA offers their Family Finder autosomal test, but additionally, they offer Y and mitochondrial DNA testing and matching which provide insights you can’t obtain with autosomal DNA testing alone.

  • Y DNA is for males only and tests the direct paternal (surname) line.
  • Mitochondrial DNA is for both men and women and tests your direct matrilineal line – your mother, her mother, her mother, etc.

If you’ve already tested at a lower level, you can upgrade.

august ftdna 2

If you know what you want, go right ahead and order.

This is a wonderful time to order tests for family members who represent Y DNA and mitochondrial lines that you can’t test for yourself.

Early in the week, I’ll publish an article that shows how to locate people at each testing company who are appropriately descended from your ancestor whose Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA results you’d like to have.

This sale runs through the end of August, so you have time to search out and find people to ask if they’d be willing to test. Of course, if you already know people appropriately descended, by all means, ask them and get a kit on order. I generally offer a DNA testing scholarship so that the $$ factor is removed from my request. It makes it easier for them to say yes. If they agree, I add a Family Finder test too. I believe in striking while the iron is hot.

If you’d like to read about the different kinds of DNA testing, the article 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy is great to share with others as well.

Free DNAPainter Newsletter

I received an email this week from Jonny Perl at DNAPainter, one of my favorite tools, and he’s now offering a free monthly newsletter with tips on how to use DNAPainter. You can sign up here. I certainly did.

I’ve written extensively about DNAPainter, here.

New Ancient Mystery Ancestor

Guess what, you may have a new mystery ancestor. How cool is this??!!

LiveScience reported this week that scientists have detected traces of an earlier human ancestor in Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA. That ancient ancestor existed 200,000-300,000 years ago, in Africa, leaving and intermixing with the Neanderthals then living in the Middle East or elsewhere outside of Africa, but before the move to Europe.

You can read the PLOS article, here.

I don’t know about you, but I find this absolutely fascinating.

TTFN

Enough news for now, although I’ve probably forgotten something.

Order a DNA test, find an ancestor, subscribe to the DNAPainter newsletter, and enjoy summer, safely.

I’ll see you later this week with an article about how to search for family members, in particular Y and mitochondrial DNA carriers that represent your ancestral lines. You never know what critical information is waiting just to be discovered.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Blackstone Group Acquires Majority Interest in Ancestry.com

Ancestry banner.png

Today, Bloomberg announced that Blackstone Group has acquired a majority ownership stake in Ancestry.com for 4.7 billion dollars. Yes, billion, with a b. You can read the article, here. Blackstone, out of New York, will own 75% of Ancestry and GIC Pte, formerly known as Government of Singapore Investment Corporation will own 25%.

Ancestry sold in 2012 for 1.6 billion to Permira. In 2016 the company was valued at 2.6 billion when it was acquired by Silver Lake and GIC. Their value now has significantly grown, which is interesting since the 18 million DNA kits have already been sold and that market is slowing. That means that the revenue generators are subscriptions and their health research partnerships which provides Ancestry a second opportunity to obtain revenue from DNA kits.

According to Bloomberg:

Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative asset manager with $564 billion in assets, is also focused on growing its life sciences group. It has spent more than $1 billion this year investing in drugs that target high cholesterol, kidney disease in children and devices for diabetes patients.

Blackstone made a press release in July about their Life Sciences Fund.

Blackstone also acquired 21Vianet, a Chinese internet data center/service in June, 2020.

I Suspected

I had been suspecting that there would be an ownership change at Ancestry for some time, beginning with the layoff of 100 employees earlier this year, 6% of their workforce, before the pandemic set in. Additionally, it was reported in April 2019 that Ancestry was trying to prepare for an IPO.

Cost reduction, often at the expense of either quality or customers, is a hallmark of a company that is looking for a buyer. So is a slowing or stoppage of infrastructure investment which customers have seen recently in very slow system response and many glitches, not to mention the scheduled 6-8 cM purge. These corporate decisions are similar to how people evaluate what needs to be done to a house they want to put on the market. You’re only going to do things to increase the curb-appeal and keep it functioning until it can be sold. The next owners can figure out that they need more insulation in the attic.

Cost reduction makes the current and future bottom lines look enticing, while the past growth which utilized more assets (people) is initially attractive, putting your best corporate foot forward. Potential buyers view the past performance as the initial draw and the future as rosy because the costs, compared to the past level of performance, have been reduced meaning more profit, of course. Profit is the only reason for a company to exist, unless they are a nonprofit. Every company needs to be profitable.

Add the pandemic to this mix, and you’re seeing more people falling back on genealogy, because they have more time. Of course, there will be some customers that don’t renew, and new DNA testing itself is down, but that was already occurring pre-pandemic, likely due to market saturation and other factors.

Another tactic that companies who know they are about to do something that is either controversial or will create some level of backlash is to reach out to influencers in the community, hoping to secure at least some level of loyalty in order to do grass-roots damage control.

Some of the facts are interesting in the Bloomberg article. We already knew that Ancestry had sold 18 million DNA kits, but I didn’t know they had 3 million subscribers. Interestingly, that means that no more than 17% of the people who took DNA tests have subscriptions. It’s actually a lower percentage than that, because we know that not all subscribers have taken DNA tests. I know that Ancestry was hoping to convert many of their “ethnicity testers” into subscribers. As genealogists, we hoped so too.

What’s Next?

What will happen at Ancestry as a result of the sale? That’s yet to be seen.

Sometimes the executive team remains in place when acquisitions occur, and other times, partially so or not at all.

The previous CEO, Tim Sullivan, who stepped down in 2017 but retained his position as Chairman of the Board was a genealogist, which I viewed as quite positive. He was “one of us,” and even though I didn’t agree with all of his decisions, I always felt he understood because he shared our addiction, er, I mean passion. When the leadership isn’t a consumer of their own product, their focus can’t be from a personal perspective.

Given Blackstone’s focus on Life Sciences, I suspect they will be leveraging Ancestry’s DNA testers who have opted in to medical research, with requests to “share” that information becoming more visible. You don’t have to have taken their Health test to opt in for DNA research.

Ancestry first announced their health initiative in 2015.

I’ve recently noticed an increased focus on health testing, both in terms of testing by encouraging DNA upgrades to health which is a direct revenue generator, and also in terms of “softball” questions designed to encourage opt-in participation to research, whether or not you’ve taken the actual health test itself.

Genealogists are, by nature, used to sharing. We like to meet our cousins who may have information that we don’t, so sharing sounds good to us.

Ancestry sharing question

Therefore, when we see things like “Share more about yourself,” we may be more tempted than other segments of the population. This reminds me of social media questions that get passed around from time to time, which are far riskier than they seem and you should never answer publicly BTW.

If you click on the little “i” for information, you’ll see that this information will be aggregated and you are requested to opt in for research which is called the Human Diversity Project which you can read more about, here.

New DNA kit purchasers are given the opportunity to opt-in when registering their kit and periodically, later.

Occasionally, when I sign in, I’m greeted with that opportunity, asking me if I’d like to share or that Ancestry has noticed that I’m not sharing in the research project.

If you’re considering sharing more than genealogy information with Ancestry, meaning allowing them to sell your DNA information to unnamed and unknown research companies, as always, be sure to read all of the fine print, including all links to other documents, before consenting. Understand who owns and manages the company with whom you’re about to trust not only your medical and health information, but are trusting to make decisions about who to share your information with, for what purposes, and where. And understand that any company can be sold in the future.

I was not comfortable participating in Ancestry’s Human Diversity Project before and I’m not comfortable now sharing my DNA through Ancestry, especially since it seems that their new owners aren’t terribly focused on genealogy, but on medical research and with strong ownership links to a foreign government(s).

You can read about Ancestry’s ownership history, here and view their Board of Directors, here.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Anna Catharina Koob (1674/5 – 1735), The Mayor’s Wife – 52 Ancestors #302

The missing and incomplete church records in Fussgoenheim, Germany have cost genealogists so dearly. Among the losses are the surnames of many wives. Anna Catharina’s married name was Koob, but we don’t know her birth surname. I’ve love to somehow fill in this blank one day, but it doesn’t look promising.

Anna Catharina was born about 1675, less than 30 years after the end of the Thirty Years’ War which devastated the Palatinate. We don’t know specifically what happened in Fussgoenheim during this time, but we do know that the neighbor village of Mutterstadt was entirely destroyed and depopulated – so it stands to reason that Fussgoenheim and her families suffered the same fate.

Of course, this means that families sought safety wherever they could find it – and the population would have mixed significantly during that time. Anna Catharina’s ancestors could have lived in this area for generations, or, been newcomers altogether when returning, displaced from their original home by the war.

Winfried Seelinger, the local archivist in the neighboring village of Dannstadt tells us that all of this region was entirely depopulated, with the first few families moving back about 1650. Not many returned, as in only a handful of families, and then, very slowly. After establishing themselves in Bad Durkheim, Frankenthal, and Speyer during the war, no one was in much of a hurry to return to ruined fields, overgrown after 30 years, and no remaining homes, barns, churches, or any form of society. There was literally nothing left. Going home meant starting over and leaving behind whatever you had built in the last three decades. People who were young couple at the beginning of the war, and survived, were old by the end.

We can only piece Anna Catharina’s life together from a few sparse records.

All church records before 1726 are missing and records thereafter are sporadic, at best, due to multiple causes – some known and some unknown. The church itself wasn’t rebuilt until between 1726 and 1733. In 1717, the local villagers were attempting to record the old customs and division of land based on the memories of the elders. Anna Catharina may or may not have been from or married in Fussgoenheim.

Anna Catharina’s Birth

Fortunately, we know the approximate year of Anna Catharina’s birth, because her death record provides that information.

Koob Anna Catharina 1735 burial.png

Burial: the 20th of April 1735 in the afternoon between 3 and 4 p.m. died, the widow of the mayor, Anna Catharina Kob(in), aged 60 years.  Funeral Text …..

If she hadn’t had her birthday yet in 1735, she would turn 61 later in the year, and therefore would have been born in 1674.

My friend, Tom, who did the translation for me had a difficult time deciphering the funeral text word or emplem, but we believe it’s Psalms 23, 24 and 73.

Anna Catharina’s Protestant Heritage

We know that Anna Catharina and her family were Lutheran Protestants. During the 30 Years’ War, Catholic forces had overrun the Palatinate, the lands east of the Rhine River. Protestants would have clung dearly, probably desperately, to their faith – because that’s literally all they had. For that faith, they had sacrificed everything, including many lives.

Koob 30 years war atrocities

This extremely graphic drawing, titled “Les grandes Miseres de la guere,” translates as “The Great Miseries of the War,” illustrates the type of retribution that was exacted on the Palatinate residents, and in particular, those reviled Protestants.

Therefore, religion to our ancestors wasn’t a matter of something they did on Sunday – it was near and dear to their hearts, something their ancestors had been suffering and persecuted for since the Reformation in 1534.

We know that there are two tombstones in the churchyard from around 1600, reputed to the first Lutheran pastor and his wife in Fussgoenheim. This tells us that the population was Protestant in the 1500s and that the church was rebuilt between 1726 and 1733 in the same location where it originally stood.

Anna Catharina’s Funeral

Given that Anna Catherina’s parents and grandparents had assuredly been displaced and suffered greatly during the war – no one in the Palatinate escaped suffering – one might expect her funeral text to reflect both suffering and Divine comfort. Let’s see if that’s the case.

Let us travel back in time and sit in the church with Anna Catharina’s family that spring April day and listen to what the minister had to say…

Psalm 23, 24 & 73, King James Version

23: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

24: The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

73: Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.

3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.

5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.

6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.

7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.

8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.

9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.

10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.

11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?

12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.

13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.

14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.

15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.

16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;

17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.

19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.

20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.

21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.

22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.

24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.

28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

I feel compelled to add an “Amen,” a relict of my many years sitting in a pew myself.

I don’t know if the Reverend would have used the entirety of all three psalms, especially given their combined length.

The verbiage of Psalm 23 takes me back to my childhood, Sunday School and the after-school Good News Club where we memorized the psalm and colored pictures of shepherds.

I wonder if there is a special message in Psalm 73 in that she suffered specifically in some way. Did this harken back to the residual pain from the Thirty Years’ War? That was surely not erased in one or two generations. Neither the personal pain of death and loss, nor the displacement and emotional torture of witnessing the horrors. Assuredly, every grandparent told those stories to their grandchildren – assuming they survived to tell the tale. If they didn’t, others surely did.

Funerals are for the living, those who remain and sit uncomfortably on those wooden benches, listening alternately to the minister and the birds chirping their springtime songs outside. I hope Anna Catharina’s family found comfort here, looking to the heavens before they buried Anna Catharina beside her husband and perhaps some of her children and grandchildren in the churchyard.

When Anna Catharina was buried, the church had been newly built, or rebuilt, before 1733. However, the churchyard was hundreds of years old.

I originally presumed that Anna Catharina would have spent most of her life worshipping in the old church before whatever happened to it, happened. I had assumed that the church was rebuilt after the Thirty Years War and that it had perhaps burned, needing to be rebuild in the 1730s. Now, I’m not at all sure it was ever rebuilt, but even if it had been, more military incursions occurred in the later 1600s.

Most likely, there was no church on that site for more than a century, not until a year or so before Anna Catharina was buried. Fussgoenheim citizens were probably proud as punch of their new church which still stands today.

The Church

Kirsch Fussgoenheim church

The Protestant parish church – Lutherkirche – is first documented at its current location in 1253. Of course, at that time, it would have been Catholic.

The current building dates back to between 1726 and 1733, just before Anna Catharina’s death, while the tower and the redesigned facade were built in 1842. The origins of the Protestant parish are believed to go back to 1553 with the earliest remaining graves reaching back to just after 1600.

Anna Catharina may have been buried in a cemetery full of ancestors and family members stretching back some 500 years, reaching into the mists of time – before the memory of anyone living when she died. That’s almost twice as far removed in time from her as she is today from me.

Or, her family may have been from elsewhere entirely. We know that the Koob family had returned to Fussgoenheim by about the time that Anna Catharina would have married, so it’s possible that her family either moved back to where they originated or decided to settle in Fussgoenheim after the war.

Fusgoenheim history tells us that in 1700, the entire village consisted of 150-200 residents, which would equate to 30-40 homes, assuming 5 family members in each home. Of course, if there were more residents in each house, then there would have been fewer homes.

I’m wagering that Anna Catharina’s family lived in one of those houses along the main street of town.

Children

We know that Anna Catharina had four children, and likely more, but we don’t have information about her children who didn’t marry. If she, like most German mothers in the late 1600s and early 1700s, lost babies at or shortly after birth, those records would have been among the missing church records before 1726.

If we assume that Anna Catharina was married when she was 21 or 22 to Johann Dietrich Koob, that would suggest that the marriage took place about 1696 or 1697, possibly in Fussgoenheim. That means they began welcoming children about 1697 or 1698.

Anna Catharina and Johann Dietrich Koob could have had a child or two, or perhaps 3, prior to the birth of their first documented child.

First Known Child

Their first child for whom we have a marriage record was my ancestor, Johann Theobald Koob who was married on February 21, 1730 in Fussgoenheim, placing his birth around 1705, roughly.

Marriage: 21 Feb 1730
Joh. Theobald Coob from here with Maria Catharina Kirch(in) were married.

Both Anna Catharina and her husband would have celebrated this wedding with their son. Both would have known the neighbor girl, Maria Catharina Kirsch as well – assuredly since her birth. One or both of them might well have been related to her too.

Sixteen months after Johann Theobald Koob was married, in June of 1731, Anna Catharina’s first granddaughter, Susanna Elisabetha was born, and in May 1733, grandson Emanual joined his sister.

Just a month before Anna Catharina’s second grandchild was born to her son, her daughter was married.

Second Child

On April 21, 1733, daughter Maria Catharina Koob, noted as the daughter of Dietrich Koob, married Johann Mathaus Saaler.

Joh. Mathaus Saaler, legitimate son of the honorable, Christoph Saaler, member of the court in Weissenheim am Sand with Martha Catharina, legitimate daughter of the honorable Herr Dietric Koob, mayor here, were married.

The couple married in the bride’s home church, but Anna Catharina would have shed tears as her daughter packed her trunk and departed for Weissenheim am Sand, a little over 5 miles up the road, but not close enough to see her daughter daily anymore, or to see the hoped-for grandchildren either.

This would have been considered a good marriage for Maria Catharina Koob – married to the son of a court member. There would be food in her household.

I don’t know if Maria Catharina had children before her mother passed away 2 years, less one day, later. Truthfully, I don’t know if Maria Catharina had children at all. I don’t find any records, but we know that early records are incomplete and rife with mistranscribed names.

I fervently hope that Anna Catharina did not have to bury her adult daughter.

Maria Catharina was Anna Catharina’s only known daughter. If Maria Catharina didn’t have any daughters, who themselves had a line of contiguous daughters, continuing through daughters to the current generation where the offspring can be male – we will have lost Anna Catharina’s mitochondrial DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA is passed from females to both sexes of their children, but only female children pass it on. Anna Catharina’s mitochondrial DNA would provide us with information about who she is related to and where she came from, before Fussgoenheim. If you descend from daughter, Maria Catherine Koob who married Christoph Saaler (sometimes spelled Sahler), I’d love to hear from you. If you descend through all females to the current generation, which can be male, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you.

Third Child

The Fussgoenheim church records state that on January 14, 1731, a son of Johann Georg Spanier and his wife, a child named Johann Simon, was baptized. The godparents were “the son of Mr. Dietrick Koob, local mayor, and Anna Margaretha, Johann Martin Renner’s daughter from here.”

Given that we know Dieter Koob was mayor at this time and had a son named Johann Simon, after whom the child was named, we know the godfather was Johann Simon Koob who was subsequently married in 1735, so probably born about 1712.

Marriage: the 22nd of November 1735 were married the unmarried Simon Kob, legitimate son of the late Dieterich Kob, former mayor with the young lady, Margaretha Renner, legitimate daughter of the honorable Martin Renner, local citizen.  Married after the wedding homily: Gen 2 18.

Apparently, the marriage was not performed until after the Reverend had preached from the Bible, as follows.

Also, the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be himself alone: I will make him a help mate.

Johann Dieter Koob, the groom’s father, had gone on to his reward in September the year before, and Anna Catharina had joined him as well that April 20th, just 7 months and 2 days before her son’s wedding.

I wonder if Simon regretted not marrying sooner, before his parents both passed – or perhaps he had not been courting Margaretha that long.

Fourth Child

In 1736, Anna Catharina’s 4th surviving child, Georg Henrich Koob, was married.

Marriage: the 17th of January 1736 were married in the local church, the honorable young bachelor, Georg Henrich Kob, legitimate son of the late Dieter Kob(in), mayor of the exalted free county Hallberg with Anna Margaretha Kirsch(in), legitimate daughter of the late Wilhelm Kirsch, former member of the court. The wedding homily was 1 Timothy…….?

I do wonder if the “exalted free county Hallberg” was tongue in cheek, considering the horrid battle the townspeople were waging with the Hallberg family during this time.

Two of Anna Catharina’s sons, Johann Theobald Koob and Georg Henrich Koob married Kirsch sisters, daughters of Johann Wilhelm Kirsch and Anna Maria Borstler.

Was George Henrich Koob who married in 1736 Anna Catharina’s youngest child? A 1736 marriage would suggest his birth in about 1714.

A Fifth Child is Discovered

If Anna Catharina and Johann Dietrich Koob had children until she was 42 or 43, this would suggest their final child would have been born about 1722, 8 years after Georg Henrich Koob and just a few years before the church records began in 1726.

There are no more marriage records found for children of Anna Catharina. That silence speaks volumes. A child would have been born about 1716, 1718, 1720, and 1722. Those deaths would have been in addition to 2 or 3 children who were likely born after their marriage and prior to Johann Theobald. Although earlier children could potentially have married before the church records began in 1726. Still, we would expect to find baptisms of their children, and there are none, or at least none that have been discovered, translated, and recorded.

Fussgoenheim historian Walter Schnebel died in 2018. I have been fortunate enough recently to obtain his Koob family records and find one additional child listed.

Johann Nikolaus Koob was baptized in 1733 which would suggest his birth about 1720 or so. Unfortunately, there are no further records for this person, so we have no idea if he lived to adulthood, and if so, what happened to him.

As best we can tell, Anna Catharina had 4 children who survived to marry and someplace between 4 and 7 who did not. It’s little wonder that her funeral service spoke to suffering.

Who Really Was Anna Catharina?

I wish we knew who Anna Catharina was. Her parents were likely from one of the local families, at least they were local after the Thirty Years’ War. Who knows about before.

Conversely, Anna Catharina could have lived and married elsewhere, moving to Fussgoenheim with her husband after they married. Judging from other records, that seemed to happen a lot during that timeframe. Families had been jumbled.

Fussgoenheim was closely connected to Mutterstadt, Weissenheim am Sand and Bad Durkheim. Families from these cities and villages seemed to have intermingled and intermarried regularly.

If her family was from Fussgoenheim’s original families, her parents could well have been related, the families intermarrying in the same village for generations. That would also have meant that Anna Catharina might have been related to her husband as well, a very common occurrence in small German villages of that time. Everyone was, literally, related to everyone else. In that way, the Thirty Years’ War was probably beneficial – mixing new DNA in the gene pool.

Fussgoenheim History

Fussgoenheim history, translated using Deepl, tells us the following:

According to the findings, Fußgönheim is an old settlement of the Celts and Romans. It was first mentioned in 770/771 in the Lorsch Codex (it is controversial whether it is Fußgönheim or Reingönheim) and 893 in the quality list of the Abbey Prüm. For the place name there are two interpretations:”Gönheim (home of Gino) at the foot of the slope” and “Gönheimam Vuezgraben (Fuchsbach).” In 1993 Fußgönheim celebrated its 1100th anniversary.

From 900 to 1100 it was property of the Salian imperial family. Through sale and inheritance it came into the possession of the families Falkenstein and Leiningen. From 1300 to 1729 it was divided into an upper and lower village. On September 14, 1728 Jakob Tilmann von Hallberg became feudal lord and then owner of the entire village. The Hallbergs resided in Fußgönheim for about 60 years. In 1741, the so-called “Hallberg Castle” as well as the contained in the complex Catholic Church of St. James Major was completed.

In 1729, Freiherr von Hallberg carried out the field survey and the district was divided into new ways. The Freiherr had taken possession of the fields which had become ownerless through the survey. The then judges of the place, Schimbeneau, Herberich, Schuster, Theobald Koob and Schultheiß Kirsch refused to sign the land register created by Hallberg and were therefore expelled in 1744.

This iconic episode in Fussgoenheim history wherein the land was “resurveyed and divided,” in order to deprive the citizens of roughly two-thirds of their rightful land began before Anna Catharina’s death. It may have sorely affected both her life and that of her husband, Dieter, in their final years. Perhaps this is the suffering, in addition to the deaths of several children, referred to by her funeral passage.

Maybe it was for the best that Anna Catharina passed away in 1735, before the worst of that episode which began when her son was jailed in 1743, before expulsion a few weeks later. By then, Anna Catharina would have been 69 and expelled right along with the rest of the family. In 1753, when the family was allowed to return, she would have been 78, assuming that she wouldn’t have died in exile.

No, probably best that she was spared all of that.

The Map

The land that had belonged to Johann Dietrich Koob would have been inherited by his sons. In 1743, a map shows two pieces of land, both owned by Johann Theobald Koob. It’s possible that Johann Theobald had purchased one piece of land from his brother or brothers after the death of Anna Catharina in 1735 – or perhaps he inherited both.

Kirsch 1743 Fussgoenheim under village

However, the 2 pieces of land shown belonging to Johann Theobald are located in the north part of the village, called the unter or under village. Johann Dietrich Koob was mayor of the oberdorf, or over village, which was the south portion. I assumed the opposite, but my friend Christoph explained that this has to do with elevation, not location.

Kirsch 1743 Fussgoenheim over village

The 1743 map showed no Koob property in the south portion of the village, yet we know that’s the portion of the village where Dieter and Anna Catharina lived, where he was mayor.

The 1753 Fussgoenheim village accounting, if we could locate the original document, would likely tell us about the relationships of people and their hereditary land. Walter Schnebel apparently did have that document before his death.

Based on history of the village and the 1743 map, which is the redrawn Hallberg map after the survey – apparently the one that the village elders including Johann Theobald Koob refused to sign – we are left to understand that Johann Dieter Koob’s land was south of the Protestant church. This land was NOT drawn on the map with his name, nor any other Koob family member which leads me to the conclusion that Johann Dieter Koob’s land was some of the confiscated land. This would have been land that Hallberg claimed was abandoned after redrawing the boundaries and roads, separating some fields from their houses.

It would appear that Hallberg was attempting to confiscate land in that part of town, perhaps to build his castle on a large contiguous section – given that the southeast corner of Fussgoenheim is entirely “vacant,” according to the Hallberg map.

And that’s exactly where Hallberg built his castle, Catholic church and gardens. This must have left a chronically bitter taste in the mouths of the residents – every time they passed by this building.

Koob Hallberg castle.jpg

No wonder the residents were angry – furious enough to risk what little they had left by refusing to sign that 1743 survey and standing up to Hallberg.

Widows were shown on the map in 1743. We know that Anna Catharina would have remained on Dieter’s land after his death, and in 1735, after she died, it would have then become the property of another Koob male family member – one of their surviving sons.

We don’t see any Koob names, nor really, any of the traditional Fussgoenheim surnames except one Kirsch immediately south of the Lutheran church.

This draws us to the conclusion that the battle that Dieter Koob fought and lost in death, then that Anna Catharina lost in death, and Johann Theobald was evicted fighting for was the war to save their land, their home and probably, given the length of time these families had lived in this village, land that has been rightfully theirs for time immemorial.

In other words, they suffered for it during the Thirty Years War, reclaimed it after when everything was burned to the scortched earth, rebuilt, only to have it confiscated by Hallberg a generation later to build his castle.

Koob aerial Hallberg castle

The land belonging to Johann Dieter Koob and Anna Catharina was likely one of the farms, shown above, perhaps even where the Castle itself was built. After all, the Mayor would probably have lived on one of the prime pieces of land. We know the Koob family returned relatively early after the Thirty Years’ War, so they likely either reclaimed their old land, or claimed good land that was never reclaimed.

The Koob family may have had more to lose than other families. Regardless, we know that they owned land in the south half of the village at one time, and it’s not reflected in 1743 as being owne by any Koob. Dieter and Anna Catharina both spend their sunset years and died waging war, attempting to save what was theirs.

We may not know her surname, but we do know who Anna Catharina was. A woman in a family of warriors.

Koob Fussgoenheim sign.jpg

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Pandemic Journal: Mud-wrestling with Pigs and a Pandemic Rainbow

Pandemic pig.jpg

My Hoosier step-father used to have a slew of wonderful sayings, but one of his favorites was:

Never mud-wrestle with a pig. You can’t win. You get dirty. The pig enjoys it and the spectators can’t tell the difference.

We used to call this time of year “the dog days of summer” but right now, I’m calling it the “mud-wrestling season.” Pretty much everyone is miserable one way or another. I’m afraid this will extend throughout 2020. I don’t know, but that certainly looks like a possibility.

I started the Pandemic Journal series of articles for a couple of reasons. Initially, to inform, then to discuss in the context of what our ancestors went through. I expected the Covid experience to be relatively short-lived, a couple of months that seemed like years, and these journal articles to be short-lived as well. I thought we would all isolate and wear masks and get this monster under control. But that’s unfortunately very clearly not what has happened.

And now, school in person in a few days? Oy!

Pandemic Fatigue

pandemic fatigue

The sheer magnitude of this monster Covid-storm that has overwashed us, combined with the length of time and some degree of hopelessness has combined to create what I’m referring to as pandemic fatigue. I don’t know if that’s a real word or not, but it should be.

Not only are we actually physically exhausted because of the constant emotional upheaval of pandemic+politics, the second of which I’m not going to touch on at all, but we’re tired of being at home. We are grieving our “former lives,” not to mention all of life’s stressors that still occur but may be exacerbated by job loss, income loss, insurance loss, and of course, the virus itself.

It’s like normal life is still trying to take place under the unrelenting cloud of Covid. For example, people are marrying, graduating from school, having babies, and dying.

My cat is dying too, slowly, making our family extremely sad. Layers of grief on layers of grief. Still, we distance, trying to clutch as much of pre-pandemic life as possible while staying safe. For example, when the time comes, probably in a few days, we won’t be able to be with our beloved Phoenix when she crosses the rainbow bridge, assisted by our kind vet. There’s no need to expose him or us, no matter how much we want to be in the room with her. I can’t help but think of all of the Covid victims dying alone too, and their families.

Some people aren’t continuing to distance and are paying a hefty price. Many are taking chances that really aren’t necessary.

My methodology for making these decisions is really simple. What’s the worst that can happen?

  • If I wear and mask or stay home when I didn’t need to, nothing truly bad happens. Am I happy? No. Am I at risk? No. Am I risking anyone else’s health? No.
  • If I don’t mask and distance and get Covid, I can spread it to friends and family, I can die, kill others, or live with horrid debility and/or incur massive bills. We still don’t understand the extent of what this virus does to human bodies or long-term effects. My friend went to the ER for Covid symptoms, tested positive, was not admitted, went home only to receive a 12K medical bill a month later. The Covid test itself was free, but the rest was not. She had already lost her job and has no insurance. How is she supposed to pay that bill?

For me, the decision pretty much makes itself. The gray area is introduced when defining “necessary” and that line-in-the-sand is different for everyone, or at least different in every state with so many disparate and inconsistent levels of “rules” about what can and cannot be done.

Not to mention, “can” and “should” are vastly different things.

pandemic garden.jpg

Thankfully, I can go outside and sit on the deck and walk around my yard, but those aren’t options for everyone.

However, it’s still difficult for me, sitting by myself, seeing photos of places I’d like to be and people I’d like to see – but I can’t. Especially if they are seeing each other and I’m the odd man out. I can’t help but think, “just this once,” but that’s exactly how this disease is spread. You only get to be wrong once.

pandemic wildflower garden

Try not to think about what you’re missing. Try to be positive. Take a deep breath. Try not to cry, again. Here, have another garden picture.

My situation is better than a lot of people who don’t have a deck to sit on or a yard to walk in. They live in multi-generational households where they can’t distance or in apartment buildings. Some people are exposed because their family members are essential workers.

Some people are exposed because they are cautiously optimistic and venture out when they probably shouldn’t. Some have simply thrown caution to the wind. In a pandemic, everyone’s decisions affect everyone else. Six degrees of separation on steroids.

For some time, people on social media were saying that they didn’t even know anyone who had contracted Covid, so it didn’t exist where they lived or was being exaggerated. I don’t really hear that much anymore. I have cousins who have died. One is in intensive care as I type this. Close friends have it and others have had it. Yet another friend’s mother died. One of the places I obtained carry-out is now closed due to an employee testing positive this week. It’s killing people in the nursing homes here as well. There’s no doubt, it’s every single place in America now. No one is safe or exempt.

By now, Covid has directly affected almost everyone, and I’m not referring to financially through shutdowns and job loss which some would argue were political in nature. (I’m not touching that topic either.) I’m referring to the virus itself.

And anyone who is looking clearly understands what’s coming. Our only prayer is if by some miracle everyone magically starts to wear masks and stay home. And indeed, I mean everyone, because only “some” people wearing masks didn’t work before and is why we are where we are right now – with an epidemic spiraling out of control.

And yes, a vaccine, IF it works, and IF it arrives by year-end will help immensely, but we all have to survive that long. Many won’t. We’re at 153,314 deaths from Covid today and most models have us hitting 200K within a month. I’m afraid to look at the projection by year-end.

Oh yea, and because pandemic stress wasn’t enough, we’re now having pandemic+politics+hurricanes too. In Florida of all places, already a Covid hotspot, with Hurricane Isaias projected to make landfall today with high tides making things even worse there and up the east coast over the next few days. Batten down the hatches.

2020 promises to be the year we all want to forget.

The Common Thread

There is one common thread in all of this though – and that is that everyone is super stressed. If you just thought to yourself, “that’s an understatement,” you’re right.

pandemic contrails.jpg

We are all looking up at the contrails of planes in the sky and thinking about what we aren’t doing that we want to do. Where we were planning to go, but now can’t. Activities we want to do or events we want to attend, but can’t. Who we long to see, but can’t. Who has died and we’ll never see again. We can’t even attend funerals.

There’s a lot of loss, for sure.

I’m hoping that I can do some of these things in the after-time, and that there will be an after-time. Some days, gratitude to be alive and hope for the future is all we have.

As a result, people have more time for social media, are commenting more, and are “less nice.” Yes, I know that’s an understatement too. Everyone seems to have their knickers in a knot just now.

“Less nice” often translates into hurtful commentary to or about others, when no comments would suffice. When a “negativity leader” emerges, more people pile on. Of course, that just raises the stress level of everyone involved, especially the person being bullied. Adrenaline and stress hormones flood bodies, causing people who feel they are under attack to have a “flight or fight” response – and in an electronic world, that means either disengage and go for a walk or “fight” online as a keyboard warrior.

No one wins and the exchange is simply ugly and hurtful. Have another flower picture.

Pandemic phlox

Take a deep breath and count to 10. Have some lilies.

pandemic lily.jpg

Now we’re at the point where my Dad’s mud-wrestling with a pig commentary comes into play.

Seriously, no one is going to even consider anyone’s point of view because they are too busy “talking and typing,” to listen, even if they had once been inclined. And that’s assuming there isn’t any other agenda or issue in the mix. Yea, more flowers…

pandemic red lily

Maintaining an Even Keel

When people are stressed, especially for a long period of time, like pandemic fatigue, it seems to bring out either the worst or the best in people. It also dramatically affects mental health. Here are some thoughts and ideas, aside from flower pictures, that you may find helpful. I try to think of these when I see people reacting, and when I consider my health and behavior as well.

  • People who already suffer from depression or other mental health issues may need to have their medications adjusted.
  • People who never previously suffered from depression may be suffering from it now. Here’s a list of symptoms to watch for. If this might apply to you, make sure to exercise, get enough sunshine and disengage from triggers, like social media if that’s affecting you negatively.
  • People who had borderline mental health issues pre-pandemic may have crossed over the edge due to any number of stressors and need medical assistance now. You may be viewing the results of that on social media, or seeing it in the behavior of family members.
  • Doomscrolling. I didn’t even know this was a “thing,” but apparently it is, related to the consumption of news which is almost entirely negative (what news isn’t negative today,) and I’m guilty of it to some extent. You can read about doomscrolling and its effects, especially during the pandemic, here.
  • To address doomscrolling and negativity, I’ve done a number of things:
    1. Unfriended or unfollowed people who bring pain or unpleasantness into my life. Unfortunately, there have been more than I would have anticipated and some that were shocking. I will discuss any topic. I will not tolerate attacks, disrespect, condescension, or hatefulness, directed toward me or others. If there’s any good news to this part of the equation, it’s that the pandemic has unmasked many people for their real selves, many of whom I’ve found very disheartening and disappointing. That discovery adds another level of grief, but their removal from my social media feed removes the chronic negativity issue.
    2. Focusing on people who are positive by nature. That does not mean they are Pollyannas, irresponsible, or unconcerned about the pandemic, but it does mean they are not pushing conspiracy theories or constant negativity by default. I don’t mind seeing some negative things, because that is our reality right now, but I also want to see pictures of your kids, your cats, your lunch, a flower, your family tree, your new t-shirt, your Amazon order, something, anything that feels “normal.”
    3. Find ways to support others, to the best of my ability. You already know I made masks, and have a few more to make over the weekend. I also make care quilts, but right now, there is no way to make them fast enough. I’ve also been making quilts to keep for myself, because they make me feel good, and right now, I’m important too.
    4. I do feel that as a responsible adult, I need to stay current with what is occurring. However, I’ve located a couple of non-inflammatory daily summary sources and I have specific times of the day that I check social media.
  • I’m limiting my work time because my “default” is to work more and more and sit in front of my computer longer and longer each day. Unfortunately, at this point, I can never catch up, so that just makes things worse. I receive hundreds of emails every day, many asking questions that the sender thinks will “only take a minute,” which is a compliment, but nonetheless incorrect. (I do offer Quick Consults, here.)
  • People with addiction issues are relapsing. Addiction doesn’t only mean alcohol or drugs but includes other compulsive self-medicating comfort disorders. Eating comes to mind, but there are many more. Counselors and support groups are available online – just google. Is buying quilt fabric an addictive behavior? Asking for a friend😊
  • People with mental health issues are really struggling, and they are not always who you think they might be. When you observe someone acting hateful or awful towards someone else, it’s one of a few things – an active choice meaning their real personality is showing through, a really bad day (that excuse doesn’t work for repeated incidents) or a mental health issue. Regardless of which it is, you don’t need to engage with or tolerate their behavior. Some days my mantra is “just keep on scrolling.”
  • Sometimes when people are silent, it’s not because they can’t or don’t want to “defend themselves.” It’s because they’ve chosen to be kind and not act hatefully or hurtfully. Attempting to hurt someone else is never beneficial and “winning” in that manner doesn’t make someone a good person or a winner. I always remember who behaved that way. Silence does not equate to “losing.” Losing one’s composure publicly is rarely a good thing.
  • Develop a self-imposed embargo policy. When I’m angry, my personal rule is that I don’t reply for 24 hours. If I’m still angry, it’s 48 hours. By then, it seldom matters. This has saved me a lot of grief over the years and probably a lot of embarrassment too. An embargo doesn’t mean I’m silent to my family or close friends, it just means publicly.
  • People don’t have to engage in every fight they’re invited to. There’s no requirement to take the bait. Generally, bait is a sure-fire sign of danger. Ask any fish!
  • Each of us chooses how to behave, both on and offline. Choose to be kind, or silent. You never have to regret that choice.
  • Sometimes, kindness is simply keeping my mouth shut. Having said that, I do feel from time to time that I have a moral imperative to speak truth to power, understanding that it will likely cause me to become a target. Still, I always say what I have to say respectfully. I will not engage in the “nasty girls” game. There is a fundamental difference between a difference of opinion, a movement for change and a war. If people choose to target me after I speak truthfully, so be it – it’s probably a sign of effectiveness. Still, it takes courage to speak, knowing what will likely be forthcoming. I’m grateful to people like John Lewis, John McCain, William Tully Brown and Rosa Parks for their courage and inspiration. One day I’ll write about attending Rosa’s funeral visitation. John and Rosa peacefully spoke, stood their ground and have inspired me repeatedly over the years, especially when I’m frightened. If or when we are attacked, we can always choose to be kind and be silent, taking into consideration the situation. Silence is sometimes more powerful than words. Sometimes it’s the other way around. Words, however, can cut like a knife, so choose wisely. People are already hurting.
  • On the bright side, when speaking truth-to-power, you immediately discover who your friends are and who are fair-weather acquaintances of convenience. That holds true as well for when bad things happen in your life and you need help. Those who step-up are gold! The rest weren’t really your friends and culled themselves. Be grateful.
  • I always weigh my behavior based on how I would feel if a potential employer or my granddaughters as adults saw what I said. Am I being my best self? How would I feel if one of my granddaughters posted what I was about to say? How would I counsel them?

In other words, never mud-wrestle with a pig. You can’t win. You get dirty. The pig enjoys it. The spectators can’t tell the difference.

Besides that, if I do perish in this pandemic, I don’t want to be remembered for being hateful. I may not be able to control this pandemic, or what others say or do, but I surely can control the substance of my own legacy.

Pandemic Rainbow

When will the Pandemic Journal series end?

Truthfully, I don’t know. This might be the last article in the series, because this seems to have become a way of life, not a temporary glitch.

Of course, by now, I thought I would have already written the “victory” “we’re free again and it’s over” article. I thought I’d be going to genealogy conferences and quilt retreats, but I’m not and everything this fall and much of winter has already canceled or simply wasn’t scheduled.

I don’t know if or when this plague will ever end. As we enter into the days of diminishing light, the fall and winter in the northern hemisphere, I expect the pandemic to worsen, along with its associated challenges.

I don’t want to write negative articles or those that only serve to depress already depressed people.

One positive aspect that I’m seeing is that some people’s obsession is genealogy and with more time, they are really focusing on uncovering those ancestors. This is one kind of addictive behavior I heartily endorse!! I’ve been the recent beneficiary and I’ve been able to gift others as well.

I hope that you think about the life and times of your ancestors, the situations they encountered, the decisions they made, and how plagues and pestilences influenced, affected or ended their lives. Perhaps fear of a viral enemy that seems to be overpowering us sheds light on their lives before the days of modern medical care.

Now you can understand the ever-tightening fingers of fear that clutched their hearts as the Bubonic Plague, also known as the Black Death because of what it did to the bodies of its victims, engulfed their world. Ironic, isn’t it, that Plague doctors wore masks then, thinking that the beak filled with aromatics would filter out the offending disease particles present in “bad air.”

Today, we know masks work and greatly improve the chances of staying well, yet not everyone wears them.

pandemic plague doctor

I hope your ancestors bring you comfort, in their presence or their absence that causes you to have to search for them. Perhaps we can think of this grey and difficult time, retrospectively, after the storm has passed and the sun sets on this chapter of our lives as the time of great genealogy breakthroughs. Perhaps our ancestors will serve as a pandemic rainbow.

pandemic rainbow.jpg

Partial double rainbow beneath storm clouds with the sunset reflecting off of the clouds, taken from the center of the labyrinth.

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Ancestry Match Purge Update

I’m covering four things in this article today:

  • Genetic currency and why it matters
  • Reasons for Ancestry’s purge
  • Ancestry’s updated plans
  • What’s next?

Why is Focusing on Ancestry Critical Right Now?

It’s much easier to save something that exists than to create something new in the software world.

Think of your car. It’s a lot easier for a car company to keep the same model year to year than to create a new model with the inherent design, engineering, and associated costs.

Yes, other DNA vendors could and should improve too, but right now, only Ancestry is taking something valuable away from genealogists. Regardless of what we want other companies, or Ancestry, to develop, providing feedback regarding Ancestry’s impending purge of our 6-8 cM matches is critical now, before the deletion occurs and is irreversible.

Some genealogists either don’t care or don’t specifically want to preserve smaller matches. That’s fine and they can simply ignore their smaller matches. Smaller matches DON’T HURT ANYONE. If you don’t like them, just ignore them.

Why would anyone be vehemently opposed to something that is agreed to be useful and valuable about 50% of the time? It has been widely accepted for years that 7 cM matches are valid about half of the time. Science tells us the same thing.

MMB stats by cM 2

Philip Gammon, a statistician, worked with sets of phased data to produce output indicating the rates of valid and invalid matches, meaning when the child matches someone and so does the parent. His numbers indicate that 6 and 7 cM matches were valid 66% and 58% of the time, respectively.

I worked with parent/child trios whose tests I control to determine the accuracy of matches phased to parents.

Ancestry phased matches accuracy.png

Working with parentally phased data, meaning when both parents have tested, a match matches either the mother or father in addition to the tester, the results indicated that matches between 6 and 6.99 cM were valid 30% of the time. Matches between 7 and 7.99 cm were valid 46% of the time. These percentages are smaller than Philips, but these groups are nonendogamous and Philip’s work included endogamous trios.

Parental phasing is the first step in confirming that a match is valid, regardless of the size. The smaller the size of the match, the more additional information is needed. We’re genealogists, we can do that!

shared cm quick reference

I created this combined quick reference chart from an analysis article I wrote based on the results of multiple resources and various testing companies. Note that we begin to see no matching at 3rd cousins, so we would also see 3rd cousins who match between 6-8 cM and those matches will be removed with the purge.

Clearly, smaller matches aren’t valid all of the time, but they certainly aren’t invalid all of the time either. Like any other record we use, they need to be critically evaluated.

Why would anyone care that other people want to use these tools for research?

If you type the name John Smith into a census search – you’re obviously looking for one specific John Smith. There are thousands. No one is advocating deleting the entire census collection because researchers are going to have to utilize some analytical skills to determine which specific John Smith is the ancestor for which they are searching.

Frankly, it’s no one’s business other than the researcher themselves, BUT, the researcher MUST HAVE THE RECORDS AVAILABLE to them in order to perform the analysis.

That’s the difference. Ancestry is deleting the DNA information between 6 and 8 cM leading to our ancestors and if they don’t reevaluate their decision now, once the data is gone, so is our opportunity to use it – forever.

Ancestry more tools

Don’t burn the house down because it needs to be cleaned.

Ancestry’s White Paper

Ancestry published a new matching white paper describing what they are doing, and why.

Ancestry white paper.png

Here’s the link directly, or you can access it at the top of your DNA Matches page.

Ancestry factor

This excerpt from page 13 is critical in understanding the motivation behind this purge.

Individuals on the initial July 13th call with Ancestry reported that as many as 2/3rds of people’s matches will be removed during the purge.

Since that time, my blog commenters and people who have emailed me directly are telling me that they will lose “more than 50%” of their matches. The numbers vary, but one person said it was well over 70% for her.

Unless you’ve previously used one of the download tools that have now been discontinued due to the cease-and-desist orders issued by Ancestry, to the best of my knowledge, you have no way of determining in advance how many of your matches fall in the 6-8 cM category and how many you will lose.

I’ve recorded how many total matches I have, but until the purge occurs, there’s no way to know how many of those I’ll lose. In other words, there’s no way for me to quantify my loss or complaint in advance.

Technology Costs Money

In technology terms, let me explain what this means to Ancestry.

Companies have to pay for data storage costs and processing one way or another.

The first way is by purchasing their own hardware, storage and processing equipment, which means as more people test, and more data needs to be stored and processed (matching), the company needs to spend more money for additional equipment.

If the firm doesn’t use their own hardware and the services are cloud-based, they still pay for storage by the amount of space and processing by the minute.

Your DNA kit was a one time purchase, mean a one-time revenue source for Ancestry, but the processor load of matching and storing match lists goes on forever. The only additional revenue source for your DNA, for Ancestry, if is you opted in for medical research or if you purchased a subscription that you would not have otherwise purchased.

It might also be worth noting here that Ancestry laid off 6% of its workforce, 100 people, in February, following in the footsteps of 23andMe, reported here, and that was before the economic downturn that all companies are experiencing now due to the ramifications of Covid.

I’m not surprised that Ancestry continues to seek cost-cutting measures and I am not criticizing them for doing so. I simply hope they will find methods where the burden isn’t directly born by their DNA customers.

The Definition of Small Segment Keeps Increasing

Initially, AncestryDNA included 5 cM matches. Those disappeared in 2016 when Timber arrived. At that point, Ancestry reported that academic (not parental) phasing plus Timber made matches more reliable, so 6 cM matches were supposed to be more reliable at Ancestry than unphased 6 cM or larger matches elsewhere. No one complained about 6 and 7 cM segment matches at that time or discarded them out-of-hand as unreliable, although people who work in this field have always cautioned testers to accumulate layers of evidence in their search.

Many researchers never get to those lower matches because they have many matches at higher levels. Matches are easy to ignore if you’re not interested.

Currently, matches in the 6 and 7 cM range are now being referred to as “small segments,” stated by some that they should never be used because they might be identical by chance and not identical by descent. The term “small segments” used to be reserved for segments below the matching threshold of the testing vendors which used to be 5 cM at Ancestry. The definition of “small segment” has crept up now to include 6 and 7 cM matches. Will it continue to creep upwards as it becomes advantageous? When will 8, 9, 10 cM matches, go away?

One of the justifications for ignoring or deleting smaller segments is that they are “far back in time,” but Ancestry’s documentation about 6 cM matches shows that 21% of the time, a 6 cM match is some flavor of 2nd, 3rd or 4th cousin. That’s hardly far back in time.

Ancestry 6 cm relationship.png

Unknown, Previously Unidentified Ancestors

The need to identify ancestors who are unknown, meaning not just unknown to you – but truly not identified through prior research by anyone eventually affects all genealogists.

Researchers often encounter this situation when they have females with no surnames or when they are researching ancestors with no records at all.

My closet brick walls begin in the 6th generation, all females, born in the 1760s and died in the 1800s. Their descendants in my generation would be 5th cousins to me. That’s where my search for truly unknown ancestors begins.

Other people experience brick walls much closer to them in time.

The Good News – People Are Looking

There’s actually a silver lining to Ancestry’s announced purge – people are looking and evaluating these smaller matches now that the matches are in jeopardy of being removed.

Maybe Ancestry’s threat to remove these matches was a genius marketing ploy to encourage us to use them (wink, wink.) Let’s hope so and Ancestry retains those matches and continues to provide their customers with matches at this level.

Numerous people have stated that they are finding patterns in multiple matches, especially if they manage multiple kits for various family members. Because of the 20 cM shared match threshold limit at Ancestry, testers may not see other family members on their shared match list, but looking at their other family members’ actual match list – those smaller matches are sometimes there. Researchers are finding matches between 6-8 cM that match multiple family members. Finding those matches is the beginning of analysis.

Let me explain that a different way. I’m looking at my shared matches with person A. I see no shared matches below 20 cM because that’s Ancestry’s shared match display limit.

However, person A’s sibling, person B, also matches me below 20 cM, but I can’t see that shared match with person A because my shared match with person B is below 20 cM. However, checking my match list for person B’s name shows that they are a match to me. However, there is no way to know that I match person B in common with person A.

Then, checking another family member, like an aunt, for example, I see that person A and person B both match her as well, probably also on segments below 20 cM so she can’t see them on her shared match list either, nor can I see either of those matches, person A or person B on my shared match list with my aunt.

Reaching out to matches below 20 cM and asking if they have other family members you can check, by name, to see if they are on your match list is important. Many people don’t realize shared matches below 20 cM aren’t shown at Ancestry.

I know that, but sometimes I tend to forget that when viewing shared matches and have to remind myself.

Are You a Researcher Who Could Benefit from Smaller Segment Matches?

What types of researchers are finding interesting matches that they are pursuing and finding promising leads or beneficial connections? Truthfully, I hadn’t thought of several of these. Here’s what people have reported recently.

  • People with Irish ancestry before the 1920 records fire.
  • African Americans hoping to identify their ancestors and connect with descendants
  • People tracking matches to locations, such as specific villages in Europe.
  • People tracking US colonial records where their brick walls occur.
  • People seeking unknown ancestors in locations where records have burned.
  • Native American researchers seeking connections before the adoption of European surnames, often in the late 1800s.
  • Acadian matches from before the 1755 “Grand Derangement” when the Acadians were forcibly evicted from Nova Scotia
  • New Mexico and Southwest US connections to early Spanish families
  • Hawaiian researchers’ connections to Native Hawaiians

The keyword here is “pursuing.”

No single match should be taken as proof of anything, certainly not at this level. Cumulative evidence is another matter.

DNA evidence is just like every other type of evidence. We research and build upon what we find. Sometimes we discard what we’ve found when we find it to be invalid. We learn how to evaluate the evidence we discover. DNA isn’t any different. But we must have that evidence before we can evaluate it.

I wrote about that in Ancestors: What Constitutes Proof?

Genealogy Goals

What you’re trying to accomplish with DNA testing will determine whether or not smaller segments are important to you. One size does not fit all – pardon the pun. Your goals may also change over time. Mine certainly have as I moved from confirming existing line to attempting to break down brick walls that no one has the answer to today.

Researchers have different goals for DNA testing in conjunction with genealogy. Working with smaller segments isn’t for everyone.

Many people who only want to confirm known ancestors and have no idea why or how smaller segment matches might be valuable to themselves, now or eventually, or to others. Adoptees looking for their biological parents don’t need or want those small segment matches  In general, smaller matches, unless they have a tree posted with a shared ancestor, require more work and are typically used by more experienced genealogists.

Let’s take a look at the various categories of research, which might explain why someone you’re talking to might have a different opinion about matches between 6-8 cM, or might be ambivalent.

Research Type or Interest Applicable DNA Research/Comments
Ethnicity and populations Ethnicity and population reports are available at all 4 major vendors, plus sometimes additional tools. People who test for ethnicity may not be interested in traditional genealogy or DNA matching.
Adoption or unknown parent searches or other close relative searches (grandparents, etc.) People searching for close family members focus on close matches beginning with their highest matches, then tree matching, not generally more distant matches. I wrote about that here.
Confirming known ancestors already in your tree Confirmation occurs by matching to (and triangulating with) multiple other testers who share common identified ancestors. Tools like Theories of Family Relativity (MyHeritage) and ThruLines (Ancestry, but no triangulation) automate this process as does Phased Family Matching (FTDNA), in addition to some third party tools.
Discovering previously unknown ancestors that someone else has already researched DNA matching and advanced tools such as ThruLines (Ancestry) and Theories of Family Relativity (MyHeritage), but these tools require that someone already has identified these ancestors and placed them in their tree.
Discovering unidentified and previously unknown ancestors, meaning those where records don’t exist, are not previously researched/documented and are not already in someone’s tree. Every generation back in time increases the number of brick walls that genealogists hit. A researcher born in 1980 is likely to be 4th cousins to someone born from a common ancestor in 1850. Some 3rd and 4th cousins won’t DNA match at all, some will match on larger segments and some will only match on smaller segments (6-8 cM). The number of people who match and the segment size (generally) decreases in every generation as the DNA is divided.

If you’re thinking to yourself that you have ancestors that are entirely brick-walled – then you’re a candidate to utilize matches between 6-8 cM. Remember, roughly half of those matches are valid, and yes, there are evidentiary tools and methods of evaluation.

If you’re not back to brick-walled ancestors in your research yet today, eventually you will progress beyond available paper records and will find yourself in need of DNA. If the only DNA that you carry from those ancestors are segments between 6 and 8 cM, and they’re gone – you’re entirely out of luck. Just like when the Irish Records office burned in Dublin in 1922.

Ancestry Irish records office fire.jpg

Doesn’t that picture just hurt your heart, understanding the magnitude of the history that is burning?

DNA is the Currency of Our Ancestors

I’ve been searching for how to describe the situation people with brick walls, no surnames, and no written history face.

Think of your ancestors’ DNA as genetic currency.

You have large bills that represent what you received from your parents. As you move further back in time, those bills become 20s, then 10s and 5s. Finally $1 bills. Then, change.

The problem is that some people know which bill, meaning what ancestor that change came from, because they can track it directly backward in time, bill to bill, and ancestor to ancestor. Their change is all stacked in nice neat ancestor piles because they have the records to connect them to other descendants that know that ancestor is theirs too.

Ancestry coins

Other people who don’t have the benefit of that knowledge just have a bag of change all mixed together. They don’t’ know where those coins came from, and the coins, or smaller DNA segments, themselves, MUST point the way to the identification of their ancestors.

Ancestry coins pile.jpg

While their pile of change is messy, there are tools for researchers to sort through the coins and organize – identifying which coins came from which ancestors. Tools like shared matches, clustering, and more.

If you take their coins away, researches who have hit brick walls, which we all eventually do, have no genetic currency to work with.

Franklin Smith, an African American genealogist at the Clayton Library in Houston shares his experiences on Dana Leeds’ blog, here.

Ancestry Delayed the Purge for a Month

Ancestry’s decision to purge matches of 6-8 cM is critically important for brick-walled genealogists because, in part, of the sheer magnitude of their database.

Let’s say, for example, that we need to find a minimum of 10 people descending from this same couple through different children before we’re comfortable that this connection is valid.

If we can find 10 people at Ancestry, in a smaller database, we may only be able to find a few – certainly not nearly 10. If that database doesn’t provide matches to 6 cM either or has an arbitrary match cutoff, we may not be able to see those matches elsewhere either. Furthermore, not everyone tests elsewhere or transfers their DNA file. That’s exactly why it’s so critical to keep the Ancestry matches.

The combination of the 6-8 cM segment matches, more likely to be accurate because of phasing and Timber, and the large number of testers at Ancestry provides us with an increased opportunity to be successful.

Ancestry has not communicated with me directly, but I was provided with this posting from the Ancestry Facebook page wherein the “author” with the Ancestry logo by their name states that they are delaying the purge for a month, until the beginning of September. That’s good news, but clearly not enough news.

Ancestry posting

Please note that Ancestry:

  • Has delayed the purge until “late August”
  • Has clarified that starred matches (in the groups) are saved
  • Is beginning, soon, to show decimals so you don’t have to save all 8 cM matches in order to be sure you save all 7 cM matches due to Ancestry’s rounding up.

Earlier today, the “Learn More” link at the top of the DNA matches page has been updated with the following information, which confirms the Facebook posting.

Ancestry FAQ

I am hopeful that Ancestry is still evaluating its overall decision and instead of a mass purge, will provide more effective tools for their customers to utilize.

I can think of several, but the first approach would be that if a match does not phase with parents, assuming both have tested, it should be removed, regardless of the size.

Providing genealogists with analysis tools, similar to the now-banned third-party tools, would be a wonderful addition. Just un-banning those tools is really all we need.

Allow genealogists to flag some matches for deletion which we have determined are not valid would be beneficial. Similar to “ignoring” incorrect records hints.

Provide Feedback to Ancestry

Ancestry provided roughly a month’s grace period to allow users frantically struggling to save their relevant 6-8 cM matches some relief. I provided preservation strategies and instructions for how to prevent matches from being deleted, here.

This temporary reprieve doesn’t address 6-8 cM matches that exist today and aren’t saved, nor future 6-8 cM matches.

Please continue to provide polite feedback to Ancestry.

Feedback channels include the following:

  • Email Ancestry support at ancestrysupport@ancestry.com.
  • You can initiate an online “chat” here.
  • Call ancestry support at 1-899-958-9124 although people have been reporting obtaining offshore call-centers and problems understanding representatives. You also may need to ask for a supervisor.
  • Ancestry corporate headquarters phone number on the website is listed as 801-705-7000.
  • You can’t post directly on Ancestry’s Facebook page, but you can comment on posts and you can message them.
  • Ancestry’s Twitter feed is here.

Someone pointed out that the chromosome browser petitions initiated a few years ago went exactly no place, but like I mentioned previously, it’s a lot easier to keep something that exists than it is to build something new. I’m still hopeful that our voices will make a difference this time!

If you’d like to sign petitions, at least three have been created:

What’s Next

I’ve had requests to review what methods and tools available at each testing vendor to assist genealogists who need to search for unknown, undiscovered, previously unresearched ancestors. That’s a great idea!

After Ancestry completes whatever they decide to do and things settle down a bit, I will write a series of articles about how to utilize the various tools offered by each vendor that can be utilized by brick-walled researchers – along with suggestions for improvements every vendor can make to improve our chances of success.

Eventually, all genealogists will move beyond ethnicity or confirming documented ancestors into the realm of the unknown where we need every piece of genetic currency that we can find – along with advanced analysis tools to help us sort the wheat from the chaff and assign names of ancestors to those DNA segments.

The best thing Ancestry can do for us, right now, is to NOT delete those matches. The best thing you can do is to share your opinion with Ancestry.

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Thank you so much.

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